Mayor speaks on LDF decision

THe Mayor of Kirklees has spoken about his decision to vote in a major planning debate.

As mayor and full council chairman, Coun Eric Firth was not obliged to cast a vote in last week’s marathon Local Development Framework meeting.

But Coun Firth (Lab, Dews East) said this week that he felt compelled to vote on the planning blueprint.

He said: “During my campaign for re-election in May, I told green belt campaigners that I would support them and, even though some people don’t hold politicians in high regard, I would certainly not do a somersault on this.”

Coun Firth was one of only two Labour councillors to join the Conservatives in voting against the plans.

He said he was particularly concerned about the proposals for 500 homes and 35 hectares of industrial development on green belt land in Chidswell.

He added: “I think we should explore every alternative before we do build on the green belt land in Chidswell.

“I think there’s the possibility we could look elsewhere, particularly in the Bradford Road corridor. Whether that will be enough land I don’t know, but I think we should look at all possibilities.”

He said he understood why local people were fighting so hard to keep the land as it was.

“It’s a wonderful piece of greenscape and it’s all farmed,” he said. “For as long as possible I’d like to see it that way.

“I do realise the houses around it are on what was green belt at one time or another, but that’s not the issue.”