“Pennypinching” savings will hit Silsden and Haworth the hardest

Politicians representing Keighley villages have blasted the ongoing cuts to Bradford Council-owned amenities in their wards.

The district councillors claim the forced savings on public halls, toilets, tourist centres and bowling greens are unnecessary attacks on life in rural communities.

They believe it is unfair of City Hall to expect hard-pressed village residents to take on the running of many services facing the axe.

The councillors, who represent Worth Valley and Craven wards, have called on Bradford’s Labour rulers to protect village life by targeting spending cuts on items Bradford city centre.

The rural councillors spoke out this week after Bradford Council voted for the latest round of cuts, which will see savings of £32 million in the 2017/18 financial year.

Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, who represents the Worth Valley ward, said local people and groups were already looking at the feasibility of taking over Holden Hall, the Haworth toilets and the visitor centre.

But she warned that not all facilities were suitable to be managed by the public.

She said: “I think it’s absolutely shocking to expect someone will magically come in and fund things. How can volunteers pay the lease on a tourist centre?

“Holden Hall can be run very well by the public, but how can they run the toilets? It’s crucial that we have toilets in Haworth, it’s something visitors rely on.”

Cllr Adrian Naylor, who represents Craven ward, branded spending on such items as solar-powered bins and heritage flags as an “incredible waste of money” when rural areas were being hit.



He said: “The council has sold the old Silsden library building, the public toilet block and strips of land above the park. It’s clear that assets are being sold in rural areas and the funding used elsewhere.

“There’s a lot of money being taken out of Silsden, so why don’t we see a proportion being brought back to Silsden to run these community facilities? We are getting rid of the assets at a time when we need them more than ever due to new housing.”

Andrew Mallinson, another Craven ward councillor, said council leaders had failed to listen to the concerns of councillors about facilities in outlying areas.



He said: “The rural communities are being hardest-hit at the expense of mainly leisure developments for the middle of Bradford.

“There are other savings that could still be made by the council that would safeguard the small amounts it takes for public toilets, public halls and bowling greens. In many cases it’s penny-pinching.”


Community plans to take over Silsden Library are moving ahead with the formation of a steering group

Community plans to take over Silsden Library are moving ahead with the formation of a steering group.

The hope is that the group will develop into an ‘accountable body’ able to take over responsibility for the library from Bradford Council.

Dozens of residents have already volunteered to staff the library, in the Silsden Town Hall, but there is a need for a body to officially manage the facility.

Around 15 local residents, including town councillors Rebecca Whitaker and Michael O’Dwyer, attended a meeting earlier this month to discuss setting up the accountable body.

Bradford Council officers outlined the responsibilities residents would have to take on.

Cllr Whitaker said about half a dozen people put themselves forward to join the steering group, and would probably meet again in a fortnight.

She said: “Out of that maybe some of the members of the steering group will come on to the accountable body. I think they’ve got someone willing to coordinate the volunteers.

“They’ve got the volunteers for the library but they can’t train them until there is an agreement between the accountable body and Bradford Council.”

“It was very productive meeting with Bradford Council and lots of good questions were asked.”

Bradford Council has inviting residents in several villages, including Silsden, and, to take on the running of their local libraries to save them from closure following public spending cuts.

The situation in Silsden is complicated because the library is in the Town Hall, which Bradford also hopes to hand over to the local community.

Town and district councillor Adrian Naylor this week warned that, through no fault of Silsden residents, the library transfer process was taking too long.

He added: “What we’ve seen is a series of meetings that have been pushed back and pushed back, and we now have approximately a month left.

“We should have been training people for several months.”


A report on the consultation for the proposed New Silsden Primary School

A report on the consultation for the proposed New Silsden Primary School

by David Loud

Well, tonight’s event was very interesting. Overall, the vast majority of people that I spoke to from 6pm to 7.30pm were wholly in favour of Silsden having a new school as a single Primary to replace the existing Junior & Infant schools. This would bring Silsden into line with the rest of the schools and the educational set-up across the rest of the Bradford District and wider afield.

There was however very vocal objections to the location of the school and in particular the location of the school with regards to traffic management.

Firstly, we were informed that there were 6 separate locations that were considered by a small committee. The committee discussed the various sites with planning, highways, local councillors and other ‘interested’ parties. All sites were rejected with the exception of the proposed site. What local representation was there at these discussions, and where were the local councillors tonight who played a part in the preliminary discussions; there were a lot of local people who were raising very real concerns regarding this whole issue which will impact on a very large percentage of the population of Silsden. Adrian Naylor did attend earlier in the day but there certainly wasn’t any further local council representation that made their presence known.

The alternative site that seems to have had the greatest local support where the old Weavestyle factory stood never even made it into the 6 primary sites for discussion. This decision was made on the grounds that the landowner was in discussions with a Supermarket chain (Tesco), and the cost to purchase the land was deemed to be excessive. In my opinion, a piece of land is only worth the price that an individual or business is willing to pay for it, and what planning will allow being built on it has the biggest influence in what the actual value is. Why then did local planning approve the development of this site for such use when they knew that the site of a new school was desperately needed. Why was this site not re-examined when the Tesco deal fell through?

The answer is, because they already had a piece of land that had been purchased back in the 70’s for educational purposes, and any further purchase of land in the same area for a larger school provision would not be as costly as this alternative location. In other words, the decision was on the major part, a financial decision and not on what was best for Silsden or it’ Children’s education.

Well, the land is now purchased and whatever any of us say, the school will end up being built on the new site. Common sense will not prevail. The team looking at moving the project forward were only told to go ahead in December 2016. They have a budget of approx. £8 million and the intention is for the school to be complete for the Autumn 2019.

Tonight, the team were presenting 4 proposals for traffic management. All 4 options will funnel traffic that is presently diluted across the two existing schools to the one single school. It is fair to say that the concentration of traffic will increase substantially. Additionally, the access routes to the new school are far more limited and restricted when compared to the present network feeding the existing schools. Not only will the traffic be more concentrated, but the proposed routes use a number of junctions that any sensible person would consider dangerous just for the amount of traffic that uses them at the moment for purely residential use, never mind the school run. A traffic survey is likely to take place in the next couple of months. The representatives could not confirm if the report would be made available, or put out for further consultation. A traffic survey could not be carried out previously because that would have incurred a cost, for a project that hadn’t been given the go ahead or a budget. So in other words, let’s buy a plot of land and see what we need to do to make sure it works – has a distinctive whiff of ‘Chicken & Egg’ to me.

The school will be built to have provision for 600 pupils. The present ruling is that the school can only be built based on the present demand of pupil numbers, and it will NOT allow the school to be built from the start on what are projected numbers for the future (even though the number of houses being built in the area is set to rise further). The design of the school, however, will make provision for expansion in the future, should it be needed, to allow for up to 800 pupils, increasing the existing traffic issues by a further 33% on present amounts. Where is common sense – get it sorted now because as sure as day follows night space will be needed.

The school will sit centrally running left to right on the plot shown in the photo posted earlier by Midway, and is likely to be a two-storey structure. The plans have not been drawn up yet for the actual design. The area below or to the south of the school will form the outdoor play and sports area. The topography of the ground shows a difference in levels from top to bottom to be 10m. I know the present outdoor sports provision for the schools is poor but surely it is not beyond the whit of man to be able to provide a level playing area for sports.

There will be no provision for a swimming pool. The existing pool will remain in situ on the present Hothfield School Site and will be safeguarded if the land is developed so long as there are parties interested in retaining and running the pool facility. This would probably be achieved by some sort of Asset Transfer but the discussions for that have not taken place as yet.

The school is likely to be over two floors and the school will be built out of allocated council budget funding rather than the PFI type schemes that have seen other schools in the area being built. The good thing about that is that the team looking after the build detail can ensure that fixtures, fitting and other provision in the building can be properly specified and fit for purpose, which hasn’t necessarily been the case in some of the previously mentioned schemes.

If you have any comments or concerns that you feel need to be raised, the council have a document that can be completed but must be returned to them by 17th February.

Could I ask that all the local councillors on both the Town Council, Bradford Council and our local MP confirm their opinions on the proposals so we can judge them on their position on this matter?

Hope that helps and I welcome comments from anyone else who attended who came away with a different perspective.

Silsden Neighbourhood Watch

The draft neighbourhood plan and associated maps – 2017

Steeton, Eastburn and Silsden Neighbourhood Development Plan 2017 – 2030, with associated maps

A formal consultation on the content of the draft Neighbourhood Plan will run for 6 weeks from 3rd February to 17th March. The plan will be available on this page by 3rd February. 

There will be two drop-in events when the public can discuss the plan with councillors, these will be on:

Saturday 4th February at Silsden Methodist Church Hall, in Kirkgate, from 10 to 1 pm,

and on

Saturday 18th February at the HUB, Skipton Road, Steeton from 10 to 1 pm.



Consultation reply form

The plan

Associated maps

Planning policy assessment

Strategic Environmental/Habitat Regulations Screening

The Neighbourhood Development Plan has been screened for the purposes of Strategic Environmental Assessment/Habitat Regulations a copy of the screening report is available here. The previous screening had highlighted heritage issues that could have necessitated a full Strategic Environmental Assessment. Historic England were consulted on the revised screening and a copy of their response is available here.”




Anger as packed public meeting vows to fight Silsden Town Hall closure plans

Over a hundred people packed into a public meeting as the battle to save Silsden Town Hall got underway in earnest.

Angry residents voiced their opposition to Bradford Council plans to hive-off the historic building to volunteers – or close it.

Ray Colling – chairman of the Friends of Silsden Town Hall, which organised Monday night’s meeting – praised the “terrific” turnout.

He said the attendance – and the fact the Kirkgate building was in use by several groups that evening alone – showed how much demand there was for the facility.

The public gathered in an upstairs room at the premises, which is one of seven community halls across the district threatened with closure as the council seeks to slash £82 million from its budget.

“The Friends was formed two years ago to raise the profile of the town hall and usage of the building has increased dramatically,” said Mr Colling.

“The hall is in use by groups and for events all the time and it’s our intention to develop that further.

“We are passionate about the building and its importance to the community and we are unanimously against these proposals.”

Fellow Friends’ member Wendy Neville said the immediate aim was to get the closure threat lifted and then to work with the council on further strengthening the provision.

“It’s not on for a group of volunteers to be expected to take on the full responsibility of running and maintaining the building,” she said.

“We want to work with Bradford Council and the community to develop what we have.

“The people of Silsden very much value this community resource and don’t want to lose it.”

Post-it notes and pens were distributed to those present as suggestions were sought on how the hall could be made more viable.

Resident Danny Clarke said the town hall was Silsden’s “jewel in the crown”.

“I have had ties to the building since I was a kid – I went to karate here as a child and my sister attended the majorettes – and now my own young daughter is at dance club,” he said.

“It’s such an important place.

“What will happen to the young people – and the older people – of the town who use the building and rely on it?

“Everyone needs to get behind this campaign and support it 100 per cent.”

Fears were expressed that with more housing planned in Silsden, demand for the town hall’s facilities would only increase.

Long-time resident Eric Waddington said: “When I came to Silsden the population was only about 4,000 but in the next year or two we’ll have over 10,000 people – and yet we have fewer amenities in the town.”

Mrs Neville added that a petition had been launched as part of the campaign, which had attracted about 800 signatures in just a week. The aim was to gather 1,500 names so it could go before full council.

Bradford Council is currently carrying out a public consultation on its budget proposals, which would also affect facilities including public toilets and libraries.

People can have their say at bradford.gov.uk.

The consultation runs until February 12.

Bradford Council’s Stockbridge depot falls victim to proposed budget cuts

Keighley and Worth Valley councillors have spoken of their fears for road safety and maintenance in the district if a council depot in Keighley succumbs to budget cuts.

As part of Bradford Council proposals to try and slash £82 million from its budget, the Stockbridge Depot, off Royd Ings Avenue, could see its staff and equipment shifted elsewhere.

The report to the district council, which summarises the recommended measures for the budget, warns: “The impact of the closure of the depot at Stockbridge and the consequent impact on winter maintenance operations will need to be carefully considered within the context of winter gritting routes and treatment programmes.”

It proposes reducing the number of operational bases used by Bradford Council’s Highways Delivery Unit, Traffic & Road Safety and Highway Maintenance teams by relocating staff, plant and materials from Stockbridge depot to other bases.

The report comments: “Winter maintenance operations would be significantly impacted by the reduction in operational bases, meaning longer times being necessary to grit the routes in the district, potentially meaning that areas in the north of the district may be untreated in periods of inclement weather.”

Reacting to the threat to the depot, Worth Valley ward councillor Russell Brown said: “This will significantly reduce the effectiveness of our highways team to undertake highway repairs, upgrades and winter gritting to the Shipley, Keighley and Ilkley areas, and so increase, delays, costs and complaints.

“Local Emergency Resilience Capacity could be completely compromised, with equipment and staff stuck at the other side of the city with the attendant risk to life and property.”

Cllr Brown said he did not think Bradford Council would close the whole depot, but warned that if Highways services currently based there end up on the far side of Bradford instead, Keighley will still lose out.

Keighley West ward councillor Brian Morris said Stockbridge Depot dates back to the time when Keighley had its own borough council.

He said he feared that if this established facility is downgraded highways issues in the Keighley area will receive even slower responses.

“They deal with flytipping from there and gritting vehicles leave from the depot too,” he said.

“There are a lot of things which could end up being affected. Whatever does happen to the depot will have a negative impact on the efficiency of work done in Keighley.

“What Bradford Council is doing is pulling everything into the middle of Bradford, so outlying parts of the district are suffering.

“Keighley is the biggest town in the district, so we feel the effect even more.”

Bradford Council has said it has already had to find more than £250 million in savings and increased income over the past six years due to imposed funding cuts from central government, rising demand for services and increasing costs.

It argues that it now faces “extremely difficult decisions” to close Bradford’s £82 million funding gap over the next four years.

The full programme of proposed budget cuts, which is now out to public consultation, is available to view and respond to via the Bradford Council website.


District police chief determined to “re-build” visible neighbourhood policing


New district police chief Scott Bisset says he is determined to “re-build” visible neighbourhood policing alongside protecting the most vulnerable members of communities.

District-police-chief-Scott-BissetChief Superintendent Bisset outlined his priorities for the next year after a month in his new role.

After joining the force as a police constable in Keighley 21 years ago, he moved from head of the programme of change at West Yorkshire Police headquarters to succeed the recently retired Simon Atkin.

Chief Supt Bisset said: “The face of policing is changing and has changed. That is evident when you look at the work we focus on and where we deploy our resources. It is very much about protecting the vulnerable, safeguarding, domestic abuse, CSE and all the headline-grabbers over the last few years.

“It’s not just talk, it is evident in the amount of resources that have gone to those areas, and it’s the right thing to do.

“That has come at a cost, and that cost has been around dedicated neighbourhood policing. That is going to be the real challenge.

“All local communities will tell you that it’s the neighbourhood policing bit that people see, and the challenge for us is to do the best with the resources we’ve got to reassure people that it still exists, to see that we are there in times of need.”

Bradford district’s new commander said that after a period of “extremely minimal” recruitment over the last five years, the force was now taking on and training new officers to serve on the frontline.

“We are looking to rebuild very visible neighbourhood policing, PCSOs and all that goes with it,” he said.

“We are re-investing in the frontline, organisationally that is where the money is going.

“I see the potential to re-build neighbourhood policing, probably different to what it was before, but certainly to strengthen it from where it has been over the past couple of years.

“It will be different, but I want communities to have the confidence that we will act. People do want the police to be visible. I have been out on the streets speaking to people and they will tell you ‘we do like seeing you’.

“I think we have strong community cohesion and communities do work well together. We have really strong relationships with the majority of communities. With our investment in neighbourhood policing we will absolutely do our utmost, but there will be a role for the community as well, local people having the confidence to take on issues with our support.”

Chief Supt Bisset praised the success of Operation Steerside, which has seen more than 6,000 illegal and dangerous motorists snared since it began in February.

“Operation Steerside has been great,” he said.

“Really importantly for me, it has been about getting the public firmly behind it. We have been guilty in the past of doing a lot of good work and not telling people about it.

“It is such a community concern and it’s a really important operation in keeping people safe. We’re not looking to take resources back from that.

“It is very much a community-based operation and what we are seeing is really good information coming in from the public now, and I would encourage more of that. We are really only as good as the relationships we have with our communities.”


Silsden Post Office Move

In October 2015 Andrew Cathey, our postmaster for the last 25 years said he would be handing his notice in.

The postmaster of the Kirkgate facility, Andrew Cathey, said he intends to hand in his notice in about a month’s time.

Mr Cathey, 62, who has been postmaster for 25 years, said he would have liked to have continued until he was 65, but added he was effectively being “forced out”.

“They’ve cut my wage down and there is more going out than coming in – for the past six months, I’ve been really struggling,” he said.

Now (Dec 2016),  it’s hoped Silsden Post Office can be moved down the street to Twiggs Newsagents.

The Post Office would like your views on the proposed move. 

You can take the survey and provide your views on the move  by clicking here You have until 30 January 2017 to provide your views. 

You can take the survey and provide your views on the move  by clicking here You have until 30 January 2017 to provide your views. 


Bradford’s risk of flooding is due to be signed off

A “VERY late” assessment of Bradford’s risk of flooding is due to be signed off by Council bosses on Tuesday.

And opposition councillors say they still fear the authority is not taking the threat of flooding seriously enough.

Legislation introduced in 2010 required local authorities to create and publish a Flood Risk Management Strategy by March of this year.

The opposition Conservatives had called for Bradford Council’s deputy leader, Councillor Val Slater, to resign over Bradford’s failure to meet the deadline, saying it could jeopardise the district’s chances of getting flood protection funding.

Now the strategy has been through a public consultation and is due to be adopted.

Councillor Simon Cooke, the leader of the Conservatives, said: “It is good news it has finally arrived but it is very, very late.

“We are one of the last authorities to actually produce this strategy and I still worry that the Council is a little complacent about the significance of flood risk.” He said he feared there could be a repeat of the Boxing Day floods if the district suffered another sustained bout of wet weather.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: “The Boxing Day floods were on an unprecedented scale but of course you cannot completely eliminate the risk of flooding during sustained bad weather, which is why we’ve been working with the public and community groups throughout the year to help them become more flood resilient.

“There’s no single answer to minimising the likelihood and impact of flooding but the Flood Risk Management Strategy is another tool in the Council’s armoury.”

The new strategy has four aims:

  1. getting a better understanding of the flood risk so works can be prioritisedView Post
  2. allowing authorities and communities to work in partnership to manage flood risk
  3. ensuring emergency plans are effective and communities can recover quickly after flooding, and
  4. guiding planning and preventing inappropriate development.

The document says a succession of Atlantic storms last November and December caused “unprecedented” flooding in the district, with all four large main rivers – the Aire, Wharfe, Worth and Silsden Beck – bursting their banks simultaneously for the first time.

More than 1,000 homes were flooded and the estimated financial cost was £18m to residential properties and £15.5m to businesses.

It adds: “The personal impact on Bradford residents and communities is still being felt and long-term health impacts cannot yet be quantified.”

The district has been awarded £2.5m to repair the highway infrastructure after the winter floods.

In October, Yorkshire’s regional flood and the coastal committee also agreed to fund £850,000 of flood prevention work by Bradford Council and the Environment Agency.

This will be used partly to fund small-scale ‘quick win’ projects such as debris removal and riverbank works, as well as drawing up detailed bids for a further £8m of funding to pay for 15 large schemes aimed at protecting five areas hit by the flooding in December.

These are Silsden Beck, Keighley and Stockbridge, Bingley and Airedale, Baildon and Shipley and Esholt and Apperley Bridge.