New group joins fight to create North Kirklees town councils

New group joins fight to create North Kirklees town councils

ANOTHER community in North Kirklees has joined the fight to bring politics back to a local level.

In the last month campaigners in Dewsbury have launched a petition calling for a new town council – and volunteers in Batley are now heading down the same path.

Former Conservative council candidate Paul Young is spearheading the project, along with community volunteer Ann Hall and Batley Butterfly House manager Craig Munns.

Mr Young said: “We’ve got a great community in Batley, so many community groups and people doing great things, we want to get more of that.

“There’s so much that can be done that just isn’t – there really isn’t a plan for Batley.

“It shouldn’t be a way of supplementing or doing things that the council should be doing because they should be doing it anyway. It’s about getting something extra above and beyond what we already get.

“There’s no real politics here, it’s just what we can do for the people of Batley.”

A town council is the most local, grassroots level of government available and is funded through Council Tax with a small precept paid by the residents it represents. 

There are already five town and parish councils in the Kirklees district, including a long-established body in Mirfield. 

An average Band B property in Mirfield pays £15.84 a year to fund the town council – just over £1 a month.

They can help on a number of local issues and help fund local projects – nearly half of Mirfield Town Council’s budget of £69,900 will be spent on supporting community events in the town this year. 

Mr Young and Mrs Hall have been working closely with Chris Stoner, the Dewsbury Town Council campaign leader who started his battle several weeks ago.

Mr Stoner said: “In principle I fully support Batley, Heckmondwike, Birstall and the like getting on board with the idea.

“Whilst we both aim to gain a more local voice and deliver better community services, our challenges being different towns are very different indeed.

“We have a huge problem in Dewsbury of divided communities which needs fixing as a priority. I think we can see the positivity in Batley that has happened since the unfortunate loss of Jo Cox. It is a bright light in her memory the fantastic way Batley has pulled together following the tragedy with really successful events bringing communities together.

“We can learn lessons from there though. We need to make Dewsbury a community hub for all the communities with town centre playgrounds for children to mix and play whilst parents meet and become friends.

“Certainly the pro-active police unit was one of the first things we asked for and it is great to see them out there doing a positive job and getting the message out that things are changing.”

Coun Martyn Bolt of Mirfield supports the town council idea and said: “It’s 21 years since I first set foot onto Mirfield Town Council. Since then I have seen every variation of control, meeting and outcome one could imagine.

“But the over-riding factor is that town councils give people an opportunity at a very local level to contribute to matters which affect their community.

“Dewsbury and Batley may benefit by being able to instigate action on problems they identify in their towns, taking over assets from Kirklees and giving that local identity.

“In a recent survey more Mirfield people identified with Mirfield Town Council than the Kirklees area committee,  although the latter had more money to spend.”

Both campaigns have received cross-party support and at Dewsbury Town Hall’s recent Question Time event, council leaders backed the idea of introducing more local councils in principle.

Batley’s town council group can be contacted at batleytc@gmail.com or on Twitter, @tcbatley.

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