Tory pledge on a referendum over split plan

TORIES plan to hold a referendum in November on splitting Kirklees if they win control of the council at next week's elections.

Party leader Robert Light (Birstall and Birkenshaw) said it would be timed to coincide with a vote on police commissioners on November 12.

They aim to separate Kirklees into two smaller councils, Dewsbury and Spen and Greater Huddersfield, that would both share services with Calderdale.

The Conservatives may struggle if they do not form the next administration as their last referendum move fell to political scheming.

Coun Light accused Labour and the Lib Dems of 'timing out' a debate on the issue at Huddersfield Town Hall in March.

The scale of opposition to their plans was highlighted by Lib Dem chief Coun Kath Pinnock, who said the split idea had not featured on the doorsteps in Cleckheaton.

But Coun Light is undeterred and even laughed off the Greens, who claimed to have thought of splitting the authority first.

He said: "We've been against Kirklees from the beginning. We last proposed it in 1991, but it was blocked by vested local political interests.

"Councillors shouldn't decide this issue. It should be the public's decision and we'd abide by any referendum result."

Coun Light has been out campaigning for fellow Birstall and Birkenshaw Tory incumbent Andrew Palfreeman.

Former mayor Coun Palfreeman faces a fourway battle with Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens in what is considered a Tory stronghold.

The Tories must retain other key seats, like Liversedge and Gomersal, and win a few more to stand a chance of ousting Labour.  

Coun Light added a pledge to overturn the Local Development Framework (LDF) planning strategy is proving popular.

He said: "This is probably the best chance residents will have to get rid of the unwanted and undemocratic LDF.

"We've also put a clear message to the electorate on local issues, like our opposition to cuts to children's centres and libraries.

"Labour are only campaigning on national issues because they don't want to admit that the cuts in Kirklees are Labour cuts."


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