Devolution ‘a failure’ fumes Tory after school parking impasse

DEVOLUTION is not working and old-style Kirklees Council area committees should be brought back.

That is the view of Coun Martyn Bolt after he was left fuming by a Dewsbury and Mirfield district panel meeting this week.

He claimed a bid to tackle school parking issues in Mirfield was blocked by other councillors.

In January, the council’s Labour cabinet was said to have rejected a £30,000 Kirklees-wide proposal.

Coun Bolt (Con, Mirfield) said the district panel put forward a different scheme solely for Ravensthorpe on Tuesday, costed at £23,000.

He had worked on a project for Mirfield but assumed it would not be funded due to the cabinet decision.

So when plans for Ravensthorpe were announced, Coun Bolt asked for Mirfield to get some cash for its scheme too.

But he claimed an amendment seconded by Coun Vivien Lees-Hamilton (Con, Mirfield) did not get to a vote as Dewsbury councillors blocked the attempt.

Coun Bolt said: “Devolution is a failure and it’s affecting the people of Mirfield and that’s why I’m speaking out about it.

“When Mirfield had its own area committee, we could commission reports from officers to tackle issues proactively.

“Now we find that those efforts are blocked either by bureaucracy or political interference.”

Before the district panel, Mirfield was paired with Denby Dale and Kirkburton for an area committee that spent devolved funds.

This could be for grants to community groups and Coun Bolt wants the system back, “or there needs to be an understanding that Mirfield money should be spent without interference from Dewsbury councillors,” he said.

“The irony is many of the school parking problems in Mirfield are caused by parents coming from Ravensthorpe.

“Many pupils at MFG and Castle Hall are from outside the area.

“I’m not sure, but I suspect the schools in Ravensthorpe are more localised.”


... but we can’t go back to old way says critic

A COUNCILLOR has hit back at a Mirfield councillor’s claims that devolution is a failure – and said the town has control over its own budget.

Dewsbury and Mirfield district panel chairman Coun Darren O’Donovan took aim at Coun Martyn Bolt’s suggestion that old-style area committees should be brought back.

Coun O’Donovan (Lab, Dewsbury West) said the former committees had a cash pot that pitted wards against each other.

He added Mirfield faced competition from Kirkburton and Denby Dale for funds under that system.

Coun O’Donovan said: “No councillor was free to put forward any project because it was a democracy.

“Under the district committee, wards have the freedom to come up with their own projects.”

He accused Mirfield councillors of not coming up with ideas and said: “Their budget has rolled over for the last couple of years.

“They’ve got quite a lot of money in their revenue budget because we’re not seeing them come forward with projects.”

Coun O’Donovan said any ideas would be considered and added: “There is deprivation in Mirfield and there’s young people who need things to do.”

Recent decisions in the town’s favour include cash to protect public spaces like Knowl Park from illegal use.

On Tuesday, Tories proposed an amendment to a school parking scheme in Ravensthorpe.

This would have given Mirfield cash for a similar project, but the amendment did not get to a vote.

Coun O’Donovan said: “There was no report on the table for any project in Mirfield.

“If councillors in a ward want to table a project it requires a lot of work from officers to show it is viable.

“Not every idea may be viable but where it is and where it is accompanied by a report, we’ll look at.

“In order for the district committee to work, it’s important that ideas come organically from councillors, as well as members of the public.”

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