Tag Archives: Cleckheaton

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.

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 backs bid to protect retail workers from abuse

Jo Cox meets Usdaw reps at Tesco

Jo Cox meets Usdaw reps at Tesco

Local retail workers are organising a campaign to protect themselves from abuse at work.

Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has launched the Freedom From Fear campaign to raise awareness and press the government and employers to offer more support and protection to staff.

Jo Cox MP visited a Tesco store in Batley & Spen during Respect Week to support Usdaw members and hear about some of their experiences. Mrs Cox met Usdaw rep and Tesco employee Jonathan Charnock. He said:

“Incidents of abuse from customers happen far too often in retail, it’s common, for example, to get sworn at for enforcing the Think 25 policy when customers don’t have any ID.

“We were really happy to see so many members of the public supporting our campaign and filling out the petition. It shows it’s only a small minority that cause problems. We’re hoping the government will take action as a result of this campaign to help support us, and all public-facing workers.”

Mrs Cox said: “It’s sad to think in this day and age that this sort of campaign would be necessary but unfortunately it is and I hope the government will listen carefully to what Usdaw members are saying and take steps to protect retail workers from abuse.

“It was very encouraging to see just how much support the campaign is attracting from Tesco’s customers. Shoppers were queuing up to sign up and pledge their support.”

Steph Bowman, also an Usdaw rep at Tesco, said: “It was really good to see our Labour MP Jo Cox in store supporting us and talking to our members about their experiences. It was a real eye opener for her to find out just what shop workers have to put up with.

“We’re delighted Mrs Cox is supporting our campaign.”

Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear campaign hopes to:

  • Negotiate with employers for safety and security improvements in stores.
  • Campaign for Government to ensure that their policies and actions help tackle retail crime and anti-social behaviour in shopping areas.
  • Raise awareness with the shopping public that violence, threats and abuse against workers is unacceptable behaviour.
  • Give workers the confidence to speak out and not accept abuse as just a part of the job.
  • Campaign for better handling of black Friday sales events to protect staff from the mobs of shoppers that were seen last year.

More information is available at www.usdaw.org.uk/freedomfromfear

Return of Cleckheaton playpark welcomed

Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox has welcomed a Kirklees Council decision to return a play park to Mann Dam Country Park in Cleckheaton.

Mrs Cox was approached by concerned parents after the existing play park was removed. After discussions between the council and Mrs Cox’s office it has been agreed it would be reinstated.

Mrs Cox said: “The old play area was in a bad state and was recently removed. However I am glad it is now being replaced. As a mum with two young children I really appreciate just how precious a happy and safe public place can be to spend valuable time with your children.”

Mrs Cox understands that this work will be completed by the end of the week.”Kirklees is having to make massive reductions in the services it provides due to unprecedented cuts to its budget by this government and the last coalition government,” added Mrs Cox.

Mrs Cox has invited the residents who raised their concerns to meet her at the park to see the new facilities.

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.