TWO historic Yorkshire market towns have launched recession-busting initiatives to boost trade and inspire budding entrepreneurs.
Amid warnings that the UK could plunge into an unprecedented triple-dip recession post Olympic Games, the North Yorkshire towns of Settle and Ingleton have launched projects to turn around the economic slump.
Business leaders in Ingleton are planning to develop a specialist business and community hub for start-up firms on the site of a school that was controversially closed last month.
The Ingleton, Health, Organisations, Projects, Enterprise and Education organisation (IHOPE), has been running since last October and hopes the site will provide affordable premises so organisations can deliver services to the community.
The Middle School site would be transformed with innovative ideas including a medical drop-in centre, a BMX site and a women’s football pitch. The hope is to create a multi-purpose site for all ages to get use from.
Rosemary Hartley, 53, a volunteer member of the IHOPE project and care assistant at Ingleborough Nursing Home, said: “We are a voluntary group of dedicated people. We have everything to give and everything to lose.
“Instead of the site just being bulldozed and lost, we are fighting for the community. I love where I live, and we hope to meet everyone’s expectations.”
Traders in Settle have produced a report on the challenges the town faces, identifying traffic level issues, tourist facilities and regenerating the market square as key goals they need to achieve in order to survive.
Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon, said one of the main positives in the town is people coming together and working for the good of the community.
Compared to neighbouring small market towns, Settle’s main strengths are its relatively large number of shops, services and the market.
He said: “I think many people would be surprised at the breadth of businesses that operate in communities like Settle, and I hope more of this networking can be developed in the future.”
Many members of the community and businesses are backing the report, including The Yorkshire Dales Society, Settle Chamber of Trade, Age Concern and Settle Women’s Institute.
John Mason, chairman of Settle District Chamber of Trade, said: “We were asked to contribute to the costs and we paid a substantial part, showing how important we regard our future.
“The report covers all aspects of life and business in Settle. It is a wonderful place to live, work and visit.”
The efforts come after all but one Yorkshire bid for the Government’s first two waves of Portas Pilot town centre funding were rejected. The Yorkshire Post’s Fair Deal Campaign is calling for a fairer distribution of public funds in the region, but so far only Rotherham has been successful in obtaining cash for regeneration schemes.
North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Barry Dodd has called on the region’s businesses to forget about Government support and concentrate on their own initiatives.
“It is time for everyone to wake up and take their own initiative,” he said. “If you want to survive and regenerate, wherever you are, you need to communicate, collaborate and get on with it.
“Towns everywhere are under threat, but it is still important without grants to get up and try.”
Speaking about Ingleton and Settle, he said: “I commend them for what they are doing. They are shining examples of what other people in towns should do, and have got their ideas spot on.”