Regeneration on despite the cuts

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HECKMONDWIKE’s new bus terminus and Library and Information Centre (LIC) is a step closer after Eastern Taxis moved to their new premises.

The taxi firm’s move to a new office in Northgate is crucial to Kirklees Council plans to regenerate Heckmondwike town centre.

The new bus terminus and LIC would be built at Royle Fold, with the former taxi office due to be bulldozed and the site cleared by the end of April.

The project has been delayed significantly, with a deal being reached between the council and the taxi firm late last year.

Coun David Sheard (Lab, Heck), cabinet member for regeneration, said that the original £3m funding for the LIC had been reduced to £2.6m but would not affect services on offer. There would be a consultation to find out what services the public wanted, he added.

Coun Sheard said: “The original money for the LIC is still there in the capital plan but has been reduced slightly because the council needs to save money.

“Once the site is cleared, we can produce a detailed plan and look at time scales. Personally, I’d like to see both of them open within two years.

“But my biggest priority is the bus terminus because the buses can create chaos by having to stop all over the place in the town centre. Traffic has to queue behind buses and we want better transport links in Heckmondwike.”

Both Kirklees Council and Metro, who would jointly fund the new bus terminus, are due to set their annual budgets over the coming days.

A Metro spokesman confirmed that talks with the council were ongoing to deliver an ‘affordable’ development in the face of reduced funding.

The Integrated Transport Authority meets today to thrash out its annual budget - which is expected to be cut by 7.5 per cent.

However transport chiefs have said they have no plans to close Cleckheaton’s bus station this year. Coun Andrew Pinnock, who campaigned against any potential closure and presented a petition to Metro earlier this month, said he was pleased the station would not be closed.

“Sense had prevailed. But if the proposals come up again to close the bus station there would still be no logic to it,” he said.

“What would they do with the building and where would the buses go? But if this is raised again next year, we will continue to fight for its future.”