Council has its priorities right

I would like to reply to some of the points raised in letters last week about the plans for regenerating Kirkgate and the civic quarter.

There is no doubt that the government’s cuts to our revenue budget – the one we have to use to provide the day to day services you all rely on – have put us in an appalling financial position.

However we have a duty to drive forward regeneration and continue to use our capital budget to invest for the future.

We work hard to ensure our capital budget is used where it is needed to help create jobs for local people and where it will help secure a future for the district and our young people.

When private developers buy key, iconic buildings we are often powerless to intervene if the redevelopment stalls, which can lead to dilapidated, eyesores like the old cinema building and the crown court building.

This is why we took steps to buy the former police station, having finally managed to secure the crown court building.

The proposals for the civic quarter will ensure that key buildings in the core of the historic centre are sensitively converted and build on the regeneration of Wakefield as a whole.

With the limited resources we now have to work with, we need to focus on specific areas to make a direct impact.

In Kirkgate we are taking a phased approach which is already paying dividends.

The much needed restoration of Kirkgate Station is well underway and due for completion later this year.

Funding and planning permission have been secured to provide a new home for the West Yorkshire Archives on the site of the former vacant Crown House office block, and funding bids are progressing for significant road and transport improvements which will remove the Chantry subway and create improved access for the Kirkgate area.

Planning permission was granted to the private owners of the old cinema site last year for retail and housing development and it is now with the owners to bring their development forward as soon as possible.

It is so important that we keep looking to the future. Regenerating key areas of the city centre is essential to encourage further economic growth, attract new developments and bring employment opportunities, which will eventually benefit us all.

Coun Denise Jeffery

Cabinet member for Economic Growth and Skills