THE former leader of a residents group has accused it of behaving like “the Keystone Cops”.
Malc Brown had been chairman of Action Group Mirfield 25 (AGM25) - which is fighting plans to develop Mirfield Moor – for two years.
But he resigned from the group on March 29 claiming politicians were interfering.
Mr Brown also believes AGM25 has become too hard-line by opposing any development on the 30-acre site off Slipper Lane.
In 2005 Urban Evolution announced multi-million pound plans known as Mirfield 25, which included offices, manufacturing units, a hotel, a pub and a car showroom.
The developers claimed it would generate 1,000 jobs for the town but residents formed AGM25 to fight the plans.
Campaigners claimed the development would mean an increase in traffic and a loss of green space.
The original plan was withdrawn in February and a new proposal put forward which included a retirement community for more than 300 people on 16% of the land.
Mr Brown pointed to several other changes which he said were down to pressure from AGM25.
These include reducing potential traffic generation by up to 60%, cutting the number of large industrial units from five to three and limiting office buildings to a maximum of two storeys.
Mr Brown said: “Obviously nobody wants to see green fields being dug up, but that is the consequence of the decision to change the allocation of this land 10 years ago.
“What we have achieved is a limitation to the scale of the development and ensuring that it is more in keeping with the character of Mirfield.”
Mr Brown said that AGM25 could not oppose any development on the site.
He said: “It is easy to give out a simple message of ‘do not develop’, but that is not a credible option given the zoning of the land. The experts we have consulted are saying that it is not realistic to get this changed.
“Unfortunately the splinter AGM25 group wish to rally support behind a simple, but unachievable goal. There is a world of difference between a simple message and a simplistic message.”
Mr Brown added that the protest group had been politicised.
He said: “As a group we always wished to be non-political. It has become obvious that the group has moved away from this stance and has become increasingly influenced by local politicians.
“I no longer wish to be associated with a group which behaves in such a manner.”
He added: “AGM25 is behaving more like the Keystone Cops than a group which wants to be treated seriously. AGM25 cannot expect to have any credibility with the developers or with the public.”
Treasurer Kevin Jackson has also resigned from the group.
He said: “Over the past two months I have become increasingly frustrated by the fractious and political divisions within the group whereby certain members believe they can dictate and pervert the group’s activities.
“In our opinion the group has lost its direction, purpose, principles and credibility. The group has become a joke and its treatment of Malc Brown has been nothing short of despicable and disgraceful.”
But Clr Martyn Bolt, who represents the town on Kirklees Council, pointed out that politicians have long been involved in AGM25.
He said: “The group was formed after a public meeting organised by myself. Local politicians have been involved from the start and I’ve rarely missed a meeting.
“I declined to become an officer in AGM25 so as the group could remain non-political, but the links between the group and local councillors have been constant.”
Clr Bolt also denied that opposing any development on Mirfield Moor was unrealistic.
He said: “The land is classed as B1/B2 for light industrial use but development there would clearly cause highways problems.”
Clr Bolt added that people in the town were against the plan.
He said: “A recent survey found that 67% of people opposed the development.
“The people of Mirfield are demanding we take this position.”