LABOUR-controlled Kirklees Council is seeking £40m in extra cash to build or expand local schools.
The last Labour government spent £69bn on Private Finance Initiatives, in which private companies build something and claim the money back with interest from the local authority or government.
PFIs will cost us, the taxpayer,Š£227bn, at least, to pay back over the next 20-30 years. These figures, from the Financial Times, were not even included in government borrowing figures, which were already bad enough.
It should have been obvious, therefore, why the Coalition had to put a lid on the Building Schools for the Future programme and scale down any more provision for new schools.
A lot of school places are necessary because the last government allowed unnecessary immigration, from countries newly entering the EU and from outside the EU.
Their handling of the finances and immigration have taken us to the brink of disaster.
Even if they had been re-elected in May 2010, the Labour party would have had to carry out the majority of savings brought in by the Coalition.
Spending over the next few years is going to rise, and no Labour supporter I know has contradicted this. The Coalition have merely cut the amount it would have risen under Labour’s plan.ŠLabour had, and has, no real answer to the crisis.
If there is a need for new school places, I would expect the council to look at every possibility to save the taxpayer money.
I have asked one of the officers involved in compiling the report to the council to tell me if there is any alternative to PFI.
I will report the reply when I get it.
Death of democracy
THE planning application to build 300 houses and a data centre on ‘green’ land at Lindley Moor drew widespread opposition from local residents and councillors and a storm of protest in the Examiner.
Objections focused on the loss of irreplaceable ‘green’ land, road congestion and pressure on local services, especially schools.
Here’s how it happened: the application went to committee and was rejected by eight votes to seven, with local councillors on the committee voting against the project.
This should have been the end of the matter the chair insisted that the councillors, voting against development, should give their reasons for turning the application down.
This they did, but were then stunned to hear that the reasons they gave, which were typical of objections to other planning applications, were ruled unacceptable.
The meeting was adjourned and councillors were instructed to prepare their reasons for objecting for a further meeting.
A democratic vote against the application was ruled unacceptable.
When this subsequent meeting was held, councillors were surprised to find that the whole application was to be considered again.
Councillors were also informed by the full time planning officials that if the application was turned down the builder was likely to win on appeal and this would cost the council a lot of money in legal costs fighting the appeal.
The composition of the committee had also changed and when the new vote was taken the application was passed.
This has set a dangerous precedent, as developers now know that if they threaten to take a rejected planning application to appeal, Kirklees planning committees are likely to cave in and grant permission to save the costs of appeal.
This effectively means developers have an open door, granting them access to the countryside of Kirklees, for development at will.
Local democracy in Kirklees is dead. The whole basis of democracy is that people vote for councillors or members of parliament they feel will represent their views.
If their representatives don’t perform to their satisfaction they can vote them out at the next election.
But, in the case of Lindley Moor, the local councillors did represent the views of their constituents and voted against the planning application.
It was councillors from other areas of Kirklees who voted the application through. The voters of Lindley Moor are powerless to vote these people out of office, so for them, democracy is dead.
It’s time for politicians to wake up and listen to the people and for council employees to realise they are the servants of the people, not their masters.
Skelmanthorpe Community Action Group
ANYONE who can break into and steal from a church (Examiner, October 13) can only be described as the lowest of the low.
The good people of Scissett who gave their time and generosity to help others should hope that these insects get their just rewards when they meet their Maker.
NOT one, not two but three supermarkets plus a national bakery chain are planning to open stores in Holmfirth.
Their researchers must have come to the conclusion that there is a lot of spare money swilling around in the town. They could be mistaken, I would have thought that with several supermarkets, the result would inevitably be that none of them would make an adequate profit, so one or more would fold their tents and creep quietly away.
Some may have the foresight to creep away at this stage?
MR Quarmby’s letter (Mailbag, October 12) about Thornhill Estates development plan mentions the Green Belt, and this is worrying.
I have always thought Green Belt land (always with capital letters) is protected by Parliament and can only be revoked, in specific cases, by said Parliament.
This is as distinct from ‘greenfield’ land such as the Lindley example. Is it really true that the Green Belt can be destroyed by some planner popping such areas into an LDF? Does the Green Belt have no special legal protection?
It’s always been recognised that the huge development gains made when land loses its Green Belt status leads to pressures a mere planning officer cannot be expected to withstand.
The land Mr Quarmby quotes is probably worth more than a billion pounds with presumed detailed planning permission for building, a fraction of that if it stays as protected.
If it is true that the Green Belt can be so casually dismembered because of recent Government legislation then I don’t think the Conservative Party will lack for political donations.
Can someone tell me, does the Green Belt have legal protection?
BOTH Scope and British Heart Foundation left charity bags to be collected at my office.
How annoying to see the man from Scope picking up not only the scope bags but also the British Heart Foundation bags.
I didn’t have time to go out and say something to him and, having rung the BHF, I am told that there is nothing they can do to get back the bags that Scope have collected.
FURTHER to Mr Nuttall’s letter (Mailbag, October 4) can anyone really see Kirklees forking out for ‘dog only parks’ when they ignore numerous requests for dog-poo bins and related notices?
If dogs are banned from parks etc, where do owners walk their dogs if they don’t drive or are elderly and are no longer able to walk a distance?
The result would be far worse. More fouling on the streets and public areas, more dogs given up or abandoned, causing much suffering to both dog and owner.
Some dog owners obviously do not see the necessity to ‘pick up’. However, many responsible dog owners not only clean up their own dogs mess, but also collect rubbish dropped by other irresponsible people, ensuring that their local area is clean and tidy.
Some areas would be a tip in a month, particularly during school holidays.
Perhaps the short, sharp shock treatment would be a consideration. A hefty fine may help – but you have to catch them first! So would the council be prepared to find funding for dog-poo wardens?
Flotilla of memories
THANK you for the nostalgia moment in your feature (“It’s dam fine engineering”, October 14) on the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s visit to open Scammonden dam.
The flotilla of dinghies you pictured was there by request of the organisers to show how the new dam would be used for leisure.
We founder members of the sailing club were quite happy to oblige and sailed up to the tower to make a colourful background scene for the royal ceremony on the shore.
The idea of using drinking water reservoirs for sport was at that time quite new, and Huddersfield Corporation Waterworks department felt it should be pursued (with the support of engineer Bill Jollans, mentioned in your article, who I believe became a sailing club member).
The sailing club was actually formed at the end of 1970 after interested parties were invited to a meeting at the Town Hall, and the first sailing took place in 1971 as the reservoir began filling up, ahead of the official opening in the autumn.