THE last remaining section of canal towpath between Keighley and Skipton is to be surfaced to allow easy cycling and walking.

Local politicians this week welcomed the £500,000 scheme to improve the 2km stretch between Silsden and Kildwick on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The project, part of a £52.6 million Government boost for 15 ‘shovel-ready’ projects in West Yorkshire, will complete the long-awaited continuous walking and cycling route from Leeds city centre towards the Yorkshire Dales.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA ) said the route would help boost tourism and leisure while providing a sustainable, low-cost, travel link to access local employment and skills opportunities.

The announcement came a fortnight after Silsden town councillor David Loud renewed his campaign for funding to surface the section of towpath.

Cllr Loud this week praised Bradford Council and WYCA for taking advantage of a “very short” window of opportunity to apply for the cash.

He said: “The upgrade to the final section between Silsden and Kildwick will be a great asset to both cyclist and walkers, and fantastic news for the residents of Silsden.

“Once the works have been completed, the canal towpath will provide a safe route that can be used for both pleasure and commuting linking over 30 miles that will be completely traffic free.

Silsden and Bradford councillor Rebecca Whitaker, said government funding for the “long overdue” upgrade would complete a missing link on the towpath.

She said a similar upgrade for the canal towpath between Silsden and Riddlesden in 2018 has made a huge difference to the amount of people who used the canal.

She added: “It is a historical transport link and is part of Silsden’s local heritage. When it is finished it will make it easier for walkers to negotiate the towpath especially for those with disabilities and families with little ones in prams.”

Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley, said: "Levelling up between northern and southern parts of England was a key pledge during the 2019 General Election campaign.

"I’m really pleased that despite the challenges coronavirus has thrown at us we’re still able to deliver on these projects which will improve the local area, boost the economy and create more jobs.

“Through important funds such as this, we can future proof our towns with better, greener infrastructure, while also supporting jobs over the months and years ahead.

"This project will be great for improving pedestrian and cycling connectivity for our area, and will help pull visitors into Silsden."

WYCA had submitted 15 ‘shovel-ready’ projects to the Government after it made a total of £900 million available through the national Getting Building Fund.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “The 15 projects are integral to West Yorkshire’s economic recovery plan and will ensure the benefits are felt across a wide range of communities and economic sectors.

“The projects focus on areas vital to a successful, and inclusive recovery, such as regenerating our towns and cities, support for business investment and jobs growth as well as opening up new walking and cycling routes.”

The 15 projects expected to create almost 2,300 new jobs and safeguard a further 500 jobs.

Roger Marsh, chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership for Leeds City Region, said: “The funding deal secured with Government is one of the largest in the UK and will play a crucial role in our recovery, alongside the work already being undertaken by our West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board.

“Through the £1 billion plus Leeds City Region Growth Deal we have already demonstrated our successful track record in investing in the right infrastructure needed to create the jobs, housing and communities of the future.

“This funding will enable us to go even further and build on those foundations that have already been laid to ensure the benefits are felt in all corners of our region.”

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP, said: “We want to build back better to fuel a green economic recovery across the country by investing in infrastructure, creating jobs and building the homes people need.

“That is why, we are investing £900 million in shovel-ready projects through our Getting Building Fund, including £52.6 million in West Yorkshire. This funding will unlock homes, create new jobs and deliver investment in commercial and green spaces and a much-needed boost to the local economy.”