LETTER: We’d rather have jobs than an old mill

We saw Labour’s Ian Graham grandstanding on the front of the Colne Times and have Labour town councillor Gerard McCabe and “Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em Green” David Penney calling to “save our mill”.

Quite frankly, these people are stuck in the dark ages. They have absolutely no grasp of how the private sector works at all. They would rather condemn future generations to dereliction and deprivation, so long as the mill in the South Valley remains.

Mr McCabe claims there has been no discussion at any level. He is quite wrong.

There have been months of detailed discussion with councillors and council officers.

I think that for him to suggest the owners have allowed the mill to decline is bang out of order. That is not the reason for its proposed demolition.

I am passionate about history and tradition. But thankfully I am practical, too. I am also passionate about the future of our area, our young people and our economy. I realise the redevelopment of the mill is uneconomical as it stands. I say that with confidence having spent hours on end looking at the site, discussing plans and talking to developers. It doesn’t stack up.

Back in the days of the South Valley Master Plan, it was suggested the mill was redeveloped.

That plan is now gone.

Mr Graham and Mr McCabe’s lot bled the country dry and there simply isn’t the taxpayers’ money to do it. It’s down to the private sector now and the sums don’t add up. Not that I’d expect Labour to understand what that even means.

I’ve spent hours with English Heritage, and we’ll find out within days whether they are to condemn this land (and I stress, it is a listing for the entire site, not just the mill) to years of dereliction. If they decide not to list, the area will have a bright future. There are plans to bring employment to the site. If it goes the other way then it will stay as it is, and a company who plan to bring 250 jobs to the site will instead move to Burnley.

We have green land off Knotts Drive that people don’t want developing. Now we have brown field people don’t want developing. We need to get a grip. The area needs regenerating and we can’t just keep saying no. Future generations will suffer if we do not make bold moves now.

I would also like to remind readers that Pendle Council’s venture partnership is protecting Grade II listed Brierfield Mill at a cost of over £10m. We can protect some, but not all. Let’s focus on the best ones and allow jobs and investment on the other site.

Let me be clear. It is people like these who will choke growth in Pendle. The only thing they want to demolish is economic prosperity. We need the jobs here and now. I am sure that if the trio of relics would like to protect it then I can put them in touch with the owners. I reckon they could buy and regenerate it for about £11m. Money where your mouth is time, chaps?

COUN. PAUL WHITE (Con.)

Executive Member for Economic Development,

Pendle Council