KEIGHLEY’S MP has called for a public vote on whether a former Keighley College site should become a park.

Robbie Moore said he would support residents “100%” if townspeople preferred the land on North Street to remain green space.

He spoke as public demands grew for Bradford Council to reverse its decision to put a building on the site.

Mr Moore is supporting the campaign for a new ‘urban park’ named in honour of NHS workers or fundraising centenarian Captain Tom Moore.

Meanwhile a separate campaign is gaining momentum to name the proposed park after the late historian Ian Dewhirst who spent most of his career at the nearby Keighley Library.

Legacy of joy left by Cliffe Castle volunteer

Calls for a park began soon after the Keighley College building was demolished and temporarily grassed over in 2017 while the council developed proposals to build a £9m-plus ‘hub’ bringing together organisations that serve the public.

While negotiations between the organisations are still rolling on, the coronavirus crisis has brought a new impetus to the urban park idea.

The site is currently home to a large sign celebrating Keighley born fundraiser Captain Tom Moore, although that temporary fixture is only likely to remain until November.

Popular local gardener Steve Thorpe, who tends the nearby town hall square with son Joe, offered to help create a permanent park on the college site.

Keighley MP Robbie Moore said there could be no better way to commemorate Captain Tom or NHS staff who had shown “selfless dedication during these challenging times”.

He added: “The green open space in the centre of town is certainly a welcome addition following the demolition of the old Keighley College building.

“In terms of the future use of the site, I think it is really important that the people of Keighley have their say, and I will back that 100%.

“If the feeling of the town is that this area, or even part of it would be best used as open space, rather than being developed, then that sits comfortably with me.”

Bradford Council last month said that, although it welcomed ideas for how to celebrate the local heroes of coronavirus, it had no plans to convert the North Street site into a park, and would instead press ahead with its hub project.

Former Keighley town mayor Graham Mitchell this week said he was “greatly heartened” by the supportive response from residents for the green space to become a memorial garden dedicated to Dr Dewhirst, who died last year.

In a letter to the Keighley News he wrote: “Saplings, bushes and benches would create a memorial park which would give great pleasure to hundreds of people, and greatly improve the quality of air in one of the most congested parts of Keighley.

“A ‘post-Covid’ world, with less need for office blocks, plus an impending Climate Crisis, is exactly the right time to advance this green project, but we need a ‘Big Name Supporter’ with strong local connections to take this up as a worthy cause and champion the very obvious desire of residents.”

Bradford Council has been approached for a comment on Mr Moore’s call for the public to be asked what should happen to the North Street college site

Mr Mitchell said that local councillors had put forward weak arguments for the “delightful” green space to be used for a community hub building.

Bradford Council has been approached for a comment on Mr Moore’s call for public consultation over the park proposal.

It last month responded that Keighley already had accessible public green space at the adjacent town hall square and nearby Devonshire and Cliffe Castle Parks.