Luddites’ plight remembered with cash

MONEY has been secured to support a Luddite Trail through the Spen Valley to celebrate 200 years since the infamous uprising.

Monday, 24th October 2011, 8:00 am

Spen Valley area committee has agreed to provide £9,700 to support the development of a Luddite Trail and three circular walking paths before next April’s anniversary.

The bid was lodged by the council’s countryside manager Neil Windett, after gaining support from local groups such as the Heavy Woollen Countryside Forum and the North Kirklees Ramblers.

The money will be spent on improving public rights of way along the proposed routes.

Mr Windett said funding from the committee was integral for the success of a further bid lodged with the Big Lottery Heritage Fund, which would provide a wealth of information on the riots in this part of the world.

“There has been a strong planning element to this and the total bid to the lottery fund is £50,000,” he said.

“But they will not fund improvements to rights of way. They feel that local authorities should do it because they get asked all of the time.

“This bid here would be part of a wider project and would help draw in the funding from the Heritage Lottery.”

Members of the countryside forum have devised the Luddite Trail, which would go from the Three Nuns pub, at Cooper Bridge, to Oakwell Hall Country Park, in Birstall.

Three shorter walks will take place at Hartshead, Hightown and Red House, in Gomersal.

Committee member Coun David Sheard said even if the larger lottery bid was unsuccessful, the council should fund improvements to the route.

He said: “I would be happy to propose that we do this and I hope we get the big lottery funding, but if not I would encourage people to walk this route anyway.

“It’s such a big part of our history.”

Chairman Coun Andrew Pinnock also supported the bid, although Coun Margaret Bates questioned whether so much should be spent on the project during tough economic times.

“Over the last few years we have spent a lot of money on footpaths. We go back 18 months later and it just looks like it needs doing again.

“That’s my only concern.”

Ultimately, members voted in favour of the bid and funding was secured for the trails.