Town-centre help scheme is praised by new shop owner

Castleford town centre doing really well with vacant shops being taken over. 
Sayed Loonat (owner of Keep in touch), Coun Denise Jeffrey and John Hufton (Business support officer)
Castleford town centre doing really well with vacant shops being taken over. Sayed Loonat (owner of Keep in touch), Coun Denise Jeffrey and John Hufton (Business support officer)

A new shop owner in Castleford says the help being offered to start-up businesses is helping to breathe new life into town centres.

A scheme launched by Wakefield Council to attract fresh business and fill vacant shopping units is beginning to pay dividends with more than 17 either re-opened or going through the application process in Pontefract and Castleford.

Among the first to apply for the shop front enhancement fund was Sayed Loonat, who runs Keep in Touch newsagents and convenience store on Castleford’s Albion Street. He took over the shop having worked for the previous owner to save it from becoming an empty unit.

He said: “The council said they would help me with the front of the shop, to make it look better. We’ve had complements from every single customer.

“We’ve only been here two months but it’s improving all the time, we’re definitely heading in the right direction. It’s good that we’re getting different shops now, it helps attract more people and we get passing trade.

Councillor Denise Jeffery, cabinet member for economic growth and skills at Wakefield Council, said of the scheme: “People are coming forward all the time, it’s amazing. In Pontefract we’ve got retailers and niche shops and in Castleford we’re wanting to get more a cafe culture. Both towns are in a stronger position than they have been for a long time.

“People like going to individual shops rather than internet shopping because they get a different take on it, they can go for a coffee or food, and it becomes a social thing.”