TRIBUTE has been paid to Keighley’s business community by the senior politician who heads-up regeneration across the district.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw – Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transport – this week praised businesses’ “characteristic grit, determination and innovation in the face of incredible pressures”.

Many traders have been unable to operate during lockdown or have had to find ways of diversifying.

Non-essential shops are being allowed to reopen from June 15, but they will have to adhere to strict guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect staff and customers.

The move has been widely welcomed by the retail sector and will provide a boost for the town centre.

However, social distancing restrictions will remain in place for some time and a warning was issued last week of tough days ahead.

Councillor Ross-Shaw says: “We are facing an unprecedented national and global crisis with Covid-19 and it’s highly likely this will result in a downturn in the district’s economy.

“The council and our partners are working extremely hard to do everything we can to reduce these impacts, with business grants and expert advice and support.

“We’ve issued over £100 million in grants across the district in the last few weeks – including to many Keighley businesses – and our Invest in Bradford team and Keighley College are working to support impacted businesses which have requested help.

“Keighley has a lot to offer and the town’s vibrant business community is showing characteristic grit, determination and innovation in the face of incredible pressures.

“We will continue to push forward with economic initiatives such as the Towns Fund, skills investment in Keighley College through the Industrial Centre of Excellence (ICE) programme and the new public sector hub.

“We’re also continuing the work to improve Hard Ings Road, which will greatly impact on connectivity around the town.

“And district-wide jobs and investment-boosting programmes, such as the Bradford District Growth Scheme, will continue.

“We will be doing everything we can to fight for Keighley’s prosperity during what are likely to be very difficult times.”