A radical shift of powers away from Huddersfield towards north Kirklees has been proposed by Kirklees Conservatives.
Proposals outlined at the Tories’ local election manifesto launch would mean a much reduced core of services provided by Kirklees Council, with more powers and cash in the hands of four local areas.
The five wards that compromise Batley and Dewsbury would join together, while Mirfield and Birstall and Birkenshaw would join Cleckheaton, Liversedge and Gomersal, and Heckmondwike to form Greater Spenborough. Huddersfield Urban and Huddersfield Urban complete the set.
Tory leader Robert Light said: “This is arguably the biggest shift of powers proposed since Kirklees was created.”
Key services, such as social services for adults, safeguarding children, waste collection and strategic highways, would stay under Kirklees control, but local roads, parks, street cleaning, libraries, museums and public toilets would be dealt with at a local level.
If the Conservatives take control of Kirklees Council in May’s local elections, the plans could be in place by 2016.
Coun Light explained that libraries, museums and children’s centres were all under threat as Kirklees grappled with huge funding cuts. “These are things that matter to local people – there has to be a different way,” he said. “If we give finances to people in local districts they will make it work.”
He said Kirklees officers had agreed the model was workable.
Coun Vivien Lees-Hamilton (Mirf) added: “We need to cut down the behemoth that is Kirklees.”