Tag Archives: Kirklees Council

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:

To have your say:

Forward or CC your views to Jo:

Ministers pressed on business rates plan

011215 Treasury Questions

Jo Cox raises concerns with Treasury ministers

Concerns about how much income Kirklees Council will lose due to government changes to the way local government is funded were raised with ministers this week.

Kirklees estimates it will lose £32million a year when the government allows councils to keep the business rates they collect. But the grant from Whitehall will cease and this, in Kirklees’s case, is topped up by redistributing money from more affluent local authorities.

Jo Cox MP raised the question with Treasury ministers in the House of Commons yesterday. You can watch the exchange by clicking here.

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.

Welcome reprieve for Batley & Spen libraries

Batley_LibraryBatley & Spen MP Jo Cox has welcomed news that all four of our local libraries are to be saved.

Kirklees Council will be asked to approve plans that will see Batley, Cleckheaton, Birstall and Heckmondwike libraries not only remain open but remain funded by the council.

Kirklees warned that in attempting to deal with the severest cuts from this Conservative Government in the history of local government, they would have to consider closing every library as a worst case scenario, meaning all four Batley & Spen libraries were under threat.

Mrs Cox, who campaigned to save all four from closure and launched a petition to save them, said: “This is a great victory. It is fantastic news and a welcome relief for thousands of local people who were desperate to save their valuable community resources and vital lifelines for so many people.

“This is a great result and the right result and I am delighted that the council has listened and taken on board the concerns and feelings of my constituents.

“It is a real shame that there will be cuts to services and staffing elsewhere in Kirklees but credit must go to the library staff, officers and Labour’s Cllr Graham Turner and his colleagues who have work so hard on this and, in spite of the scale of cuts they’re having to deal with, have come up with a plan that saves virtually the whole service.”

Mrs Cox used her regular column in this newspaper last month to make an impassioned eleventh hour appeal to councillors to protect our ‘awesome libraries’ and the librarians who make them great.

She added: “My campaign was attacked and criticised by the Conservatives, whose staggering cuts to Kirklees’s budget have caused this situation, but it goes to show that when local people come together in this way and fight for something they love that we can all make a difference.”

August column: Local Libraries

Jo Cox writes a column every month for the Dewsbury Press. This is the column for August, published today.

The British writer Neil Gaiman is known for saying very nice things about libraries and librarians and their value and awesomeness. He sees them as “frontline soldiers in the war against illiteracy and the lack of imagination” and the “thin red line between civilisation and barbarism.”

He also said something about rule number one being not to mess with libraries… although he used far more colourful language than I would dare in a family newspaper!

As a kid growing up in Heckmondwike the library on Walkley Lane was a regular haunt on rainy Saturday mornings or after school. I remember marvelling at the rows and rows of books and will never forget the librarian Florence Smith. Her enthusiasm and her knowledge. But also her creativity and ideas – there was always something going on to draw parents and particularly children into the library. Now, with my own children, I have spent countless hours in libraries – not to mention Sure Start Children’s Centres and can think of nothing better than snuggling up with a good book and two captivated little ones.

The Birstall actress Tracy Brabin is very clear that Batley Library was a lifeline for her and where she revised for her exams. They are a lifeline for job hunters without their own computer, slimmers, walkers, discussers, knitters and natterers.

We are blessed with some beautiful libraries. Cleckheaton and Batley are magnificent. Heckmondwike is what I measure all libraries by. And Birstall is a glorious, thriving community hub.

Where else would you find such a treasure trove of the pink-spined Mills and Boons romance novels, which remain extremely popular? And this year is the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. I was in Birstall library earlier this month – the decorations, activities – and a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – were awaiting any child who was curiouser and curiouser.

Our libraries are so much more than just a repository for books. They are home to librarians! Some of our most precious public servants.

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one,” says Gaiman.

I was approached in one library by a woman desperate that it remain open. She’d been an avid reader but lost much of her sight. As a result she stopped reading altogether. She even lost the ability to hold a book in the right way.

It was the librarians who reignited her interest in reading, taught her how to read in spite of her sight issue and helped her learn how to hold a book. Without the time and dedication and the compassion of a librarian she dreaded to think where she would now be.

I don’t envy Kirklees councillors the decisions and responsibilities the government have lumbered them with. The Tories have been very clever in devolving their cuts to councils. As well as the responsibility local councillors are also taking the blame. Quite wrongly.

I just hope something can be done to save our wonderful libraries before they vanish down a rabbit hole.