Area committee budget is safe - but a review is to come

Coun Masood Ahmed
Coun Masood Ahmed

Plans to take away vital community cash have been shelved at the last minute.

But the future of the Dewsbury and Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton area committees is still in doubt as a review into how they are funded will take place in the next few months.

Councillors will be allowed to decide where money should be spent locally next year after Kirklees Council cabinet decided to reverse a proposed £430,000 cut to area committees, put forward last November.

It was feared that the area committees, which support groups, events and projects, would have been effectively dissolved by the end of the year, and their share of £291,000 in funding wiped. The cash was described as the “lifeblood of our smaller communities” by Dewsbury area committee member Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dews East).

Dewsbury’s committee supports the town’s Civic Ball, the Schools’ Technology Tournament and the Christmas lights, among a host of smaller projects.

Dewsbury area committee chairman Coun Masood Ahmed (Lab, Dews South) said: “I’m really pleased cabinet have chosen not to take the money away as area committees play a really important role.

“But I don’t know what it is coming round the corner. There is a lot of uncertainty and difficult times ahead. This reprieve will give us time to work with groups and start planning ahead.”

Coun Ahmed added that he would be arguing to keep area committees alive in the coming months.

Kirklees Liberal Democrats said that the cabinet changed its mind in response to a unanimous full council vote last December which saw a Lib Dem proposal to reinstate the funding backed by members of all parties.

Coun John Dawson (Lib Dem, Cleck) said: “Area committees encourage people to engage with their local community. They help us understand and recognise local needs and aspirations and they give us possibilities in terms of how we respond.

“Where they work well, they are a really positive features of local life and I think the cabinet misjudged councillors’ appreciation of this and the role they play on the ground.”