I’M 56 years old, I was born in Keighley, I have lived here ever since and been employed in the town for the majority of my working life.

Personally, the town has given me a good standard of living and a relatively good lifestyle but, like many places, it has its own difficulties and challenges. However, if we are not careful, then we are about to miss an opportunity-of-a-lifetime.

My wife and I, like many other people, enjoy the odd drink, dining out and socialising with family and friends, especially at weekends and bank holidays.

However, and probably like the majority of other local people, we tend to do this out of town. A case in point being during the recent August bank holiday, when we spent most of Sunday afternoon in and around the bars of Skipton, meeting many other people from the town as well whilst we were there.

My wife and I do also support many local bars and restaurants but, and on a regular basis, we travel over to Halifax, Saltaire, Shipley, Leeds and even Bradford – we rarely now spend a whole night in town. It’s an unfortunate fact, but this is a pattern followed by the majority of the town’s socialising population – why?

The answer is quite simple, really – the town is perceived by many outsiders as being rough, rundown and generally not a good place to socialise and, to a certain degree, this is true. This is also why droves of people from the town pack the Leeds train every weekend, with many not returning until the last service and to have a late drink or two in the Lord Rodney. This after spending the majority of their hard earned cash in other local towns and cities.

Bradford now has the new Broadway shopping centre and the Sunbridge Wells complex, Saltaire has a host of trendy wine bars and restaurants, Halifax has the View and now the Piece Hall, where they have just invested some £22 million, Leeds and Skipton are ever-evolving and even our much smaller neighbours – Cross Hills and Bingley – are attracting people from the town with the recently opened 22 The Square, Gallagher’s Ale House and the refurbished Fire Pit and Potting Shed bars.

So, Keighley, what can we do to change this? I’m no expert on such matters, but surely the demolition of the old college buildings presents the town with an opportunity-of-a-lifetime and a chance to build some facilities to be proud of and that will attract people to us, rather than us to them.

Annex Lord Street and build a multi-purpose leisure, shopping, dining and socialising facility, a multi-screen cinema, bowling alley, bars, chain restaurants and outside terraced areas. After all, that’s why we all travel to Saltaire, Leeds and beyond.

It’s a lot of work, I know, but surely that is why we have our elected councillors and MPs, to generate much-needed funding and get projects like this off the ground. It’s happening in much smaller towns all around us, so why not here as well, in Keighley? The answer is certainly not to build a hub for local services, whoever’s bright idea that one was? It also begs the question, have the townsfolk ever been consulted on this matter?

As I have already said above, if we aren’t careful, then we are about to miss an opportunity-of-a-lifetime. Come on Keighley, grasp the nettle, do it and do it now.