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Keighley News Review of the Year
Keighley Amateurs chairman Louise Hindle-Barton, with a poster for their forthcoming production and some of the offending blue putty
looks back at some of the stories that made the headlines in 2013.
January An athlete, a businessman and a pensions reformer – all from Keighley district – were among those recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list. Steeton-born Paralympic archer Danielle Brown and Keighley motorcycle business boss Colin Appleyard received MBEs and Timothy Sands, also from Keighley, was awarded a CBE for his services to the reform of the NHS pension scheme.
Building work on the planned £30 million Worth Valley Shopping Centre in Keighley had been put back by six months, it was revealed. Property developers Stainsby Grange said it had taken longer than anticipated to complete purchases of all existing buildings on the five-acre site at East Parade. Demolition has since taken place to make way for the new complex, but construction of the shopping centre is still to begin.
High-speed broadband was made available to homes and businesses in Keighley for the first time. Communications company BT announced that more than 14,700 local households and firms were joining the high-speed revolution as engineers completed work on the investment. Keighley was following in the footsteps of other locations in the region, including Burley-in-Wharfedale, Bingley and Ilkley, where fibre broadband was already available.
A Facebook page set up to target Keighley criminals was temporarily removed for breaking the site’s rules after page users threatened violent retaliation against suspects. The feature, called “Stop The Thieves In Keighley”, on the popular social networking site attracted nearly 3,500 members before it was closed down. Some had called for vigilante-style action to combat offenders.
An amateur dramatics group was banned from advertising its shows in a town centre display window in a row about a piece of blue adhesive putty! Keighley Amateurs was ordered to ‘exit stage left’ after using the sticky stuff in the showcase area outside Boots in the Airedale Shopping Centre. The Amateurs’ Louise Hindle-Barton said the group had used the display window for years to promote its forthcoming productions without any problems. But centre manager Steve Seymour said that despite being asked not to use the putty, the Amateurs had ignored the request and caused damage to the display board on several occasions.
A scheme supplying winter shelter to the homeless and helping them find permanent accommodation came to Keighley for the first time. The Inn Churches initiative, which had begun in Bradford four years earlier, ran a shelter at All Saints' Church in Highfield. The scheme caters for 12 homeless people at a time, referred via partner organisations in Bradford and Keighley. Between late November and mid-March, shelter is provided at a different church each week. Each person receives an evening meal, somewhere to sleep overnight and a hot breakfast.
Tributes poured in for four-year-old Riley Turner – a pupil at Worth Valley Primary School in Keighley – who died following an incident at his home in Harewood Road, Bracken Bank. Anwar Rosser, also of Harewood Road, was subsequently charged with murder and faces a trial in March.
Euphoric cycling groups, politicians and traders celebrated an announcement that the world’s most famous cycle race would pass through the Keighley district. Tour de France officials revealed that Silsden, Keighley and the Worth Valley would all be on the route of the prestigious event when the Grand Depart arrives next summer. The race will come through this area as part of a 200km section between York and Sheffield on July 6, before the action moves to London and France.
February Keighley Town Council approved a hugely controversial inflation-busting 72.6 per cent increase to its precept following a passionate and at times heated debate. Council members voted 19-7 in favour of increasing their annual charge on Band B properties – the rating for most local homes – from £18.90 to £32.62 for 2013/14. During the meeting, the then Keighley mayor, Councillor George Metcalf, repeatedly asked members of the public to be quiet following interruptions from the gallery. Among those who strongly condemned the rise was Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, who later raised the issue in parliament.
Anger erupted at news Keighley would not now get its planned £15 million health and well-being centre. A new purpose-built complex was to be developed on the site of the existing Keighley Health Centre in Oakworth Road. The location was chosen after extensive public consultation, and Bradford Council pledged £1 million to the project. But NHS chiefs confirmed the scheme had been scrapped. Instead, there would be improvements to the current centre and more emphasis on “community-based support teams” to offer services in people’s homes and prevent unplanned hospital visits.
The family of an epilepsy sufferer beaten so badly he could not walk for three days spoke of their “disgust” at youths who committed the callous crime. Peter Hutchinson, 50, was viciously attacked in Bradford Road, Keighley, after being hit in the face by a snowball. He was left badly bruised and lost all feeling in his right leg after a gang of five teenagers assaulted him. Condemning the perpetrators, his brother, John, said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting five young lads would set about someone who is disabled.”
Campaigners welcomed a decision to save a Keighley waste recycling centre from closure. Sugden End tip at Cross Roads was earmarked to shut as part of sweeping Bradford Council cuts. But the authority’s Labour leaders revealed the proposal had been shelved. Opponents of the closure hailed the U-turn as a “victory for common sense”. The proposal sparked outrage among Worth Valley householders, who faced a trip across Keighley to use the Royd Ings Avenue recycling centre, and the Keighley News was inundated with letters.
Eight arrests were made in Keighley as part of a major police blitz on drugs and guns. A suspected cannabis factory was also uncovered during the fortnight-long crime crackdown, codenamed Operation Sabredale. A man was arrested in Bradford as part of the initiative, resulting from the previous seizure of two guns in Keighley. Police chiefs hailed the raids as a major success and “one of West Yorkshire’s biggest operational seizures of drugs, firearms and offensive weapons”.
Drama unfolded for a Cullingworth couple when the hero dad was forced to deliver his own baby daughter at home. Gareth Beck described the unexpected chance to bring little Poppy into the world, when partner Kerry Knowles went into labour, as “awesome”. He was guided through the process by an Airedale Hospital midwife on the phone while paramedics tried to find the house. By the time they arrived at the New Clayton Terrace property, the proud dad had mother and baby propped up in bed!
A housing charity was bringing empty and derelict Keighley homes back into use for people who needed them most, it was revealed. Keyhouse had secured leases for 25 properties throughout the town, some of which had been empty for as long as 15 years. With Bradford district hit by rising housing waiting lists and stalled building projects, the charity believed the scheme was the perfect way to provide homes quickly and on affordable rents. Properties included some owned by landlords who could not afford to bring them up to a decent standard, or inherited buildings family members may not want to take on.
A Keighley restaurant boss accused a neighbouring taxi firm of ruining his business. Al Mirzaali, of Alfe’s in Church Street, said his customers faced a parking nightmare due to Metro, based just a few doors away. He said people were always getting blocked in because the taxi drivers left their vehicles across the access. Metro owner Stuart Hastings acknowledged there was an issue with parking in the street, but that it wasn’t of his firm’s making. He said problems only arose after plans for a taxi business across the road were approved.
March Prime Minister David Cameron called on Keighley’s community leaders to work with agencies to stamp out sexual grooming in the town. His exclusive comments were given to the Keighley News as shocking figures revealed about 70 young people in the district had been identified as being at potential risk from sexual exploitation. Also, police disclosed 54 suspects had been arrested in the previous five months alone. The revelation came a week after two child rapists, who travelled to Keighley to groom and snare their victims, were jailed for a total of 36 years.
Regulars at an Ingrow pub had their thirst for knowledge quenched with the launch of a new library service. Great Northern landlord Mickey Thompson was loaning books, CDs and DVDs to local residents, whether or not they were customers of the hostelry. He particularly wanted to help elderly residents of Kennedy House, a high-rise block on the opposite side of Halifax Road to the pub, after he learned that Bradford Council’s mobile library had switched from weekly to fortnightly visits.
More than 1,000 people braved flurries of snow to take part in the biggest Keighley BigK 10k race yet. Organisers had expected high numbers, but forecasts of freezing temperatures and snow raised doubts over how many of those who signed up would show on the day. But fears were unfounded when enough people arrived in Victoria Park to make it the biggest run since the event had started four years earlier. Held every Mother’s Day, the race raises money for Manorlands hospice at Oxenhope. Entry is now open for the 2014 event.
A Keighley pilot was killed after his plane crashed in flames in Florida. Steven Waller, 65, died – along with a friend and his friend’s son – after the aircraft developed engine trouble. The plane’s impact in a car park at Fort Lauderdale set about a dozen vehicles ablaze. Mr Waller, who was born at Keighley’s former St John’s Hospital, was a professional pilot and flew light aircraft for firms. He had tried to make an emergency landing shortly after take-off at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport when the crash happened.
Pop star Jessie J paid tribute to the bravery of a Keighley teenager with a rare medical condition. Teenager Amy Knowles inspired the star to have her hair shaved off during Comic Relief. Jessie later tweeted thousands of fans telling of Amy’s heroism in undergoing dozens of operations and months of hospital stays. Amy had met the star 18 months earlier in a hospital visit arranged by the Wish Upon a Star charity, and during their two-hour chat she dared Jessie to shed her hair for charity.
A Wilsden woman visiting her mother’s grave at Morton Cemetery was devastated to find it covered in a mountain of earth. The soil, dug up from a nearby newly-excavated plot, had flattened the flowers which she and her family had planted and dislodged the stone edging surround. Tracy Ingham, whose mother Yvonne McManus died in October 2011 aged 62, condemned Bradford Council’s grave management policies as insensitive. The council said the grave would be returned to its previous condition once work to the adjacent burial plot was complete, and the earth mound was subsequently removed.
An urgent fraud alert was issued after it was revealed thieves had plundered cash from the bank account of a Keighley charity. Money had been stolen over a two-year period from Yorkshire Cat Rescue, formerly Haworth Cat Rescue. Police were alerted by Yorkshire Bank. As the shocking crime came to light, Phoenix Special School in Keighley told how thieves had also attempted to steal money from its appeal fund for a new minibus by trying to set up three standing orders, but its bank – NatWest – was suspicious and alerted the school.
Heavy snow brought chaos to the Keighley district. All schools – plus four in the South Craven area – were forced to shut as blizzard-like conditions made driving hazardous. Several planned events were cancelled due to the conditions. Two separate accidents led to the closure for several hours of the A629 Halifax Road between Cross Roads and Flappit Spring, and a number of lorries got stuck at Oxenhope. Transdev Keighley & District bus services were also affected by the weather.
April The Keighley News joined forces with Manorlands to launch a massive fundraising appeal after it was revealed that serious cash shortfalls had left the Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice £300,000 in the red. It was disclosed that Manorlands needed more than £1 million in the next year just to maintain its vital services, and a further £200,000 to cover its entire operational costs. We asked kind-hearted readers to dig deep to smash the £1 million barrier, and so far the appeal has coined in an incredible £540,000-plus.
A campaign was launched to save Keighley’s main post office from closure. Community leaders spoke out against the threat to the Towngate branch, next to the bus station. Union members, who picketed the premises after the shock announcement, began a petition. They claimed the closure would be a massive blow to the town. Post Office Ltd said it was reviewing the future of the loss-making branch, which included seeking a partner retailer, and has since announced plans to move the facility into Keighley’s WH Smith store. The union has vowed to continue its campaign of opposition.
An early-morning explosion rocked an estate in Keighley. Residents told of their fear after they were woken at about 4.50am by a loud bang and a series of hissing noises. A fire had broken out in some roadworks in Bracken Bank Grove, sparked by a gas leak just under the road surface. Locals, who were without electric and gas as a result of the fire, told how the flames reached about 15 feet high and destroyed plastic fences surrounding the roadworks.
A teenager had a VIP meeting with her heroine -– after dislocating both knees trying to get an autograph! Katherine Dodds stumbled outside the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End as crowds flocked to see the stars of the show. But it really was a case of no pain, no gain, as the following day, after attending hospital for her agonising injury, the youngster from Riddlesden was treated to a backstage rendezvous with the target of her signature hunt – Dame Judi Dench. “She was really lovely,” said Katherine.
A Keighley town centre trader decided to shut up shop following a spate of burglaries. Abul Barkat, who had run Habeeb’s Newsagent in High Street for 13 years, said he did not want to leave but had no choice. The shop had suffered four raids in six years, including two break-ins during November 2012. Mr Barkat estimated the crippling costs – including stolen stock, repairs and lost trade – came to at least £30,000. “I finally decided during the Easter holidays I’d have to close,” he said.
Staff at Airedale Hospital claimed a new phone line – designed to cut down on ambulances being sent out to non-emergencies – was putting serious strain on the A&E department. Following a weekend when some patients faced waiting until the early hours of the morning for treatment, a member of staff said numbers arriving at the hospital had risen since the new 111 non-emergency phone line went active. The hospital apologised to patients for the long delays and said it would investigate. A Yorkshire Ambulance Service spokesman said that for a new service, NHS 111 was performing well.
A Keighley retail boss tackling the London Marathon said a bomb attack in Boston had hardened his resolve to complete the challenge. Peter Wowk said he shared people’s horror at what happened in the Massachusetts state capital, when two explosions near the finish line of the city’s marathon left three people dead – including an eight-year-old boy – and more than 150 injured. But Mr Wowk, managing director of outdoor clothing and equipment shop Speak’s, vowed it would not deter him from taking part in such sporting events. He completed the London course and raised about £3,000 for Manorlands.
Hard work and enterprise on display at a Silsden manufacturing firm impressed a visiting government minister. MP Andrew Robathan, minister of state for the armed forces, was taken on a tour of Snugpak in Howden Road. The company supplies a range of items to the British military, and Mr Robathan is himself an ex-soldier who served in the Coldstream Guards and the SAS. He said: “I can see plenty of activity and people in employment who are producing what other people want. There’s not much cotton made in Lancashire anymore, or wool in Yorkshire, but here I can see a lot of adaptation to changing circumstances.”
May Taxi firms discriminating against disabled customers by charging them higher fares than other passengers should be taken to court, a leading campaign group demanded. People First Keighley and Craven said legal action was now needed following a disappointingly poor response to an original appeal for fair treatment. Lead campaigner Tom Walsh claimed some private hire firms continued to charge disabled passengers inflated prices compared to able-bodied customers, a year after Bradford Council ordered them to meet the requirements of disability discrimination laws. But taxi bosses refuted the allegations and argued that equal pricing had become common practice.
A courageous Keighley firefighter who died in the line of duty was remembered during a poignant ceremony at the town’s fire station. At least 70 people attended the event in tribute to Jeff Naylor, 30 years to the day after he was fatally injured in a ferocious house fire in Keighley. The 31-year-old died in hospital ten weeks after the incident, in which he and his colleagues battled to rescue five trapped children. Following a minute’s silence and a prayer reading, Mr Naylor’s children – Jayne and Mark – unveiled a plaque on Keighley’s fire engine, which was named Fireman Jeff Naylor.
New state-of-the-art accident and emergency facilities would be built at Airedale Hospital to cope with increased pressures on the service, it was revealed. The unit would be constructed on the site of the four-decade-old existing A&E, which would be demolished. Hospital bosses said the new department would be fit for the 21st century, with a better layout and full use of new technology. Demolition of the old A&E department has now taken place and construction of the new unit will start soon.
Dramatic scenes saw a Riddlesden woman risk her own life to dash into her smoke-filled home to rescue her dogs after the ground floor caught fire. Carol White managed to pull two of her three beloved canine companions out of the living room, as well as her pet parrot. But she was driven back by flames and had to wait for firefighters to bring out border collie Bodie. Fire crew members revived Bodie with oxygen following the incident, in Silverdale Avenue, but she later had to be put down due to her injuries.
Keighley’s first ever business awards were a glittering success. About 160 people packed into Octagon Live at Sandbeds for the presentation ceremony. Awards were handed out in ten categories, recognising the outstanding achievements of firms and individuals. Star of the night was hat-trick hero Tom Appelbee, whose Fenetic Wellbeing firm scooped three top titles, including the coveted overall Business of the Year accolade. The event – organised by Keighley Town Centre Association in partnership with several leading companies and organisations, including the Keighley News – had originally been scheduled for March, but was postponed due to snow.
Figures showed that Keighley’s controversial civic centre was more than £162,000 in the red. The massive funding shortfall was more than double the amount published just three months earlier, when town councillors approved the record 72.6 per cent hike in the council tax precept to help prop up the ailing project. Keighley Town Council, which runs the North Street building, again came under fierce fire for its handling of the centre.
Community leaders spoke of their horror after Class A drugs were discovered hidden in a children’s toy close to Victoria Park in Lawkholme. They feared youngsters could have picked up the chocolate egg canister and swallowed the potentially fatal substance inside, which was wrapped in sweet papers. Concerns were expressed that other dealers could be stashing drugs around Keighley in similar containers. The egg-shaped plastic pot – containing 33 tiny wraps of a Class A drug – was found by police in a pile of litter during a ‘day of action’.
Two prominent Keighley figures were formally invested in key civic roles. Councillor Sally Walker took on the office of the town’s mayor, while Coun Khadim Hussain became the new Lord Mayor of Bradford. Coun Walker – whose daughter Claire McKeown, killed by a drunk driver in 2011, was an organ donor – chose to support NHS Blood and Transplant during her term in office. And Coun Husain announced his appeal would raise money for Bradford Disability Sports and Leisure.
June Some Keighley families had as little as £5 a week to spend on food, a church reported. The shocking revelation came as the town’s Salvation Army spoke of a huge surge in demand for its services. Around 80 needy people – triple the number from a year ago – were visiting the High Street church each week to collect one-meal food parcels. In addition, the organisation was distributing between 30 and 40 parcels – each containing food for three days – to people referred from agencies. Keighley Salvation Army major Alison Gardner said soaring prices and cuts in benefits were severely hitting low-income households.
A consultation was launched into proposals to turn Haworth Primary School into an academy. Everyone connected to the school was invited to give their views on the plans. If Haworth Primary did become an academy, it would be accountable directly to the government and would work with an organisation called Focus Academy Trust, outside local authority control. The school’s then deputy head, Helen Thompson, who is now headteacher, said she would not be commenting on the academy proposals at that stage.
Plans were unveiled for a major initiative aimed at dramatically slashing retail crime in Keighley town centre. Police, traders and Bradford Council were uniting to tackle shoplifting, purse-dipping, anti-social behaviour and drug-fuelled petty crime. And a major plank of the new scheme would be to create an ‘exclusion zone’ for the most persistent offenders. People suspected of stealing or causing trouble in one shop could be banned from every store that had signed up to the scheme. Other measures included extra police patrols and a crackdown on the fencing of stolen goods.
A Keighley mother reacted with joy to news the threatened children’s heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary had been saved. Andrea Steel said she was “chuffed to bits” with the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt not to close the unit. And she declared NHS bosses and politicians would think twice before taking on Yorkshire parents again over the issue. Mrs Steel visited the Leeds unit many times as her son Ben received treatment for two heart conditions. Mr Hunt announced he had suspended plans to close several children’s heart units across England.
Safety checks were carried out by experts after a four-year-old boy got his leg trapped under a roundabout in a Crossflatts play park. The incident happened during a supervised trip out with staff from a nearby nursery. The boy had been playing on the roundabout and somehow managed to wedge his leg right up to his knee under the piece of equipment. Firefighters used an electrical spreading device to free the boy, who was distressed but unhurt.
A £120 million scheme to build a ‘clean energy’ complex in Keighley – which would bring nearly 600 jobs to the town – was exclusively revealed by the Keighley News. Three plants for recycling waste would be constructed on the derelict former gas works site in Airedale Road, alongside the Aire Valley trunk road at Marley. The pioneering project would also include an education and visitor centre, plus a four-storey office building, parking and landscaping. A data storage centre and offices would be built on land in nearby Dalton Lane. Already-processed commercial and industrial waste would be brought to the plants, which together could be capable of producing virtually enough electricity to power the whole town. A planning application has now been submitted to Bradford Council.
Queen’s Birthday Honours were bestowed on five people with Keighley district links. The MBE was awarded to Oxenhope retired solicitor Jeremy Mackrell, Glusburn woman Dr Kate Ward – a consultant in community paediatrics at Airedale Hospital – for services to child protection, and Nikki Heyes – originally from Utley – for services to the world of music. The British Empire Medal went to table tennis coach Hans Soova and Keighley woman Sheila Bamford, executive director of Horton Housing Association.
Campaigners voiced their support for a woman and her six-year-old daughter who were fighting deportation to Pakistan amid fears they could be killed for converting from Islam to Christianity. The pair, who had settled in Ingrow 18 months earlier, had seen two pleas for asylum rejected and been ordered to leave the UK. Ayesha Ali, who claimed there would be a serious threat of religious persecution in Pakistan, was planning a further claim on behalf of her daughter, Dua, in a desperate bid to remain in the country. Ayesha also feared her estranged husband could track them down if they returned to Pakistan.
July Keighley celebrated a £3.5 million lottery windfall to help restore the town’s Cliffe Castle Park to its Victorian splendour. News of the huge grant was welcomed by campaigners and community leaders. Bradford Council, which submitted the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Parks for People’ pot, had also pledged an extra £1 million towards the ambitious project. By early 2015, the grounds will include a new iron palm house, cafe terrace and re-built animal pens. There will also be new glass houses, a vinery, redesigned garden and stage area, maze and a ‘Dig for Victory’ wartime-themed garden for use by school groups. Long-neglected Victorian features will be restored.
A household goods giant revealed it was planning to open a store in Keighley, creating more than 60 jobs. Dunelm Mill said it was seeking to move into the former AMF Bowling premises at Alston Retail Park. The £1 million-plus investment was hailed as another major boost for the town’s economy. The new store would include a cafe.
Shock greeted news that Keighley’s Drill Hall faced the axe as part of major planned changes to Britain’s army reserve system. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond unveiled proposals in Parliament, which included recommendations to shut 38 reservist bases across the country – including Keighley Drill Hall, home to the Territorial Army. Keighley MP and former soldier Kris Hopkins said the decision was “deeply regrettable” but that sadly the number of recruits using the facilities had been dwindling for some time. A campaign has been launched to save the centre.
The Keighley News made the headlines itself when – for the first time in its 151-year history – the newspaper was printed in full colour. The landmark was celebrated in style, with the award-winning Goose Eye Brewery producing a special tipple – ‘A Splash Of Colour – Headline Brews’ – which was rolled out to nearly a dozen hostelries across the area. The re-launch also included the introduction of new eight-page leisure and entertainment guide, The Ticket. Two regular contributors showed their support for the new-look paper – master baker Mike Armstrong created a celebratory wheatsheaf loaf and Michelle Crowther, who earlier in the year had established a local branch of the Clandestine Cake Club, produced a mouthwatering cake.
People across the Keighley district shared the joy of a new royal arrival. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a 8lb 6oz boy, sparking celebrations worldwide. Lord Mayor of Bradford, Keighley councillor Khadim Hussain, said it was great news which “has put a smile on everyone’s faces” and MP Kris Hopkins said global interest in the birth showed the British monarchy remained as highly- regarded as ever. The new prince will share a birthday with eight babies born at Airedale Hospital that day.
The future of the popular Woodfest open air rock festival was thrown into doubt after drunken and rowdy behaviour at this year’s event. Crisis talks were to be held by organisers of the Manorlands hospice fundraiser to decide whether it would go ahead next year. Volunteers at the event, held at Lees Moor, Cross Roads, were left devastated by the behaviour of a small number of festival-goers who ran riot in the camping area, starting fires and encouraging fights. About 20 people were ejected and two were later arrested.
A founder member of Keighley Town Council and an ‘in Bloom’ stalwart, Bob Horrell, died aged 73. Mr Horrell, who had lived in Keighley for 37 years, ran a model shop in Keighley with his wife Janet from 1976 to 2006. He was on the town council from its inception in 2002 for five years, serving on the general purposes committee and the allotments committee, chairing both during his term of office. For several years he had worked tirelessly for Keighley in Bloom.
A cat lover hit out after a moggie and her three kittens were dumped in a wash basket in sweltering conditions. The frightened felines were only discovered when someone noticed movement in the basket, which had cardboard taped across the top. “If they had been there just another hour or so they would have died,” said Barbara Jagger, of Halifax Road in Keighley. The basket had been left on a wall near the front door of the terraced house.
August A traffic-choked Keighley main road could be transformed into a dual carriageway, it was revealed. The massive congestion-busting scheme for Hard Ings Road was among a package being put forward to the government. If given the green light, the multi-million pound project would end years of pressure for action. Hard Ings Road, part of the A650 through the town, is a notorious traffic bottleneck. The Keighley scheme – which also included improvements to the town centre, where a one-way system along Cavendish Street, East Parade and Hanover Street had already received £1.5 million of funding – was one of 12 district-wide being proposed by Bradford Council.
An investigation was launched after animal entrails spilled onto the streets of Denholme, just yards from a post office and bakery. Residents living in Main Road were greeted by the stench of waste parts and found the mess strewn across the street. Bradford Council sent officers to the scene to clean up the area and appealed for anyone who might have seen the spillage occur to come forward. One resident thought the entrails may have spilled over the side of a lorry without the driver knowing.
Keighley would be home to a groundbreaking centre of excellence – the first of its type in the country – designed to get young high-fliers into manufacturing and engineering, it was announced. The initiative would teach teenagers from 14 the skills to prepare them for future top jobs in the industry. The pioneering project, due to start in September next year, will involve the Leeds City College Keighley Campus, Oakbank School, Keighley, and Fab Lab, which teaches young people how to use cutting-edge technology.
A Keighley teacher and her classroom assistant who both gave birth to twins showed off their new arrivals. Teacher Eve Roche and teaching assistant Sharon Nelson, colleagues at Parkwood Primary School, discovered they were pregnant within days of each other and even started maternity leave the same day. Eve and her partner, Jakke Percy, welcomed a boy, Eddie, and girl, Heidi, while Sharon and her husband Chris welcomed non-identical twin girls, Skyla and Lola.
Members of the public were being recruited to provide emergency cover during firefighters’ strikes, the Keighley News learned. Successful candidates would be trained in basic techniques before being expected to attend potentially major incidents, such as house fires and road accidents. People were also being hired on temporary contracts to drive appliances and operate pumps. As part of the plan, West Yorkshire brigade bosses wrote to former firefighters asking if they would return to help out. Among those who condemned the move was ex-Keighley firefighter Joe O’Keeffe, who feared lives could be put at risk. The brigade said the recruitment of temporary crews was among contingency plans being put in place.
Fears were voiced that Keighley Police Station’s cells could be closed due to cost-cutting measures by the West Yorkshire force. Top brass confirmed they were reviewing custody facilities due to significant budget constraints. There were two custody suites in the district – at the Royd Ings Avenue station in Keighley and Bradford South. Despite opposition from some quarters, the Keighley facility was closed.
Keighley Gala organisers said the event had “turned the corner” following a successful procession. Hundreds of people lined the streets of the town centre to enjoy the welcome return of the parade, which had been scrapped in 2012. A new route was set and the event held on a Sunday for the first time. Gala bosses hailed the event a success.
A hotel, which had been run under temporary management since April following the sudden departure of the previous tenant, closed. Ten-bedroom Steeton Hall, owned by Punch Taverns, has subsequently been put up for sale. The historic Station Road building, which is Grade II listed, dates back to 1662. It was converted into a hotel and restaurant in 1983 and had become a popular wedding venue. The premises were also used as a base by several groups.
September Knives were found dumped at a Keighley beauty spot where young children play. The potentially deadly kitchen blades were discovered among other rubbish discarded at the site. Residents and councillors condemned the incident, which they said could have led to serious injury if a youngster had picked them up. The knives and other items – including shoes, wellington boots, cutlery, clothes, paint tins and cardboard boxes – were spotted by a villager out for a walk at Altar Lane, Long Lee. The discovery was reported to Bradford Council, and officers arrived to dispose of the items two days later.
A teenage wheelchair-user who had to struggle up and down 22 steps to get to and from her home regained her independence after being re-housed. Jemima Croft and her family were given a more suitable home by housing association Incommunities. Jemima, who has a condition called chronic idiopathic musculoskeletal pain syndrome and can only walk very short distances with the aid of crutches, had been unable to cope at the family’s former property in Wardle Crescent. After battling for a ramp or alternative home without steps, the family was offered a bungalow in Coronation Way.
Children’s lives were at risk on busy roads close to a building site, it was feared. Safety concerns were voiced about lorries using the plot, which is opposite a primary school. But Cross Green Developments, which was constructing 13 houses on the land in Station Road, Oakworth, said it took safety extremely seriously and would do everything possible to minimise any potential risks. Former teacher Martin Harwood claimed the area around the site was already hazardous due to the volume of traffic, without the extra vehicles from the site. He also claimed there had been no consultation with the public prior to work starting.
A Keighley charity that helps people kick drugs and alcohol reported its workload had rocketed by 75 per cent – and poverty in the town was cited as a major factor behind the upsurge. Increasing numbers of those seeking assistance were users of more than one substance, the charity revealed. Mike Cadger, chief executive of Project 6, said there was a distinct link between drug and booze problems and poverty. Around five years ago the award-winning charity, based in Temple Street, was dealing with 2,000 people annually. In the last year that figure had soared to about 3,500.
Keighley Show was hailed a success by organisers. Chairman William Mitchell – who had appealed for public support after the disappointment of 2012, when the event was cancelled due to the saturated state of the showground following the wettest summer for years – said: “There seemed to be a good number of people there. I was very pleased with how it went.” Show secretary Katrina Thackray said she had received favourable feedback from the public, exhibitors and traders.
Tribute was paid to a Denholme teenager who died in an horrific crash. Jade Best, 19, of Clapham Street, who had recently been given the all-clear after cancer, was a back-seat passenger in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, which went out-of-control and ploughed into a hairdressing salon in Thornton. Her family said she had “a lovely outgoing personality that meant she embraced life to its fullest”. Fellow villager, 27-year-old father-of-two Jonathan Adam Ruthven, of Longhouse Drive, who was driving the vehicle, also died, together with 32-year-old passenger Daniel Hague, from Thornton.
An Oakworth pensioner whose house was gutted in an arson attack issued a public “thank you” to everyone who helped her. Dorothy Lund voiced her heartfelt thanks to family and friends after moving back into her Harewood Crescent home. She wrote to the Keighley News to acknowledge the people who supported her during her seven months living in alternative accommodation. She had to move out of her home after an intruder set fire to her living room as he made off with a laptop, camera and gold watch. The ground floor was gutted and other rooms heavily smoke-damaged.
Cullingworth councillors and residents said they were horrified by plans to build more than 200 homes in the village. Commercial Estates Group revealed its revised proposals for the Manywells Industrial Estate during a public consultation. About 100 people attended the presentation to see what was earmarked for the 10.2-hectare site off Manywells Brow. They learned of the company’s intention to provide about 230 homes and 15,000 sq ft of new commercial units. Village council chairman Coun Jacqui said it would equate to an increase in Cullingworth’s housing stock of about 25 per cent.
October Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said he was relishing being part of the government after winning a key housing job in Prime Minister David Cameron’s reshuffle. The former Worth Valley district councillor and Bradford Council leader was promoted to housing minister, with additional responsibilities including on-shore and off-shore wind farms.
An Oxenhope pensioner called on Bradford Council to install a lift in the historic Cliffe Castle Museum. Kate Lee said that at the very least there should be a chairlift to take elderly and disabled people to the first floor. She said she was amazed that the council passed up on the chance to improve disabled access during a recent 15-month, £570,000 refurbishment of the building. She claimed the oversight meant many visitors were forced to miss some of the most interesting, and nostalgic, exhibits at the museum. Bradford Council said that it had considered installing a lift, but because the first floor itself is not all on the same level, it would not have provided improved access for people with disabilities.
More than 470 incidents of fly-tipping on public land across Keighley district had been reported to the council in the past year, the Keighley News revealed. But only a tiny fraction – less than two per cent – led to investigations by the authority’s environmental enforcement team. And there were just four successful prosecutions. It cost the taxpayers an estimated £44,000 to clean up the mess. Shocked community leaders condemned the culprits, saying they should face the full force of the law. The figures, obtained by the Keighley News through a Freedom of Information request, showed Keighley Central was a fly-tipping hotspot.
Action was demanded to open up an historic Keighley footpath that has been blocked for years. Campaigner Loraine Petyt claimed the Becks Road route was illegally blockaded. And she accused Bradford Council’s rights of way department of doing nothing to resolve the issue. Miss Petyt, a driving instructor and keen historian, formally complained to the local authority about the lack of action. The council said the landowner had been asked to remove the blockage but as no response had been received, further action to open the path was being considered.
Prime Minister David Cameron – in a special message to Keighley News readers – outlined a major boost for the town’s small businesses. In an open letter to the newspaper, he claimed a government National Insurance cut would help Keighley firms create jobs. And he welcomed the plans for a £120 million clean energy complex at Marley as evidence the town was “turning the corner” following the double-dip recession. The Keighley News was among just three newspapers across the country chosen by the Prime Minister to relay his message about the businesses boost because the town is considered to be a success story.
A South Craven social club said it supermarket booze. Representatives of Cross Hills Social Club, in Main Street, revealed the centre was in a dire financial situation because it could not compete with shops selling alcohol at discounted prices. Club treasurer Barry Reay, who had been employed at the club for 30 years, said changes in VAT over the years had crippled the pub and club trade. “Because supermarkets pay no VAT on food sales, this gives them a ‘tax break’, allowing them to subsidise the price of their alcoholic drinks,” he said.
Precise details of the route the Tour de France Grand Depart would take through the district next July were confirmed when the official launch of the 2014 event took place in Paris. One of the organisers’ most keenly-anticipated announcements was whether the route would include Haworth’s steep, historic Main Street. And villagers were jubilant when they heard it would. Nikki Carroll, of Firths Boutique at the top of the street, said: “We’re absolutely ecstatic Le Tour de France will be coming up Main Street, putting Haworth on the map yet again.”
Keighley celebrated being awarded Fairtrade Town status. Jubilant campaigners said the accreditation was a tremendous boost for the town. A volunteer team, backed by Keighley Town Centre Association, had been working with businesses, schools and community groups for much of the year in order to meet the tough criteria. “We are over the moon to be granted the status,” said association chairman Steve Seymour. “Many people look to buy Fairtrade products, and now, when they are seeking places to shop, they know they can come to Keighley to make their purchases. This could also provide a huge boost to trade.”
November Plans were submitted for a new supermarket – creating and safeguarding more than 100 jobs. Aldi’s plans for a store on land at Silsden were hailed as a major boost to the town’s economy, with its primary catchment area including villages between Keighley and Skipton. Town and district councillors welcomed the project’s capacity to create much-needed new employment while protecting existing jobs. A successful planning application could see up to 25 people employed at the 1,535 square metre store itself. Income from selling the site to Aldi would safeguard about 80 jobs at Silsden conveyor and transmission firm Habasit UK, allowing it to carry out modernisation.
Heartless thieves struck twice within days at Manorlands hospice, stealing stone slabs from a patio and treasured walkways. Palliative care manager at the Sue Ryder hospice, Lizzie Procter, said the callousness of the crime had left both staff and residents shocked and upset. Bradford Council Conservative Group leader Glen Miller, a Worth Valley councillor, called for any stonemasons offered such slabs under suspicious circumstances to alert the police.
A campaign was launched to save a Haworth public loo block from closure. Toilets in Central Park were earmarked to shut as part of Bradford Council’s cost-cutting plans. Villagers and ward councillors criticised the proposal, and a petition was launched to save the facilities. There were demands to know why an older toilet block – in the village’s Bronte museum car park – was being retained at the expense of the park facility. Coun Andrew Thornton, the council’s executive member for environment, sport and sustainability, said the authority had to find ways of balancing the budget, and difficult decisions had to be made.
Keighley’s biggest secondary school was awarded £16 million to replace its run-down buildings. Oakbank’s new state-of-the-art facilities would be constructed at the site of the existing school in Oakworth Road. The scheme was approved as part of the government’s Priority School Building Programme, which uses private funding. “We’re delighted at the news – it’s very exciting,” said headteacher David Maxwell. He added that the new building would offer better facilities and more space, with improved ITC and sports provision. Tenders for the work will go out early in 2014, and the premises should be ready for students to move in by September 2016.
Two day care centres in Keighley were earmarked for closure as part of the swingeing council cuts, it was revealed. Holmewood in Fell Lane and the Oaks Resource Centre at Oakworth Road were both facing the axe. Bradford Council plans to shut all its social day care centres during the next three years as part of efforts to slash £14.7 million from the adults and community services budget. It would instead buy-in reduced levels of provision from the independent and voluntary sectors. Town mayor Councillor Sally Walker, a former nurse who has visited the Oaks in her civic role, voiced her fears.
More than 650 people packed into Keighley Shared Church for the Remembrance Sunday service. Town Hall Square was also full as hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to those who died in both world wars and other conflicts. The crowd spilled over onto surrounding pavements as both veterans and serving soldiers marched into the square. Civic representatives, veterans and families of those currently serving in the armed forces were among many who laid wreaths on the war memorial.
Vandals who daubed dog mess on children’s play equipment in Long Lee were branded “sick-minded” by a councillor. Steve Pullen described as “mind-boggling” the disgusting attack at the playground between Spring Avenue and Royd House Road. Coun Pullen, who represents Keighley East ward on Bradford Council, said he had never come across such an incident before. Council workers were immediately dispatched to clean the equipment, and wardens were drafted in to patrol the play area.
Former Selby MP John Grogan was chosen to stand as Labour candidate for Keighley at the next general election. Mr Grogan, 52, grew up and still lives in Burley-in-Wharfedale. His first political experience was delivering leaflets after school for Labour MP Bob Cryer in Keighley during the 1979 general election. From 1997 to 2010, he won the highly marginal seat of Selby three times, retaining it until the seat was abolished through boundary changes.
Hundreds of people packed into Keighley’s Church Green for the town’s Christmas lights switch-on. Helping to flick the switch was X Factor finalist Amelia Lily, who finished third in the 2011 series of the hit TV talent show. She also spent nearly an hour meeting and greeting fans at the Airedale Shopping Centre. Entertainment was provided throughout the day courtesy of Keighley Town Centre Association, the Airedale Centre and the Royal Arcade.
December Violent attacks against staff at Airedale Hospital have risen, it was revealed. Forty-nine incidents had taken place in the past year, with 27 resulting in injury. The total has now exceeded 140 during a three-year period. The shocking statistics were condemned by Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, who said perpetrators must face the full rigours of the law. Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has now set up a special staff support group to investigate reported incidents of physical or verbal abuse - by patients, carers or other members of the public.
Keighley’s former county court building in North Street was sold. The disused property was bought by Addingham-based property developers Turner Developments, whose managing director James Turner said he was looking forward to being able to bring the premises – which date to 1831 – back into use. The building has been empty for about 18 months, and includes the main court room, offices and waiting rooms. “We would like to give the place a facelift, modernise it inside, then let it out either to an office occupier or retail,” he said.
Ducks were dying needlessly at Keighley Tarn after being dumped by uncaring owners, a bird lover revealed. Dorothy Tennant claimed domesticated ducks were regularly left to fend for themselves at the beauty spot. She said Muscovy ducks were particularly at risk because they get run over while crossing Black Hill Lane to eat grass from the opposite verge. Mrs Tennant added that about half-a-dozen Muscovys were dumped each year, and within weeks all of them had been killed.
A wildlife charity put under the spotlight because it only spent seven per cent of its apparent income on helping animals held urgent talks with fundraisers aimed at improving its results. Accounts for Wildlife Rescue Sanctuaries, based in Keighley, showed it spent more than £220,000 of its income of £257,000 in 2012 on generating funds, which prompted concerns from the Charity Commission. Figures were explained by the way WRS had employed professional fundraisers to rattle tins on its behalf – fundraisers who then took a chunk of monies raised by way of fees and costs.
Keighley Cougars unveiled a £5 million plan to revamp their stadium. Ambitious blueprints were put forward by the town’s rugby league club to redevelop its Cougar Park base. New state-of-the-art facilities would be opened up to the community as part of the project. A planning application for the first phase of the scheme – to rebuild the main stand – should be submitted to Bradford Council this month. Further work will then include the provision of modern changing rooms and redevelopment of the gym, education facilities and function suites. The initiative was welcomed by community leaders, who said it would provide a massive boost not just to the club but to the whole town.
A mum spoke exclusively to the Keighley News of her long battle to obtain a school place for her disabled daughter. April Birch had been fighting for months to get four-year-old Lauren, who has two genetic conditions, into primary school. Mrs Birch said her daughter was initially turned down by Laycock Primary because it didn’t have disabled toilets but had now been told a place would be available. However it will be next April before Lauren, who is currently in a nursery, can move up.
Tribute was paid to a pillar of Keighley’s community, who died aged 44 after a long struggle against cancer. Father-of-two Sajid Khan, who had a brain tumour, died at his Lawkholme home. He was heavily involved in Keighley Muslim Association and used to work as an education guidance officer at Keighley College. His body was taken to Pakistan, where his parents are buried.