Opinion: Birstall Chamber of Trade chairwoman Anne Thompson

AT RISK? Oakwell Hall. (d534c436)

AT RISK? Oakwell Hall. (d534c436)

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A few years ago, Joni Mitchell penned a song called Big Yellow Taxi and the chorus began with: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. She was lamenting the loss of a natural way of life, and although we’re not in any danger of only being able to see trees in a museum, in both Birstall and Batley we are in danger of losing vital community services and amenities which have become part of our natural way of life.

I’m referring to the potential loss of Oakwell Hall, the Fieldhead children’s centre, the markets and the libraries. All too often we take for granted the things which generations of families have used and enjoyed, but it’s only when something disappears that we realise what we’ve actually got. And in small communities like ours, these services and amenities are vital.

The markets provide products and services as well as livelihoods for the traders and employment for those working for them. Children’s centres provide support for both children and parents. Places such as Oakwell Hall provide much needed recreational space. And the libraries, which are much more than just a place to borrow books, provide a wealth of services which are of immense benefit to every section of the community. And it’s for these reasons that the Chamber of Trade is happy to support the petition to encourage the council to think again.

We fully appreciate the need to make savings, but cannot agree that smaller communities should bear the brunt of this simply because we aren’t in Huddersfield. We take the view that these are short-sighted measures, which in the long term can only damage the communities which the Council is there to serve.

If you share our concerns and haven’t already signed a petition form, these can be found in many of the shops in Birstall, and will be available until Saturday November 29.

Meanwhile, the Pride of Place event is taking place at the Frontier in Batley on Sunday November 9, 1pm-5pm. It’s an afternoon of local entertainment, and will be celebrating the heritage of Birstall and Batley. The world premiere of Simon Roadnight’s film about Batley and Birstall, Pride of Place, will also be taking place. There’s a great deal to be proud of, so please come along to what I’m sure will be a great afternoon.