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Jackie Whiteley stands down as a District Councillor

As many of you may have heard, Jackie Whiteley has stood down in her position as District Councillor for the Wharfedale Ward. This represents a great loss to our local community. Jackie is both well liked and well respected for her work in at Council and within the Wharfedale Ward.

In Jackie’s own words…

I write to inform residents that I have taken the difficult decision to stand down as a District Councilor on Bradford Metropolitan District Council for personal reasons.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents of Burley in Wharfedale and Menston for their support for me since I was first elected in 2012. It has been a privilege to serve the community and to represent them as an elected member of Bradford Council. During my time on the Council, I was also, for a time, a member of Burley Parish Council and a member of Leeds Bradford Airport’s Consultive Committee. I will look back on my experience in these roles warmly.

As a Councilor I have taken up residents’ individual grievances on problems directly associated with Council services and derived much satisfaction from helping people. I have also worked on issues affecting everyone, for example, in Menston I campaigned to gain funding from Network Rail to make Menston Station accessible to all users and a new lift will be built in 2022. Additionally, the pavements outside Menston Primary School are to be widened to make it safer for all users.  In Burley in Wharfedale we will see ownership of a part of the recreation ground finally transferred from the Dept. of Transport. I am cautiously optimistic that they will pay for the drainage that was promised when the land for the bypass was compulsory purchased, providing a good surface for the many football teams that use the facility. I hope these developments, which affect us all, will be of benefit in the years to come.

When I was a Parish Councilor on Burley Parish Council, I voted to keep the Library Building and to invest in renovating the Queens Hall. Both venues are now valuable community assets. Having made good use of these throughout my own time in Burley, over 30 years, this is something I take great pride in.

As a District Councilors I have served on Council Committees including Planning and School Transport Appeals. Membership of committees is in proportion to the number of seats held in the Council, so the Labour Party in Bradford have dominated the committees during my time on the Council. In spite of this and the challenges this has raised, I have always tried to remain a voice of reason and to put forward clear arguments which represent the views and interests of the electorate that I serve. I will miss doing this.

The Conservative Group in Bradford are the main opposition to the Labour group, and it has been an honor to serve as a Shadow Spokesperson for Health and Wellbeing, for Looked After Children and for Planning and Highways at various times since 2012. As part of the former I was also a member of Bradford’s Health and Wellbeing Board. In Council I spoke out about the underfunding of Care Homes and instigated talks between the then new Strategic Director for Health and Wellbeing and the Bradford Care Association which subsequently dropped their Judicial Review against the Council.

In addition to the highs, there has also been challenging times.

In my role as the Conservative Group Spokesperson for Looked after Children I continually argued in Council that it was folly to reduce the pay of foster carers and to point out that Bradford Council was losing both experienced carers and social workers to other Authorities because the Council was not paying the going rate. The spiraling cost of paying outside agencies to make up for the shortfall in staff since then has proved the point and shows the importance of having a strong opposition in local democracy.

The Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) planning application has been a great frustration because it was decided by Leeds City Council for which I had no jurisdiction. I tried in vain to get Bradford Council as Statutory Consultees to stand up for us. I wrote again to Leeds City Council, last week, as Councilors there were considering the ’conditions’ attached to the application they had already approved. I asked that they not allow the expansion of flying hours until the terminal buildings were completed because I feared we would get the pain of extra flying hours without the gain of a new terminal. I was delighted to read that Councilors in Leeds decided against Leeds Bradford Airport’s new request to fly more planes first. This decision is important for resident’s health and wellbeing.

In addition, I have fought long and hard to stop the planning application at Sun Lane along with Gerry Barker, Dale Smith, our MP Phillip Davies, and local people. We campaigned rigorously to prevent the Burley development and it was a great achievement to have our arguments accepted by the Secretary of State who called in the application and turned it down. It has been a considerable disappointment to learn very recently that the combined effort and money of Bradford Council and the developers saw the decision overturned in the High Court which the Secretary of State was obliged to accept if further reasons could not be found against it.

Bradford Council is behind other Council’s in not having a five-year land supply. In short, this means that Bradford Council has not approved sufficient planning applications to have five years’ worth of building land going forward. This is a requirement that all Councils are obliged to abide by.  Leeds City Council have complied and that has made it easier for protesters to overturn planning applications on greenfield and Green Belt land in Leeds. In my time on the Council Bradford planners have used this argument to justify depleting the Green Belt all over the District and by designating Burley in Wharfedale as a local ‘Growth Zone’ this further added to their case.

I have argued relentlessly that Brownfield sites, of which there are many, should be built on first and that the Council should use the £millions of Government funding recently granted to remediate Brownfield sites so that they are economically viable. Bradford has sited this as the main reason for not bringing sites forward.

I am sure that my colleagues will continue to hold Bradford Council to account, and I will greatly miss both the active campaigning and being on the side of those people who have felt helpless in this process.

Finally, I want to say thank you to Council Officers who have worked positively with me during my time on the Council and to reiterate that it has been a privilege of serve the community. Despite my resignation, I look forward to continuing to be an active member of our community, along with my husband Geoff, in an informal role.

Yours faithfully

Jackie Whiteley

Retired Conservative District Councilor for Wharfedale Ward.