Mixed response to Knottingley's £50m masterplan

Plans to transform Knottingley and Ferrybridge over the next 10 years have been given a mixed reception from the towns' public.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 11:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 11:18 am
The project's launch was held at Kellingley Social Club on Tuesday morning.
The project's launch was held at Kellingley Social Club on Tuesday morning.

The council is pumping £50m into the area in a bid to improve economic prospects and people's health.

But at the project's official launch at Kellingley Social Club on Tuesday morning, a number of residents voiced fears that some of the proposed ideas won't go deep enough to tackle the area's problems.

Around £25m will be spent on building a relief road, connecting Womersley Road with the M62, slightly east of Junction 33.

The Knottingley Vision has been drawn up to tackle the town's issues.

Cash will also be used to fund skills training for the unemployed and on extra sports provision for those unable to get to the soon-to-be-built leisure centre at Pontefract Park.

But several people cited the closure of Knottingley Sports Centre in 2017 as an example that the area is losing out, and suggested that the picture was unlikely to change soon.

Philip Butterfield said: "There is scepticism (about the plans). I’ve lived here since 2000 and in that time all I’ve seen, predominantly, is things taken away from the town.

"So after all those years that scepticism is understandable. Promises have been made and not kept. There was a development plan a few years ago for the sports centre here and we know where that is now."

A relief road will be built between the M62 and Womersley Road.

Kellingley Social club's steward Paul Green runs the building on behalf of the council.

It's used by several different community groups throughout the week and also hosts receptions for funerals and christenings.

But Mr Green said that the venue was being hurt by anti-social behaviour and that cash was desperately needed to secure its future as a place to unite the community.

"There's kids here pretty much every night causing problems," he said. "It's because they're bored and they've got nothing to do.

"Now the sports centre's closed and they've got even less to do.

"The meeting was all very positive and lovely, but when’s something going to start happening?"

Others pointed to the plans for skills workshops to help the unemployed as evidence that the school system is failing to prepare young people for life as adults.

Nearly 40 per cent of people in Knottingley have no qualifications, as opposed to around 10 per cent of the Wakefield district as a whole.

Christine Walker, who runs a martial arts class business with husband Simon in the town centre, was more optimistic about the overall vision.

She said: "I think tackling the congestion with the relief road will be the big thing.

"Wherever you live or work in Knottingley, you need to use Womersley Road.

"I think part of the problem here is people's mindset and that takes time to change. I'd like to see the council work with four and five year-olds in schools to try and do that.

"One of our issues is we want to get into schools to run martial arts classes for free, which is something that would really improve kids' health, but the schools don't want to know."