When The Guardian ran the article ‘Halifax, the new Shoreditch of the North’ last weekend, a phrase coined by BBC 6 Music radio station, I couldn’t help but agree with former Barnsley MP and new CEO of UK Music Michael Dugher who tweeted ‘Maybe Shoreditch is the Halifax of the South!’
For anyone not familiar with Shoreditch, I’m reliably informed it’s a trendy part of London known for its fashionable bars and restaurants, artists, and a thriving live music scene. So whilst we are keen to be our own, proud northern town, it’s great to think we are firmly on the national map for all that we now have to offer.
The selection of eating and drinking establishments has improved immensely over the last few years with a number of specialist craft beer bars and coffee outlets joining the varied selection of restaurants in the town.
There’s also lots going on culturally in Halifax. We’ve got a diverse array of museums, arts venues and performance spaces such as the Square Chapel, Victoria Theatre and the Artworks - which hosted a well-received Quentin Blake exhibition last year.
Eureka has boasted it’s best year ever with record numbers through the doors.
And the live music in our town is as good as it has been in decades. Halifax has previously played host to The Jacksons, Rod Stewart, Dusty Springfield and The Kinks to name but a few. So it’s really exciting that venues like The Lantern and Grayston Unity are once again hosting packed live music events, and the Piece Hall is hosting a huge concert in May.
It is hard to keep up with the number of accolades and awards the Piece Hall has received since it reopened just 6 months ago, with visitor numbers rivalling some of the country’s top attractions. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to Halifax last week was another great showcase for our town.
I was very proud in Westminster last week to hear Sir Gary Verity brief MPs from across the region about the upcoming ‘Tour de Yorkshire’. He talked about how the final stage was going to be a platform to show off the stunning Piece Hall to the rest of the world, a day that we are very much looking forward to.
Calderdale Council deserve credit for their vision and role in this success. Since 2010 the Conservative Government have cut over £90m from their budget, however they have continued to invest where they can and fight to secure further investment from sources such as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the National Lottery. Alongside the Piece Hall Trust and Welcome to Yorkshire they are great advocates of our area.
With what’s left of council funding now mainly dedicated to funding care for the vulnerable, think what more we could have achieved as a town if the Government hadn’t slashed the money available for tackling litter, supporting music and the arts, and investing in regeneration.
Our area still faces many challenges and you only have to look at the former crown post office, the disused courts and the growing homelessness on the streets, to see how the Conservative approach of nearly a decade of cuts has failed us.
However, there are a growing number of reasons to be positive about Halifax, making me prouder than ever, to represent our town in Westminster.