This week's MP's column comes from Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley, Robbie Moore.


OPEN green spaces are vital to local communities up and down the country. They provide respite for residents, entertainment for children, a sanctuary for animals and are pivotal in our fight against climate change.

We should cherish our open green spaces and the many benefits that they bring for an area.

Here in Keighley we have a wonderful open green space on the former Keighley College site on North Street. Following the relocation of Keighley College, this site has been left to naturally develop as a green open space.

Ever since my election to Parliament in December 2019, my inbox has been full of constituents who are concerned about the future of this site. The site has become a familiar landmark within the town and serves as a great juxtaposition to the adjacent congested North Street, which has seen a huge increase in the number of vehicles using this stretch of road. Only last year the site was used to honour the late Captain Sir Tom Moore with a huge ‘Captain Tom Keighley Lad’ sign. 

I recently started my own campaign called #KeepItGreen to raise awareness of this site and highlight the importance of keeping the site as open green space for all to enjoy.

I have a dedicated space on my website to the campaign which also includes a poll to see how many residents are in favour of this site remaining as green open space.

So far 496 people have responded to my poll with 492 people in favour of keeping the site as open green space, two people against and two people unsure. This is a resounding result and a clear message for Bradford Council’s Executive team that people of Keighley want to keep this space green. 

I have been joined by a number of local residents and elected representatives along the way with this campaign. A pivotal figure in this campaign has been a local business owner and local resident called Laura Kelly.

Laura has gone above and beyond her call of duty as a business owner and private citizen to raise awareness of the green space.

Using her initiative, Laura set up a petition to Bradford Council which gained over 2,000 signatures. Because of this, she was invited to address Bradford Council’s Full Council meeting which took place on Tuesday, July 13, at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford (due to Covid restrictions at the time). 

In her speech, which she was given five minutes to present to full council, Laura focused on the need for more green spaces in Keighley highlighting the environmental impact that green spaces have, the effect planting more trees will have with capturing carbon and the health and wellbeing qualities the green space will have.

Laura highlighted the number of empty neglected buildings already scattered around the town and the need to prioritise using these buildings. Laura also touched on the general decline of Keighley town centre and raised that the open green space could be used for local events and community markets as an innovative way to increase footfall in the town.

The petition was responded to by the Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, who indicated his support for developing this site. The petition has now been referred to the Council’s Executive team for a final decision, meaning that councillors who are not part of the Council’s Executive meeting will not be given the opportunity to vote on this petition which is very disappointing.

I have also been joined in this campaign by the recently elected councillor for Keighley Central, Councillor Mohammed Nazam. In fact, Cllr Nazam used his maiden speech to Bradford Council’s Full Council meeting outlining his support for this campaign. I also want to pay tribute to two other local activists who have gone out of their way to raise awareness of this campaign.

Fellow local campaigners Javaid Akhtar and Jane Lee have been pivotal in supporting this campaign. Knowing how important this campaign is to Keighley, the pair set up a town meeting for local residents to attend which took place on June 23. I was fortunate enough to be able to speak during this meeting which was well attended by local residents with the overwhelming majority of attendees in favour of keeping this site green. 

This campaign is not about opposing the plans to build a new Health and Wellbeing centre in Keighley.

I welcome such a hub being built in our town. However not on this site. There are many other more appropriate sites around Keighley where this hub could be built, as well as an abundance of empty shops which could be converted to host the hub.

I urge Bradford Council’s Executive team to take the views of local residents into consideration when voting on this petition.