Elland businesses have urged people to show their town some love ahead of public meeting to discuss regeneration.
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker will chair a public meeting on Friday aimed at reviving fortunes in the town centre.
Meanwhile today traders have spoken out ahead of the gathering and urged councillors, businesses and shoppers to support their high street.
Rebekah Lee, co-owner of Song Bird Cafe, said: "We did a hand over with the last owner. The last owner closed on the Monday so I think opening more and having somewhere for people to go. When I opened on a Monday for the first time I noticed a lot of Elland was closed. Everyone’s shutters were down and I was quite surprised to be honest!
"I do think the parking is ridiculous, I think they should have so long for free and after that start charging. The streets, some of them you can park for so many hours without having to pay but then some streets you have to pay and I think it’s a bit confusing for people. People are saying 'Where do you park?'"
Terry Maek, business manager at Rubeez E-Liquids Ltd. said: "It needs more local and independent businesses to open up, look at how many empty shops there are. It’s so quiet. Strategically Aldi and Morrisons are out of Elland to bring people from Elland. You couldn’t put a Morrisons in the middle of Elland but perhaps a smaller Tesco’s.
"The market when I first moved here was quite big but now it’s small. I think it’s (about) actually listening to people in Elland rather than saying ‘This is what we’re going to do’.
"When you come down it’s all shut up. It’s the same old. We’re doing really well. We’re a big online company and now being here on the high street people come in."
Deborah Wilson, owner of Studio 9, said: "We’ve seen a lot of the changes. We had five banks when we came. It’s been inconveniencing for us paying cash in but I don’t think it’s affected us as much as a lot of other businesses. People prefer to pay on card anyway, it’s just businesses banking that’s inconveniencing. I do appreciate that other businesses have been affected more than us.
"I’ve noticed a massive reduction in footfall. We’ve had to promote our business in other ways, I’ve had to get to grips with social media.
"It needs to be made to be made into somewhere that’s a more Hebden Bridge type place. We want everybody to do well because you don’t want the town to look like a ghost town. We want it to be flourishing. When we first came here it was a bustling little town, it’s a shame."
Rebecca Sedgewick, owner of Anon Lingerie, said: "We need a town centre. Elland is actually a really good town, there’s some really good shops.
"We are quite ‘destination’, It’s not really a browsing town. People come get a bra and then they leave. It’s just the fault of the town.
"All the banks shutting has had a huge impact on Elland. It’s taken more footfall away from the town centre because people are having to go out of town to use other banks and they are doing their shopping whilst elsewhere. One of my customers pointed this out to me. She has a business and used to bank in Elland and do her shopping at the same time and now she goes to Slaithwaite instead."
Kayla Hinks, manager at Craft Locker, said: "It has its quiet moments. There’s nothing to bring people into Elland anymore. All the banks are shut, there’s not a variety of shops so there’s nothing new for people. Having more street markets can entice people in.
"They (Calderdale Council) need to talk face to face to the businesses and not in a room with lots of other people.."
Joanne Holmes, owner of Ciella which is closing down due to retirement, said: "You need independent shops. It needs variety and it’s such a shame. We are all guilty of it - we all just go to the supermarket.
"If there are specialist shops people will come. I know you could say ‘We don’t need any of these fancy shops’. We have to have a niche and something different.
"It’s like the chicken and the egg. Anybody that’s thinking of starting a business would look around this high street and think ‘oh my god’!"
"When I first came the footfall was unbelievable. People used to say when I first opened Elland?! But I said don’t underestimate Elland."
What did Calderdale Council say?
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Councillor Barry Collins, said: “We’re committed to doing everything we can to help towns and villages to thrive across Calderdale. There’s a huge amount of regeneration work happening throughout the borough to help keep our high streets thriving and community-driven.
“This includes setting up town boards to bring together local communities, businesses and the Council to boost regeneration. Elland Town Board has driven forward improvements to help ensure the town continues to be a place where people want to spend their time.
"This has included the introduction of free parking in Coronation Street car park and the creation of a Council-funded ‘shop local’ guide, to showcase the town’s great independent business offer.
Stunning video footage of Elland bypass bridge scheme
“The Board has also led the creation of an attractive public space at Victoria Gardens, which marks the town’s heritage with a tribute to Joshua Hemmingway who fought in the Boer War, as well as improving the pedestrian walkway under the A629 flyover. Other key sites in the town have been identified for improvement.
“Perhaps the most exciting larger scale development is the planned new £22 million rail station, which will bring huge potential benefits to Elland – supporting local businesses and attracting new investment. In addition to this, we’re also preparing a total refurbishment of Elland library.”
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