Kirklees had a minority Conservative administration until last year when Labour and Lib Dem councillors joined forces to oust it and take over themselves. The issue that brought Labour and Lib Dems together was opposition to parental choice over schools.
It could well be that Parent Power is the crucial force that sweeps the Conservatives into power locally and nationally. Groups of parents are waitingg to take advantage of Michael Gove's planned reforms to allow state funding to follow the pupil into new, independent schools. For them a Conservative election victory would represent a liberation from the Lab/Lib Dem approach that they should just make do with whatever education the bureaucrats allocate for their children. Birkenshaw Middle School is a popular school with good results – but Kirklees Council wants to close it to allow for some grand ideological scheme. In so doing they are brushing aside the interests of parents who want a good education for their children.
Since the coup that ousted the Conservatives there has been a lack of accountability. The council has become secretive and run for bureaucratic convenience. After the Lab/Lib Dem take over last year they celebrated by advertising a new £119,000 post for Director of Organisation Development. It explained he job was to “play a key role in ensuring the effective integration of national, regional and local drivers.” I thought Yorkshiremen called a spade a spade.
So far as the General Election is concerned Kiklees is where it's at. It is made up entirely of target seats. They consist of Colne Valley (Target 27), Dewsbury (Target 96), Batley and Spen (Target 143), Wakefield (Target 151) and Huddersfield (Target 186.) The first couple are essential if we are to form the Government, the next couple would be important for securing a good working majority. Only the last one, Huddersfield, might be thought something of a "stretch target."
The Conservative Group on the council is led by a former soldier Cllr Jim Dodds. He is proud of what the Conservatives achieved when in power – such as free insulation and Council Tax discounts for pensioners. Good luck to him and his colleagues in seeking to take charge again after May 6.