Ed Lines – February 15, 2019

Ed Lines – February 15, 2019

WHAT a timely revelation, that the main road between Dewsbury and Huddersfield is in the top 10 of the UK’s most congested highways.

I was going to write “it would be quicker to cycle” but that’s only supposing a taxi doesn’t plaster you against a wall, or a fun-loving Ravensthorpe youth doesn’t unseat you with the aid of a baseball bat. Hopefully you’d still be conscious and able to see your expensive bike disappear up the lawless Spen Valley Greenway through your tears.

The announcement included ‘news’ that long-suffering motorists who have to use parts of that commuter corridor waste an average of 40 hours a year sitting in traffic. 

That’s just on the A62/A644 Leeds-Huddersfield Road itself – no mention of how long it takes you to actually get onto it, or the delays at the other end in trying to reach your eventual, traffic-congested destination.

Let’s have a reality check though, because that’s not any kind of ‘news’. In fact it’s likely to have elicited a reaction of “40 hours, is that all?” from the poor sods who have no option but to use it.

But still, that’s an entire working week of your life lost, sitting with your fingers drumming a frustrated beat on the steering wheel, praying for the lights to go green, or wondering whether to let this taxi driver filter in ahead of you – oops, no choice, he barged in anyway. 

Cue some yelling and finger gesturing at the windscreen, just to heap a little extra on your already barely tolerable stress levels.

The only good news 2019 might have brought the commuting motorist, is that at least you no longer have to listen to the egomaniacal Radio Two ramblings of Chris Evans on the morning commute (and even that’s a mixed blessing, because you’ve now got the hare-brained blabberings of Sara Cox to accompany you on your way home. Audiobooks folks, they’re the future.

If you’re a local motorist who has to navigate the full Dewsbury-Huddersfield route regularly, you’ve probably tried a ‘short’ cut via Thornhill, over Whitley and down through Kirkheaton, while trying to nip along Lower Hopton is a variation on the theme. I’m not sure any of them save you any actual time, but when roads get to gridlock it somehow feels less stressful and frustrating to at least be moving instead of sitting and fuming in the fumes. 

But the timing of Huddersfield Road’s official UK congestion ranking was ironically sweet, because it came hot on the heels of Kirklees Council celebrating news that the government had approved its plan to build 31,000 new homes across the district.

Oh joy – and if you want to imagine what 31,000 homes means in comparable terms, just picture all of Dewsbury and Batley combined. Plus a bit more.

Now, I wouldn’t know Kirklees councillor Peter McBride, the champion of this plan, if I fell on him from a great height – and just as a passing thought, I’m inclined to think that would be worth a broken leg in itself.

McBride may well be a loving dad and granddad and a thoroughly nice chap to boot, but he obviously comes from Labour’s Corbyn/Abbott school of economics, which means he probably can’t work an abacus. Plan the Kirklees socio-economic future? With some of the unquantifiable rubbish he’s spouted over this, I wouldn’t let the bloke go fetch the family fish and chip supper without giving him a note and the correct change.

McBride envisages this idiotically overblown plan bringing a billion pound boom to the local economy. 

In his dreams – but this is Labour talking, so ‘dreams’ are about as the fairytale plan goes.

I’ve no idea if the councillor is familiar with the delightfully titled ‘Dewsbury Riverside’ area of his grand masterplan. That’s already being touted as first for development – a massive 4,000 homes, which would more than double the existing housing in adjacent Thornhill Lees and Ravensthorpe – and given the ethnic profile of those communities, plus every single mapping demographic that you care to consider, you’ll understand why I call that project Shariahtown.

So, 4,000 homes, targeted at a community which produces families at more than double the current average national birth rate. Shall we say a conservative 12,000 people, or a more realistic 20,000 people? And with two cars per household, that’s an extra 8,000 or so motors on the road. 

I know the Kirklees Green Party were getting all giddy and moist last week at the Local Plan ruling out fracking in the district, but where was their outrage at all the CO2 emissions this little lot will produce?

And I don’t know where Coun McBride’s fanciful mass of new jobs and industry are going to be located, but unless he plans to introduce ferries up and down the river Calder, those residents had better all like walking to work.

If Coun McBride didn’t already know (or care) that aforementioned chronically congested Huddersfield Road, the one that already costs people a week of their lives, every year, is the only arterial route serving  the soon-to-be Shariahtown.

And those pedestrians having to walk to their imaginary jobs had better not get knocked down either, because given the stealth plan to close Dewsbury Hospital it will take an hour to get them to Pinderfields by ambulance.

Still not to worry, because Pistol Pete apparently has a magic bullet in his planning gun – yes, he’s already secured regional funding for road infrastructure improvements. Just last week millions were pledged for two plans and the town centre, plus a major widening project on that aforementioned problem road.

Oops, did I forget to provide the important bit of detail (and you know what’s coming now, don’t you)? That’s right, the millions are for roads in two subsurbs of Huddersfield, plus Hudders-field town centre, and also for the A62 in south Kirklees – you know, the Huddersfield end of our problem road.

Does anyone see a theme developing here? 

For 45 years of Kirklees, Huddersfield members have united to secure investment, while Batley and Dewsbury councillors specifically have simply gone along for the ride.

It’s time for change.

REGARDING the above piece, don’t you get infuriated when you read about the Huddersfield-centric stunts of people like Peter McBride and the endless investment for that district, while the council wipes its feet on the people of Dewsbury and Batley, Birstall and Heckmondwike?

To reference other stories in today’s paper, have you seen the state of Dewsbury Market – only a decade or so ago it was voted the best outdoor market in the country, but it’s been tacitly allowed to die a lingering death, all under the watching eyes of three career Labour politicians, Dewsbury East’s Eric Firth, Paul Kane and Cathy Scott.

The other six do-nothings from the adjacent wards are hardly blameless either – Masood Ahmed, Nosheen Dad and Gulfam Asif in Dewsbury South, Darren O’Donovan, Mumtaz Hussain and Mussarat Pervaiz in Dewsbury West –  but the town centre is Firth, Kane and Scott’s patch. This, on the back of our recent story about the Pioneer Building’s college opening being kicked down the road for 12 months, is an insulting kick in the town’s teeth.

Where are these people hiding? What are they doing? Where is the outrage, the protests against Huddersfield getting everything, always? 

They strut around with their grand ‘councillor’ title, enjoying a bit of minor social self-importance and a nice little earner, but what are they actually doing for these towns?

But then again if the great unwashed of the voting public are so mightily narked, why do they keep voting these people in? And if as I suspect, the vast majority of people care so little that they don’t even get off their backsides to vote, then they’re as big a part of the problem as the do-nothing councillors.

Two local blokes, Aleks Lukic and Paul Halloran, are standing as Heavy Woollen Independents in the May elections. 

If you want change, if you want to do something other than moan while the adverts are on during Emmerdale, get off the sofa and back these blokes to get out there and make a proper difference.

If not, don’t expect anything different in future.

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