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Why we need quicker buses

Recent protests about one bus lane om the A62 seem to be getting out of proportion. Conservative councillors have been overstating their case to make a point.

Chas Ball, Green PPC for Colne Valley said " Tories are happy to support the allocation of several hundred million pounds to motorway widening and questionable road schemes but are opposing a givernment funded bus priority plan.

"Buses stuck in traffic are often carrying dozens of people and should get priority over other traffic at peak hours. The proposed changes on Manchester Road will mean extra road space for buses and cyclists. As someone who uses buses – and has been stuck in traffic on a 328 in Longroyd Bridge - I am all for more bus lanes.
"If buses are quicker than the car at peak times, when most traffic jams occur, they are more attractive to use. There are a lot of commuters with only one person in each car.  If some of these people use the bus some of the time, congestion would be eased. I accept that some people have to use a car or van due to the nature of their work, transporting tools, for example or to fit in childcare. But many people have a choice - and need a good bus or rail service to tempt them out of the car on a regular basis.
"We need to continue to invest in public transport, cycling and improved facilities for pedestrians. We also need a better deal struck between local authorities and bus operators. Somehow, we need better quality buses. If they were better used, and not stuck in traffic jams, perhaps we could halt fare increases".
This plan links to improvements needed to handle extra traffic enterting and leaving the planned Watefront development.

"We are surely going to need the bus as oil prices rise over the next decade. Then more people will be looking for ways of travelling more cheaply."
January 2010

Town Centre planning proposals

Kirklees Green Party has recently put forward a detailed response to Kirklees Council's consultation on the future of the town centre - the Area Action Plan, which is part of the Local Development Framework.

KGP argued that we should concentrate on creating a stronger economy and cultural activity in the currnet definition of the town centre.By recognising the potential of our town centre architecture and spaces, we could revive the squares and courtyards that are partly neglected at present. We need to encourage the diverse range of independent businesses, together with the markets. We also favour the regeneration of the existing Tesco in Viaduct Street as a twon centre supermarket.

We also put the case for a stronger visitor attraction and more hotel capacity. We proposed a convention and exhibition centre and museum in St George's Warehouse.

With these policies - rather than an exension of the town centre outside the ring road of large supermarkets and retail parks - Huddersfield could establish itself as a uniquely attractive centre with a strong diverse economy. making best use of its built heritage.

We do not see a good case for extending the boundary of the town centre plan to include the Galpharm Stadium and HD1 development or the retail sheds in Leeds Road. Future plans should be largely defined by the twon centre within the ring road - together with the University and Kirklees College Waterfront sites.

Detailed version of AAP submission January 2010

Tesco finally submit plans for a hypermarket in Leeds Road

Tesco plans for Huddersfield's regeneration now available The planning applications can now be inspected on the Kirklees Council website or in person at Civic Centre 3 in Huddersfield. The references are: 2009/93675 for the hypermarket in Leeds Road/Southgate and 2009/93674 for the plans for shops, flats, parking and a hotel on the Viaduct Street site.

But KGP is still asking "Do we need another large supermarket on the edge of the town centre?"

Compared to other comparable towns, Huddersfield is well provided with large and medium sized supermarkets. ASDA Walmart and Tesco plans for huge edge-of-town-centre supermarket plans are all chasing the same shoppers.

We fear this development will have a knock on effect on local shops, particularly those within the town centre and in shopping centres close to the sites.  Kirklees Council’s consultants have projected retail needs for south Kirklees that are quite limited and show we don’t need such a large expansion of supermarket shopping.

Surely the real issue for Kirklees Council - and those of us who live and work in Huddersfield - is the effect of a major edge of town supermarket, contributing to further decline of the town centre. We need imaginative investment that helps to ensure a thriving centre which is also attractive to work in and to visit.

As the proposals from Tesco were published in early February, we will report on these plan is late February. Objectiosn will need to be lodges with Kirklees Council Planning by mid-March.

February 2010

Greens win vote on Councillors hospitality

The Green Party motion at Kirklees Council meeting (21 October) heralds an end to Christmas Parties for Party Political groups on the Council funded by the charge payers.

The resolution, proposed by Green Party Leader Councillor Andrew Cooper simply said: "This Council believes that the Party Groups hospitality allowance is unjustifiable and should be abolished."

Previously this £2500 budget had been used to finance the purchase of food and alcohol for a Christmas Party for each of the political groups. The Green Party have not been using their allocation under this budget and for many years had consistently called for the abolition of the hospitality allowance.

"The motion was put and no one could or would stand up and argue against it", said Councillor Andrew Cooper,"but when it came to the vote it was noticeable that the Conservatives failed to support the motion and abstained.

"I simply don't understand why a Party that professes to be interested in good management of public expenditure would be so anxious to hang on to their 'beer money' that they couldn't either support or even argue against the motion."

October 2009

Fair Traders Co-op planned for Holmfirth

The Fair Traders Cooperative recently launched its prospectus. This is an extract from the founders statement

"Our shop in Holmfirth will showcase a range of ethically rated products making a difference to local and global communities. Although we will carry many certified Fairtrade goods, our unique selling point is that we have our own sustainability rating, assessing our products in terms of their social, environmental and economic impact, which will apply to every product we sell. We are working closely with our prospective suppliers and members will be able to comment on and contribute to the ratings via our website.

The Co-op has carefully selected and assessed products that will make a positive difference to someone somewhere, whether it’s to a local independent real ale brewer, a Yorkshire bee keeper, an Ethiopian coffee grower or an Indian cotton farmer.

The founders are five committed volunteers who are not paid but motivated by our desire to see fair trade and sustainable shopping become a model for the future. We are keen to build on the ‘Keep Holmfirth Special’ Campaign and put a positive model in Holmfirth after its success in blocking Tesco’s bid for a store in the town which it was felt would suck money from local business and shut local producers out of the market."

The subscription has raised £75,000 towards setting up the shop and online business. The aim is be self supporting in three years and to open for business in spring 2010. For more information contact Elizabeth Bounds on enbounds@yahoo.co.uk

Updated February 2010

Slaithwaite greengrocery co-op and bakery news
Slaithwaite Cooperative Limited trading as Green Valley grocers is now open, providing good quality fresh  fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, freshly baked hand made bread, wholefoods  and a range of other goods, with an emphasis on locally grown and made food.

"If the idea of eating fresh food that uses less fossil fuel and lower packaging is interesting, then you can be a part of Slaithwaite Cooperative by becoming a shareholder", said Graham.

A community share issue was launched in May and has raised around £20,000 in share capital to enable this new social enterprise to launch.

The store re-opened as a co-op on July 10th with the Handmade Bakery from Marsden moving in too. After a busy first few weeks a formal opening by the Mayor of Kirklees, Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner took place in mid-August - see pictures and latest news

To register your interest in the Slaithwaite Cooperative Limited e-mail graham@mc3.coop or phone
01484 844417 or mob: 07906 318677. To find out more use the web site. http://www.slaithwaite.coop

Big questions over need for huge stores
Supermarkets and their satellite convenience stores are on the march. Your correspondent, Richard Huddleston (Examiner 25 May) wants to see a proper debate on the future of the town. He is worried that campaigners are asking awkward questions about supermarkets’ plans. They are, he hints, standing in the way of “progress”.

But it is thanks to the “campaigners” that we are having a debate and challenging the assumptions that the supermarket plans are based on.

At the heart of the shopping debate is “need”. Do we need more supermarkets in Huddersfield when we have a lot of empty town centre retail space? The retail studies done by consultants for the council in 2008 are out of date, but they are used to show we “need” more large supermarkets.

Combining additional retailing capacity with town centre regeneration should be the priority. There is land and low quality building inside the ring road – some of it was part of the Queensgate plan. 

As a University town Huddersfield must recognise that its largest employer will need land to expand, or for new jobs in the knowledge industries to be developed close to it. This raises an issue about the use of the Broadbent site for an ASDA supermarket.

If Tesco and ASDA Walmart get planning approval we, the “campaigners”, will have raised important issues that will still need addressing: on the need for a “local food” policy; on how to regenerate the town centre after the demise of Queensgate; on bringing jobs into the central area; on traffic and access on the ring road; and on air quality in Leeds Road.

Finally, through Kirklees Council’s LDF consultation, we have been asked to comment on future land use that will affect our lives in the next decade. If we want to be far-sighted we must plan now to adjust to the constraints and opportunities of a low carbon economy.

As energy costs continue to rise (due to waning oil reserves) we will soon get back to $150 a barrel oil that we reached last year - and more. Carbon use will need to be reduced for economic reasons and to tackle climate change. Through a mixture of behaviour change and technology, our lives, our settlements, shopping and food sources will change.

We could and should take these factors into account in our planning process now, rather than wait until it’s staring us in the face

Cllr Andrew Cooper - Green, Newsome Ward

Lead Letter in Huddersfield Daily Examiner 1st June 2009

Greens support the campaign for Denby Dale Nursery School

“Parents and governors of Denby Dale Nursery School put a good case to Kirklees Cabinet last week.  With the children's interests at heart they are fighting to stop their school being privatised and the educational element of nursery education lost to future generations”, said Adrian Cruden, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Dewsbury and a member of Kirkburton Parish Council.
“It is a pity that it will take five months to undertake a review. Local parents need confidence that this excellent nursery school, which sits at the heart of the community, has a long-term future”.

“What sort of pre-school service do we want for our children?” asked Adrian Cruden. “With teachers' unions reporting that too many children are arriving in schools without adequate preparation, surely this is not the right time to reduce quality pre-school services,”

The move to reduce nursery schools from integrated childcare and education to a voluntary or private setting - which will only provide daycare – has worrying implications for other local nurseries. “If this loss of education provision happens in Denby Dale will it affect the other nursery schools, Flatts in Dewsbury and Thornton Lodge in Huddersfield next?” he asked.

Kirklees Council’s recent decision to admit children in a single intake in the September prior to their fifth birthdays will lead to children starting school even earlier. This will also create additional problems for both nursery and reception classes.
“Children will be taken out of nurseries earlier than at present, and some of the younger children could now be entering school just days after their 4th birthday”, said Adrian Cruden. “Many young children will be deprived of opportunities to fully develop those firm foundations for learning which are frequently established in a pre-school setting. Surely this can only add to the workload of reception class teachers?”

 “The people of Denby Dale and surrounding villages, fighting this move to restrict educational choice, might need reminding where this initiative started”, concluded Adrian Cruden. Although the final decision on the changes will be made by the new Labour – Lib Dem cabinet, they were originally an initiative of the previous Conservative administration.

“Now what counts is making sure the defence of quality nursery education in Denby Dale is successful.”

17 April 2009

Greens call for Town Centre Play area

Kirklees Green Party Councillors have called for a children's play area in Huddersfield Town Centre.

The Macaulay Street area outside the bus station was upgraded with new paving and seating just a few years ago.

"This area was improved at great expense but is still underused and remains just a little used thoroughfare which people simply pass through on their way to and from the Bus Station" said Councillor Andrew Cooper

"We want the Town Centre to become a more family friendly environment, where people can enjoy quality time with their children while doing essential other business in town.  There are so many demands on people's time, and we could do more to ease their pressures" said Councillor Julie Stewart-Turner

"Our proposal would see a fenced off area with slides, swings and a variety of play equipment helping to bring this useful space in Huddersfield to life. Town Centres are about a lot more than simply shopping we want them to be a place which provides facilities for all ages" said Councillor Andrew Cooper.

February 2009

Green Party challenges use of green belt and green field land for new housing

Kirklees Local Development Framework Consultation

Kirklees Green Party has issued a 5-point plan to reduce the pressure on the green belt and green field land in response to Kirklees Council's Local Development Framework (LDF) consultations which closed on April 17.

"This plan is central to debating the way we live, the way we work and the way we travel," said Cllr Andrew Cooper, Green Party leader on Kirklees Council. "In planning for the future we need to question the 'business as usual' approach or we will fail to ensure Kirklees is a good place to live and work. We need to continue the consultations. We need a real debate about now we prepare for the transition to a low carbon future".

In its objections to the LDF, Kirklees Green Party questioned why large amounts of green belt and green field land are required. Its key proposals are:
o       Adoption of a more radical employment and training policy aimed at creating a vibrant low carbon economy with more emphasis on local jobs to reduce the level of outward commuting.
o       Adoption of three standards for housing densities with higher levels in central areas of towns and inner urban areas
o       More innovative transport and traffic solutions including changes in parking standards to support higher density housing, support for car sharing clubs and the adoption of a low emission area in the Leeds Road Economic Zone
o       Stronger support for use of rail over the lifetime of the plan including improvements to passenger access to stations, bike and car parking at selected stations, and more acknowledgement of development opportunities in rail corridors, particularly following the tram-train trials on the Penistone Line
o       Retention of green belt and green field land for growing food by developing community supported agriculture, smallholding and more land for allotments close to residential areas.

In its submission, the Green Party also challenged the government's insistence that Kirklees should identify land to build more than 37,000 new homes and criticised the inadequacy of the consultation process for a plan that will last for at least a decade.

"We need a new look at the assumptions made in drawing up the land use plans for the next decade" said Chas Ball, Kirklees Green Party transport spokesperson. "To prepare for a low carbon economy we need to innovate and adapt to new requirements of the Climate Change Act 2008 and the expectations of higher energy costs.

“"The Consultants’ reports that form the basis of the draft plans for open spaces, employment and the retail survey appear to be asking the wrong questions or are already out of date.

“This plan is short of ideas on new approaches to employment. We need to build our future on the reality of high energy prices and recognise that local jobs and local food will help us become more resilient. We already have local companies and organisations that show what can be done in the knowledge economy, in sustainable building and renewable energy and we need to build on this.”

For a copy of the full submission e-mail chas.ball@metronet.co.uk

17 April 2009

Greens calls for a free nationwide insulation scheme

Following Gordon Brown's announcement of limited funding for additional insulation measures, the Green Party has called for a nationwide free insulation scheme for all householders.

Councillor Andrew Cooper, Leader of the Greens on Kirklees Council, said: "Such a scheme would save the nation millions of pounds off fuel bills, save millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and create thousands of new jobs.

"It is significant that only Kirklees has such a scheme that delivers free insulation without means testing - the result of Green Party budget proposals that were passed by the Council in February 2007. No other Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem Council has yet backed such a scheme. It is significant that Conservative Leader David Cameron, who talks a lot about environmental issues, does not back a free insulation scheme for the whole of the UK.

"We know in Huddersfield that it is not so much "vote Blue and get Green" as the Conservatives claim, but "vote blue and get pink Chinese granite" said Councillor Cooper

The independent Green Alliance - a pressure group supported by a range of environmental organisations (including CPRE, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust and WWF) said of the Conservative environmental polices in a report published last week that "despite the rhetoric, the Conservatives have failed to identify the environment as a future Conservative priority". The Alliance showed that a third of Tory MPs still questioned whether climate change was actually happening despite overwhelming scientific evidence.

Councillor Cooper called on local Conservatives to "stop taking credit for Green Party proposals and get to work within their own party, now the biggest party in local government, to tackle the climate sceptics in their own party. They are in a position to ensure free insulation is made available to everyone - not just in places where the Green Party has a strong presence."

September 2008

Kirklees students rise to global warming challenges

Over 1000 people from West Yorkshire joined leading international scientists and regional politicians to discuss global warming at a Climate Change Convention at Batley Girls’ High School (BGHS) over the weekend 3rd–5th July. .

Formally opened by Councillor Julie Stewart-Cooper, Mayor of Kirklees and Mike Wood MP for Batley & Spen, the Convention developed unique links with different world cultures. Batley students spent weeks preparing to interview five prominent women internationally engaged with global warming issues. 

Interviews, carried out via the Internet, filmed and screened by BGHS’ E-Learning manager Richard Price, were with Dr Vandana Shiva (India); Dr Helen Caldicott (Australia); Clare Short, MP (UK); Caroline Lucas, MEP (EU) and Polly Ghazi (US) at the World Resources Institute Washington DC.  All five, struck by students’ probing questions on their professional lives, research and approaches to climate change issues, often paused for thought before responding clearly respecting their interviewers.

Another dialogue underpinned the weekend’s ‘Great Debate’.  For 90 minutes students’ questions and insistent follow-up points kept the panel and a large audience engaged. 

Paul Hudson, the BBC’s only Climate Correspondent; Councillor Andrew Cooper, a manager with Yorkshire Energy Services and Kirklees Green Party Leader; Councillor Ann Denham, Chair of Kirklees Highways Committee; and Professor Paul Rogers, Peace Studies at Bradford University; provided argument and counter-argument – skilfully chaired by Dr John Loughhead, Executive Director of UK Energy Research Council. 

Hot topics included pro- and anti-nuclear energy generation, floods, rising tides, transport issues and whether global warming was a fact or not.

Colin Challen, MP for Morley, Founder and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change group, led a workshop on parliament’s inability to provide leadership on climate change.  He feared too little was being done, too late; he believed that bottom-up, non-parliamentary action, was now urgently needed and that catastrophe would play a role in creating policies adequate to the task.

Dewsbury Urdu poet Mehjabeen Ghazal Ansari and Barnsley bard Ian McMillan opened the weekend.  Her lyrical, rhythmic poems exploring migrant people’s feelings contrasted, yet complemented McMillan’s sure-footed characterisations of Yorkshire people, life, humour and attitudes, culminating in a performance poem developed with the hundred-strong audience.

The final day was a cultural festival:  Bradford-based street band, The Peace Artistes, provided rhythmic welcomes as hundreds of parents, families and residents flowed into the school. 

Shipley-based Hugh Jart got everyone involved in an immense 20ft x 6ft mural, with footprints, slogans, ideas, solutions and challenges related to global warming, now to be a permanent feature at the school. 

Linda McAvan MEP for Yorkshire and Humber opened BGHS’ new Science Garden, complete with a monumental Periodic Table in what may be an unique learning arena.  She also presented awards for high achievement in Art studies gained during the last six months during which BGHS re-developed the curriculum to focus on global warming. 

The closing event, hosted by Ann Finlayson, Education Commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) brought the year-long programme to an appropriate conclusion. 

Birkenshaw and Fixby children combined to perform their songs accompanied by junk instruments, silk flags with global warming images, Cate Clark and Andy Burton – environment and community artists working with the schools. 

Ann Finlayson presented a song book with a CD recorded earlier in the week to all the children.  They reciprocated; Samira Hussein from Fixby gave her a personal copy. 

Closing the weekend, Ann Finlayson said, “In my work I meet people concerned and worried about climate change.  But these children are different, confident and inspiring; I take that with me.  I need more copies of your songs to give to those people I meet who don’t have your hope and confidence that we can positively resolve these issues.” 

The following day Ann Finlayson closed a National Schools Conference in Preston with the children’s songs and plans to use them systematically in the future. 

Organised by BGHS with KEP, the weekend concluded work started with two other Kirklees schools at Birkenshaw and Fixby, Huddersfield almost a year ago.

For more details of the Convention and Kirklees Environment Partnership:  contact David Browning at browning707@btinternet.com 

July 2009

Renewable Energy for your Home

In 2007 Green Party councillors on Kirklees Council proposed a revolutionary new scheme to provide financial support to allow people in the borough to install renewable energy schemes in their homes with the loan being guaranteed by the value of the property. This scheme is soon to be launched - so how will it work?

There will be no up front costs so the benefits of solar panels and other clean energy technology can be realised without having to pay monthly repayments or interest charges. The loan is guranteed by raising a charge on the property so householders will be able to pay off the loan when the property is sold.

So, as energy prices continue to rise, so will the value of the renewable energy generated. It is also anticipated that by making the property more energy efficient, its value will also improve  

Called " RE-Charge" the scheme was launched by Kirklees Council in late summer 2008. For more details contact Kirklees Environment Unit on 01484 223618.

DMplusD Green councillor Mayor of Kirklees

Cllr Jullie Stewart-Turner (Newsome Ward) who is Deputy Mayor of Kirklees for 2008-09 was elected Mayor for 2009-10 at the meeting of Kirklees Council on 20 May. Julie was first elected in 2002.

Plan for council support for axed Post Offices needed - Green Party leader

Green Party councillors are pushing for the council to provide support and assistance to keep some of the recently axed Post Office branches operating within the community, says Green Party Council leader, Cllr Andrew Cooper.

"We knew the Post Office Ltd consultation was a sham but, like many others, I was very angry when the closures were confirmed", said Cllr. Cooper. "I am angry on behalf of everyone who campaigned so hard, the customers who will lose their local post offices and the postmasters/mistresses and staff who will lose their livelihoods and jobs."

He suggested that there is another very immediate threat looming. A government decision is due before Christmas which could privatise the successor to the Post Office Card Account (POCA). It is used by four million people nationally as a way of receiving benefits and pensions and earns the Post Office £200 million each year. House of Commons Early Day Motion 1506 was tabled on May 7 and has been signed by 258 MPs.

The motion "recognises that the Post Office is best placed to provide this service because of its unrivalled geographical reach, its status as a trusted brand" and it "believes that retaining the successor of the POCA as a Post Office product is essential to the viability of the Post Office network". To date no MP representing the Huddersfield area has signed the Early Day Motion.

Cllr Cooper added: " It is important that Barry Sheerman, Shahid Malik and Kali Mountford sign this motion now and send a clear message to the government. They all know how important Card Accounts are to the future of the branch network. Without them there won't be a network".

November 2008

Labour slated over planned Post Office closures

Responding to the plan to close nine local Post Offices in Huddersfield and the Colne Valley, Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper questioned Labour's commitment to seriously oppose closures in Huddersfield.

"In the Newsome Ward over the last few years under Labour's privatisation of the Post Office we have seen closures of Berry Brow, Lowerhouses, Taylor Hill and Primrose Hill Post Offices. One of the rather meagre justifications they made for closing Taylor Hill and Berry Brow at the time was due to the proximity of Lockwood Post Office to many people in the area. Now that is to close.

"Labour politicians talk of the financial support local Post Offices have received as 'a subsidy' when in fact it as about the provision of a service and is an investment in local facilities and services. It is ironic indeed that the party which used to claim to represent those on lower incomes now supports a policy which will see people on low incomes travelling further to get benefits and local services. This policy will also affect the viability of a number of businesses which partially depend on their role as post offices.

"Of course people will have to travel further to use post office services and pick up official forms etc at a time when travel and fuel prices are rising. Ultimately with less facilities available in the community this is going to be yet another contributor, of many, to climate change.

"Barry Sheerman MP says Labour may campaign locally to save individual post offices. This is rather reminiscent of his campaign to help those people who were being overcharged by a private company when their ground rents were sold off by Kirklees. In that case the Labour Council caused the problem by selling off the ground rents in the first place and in this case the Labour Government has caused the problem through its support for Post Office privatisation. A Labour campaign to save any Post Office in Kirklees will seem at best a cynical move and will most likely be viewed with the contempt it deserves."

He suggested that Barry Sheerman and the Labour Party do not need to campaign or collect petition signatures in Huddersfield to save Post Offices. Rather they need to do it in Westminister where, as the governing party, they will supposedly have more influence than the rest of us. A campaign by Labour to save Post Offices in Huddersfield should be viewed as at least as much of a sham as the consultation exercise being conducted over their closure.

August 2008

Green Party cash for road safety offers hope to Farnley Tyas

A successful bid by Green Party Councillors on Kirklees Council could see much safer roads in a village prone to speeding traffic.

The small village of Farnley Tyas is also used as a short cut through to Huddersfield by people taking country roads and dropping down to town via Newsome and Lowerhouses. Concern in Farnley Tyas regarding traffic speeds has heightened following a number of collisions with a wall at a dangerous bend at Butts Road. There is a local Junior School also sitedin the centre of the village causing concern for the road safety of local children.

Councillor Derek Hardcastle said, "We have long been concerned that under Kirklees Council Policy the only way to get funding prioritised for road safety was to wait for someone to killed or injured. This never made any sense at all".

The funding passed at a recent Kirklees Cabinet meeting highlighted a number of schemes including a road safety scheme for Farnley Tyas in the 2009/10 financial year.

Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson said, "What we really want to see is a 20mph zone through the village centre. These have proved to be successful in other areas and the low speed limit makes it clear that people are entering a village centre where extra care is required".

Parish Councillor Robert Barraclough added, "Only a mile from Farnley Tyas we have the student village at Storthes Hall with hundreds of young drivers making their way to town through Farnley Tyas. We need to impress upon them that speeds need to be reduced in small country villages like ours, "Only a mile from Farnley Tyas we have the student village at Storthes Hall with young drivers making their way to town through the Village.. We need to make them aware that speeds need to be reduced in small country villages like ours."

Tesco Challenged on 620 Jobs Claim....

Responding to recent claims by Tesco that 620 jobs will be created as a result of their proposed Town Centre developments (lead story, Huddersfield Examiner, May 29), Cllr Graham Simpson said, "Before we cheer too loudly we need to take a balanced view with job losses considered too. To offset the promise of new jobs we should try to predict areas where job losses seem inevitable."

He suggested that some losses will take place in other food retailers, with a knock on effect in specialist shops such as fruit and vegetables, butchers, fishmongers and bakers. With the new Tesco planning an expanded range of merchandise, he suggested newsagents, florists, electrical and clothing stores should be added to this list - as well as people that smaller shops employ like shop fitters, trades people and business services.

"To complete the picture", said Cllr Simpson, "We should add that supermarkets employ fewer staff as a proportion of sales than independent grocers and specialist retailers. One key reason why Tesco is spectacularly successful for its investors is its ability to make profits by doing more business with relatively fewer people per £ of turnover. Overall there is a danger of a net loss of jobs and choice, as well as the profits going out of town."

For the Latest News on Town First - campaigning for a diverse, vibrant town centre click here

 Planned Tesco Development will add to Pollution and Congestion on Leeds Road

 “Planned retail developments will add to traffic growth and increase air pollution in Leeds Road, which is already at high levels.” said Terry Wilson, Chair of the Leeds Road Action Group, speaking at the launch of Huddersfield Climate Action Network on Saturday 10 May 2008. He suggested that Kirklees Council was “not really concerned about the health impacts on people living with increasing traffic levels”. He said that Leeds Road was one of the most polluted roads in the region.

Reviewing Tesco's transport and parking plans, Chas Ball (Kirklees Green Party) suggested that “current proposals conflict with moving towards a low carbon transport system”.

He added: “The transport sector is a major source of climate change emissions. With Yorkshire & Humber region recording higher levels of traffic growth in recent years than other English regions, we first need to hear what plans Kirklees Council and West Yorkshire Metro have to counter this traffic growth before giving planning approval to major new traffic generators.”

"Increased traffic congestion will also have a knock-on effect on the efficient working of the town's economy - which may affect jobs in the longer term.

"Tesco's promotions says it wants to "bring more people into town" but how will the additional traffic be accommodated? What sort of delays will be experienced at peak times? For example on Fridays and Saturdays, when shopping coincides with peak commuting, school-related traffic and sports events there will be a lot of competition for road space.

"Let us have the "demand management" initiatives Kirklees Council are committed to in principle, like park and ride, spelt out before the planning application is submitted. Until supermarkets - or their customers - pay something for parking there will be an inevitable disadvantage for town centre businesses. If 900 customers park free in Leeds Road for 2 hours, how many will struggle across 6 lanes of traffic with bags full of shopping from specialist shops in town?

"The feedback we are getting when people sign the petition against Tesco's proposals in their present form is that many do not share the assumption that a large new Tesco's will be so good for the town. An independent environmental and economic impact study is needed prior to considering a planning application". 

Green Party condemns Conservatives Kirkburton housebuilding plans

Plans by Kirklees Councils Conservative Administration to build houses, rather than allotments, on land that it owns has been condemned by the Green Party

Green Party Councillor Derek Hardcastle said, " We had been searching for some land for local people in Kirkburton that could be used as allotments to help people grow their own food. There was we felt an ideal piece of land between Hallas Road and Turnshaw Road below the playing fields."

Finance to establish new allotment sites around Kirklees with fencing and water supplies had been secured by the Green Party in the recent budget round but establishing a site in the Kirkburton Village, which has no allotments at all, has been difficult.

Derek Hardcastle said, "When we have repeatedly asked Kirklees Officers about this Kirklees owned they tell us it is earmarked 'for development'. We have also met a brick wall with the Local Conservative Councillors who say "there is nothing we can do". This is simply not acceptable. Either they are running the Council or they are not. I have heard local Conservatives speak often about the need to preserve land from housing development but when it comes to greenfield land, that the Council actually owns they would rather sell it to a private housing developer than allow people to produce their own food locally. This smacks of hypocrisy in the extreme and brings into question their green credentials."

Green Party Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson said, "Local people have in the past produced petitions and made representations to Kirklees Council requesting allotments on this site but have been ignored. There are real benefits to peoples health and well being from working on local allotments as a way of keeping active and giving them the satisfaction of being able to eat something they have grown themselves from seed. Kirklees should be seeking to enable people to have allotments not putting barriers in their way particularly at a time of ever rising food prices."

November 2008

Left to rack and ruin - Conservative neglect of former special school slammed

The former Turnshaws Special School in Kirkburton has fallen into disrepair and neglect following its closure. Dozens of windows have been smashed and entry has been gained by youths on a number of occasions. “There needs to be a plan for the future of the Turnshaws site”, said the Green Party’s Derek Hardcastle following an inspection of the former school that he made recently with Green Party Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson, “ the place has being used a drinking den and there is graffiti scrawled all over the old classrooms. It is a sad sight to see a place that once provided education and support to some of those in the greatest need fall into such a poor state.”

The Green Party is concerned that the buildings are being left to deteriorate to make it easier for the Conservative led Kirklees Council to sell the site off for housing development purposes.

" When we have asked about the site Kirklees have told us it is being held as possible site for development. When we have taken the matter up with local Conservatives they say there is nothing they can do about it as it is "out of their hands". They seem to forget that it is their Party that are in charge of the Council."

Kirkburton Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson said: “We need to bring this site back into use to provide a useful service for the community. What do we not want is simply demolishing to build a huge housing estate bringing more traffic onto a road with an already difficult access. In light of the new 14-19 diplomas, where students can study from a range of exciting subjects in new innovative and creative ways. An interesting use for the school would be to turn it into a Business and Innovation centre, with small business units and a conference and training facillity which could be used to provide training and work placements for students studying the diploma. The centre could be an outreach of Kirklees College, provide evening training courses - much needed in the South Kirklees area. This would bring jobs and investment to the area, instead of more commuter corridor housing.

Councillor Derek Hardcastle said, “We really want the Conservative Councillors for Kirkburton to come clean about what their plans are for the former Turnshaws School site. Their party is in control of the Council and they can’t keep ducking the issue.”

Greens call for improvements to Shepley school road

“Urgent” – this is what the users of a small patch of unmade road in Shepley said in a petition to get it tarmacced. The petition signed by 60 members of the bowling and croquet club, supported by the Head of Shepley First School was presented to Kirkburton Area Committee, in September By Green Party Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson. The Conservative Councillors on the Area Committee had previously turned it down on the basis “If we tarmac one unadopted road, we will have to tarmac them all!”.

Michelle Atkinson has pointed out that this is not just any unadopted road, " It is a road that is in daily use not just a route for cars but for cyclists and parents with young children and pushchairs".

The road on Lea Head, Shepley was partially tarmacced a number of years ago by the builder of 2 new houses, who failed to tarmac up to the large car park serving the tennis, bowling, croquet and football clubs, Shepley First School and Preschool. Some 120 people use the road everyday, and complain about the state of the huge potholes which are damaging vehicles, and causing problems for the 2 residents whose houses border the road.

"We of course have to recognise that people through voluntary effort attempt to fill in potholes with temporary measures such as putting road planings in the potholes. Residents have however complained about the planings from the road, washing into their drains and blocking them, in times of heavy rain. This has on occasion caused sewage to come up and represents a public health hazard".

Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson was asked by the bowling club to take up this issue and supports the campaign, and says “This road is clearly used by many members of the community both in Shepley and beyond. The Council should have insisted the whole road being tarmacced by the builders of the new homes when they were constructed. However they failed to do so and it is now causing problems to many people. It is even in Shepley First School’s Travel Plan to improve the road access and should be made a priority”

Parents also have issues with the lack of a path from the Car Park to the school, as mothers etc have to push prams and walk through muddy field to get to school. The Car Park on Lead Head is essential in reducing congestion on Firth Street. An application for further development was reported in the Examiner on Saturday, and if it goes ahead will increase the congestion problems, making the improvements on Lead Head even more of a priority.

The campaign continues and Michelle will be pressing for action. For more information: contacts Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson (07917 571862) or Kirklees Councillor Derek Hardcastle (07779 628147)

New Green scheme to provide free water butts for householders

Kirklees Green Party councillors launched a pilot scheme to provide over 900 households with free water butts. The scheme builds on the success of a scheme introduced by Kirkburton Parish Council earlier this year.

"We want to follow on from the Green Party's free insulation scheme with more ways to help people live a greener lifestyle" said Councillor Andrew Cooper.

"One thing people have not been short of this summer is rain and with it this puts additional strain on our drainage systems. One Water Butt could stop 200 litres of water going into the drainage system our scheme could reduce the amount going down the drain by 180,000 litres. With all the increasing number of new houses and buildings we have locally less and less land is available for rainwater to soak into hence some of the flash flooding we have experienced both here and across the country. This coupled with increasing rainfall due to climate change means investing in schemes such as this can contribute to reducing the risk of flood damage. "

The Green Party has ambitions to significantly scale up this scheme to all Kirklees households and will be proposing an additional million litres of rainwater capture installed within the next 18 months through water butts and rainwater harvesting from Council buildings.

Kirkburton Parish Councillor Michelle Atkinson who initiated the scheme said: " We were overwhelmed by the positive response from people in the Kirkburton Parish to our scheme and recognised it had huge potential.

"We have found that there are some real social benefits to the scheme with many elderly and disabled householders having a ready source of water in their gardens without having to go in and out of the house to fill watering cans. For householders with water meters this will enable them to save money off their water bills"

September 2008

Saving Newsome Mills

In 2006 Newsome Mill was sold to a developer called Royalle Estates.  Planning permission was granted to convert the mill and a section of weaving sheds into apartments, and to build new houses and flats behind the mill.  However, in Autumn 2007 the developers changed their minds due to the falling demand for luxury apartments and said they wished to demolish the mill.  In November 2007, Newsome Ward Community Forum members began a campaign to protect this local landmark, and were supported in the campaign by the 3 local Green Party Councillors.  The mill is an important part of Newsome’s heritage. Read the story of its listing and the battle to save it from fly-tipping and theft.

02 July 08 Read More in Newsome Pages

Kirkburton Parish Council leads on renewable energy

In addition to winning a Brtish Renewable Energy Award (see photo story, right column this page), Kirkburton Parish Council has made the short-list of the Big Green Challenge - a prize fund run by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts).

A resolution successfully moved by Green councillors at the Council in October 2007 started the process by making use of new powers for Parish Councils to promote renewable energy.

If successful in securing a share of the £1million prize money from the Big Green Challenge, the parish council would expand a scheme to make community building more energy efficient and be able to extend support to energy efficiency schemes from local residents.

Read More May 2008