Split plan is ‘a political stunt’

Kath Pinnock H&S
Kath Pinnock H&S

PLANS to split Kirklees into two councils have been slammed as a ‘political stunt’ by leading Spen councillors.

The Conservative-led proposals to create a new Dewsbury and Spen Valley council have been criticised by both Labour and Liberal Democrat groups.

However, both parties would support more decisions taken on a local level.

Deputy council leader Coun David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) branded the plans a ‘political stunt’ by the Tory party.

“It is not a case of opposing it, because this is not a proper proposal,” he said.

“This is another example of the Tories gerrymandering because they are frightened of losing seats and power.”

Coun Sheard said he would support a move back to the county and district council model, where bigger decisions were made by the larger body and smaller issues decided upon by locally elected district councillors, as was the case before Kirklees was created in 1974.

He added: “If they went back to the county and district council model, back to the days of the old West Riding authority, smaller decisions would be taken at a local level and larger stuff would be done at a county level.

“The real question is how can they do this without the Boundary Commission for England support?”

For any changes to happen, the Boundary Commission would need to conduct a Principal Area Boundary Review to test whether they would be value for money and supported by the councils and local people.

Coun Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) said Spen folk would feel just as remote from a council based in Dewsbury as one based in Huddersfield.

“The council is already moving people into Dewsbury from Cleckheaton Town Hall, causing problems in our town.”

She also called for the Spen Valley area committee to be given more decision-making powers.

“Spen Valley area committee works really well,” she said.

“We led the campaign, as Spen Valley councillors, about the Red House Museum closure.

“We also made sure we invested in the big parks in Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton, so it’s been very, very successful.

“What we need is proper decision-making. Just splitting Kirklees into two councils is unworkable.”