Kirklees Council’s last Cabinet meeting of 2022 had a packed agenda and here’s five important decisions that were made by councillors at Huddersfield Town Hall.
Cabinet agreed to buy another building overlooking Huddersfield’s Cultural Heart.
The council already owns the Piazza Centre, which is earmarked for demolition to become an urban park, and in 2021 it bought a row of shops in Victoria Lane which includes Peacocks, Savers and the former Argos store.
The latest building has not been identified due to commercial confidentiality but is seen as key to the council further strengthening its ownership of properties surrounding the Cultural Heart.
The £210 million Cultural Heart will see the former Queensgate Market extended to become a food hall and new library; the current library building will become a museum; an events venue and multi-storey car park will be built on the site of the former Market Hall multi-storey; and a new art gallery will be built in Queen Street.
There was previous speculation that the council wanted to buy the Poundland store next to Peacocks on the corner of Victoria Lane and Albert Yard.
Councillors agreed that a retirement living scheme in Golcar would be demolished and tenants compensated and re-housed.
The council said Sycamore Court, a 1970s flats complex, had “major building safety issues” and was beyond economical repair. Asbestos debris had been found and legionella, a bacteria that can cause lung infections such as pneumonia, was detected in pipework.
The building has been made safe for tenants but the council says it needs “significant investment” and demolition is the best option.
Consultations will start with tenants and their families in the New Year and the moves will take place over the following 12 months.
Each household will be paid a Statutory Home Loss Payment of £7,800 each and they can also claim removal costs and the cost of new flooring and blinds. The council has set £300,000 aside to cover the cost of re-housing tenants.
Clr Cathy Scott, Cabinet member for housing, said: “We have to handle this sensitively because it’s people’s homes we are talking about, not just houses.”
Council house rents in Kirklees are going up by 7% from April 2023 – but it could have been more.
Usually Kirklees Council would follow guidance agreed by the Government which would see rents rise by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1%.
As inflation at the end of September stood at 10.1%, this would have meant an increase of 11.1%.
The council’s Cabinet believes 11.1% was too high and has set the rise at 7% instead. The rise works out at £4.58 per week for a one-bedroom property, £5.40 per week for a two-bedroom property, £6.08 per week for a three-bedroom and £6.45 per week for a four-bedroom property.
Service charges for 2023-24 will also go up by 7%, between £0.03 and £1.30 per week. Extra Care Services, including Intensive Housing Management, could also increase to between £1.07 and £4.44 a week, and the Night Care Service by £1.35 per week.
Clr Cathy Scott, Cabinet member for housing, said: “The increase of 7%, which is more than 4% below what it would have been, is the amount the council needs to make sure we’re maintaining and creating quality homes that our tenants feel safe in.
“We know that our tenants are facing the same financial difficulties as other residents in the area and we are committed to supporting everyone through this cost-of-living crisis whilst also delivering vital services.”
North Huddersfield Trust School at Fartown is to have a £3 million extension to take the pupil roll to above 1,000.
The council says there are long-term plans to build hundreds of new homes in Bradley meaning demand for places at the school is set to rise.
The extension, which would have five new classrooms, would add an extra 150 places at the school, taking the total number of students from 900 to 1,050.
From September 2023, modular buildings would be used by staff and pupils but it is hoped the new block could be ready after one school year.
Cabinet has backed a funding agreement with West Yorkshire Combined Authority that will help more people into work.
The £2.3 million funding will help deliver the Employment West Yorkshire (EWY) programme in Kirklees until Spring 2025.
The funding will support local people into sustainable employment, apprenticeships and learning and training opportunities.
The programme offers an advice and guidance service for anyone aged 15 plus who lives in Kirklees. Priority is given to those out of work or in low-paid, insecure jobs.
People at risk of redundancy or those who work in vulnerable sectors can access opportunities to retrain, upskill, progress in their role or access more employment opportunities.
Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for regeneration and growth, said: “We need to give our residents a leg up and improve people’s lives.”