A group of volunteers who want a better future for Dewsbury have set up their own community group to promote regeneration.
The Dewsbury Partnership launched last week with the aim of supporting projects that will rejuvenate the town and the Heavy Woollen District.
Resident and business consultant Bruce Bird suggested the idea at a public meeting, and he has called for Dewsbury’s focus to switch away from business to the community, whom he believes can make change happen more quickly.
“Regeneration is traditionally treated as a business activity. However, we are working on the principle that it is really about people and their attitudes and this project is about town regeneration, not just business. Business and property developments take years to produce any benefits while people can decide to do something in a moment,” he said.
So far, the group is backing schemes including the Dewsbury Pioneers’ project to develop a centre for local traders to sell hand-made goods in the Arcade, and they also support Kirklees College’s move to Pioneer House.
“There remain many businesses, community groups and residents who are not involved in these project and yet have something to offer. The Dewsbury Partnership can give them a powerful voice as well as a means to actually do something to move projects forward,” added Bruce.
The first meeting of the Dewsbury Partnership was attended by 42 people, including community leaders and business owners, and they hope to attract interest from faith groups and creative organisations.
Their intitial priorities will be to improve the marketing of local activities and events, with the eventual aim being to create a multi-year plan for creative performances to attract visitors to the town.
“We are starting off using free, online services for communication and coordination. But when we bring every aspect of activity in the town together then the whole range of grant funding sources will be available to us,” said Bruce.
“We have such a broad community base then I see no reason why we should not be successful in bidding for grant money and supporting some of the major change projects that were identified by Dewsbury residents and planning experts more than five years ago.
“Let’s start doing the small things that will make even a small difference and move on to putting our combined weight behind the big things.”