tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:/posts ilkleyrocks 2016-02-15T16:58:56Z Ilkley Rocks tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/696628 2014-05-27T14:16:01Z 2014-09-06T07:50:20Z Have some numbers, don't go blind.

The local council elections seem to provide good news for both Labour and for our incumbent MP, while keeping all the possibilities (bar a LibDem victory) on the table. Looking at the six wards that (until someone corrects me) make up the constituency, we get the following total votes cast:

Labour: 9771

Conservative: 7892

UKIP: 4849

Independent*: 1991

Green: 1262

LibDem: 1164

(note: I've halved the total votes in Craven as it elected two councillors)

*Three independents stood in Craven ward, one of whom was elected. Oddly, no-one from UKIP stood in a ward where they had (in terms of massive signs in fields) quite a campaigning presence. 

So, Labour wins (as Ashcroft's polling of marginals also suggests)? Not so fast Lord Copper. I've written before about Keighley and Ilkley's bellwether electoral logic. The basic task is simple--Labour to hold their Keighley votes, to win the two-way battle in Worth Valley and get enough extras from Ilkley and Craven to construct a majority; the Tories to hold Ilkley and Craven votes, win Worth Valley and pick up enough extras in Keighley to make the difference. 

Let's take a look at the numbers of votes over the past three Bradford elections to see how the current electoral logic stacks up. Briefly, Labour held Keighley with improved numbers (good news for them), lost Worth Valley and had reduced numbers in Ilkley. Tories held Ilkley and Craven (with more to come, see below), won Worth Valley but got hammered in Keighley. To do your own research, the figures are here: 20142012, 2010.

I mentioned in the previous piece that the major concern for the Tories will be UKIP. The pre-poll pre-conception was that UKIP voters would come from the ranks of the Tories and deliver the seat to Labour. And UKIP did well in the constituency wards. Just not in the one they, possibly, believed they were strongest in. In Ilkley ward, the 348 votes cast for PJ Latham (almost exactly the same as in 2010 and 2012--no surge here, and no impact from his continual letter writing) had no effect on the Tories. The Tory share of the vote actually went up. 

In Worth Valley, UKIP made this bellwether of bellwethers (I just like the word) a three-sheep race. But, again comparing to 2012, there was no impact on the Tory vote. Indeed, the Tory vote went up (by a whole 12 votes) despite UKIP getting over 1,000 votes themselves. Interestingly, in this one, Labour hardly suffered either. UKIP votes seem to have come from nowhere. The only place where the Tories seem to have suffered because of them is Keighley Central which had been a relatively even race, but is now hugely Labour. The Tory vote collapsed here, with UKIP being involved but far from the whole story. 

Where UKIP did win was in Keighley West, and here it was Labour that suffered, losing 600 votes from last time out as UKIP came from nowhere (the Tories lost 200). It appears that UKIP will either have no impact on the local battle, or will knock Labour slightly. 

Now, we know from national polling that UKIP numbers in the general election are likely to be lower than in the locals. Indeed, this is precisely the conclusion a poll by Lord Ashcroft came to after the Euro elections; UKIP will hold 51% of their vote, while the Tories will get 21% and Labour 11%. That suggests 2473 votes for UKIP from the council election total, 1018 to the Tories and 533 to Labour. The latter still lead, but the gap narrows. 

And what of the Craven independents? Craven's walked its own path for a few years. Independent votes topped out in the 1850 area in the last two elections. The Tories in 2014 got 1800 for one candidate (Andrew Mallinson who has a personal following) and 1000 for the other. But, in 2010, the Tory candidate got over 3000. This was the strongest performance by any Tory councillor in the constituency. Of course, it was election year, but that's a lot of extra votes to go blue. 

But, of course, all of this is on a 37-41% turnout. When we have a 65% turnout, it'll be the national headlines playing out. But the original logic remains. This is still a two-horse race. With UKIP clearly taking as much, if not more, from Labour as the Tories, it comes down to whether Labour can reverse its recent losses in Ilkley and Craven and continue to dominate in Keighley (particularly Central). With an improving economy, I'd be putting money on a Tory victory. Just not very much. 

There's another little nugget or three in those numbers. Comparing the Ilkley figures with those in the last council election (2012), the electorate has increased by over 500 in two years (a 4% increase), which seems a lot, and suggests that concerns about the infrastructure of the town being stretched by an increasing population are not being over-stated. The number of actual voters has increased by about the same proportion, but that's still only 5,200 people voting, with turnout falling. Suggesting there's a limited number of engaged voters (unlike in Worth Valley where UKIP's presence meant a fairly substantial increase in turnout). Finally, the Green Party in Ilkley doubled its vote. If it grows any more (and it's already the fourth party in the whole constituency), it will start to concern Labour. 

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/696609 2014-05-27T13:03:33Z 2014-05-27T13:03:33Z Time passing

Been a while, sorry. Posts to come...

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/655719 2014-02-19T07:09:15Z 2014-02-19T09:15:51Z Like a twisty, turny, tangled thing

I've talked before about some of the entertaining jumps and twists politicians have to make in Ilkley. Our local MP is Housing Minister, yet has to oppose building in Ilkley. While the local Labourites equally have to oppose their own party's council policy.

Sometimes it gets downright silly. Remember that stuff on the precept? Well, it looks like Labour is going to make a political issue of it. Or so says Labour candidate Sandy Macpherson. Only...he's not standing against Parish Chair Funky Gibbons in a parish election, which the precept affects. 

He's standing against him in a Bradford council election. Now the issues in this election would, presumably, be rather different. The issues, you might think, for a BMDC election, would be the council's intention to build 800 houses on the green belt (in Macpherson's own Ben Rhydding no less), and their slashing of services (until they miraculously found £1million down the back of the sofa) in Ilkley and other outlying (read-'Tory') areas. All of which rather put Labour on the back foot.

The same thing is noted in the campaign against the new housing. The main twitter campaigner against the scheme* has spent much of the past two weeks vociferously attacking Kris Hopkins. Yet Hopkins is against the Ilkley building. Not a single tweet against the Bradford Labour party. It's not an example of best tactics. 

Would it put more pressure on the Bradford council to a) support Labour in the next council election or b) threaten to abandon the party because of its support for housing, imperilling their ability to win the seat back at the general election?

So this blog is left in the position of wanting a Tory victory at the next BMDC election (to help end the prospect of new building in green belt) and the Tories being swept from power in Ilkley itself, to end the lack of accountability and transparency in budget setting. Of course the latter actually requires someone to have the balls to stand against them, rather than whining from the edges about gerry-mandering

I almost sound like Nick Clegg.

*edited for factual accuracy and politeness

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/654007 2014-02-13T09:56:29Z 2014-02-13T09:56:30Z Trebles all round

Following the last post, I've had a number of people now assure me that the Ilkley Riding School rent their land (area B on this map) from Bradford Met. Now, I still have some doubts, given the official Bradford review of potential building land (page 23 on this PDF) has the land's availability as 'uncertain' which presumably it wouldn't be if BMDC owned it. 

Of course, the availability might be about something other than ownership. If BMDC do own it, there's another motive for their desire to build, despite there being no need. Not only will they get a grant from government for doing so, but they'll make a profit on the development. Happy hour in central hall. 

But, then, if they DO own it, how did they get it? If it's part of the 1974 settlement, it's not theirs' anyway. And independent Ilkley could/should take it back.

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/653333 2014-02-11T18:52:52Z 2014-09-07T20:36:26Z Build it and they will...

Tonight there's a public meeting organized by the Parish Council on Bradford council's plans for more housing in the town (and across the valley). There's already been a 'lively' Civic Society meeting (though the report is before the meeting took place...)

Opposition is ramping up. A lot of activity is coming via benrhydding.org, which will be hosting resources once public representations can be made (starting on Monday 17th Feb). The core strategy can be found (if you download the PDF) here. As you might remember, the 800 homes suggested for the town is a reduction which was trumpeted by the city council as a result of all the listening they were doing. The map (PDF) of potential sites is here.

Leaving aside for a moment the building on green belt and the potential for CPO of land (unless the riding school owners will, in fact, become developers in a JV*), and the fact that one of the sites does rather, you know, flood. Bradford council has it reasons: it has to meet housing targets set by the government (indeed, they've recently done rather well out of their desire to build), and it is supposedly one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The core strategy tackles this by developing targets for building on brownfield sites around the city centre, alongside bringing empty houses back into use (8.37% of homes in Manningham are currently empty according to the evidence base). And, of course, building on some of the greenbelt. 

But are new houses in Ilkley actually needed, or in any way relevant to perceived demand? Where Bradford is growing (if it actually is) appears to be through birth rather than migration; it's the bulge in the under-5s and under-19s that specifically led to the census population reports

Bradford’s population is increasing: from just over 500,000 estimated by ONS in 2008, it is expected to increase to at least 40,000 over the next 25 years, mainly due to a high birth rate

(from the 'Bradford Housing evidence base' (PDF))

And these, patently, aren't likely to be buying (or wanting) houses in Ilkley (or Menston or Burley or any other leafy part of the city). In fact, they're not likely to be buying houses at all. 

Given the level of empty homes mentioned above, there's actually a question over whether even Bradford itself really needs more new housing. We know, for instance, that the market is suggesting (unlike Ilkley) that there's no demand for new housing in Bradford itself--prices are dropping or stable in both sale and rented sectors. And there's currently little demand to bring those empty Manningham homes back into use. 

For Ilkley, there's nothing in the core strategy about enhanced infrastructure. Schools in the town are already over-full: Ashlands building new classrooms means they'll have two classes at 30 pupils per year from now on; IGS is nearly at 2,000 pupils, even its massive Year 7 entry (245 pupils!) is 50% over-subscribed and far too big to be effective. The Medical Centre is at capacity, judging by the lack of ease in getting an appointment. And, as for traffic through the town...How are an extra 800 households to be supported?

There's also a major (for Ilkley near-fatal) flaw in the way the core strategy is set up. As Cllr Cooke has pointed out, Leeds made a huge mistake in not detailing that brownfield sites should be utilised first before the greenbelt is taken away. Given the issues around development of brownfield sites, indeed, it's likely that the green belt will go first: it's relatively easy, and, more importantly, very profitable for the developers. 

Now, given there is no increased demand for housing in Bradford, possibly no actual population growth, and, even if there was, it's not relevant to Ilkley, one does wonder why the council is so eager to build all over the valleys. The prospect of that £20million in extra funding can;t be having an influence surely? 

*NOTE: subsequent twitter conversation suggest that the land used by the riding school next to the A65 is actually BMDC's; any information gratefully received.



 

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/653311 2014-02-11T17:31:12Z 2014-02-13T12:00:06Z To the Manor (re)born

As predicted previously, there was a sudden change of heart regarding support for the Manor House Museum. Indeed, almost exactly as suggested, funding will be cut but not ended if Ilkley PC can provide some of its own money. 

Parish council chairman, Mike Gibbons, has negotiated a £13,000 deal which would keep the museum’s doors open for further year.

Well done to Funky there, though the story isn't clear whether Bradford are now putting in 26K and IPC 13K, or whether the 13K is simply half of the new running costs/ 

Presumably the £13,000 that Ilkley PC will now invest will come from the enhanced precept pot. Which might explain the rise. Can't say I object to that (indeed I suggested it in my original post), but some public consultation would have been nice. I'm reminded of the Mayor in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, "I've invested the entire town's budget without consulting anyone in this..."

I do wonder, though, whether the money Bradford have therefore saved has been covered by closing services elsewhere in the town. 

So, for a year, we still have a museum and community space that isn't very good, but isn't THAT expensive (it can really be run on £26-39,000pa? How much are the likely capital costs over the next decade?). I'm aware of at least two separate groups in the town having meetings about future plans. You've got a year, guys. 

This, of course, isn't the only backing down Bradford have been doing recently. There's also been a twelve-month reprieve for Ilkley Children's Centre. 

Albeit, bizarrely, the Gazette originally ran a story entirely focusing the proposed reprieve on the Labour PPC, John Grogan, even though he'd clearly had nothing to do with it. Blah blah 'has welcomed the decision' is a sure sign that a journalist is casting around for a hook. 



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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/653187 2014-02-11T11:59:56Z 2014-02-11T16:25:23Z A preceptual issue

(is that a ridiculous headline or what?)

News comes through that the Parish Council are to increase the precept by 22%. This was signed off at the last Council meeting (no minutes yet, so I don't know whether it was done in private session). 

To pay for the coming of the Tour de France to the town. A bicycle race that is coming anyway. And which will massively benefit everyone from local hotels to farmers who are suddenly turning their fields over to campsites,. Now, it's not clear from the Gazette story what exactly the PC are planning to do with this money (big screens to watch on TV something that is, you know, happening live in the town?), but I bet the bandstand will be involved somehow. There's also an unexplained increase in support for the Christmas Lights, from £2,000 to £16,000. These were the lights that were meant to save the town money because of being LED, of course--'as little as £50 a year' was the figure quoted when the gorgeous (and now absent) councillor for South Ilkley made the proposal. 

Now, this is only an extra £5 per head on the average property (not that there are many of those in the town). But it's been done without consultation and without clear and publicly available plans for use. It might be represented (and has) as councillors paying for their own 'jollies' as part of the event. Councillors can get very defensive about such suggestions. Last year, when the public raised questions about the level of the precept, they got a response based on councillors being unpaid. Now, that can be read in a number of ways. 

Flicking back through history, the precept has been increased rather a lot since it came into being in 2002. At that time it was set at £9 for a Band E home. It's now going to be £24 for a Band D home (so slightly more for a Band E). That's an increase of nearly 200% in twelve years. Inflation rate during that time? Fairly steady at around the 3% mark annually. By 2006, the Band D properties would be paying £15. Much of this remained unspent at year end. 

2012 then saw another 20% increase 'to pay for the Jubilee' (so that's a 50% increase over the past two years). And it's this combination that really sticks in the craw. If it went up 20% to pay for the jubilee, and there isn't a jubilee this year, presumably that spare cash can be used to pay for any civic activity around the Tour. Or does the Tour need EVEN MORE money? No case has been made. 

As there will also be an increase in the Police's council tax precept as well ( a decision made by a Police Authority committee with no public debate or, as far as I can see, no consultation), we'll have to hope that Bradford Council keeps its own demands at current levels. It's a Labour council, though, so that seems unlikely. 

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/653181 2014-02-11T11:22:07Z 2014-02-11T11:22:08Z WIth a sign on the door, part two

Eventually I found my way to the report on local housing.

However, I'm having less luck in locating the Ilkley Parish Council budgets. There's nothing on the PC website except the minutes for meetings. And they ARE only minutes; including ones resolving acceptance of a budget, but no attached reports. Now, Bradford Council, of course has to publish its entire budgetary process. Including specific details of any expenditure over £500. Why does this legislation not apply to Parish Councils?

It makes it somewhat difficult to analyze what the PC spends its money on. Almost as if they're doing it deliberately. Anyone want to bung in an FoIA request?

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/653168 2014-02-11T11:13:02Z 2014-02-11T11:13:02Z How local?

Currently the front page of the 'Ilkley Gazette' website has a total of one local story on it. There's nothing to link to all the recent work they've done on the precept, on the Manor House, on the Film Festival. The paper's been vastly improved under its latest editor, but the site doesn't reflect that. Which is a shame. 


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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/641676 2014-01-14T10:04:24Z 2014-01-14T10:04:24Z Dark Entries

'Every week is Open week' says the poster for Moorfield School. 

Which must please the parents as strangers demand access to wander round the school at will. 


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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/641466 2014-01-13T20:41:09Z 2014-01-13T20:41:09Z Do no harm

I'm generally a fan of the Ilkley Moor Medical Practice. It's the epitome of what the modern medical centre (okay, in a prosperous town) should be. There are some very good GPs there. too, led by Dr French and the speedy Dr Summers. Provision of minor surgery, expertise in cardiology, dermatitis, all taking pressure off the hospitals. Justifiably it's rated as the top practice in the county. 

However,. there are two issues. One is the quality of the reception staff. Some are fine (lovely even), but at least one of the regular front of house team is famously surly and unhelpful. Saw some amusing tweets about them in the past few days. 

The other, of course, is *that* GP. 


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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/641394 2014-01-13T18:13:58Z 2016-02-15T16:58:56Z Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Since the last blog on the Manor House Museum, things have moved on apace. Actually, that's a lie. We've had the usual succession of horror leaks from the local council (on the assumption that the final plan will be somewhat less bad and therefore be greeted with an enthusiastic sigh of relief), accompanied by ever more frenzied statements from the Friends of the Manor House.

After the original coverage, which suggested the need for a radical solution, under the title 'Bradford could drop Ilkley's museum', we rapidly moved to a point where the threat was upgraded to 'Ilkley's museum could be boarded up'. This followed a meeting between the local council and various groups concerned with the Manor House. With Labour Bradford facing cuts, and having no Labour councillors coming from Ilkley, the Manor House will be cut from the Bradford Museum service (leaving four remaining museums plus a gallery). Various next-step solutions could include re-opening as a commercial organization or arts centre. The problem for the 'Friends' would be the loss of professional museum support from Bradford services, and therefore its loss of accreditation (from the Museums Association). If the museum is boarded up, the objects could be lost in Bradford storage, say the campaigners. 

Following a further briefing, of Ilkley's councillors last week, another flurry of speculation was launched. On the one side, the Friends again suggested that objects would be lost, and people need to make their voices heard (quite correctly), while the blessed Anne called for more radical solutions. She (again quite correctly) splits the issues around the collection (the 'museum') from the building and its community use. 

Working through some of the issues: initial horror on the local town's talkboards  focuses on the impact on tourism. But, as I suggested in the last blog on the issue, it's highly questionable whether Ilkley IS a tourist town anymore. Certainly it seems incapable of supporting a top-end hotel unless the latter becomes a property developer on the side. Where we do have tourists, they're looking to the moors, the promenade and the restaurants, not to a tiny museum focusing only on our own history, alongside some fairly amateurish exhibitions. ('sorry the kids have left home darling, here are some paintbrushes...').

The harsh reality is that the Manor House simply isn't very good as a museum. It's far from well marketed, and I would guarantee that far more people will go to the Literature Festival and other events held there, rather than to view the oddball collection of items based around the town's history. Apart from my despair at the city's archaeologist and his views on the Panorama Rocks being promulgated through the museum, the Manor House collection is basically a Mike Dixon book in 3D. It's of interest to some of us, who love the town, but it doesn't justify major expense. Have a section of the library dedicated to Ilkley History (as happened form 1908-1961), and you're probably done. 

I've looked by the way, but can't find any stats on visitor figures, never mind demographic surveys of visitors. 

However, contrary to the Friends' horror, even if continuation of the museum was to be desired, the lack of city museum service support does not need to end in lack of accreditation (for what that's worth). Plenty of museums through the AIM are community run and accredited. Some of them are even rather good. A direct comparator would be the Ribchester Roman Museum, in a town far less blessed by tourism than Ilkley. Up to 2000, Ribchester was as dowdy and damp-smelling as the Manor House, but the Trust who ran it then put together a very successful HLF bid paying for a complete upgrade. And it's rather lovely now. Still independent. 

Back to the Manor House, the building currently also offers a venue for school groups and for community groups. The former will pay (what's the revenue received?), as should the latter. The blessed Anne is quite correct that the building itself (and its contribution to the town) is more important than the current use it's being put to. Seeing what's been achieved by the Otley Old Grammar School project should be an inspiration. The building will need support, of course, and I doubt the National Trust will take it on (it's ancient for a start, and the modern NT is only interested in industrial and celeb-associated buildings), but that doesn't mean they won't help. 

But it can't be beyond the art elite that occupy the town to come up with a use for the building that will both meet its heritage restrictions and actually provide a positive draw. The lack of a proper art gallery (I mean one that shows more than Joy Godfrey's work) in Ilkley is utterly bizarre. 

My prediction is that Bradford will agree a taper to funding, if there appears to be a genuine attempt to devise a new plan (saves an ongoing campaign against the council, and it's not that much money). That is, IF people are actually interested. Turn-out at public meetings, response to consultation might be crucial. 

Question, though. When Percy Dalton gave the building to the town and provided the money to convert the 'Old Castle'  in 1955, did he include any conditions or controls over future use of the building?

Also, if Bradford hands it over to a Trust/group, will they also give back the famed missing items from the original collections, now mixed in with the general Bradford collection. 

Finally, the Ilkley PC precept collects £120,000 a year. I can't be alone in thinking this would be better spent on the Manor House (and, yes, the collection) than on continuing to subsidise the Summer Festival?

But, remind me, why do we need Bradford Council again? Posts to follow...

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/635871 2013-12-30T13:54:19Z 2013-12-30T13:54:20Z With a sign on the door saying 'beware of the leopard'

Has anyone got a link to a clean and readable version of the Core Strategy for the LDP Bradford Council recently voted through? The website is frightful, while the 'official' link only takes a visitor to the main council page, and the core strategy linked to from there is a bizarre embedded document.

Anyone got a PDF? 

It's almost as if they don't want people to read it.

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/635866 2013-12-30T13:45:20Z 2013-12-30T13:57:05Z And the winner was

Apologies for having only tweeted the result of the Labour candidate race. John Grogan was the winner, followed by 'Our Henry'. Cllr Berry came in third I believe and, finally, the only interesting candidate, Cllr Akhtar. Apparently asians need not apply to represent the party in Keighley. As, you know, there are no asians in Keighley.

It's a sensible move. Grogan got good reviews as a constituency MP in Selby. He's (a lot) older than Murison, has done it all before, won't be seeking high office (one assumes), has something of the whiff of Bob Cryer about him. He doesn't, however, live in the constituency, and has a certain past when it comes to expenses. Most interesting will be to see how UKIP handle this. Grogan is an ex-MEP and clear Europhile. Will UKIP stand at the risk of letting in someone strongly committed to Europe to win the seat? Or will UKIP's shambolic local presence means it's immaterial?

Biggest shock is Berry coming in third. The end of his national political ambitions? I guess if you preside over one of the worst education services in the country, you can't really expect to stand for a bellwether seat.

One of the major battlefields, at least in Ilkley, is going to be housing. It's an interesting one. Current incumbent Kris Hopkins is Housing Minister, so presumably is in favour of more houses (he's always taking credit for new developments on his twitter feed anyway). But Ilkley is dead against. Grogan's already released a 'plan' for housing that challenges his own party's plans for the area. We might even find him aligned with the blessed Anne.



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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/620008 2013-11-16T09:23:36Z 2013-11-16T09:23:37Z Think of the children...

Quite brave of Cllr Berry to announce the closure of two day care centres in the constituency, and threats to another two. Way to win some votes. 

Not Ilkley, though, so none of my business

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/619358 2013-11-14T15:05:17Z 2013-11-17T14:51:44Z And the final four are...

So, looking to that Labour shortlist...

First up is Cllr Ralph Berry, the current Bradford executive member for Children and Young People's Services (yes, that's his job) . He's an old-school Labour politician, sponsored by the Co-Op and (of course) the ultimate rulers of the Party, the Unite Union. Therefore, as you'd expect, he's about furthering the ends of the party's clients in the unions and the public sector. Oddly, despite being a councillor for Wibsey, he chooses to live in Saltaire. Which isn't in this constituency either. Basically, he's been looking for a seat for a while, getting on the shortlist for Bradford West before the Galloway explosion. 

His various messages on his website run through Labour policy at a rate of knots, and the impact the 'Tory-led coalition' (sigh) are having on his hopefully soon-to-be constituents. What he doesn't actually do, however, is talk very much about Ilkley. It's always an after-thought...

Keighley and Ilkley people just cannot afford another Tory /Liberal government.

schools throughout Keighley and Ilkley report their worries about the affect the recession is having on our children

Yep, bet the Ilkley ones are...(and, yes, he does mean 'effect', but I don't do grammar flames, even of someone who's in charge of schools)

Sorry, actually that's it. The only mentions of Ilkley.

So, he knows his core vote and he's pursuing it. But then, the Ilkley end of the local Labour Party isn't seemingly supporting him, so this might be sensible.

However, he does have a good story to tell. As Head of education, he's able to spin that Bradford schools have been improving on his watch. But they're still way behind the national average (and that local average is dragged upwards by the good schools in places like, you know, Ilkley), and not everyone agrees

The real problem for Berry, though, will be the Hamzah Khan story. Despite an 'independent inquiry' which basically came to the conclusion that no-one was to blame, and it would probably happen again, it's unlikely to rest there. While the council officer ultimately responsible for the department will be in the firing line, Berry's name will be mentioned in connection over and over again. Will the Labour party risk two years of that?

The man working the Ilkley end of the Labour Party is Henri Murison, described brilliantly in the Gusset as 'Addingham Man', and by the Ilkley Labour facebook page as 'Our 'enri' (note that common touch...). He's an interesting chap, our 'enri. Only 29 now (and, looking at his photos, in possession of only one 'country-type' shirt), he was, until recently, a member of the 'cabinet' at Newcastle Council in charge of 'Quality of Life'. There he led an interesting project on problem drinking, including introducing the first minimum pricing model in the country. And he also (hold your breath Ilkley) led on new house building, eventually giving way to NIMBYs and agreeing to prioritize building on brownfield sites first.

He;s no friend of the old-left though. His announcement of standing for the Ilkley seat led to some robust twittering from GMT union people in the North-East which put his claims to speak on behalf of the deprived into some context. Murison's recent career is also somewhat chequered. He declared he would run for Police Commissioner of Northumbria (a nice little earner), Then, mysteriously, withdrew. Then came the decision to leave the NOrth-East to follow his wife to Yorkshire. Which resulted in a rather plum job working for the West Yorkshire Police Commissioner (at £41,000pa), in which he lasted five months, before leaving for the 'private sector'. According to his current biog, he works in 'financial services', but that seems to leave enough time to accept donations in Ilkley on behalf of Churches Together, run a food bank (yes, in Ilkley) and campaign for a 'living wage' (aka the god-given right to buy a linen shirt, again in Ilkley).  Either all this is clever building of his position in Ilkley, or he's rather under-employed. (EDIT: Mr Murison has contacted me to say he has a full-time job with a mutual)

Mainly, though, he;s a New Labour drone. His twitter feed is a relentless list of re-tweets of the official party position. Still, we wish him well in his search for a job. And sure his disturbing resemblance to a certain shop owner from Royston Vasey won't be held against him.

And then there's John Grogan, ex-MP who more recently was 'persuaded by friends' to step forward. Grogan was MP for Selby from the Blair landslide until 2010, when boundary changes led to him standing down. During that 13 years, he seems to have done the square root of bugger all, though that he retained the seat in 2005 suggests a good local following. He's a classic modern NuLab illliberal, supporting the Iraq War, strongly supporting ID cards, top up tuition fees, the smoking ban, etc, plus being a strong pro-European (and being an ex-MEP). Currently lives in Burley (so outside the constituency). Interestingly, declared trips to Qatar (useful for a future World Cup), and was Chair of the all-party group on Mongolia (which does provide a small link to the constituency as the one-time home of the Wool Board which had strong links with Mongolia). He also campaigned for more transparency from lobbying companies. Grogan does talk a lot about the separate identities of the towns.

Grogan didn't escape all the expenses furore. He always had expenses in the top 10% in the country, and usually the highest of any MP in Yorkshire (yes, even higher than Ed Balls). To give him credit, his expenses were published by him rather than the Daily telegraph, but, still...he claimed for a tea trolley, a DVD player, and phone and website charges. The biggest expense, though, was the cost of renting a flat in leafy Bayswater, and travel back to the constituency. So £140-160,000 each year probably seems like good value. And, when 'retiring' he received a resettlement allowance (PDF) of £32,383. I assume, should he be elected once more, he will be paying this back.

He also, according to gossip, once confused the Spanish and Portuguese embassies.

And the rank outsider (and not just as the only woman and only Asian on the list, also the only one no longer on twitter) is Councillor Kaneez Akhtar. Not a huge amount to say about her, she appears to be a diligent local councillor for Keighley Central. Works in the Labour Party's client state in social housing. She was short-listed in this constituency (when it had an all-woman shortlist) last time out

She originally stood  as a councillor in 2004 as a LibDem, before changing allegiances and getting a (very small) majority in Keighley Central.

Nobody's taking bets on this as far as I'm aware...
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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/619322 2013-11-14T11:44:49Z 2013-11-14T17:11:57Z An election foretold (P.1)

There's going to be a Labour Party hustings on Nov 23rd to decide their candidate for the next election, which we know will take place in May 2015, which makes for a lengthy and convoluted campaigning process. Currently, there are four hats in the ring, three of which could reasonably be described as strong.

Keighley/Ilkley is an interesting seat (hence why I'm writing about it, when I actually live a few hundred yards inside of Shipley's boundaries!). It's not an extreme bellwether, but broadly moves with the mood of the nation, going Labour in '64, '74, and '97 and to the Tories in 2010. The two townships dominate, of course, with a strong Labour majority in Keighley and a strong Tory one in Ilkley and surrounding villages. The trick is to pick up enough votes in the 'other half' to get a majority. And sometimes strong characters can help. I'd be willing to bet Ann Cryer got a fair few Ilkley votes because of her image, especially when she started banging on about immigration and forced marriage. And this tendency to look for strong MPs was, I felt, one of the reasons Karl Poulsen failed in 2005--not enough respect from the Ilkley twin-set and pearls brigade.

However, where once a brick with a red rosette would win Keighley votes and a paving-slab with a blue one would win Ilkley votes, things have grown more complicated. The Muslim population in and around Keighley itself, up to 25% of the populace, can't be taken for granted for Labour in the way it once could. The Iraq War's still fresh in the memory, and the rise (and then fall) of the Respect Party provided another outlet for Muslim votes.

Meanwhile, while the LibDem support has been growing over past elections (probably not likely to be reflected in 2015), fourth and fifth parties have also made themselves known. The BNP has put up candidates of the stature of Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, and picked up 5-10% of votes cast, presumably mostly from the white proletariat and lumpenproletariat of Keighley (though when the BNP address lists were published, there were a few members in Ilkley and surrounds). BNP schisms and splits possibly make them less strong for 2015, and there has been less coverage of the racial issues that spark off their support. However, there are a solid 2,000 or more far-right votes across the town.

Meanwhile, over the other side of the Moor, Ilkley Tory votes will be split by UKIP. Likely candidate (giving his frenetic letter-writing to the Gazette) is Paul Latham. They lack a strong ground-organization, and Latham is given to sometimes difficult-to-understand-the-relevance-of rants. Key will be whether they can get some councillors in before the general election, to improve their profile and give them a base from which to work. Nevertheless, 2-4,000 votes aren't unlikely, unless Farage implodes. 

All of which makes it crucial that Labour pick the right candidate. Shore up the traditional votes, see off the threat from the extreme right and appeal to enough Ilkley-ites, to pull a coalition together. 

National issues we all know. The economy keeps expanding, unemployment keeps falling, a late 2014 tax cut, the Tories win. Bit of a no-brainer.

But local issues will play a part. Housing's going to be near the top of the agenda I would have thought for Ilkley. Bradford's council have just agreed a new Local Development Plan that will see 800 new houses built around Ilkley and 200 in Addingham. Bradford's Labour leaders are spinning this as slashing their previous proposals, but, still, it's not going to be popular. We're not NIMBYs exactly, but services are already strained. Schools are massively over-subscribed, IGS is way too big (and don't mention the sell-off of the Middle School site). So a Labour council will be imposing new building. Not going to play well. Except, possibly, to developers (what, you thought they might be 'affordable' houses? In Ilkley that means<£500,000).

Of course, the local Tory MP is, since the last re-shuffle, the Minister for Housing. So that's another twist to the debate.

So Labour will have to pick carefully. Last time out they had an All Woman shortlist. They've abandoned that this time, so we have three men and one woman standing. More details on them in the next post....


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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/618035 2013-11-10T20:01:31Z 2013-11-10T20:01:31Z Happy birthday to this

It turns out, having actually checked, that the first post on this site was made on Nov 5th 2003. That makes us just over ten years old, and explains the itch I've been getting. So that's a lot closer to Peter Merholz's first use of the word 'blog' than it is to the present day. I is ancient



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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/618025 2013-11-10T19:36:16Z 2013-11-10T19:36:16Z Electrifying tastes

Slipped past me, and all of the nationals, because of his utter irrelevance, but local MP Kris Hopkins also made some interesting claims for power at his London flat. 

Now it's not a huge bill, but it shouldn't be there at all. Love to know (it's not available) how much each MP makes use of the massively subsidised eating, drinking and whoring facilities in the Palais de Westminster (note: one of those is made up), but none of these extra payments should exist at all.

As pointed out elsewhere: bring together the twin issues of 'expenses in MPs' London homes' and 'empty second bedrooms incurring lost benefits'. There you go: MPs residing with 'real' people; those real people not losing benefits. 


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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/618020 2013-11-10T19:05:54Z 2013-11-10T19:05:54Z A rat up where?

By the way, I have no intention of making any comment about the name of the new-ish Vicar of All Saints. Mr Patrick Bateman can rest easy.

I do wonder abut the quality of his business cards though

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/618003 2013-11-10T18:03:29Z 2013-11-10T20:02:33Z A Model Councillor

Now this is nothing personal, even given the ludicrous campaign to get cctv in the town to protect the new Christmas lights, but what is happening to Cllr Marshall?

Both his official twitter and his facebook page now have him resident in London, as his modelling career takes off. The official council list still has him in Rupert Rd, but that's clearly not the case. What's his attendance record like? Is it possible to be a long-distance 'local' councillor? And why is someone living in Ruper Road a councillor for *south* Ilkley?

Ironically, the next time we see him might be as Ilkley's only living celebrity, turning on the Christmas lights he organized and installed.



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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/615840 2013-11-04T18:01:28Z 2013-11-04T18:01:28Z In Bradford we Trust

So, Bradford CC's finances have got so bad that they need to consider closing Ilkley Museum. And Cllr Hawkesworth (now, honest to goodness, an independent) has stepped in. Let's ignore the obvious point that for people to start screaming and running about now doing a Chicken Little is ridiculously silly; this move has been on the cards since 2011, and lots of other authorities have taken exactly the same route. A bit of forward planning might have been helpful.

However, to look at the history, a few years back Bradford suggested something similar. At least, they looked into putting the historic properties across the city into a single trust. This would have passed the assets to the 'usual suspects' (Carillion, Mapeley, etc) and then paid those companies to manage them. Thankfully, it was stopped before it went too far. And a few years after that, there was a suggestion that went into some detail (led this time by Cllr Hawkesworth) to put the Moor and other assets into a Trust. Officially, this was to take advantage of cash from Natural England, though it was proposed with unseemly haste. Again, the proposal fell (this blog fought it on the basis that the Middleton settlement had handed the moor to the people of Ilkley, and not to Bradford CC), though the sale of Silver Well Cottage took place to raise some money that apparently went towards upkeep of the moor, and the 'Friends of Ilkley Moor' was created to try and drive a two lane by-pass across our wild land, judging by their paving work. 

This proposal is slightly different. Not least in that this site finds itself broadly on the same side as Ms Hawkesworth. For a start, it will happen in some form, and I doubt, given the nature of future funding cuts, that many of the other Bradford museums will survive the next half-decade themselves. The method of the council is all wrong, however, as Cllr Hawkesworth points out. Trying to pass off the museum to the Cockshott cabal would mean the same as simply closing it. Well-meaning amateurs will not (as John Cockshott himself concedes) be able to run the place. Which is not to say that some amateurs couldn't help. Ilkley is home to one of the country's leading arts PR companies and one of its leading museum exhibition designers. Not to mention a few curators. 

But it's not going to be open on the same basis as it would as an LA museum. Two days a week perhaps? Is there any need for more? Perhaps a decent compromise would see reduced council funding and an increased drive for commerciality. But... Ilkley is no longer the tourist draw it once was. It's now a commuter town. Even the vaunted receipts of the town's car parks (a sure sign the prices should go up) come from commuters, not tourists. The Manor House should be seen as a community centre and nothing more. 

However, the whole debate returns us to the governance of the town once more. With Bradford withdrawing, at what point does the argument for secession gather pace? Let's keep our car park receipts, and pay for our museum. Let's keep our council tax too, and use it for the benefit of our town. And let's take back our moor and the lands given in the Middleton settlement too. 

Mind you, if we can't find people to run a museum, how on earth would we run that? 

Incidentally, this image is from one of the benches at the Manor house. The plaque was removed in 2005=ish, and never replaced. Would be nice, don't you think? It's a lovely sentiment. 

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/615831 2013-11-04T17:15:16Z 2013-11-04T17:20:41Z Once upon a time

...there was a blog. Let's call it, I don't know, Ilkley Rocks, for ease. Back in 2003 or 4 it was (hard to remember). So I moved to Ilkley, and started writing. At the time, after doing some searching, it seemed that only a blog in Malmesbury was doing something similar. Long before the word 'hyperlocal' was invented, Ilkley Rocks was it. 

It was still a bit of a wild time on the British web. Clamps hadn't been tightened. And I took the freedom to abuse, mislead, lie and spin stories. I remember (and the evidence is still here) suggesting that Cllr Mike Gibbons was watching the residents of the town through secret cameras, that Ilkley Golf Club was the scene of a coven controlling the town, that, well...it's all still up here. I was clear that I never alleged corruption, or crime, just allowed some rants to ramble and decline to obscenity. 

Frankly, I doubt I'd get away with it now. 

There was a campaign against CCTV, mostly led by others, but documented here. You won't find much sign of it, after a threat of legal action against our host. You see, I always said I was a coward and would remove anything if asked. But, hey, we won. And the impact of that campaign meant we won again recently.

But, as people got to know more about blogs, it became somehow less interesting. Though entertaining for me when Cllr Hawkesworth started debating directly with me on the blog, even while being abused (for which she rose much higher in my esteem), 

Things have changed. We've got some independent councillors in the town for a start. Albeit not massively bright ones. We've got some new xmas lights. And the money keeps flowing in. My particular bete noire, the Bradford council archaeologist, is still in post, and still claiming the Panorama Stones are a recent forgery. And the Ilkley Gazette died and then was re-born when people stopped buying its successor. Oh, and then twitter came along. And a few new sites.

But I thought, 'I've rested long enough, time to write again'. Not for commercial reasons, our host won't allow that, but to see how long it is till I get bored once more. 

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tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/336813 2007-03-30T02:20:33Z 2013-10-08T16:33:40Z Warne's last bowl Not strictly Ilkley, but just up the road. According to the new Wisden, Shane Warne's last match in England (assuming he stays fit) will be for Hampshire vs Yorkshire at Headingley, Sep 19-22. As Engel puts it, something to tell the grand-children about.]]> tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/336843 2007-03-15T17:06:05Z 2013-10-08T16:33:40Z Ilkley Moor can save the world New research suggests that good management of heather moorlands can have an important impact on the battleagainstglobalwarming. Or, rather, bad management will have a highly negative effect on said battle. And is there any moorland worse managed than our beloved Moor?]]> tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/336863 2007-01-20T17:46:04Z 2013-10-08T16:33:40Z The caring face of conservatism Hmm, so Cameron visits Keighley (not really prime Tory country, but one assumes the news reports meant the constituency.) and gets a story on Newsnight out of it. Unfortunately, not the one they wanted. What have we here? Seriously un-Cameron-like behaviour from our local grande dame Mrs Hawkesworth's consort, John. An email calling opponents 'reptiles'? 'Cripples'? Now I'm not much of a hypocrite, and I've abused enough people on this blog so I'm not in a position to criticise. Course, if I start flinging around terms of abuse about the blessed Anne now, its going to be a tad harder for her or her husband to complain. But its not exactly that new face of conservatism that Tory Boy has been promoting is it--and one assumes the Labour spin doctors will be keeping it running to keep the arrest of one of their aides for perjury out of the public eye ? (btw, the recipient of this email, Kris Hopkins, who is seeking to appear whiter than white (a Jade Goody reference there), is of course only leader of Bradford Council because of a rather sordid power-sharing deal with the LibDems after the voters comprehensively trounced his party in the 2006 local elections, is also now the local Tory candidate for the constituency (and will need the Hawkesworths' help if he's to stand any chance against t'other Ann), and was heavily involved in the scandal over the failed sell-off and leaseback of public buildings, protecting Simon Cooke over his 'interesting gestures', the scandal of Bradford's failing schools, etc....) The email runs--
"My brother Peter met the Cripple (our unPC name for Mark Taylor) this afternoon, and he, the Cripple, was pumping Peter about the selection for the PPC. "I would trust that reptile less than a barrel of monkeys."
One wonders whether that 'our' includes the less-than-sainted Anne? (btw, love the image used to accomoany the piece at politics.co.uk--is that really Mr Hawkesworth? Hope he hasn't got one of those exploding Sony batteries)]]>
tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/336868 2006-12-15T21:09:52Z 2013-10-08T16:33:40Z Panoramic epistles Given the Gazette's refusal (well, okay, they've just ignored) to print my latest epistle, here it is. In response to the latest attempt to sell the 'Panorama Stones are modern inventions' line. Gavin Edwards has once again used your columns to promote his pet theory of the Victorian embellishment of the Panorama STone(s). The latest account (23 Nov) seems to provide no more evidence than the previous story (carried in July 2004). In the meantime, an exhibition at the Manor House has also promoted the theory. Are we to take it that this is now the official view of the Bradford Museums Service, and therefore is an explanation for the wilful neglect of these important carvings? Mr. Edwards' case rests on two pieces of evidence. Drawings given to the museum in 1880, and a lecture given in 1913. As yet, he has proved no date of completion for the drawings, so we are unable to say when they were done. What we do have, however, is the drawing of J. Romilly Allen accompanying his article of 1879 ('The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley'), and we also have Allen's and Dr. Call's account of the rocks. All of these point to the ladder motif being present. Allen was a fairly scrupulous draughtsman and was more prone to leaving elements out than including extra (see his drawing of the Badger Stone for instance). As to the lecture, he is taking as evidence the talk given by Gill in 1913, at which point Gill is 63, and talking of events forty years earlier. Against this we have the research and accounts of Allen, Dr. Call, J.H. Turner, and Dr. Little. All were researching and writing in the 1880s, all believe in the ladder motif and none mention any rumours or suspicion surrounding the markings. Indeed, Little worked with the Ilkley Local Board to relocate the stones at considerable expense and effort in 1890. Are we to assume that none of these people ever had a local wander up to them and mention that 'old Ambrose done those markings.'? Or is Mr. Edwards implying a massive conspiracy? Simply put, there is little evidence that these markings were added in late Victorian times. There is ample that the ladder motif was present in the 1870s. English Heritage continues to refer to the stone(s) as being, "one of the finest examples of rock art in the north of England, if not in the British Isles." So why does Mr. Edwards continue to press his line? Why the not-so-subtle campaign to downgrade the importance of the stones? Can it be anything to do with their wilful neglect, and the unwillingness (whatever they say) of anyone to move the stones to the Manor House? What has happened to the Dr. Little Heritage Group, and why have they not been quoted over this story? These might be rather more worthy of coverage than repetition of an interesting though completely unproved theory.]]> tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/336873 2006-11-03T16:38:52Z 2013-10-08T16:33:41Z Just get her out 2 I said at the last election we should just get her out, but you lot didn't listen. The glaring hypocrisy of our MP was shown up on Wednesday. She signed the EDM on the conduct of the war in Iraq, demanding an enquiry. And then, when the chance came, she voted AGAINST. Way to go Ann. Nothing like consistency. (sorry, by way of that man over there)]]> tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/336879 2006-09-20T20:41:53Z 2013-10-08T16:33:41Z The best solution So, after all that, the Moor remains in Bradford's hands. But selling off Silver Well Cottage to finance improvements? Why? It smacks of selling off the family silver. What happens next time, in a few years, when Bradford still hasn't provided the money the moor requires? Retaining ownership is fine, as long as they start increasing the amount of money spent on it. Most cultural institutions over the past ten years have produced audits reflecting their impact in terms of cash, and other instrumental effects (help with social inclusion, etc.), in order to make their case for increased grants. Given the amount of tourist money the Moor brings into Bradford, the £10,000 per year provided by the Council was shameful. Given also the agenda around health, there are probably other funds and grants that can be applied for, without selling off local assets (and without re-introducing shooting without any consultation as happened last year). Actually, talking of other funds, our research elves dug up this story from a couple of years back--how the moor and other areas had received £850,000 of extra support back in 2003. So where's the moor's share of this money gone? Also note Danny Jackson suggesting the new group then created--SCOSPA--was the vehicle to receive a lot more money from European and other sources. So was the local trust ever needed?]]> tag:ilkleyrocks.com,2013:Post/336920 2006-08-31T00:46:01Z 2013-10-08T16:33:41Z Vaulting ambition Ate at Ilkley Moor Vaults on SUnday. After one local contact said they had 'the best chips in Wharfedale'. Praise indeed. No chips are being served on Sundays though. Haven't been since the re-fit. The old urine-stinking bar seems to have been replaced by a lovely stone real ale parlour, and the upstairs Mr Q's by a London gastro pub. Great service, very helpful, excellently kept beer, and (according to she who knows such things) lamb to kill for. I had a sort of mess of puy lentils, courgettes and goats' cheese which possibly wasn't to everyone's taste, but made a very nice alternative to rissotto. Dealt with food queries very well. Only downside was a lengthy wait for the mains. Which, given they only had ten or so people in, was a little surprising. However, we will be re-visiting very soon. REcommended, seriously hope the new owners make a go of it.]]>