Tag Archives: Batley

Jo Cox hosts public meeting to discuss level crossing’s future

Jo Cox hosts a public meeting at St Thomas's, BatleyMore than 60 residents attended a meeting hosted by Jo Cox MP to raise concerns and comments on plans to remove the signal box at Howley Street at Batley.

Signalling improvements by Network Rail means the box will be removed. This will cast doubt on the future of the adjacent Lady Anne level crossing, which is controlled by the signal box.

Mrs Cox arranged the consultation following a meeting with Network Rail in Parliament where she raised residents’ concerns.

The Batley & Spen MP said: “This was a very productive meeting and very well attended. Network Rail had the chance to outline their plans and thoughts and residents were able to feedback their concerns, comments and their hopes as the scheme moves forward.

“It is quite clear to me that the crossing is well used although opinion is divided on what exactly should happen there going forward. Nevertheless, residents made some very good and well reasoned arguments that I am confident Network Rail will take on board.”

Lady Anne Crossing at Howley Street, BatleyResidents questioned the reasoning for removing the level crossing and whether it could be maintained with an automated system.

One suggestion is to erect a footbridge in place of the crossing. Residents raised concerns about the design, scale and location of such a bridge and whether it would accommodate horse riders, who at present use the level crossing a great deal.

There were also concerns about loss of access for emergency vehicles, the usage and monitoring data being used by Network Rail and the potential for inconvenience for those seeking to cross between Upper Batley and Soothill.

Mrs Cox added: “I will raise all the issues in writing with Network Rail as well as a series of other questions and concerns that arose.”

Simon Lewis from Network Rail, who made a presentation at the meeting at St Thomas’s Church on Grosvenor Road on Saturday morning, said safety and reducing risk was a driving factor in their thinking.

He said he would feedback all the concerns and comments raised and pledged to hold a follow up meeting to discuss the proposals further.

Mrs Cox thanked everyone who attended and thanked St Thomas’s Church for hosting the meeting.

Network Rail to consult on its Batley changes

Network Rail will consult residents about plans to close the level crossing and signal box at Howley Street in Batley.

Batley's signal box and level crossingThe level crossing and signal box will be decommissioned as part of safety and signalling works being carried out along the Huddersfield line.

A meeting, hosted by Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox, will take place on Saturday morning between Network Rail and local residents keen to air their views on the plans.

Mrs Cox said: “I’ve been working with residents, who are very keen to be heard about the plans, particularly about what will replace the level crossing.

“I’m delighted that Network Rail has agreed to my request to come and meet residents and talk directly to them about the proposals for what replaces the level crossing.”

Network Rail’s Denise Thompson said: “As part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, we will be carrying out works to improve the railway between Bradford and Huddersfield and this presents us with the opportunity to close Lady Anne level crossing.

“We believe the most effective way of reducing risk associated at level crossings is to close them, and so we look for opportunities to do so within our programme of work and in conjunction with local authorities and other stakeholders.”

The signalling improvements along the line means the signal box will no longer be required.

The meeting will be at 11.30am at St Thomas the Apostle on Grosvenor Road.

MP defends her home town from ‘baseless and bizarre attack’

Jo Cox at Batley Station, photo courtesy of the Reporter SeriesBatley & Spen’s Member of Parliament has defended her home town from accusations that it is one of the 10 least integrated communities in the country.

Jo Cox said that Policy Exchange’s assertion that Batley was in its top ten least integrated places was baseless and bizarre.

Mrs Cox said: “Batley is a great town, I’m proud to have been born here and I’m even prouder to represent it in Parliament.

“This Policy Exchange ‘press release’ lacks detail or reasoning. I’ve asked for more information about how they came to their conclusions but they’ve suddenly become rather tight-lipped.

“I have a strong suspicion that no one involved in this report has ever been to Batley. These are bizarre and baseless generalisations that show a dearth of understanding on every level.

“If they had visited our resilient town they could have met the Batley Poets and seen the great work that local white and Asian people are doing together. Or they could have visited local charities such as Royal Voluntary Service where volunteers from all backgrounds are supporting and helping each other every day.

“Integration is not about bricks and mortar, nor what streets people live on. No one has the power to dictate where people live and it’s ridiculous to suggest local councillors should effectively be engaged in social engineering.

“Integration and community cohesion is a challenge but they come gradually, and through consent. It is very unhelpful to make baseless generalisations from a very narrow reading of five year old census data.”

When Mrs Cox asked for evidence to back up their research, Policy Exchange declined to offer anything further. They did provide an email address for the report’s author, but messages returned undeliverable.

July column: Our town centres

Jo Cox writes a column every month for the Batley News and Spenborough Guardian. This is the column for July, published in both newspapers this week.

One of my most prized childhood memories was the weekly Saturday morning shopping trip with Grandad Arthur in Heckmondwike. The outing always included two eccles cakes and an iced finger, a paper and endless chats with what at the time seemed like the entire population of our busy little town.

Speed forward a few decades and shopping habits and technology mean our town centres aren’t quite as busy or as thriving as they used to be.

Traders, small businesses and shoppers all across the constituency regularly talk to me about this – some believing that there’s no point romanticising the past, times have changed and the future is online or ‘super’. Others – quite a few other people – think there’s an alternative that we should fight for. Just look at Hebden Bridge, somewhere that has found quite a niche.

Over the past year I’ve had regular meetings in Batley to discuss the town centre and in the last week I met again with traders in Heckmondwike, met with the Birstall traders and attended a meeting of the Spenborough Chamber of Trade in Cleckheaton.

One issue that has repeatedly come up is that there is a major issue with local business rates. The cancelled revaluation of business rates by the last Government means local traders are still paying rates based on rental values from 2008, before the world financial crash. Most have seen their rents drop considerably but their rates remain unsustainably high.

I’ve already raised this issue in Parliament and will keep asking for the Government to bring forward its 2017 review to give our high streets a fighting chance.

Im also working with a team to produce a vision for the future of Batley town centre, Im exploring ways to help traders in Heckmondwike and have offered to support the Chamber plans and events in Cleckheaton and Birstall.

I am always impressed at how much hard work and commitment there is from traders, many of whom devote a staggering amount of hours to helping and improving their towns as well as running their own businesses. This effort needs to be recognised and acknowledged. They are passionate about helping making sure our town centres offer something that little bit extra – ranging from organising beautiful hanging baskets to the spectacular Christmas lights switch on events and vintage days.

There will be further public engagement once we have the vision and a clear way forward but I’d like people to start thinking about our town centres and what they think would help.

We must not be naive but we should be bold, creative and ready to work together.

ANOTHER key general election issue was sports provision in the Spen Valley.

Following the election I met with the leader of the council David Sheard and the chief executive of Kirklees Active Leisure Alasdair Brown to discuss progress with the exciting redevelopment and eight figure investment they have planned for a new sports village at the Spen Baths site.

There has been well documented issues and controversy, particularly surrounding Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre, many of it avoidable. That is why I held a series of meetings over Whitcliffe Mount and have another one in the pipeline.

I will continue working to ensure we have the best sports provision possible in our constituency and Labour’s plans for Spen are something that I think are really exciting.

New MP swaps the Commons for cake

2015-05-22_14.47.45Batley & Spen’s new MP visited Warwick Road School in Batley last week to meet pupils and judge their cake competition.

Jo Cox, carrying out her first official visit to a local school since becoming the MP, also met staff and the headteacher Shamsa Qureshi before being shown round the school.

Afterwards, Mrs Cox sat down with Mrs Qureshi, Anne McCall, joint head teacher at Batley Girls, and Sam Vickers, headteacher at Batley Boys, to discuss the broader educational landscape in Batley and Kirklees.

Mrs Cox said: “It was lovely to be welcomed into Warwick Road School. Tempting me in with the offer of cake was completely unnecessary, the pupils there are delightful and it was lovely to spend some time chatting with them.

“Afterwards I had a very useful discussion on local education, and I want to thank Shamsa, Anne and Sam for their time and their insight. I look forward to visiting every school in Batley & Spen.”