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From Keighley News, January 19th 2023
Written by Alistair Shand

ANGER and disappointment has greeted news of Keighley's failure to receive any 'levelling up' cash in the Government's latest round of funding.

Several ambitious town schemes, together worth around £20 million, were in the running for potential funds.

But none of the projects put forward for the Bradford district were successful.

Keighley proposals included an Advanced Robotics and Engineering Institute, earmarked for part of the Stockbridge council depot site. It was claimed the scheme would make the town a global leader in cutting-edge technology and potentially create hundreds of jobs. The state-of-the-art centre would see Keighley College and Bradford University support research and development in emerging technologies. High-level skills training and educational opportunities would be offered, and entrepreneurial businesses set up clustered around the facility.

Also included in the bid package was the unlocking of brownfield sites for industrial development, and improvements which would have seen the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway become a major transport hub and commuter route. Upgraded signalling would enable more services to be run on the five-mile line, and the railway's fleet of diesel multiple units were to be overhauled – with a dedicated storage and maintenance facility created.

Submissions were also made for schemes in Bradford South and East, and in Shipley constituency.

Bradford Council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said news the bid had been unsuccessful was “extremely disappointing”, but she said the schemes were “ready to go” should any future funding become available.

Keighley's former Labour MP John Grogan, who will be contesting the seat again for the party at the next general election, said: "This is extremely disappointing news for Keighley, and talk of levelling up by the Government today sounds rather hollow.

"It seems strange the Prime Minister’s affluent constituency is receiving funding and Keighley is getting nothing. Speak to any manufacturing business in Keighley and they say what is stopping them expanding in the town is lack of industrial land and a shortage of skilled labour. The project proposed at the Stockbridge depot would have provided a solution to both problems.

"Equally, the exciting plans to expand the capacity of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway have also been knocked back.

"I hope that both these projects can be revisited under a new Government."

The town's Conservative MP, Robbie Moore, said: "It is deeply disappointing to hear Keighley has not been successful in receiving additional levelling up fund monies over and above the £33.6 million already ringfenced for the town.

"Following a meeting with the minister, I understand Bradford Council’s application did not meet the quality required or was detailed enough to meet the standard for a successful bid selection.

"This is incredibly frustrating as it would seem the town has missed out on additional funds due to a lack of strategic thought and detail included within the bid to Government by Bradford Council. I have therefore requested that Government officials write to Bradford Council urgently outlining how it can significantly improve the application for a resubmission in the next round, so that Keighley doesn’t miss out on additional monies due to council incompetence.

"It is imperative Bradford Council works closely with the Government and the civil service team over the coming months to ensure they deliver a strong and well-crafted bid that will truly benefit the people of Keighley."