VOTERS go to the polls in six days’ time to elect 23 of the 69 members of Kirklees Council. In the fourth part of our look at the key contests, local government reporter Barry Gibson asks if next Thursday will be Independent’s Day in Holme Valley North
CHARLES Greaves hopes Holme Valley North voters will declare their independence for the third year running next Thursday.
Meltham’s Terry Lyons unseated Conservative Royston Rogers in 2010, followed by his ally Edgar Holroyd-Doveton, who toppled Lib Dem David Woodhead last year.
And now Charles Greaves plans to make it a clean sweep by taking the seat vacated by retiring Tory Clr Beryl Smith in next week’s vote.
The 40-year-old debt adviser is backed by the two independent councillors – despite their differences over the Local Development Framework (LDF).
Clr Lyons and Clr Holroyd-Doveton support the plan to allow 22,470 new homes in the district by 2028, while Mr Greaves opposes the plan.
He said: “There are going to be issues where we have different attitudes but there is more that unites us than divides us.
“The only thing where we have a difference of opinion is the LDF.
“I’ve been a key player in Preserve Honley and Brockholes. I’m opposed to the current LDF, though Terry and Edgar voted in favour.
“My main concern is the 10 hectares of Provisional Open Land near Smithy Place in Brockholes. I want to protect that area by bringing it into the green belt.”
Mr Greaves, who lives with his wife in Honley, is also concerned about the council’s plan to withdraw paid staff from the village library.
“The reality is that the substantial cuts in the council’s grant has made a major problem but there are different ways of dealing with the cuts,” he said.
“Removing paid staff from libraries is a really lazy kind of thinking.
“We’ve got a lot of managers and executives on Kirklees and we need to have a real re-think about what they do. Reviewing supervision and management should be the starting point.”
Brenda Bodenham, 53, is hoping to keep the seat for the Conservatives next week.
The Honley woman questioned how Mr Greaves could work with other independents when they differed on the LDF.
“It’s quite a strange scenario when you’ve got somebody who’s part of a party of independents, it seems quite bizarre. I can’t understand how he’s going to align himself with them,” she said.
Mrs Bodenham, who runs Honley Post Office with her husband Duncan, said her party’s plan to split Kirklees was proving a hit with voters.
The mother-of-one said: “There’s quite a lot of excitement on the doorstep about splitting Kirklees, the idea is going down a storm.
“People feel that if the council is split it will become more accountable with local services delivered locally.”
Mrs Bodenham added that voters were concerned about the LDF.
“People are very upset with Labour, the Lib Dems and the independents for voting through the LDF – they want to know why we need 22,000 houses,” she said.
Mrs Bodenham also called for an extension of the 20mph zones in the two biggest villages in the ward.
“It’s good that there’s a 20mph zone in the middle of Honley but we need to extend it,” she said.
“The same applies to Meltham where the zone finishes before the school, which doesn’t make sense.”
Lib Dem Katie Turner said her party had protected undeveloped land in the ward.
“Lib Dems are proposing to safeguard green belt sites in Holme Valley North,” she said.
“The Conservatives are proposing to build 8,000 homes on green field sites, some of these in Honley, Meltham and Brockholes.”
Ms Turner, 20, added that the Tory plan to split Kirklees was only popular until voters found out how much it would cost.
“On the doorstep people are asking about splitting Kirklees but they are not very happy when they realise it’s going to cost £40m when the council has to cut £80m from its budget,” said the Golcar woman.
“Once people realise that, they aren’t too happy.
“Power should be moved to local people through parish councils and area committees.”
Ms Turner studies applied animal science at Hull University and is the daughter of Colne Valley councillor Nicola Turner.
She is focusing on libraries in her first election contest.
“Labour want to have the library in Honley run by volunteers but it wouldn’t work,” she said.
“The Lib Dems want to have a librarian at every library with volunteers on top of that to extend services.”
Labour candidate Anne Baldwin, 57, suggested a “Pizza Hut” solution for Honley Library.
“My instinctive reaction is that we shouldn’t be doing anything that means that the very professional staff are unable to provide a service from the location,” said the Holmfirth woman.
“My preference would be to start from scratch.
“For rural communities there are more innovative answers. Things like Pizza Hut-type delivery service of books you want to order.”
The mother-of-four, who has just completed a PhD at the University of Huddersfield about female councillors in the 1920s and 1930s, is also concerned about public transport.
“I think the bus cuts are a real focus. I use buses all the time; I don’t drive. It’s right at the top of my agenda,” she said.
“I’ve had some direct discussions with Metro. I recognise there are some areas where we can improve the service from an environmental point of view.
“One of the things we need to look at is the fact that we have too many big buses going on journeys where there aren’t many people.”
In the final of our election previews, we look at the race in Kirkburton tomorrow.