Young adults are leaving Keighley for university and not returning – placing a strain on local businesses.
This claim was made at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Executive earlier this month, when officers were talking about a £20m Levelling Up bid for Keighley.
The bid is one of four recently submitted to Government by Bradford Council.
Keighley’s bid will see an “Advanced Robotics Engineering Institute” built in the town, offering a “higher-level facility in partnership with Keighley College and Bradford University to support research and development in areas such as advanced robotics.”
The bid will also be used to develop empty Brownfield sites in the town for new or expanding businesses.
And an upgrade of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway would “meet pent-up demand for additional passengers from domestic and international tourism, thereby delivering further spend into the economy.”
The Levelling Up bids were discussed at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Executive last Tuesday.
Jason Longhurst, director of place at the Council said: “Businesses in Keighley have not been able to expand in the town due to a lack of employment land.
“There are also issues around recruitment. Businesses say the town is losing a lot of people to university, and these people aren’t returning to the town.
“This has really led to challenges in recruiting, and businesses have told us they had to let contracts go because of this issue. They can’t develop their business to the extent they want.
“There are a number of brownfield sites in Keighley, and if we can unlock them we really increase the amount of employment land in the town.”
Referring to the proposed work to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, he added: “We’re working to increase capacity on that line – not only to enhance the visitor academy but also to enable commuter capacity.”
Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, Leader of the Conservatives in Bradford Council, said she welcomed the levelling up schemes, but criticised the lack of communication with ward Councillors when planning the bids.
She said: “I’ve had no conversations regarding the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Scheme. It is not correct to say ward councillors have been consulted.”
Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said all the bids had been submitted with the support of the Constituency MP – in the case of the Keighley bid, Conservative Robbie Moore.
A decision on the Levelling Up bids is expected later this year.