An occasional PathWatch column from our special political correspondent Doris Kunsberg-Bottom of the Heckmondwike Courier.
A fairly quiet Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee this month with only one minor rights of way issue. Item no.7 was introduced by the Chair and ex coal carrying champion Cllr Terry Lyons with a rather tart ” I think we’ve discussed this more than enough”. The item relates to Holmfirth 60 at Wolfstones and the proposed verge improvements which were always the reddest of red herrings in the diversion proposal. Kirklees won’t be taking up the applicants offer to tart up the verge after all. Incredibly this was an “emergency decision” taken by the council’s Strategic Director, Colin Parr. The Courier were hoping to do a “day in the life of a Kirklees Strategic Director” but there wasn’t enough material.
The main item on the agenda were the “improvements” to Holmfirth town centre which involve the demolition of Holmfirth Market Hall and construction of a car park and small public area in it’s place. A fair swap?
The original proposals would have turned the whole of Holmfirth into an inner ring road for Plevin wagons but such was the level of objection these were shelved. Relieved at saving the town centre the public have perhaps taken their eye off the ball and accepted a shoddy proposal without too much scrutiny.
Local shopper Shirley Spendthrift who loves a bargain told the Courier “The market hall has been deliberately run down by Kirklees who’ve been happy to see a once thriving building die. All the easier to get rid of it when the time came. That time is now. As a sop they’ve granted a market licence to a third party, surely knowing an outdoor market here will never succeed, and have agreed to modify the plans so that volunteers can fish shopping trolleys from the river more easily and …er …yes that’s it!”
The courier also spoke to Kevin McCloud a well respected architect who told us. “There’s no need for more parking or cars in Holmfirth. The market hall could have been replaced with something smaller and designed as an attraction like the crook barn at Penistone market. Along with complimentary public space and real riverside access this could have formed an attractive and lively public area. The lack of imagination and aspiration here speaks for itself.”
The real highlight of the sub committee meeting was local ward councillor Donald Firth who rang in from the middle ages to object to the proposal, talk about rats, ducks, people he didn’t know and insult several members of the public who had spoken very eloquently in favour of the proposal. In one of the wonders of the modern world 7,000 people voted to re elect him to Kirklees Council last year. You might well say Holmfirth only has itself to blame.
Councillor Nigel Patrick played a minor cameo. As ever typecast as a sinister Victorian mill owner he warned of economic catastrophe and large scale unemployment should the supply of baps to the bakers and Daily Mails to the newsagents be disrupted by having to cross the road.
One thing that really struck me is that if Kirklees can’t run a market in Holmfirth at a cost of £15k a year how is it going to manage a hotel in Huddersfield where the bill is already at £11 million? Doris Kunsberg-Bottom, Political Correspondent, Heckmondwike Courier.