THE decision by Kirklees Council’s cabinet to sell council-owned land to Tesco in the Southgate/Old Leeds Road area could result in a new sports centre at Springwood.
But if it gets planning approval, we risk further loss in the life, vitality and variety in our town centre as a result.
The effects of the recession on our town are already clear to see, with many independent shops struggling. This situation would be exacerbated if customers are drawn away from the centre to two proposed new supermarkets.
The big retailers want to build three new stores here – Tesco and ASDA Walmart are proposing large stores just outside the town centre. At the same time Tesco has already submitted a proposal for a large supermarket just six miles away on the edge of Holmfirth.
These huge stores will largely depend on attracting the same customers. They will only succeed at the expense of outlets in the town centre – and independent shops in smaller communities too. Of course they will partly take their customers from existing supermarkets in and around the town of which there are many.
Taken together with the decline of both the Queensgate and Huddersfield open markets, this is serious. We urge the council to examine ways in which they could establish a sustainable retail strategy – one which will mean the town centre remains a thriving and diverse commercial centre into the next decade.
As food represents one of the key elements of convenience shopping, part of the strategy would need to address the priority of sourcing more local food.
We suggest building closer relations with regional growers and food producers to help make more ‘local food’ available at competitive prices. Without such a strategy, we will not have an independent food sector in the town centre soon.
By increasing ‘food alternatives’, we could provide more opportunities for smaller growers and producers who are being squeezed by the supermarkets.
As a community, this would help us to become more resilient.
In the next few years, rising oil and gas prices will increase the cost of producing ‘cheap’ food and transporting it over long distances.
To be less dependent on big retailers and more linked in to local producers would give us better options.
Town First, an organisation of businesses and residents, has registered its opposition to the growth of edge-of-town supermarkets (see www.townfirst.co.uk).
We have suggested to Kirklees Council that any future developments – including a redevelopment of the Tesco supermarket – need to take place within the town centre.
Measures to actively encourage food (convenience) shopping in the centre are what the town needs, not supermarkets setting up outside it, surrounding it with increased traffic congestion. The danger of decentralising shopping is in adding a further disincentive to Huddersfield’s long-term future and development.
Chairman, Town First
Train service improving
FURTHER to Barry Gibson’s observations in his column Get our Village Train Service Back on Track, I’d like to apologise to passengers for the delay in clearing the dog excrement.
We’ve worked hard to improve the service we offer our passengers in the Colne Valley.
An increasing number of services have our more modern trains as well as the Pacers which were once the norm on the Huddersfield to Manchester Victoria route.
We’re also providing passengers with a more punctual and reliable service with nine out of 10 trains arriving on time.
We offer good value for money fares with plenty of promotions and railcards which can mean extra savings. We’ve made many improvements to our services, but we want to keep progressing and are taking action to improve further the cleanliness of our stations and trains.
Finally, we are delighted to support the Friends of Slaithwaite station. We have some 60 ‘Friends’ groups around our network who do an excellent job enhancing their station environments and we’re sure the Friends at Slaithwaite will do the same.
I AM a parent of two children who currently attend Crowlees school in Mirfield.
My eldest son makes his choice in September for the secondary school he would prefer to attend.
This choice was and still will be Castle Hall.
The attraction to Castle Hall is its good reputation and, secondly, its size. The fact that it has been a school where there are more students wanting to attend than there are places always worried me for fear my sonsŠwouldn’t get in.
Now withŠthese outrageous, ridiculous and senseless proposals to close such an excellent, well sought after secondary school and to extend and ruin the quality of education at Mirfield Free Grammar, as a parent I am left extremely concerned about the future of both my sons’ education in Mirfield. There is absolutely no educational reason to close Castle Hall. It isŠeducational vandalism.
Mirfield Free Grammar is already a large school with nearly 1,500 students. I do not seeŠhow an additional 400 students taking it to 1,900 can be fitted onto the MFG site.
The four years of transition will be extremely difficult to manage and aŠdecline inŠeducational standards will be just one of the consequences.
This is just not acceptable.
Kirklees CouncilŠclearly has no understanding of Mirfield and what itsŠpeople want and need.
They are not listening. They are often veryŠarrogant and the way that Mirfield has beenŠtreated and dealt with in what has been a very distressing 10 months is an absolute disgrace.
What happened to parental choice? Kirklees cannot be allowed to take this away from us.
I have lived in Mirfield all my life so far and it has always been a popular place to live and one of its main attractions has been the excellent schools.
I chose to stay in Mirfield to raise my sons thinking they would get an excellent education, as I did in this town.
Up to now they have had excellent schooling at Crowlees and I do not want it to end there. Under Kirklees plans for our schools it will and my sons will both be badly effected.
So, do not enlarge MFG; do not close Castle Hall and keep both schools in Mirfield.
New angle on library
I HAVE a new angle on the New Mill Library closure.
It should help your readers to make their own minds up about what’s going on.
As I understand it, local Tories are blaming the Labour/Lib-Dem Council. However, it seems that the idea of closing the library (and Kirkheaton’s) was in the proposed budget put to all councillors by Kirklees officers.
It was up to all parties to decide which of these proposals to back and which to oppose. This was last December when the Tories ran the Council and Clr Donald Firth and Clr Ken Sims were in the council Cabinet.
Councillors from Kirkheaton fought to keep their library open. They succeeded. However, the Tories did not put in an amendment to keep the New Mill one open. They all voted for a budget which included closing it.
Now for the new angle, but follow me back to 1998.
On March 4 that year, Clrs Firth and Sims voted for the Tory Budget.
That budget included the following (word for word) savings: “Public conveniences. Review service provision and close those facilities outside the principal town centres.”
Then, on March 27, Clrs Firth and Sims had their photo in the Holme Valley Express. Standing outside the New Mill toilets, they called for them to be re-opened after a tractor had smashed into them. Do I need to say that, if they’d had their way, the toilets would have been closed permanently.
Now, New Mill Library and toilets are just a few yards apart. It looks to me as if they are also close in how the Tories have treated them. Vote to close something, then blame someone else (library) or make a fuss to keep something open when you planned to shut it (toilets).
We all know that politics and politicians have a bad name nowadays. Some deserve it more than others. I reckon most don’t deserve it, but have been tarred with the same brush as the graspers.
Everybody involved in politics should accept the need to show the public that they are behaving responsibly. That’s the way to restore confidence in our political system. I’d like to think that taking part in sensible debate in local newspapers is one way our politicians can explain their actions.
So, some questions.
1. Clrs Firth and Sims. Am I right about what happened in 1998? If I am, do you accept that it looks very similar to the library kerfuffle?
2. Jason McCartney. You’ve been in all the New Mill Library photos I’ve seen in the papers. You can’t have known about 1998. If Clrs Firth and Sims say I got it right, do you see any need to change what you’ve said and done on the library?
lA letter written by Mike Madden which appeared in Friday’s Mailbag should have read that “crime does not pay.’’
Just put phone down
REGARDING the Rev Mike Smith’s telephone harassment (Mailbag 09.07.09).
Why didn’t he just hang up when he found out it was a survey instead of wasting half an hour? I always say “I’m not interested’’ and put the phone down to any unwanted nuisance calls.
Mrs Irene Grundy