As a former Pudsey resident sadly now exiled to another part of West Leeds, I’ve been reading with interest for some time the Dispatch‘s coverage of the issues facing Pudsey town centre.
Visiting the town on a shopping trip recently, it’s clear that despite the marvellous ‘planting’ efforts made by volunteers from Pudsey in Bloom, the town is in need of major investment other town centres like Morley and Rothwell have had over the years.
- The public realm desperately needs improving. Take a look at the pavements – some of them are a mess, particularly around the card shop and Boots area on Church Lane which are a hotch-potch of tarmac and paving. Armley Town Street, which has many social problems Pudsey doesn’t, received major lottery money for new pavements with slabs depicting the area’s history (like the Armley hippo!). It got new roadside barriers and new heritage shopfronts were brought in. Pudsey needs something like this.
- We need a plan! Pudsey needs a coherent strategy for change and a town centre manager or voluntary group to lead this change and attract investment/business. What’s the future of town centres in general? Sure, people’s shopping habits have changed (online and supermarkets rule) so how do we get a town centre with a proper mix of leisure, retail? What other things can we have to engage people? What’s the vision for town centres in 2030? With a bit of vision, Pudsey can lead the way.
- Put some effort into the market. Unemployment is about to soar, why not encourage people to set up their own businesses in the market? Offer cut-price pitches or something? Maybe put the market into community ownership, a bit like Bramley Baths?
- The Town Hall needs to be part of that strategy. Let’s face it, I doubt the Town Hall will be here in its current form in five years. It’ll be flats or something. It’s not realistic to see Leeds City Council keeping that building going given it’s not well used and they have no money. What could it be used for? Anyone with out of the box ideas? Community ownership? Let’s have a proper community conversation about this.
- I’d look at forming a town council to give us more of a voice. Look at Morley, Otley, Aireborough, Horsforth etc – there’s only Pudsey that doesn’t have one. I know going back to pre-1974 could be seen as viewing things through rose-tinted glasses, but it would be a way of encouraging community activity. (Although I do worry it might become another Labour-Conservative party political boxing match which Pudsey seems to specialise in).
- Pudsey needs backing with proper marketing. Even if it’s just something on social media.
I know Pudsey’s not Ilkley and nor do I want it to be. But it should have a great future. I’m too old to be organising this sort of thing, but perhaps getting the people of Pudsey more involved in some sort of group or campaign?
Let’s get the town centre and its market back to where it was with a bit of bottom up vision and passion.
- B. O’Reilly (Mrs)