Tag Archives: Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre

Meeting set for those affected by sports centre closure

WM Sports CentreJo Cox MP is holding a meeting this week for people who use Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre, ahead of its closure and demolition next month.

The Batley & Spen MP is determined to make sure that all those groups who use the sports centre can be found a new home after it closes, as part of a scheme to redevelop the neighbouring high school.

Mrs Cox said: “Kirklees Council has taken the decision not to retain the sports centre when a new school is built at the site. The date for its closure has now been set as 20 May.

“In some cases, alternative facilities and locations have already been offered to users of the centre. In other cases, such as with indoor bowls, the council has decided it can no longer subsidise provision to the extent it has in the past.

“I want to know how the closure will affect those who use the sports centre and where they will go once it closes. Most importantly of all, if there is anything else the council and Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) can do to help them, I want to make sure they do that.”

Mrs Cox has invited the leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr David Sheard, the chief executive of KAL, Alasdair Brown, and members of both Kirklees and KAL staff to attend the meeting.

They will be on hand to answer questions or concerns about future provision.

Mrs Cox added: “This is not a meeting of the council or the cabinet and it is not a meeting to consider the decision they have already taken to close the centre. It is a meeting organised by me so that users of the centre can discuss and ask questions about the alternative provision they have been offered.

“I hope this will be useful to those affected by the closure. I know Whitcliffe has been a valued facility, the loss of which will be felt by many.”

The meeting will be at the sports centre on Friday 15 April at 7pm.

Newspaper column: Celebrating our rich sporting life

Every month Jo Cox writes a column for The Press. This month’s column appeared in last week’s edition.

Jo Cox at the Bulldogs in 2015

Jo Cox meets John Kear during a visit to the Bulldogs last year

Sunday saw a sporting spectacle that we’ve waited months to behold.  No, not the Super Bowl – the rugby league Championship got underway. Batley Bulldogs played host to Leigh Centurions and beat them in a memorable game.

Win or lose they are a huge asset to the town and this is true of many of the sports clubs across our area who do amazing work in our community. When I was at the club last week I was shown the trophy cabinet, including the most recent silverware, which was won by the girls’ team. The club has grown to more than 100 girls and has just returned from a ground-breaking trip to Australia.

Batley & Spen has a rich sporting life. Our constituency has produced Olympians, Paralympians, international rugby players, first class cricketers, premier league footballers – and a range of other successful sportsmen and women from cyclists to canoeists.

Of course, sport is about so much more than winning. When I think about all the people I know who play football or tennis or go swimming, I know it isn’t always about winning. I like to run. But it is very rare that I race anyone. For many people sport is about keeping fit and healthy, or the camaraderie of the team or the social life. For others it helps combat loneliness and isolation, or it allows them to develop and improve their skills.

Sport offers role models and in some cases heroes emerge who our kids look up to and who many want to emulate. Its power is quite remarkable. It also opens doors for people. The opportunities sport presents can be unlike any others – the chance to travel the country or the world, the chance to showcase your particular sporting talents in a range of competitions and places.

Look no further than 15 year-old Jordan Catling from the Bulldogs. She was named the National Satellite Club Participant of the Year in recognition of her contribution and commitment to community sport. It helps nurture skills that can be put to good use across the rest of your life.

But whether we’re talking about winning or just about taking part, this can’t happen without the right infrastructure. We must get things right at the grassroots if it is going to thrive. Nor should we underestimate the work of volunteers who make much of it come together. I’m looking forward to visiting Cleckheaton RUFC to hear about the plans they have to grow their sport and the amount they contribute locally. I have been to cricket clubs, such as Mount and Batley, who are doing wonders at opening up their game to new groups. I’ve visited junior football clubs in Cleckheaton and Gomersal who offer scores of kids somewhere to train and play.

One of the reasons I’m so keen to help those who will be affected by the planned closure of Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre is because such clubs and sports must continue. It’s a sad situation but the work and commitment of those who organise these clubs must not be lost.

We may not know what our future sporting landscape will look like in terms of facilities, particularly with the plans for a new Spen Valley sports village, but we know most of our clubs rely on the goodwill of volunteers.

We must celebrate our sportsmen and women and all of those volunteers behind the scenes. This means ensuring that we are getting it right at the grassroots and making sure that these doors remain open.

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.”

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.