IN the third part of our examination of the tight races in this year’s Kirklees Council elections, local government reporter Barry Gibson turns to Denby Dale, the voting capital of Huddersfield
IN SOME parts of Huddersfield – such as Newsome and Dalton – barely one in three people bother to vote in Kirklees Council elections.
But the residents of Denby Dale are rather more enthusiastic about democracy.
Last year the ward topped the Kirklees turnout league, with 48% of voters making their way to polling stations in villages including Scissett, Skelmanthorpe and Upper Cumberworth.
Labour’s Graham Turner took 2,285 votes in 2011 – more than many winning candidates in other seats.
But it was only enough to secure him second place in Denby Dale, as the Conservatives won by just 229 votes.
Having finished runner-up four times since 2006, Mr Turner hopes to finally take a seat on Kirklees next Thursday.
The married father-of-two believes his party has a strong record – despite concerns about the Local Development Framework (LDF), which could lead to 22,470 new homes in the district by 2028.
“We support the current plan for no development on green belt land in south Kirklees,” said the Skelmanthorpe man.
“I question whether the Conservatives can actually overthrow the plan after the election. That’s unclear.”
Mr Turner, 53, who works as technical consultant on vehicle warranty, added that his party was working hard to protect libraries and children’s centres despite public spending cuts.
“Kirklees unfortunately has to make cuts which have been forced on us by central government and we need to put our thinking caps on to deal with it,” he said.
“I don’t believe anyone should be losing their job.
“We had an issue with Sure Start but some creative thinking and hard work means they will all stay open which is a positive step.
“We’re working very hard to get a positive outcome on libraries which is a major concern in Denby Dale.”
Clr John Cook, who is defending the seat for the Conservatives, believes his party’s opposition to the LDF will be a vote winner next week.
“The 36 acres which are going to be allocated for industrial use in Clayton West is a very big issue. I don’t think it’s been very well thought out,” said the retired farmer.
“I can’t see why there would be any industrial development in Clayton West for industrial purposes, there are a lot of other sites which could be developed.”
Clr Cook, 63, believes windmills are a concern in the sprawling rural ward.
“People are very aggrieved that there’s another planning application for wind turbines at Birdsedge,” said the married father-of-two.