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Petition to Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Requesting a review of the Parish Status
with a view to forming a New Parish Council
presented on 27th September 2006
by Walter Crossley and David Cook

I am privileged to be asked by members of the local community of Denby, Birdsedge and High Flatts in the Denby Dale Ward of Kirklees MC to make representation and to present this petition on their behalf. The petition stems from concerns that have become manifest in recent years in respect of inadequacies in addressing local issues.

The wind of change began to blow over Kirklees as it were with the introduction of area committees. Denby Dale area committee in its present form serves to allow public participation in issues that affect the wider community as well as creating opportunities for the electorate to liaise with ward councillors.

Denby Dale ward encompasses 13 separate villages, what it does not do, or indeed can't do, is to address all the small detail that requires attention. Throughout other parts of Yorkshire, the Parish Council is the vehicle which serves to allow the public, at grass root level to address matters such as local planning, local bus shelters, speeding traffic, and public rights of way, for example.

I draw your attention to a government circular from the Department of Communities and Local Government which defines the main role of a Parish Council as community representation. For this purpose (and I quote) it is desirable that a parish should reflect a small distinctive and recognisable community of interest with its own sense of identity. The feeling of local community and the wishes of local inhabitants are a primary concern.

The present Denby Dale Parish Council was spawned out of Denby Dale Urban District Council which covers the 13 villages and is not a true Parish Council. The area covered is far too big and diverse. It can't possibly fulfill the criteria laid down by Government. Accordingly, therefore, we present this petition which asks that

We the undersigned each being a local government elector in the Denby Dale Ward of Kirklees Metropolitan Council make a request that Kirklees Metropolitan Council conduct a review of Parish arrangements in the said ward using powers conferred upon it under Section 9 of the Local Government and Ratings Act 1997, with a view to the abolition of Denby Dale Parish Council in its present form and the creation of a new Parish Council to serve the area of Denby, Birdsedge and High Flatts and to be called Denby, Birdsedge and High Flatts Parish Council the area of which shall be the same as that outlined in the attached map".

Recent informal public discussion reveals an awareness that there are other people beyond the boundaries of Denby, Birdsedge and High Flatts who share our view. The current Denby Dale Parish Council not only reflects local apathy but serves to create it. Simply because its structure is too large and not conducive to connecting with the varied distinctive communities of interest. How, for example, can anyone in Emley be expected to relate to problems in Birdsedge? Currently, of the 20 Parish Councillors, 8 are co-opted, 5 elected unopposed, and 3 are a single-issue party. There is much public disquiet in that the audited accounts for the year ended March 2006 shows expenditure on the part-time clerk of £27,965.00 out of a total expenditure of £82,000.00. This is in contrast to a neighbouring Parish Council in South Yorkshire where it is understood that the clerk is paid £2,880.00 per annum. The electorate of our area receives little to no benefit from the precept.

Kirklees Metropolitan Council serves us reasonably well as our Local Authority. Denby Dale Area Committee now serves us well with larger ward issues. The weakness lies at grass root level. The answer is the formation of a true Parish Council for our own area.

We respectfully ask that you consider our request seriously and expeditiously with a view to giving the appropriate recommendation to the Secretary of State.

Advice and assistance has been gained from the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Yorkshire Rural Community Council.

The Petition was reported in the Huddersfield Examiner on 29th September 2006.

At a public meeting of local residents in Upper Denby, on 30th March 2007, Councillor Elaine Ward reported that Kirklees MC had agreed with the request for a review [see the KMC Cabinet recommendation here of January 2007], and that the review would take place after the Local Government elections in May and once the outcome of the Local Government Bill is known.

Further updates on this will be posted here.

The Parish Review by Kirklees Council is finally underway. You have until midday on 28th November 2008 to submit your views on the current Denby Dale Parish Council and the changes you would like to see made to ensure our democratic future. The address to send your submission is:

The Admin Team,
Policy and Governance Service,
2nd Floor, Civic Centre 3,

or you can email policy.governance@kirklees.gov.uk;

or phone 01484 416489.

Make sure YOUR voice is heard!