I WATCHED by webcast the latter half of last week’s Extraordinary Council meeting which accepted the Local Development Framework proposals and was astonished at Clr Molly Walton’s dismissal of the objectors as being unable to understand the issues.

Other Labour and Lib Dem members, especially Clrs Khan and K Pinnock, expressed similar sentiments.

For their information, several amongst the protest groups have PhDs, at least one is a barrister and many have had a university education.

If our political leaders actually started listening to instead of patronising the people, they may learn something.

Apart from the arrogance of certain Labour and Lib Dem councillors, and their refusal to listen to reasoned argument, I was dismayed at their lack of knowledge of the process which they were pushing.

The economic and population projections which underlie the LDF are based on official 2008 statistics. That means the data were collected in 2007, and that fact is important.

Economically, 2007 was the tail-end of an economic boom. Globally this was driven by unsustainable borrowing with, in the UK, an added twist given by Gordon Brown’s manipulation of our economy for political ends.

Meanwhile, this was also in the midst of Blair’s open door immigration policy which had distorted population growth numbers.

Put the two together, and it is apparent that projections of economic activity and population growth are inflated – they bear little relationship to the actualities of post-2008 UK living and current projections.

Because the LDF has been delayed for two or three years, it seems only sensible to return to first principles, and use the latest set of statistics to recalculate Kirklees’ development needs over the next 15 or so years.

The LDF as it stands is not a plan for the future – it is one for the past.

Dr Bill Armer


Defence of the land

MANY residents in the Denby Dale Ward have already received Conservative leaflets portraying the party as defenders of our green and pleasant land.

The truth is that Conservative policies nationally, within Kirklees, and locally within the Denby Dale ward will inevitably lead, in semi-rural areas like Denby Dale, to a glut of expensive detached houses on sensitive greenfield sites.

“The Government’s presumption in favour of development poses the biggest threat to the countryside in our life-time … Many are beginning to see the Localism Bill as a developer’s charter”.

These words are from the Skelmanthorpe Community Action Group website, but similar views have been expressed by the National Trust, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and many others.

The Government’s relaxation of guidelines will also reduce the pressure on developers to build affordable housing for our young people.

In Kirklees’ case, the Government requires the council to get a Local Development Framework in place and to allocate land for housing and jobs. All parties agree on that.

In Kirklees, over 70% of land is green belt. Kirklees plans to release less than 1% of this, near Dewsbury, for development.

There are no plans to build a single house on green belt land in Skelmanthorpe, Scissett or anywhere else in the Denby Dale ward or indeed in the whole of South Kirklees.

By contrast, Kirklees Tories would instead build on Provisional Open Land sites throughout Kirklees. There are several such sites in Skelmanthorpe, Scissett and Denby Dale.

Some are highly sensitive and Kirklees Tory plans would see all of them built on! This would be a disaster for our semi-rural area.

Denby Dale Labour Party made considered, balanced responses, both last year and in 2009, to the consultations which led to the current LDF proposals.

These can be viewed on the Kirklees website: search ‘Denby Dale Ward Branch Labour Party’. We believe our views have widespread support.

In both 2009 and 2011, we opposed the automatic inclusion of Provisional Open Land sites in the LDF. We know of no such response from Denby Dale Conservative Association.

Labour argued strongly against the use of green belt land near Clayton West for warehousing. We also, by the way, oppose plans for an open-cast coal-mine near Clayton West.

It appears Denby Dale Conservatives have again chosen to make planning matters a major issue in May’s elections. We will not shirk the challenge!

Graham Turner

Labour candidate, Denby Dale Ward

The human element

WHO wants to become a librarian? I would feel very uncomfortable voluntarily taking over the job from which an employee, qualified, competent and a respected contributor to community culture and welfare, had been unceremoniously dumped.

What that employee thought of me would be no better than what I thought of myself. Something akin, perhaps, to the trade union term ‘scab’?

The unions would certainly have had something to say if my job had been taken over by well-meaning but unqualified volunteers!

Money must not be allowed to be the only consideration here: humanity is an essential factor.

In determining the future of libraries we are dealing not merely with jobs and client-processing, but with valued human beings who help to form and maintain the community ethos.

May they continue to do just that.

Alan Starr


Strictly superb

LAST year I wrote marvelling at the wealth of talent we have in our town when I watched the Kirklees Music School showcase concert at the Town Hall.

Now we have been treated to another great night of entertainment at the Lawrence Batley Theatre by the young dancers from our local area from infants to high schools in Strictly Pennine 2012.

Helme Junior and Infants is a small school compared to some but they got the same cheers and “bring the house down” applause from a packed audience of relatives and friends as the big schools.

It was a great night and to say I have seen worse acts on the TV than I saw there, is not a lie.

All praise must go to the Pennine Sports Partnership and the teachers who trained them in putting on such a polished and fantastic show.

On behalf of all parents, relatives and friends, thank you.

Mrs N Clarke


£1m for Rastrick

IT is hard to put into words my reaction to the news that Rastrick had been awarded £1m through the Big Lottery Big Local programme.

My immediate thought was – why Rastrick? But as my mind absorbed this wonderful news I thought of the many long hours I have spent with others seeking funding for the various community projects I have been associated with.

Most of the time we got knock-backs. This time it’s a genuine prize. I was now finding out that the money will be coming over a 10-year cycle. What a fantastic journey to go on to make Rastrick into a better place to live.

Unlike other local government or national programmes Big Local genuinely puts local residents in the driving seat.

We decide what we want to do to improve our area and how we are going to do it – hopefully with the support of local organisations such as local charities, the council, police, businesses and other groups in the area – but ultimately it’s our shout.

We also receive support from a Big Local rep that helps guide and coach us.

We have at least 10 years to make our area an even better place to live so really we’re only at the beginning of our journey.

So come on fellow Rastrickians, get involved in this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Register your interest at email info@localtrust.org.uk

Adrian Hartshorn

Rastrick Community Hub

Soldiers’ reunion

IN May, 1962 almost 100 young boys aged from 15 to 17 years old left their homes and families from all over Great Britain and to the city of Carlisle in Cumbria to become the next intake of young potential soldiers at the Army Apprentices’ College, Carlisle.

Three years later after intense military, education and trade training these young soldiers departed from the safe environment of a military school and headed for the wider world of the regular army where they were posted to units throughout the world.

From Germany to Cyprus, Kenya, Borneo and many other places these young soldiers continued to learn their trade and the tricks and ways of seasoned soldiers and work in difficult conditions under fire in active service zones and helping to protect Europe during the Cold War, among many other arduous tasks.

A number of these soldiers completed a minimum of nine years’ service but many went on to make the Armed Forces a career serving up to and beyond 22 years reaching the highest ranks possible.

Now, 50 years on, there is to be a reunion of all of those original members in May and through these columns we would like to contact as many ex-apprentices of 62b Carlisle to invite them to be part of this celebration.

If there are any people from those days of Carlisle who wish to attend the weekend celebrations please contact Bernie Wisely at bernie.wisely@googlemail.com for further details.

Roy Saxby