Could I suggest that you, the Calderdale councillors, take a flask, sandwiches, your children or grandchildren and an open forward thinking attitude and stroll down the magnificent Copley Valley.
You must, or course, look around and really see, don’t be distracted by contracts, clauses and cash.
Already a nature reserve of its own making, you could then calculate, when not watching the ducklings, how many other people would like to go for a stroll with their flasks and sandwiches to look at the kingfishers, herons, deer, otters, foxes, bats, reed beds; in fact the whole diversity of flora and fauna by the river, canal, in the woods and beyond. And with your environmental calculators, how much these valuable commodities could bring rewards and satisfaction to the local people and local economy.
You may not, of course, see the beauty, having pound signs, industrial units, warehouses, car parks, unaffordable houses and apartments, questionable contracts and 577 jobs for the contractors who will leave the area as soon as the corporate settlement is complete and the Gener8 developers are counting their cash.
How different it would be to support a plan for an extensive nature reserve, which people would read about and to come and visit, a good family day out.
They could visit Sowerby Bridges’ market and shops before they set off on the nature trail and finish off with supper at one of the many Sowerby Bridge eating places. Can’t you see it? Wouldn’t it make you proud to have planned and executed such an exciting scheme?
Wild places are a precious, precious gift, we have all this down in the Copley Valley.
And the local people, who packed into the Council Chambers and all those who wrote letters to you and ‘phoned you and organised themselves into dynamic protest groups, who did their research well and spoke so passionately about the major flaws and untold damage your present plan would cause would then support you to the hilt.
Sadly at present you have only the deceitful cover up of toxic soil on the Milner Royd allotments, a new road the highways department have objected to, stating publicly it will cause traffic chaos, planned car park for Lloyds/TSB, a sealed off bridge which stops walkers from crossing the river to the canal, looking remarkably solid, but to be re-built, yet have stated you have no money to fix the bridge to Milner Royd re-cycling centre which is obviously dropping to pieces.
Pretty bad publicity all round.
So maybe it’s time for you to say ‘We decided to follow our conscience, we will be open and honest, we will prove we are a democratic bunch after all, we will listen to the local people, we will apologize to the plot holders and do every thing to right the situation, yes we finally understand’.
Then you could nip down to watch the bats and unwind.
As councillors who are voted in to serve the people, you do have an obligation to them.
Here’s the choice, lose our trust with an ill thought out plan that we think has a strangely dubious ring to it or a clear, clean conscience, knowing you have served the people well.