Sunday, 22 April 2012

My 2012 Election Statement to Newsome Electors

By popular request a picture of me smiling!
Dear Elector

I’m writing to request your support in the forthcoming local elections.

Times are tough for many and it looks like they will stay tough for a while. More people in the public sector are losing their jobs, benefits are being cut for many including support for people with disabilities and while prices rise, wages for a lot of employees are frozen. As a local Councillor I can’t change government policy but I have a responsibility to help those people who are affected. Through the casework I do on behalf of local people I can see the increased difficulties people are facing but I also know about further changes to Housing and Council Tax Benefit that are in the pipeline that are going to make things even tougher. As a local councillor I see my role as making myself available to help and be an advocate for, often vulnerable people, or people who don’t understand the bureaucracy to get the support they need.

On a brighter note I have been able to help local people with traffic calming schemes. After many years the scheme at Hangingstone Road/Robin Hood Hill in Berry Brow has finally happened and all credit to the local people who led the campaign. Next on the list is Springwood which at the time of writing this was about to have traffic calming measures installed. I’ve never been frightened of promoting road safety schemes.

I have assisted Newsome South Methodist Church source funding for the solar panels on their roof. As a Green Party Councillor I have got an enthusiasm for saving energy and generating it from renewable sources. One of the most important things I felt about the Church project was that it helped improve their finances for the next 25 years for a building that is a vital community resource and not only a place of worship.

I am an active supporter of ‘Growing Newsome’ project which is a really inspiring project. Local people are getting together to grow locally produced food and help each others to grow food as well. It is lead by local people so my role is just ‘mucking in’ at events. At the Seed Swap I was helping with the discounted fruit trees where another 40 went out to local people. I ‘live the dream’ as well and spend hours at weekends digging my own allotment at Primrose Hill. There is a community allotment at Ashenhurst and if you want to get into growing food but don’t fancy taking on a whole allotment yourself then get in touch with the ‘Growing Newsome’ gang on their website at Strongly linked to ‘Growing Newsome’ is the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Stirley Farm project which is helping keep the green fields around Newsome productive. The community orchard, vegetable growing plots and now our own beef shorthorn cattle is a real success story and it is just the beginning. Our role as Green Party Councillors was to keep pushing for it to get off the ground when Kirklees seemed to be taking forever to agree to sign the site over.

My style as a Councillor is to collaborate and work with others to tackle problems. It is always the best way to get a result and if on occasions you can’t resolve a problem then at least people understand the obstacles we’ve been unable to overcome. One thing I was pleased to help with last year was with sourcing funds for the Young at Heart group which is a monthly singalong and get together for Newsome pensioners.

The biggest issue to face us is the Local Development Framework, a Council policy which allocates land for possible development. What is driving what we regard as unnecessary development is the Conservative/Lib Dem government’s policy of trying to boost the building industry. They have relaxed the requirement to build on brownfield land, relaxed planning controls and as a result have received severe criticism from organisations such as the National Trust and Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England. The Green Party opposed development on greenbelt and green field sites at the Extraordinary Council meeting in March but we were outvoted by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. This is not the end of the process yet and no greenbelt land in Newsome Ward has been allocated for development. What is of concern though is other greenfield land in our area which though not greenbelt is still highly valued. The land adjacent to New Laithe Hill and Jackroyd Lane’s future is still uncertain and we remain committed to protecting that and other Greenfield land from development. If the Labour Party do make an appearance during this election it would be worth asking them if their Leader Cllr Mehboob Khan could give an assurance that this land will not be developed.

One of the best things about been a Green Party Councillor is that you are free to speak your mind without having to worry about a Party Whip telling you how you can and cannot vote. It means when we speak in the Council Chamber we can speak strongly and freely about the issues that concern you. No other Party on the Council can make that claim. This also means that I can represent you and your views more effectively on the Council. I’m grateful for the support of Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner and Cllr Graham Simpson.

I regularly write a blog which is a sort of diary of local and Kirklees issues on the Internet. If you want to read more about what I am up to on the Council it is at

I will try and see as many people as I can between now and the election. If you want to meet and talk through your concerns about Kirklees or local issues please give me a ring on 07721 348619 and I’ll nip round at a time convenient for you.

Please vote for me on Thursday 5th May and I will continue to work hard for the area.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Andrew Cooper

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