‘If your vision doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough’

Big and bold plans: Mytholmroyd villagers
Big and bold plans: Mytholmroyd villagers

An adventure centre, nature reserve and cycling festival are among ambitious suggestions to put Mytholmroyd on the map.

White water rafting, canoeing and action-packed days out on foot or bike were all thrown into the mix as residents and councillors aimed to highlight the village as a focal point for tourists.

At an open meeting on Tuesday held to thrash out ways to boost trade and economy in the village, a range of proposals was put forward to attract visitors and make them want to come back time and again.

Among the ideas – with next year’s Grand Depart at the forefront of people’s minds – was a cycling hub, bike trail or festival with cycle hire to encourage people to enjoy the upper Calder Valley’s hillsides instead of heading elsewhere for their thrills and spills.

And with the eyes of the world on Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale next July, as the Tour de France will be beamed live to 200 countries, it was felt this was a perfect time to grasp the nettle and showcase all the positive points the picturesque area has to offer.

Now the suggestions will be collated into a community-led action plan. The meeting, at St Michael’s Church, was led by Calderdale Council’s director of economy and environment Ian Gray, who told the 40-strong assembly: “I have a mentor who says: ‘If your vision doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.’”

Also at the meeting were Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker and the prospective Parliamentary candidate for Labour, Josh Fenton-Glynn. At the conclusion of the meeting Josh said he had written down three key words: “Transport, Pride, Attractions”.

Villagers also felt that Mytholmroyd’s centre - including a bus stop and public toilets - would benefit from re-modelling.

The “Ambition for Mythomroyd” meeting was the first of its kind across Calderdale. Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and environment, said: “This is not about politics, this is about people and their community. We want to try and engage local communities to talk to us about the local economy, their aspirations and to work together to try and find a brighter future.”

Residents said they felt like the “poor relation” and that after last year’s floods the village had been one of the slowest communities to recover.

There was a consensus that the empty shop fronts looked drab and that the narrow pavements and busy through road - often littered with roadworks - put people off shopping and visiting.

Other issues highlighted included broadband speeds; a lack of identity; a lack of a focal point or attraction to promote the village as a place to stay and enjoy.

But people felt there was a strong sense of community and that working together to create regular events, such as a weekly market, and annual events, such as the gala and popular “Reet Royd do” on Sunday (see Pages 32 and 33) plus a “boggart trail” of gargoyle-style sculptures dotted around the area for people to spot, could mark Mytholomroyd out as more than just the birthplace of Ted Hughes.