YEP Says, February 18: Amid the buzz over Victoria Gate, let’s not forget local shops

An artist's impression of the new Victoria Gate scheme
An artist's impression of the new Victoria Gate scheme
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Bringing big names into the city centre is important, but so too are the small businesses that are often the beating heart of local areas.

THE striking new artist’s impressions of the Victoria Gate shopping centre add to the sense that Leeds is once again on the up.

Following hot on the heels of the hugely successful Trinity scheme, this exciting project will help to push the city into retail’s premier league.

Its anchor will be a four-storey John Lewis department store – the arrival of this prestigious name confirmation in itself of the renewed confidence in the city and the most high-profile since Harvey Nichols opened its doors nearly 20 years ago.

Crucially, however, Victoria Gate will also be a vehicle to provide opportunities for local people, which at a time of continued austerity is absolutely essential.

Leeds City Council’s employment and skills service is working closely with developers Hammerson and newly-appointed contractors Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd to ensure that the jobs and training created by the scheme are made available to the local workforce.

Amid the buzz about these new schemes, however, it’s vital that local shopping facilities are not overlooked. Often struggling, they must also be the focus of fresh ideas and investment.

Bringing big names into the city centre is hugely important, but so too are the small businesses that are often the beating heart of local areas.

As such, they should be given the level of support that enables them to thrive, rather than simply survive.

In the dock: how to fulfil area’s potential

IT’S the £250m question that hasn’t been solved in well over a decade – how best to realise the potential of Clarence Dock?

That was the sum spent on the regeneration project that delivered the dock, only for it to be then hampered by a lack of interest and low footfall.

Now there’s genuine hope that it will be a success for the simple reason that new owners Allied London recognise the key issue is one of accessibility.

They have unveiled exciting plans for the dock’s redevelopment – and crucially these include water taxis and a free or subsidised bus service.

Let’s hope it proves the winning formula.

Bernard Kenny, the man who risked his own life to try and save MP Jo Cox, has died.

YEP Says: Bernard Kenny, a real national hero