Author Archives: Dathan Tedesco

Calling all users of Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre

Whitcliffe Mount Sports CentreJo Cox is calling for all current and past users of Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre to get in touch after a decision was taken last night to close the sports centre in 2016.

The MP for Batley & Spen is keen to make sure Kirklees Council and Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) help the groups find suitable accommodation.

Mrs Cox said: “I would never tell campaigners to give up their fight to keep the centre open but the sad fact is that Kirklees Cabinet have now made their decision. It really is a sad day for users of the centre and I remain critical of some of the ways in which the decision was made.”

“Whitcliffe Mount did, and still does, a lot right. It was a big, positive part of a number of peoples lives. Local people have every right to protest and, importantly, to demand good sports facilities in Spen.”

The final decision was taken last night at a cabinet meeting held in public at the sports centre in front of over 100 local people. Findings of the Local Government Ombudsman meant that the decision, initially taken in 2013, had to be reconsidered by the current cabinet.

“I believe my job now is to help the current users and groups find new homes until new facilities can be made available,” said Mrs Cox. “The council’s commitment to invest some £15m in a new facility at the site of the Spen baths can not come soon enough, and the design needs to accommodate as many of the current users of Whitcliffe as it possibly can. I will push very hard for that to happen.

“From two public meetings I have previously held I have a good list of current users and groups but it was clear from last night that not I am not in touch with all of them yet. I would urge everyone to get in touch, even if provision has already been offered to your group, because I want to know what is working and what isn’t.

“I have commitments from the leader of Kirklees, Cllr David Sheard, and the Chief Executive of KAL, Alistair Brown, to attend a public meeting in the new year. I want to make sure all of the current users and groups who need assistance in finding new local facilities can put their cases forward. If it takes more than one meeting to do that then so be it.”

The Spen MP has set up a special email address, wmsc@jocox.org.uk, for people to get in touch – but people can also telephone her office on 01924 910 499 or write to Jo Cox MP, 3-5 Branch Road, Batley, WF17 5RY.

MP sorry to see Heckmondwike HSBC close

HSBC HeckyBatley & Spen MP Jo Cox has reacted to news that Heckmondwike’s branch of HSBC bank is to close in March next year.

“It’s sad news for a building I remember as a child, when it was Midland Bank. Lots of my friends and family have banked here and it’s been a mainstay in the town.”

“Thankfully, HSBC have committed to no redundancies whatsoever in this move and they have written out to all customers of the branch to let them know what’s happening.”

“I grew up and went to school in Heckmondwike. I am pleased by the recent investment in a new bus station but it is essential that the momentum of regeneration is not halted.”

“I want to work with HSBC, local traders, businesses and the council to make sure the building doesn’t remain empty for long. As a first step I have written to HSBC to ask them what their intentions are for the building.”

The branch will close on Friday 11 March 2016 at 2.30pm. Following the closure, administration of customers’ accounts will switch to the Dewsbury branch, approximately 2 miles away.

Ombudsman calls for new public meeting on Whitcliffe Mount

Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre

Spen MP Jo Cox has reacted to the news that the Local Government Ombudsman has found fault with the decision to close Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre.

Kirklees Cabinet approved the plan two years ago, which was meant to coincide with a rebuild for Whitcliffe Mount Business and Enterprise College. The school and the sports centre are located next door to each other, on Turnsteads Avenue in Cleckheaton. Mrs Cox said:

“The council’s processes have not been up to scratch in this case and I certainly support the right of the Ombudsman to make the determination it has. More generally, it is right that the council should be scrutinised on the decisions it takes, I support that process.”

“I have put pressure on the leadership to hold the new public meeting, as required by the Ombudsman, at Whitcliffe Mount. I am pleased that the leader, Cllr David Sheard, has agreed to this. It is right that the cabinet look at this again.”

Mrs Cox is also standing by her commitment to hold a public meeting, with council and Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) leadership, for former and current sports groups and users of the facility. It will be the third public meeting Mrs Cox has hosted at Whitcliffe Mount. She said:

“I had planned to have this meeting much earlier, but these developments have delayed it. It is right that this process draws to a close and whatever the outcome I look forward to meeting again with local people to make sure they get the provision they deserve.”

The Batley & Spen MP, elected in May this year, was also critical of the pressures placed on Kirklees council by the government.

“Kirklees have faced disproportionate and unfair cuts from the government and this will impact on all services. Councillors face very difficult, almost impossible decisions. I remain pleased that despite this, the Cabinet are making plans for a large capital investment in a new pool and fitness complex at the site of the current Spenborough Swimming Pool. This is a commitment from a Labour led council which their political counterparts in Kirklees do not seem to want to get behind. I for one believe that people in Batley & Spen deserve top class sports facilities, comparable with those in Huddersfield. That has been and will continue to be the focus of my campaigning.”

MP welcomes extension to Local Plan consultation

Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox has welcomed the decision by Kirklees cabinet to extend the public consultation into the Local Plan into the new year.

The Local Plan is the new development plan being produced for Kirklees. This involves working out how many new homes and jobs are needed in the future and for allocating land to meet these needs. When the Local Plan is agreed and in place, planning will be judged against what it says.

Comments will now be accepted until 1 February 2016, rather than the previously agreed date of 21 December 2015.

Jo Cox MP said:

“It’s fantastic that the council has had such a huge response. I am told that in the main these are very sensible, constructive comments. This echoes my own experiences; I am really impressed by the quality of letters and emails I get from constituents about the plan. I hope that continues.”

“I think over the last six months public opinion towards our council has changed and matured. People are by now well aware of the stresses the council faces in terms of budgets and the inevitable impact this will have on services. In that context it is absolutely vital to formulate a plan which makes the best of future development, promotes growth and jobs, offers affordable, good housing and also protects sites of importance or significance. The overall housing numbers are dictated to by the government but the council does have some powers to protect certain areas and prioritise others.”

“It is crucial that people contribute to the discussion and get involved. It only takes ten minutes to post your view on decisions which will impact us all for decades to come.”

“If residents of Batley & Spen would also like to forward me on their views I will be delighted to receive them, but it is crucial that people use the official channels too, so that their voice can be heard by the decision makers in Kirklees.”

For more information:
http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/business/planningPolicy/localPlan/index.aspx 

To have your say:
http://consult.kirklees.gov.uk/portal

Forward or CC your views to Jo:
jo.cox.mp@parliament.uk