A NEW batch of parish councils could be launched in protest at changes to local democracy in Kirklees.
The proposal is one of a number of plans hatched by Holme Valley Parish Council in response to the axing of their local area committee.
Kirklees Council announced it was slashing the number of area committees from 12 to six at the end of May.
The committees, hosted by ward councillors, provide a forum for members of the community to engage with the council, police and other organisations.
The leader of Kirklees Council, Clr Mehboob Khan, said that the downsizing would save the authority as much as £200,000 a year in staff costs.
But the decision brought outrage from both parish and ward councillors in the Holme Valley, Kirkburton and Denby Dale regions after large rural areas were merged together.
Now dissenting members of the Holme Valley Parish Council say they will lobby the Government unless the council reverses its controversial decision to merge Holme Valley South, Holme Valley North and Colne Valley area committees.
In a formal letter of complaint, the parish councillors accuse Kirklees of being undemocratic, acting without consultation and ignoring the results of the recent costly community governance review.
The 2009 review into parish councils recommended they work more closely with area committees.
The Holmfirth-based council has also said it will be forced to call for a new community governance review and will hold advice sessions for other villages that want to set up new parish councils in a bid to re-establish local democracy.
The plan could see parish councils springing up across the Colne Valley, an area which currently has not got any.
The strongly-worded letter to Kirklees’ director of organisation development, Jane Scullion, also makes it clear that the Holme Valley Parish Council would refuse to appoint representatives to the new larger The Valleys Area Committee.
The letter says: “It is clear that Kirklees Council no longer has any intention of progressing or implementing the recommendations from this Community Governance Review.
“The guidelines of our recently elected Coalition Government reiterate these recommendations with the aim of promoting delegation to the lowest elected levels of councils.”
The letter said that the decision does not appear to be in the spirit of fostering community engagement and would seem to negate much of Kirklees Council’s own four part ambition:
Real help for communities – communities that are strong, safe, healthy and at ease with each other.
Responding to recession – good, secure and better paid jobs.
Reducing inequalities – in an atmosphere of fairness and opportunity for all.
Reducing carbon – a reduced carbon impact.
“Reducing the number of area committees reduces the opportunity to engage with local communities, thus discouraging rather than offering real help.
“Distancing area committee meetings from local areas reduces opportunities for local people to attend and to become involved, introducing greater distances to travel to meetings cannot be helping any reduction in carbon impact.”
A spokeswoman for Kirklees Council said the restructure was still going ahead.
She added: “Annual council voted to replace the 12 former area committees with six town and valley committees which will tackle the most serious issues affecting each local area, such as jobs, health and educational attainment.
“Reducing the number of committees from 12 to six will also cut down on bureaucracy and release staff to do the work that makes a real difference to local people.
“Ward councillors will still be able to meet with local people to discuss how to tackle issues at ward or neighbourhood level.”
The four other area committees in Kirklees are: Batley, Birstall and Birkenshaw, Spen Valley, Dewsbury and Huddersfield.