Having lived in Elland all my life and been proud to represent the town as a Calderdale Councillor for 24 years I have never been as saddened as I now am by the declining state of the town centre.
I think that of all the towns in Calderdale, Elland is the worst as facilities have gradually closed due in major part to decisions taken by the council.
Despite huge public opposition the Labour Council closed our swimming baths, resulting in a considerable loss of footfall in the town centre.
The council also closed the Wainwright Hall but the real nail in the coffin was the granting of planning permissions for Morrison’s and an extension at Aldi. These two developments have absolutely decimated trade in the town centre and trade which will never recover.
Shops have closed and more closures are on the way so that Southgate from Victoria Road to the Cross has less than a handful of shops. I remember when this part of Elland was a thriving community and teeming with shoppers.
Then of course Barclays bank and the Halifax decided to close their doors so we no longer have a bank. The loss of footfall has been considerable as a result of these closures. For many people there is now no reason to visit Elland town centre.
Ironically after campaigns to reduce parking charges which have been consistently ignored by the council, free parking for 30 minutes is now available at Coronation Street. The saying “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted” comes to mind!
There is a suggestion that the market should be relocated to the Town Hall Square but I ask what market? Do two or three stalls constitute a market? The market such as it is cannot compete with Morison’s and Aldi, and hence its unpopularity.
I myself along with others have been complaining for months about the disgraceful state of the outside of the council offices and library, two prime public buildings, which detract hugely from the town centre but the council remains unconcerned.
At this time of the year credit must be given to Brian Mansfield, of the Elland and District Partnership, for all the hours which he gives in ensuring that we have an abundance of beautiful hanging baskets – all credit to Brian and his voluntary work – no thanks to the council.
The Lowfields Estate in Elland must generate some of the highest business rates in Calderdale and yet Elland, while having to tolerate considerable additional traffic, receives no benefit.
When I have asked at meetings about the need for additional road sweeping and a programme to clear up derelict sites I have constantly been told there is no money, yet the council has and continues to pour millions of pounds into Halifax.
A vast amount of money is to be spent on providing a railway station in Elland which will be of no benefit whatsoever to Elland town centre. What it will do is to take shoppers away from Elland and Calderdale to Leeds and places beyond.
The Elland Development Board, which 99 per cent of the Elland population has never heard of, needs people of vision who are forward thinking. Lots of words seem to be spoken and officers are good at jargon but what in reality has it achieved – two leaflets, which again 99 per cent of the Elland population has never seen, never mind read!
I have always been proud to call Elland my home town and when other people have referred to it as a district of Halifax I have quickly pointed out that Elland is a town in its own right and one of the oldest in Calderdale. But unless urgent action is taken to stem its decline I really do fear for the future.
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