THE Local Development Framework (LDF) sets a target of 270 hectares of land to be provided for industrial use in order to create 38,000 jobs. I question the logic behind this.
The LDF policy of siting industrial development close to new houses reminds me of the Victorian idea of building a mill and then housing the workers nearby – a 160 year-old policy.
It is often said that the French and British generals of the 1930s had detailed plans to fight the previous war, not the coming one. I am afraid that the LDF planners are in a similar position on employment.
We now live in a post-industrial world with an emphasis on a service and knowledge-based economy.
Does it make sense to send more young people to university and then to build industrial units for them to labour in?
We have the rolling-out of high speed broadband internet services and this should be seen as an opportunity to encourage home or home-office working, reducing the need for industrial development and cutting pollution and road congestion by reducing commuting.
People working in adjoining offices often email each other on broadband internet. It matters not if they are feet or miles apart. They still have the same level of communication as they have today and internet video-conferencing facilities are developing rapidly.
Moving to home working also frees up brown field land for housing, not industrial, use. Less land needed for industry, less land needed for roads and road-widening, less traffic congestion, less pollution, less public money spent. What’s not to like?
KMC and its planners need to have a rethink on job creation. They need to move their thinking away from the 20th, even 19th, century and produce an LDF for the 21st.
Fight the next employment war, not the last!
Kirklees’ flawed thinking
ONE of the sites selected for the LDF’s industrial expansion is in the small village of Clayton West which serves as an example of Kirklees planning department’s flawed thinking.
Clayton West, along with the neighbouring villages of Scissett, Skelmanthorpe and Denby Dale, have all been targeted for substantial housing development too with the new LDF proposing 1,200 new homes for these villages. This represents an overall growth of well over 25%.
All four villages developed around the textile and coal mining industries. These were supported by a number of ancillary industries such as light engineering. Most of the people had local employment.
Over the last 30 years both industries have declined to the point where they have almost disappeared and the supporting industries have largely gone with them.
If no substantial employers have moved into the area over the past 30 years, why is Kirklees so confident that they will do so in the next 17 years?
If Kirklees has failed to attract major industries, even during one of the longest sustained economic booms in British history, why will it suddenly do so in future? What will change to attract employers here? Where will these 35,000 jobs come from?
Manufacturing is unlikely to provide the new jobs required. The biggest area of growth is the service sector where 111,000 people (73.9% of the workforce) are employed within Kirklees.
Neither the manufacturing nor service sectors are likely to continue to grow in future given the economic situation, so the new jobs are unlikely to come from here.
If the jobs aren’t created, there is no need for 26,000 new homes for some 50,000 people.
One thing is certain. If the houses are built the people will come, attracted to our area by the lower costs of living here rather than in Leeds or Manchester. Kirklees will get the costs but few of the benefits of a rising population.
For the people who live in Kirklees it will be a nightmare of congestion and the quality of life will be ruined forever. Only the developers will profit.
Who says we have to grow? Not growing could be an option.
Perhaps it’s time for a radical rethink. If we don’t build more houses there won’t be an influx of another 50,000 people. There won’t be a need to try to create 35,000 new jobs. People will relocate to the places where there are jobs for them.
Perhaps we can focus on building affordable houses for local young people who can’t afford to get their foot on the property ladder, rather than five-bedroom homes for commuters.
Perhaps too we can start to build homes more suited to a growing number of elderly people. These are the homes the developers never want to build and, despite promises, always seem to manage to avoid building.
Bigger does not mean better. So before we concrete over the countryside, how about spending some time checking out the assumptions on which the plans are based? We might find they are wide of the mark of what is really needed.
LDF ‘fantasy world’
THE LDF that is presently doing the motions through council states that this has all to do with jobs and is the reason for a further 28,000 homes to be built.
The economic environment on which the LDF is based originates in pre-financial collapse days before September 2008 at the height of the global meltdown.
Indeed, the economic histogram projections used by Kirklees Council indicate that we shall be building significantly more houses under the LDF on average per year than we even achieved in the boom years (2000-2007).
I travel the world seeing what other countries are doing to attract inward investment. I can therefore tell KMC now that they are living in a fantasy world if they believe Kirklees can attract vast volumes of new businesses to the area. I say this with a heavy heart for I have children and grandchildren too.
Indeed, Kirklees never attracted much business even in the good times so how on earth they are going to do it now beggars belief.
What KMC should be doing is creating an environment in which businesses want to come to Kirklees.
When one delves into and understands the near 500 pages that the LDF is based on, one eventually realises that it is not a ‘community charter’ but a ‘developers’ charter’, to build on beautiful green belt land and other open spaces.
Indeed, one cannot see the benefit of destroying further green belt when we have sufficient building land available in Kirklees for at least 10 years and probably more, not even taking into account the near-8,000 houses that lie unused.
So the more appropriate thing would be to undertake five-year reviews and then see if we have to release green belt. Once gone, green belt land can never be replaced.
When the public was asked at a recent meeting in Scissett, attended by more than 120 people, 95% voted to defer all KMC development plans pending the Localism Bill.
This vote was invigilated by a magistrate so that the private results could be verified after opening a sealed voting box.
An implemented LDF will make a few people extremely rich overnight but will do nothing for the people and families of Kirklees. That is why I say that it is a developers’ rather than a community charter.
Therefore, for our heritage and for our young ones now, the people of Kirklees should not allow the LDF to go forward in its present form.
Dr David Hill
SURELY it’s only a matter of time until the PC Police are hiding on every football terrace and in every pub toilet, eavesdropping and snooping into everyone’s conversations, just in case we make an innocent joke at the expense of women, immigrants, homosexuals, the religious, the old, vegetarians or any of the thousands of other self-pitying groups in this country. Then what a po-faced, bitter and sad life we’ll lead.
Blow to students
THE Lib Dems almost all voted to end Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) last Wednesday in Parliament.
They clambered into bed with the Tories to attack access to post-16 education for students from poorer families.
Meanwhile, the reduction in the tax on banks by the Chancellor (because it was rising more than expected) was a loss of revenue to the nation of three times as much as EMA. Lib Dems have a funny idea of ‘fairness’.
I raised this question at a Town and Valley Committee held on Thursday in Meltham, with the Lib Dem Clr Andrew Marchington who holds the ‘young people’s portfolio’. He did not answer the question.
But 58% of all students now attending Huddersfield New College are currently claiming EMA. There are thousands of Year 11 students in Kirklees schools who will need this support next year. Are these not entitled to know where he and the other local Lib Dems stand on an issue which will affect their education and lives?
Celebration of life
RESPONDING to the Examiner article (Celebrations in place of funeral tradition, January 24) I would agree that many people today want a celebration of the person’s life – and there is absolutely no reason a family should not have that within a religious service.
While the service can also retain elements of tradition, there is no reason why there should not be celebration, smiles, indeed laughter, as there has been in many funerals I have taken.
It is important to make space for personal requests, for celebration and time for reflection and, above all, the main cause for celebration, the Christian message of hope.
‘Religious’ does not have to equate with dour and ‘heavy’. A relative of mine, for example, wanted pink balloons which we released later and at one funeral I took, people went out to the strains of ‘I do like to be beside the seaside!’