Chairman of board pledges to 'revitalise' Dewsbury town centre with £60m plan
A businessman who heads a board charged with overseeing a near £60 million investment in the regeneration of Dewsbury has pledged a “generational transformation” of the town.
Keith Ramsay became chairman of the Dewsbury Town Board in June and says the joint investment by local and central government is a big vote of confidence in the town’s future potential.
Kirklees Council is investing around £34 million while £25 million is coming from the Government. The Town Board is there to oversee delivery of the nine key projects which make up the Dewsbury Blueprint.
Mr Ramsay, who is also chairman of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust which runs Dewsbury Hospital, said: “This is a very exciting time and this investment represents a generational transformation for the town.
"For me this is a real commitment from local and central government to kick-start the regeneration of Dewsbury.
“In challenging economic times this investment of capital is a vote of confidence in Dewsbury and we hope it will encourage others to invest. We hope it will be a catalyst.”
The Dewsbury Town Board, which meets monthly, currently has 16 members but at least two more will join by the end of the year.
The board includes Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood and Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor and other high profile business leaders including Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Palvinder Singh, principal and chief executive of Kirklees College, and business consultant Iqbal Bhana.
While Kirklees Council has ultimate responsibility, the board will have a role in overseeing the delivery.
The nine projects include the refurbishment of The Arcade, the revamp of Dewsbury Market and the creation of a Town Park.
There will also be investment in roads, historic buildings, sustainable transport and the fibre communication network.
Mr Ramsay, previously a senior executive with Marks & Spencer, was also involved in the formation of the Leeds Business Improvement District and he wants Dewsbury to benefit from its proximity to Leeds – just nine minutes by fast train.
He also recognises that Dewsbury has its challenges – not least anti-social behaviour in the town centre – but by partnership working those issues can be addressed, he said.
“There’s some fantastic stuff that goes on in Dewsbury but we are not very good at shouting about it,” he added.
“Some of these projects will take three or four years to deliver but they will revitalise Dewsbury.
"We are planting some real seeds.”