IMPROVING Shipley Market Square has been highlighted as a priority for local businesses after they weighed in on the multi-million-pound 'Towns Fund' for the area.

Announced in the Autumn of 2018, ministers made funding available to transform "forgotten" towns across the UK with "a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture".

Both Shipley and Keighley will be granted a total of £25 million towards ambitious plans to transform their town’s economic growth prospects.

Local MP Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative) wanted to hear from businesses about how they would like the £25 million cash injection to be spent.

When asked to rank six priorities; cleaning, markets, transport, parking, recreation and business rates by Mr Davies, most businesses listed the market area as the main concern.

This follows a similar trend seen on the Government's website where residents also called for a new and improved market.

Mr Davies said: “We need to do everything we can to support our businesses and it is essential the business community are consulted and their views taken on board as they play a vital role in bringing economic benefits to the area and maintaining and creating new job opportunities. The market area needs improving so we can have a busy, bustling market square which is a focal point and attraction for people. Shipley is a fantastic place with lots to offer and we need continued investment so this £25 million is very much welcome.

"I am delighted Government has listened to me and specified the money is for Shipley not the Bradford district as therefore we can be certain cash will be spent here and not in other parts of Bradford.”

Mr Davies sought views of businesses as part of a wider survey into the needs of the business community following on from Covid-19.

He said the fund opens up "an opportunity to make a real difference".

Mr Davies said: “We have an opportunity to make a real difference in the area with this money and it is vital it is spent correctly. I will do everything in my power to ensure the money is well spent and really makes a difference to our town.”

Businesses also made suggestions on other schemes that money should be spent on, including putting public toilets in place, along with installing electric car charging points and tackling anti-social behaviour.

Anyone can have their say on how what the money should be spent on by submitting a suggestion at

When the fund was announced, Cllr Vick Jenkins (Labour, Shipley) was one of the first to put her name forward to be on the steering committee for the funding.

Speaking to the T&A last year, she expressed her ideas to link the different areas of Shipley by tieing up places like Briggate and Bradford Road to the centre and the need to "regenerate" both markets.

After hearing the calls in today's paper, she said: "I am really keen to see Shipley Market given a boost. Bradford Council has already secured £1 million funding for the Town Centre with Streets for People funding. As someone who shops at the market weekly I'd love this further funding be put partly to employ someone who has the vision to maximise the use of the market space with different markets, events and activities throughout the year. With Covid, outdoor spaces are even more important for use by our community."

Cllr Martin Love (Shipley, Green) has expressed hopes that the Town Fund could be used alongside the £1million Healthy Streets Funding - revitalising the market but also being put towards public toilets.

He told the T&A: "You don't need all of the £25million, that could really make a difference to the town centre. We know from experience that when the market is on footfall in the other shops goes up. That's always been the case.

"It would be profitable for everybody.

"The big goal we have, I feel, is for public toilets.

"It's been a real disaster for Shipley once the public toilets were closed. They were never easy things to operate and they did cost money but the reasons they closed were financial. The impact that's had on people, it's a health issue."

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His counterpart, Cllr Kevin Warnes (Shipley, Green) said: "This is a huge opportunity for us to transform Shipley town centre into a vibrant space in which businesses can flourish and local residents can relax and enjoy themselves.

"The rise of internet commerce and the long-term impact of the covid crisis means that we must radically re-think how we use our civic areas in order to generate jobs and boost a sense of pride in our community after everything that we have been through this year."