‘Caviar’ jobs scheme could be cuts victim

AXING a jobs scheme that would have seen caviar produced in Heckmondwike is a blow for social justice... that is the view of a councillor after plans to effectively kill off the ABLE2 project off Smithies Lane were revealed this week.

The scheme was to feature a fish farm, BMX track, bee-keeping, horticulture, joinery and construction facilities.

The partnership between Kirklees Council and the Green Business Network (GBN) was aimed at getting disadvantaged youngsters into jobs.

Council chiefs spent £1.25m bringing former railway land bordering Dewsbury Moor, Ravensthorpe and Heckmondwike back into use.

Only a vandal-hit fishing lake was partially built and now the authority wants to pull the plug.

A report due to be considered by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday suggests spending £50,000 on finishing the lake.

The rest of the scheme is not mentioned – and it comes after claims in January that it was on the brink of collapse.

It was said the GBN, which works with ex-offenders, drug addicts and pupils excluded from school, had lost its funding.

Kirklees at the time was looking at options in a bid to salvage something from the wreckage of the plans.

Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) was involved as a cabinet member when ABLE2 was first proposed to a Tory-led council administration in 2008.

He said: “This may be breaking a stereotype because Labour like to wrap themselves up in social justice.

“But we handed over a project that was all about social justice and it’s all gone wrong.”

Coun Bolt added ABLE2 would also have combated crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said: “You have to wonder about the cost to society when other agencies will be left to pick up the pieces if these young people go off the rails.”

The report states the “funding landscape has changed dramatically” since ABLE2 was first proposed.

It added: “...some of the outcomes in the initial scheme are unlikely to be realised and it is no longer possible to deliver the original scheme.”

The Dewsbury and District Junior Angling Club want to use the lake for fishing.

Angling platforms, some suitable for disabled people, plus paths, a storage shelter and landscaping, would complete the lake.

Council chiefs propose funding this with £50,000 from the Place Directorate revenue budget.

The angling club would then be responsible for the area’s upkeep, including water quality, site maintenance and security.

Coun Bolt worries industrial development rejected in 2008 in favour of ABLE2 could come back.

He said: “Back then we took the advice of officials but made a brave and bold decision for the greater good.”

Coun Bolt fears the current cabinet could be influenced and added: “Officers are appointed to advise and councillors are elected to make decisions.

“If you wanted to reverse that you could save an awful lot of money by getting rid of the rubber-stampers.”

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