Building on town’s past for the future

David Sheard, Neil Gawthorpe, Simon Thirkill and Jo Cox meet to discuss Heckmondwike's future.
David Sheard, Neil Gawthorpe, Simon Thirkill and Jo Cox meet to discuss Heckmondwike's future.

A new action group wants to drag Heckmondwike out of the past and into a brighter future.

Heckmondwike Alliance chairman Simon Thirkill said that people too often talk about the town as if its best days are over.

He said: “You talk to people and they say ‘it was’ or ‘it used to be’.

“The town has such a fantastic, rich history and we should build on that – it’s about having an identity.”

The second meeting of residents, local politicians and traders gathered at the Blue Moon Cafe on Tuesday evening to plan for prosperity.

Kirklees Council leader David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) said there would be enough money in the pot to help turn Heckmondwike Market into a community project for the town.

And in the coming weeks the group will look to the public for suggestions on what the best use of the space would be.

Ideas raised on Tuesday evening included a practice area for bands to play, an area for schools to rehearse performances and the addition of auctions to take place alongside the market stalls.

Coun Sheard said enough money would be available to support a project for a year before it would need to raise enough to fund itself.

He also wanted to lure in residents who live in the town but travel elsewhere to shop and go out.

He said: “The things people are interested in have changed. People travel 10 miles to go out so a town really has to be different to be attractive.”

The group intend to produce bright and lively pedestrian maps of Heckmondwike and post them through each letterbox to try to draw people in.

A website and town notice board are also on the way.

And at the last meeting of Batley and Spen District Committee Heckmondwike’s Crown of Lights festival was awarded £11,130 and will run over two days this summer.