Dewsbury and Mirfield town centres could be hurt by Kirklees Council cuts plan

BUDGET BLOW: Kirklees Council is proposing to spend less money on keeping Dewsbury town centre looking its best.
BUDGET BLOW: Kirklees Council is proposing to spend less money on keeping Dewsbury town centre looking its best.

BUDGET cuts proposed by Kirklees Council could have a devastating impact on town centres.

Standards of presentation would slip in Dewsbury town centre as grounds maintenance budgets are cut.

The town could also lose its annual A World Together festival, while other events will have to make do with less money.

In Mirfield, the council’s Westfields social services offices will close and staff will be moved elsewhere to save £126,000 in 2012/13.

Coun Paul Kane, chairman of the town’s regeneration board, said: “I’m not happy but we are not going to run away from this.

“Times are hard but we have had it hard before.”

Council officers have drawn up plans to cut the events budget in Kirklees by £16,000 in 2012/13 and by £59,000 in 2013/14.

This means there will be no A World Together festival in Dewsbury in 2013 and less money for the Thornhill Lanterns parade and Dewsbury On Sea.

Coun Kane (Lab, Dews East) said: “People have come to expect events in the town and I’m not happy about this, as I’m sure other people won’t be, as it gets people coming into town and spending money.”

A World Together has is held in Crow Nest Park at the end of July.

It celebrates the diversity of Dewsbury’s local population through music, dancing, crafts and workshops.

As well as that being cancelled, the funding for the park’s summer brass band concerts could been cut.

Elsewhere in the plans, officers propose to cut the town centre grounds maintenance budget by £61,000 in 2012/13. It will be cut by a further £8,000 in 2013/14 and by £4,000 the year after that.

The proposals say: “Standards of presentation will fall below that we have come to accept as the norm.”

Coun Kane said: “It’s up to us on the council to make sure that the look of the town is not affected, so we need to make sure that money is being used properly.”

He said that the work of the town’s regeneration board would be slowed down as a result of the cuts, but it would not stop.

In Mirfield, public toilets could close and there are fears that moving the staff who work at Westfields out of the town could deal a devastating blow to the high street.

Coun Kath Taylor (Con, Mirfield) said the car park of Westfields was always packed. Kirklees say around 100 staff work there, but a decision on the closure is part of a wider discussion about the use of council buildings. No decision has been made on how many staff may be affected.

She said: “The closure is going to have an impact on the town because so many people work there.

“If it’s going to close we are going to lose a lot of trade, because I know a lot of staff there do a lot of shopping in the local shops.”

She said the building was also regularly used for meetings.

Coun Vivien Lees-Hamilton (Con, Mirfield) echoed Coun Taylor’s concerns. She said: “Any loss of resources in Mirfield is bound to impact on trade.”

Martin Ibberson, who set up the My Mirfield shop loyalty card scheme in Mirfield, said traders could be affected.

He said: “It’s upsetting to hear that local jobs and services could be going out of the area. This could have an impact on the spending power in the town.”

Councillors will vote on the plans at a meeting on Wednesday February 22.