Trader hits out at £5 million investment plans for Dearne Valley towns

A DEARNE Valley trader has poured scorn on plans to invest £5 million in public funds in town centres, saying: “I don’t think any money will be spent here in Wombwell.”

The market trader, who asked not to be named, said the small Dearne town had been overlooked throughout the 26 years he had run a stall there.

Barnsley Council has earmarked the money for its principal town investment programme, funded by its 2020 Capital Investment Fund.

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Potential winners in the new scheme include “principal town centres” Wombwell and Goldthorpe, along with Bolton-on-Dearne and Thurnscoe.

The council said it would help the villages and towns to “remain vibrant and attractive”.

Councillors hope the scheme will spread the benefits of a “large amount of investment” taking place in Barnsley town centre, with bids invited for grants of £50,000 or £100,000 to fund community-led projects to spruce up high streets, in the hope of attracting more money to an area.

But Marie Roberts, who manages cafe Coffee Thyme on Wombwell High Street, said: “Until you get rid of the drug addicts and alcoholics going up and down the street, there’s no point spending money here.

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“I’ve opened up the shop at 8am and seen people walking about with cans. It’s putting people off coming to the high street.”

Another shopkeeper said: “Parking on the high street is what we really need.

“The road is so wide there’s plenty of room - and the free car park around the corner is always jammed.”

Another said: “Something should be done with the toilet block outside the pub. It’s been locked up for two years and it’s an eyesore.

“We also need more incentives for small businesses.”

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In Goldthorpe, traders blamed an untidy high street for keeping shoppers away.

Sharon Rodgers, who owns The Sewing Room on Barnsley Road, said: “If the high street was tidied up, it would look much more inviting.”

Sharon said the town also desperately needed a bank as traders had to share change with each other.

Tony Davison, who runs baby clothes shop Young Uns, also on Barnsley Road, said: “The shopfronts definitely want cleaning up. But how are shopkeepers meant to do that if we haven’t got the money?”

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Cllr Jenny Platts, Barnsley Council’s Cabinet spokesperson for communities, said: “This will encourage investment which will continue to reap the benefits for the people and businesses in district towns for years to come.”

Ideas eligible for the three-year scheme, which is set to kick off in April, might include transport and parking improvements, shopfront schemes, signage and business incentives, the report said.