Event celebrations an opportunity to build 'a better Batley'

Mark Griffin of Batley Smile.
Mark Griffin of Batley Smile.

EVENTS to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the formation of Batley Borough Council could be used as a springboard for regeneration in the town as organisers prepare to shout up for ‘a better Batley’.

Leaders of local religious groups and community groups have joined together in order to present a colourful reflection of the town, with a number of events planned to mark the occasion and present a vision of unity within the community.

Mark Griffin, owner of community interest group Batley Smile, said that there are a whole host of reasons to be cheerful about the town as it approaches what he describes as a ‘momentous anniversary’.

This weekend will see Batley embrace Heritage Open Day Weekend like never before, with Batley Festival coming up on September 29 and then the official Batley 150 celebrations taking place in December and through into 2019.

He said: “We want to celebrate what Batley has to offer, to celebrate our heritage and history and to hopefully generate a feeling of goodwill to build something going forward.

“It’s important that we’re positive about where we come from and what we can achieve here.”

Mark has asked for residents to look back 50 years, to 1968, and present Batley life as it was, with special attention given to how life then sculpted Batley today.

Among this weekend’s celebrations will be a re-enactment of the first Batley Borough Council meeting by local schoolchildren, as well as a showing of ‘Waste’, a 1968 documentary that detailed Batley life at the time.

“1968 was a big year for Batley,” Mark said, “the M62, then called the Leeds to Manchester motorway, was opening, which was an exciting time for the town and led to all the good things that the Batley Variety Club brought with it.

“As ever, we’re being ambitious with this and personally I’d like to see the logo used as springboard for a regeneration bid, to apply for funding in that way. I really do see all this as an opportunity.”

More information on a number of Heritage Open Day events across North Kirklees can be found in this week's Dewsbury Reporter series.