TRIBUTE has been paid to a businessman for his work as chair of the Keighley Towns Fund board.

Ian Hayfield, who has stepped down from the role, had headed up the board since its inception in 2020.

It was founded to oversee a programme of regeneration in the area after Keighley secured a £33.6 million package of Government funding.

Initially, the role of chair involved leading the board – a partnership of public and private-sector representatives – in identifying and agreeing a regeneration vision through the creation of an investment plan.

But over the years the remit has shifted to one of monitoring the delivery of initiatives – which have included the Providence Park development, community grants programme, town centre infrastructure project and Capital Assistance to Business Growth grants scheme.

Mr Hayfield, a chartered surveyor, says: "I have stepped down on short-term health grounds and feel that now is the right time to give someone else the opportunity to deliver some of these incredible projects.

"It has been a privilege to hold the position of chair of Keighley Towns Fund. I feel very proud of what we have achieved for the town and surrounding area.

"I’d like to thank everyone I have worked with over the years, through the challenges of Covid and beyond. I have had the pleasure of working with some brilliant people, from the teams at Keighley Town Council and Bradford Council through to our sponsors, and I have been fully supported by the hard-working members of the board.

"I am confident that their incredible work will continue and that excellent projects will be delivered for Keighley, making a real difference to people’s lives for years to come."

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, transport and planning, says: "Ian has been involved in supporting so many things in and around Keighley over the years it was no surprise when he stepped up to drive our Towns Fund work forward.

"We would like to sincerely thank him for all his efforts overseeing the Towns Fund programme from its inception all the way through to securing funding and delivering projects. Ian has volunteered a lot of his time, very valuable experience, skills and resources to the Towns Fund programme and we are very grateful."

The board's vice-chair, Liz Barker, is acting as interim chair until a new permanent appointment is made, expected to be in March.