Campaigner’s heated row with council

AWATING PLANS The Balderstone Hall fields site.
AWATING PLANS The Balderstone Hall fields site.

A campaigner opposing a contentious housing development in Mirfield stormed out of a council meeting after a heated exchange with the mayor.

Project Mirfield founder Steve Benson had attacked town councillors for not doing enough to fight Bellway Homes’ plans for the Balderstone Hall fields site.

Addressing Mirfield Town Council on Tuesday, Mr Benson said: “Project Mirfield has got 27 members.

“They are out there talking to people, knocking on doors and getting them to sign petitions against the Bellway Homes development and for a weight restriction for roads around there.

“What are you doing against Bellway? I’m saying you’re not doing anything.”

But the Mayor of Mirfield, Coun Vivien Lees-Hamilton, said: “We’re waiting for a planning application to be submitted. There’s nothing to fight until a planning application goes live.

“This town council, long before I was a member, successfully fought off Bellway in 1999.”

She said there was no way to make a proper challenge until plans were submitted and details of access, site layout and housing numbers were confirmed.

Bellway shared initial ideas for 116 homes with access off Woodward Court and Hepworth Lane with the public last year.

But no details plans have been submitted to Kirklees Council yet.

Coun David Pinder said: “This town council is unanimously against that development so we will be doing everything we can to stop it.”

The meeting heard weight restrictions on roads leading to the site were likely to make little difference and could be circumvented if Bellway could prove it had no alternative access for heavy vehicles.

Mr Benson continued to argue the point with councillors but was told that he had used up the three minutes allowed to address the council under its rule.

In a parting shot, he shouted: “Rubbish. I’m off. You’re doing nothing!”

After he left, Coun Pinder said actions like collecting names for a petition would be very helpful once a planning application was submitted.

But he said “sounding off” at meetings would only damage the group’s credibility.