Last of the Summer Wine hangover blamed for shop closures in Holmfirth

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Tourists ‘no longer interested’ and why Holmfirth needs to reinvent itself

Holmfirth residents have voiced their fears for the future of retailing in the town following a string of business closures.

People on the Holmfirth Community Group Facebook page made their views known after one member commented on the number of vacant units – including the former tourist information centre, the Lions Hart boutique, a chemist shop and two of the town’s four high street banks.

The indoor market in Holmfirth is set to close as part of cost-cutting measures announced by Kirklees Council.

And although moves are afoot to find an alternative venue to the council-owned market hall, the current building has never reached capacity – with 20 stallholders, but 29 stalls.

Commenting on the retail scene on the Facebook page, one person posted: “People just aren’t using the facilities and they need to weekly for local business to work. We’re all guilty of convenience and price but when was the last time you made a conscious decision to pay more to support local business?”

One contributor suggested Holmfirth emulate a near-neighbour across the Pennines, saying: ”Uppermill over the hill is a fantastic example of how to do it right. Great food places and independent shops. So why can’t Holmfirth replicate that?”

One poster responded: “Uppermill is closer to Manchester, has a bit more upmarket image, less trucks rumbling through it and, sorry to say it, but not suffering from the Last of the Summer Wine hangover.

“We have some great local businesses, a market we need to promote, so much local talent to be proud of. But we need locals to support businesses, tourists buy cups of tea and fridge magnets at the best.”

Another poster said: “Hate to be blunt but Holmfirth rode off the back of Summer Wine for an awful long time. That bubble burst and the tourists are no longer really interested anymore…if you want to see a much smaller village that’s re-invented itself you need look no further than Slaithwaite.

“The place is absolutely booming with chic eateries and niche shops. It hasn’t brought tourists in but the locals now shop there instead of going further afield.”

However one poster took a more positive view, saying: “Sorry to buck a trend here, but I love living in Holmfirth, there are loads of great things and great people.

“Holmfirth has the Picturedrome, food/drink and folk festivals just as starters. What about the local group who are opening the adult education centre again?

“Holmepride that cleans and tidies our community? Loads of local sports clubs for kids and adults (mainly run by volunteers). We even have our own Triathlon. Amazing countryside literally on our doorstep. What about Art week? ..and much much more.”

Both HSBC and Santander have closed their Holmfirth branches, leaving Barclays and Lloyds the only branches in the town.

However, the Examiner reported last week how a developer hopes to turn rundown old buildings into a cafe bar, micro-brewery and gallery space.

Myles Pinfold wants to re-build and restore old, derelict workshops on Norridge Bottom into a multi-function space new venue. The plans are subject to approval by Kirklees Council.

Holme Valley South Conservative councillor Donald Firth, who worked in Holmfirth for 50 years, blamed its decline on being “starved of everything” by Kirklees Council.

He said the market had been starved of £28,000 a year – contrasting that with investment by Barnsley Council in its town centre – adding that many locals shopped in Barnsley, Penistone or Glossop because it was easier to drive there than struggle into Holmfirth centre or run a gauntlet of speed cameras.

Clr Firth said his fellow ward councillors had a plan for Holmfirth to reduce traffic congestion, provide more parking and encourage more “proper shops” as opposed to coffee shops and takeaways.

“Summer Wine is not going to last forever,” he said.

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