In our last post we talked about reviewing the work that has already been done, mostly in the Strategic Development Framework, to identify the improvements that are necessary for Dewsbury - and how we might be able to make smaller steps (Stepping Stones) now towards that ultimate destination.
In the last few weeks we have concluded that there are several Stepping Stones that we might be able to tackle. These are:
- The Urban and Riverside Parks with associated cycle and walking routes
- Business Incubator
- Events Programme
We also decided to petition the District Committees of both Dewsbury & Mirfield and Batley & Spen. This would ensure that:
- Kirklees is officially aware of our existence
- we would have the opportunity to make a short presentation
- the maximum number of councillors could be briefed and have the opportunity to ask questions.
The Stepping Stones
A little explanation of why we chose these Stepping Stones.
Urban and Riverside Parks.
These are linked together in the SDF because they create a green space all the way from the Town Hall down to the river. The Urban Park is obviously a big problem because it involves rerouting of the southern ring road.
However, the Riverside Park in its basic form is something that may be achievable using volunteer labour and would then become an identifiable resource and a success to be celebrated. It would be a marker to indicate that The Dewsbury Partnership is serious about what we are trying to achieve.
It also contributes to the Big Move of reconnecting the town centre as it could connect the pedestrian and cycle routes of the Ossett Greenway and the riverside towpath towards Ravensthorpe and bring the river into focus as an asset of the town rather than an obstruction.
This is very much in the orbit of the existing business groups in the town. At present Dewsbury has a number of resources:
- Kirklees College hosts an entrepreneurs programme - but in Huddersfield
- Kirklees Youth Market which offers opportunities to start up traders in Dewsbury market
- The Dewsbury Pioneers which offers opportunities for small retail spaces in the Arcade
- and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is shortly launching its FSB Connect youth programme in Kirklees.
We are aiming to arrange meetings with The Dewsbury Pioneers, the Chamber of Trade, the Market Traders and Kirklees College in the near future to see how they are planning future development to ensure that we bring all these resources together for maximum effect.
If you have seen any of our presentations you will know that promoting a continuous programme of events in Dewsbury and marketing them effectively is a major part of our strategy.
We are lucky to have a number of different performance groups located in Dewsbury several of which have already expressed their support and we are working on engaging with everyone in this sector.
Cittaslow, a quality accreditation for cities, was not part of the SDF but is introduced for three reasons.
- It provides a framework for incremental improvement in all aspects of urban life.
- To achieve that improvement will require major community involvement - which is a motivator for us.
- The overall improvement in quality will be the result of many small, incremental improvements - which will be much easier to achieve by different community groups.
Our research to date with existing Cittaslow accredited towns has been that the major benefit that they have experienced is the improved communications and networking between different community groups. This is exactly one of the objectives we have in Dewsbury.
Each of these Stepping Stones is actually a major project for any community group that will require enthusiastic volunteers and community support as well as substantial funding. And that means we have to be pragmatic and realistic in our approach.
The first thing we need is more volunteers for our Working Groups to help to organise these projects. If you are retired or semi-retired with time on your hands then we need to hear from you.
If you simply want to make a difference then we want to hear from you. Use the Contact page right now to let us know.
We have launched this project with no money and we need to find some. So research of grant funding is a major priority. Again, if you have any experience of bidding for (and winning!) major grant monies then we would appreciate your expertise.
While making the most of our heritage by making better use of the history and architecture of Dewsbury could be an easy win it is unfortunate that Dewsbury Matters is already heavily committed. The majority of their members are already committed to support a 4 year, lottery funded, project by Dewsbury Sacrifices that aims to research and record information about the Dewsbury men who never came back from the first World War.
We will continue to talk to Dewsbury Matters about how and when their extensive knowledge of the town can be brought to bear.
So What's Next?
- We need volunteers - and that means you!
We need to recruit people to the Working Groups to help guide and develop these Stepping Stone projects.
- We are going to petition Kirklees at the next District Committee to make sure we are on their radar.
- We are researching grant funding as well as ways of raising money ourselves.