IN the second part of our look at the crucial contests in this year’s Kirklees Council election, local government reporter Barry Gibson finds that the race in Dalton has been spiced up by a dispute about Huddersfield Town and a leaflet row involving the police.
FOR a seat which traditionally has one of the lowest turnouts in Kirklees, there’s no shortage of interest in this year’s election fight in Dalton.
Labour is pushing to unseat Lib Dem Clr Rochelle Parchment having defeated her colleague Roger Battye last year.
The contest between the two parties is intense, with the Lib Dems reporting Labour to the police over a claim in an election newsletter.
The Dalton race has also been livened up by the entry of independent candidate Robert Pepper.
The secretary of Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association is running to draw attention to the ownership of the Galpharm Stadium.
Kirklees Stadium Development Limited (KSDL) was set up in the 1990s to build a new sporting arena in Huddersfield.
Kirklees took a 40% share in the company, Town 40% and the Giants 20%.
But that arrangement changed after Giants chairman Ken Davy rescued Town from administration in 2003.
He transferred the football and rugby club’s shares into his company Huddersfield Sporting Pride.
In 2009 he sold Town to current owner Dean Hoyle. However, a deal to transfer Town’s 40% back to the football club broke down.
Mr Pepper, 72, believes the issue affects everyone in Kirklees – not just Town fans.
The retired IT consultant from Meltham said: “The big issue is what the taxpayers of Kirklees are seeing for their investment in the stadium – the answer is nothing.
“It’s a drain on council resources when Kirklees is looking at all sorts of ways to save money, like shutting libraries.”
The father-of-two believes the dispute is harming Town.
“Without a share of the stadium and any future participation in revenue streams in years to come, the club is not going to be viable,” he said.
“The club can’t survive just on gate money, it needs other revenue streams and the stadium ought to be a source of that but isn’t.
“If the stadium was being managed differently then the football club would benefit from that as a shareholder.
“The HD1 development is not going anywhere until the stadium shares situation is resolved.”
Mr Pepper hopes to do well in Dalton, the ward which includes the Galpharm.
“I do think I’m taking support from all parties, I expect to take votes all round,” he said.
Clr Parchment, 39, is focusing on different issues in each part of the ward as she tries to keep her seat in next Thursday’s election.
The married mother-of-three from Deighton said: “In Kirkheaton we’re looking at dog fouling and transport issues. The 262 evening bus service is going to continue for another 12 months which is really positive.
“We’re looking at working with community groups to see if we can get a community bus going. It’s early days but we’re hoping to move forward.
“In the Dalton estate we’re focusing on raising aspirations and keeping crime and anti-social behaviour down.
“On Leeds Road I’m working to support the U-Turn youth club which is bringing together children from the Town estate and Springbank Road. They never used to get on but now the community cohesion is fantastic.