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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Conservatives chase Labour in race to win key seat

Who runs Kirklees Council could be decided by results in a handful of wards.

The fight to decide which party runs Kirklees Council for the coming years will come down to just a handful of wards.

Thousands of people will go to the polls next Thursday, 5 May with political parties keeping a close eye on voting in key “battleground” wards.

Among them is Heckmondwike, where last year Labour clung on to the seat but saw its majority slashed from 1,445 to just 148.

The Conservatives’ Itrat Ali is standing again this year and will be hoping to build on her 2021 result by defeating Labour veteran and Cabinet member Viv Kendrick.

In response to the Tory threat, Labour has in recent weeks drafted in high-profile support from deputy leader Angela Rayner, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater.

Two senior Conservatives are also up for election. Group leader David Hall in Liversedge and Gomersal is defending a 958-vote majority whilst his party colleague Liz Smaje in Birstall and Birkenshaw was 1,033 votes ahead of the opposition in 2018. Both seats are Tory strongholds.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service invited candidates to outline their pledges and aspirations should they be successful.

BIRSTALL AND BIRKENSHAW

Ty Akram (Green)

The proposed huge Amazon warehouse development off the M62 will have a damaging impact on the villages of Scholes, Cleckheaton and Oakenshaw. The traffic impact of huge lorries going through small villages will be immense and it must be stopped.

Liz Smaje (Conservative)

Protecting bus services, supporting local groups, better roads and pavements, new and improved play areas, reducing road congestion and speeding, protection against air pollution hot spots and encouraging local village economies are what local elections are about. That is why I am standing. I am experienced with a proven record.

Julie Smith (Labour)

Did not respond to a request to send a pledge.

Louise Walsh (Lib Dems)

I’m very worried about air quality in Birstall & Birkenshaw. The A62 is often jammed and residents who live nearby are fed up of living with it. We need a greener approach to our traffic problems and we need to protect the green spaces we have left. Labour’s Local Plan and the Conservative planning rules do neither.

HECKMONDWIKE

Itrat Ali (Conservative)

I will fight for a fair share of investment for Heckmondwike and its surrounding neighbourhoods. My priorities are: tackling speeding drivers and antisocial behaviour; improving our appalling roads; combatting fly-tipping and littering; preserving our green spaces and maintaining our parks; and attracting new small businesses to the town.

Zahid Kahut (Workers Party of Great Britain)

Did not respond to a request to send a pledge.

Viv Kendrick (Labour)

  • Ensuring Heckmondwike is clean, tidy and a welcoming place for all.
  • Being a strong voice for everyone in all the areas of Heckmondwike ward.
  • Ensuring people feel safe and secure in their homes and community.
  • Focusing on local health issues and improving well-being.
  • Continuing to support local charities, volunteers and community groups.

Josie Pugsley (Lib Dems)

In Heckmondwike we are seeing more and more residents hit by the hike in our bills and the cost of food. I am worried that Labour are being slow to react in helping those hit hardest. My priority is to make sure services are delivered properly and that we tackle issues like speeding traffic and areas with high numbers of road accidents.

LIVERSEDGE AND GOMERSAL

David Hall (Conservative)

I pledge to continue to work hard on behalf of residents and to ensure that their voice is heard strongly at Kirklees. Locally I will work for greener, cleaner, safer communities, and in the council chamber, I will push for the good and efficient services that our council tax-payers deserve.

Jude McKaig (Labour)

Did not respond to a request to send a pledge.

Linda Simmons (Green)

Greens are very much in favour of involving the community in environmental projects such as tree-planting and community clean-ups. We would push hard to get more trees planted not just to play their part in soaking up carbon emissions but also as part of a natural flood management strategy.

David Snee (Lib Dems)

I campaigned for a long time for a new Spen pool and people are delighted with it. I want to improve services. Let’s get the basics right! The soaring cost of living is going to hit us hard but Conservatives seem to be making it worse and Labour are quiet on the matter.

Kirklees Council is currently in no overall control with Labour (33 seats), Conservatives (19 seats), Liberal Democrats (nine seats), Greens (three seats), Holme Valley North Independents (three seats) and other Independents (two seats).

Of the seats up for election this year, Labour hold 11, Conservatives six, Lib Dems four, Holme Valley North Independents one and Greens one.

The election count will take place at Cathedral House in Huddersfield from 8.45am on Friday, May 6.

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