Wakefield Council supports city centre

27/01/2021, PR-9813

​Wakefield Council is working with partners to support the city centre as the effects of the pandemic continue to bite.

The Council is working to support businesses that are affected as well as working to secure new business and bring significant investment into the city centre.

The Council has already bid for a share of the £3.6bn Towns Fund established by Government. If successful this funding will be used to positively boost the local economy of Wakefield city centre as part of the coronavirus recovery.

The Council's ambitious master plan for the city centre will provide a vision and strategic direction for future change and development in the area, particularly focusing on the recovery from the pandemic, and the Council will be asking residents for their input on this in the spring. 

Exciting plans are already happening to transform Wakefield's historic Civic Quarter into a thriving neighbourhood, with new homes and a stunning new community hub. And the Kirkgate area of the city has already benefited from significant investment, and continues to do so as the Council regenerates this key gateway into the city.

An enviable £4.4m programme to significantly enhance the creative and cultural sectors across the district is also in the offing. Coined WX3, the Wakefield Creative Industries Growth Platform aims to bring 600 new jobs to the district and will be used to support new and established creative businesses, nurture new creative talent, and help develop new skills to create a strong creative workforce.

Cllr Denise Jeffery
Cllr Denise Jeffery

​Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: "It is essential that we all work together to look forward and plan for the future as our district's economy recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

"We are continuing to work with partners across the district to ensure that our city and town centres are in as strong a position as possible, following the huge impact that the pandemic has had, so that we can work together to bounce back stronger.

"Together we can attract investment to support businesses and encourage residents and visitors to come and enjoy our vibrant city centre once again."

The latest news to affect the city centre is the closure of Debenhams, following a takeover by fashion retailer Boohoo, which doesn't include taking on any of the firm's high street stores or workforce.

Employment, skills and training advice is being offered to the staff affected by the Debenhams closure to support them in their search for new jobs and training opportunities.

Cllr Darren Byford
Cllr Darren Byford

​Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: "Debenhams has been a firm fixture on the Wakefield high street for a number of years and this is a terribly sad announcement for those affected and we understand this will have a huge impact on many local residents.

"We have a team working to identify new roles with other local employers in the district, in a bid to minimise any periods of unemployment.

"We want those affected to be reassured that we are here to help, and through our Step-Up programme we can support people to navigate their way to other employment opportunities in the district, access the training they need for the next stage of their careers and support them with future job applications.

"Debenhams employees are currently being offered places on virtual workshops to advise them on the support available. We've already been supporting a number of workers that have come forward and encourage others to do the same."

Cormac Hamilton, Trinity Walk's Centre Manager, said: "It's extremely sad to see a national retailer with so much history close their stores across the country. We really feel for all the staff affected, especially those we have worked so closely with in our store here. Unfortunately, this has not been unexpected and we have for some time been exploring and advancing various options.

"The city itself has withstood this period better than most, borne out by the cities recovery index. Thanks to the centre's strong track record, we are seeing real interest in our units and we'll continue to play our part in bringing people into Wakefield city centre to the benefit of all the businesses in the city."

Step Up's community based approach to employment and skills development has been confirmed by independent researchers to be the most effective way to support people into work.

Visit the website at www.stepupwakefield.com or for more information and to make an appointment with a member of the team, call 01924 303334 or email stepup@wakefield.gov.uk