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News » WAB Debate

Were the government right to block our town centre overhaul?

Friday April 1 2011

The council has issued a statement today after its plans to overhaul the town centre and create a shopping mecca with 1,500 jobs for the community were dealt a blow.

It says the government blocked a hand-over of four key sites in the town centre, including the Metropolitan shopping centre, from soon-to-be-abolished Yorkshire Forward to Barnsley Council.

A council statement said: "Under this arrangement, payment for the sites by the council to the government would have been deferred - allowing the £180 million regeneration project to proceed.

"However, reports say the government has decided deferred payment "would not be appropriate" because of the need to tackle the national deficit. Ministers say local authorities must pay market value up front for regional development agency assets."

It seems if it is deferred for another year, there's a possibility that funding would not be available - so what do you think? Should we fight for it? Or were the government right?

Video on the plans here

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Reply Posted by SFR's barnsley sime on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 10:07
in 1986 when i was at college it was proposed that there would be a roof constructed to make the entire centre of town one big shopping centre. that never happened, so i can't see anything else happening.
it would be nice if it did. get a bit of money flowing into the town.

Reply Posted by Nicky-WAB on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 12:43
I think it's about time Barnsley got a department store - for sure!

Reply Posted by jaya on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 12:44
No, there is already one in smithies which is less than 3 miles away. It beggars belief that our council are putting investment into this when our town is in the state it's in at the moment. Cuts left right and centre and lollypop ladies on roads with a history of accidents being made redundant, our roads, parks and amenities are in total disrepair and we have to save 46million over the next couple of years. This council has failed us over the last 20 years and im not just talking about cuts we were in a bad state before that. The senior management are a load of old codgers with no idea what to do next, they are out of touch with the communities they serve and the first sign of trouble start swinging the axe on the little people and the elderly then show their complete inemptness by throwing money at half bake ill thought out ideas. What happened to the new market? I was about 15 when I first heard about this I'm 30 now, what happened to the tuscan village idea? That stupid clock that they put on the civic has gone off after less than 2 years. Get ready for an empty town centre next month when the free parking gets cancelled, in an effort to save money, the shops and food outlets don't generate income for the council in rates by the way, oh wait actually they do. In slow growth you need to encourage people to shop not discourage. It's about time we started banging on the doors and telling them exactly what we feel. I already think it's too late though

Reply Posted by Nicky-WAB on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 12:44
Would love to see a department store return to town!

Reply Posted by Nicky-WAB on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 12:45
Gavin Giggidy Courtney on FACEBOOK says: "make shop rents cheaper my mate tried renting a shop in town wanted 6 months rent upfront nearly 6 grand"

Reply Posted by Nicky-WAB on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 12:45
Lorna 'Yorkie' Baker on FACEBOOK says: "they should get rid of that woods furniture i think it used to be littlewoods or somethin. That shop is just pointless! "

Reply Posted by joanne_s on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 12:46
I think creating jobs is a must in Barnsley. Everyone thinks it's so easy to go and get a job and everyone on dole must be a scrounger but it's not like that at all. A lot of people are a victim of circumstances beyond their control and the amount of jobs that are available versus the amount of applicant they get for each role is 1:40 or even more now. I can sympathise with people who genuinely want to work but are struggling to find jobs that will actually cover things such as rent, bills and food. Barnsley needs jobs and the new MP was all about creating jobs so lets see him doing what he told us he was going to.

Reply Posted by Deantodd on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 15:20
Yes jobs need to be created but unless Barnsley has an industry to employ these people, service industry jobs along with public sector roles are the first to go. What about inviting Wind turbine, wave turbine, solar panel companies to make use of the empty units over the borough.

Reply Posted by Edwarddevoy on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 15:21
Live chat with cllr Houghton a waste of time. I might as well have just read the chronicle again as he trots out all the same lame excuses; defending the greed of his chief officers who have got us in this situation. The only thing they've worked and planned for is their financial future. We are left in low-wage & benefit poverty.

Reply Posted by edwarddevoy on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 15:21
Eric Illsley is not the only one taking our money under false pretences. Too many well-paid doing nowt!

Reply Posted by Kathcoulbeck on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 15:27
re do these rds on new lodge n racecommon rd

Reply Posted by jaya on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 15:51
Barnsley is a blackhole for jobs we all know that, although the amount of building that has occured over the last 20 years would suggest the population has gone up? Surely the council income has too then? There are a lot of workshy people in our town that do not want to work and will remain so until they are made to, they are as much to blame also. The hard workers are the ones suffering the most at the moment.

Most people in work (especially office based) now have to commute. Why when Barnsley is in the middle of the country with excellent links to the M1 are we just seen as stop between leeds and sheffield. This council ruined the retail industry from the 90s to the 00s by raising rates and parking charges. Local businesses cannot afford the councils rates which is why most of the offices in town sit empty. Many highstreet retailers no longer bother in town as it's not seen as profitable. we have a long way to go and I don't think this council has the radical thinkers we need to help us through these dificult times. I think the top end management need sacking most of them have been too long in the job without providing us ( their customers ) with any results to match the wages they are on.

Reply Posted by jaya on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 15:53
I heard Barnsley college is creating a low carbon centre or something this could be the way to go. Yorkshire is supposed to be seeing big investment in this in the next 20 years, dodworth business park anyone?

Reply Posted by Ah on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 16:07
Waste of time? What did you expect? Everyone had the opportunity to ask a question. He answered them...

Reply Posted by jaya on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 16:10
joanne_s but there are still too many people on the dole in barnsley that are happy to be so. We don't have the money to keep supporting dole scroungers.

Reply Posted by on Tuesday March 15 2011 at 18:38
But not everyone is like that. The sad fact is that everyone gets tarred with the same brush and it's not only unfair, it's disheartening to the people that get labelled. And sadly when all the "benefits shake ups" happen to supposedly deal with the people that just DO NOT want to work it's always the genuine people that end up getting hit the hardest. I've worked for DWP so I know where I'm coming from and YES this country needs to change, I just wish people could see things from both sides every now and get and realise, that especially the last few years (and a few more to come) people can find themselves in the very situation the look down on others for being in through no fault of their own. If we could wave a magic wand and make the ones who have made a living off the social go out and do something that would be great but unfortunately it hasn't happened. The fact that the media is constantly downplaying Barnsley and tarring us as a racist town is not helping either, It makes it that much more difficult for people to get a job outside of Barnsley when they're thought of as being racist just because SOME people vote bnp and the media have decided to advertise us as the poster town for it.

Reply Posted by WAB - Nicky on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 09:23
I didn't know that Sime ! That's interesting!

Reply Posted by Suzy on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 10:00
Perhaps at the next live chat you should share some ideas with the council about how they could improve things.

Reply Posted by Linzi1oc on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 10:43
Barnsley town centre is terrible. Get some decent shops and it may attract more people. Its easier to get to meadowhall and free parking

Reply Posted by nicky on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 14:42
Oooh good idea! :-)

Reply Posted by Guest on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 15:24
Barnsley College has just commenced work on a new sustainable construction and renewable energies Centre, the Think Low Carbon (TLC) Centre. For more information, please see the article on their website http://www.barnsley.ac.uk/articles/242/1/-Barnsley-College-Breaks-New-Ground/Page1.html

Reply Posted by Maureencharlesworth on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 17:59
Barnsley town centre is a cruel joke, it is really sad!.....huddersfield is so much better...loads of shops and not so many pubs...

Reply Posted by James on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 22:12
It makes me sad to see Barnsley folk going off to Leeds or Meadowhall to do their shopping. How can towns like Doncaster, Huddersfield, Burnley and Scunthorpe all have better shopping facilities than us? I'm so glad we've got the market because otherwise Barnsley town centre would be like Rotherham's...dead. How many charity shops/99p stores are in town? And our mini-meadowhall now has an Iceland, poundland, TK Maxx, Primark etc... don't get me wrong nothing wrong with those shops but the shops in the Alhambra are a joke.

Reply Posted by jaya on Wednesday March 16 2011 at 22:52
Joanne Im not having a go at the people who want to work, but Barnsley DOES have more than it's own fair share of people far too happy to sit on their backsides all day whilst some people work 40+ hour weeks just to scrape by. Do you think this town would be in the same state if even 10% of unemployed were working? I for one found myself unemployed last year and going to the job centre I found every stereotype imaginable all with their hands out. We have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in europe drive around any council estate i can guarantee that you will see a teen mum pushing a pram with no partner in sight? whos paying for all this? we are. We got shafted in the 80s but people have to start looking to themselves to make this town better and a hardline on benefits is as good a start as any. People who want to work will work. Benefits should be there for people who have earned and paid into them - not for those that just see them as an automatic entitlement. As for the BNP thing I've worked in leeds sheffield and bradford with as diverse a people as you can imagine, I dont think people have the view of barnsley being a bnp townt in fact im pretty certain BNP are like a bad smell in barnsley but they will go away eventually people are realising that they have no worthwhile policies and aren't very clever.

Reply Posted by WAB - Nicky on Thursday March 17 2011 at 09:40
It defo needs more high-end shops - too many cheapy pound shops IMO

Reply Posted by jaya on Friday April 1 2011 at 14:25
surprise surprise. Maybe if the regeneration had taken place in the 90s and 00's like every other town then our town centre wouldn't resemble some backwater eastern european town. Maybe if we ask all the committees, consultants, architects and administrators that all took money in the boom years for a refund we would have enough to pay for it. After all it was our council taxes that funded the huge amounts of nothing the council has produced the past 29 years.

Reply Posted by Mick on Friday April 1 2011 at 14:31
The govt. hasn't blocked the project they have simply said that if the council / investors want properties and land they will have to pay for them. I don't think that's an unreasonable principle, or should govt. assets just be handed to anyone who comes up with a promise of future jobs and riches without guarantees? I think the figure for the sites mentioned is £14million. If the business case for this project is so flakey that the council with all its assets can't finance £14million towards a total £180million cost then it can't really be such a good project. Maybe the £millions being spent on turning the Town Hall into a museum that no-one will visit could be diverted.

I've said before that I don't believe retail in Barnsley can generate 1500 new jobs, so the case is already weak.

Reply Posted by WAB - Nicky on Friday April 1 2011 at 14:56
Mick - thanks for that information, very helpful indeed. The council statement does indeed use the phrase blocked.

Reply Posted by Rwarburton on Friday April 1 2011 at 15:42
Is it true that Cllr S Houghton's Barnsley Market Plan was rejected by the Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009/2010. I noticed that the figure of £300,000,000 was somewhat "watered down" to about £180,000,000 ~ the question posed by myself and possibly a few others is "WHY?". What happened to the £300 million plan for regeneration? Also, do you think that Barnsley is BIG ENOUGH to tackle MEADOWHALL? I applaud any regeneration project, but can it be that BMBC has bitten off a little more than it can chew?