Council cash crisis: Kirklees Council accused of 'financial mismanagement' as Dewsbury and Batley MPs respond to threat to shut towns' sports centres

Dewsbury and Batley’s MPs have expressed their dismay at plans to shut both towns’ sports centres to save Kirklees Council some cash.
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As the Dewsbury Reporter reported last night, the council needs to save a staggering £47.8m to avoid bankruptcy and its money-saving ideas include permanently shutting Dewsbury Sports Centre and Batley Sports and Tennis Centre.

Batley and Dewsbury libraries could also move under a plan to “make the best use” of council buildings.

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MP for Dewsbury Mark Eastwood has accused Kirklees Council of “failing in their duties”.

MP for Dewsbury Mark EastwoodMP for Dewsbury Mark Eastwood
MP for Dewsbury Mark Eastwood

“It's disappointing that we could lose our much-needed facilities as a result of Kirklees Council's financial mismanagement,” he said.

"Both the leisure centre and the library are vital for people's physical and mental health and wellbeing and this would be a huge blow for Dewsbury.

"We need to be clear that the responsibility for this crisis lies with the leaders of Kirklees Council, whose task has been no harder than the other Labour-led local authorities in the region who are not in this mess.

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Batley and Spen MP Kim LeadbeaterBatley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater
Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater
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“The people of Dewsbury should not have to pay the price for a council who have failed in their duties.”

Meantime Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater said: “Like many people who live in Batley and Spen, I am deeply concerned about the financial situation Kirklees Council finds itself in.

"Government imposed cuts, rising fuel bills and the cost of inflation and higher interest rates have put unprecedented pressure on budgets, not just locally but across the country.

"This applies to councils of all political persuasions.

"The new leadership at Kirklees Council under Cathy Scott are having to grapple with some very difficult decisions because of these challenges, which are outside their control.

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"I have no control over the finances of either Kirklees Council or Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) but I want to assure my constituents that I will do everything I can to work with the local authority and KAL to protect the much loved resources and amenities that local people rely upon.

"I have written to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, reminding him that if the funding formula under the last Labour government was still in place then Kirklees Council would be in surplus, not deficit, and calling on him to review the current system of local government finance urgently.

"I have also signed a joint letter from Kirklees Council asking ministers to seize the initiative and support local authorities to deliver the vital services our communities rely on.

"I will continue to fight to retain services wherever possible and to ensure that if amenities have to be mothballed they can be brought back into use as soon as circumstances allow – be they town halls, leisure centres or libraries.

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"I have written to the council today to say that while I fully understand the situation the council finds itself in, I hope they will join with me in recognising just how important these places are, and do everything possible to keep them available for local people.

"The importance of swimming pools and leisure centres is something I care about deeply, and I am very pleased that the future of Spen Valley Leisure Centre is secure, but I remain very concerned about other amenities that are under threat of closure or mothballing.”