Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has praised the dramatic transformation of the iconic Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley from an old textile mill into a thriving business, artistic and community hub.
Spending an afternoon at one of the most historic family-owned mills in Yorkshire, Mr Sunak spoke to over 20 business owners and tenants in an informal and relaxed question-and-answer session.
He was welcomed by John and William Gaunt, the joint managing directors of the award-winning mill complex.
The Prime Minister commented: “It has been fantastic to meet local artisans and entrepreneurs at Sunny Bank Mills and to see the transformation of this former textile mill into a thriving hub for businesses.
“Last week the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced tax cuts that will benefit over one million small businesses like those I have met at Sunny Bank Mills. By backing British businesses and taking long-term decisions to grow the economy, we will see entrepreneurial areas in and around Leeds, such as Sunny Bank Mills, continue to thrive.”
While visiting, Mr Sunak also stressed the importance of devolution and making sure that local people were in control of their own destiny, while revealing that businesses could expect to see cuts to their rates in the next year.
“It is vital to back the incredible people and businesses of Leeds. I have been talking to some of them at Sunny Bank Mills, together with Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew and they are incredibly entrepreneurial people.”
The Prime Minister also made some jewellery when he visited the award-winning jeweller Emma White, who was a finalist in the popular BBC-2 show All That Glitters: Britain’s Next Jewellery Star. Emma said: “It was very interesting to meet the Prime Minister when he visited my jewellery studio (thejewellerymakers.co.uk) in the Twisting building.
“After a brief chat about my multi-faceted business, he had a go at punching a silver star and hammering a texture on to a silver bangle. We discussed the positive impact of creative pursuits and I asked him if he’d bought his wife a Christmas present yet.”
John Gaunt commented: “The fact that Sunny Bank Mills attracted a visit from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a real milestone in the successful regeneration of the mills, as well as being an incredibly exciting moment for us all.
“It is a reflection of how far we have come, and all the hard work we have all put in, not just William and I, but our staff team and mill community, the local community and all those who have supported us."
William Gaunt added: “It was a great pleasure to welcome The Prime Minister and to get him in front of our business owners to hear about their challenges. He was also able to see what a wonderful community makes up Sunny Bank Mills, bursting with creativity and energy.”
During the past 11 years Sunny Bank Mills has been transformed into a modern office and mixed-use creative complex for the 21st century, creating 500 sustainable new jobs, with more than 100 companies on site.
Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew said: “I was absolutely delighted that the Prime Minister visited to see for himself the wonderful transformation of an old textile mill into a fabulous business centre and community asset. What has happened here is inspirational and has had a massive impact on the economy and the life of Farsley. Huge congratulations are due to William and John Gaunt for overseeing the renaissance of the mill complex.”