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Local businessman appointed Chair of the Town Deal Board

Local businessman Phil Jones has spoken of his desire to restore the vibrancy of Goole’s town centre after it was announced that he has been appointed to the voluntary role of Chair of the Goole Town Deal Board.

Phil, who owns and runs Goole-based letting and estate agency Link Agency alongside his wife, Suzanne, was previously Vice-Chair of the Board but recently agreed to step up to the role of Chair. He follows in the footsteps of local businessman Joseph Richardson, who recently stood down, having fulfilled the role for more than two years.

Made up of Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy and representatives of a wide variety of public, private and voluntary sector organisations with a shared commitment to regenerating Goole and growing its economy, the Goole Town Deal Board is responsible for ensuring that the Goole Town Deal programme achieves its objectives within the timescales specified by the Government.

Having grown up and attended school in Goole, Phil has a sound knowledge of the local area and will be a familiar face to many within the local community. He studied at both Sheffield Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) and Nottingham University, and lived in both London and New York before heading back to Yorkshire. Phil cites the way that New York has been regenerated and gentrified in the intervening years as a source of great inspiration, adding: “When I lived there, it was a different city to what it is now. It was rundown in many areas back then but a huge amount of work was done during the administration of Rudy Giuliani, who served as Mayor from 1994 to 2001, to create a city that people want to live and work in, and a place where they feel safe.”

Having previously owned and run a local recruitment business, Phil bought Link Agency in 2003 and has seen it grow and evolve significantly during his 20 years at the helm. His head office is located on Pasture Road in the town and Phil describes Goole as ‘a great place to do business’, adding: “Goole is home and I’ve always been drawn back to this area. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of change, and not all of it has been good. There are, of course, some things that people will be critical of. I feel that Goole has lost its identity a little and people don’t want to spend so much time within the town centre these days. I’d really like to change that and make it more appealing and welcoming. I remember how vibrant it was when I was a child; getting that back has to be our objective.”

Phil, who is also a former President of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, continued: “I’m massively invested in Goole on a personal level and I really want to see it back on its feet so that it can become the town that I know it’s capable of being. The Goole Town Deal funding secured from the Government gives us a golden opportunity to do that and I know that I speak on behalf of everyone on the Board when I say that we take our shared commitment to overseeing that process very seriously.

“Goole has so many great attributes and I want to get people talking positively about the town again. If we get enough people talking positively about it, it will gradually become the norm here. As a Board, we’re aiming to make positive change in those areas where we know we can make a significant difference, putting in place the foundations for a positive economic future for the town and making it a better environment for everyone. I want to be able to look back in ten years’ time and say ‘wow, look what we’ve achieved!”.

Phil, who estimates that, on average, he currently devotes the equivalent of up to one day per week of his time to his voluntary role on the Goole Town Deal Board, considers being Chair as like ‘having stewardship’ of the Goole Town Deal process. He also highlighted the importance of having the ideas and input of a broad cross-section of different public, private and voluntary sector groups and organisations represented on the Board.

Phil is always keen to hear the views and ideas of local people, adding: “I’m more than happy for people to ask me questions and chat to me about the Goole Town Deal programme. In fact, much of my time is spent responding to emails and calls, and answering people’s questions. That’s one of the reasons why I chose to join the Board and take on the role of Chair at a point when I knew I’d be able to give as much of my time and energy to it as possible.”

In June 2021, Goole received confirmation that it had secured a £25 million slice of the Government’s Town Deal funding after submitting an ambitious Town Investment Plan aimed at achieving economic growth, giving all of the town’s residents equal access to training and job opportunities, improving connectivity to and around the town, building a sense of pride in Goole and making its town centre a hub of activity. The plan also includes objectives around making Goole a place where both people and businesses want to settle, and an environmentally responsible town.

The eight projects set out in the Town Investment Plan include:

  • A Property Activation Fund to encourage property owners, developers and tenants to carry out improvements to buildings in the town centre and bring empty or under-used sites back into use.
  • The regeneration of the town’s Victoria Pleasure Ground sports stadium to secure its future and ensure that it’s a focal point for the town.
  • An investment in Goole’s historic Market Hall to transform it into a vibrant food hall and events venue at the heart of the town centre, offering flexible accommodation for local creative and craft businesses.
  • A Public Realm project to refresh and enhance the way that the town centre looks and feels, with high quality lighting, soft landscaping and seating, whilst also encouraging walking and cycling.
  • The transformation of East Riding Leisure Goole into a modern leisure hub, with a state-of-the-art gym, swimming pool, bowling alley and more.
  • Opportunity Goole, which is based within Goole Library on Carlisle Street in the town centre and provides access to information about Goole Town Deal and workforce development, helping local people to gain the knowledge and skills they need to secure employment and ensuring that employers can recruit local people with the skillset that they’re looking for.
  • The creation of an enhanced transport hub and arrival/departure experience at Goole Station and the provision of a regular transport link between key employment sites in Goole and nearby Howden.
  • The creation of a ‘greenway’ corridor along Goole’s Dutch River to enable pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy the great outdoors.

For more information about these projects and to access regular updates as they progress, visit www.gooletowndeal.co.uk.

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