Take pride in the town

Paul Kerion 

BATLEY’S Conservative candidates for this year’s local elections are urging people to forget their party allegiance and vote for what’s good for the town.

Paul Young, who is standing in Batley West, said: “Drop the fact that I’m a Conservative and see that there’s somebody here doing something positive.”

Mr Young spends a lot of his time spearheading campaigns to clean up Batley – and that’s something he intends to do more of if he is elected in May.

“There’s no plans for Batley,” said Mr Young. “People say that everything is going to Huddersfield or Dewsbury".

“There’s no ideas and you speak to residents and group leaders, influential people within the town, they know exactly what needs doing – we need to get it so people take pride in where they live". If you look above the shops, the windows are plastic bags taped up. Architecturally we’ve got a fantastic opportunity. 

These are places where you can get small businesses in. Unfortunately a lot of the buildings are owned by people outside the town, and really we need to be re-engaging with those people – if I had an asset that wasn’t bringing in any money it doesn’t make any sense to just be sat on it.

Kerion Gavaghan, who is hoping to unseat Labour councillor Habiban Zaman, agreed: “We have to lead by example and look at buildings that are within our gift, buildings like the town hall and the police station, how we can better utilise them and the space.

You’ve got to have the footfall and unfortunately Kirklees’ solution, and councils up and down the country, seems to be to build out of town business centres, shopping centres, and they sit quizzical as to why the high street has died a death. 

To me if you’re diverting people everywhere but the high street, what do you expect?

Both Mr Young and Mr Gavaghan have vowed to make full use of the discretionary budget made available as a councillor to help constituents – something they believe isn’t being utilised enough.

Mr Young said: Last year in each ward (East and West) the three councillors got a £10,000 discretionary amount to spend around the town. As far as I’m aware each ward has only spent around £2,000 each. “This year it’s gone up to £20,000 so you’re talking about a spare £55,000 pot. There is money there and nobody’s telling anyone

And Mr Gavaghan said that money could go towards making a ‘subtle difference’.He said: “For me it’s things like the planters on the high street, improving the look and feel of the place. it’s not a huge sum of money, it’s not going to revitalise the town but it will at least improve the aesthetics and if people think the place looks better then it lifts people’s moods.

If the town itself isn’t appealing for people to bring their business to, then you’ll never change things. You’ve got to start with the aesthetics.

We’re the forgotten end of Kirklees, but we want to change that.

Read the full article in "The Press"