LETTER: Wakefield Council is making efforts to improve Five Towns

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In his letter to last week’s Express bemoaning a perceived lack of Wakefield Council investment and initiatives in the Five Towns, Sherburn-in-Elmet resident Mike Jordan describes himself as a regular visitor to the towns.

Perhaps his visits have not been sufficiently frequent as Mr Jordan appears to be unaware of the enormous efforts the council is making to secure new jobs, housing, economic development and regeneration that will bring huge benefits to everyone in the Five Towns.

The Castleford Growth Delivery Plan alone sets out measures to create 2,000 new jobs and 3,000 homes over the next 20 years.

Planning permission has been granted for a new £5m Castleford bus station, with the scheme currently out to tender for completion early in 2015. A raft of environmental improvements have recently been completed in in the town while under the Castleford Shopfront Grant scheme, the council has committed £250,000 to match fund shopfront improvements in the town centre.

Castleford now enjoys superb new library and museum facilities thanks to the opening last year of the Castleford Forum.

The Northern relief road feasibility work is underway and new housing developments are being brought forward at Fryston and at the former Lambsons site.

In Pontefract detailed design work has been completed on the £1m Town End Junction improvements scheme. Significant investment is taking place in Pontefract Castle, including potentially £3.5m of Heritage Lottery Funding to transform the site and Pontefract Park is being upgraded.

Other key projects include:

- Monkhill Station - Masterplan prepared by METRO in consultation with council proposing access, car parking, security and platform improvements

- Green Lane link, Featherstone – £0.9m road link to help improve access to employment

- Hill Top environmental scheme in Knottingley to improve the attraction and environment of the Hill Top shopping centre.

- A new roundabout and associated environmental works at Ferrybridge to enable SSE’s £300m new multi-fuel plant creating 98 permanent jobs and 250 construction jobs.

- Regeneration proposals are coming forward for the Normanton Depot site.

These examples are only a fraction of the regeneration work and investment taking place across the whole of the Wakefield District, including Five Towns.

Obviously much more needs to be done but in the face of the recent economic downturn and tough government-imposed spending restrictions, the council has achieved a great deal.

It is often all too easy to take the sort of negative view espoused by Mr Jordan but the fact is Wakefield and the Five Towns have much to shout about and can look forward to the future with confidence.

Coun Denise Jeffery

Wakefield Council’s Cabinet member for Economic Growth and Skills