A MULTI-million pound plan to attract new firms to Huddersfield comes under the spotlight tomorrow.
Top councillors meet to discuss proposals for the Kirklees Strategic Economic Zone – a blueprint designed to bring new business and thousands of jobs to the Leeds Road corridor.
But proposals to carry out £12m worth of road and public transport improvements as part of the project are already under fire.
Cabinet members are being asked to agree to a scheme which would see the council foot half the bill, with the rest of the money being raised through levies on firms coming into the development.
But that idea has being attacked by Liberal Democrats who fear the proposed pricing structure will mean firms will look elsewhere to develop.
The proposals being put forward to tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting suggest charging firms for the added vehicles they would use on the road system if they settled in Huddersfield.
The figure has been priced at £7,876 which could generate more than £5.5m for the project.
But Clr John Smithson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “Proposals by the Conservative administration to charge almost £8,000 per lorry load is a threat to future development.
“It has always been the plan to seek contributions from developers to help pay the costs of the roadworks. But these charges are exorbitant.
“The going rate across the country is about £2,500 so to look at charging three times that rate is wrong. It will put off developers and the scheme may founder.”
But Clr Ken Sims, the Cabinet member responsible for regeneration, said the initial response from would-be developers had been very positive.
“We have already spoken to a number of developers who want to come to Huddersfield. They know the situation regarding the charge for the roads infrastructure and they are very positive.
“If we are serious about expansion and regeneration then the infrastructure needs upgrading. We need to look at road schemes and at public transport and it is obvious the Government will not be funding these.
“The developers will benefit from an improved infrastructure and it is right we should ask them to pay for it”
Schemes put forward in the project include a new roundabout with additional approach lanes at Cooper Bridge, a new bus lane towards Huddersfield, wider junctions in Leeds Road and Bradley Road and priority signals for buses.