James and local Labour candidates at Island Lodge
James and local Labour candidates at Island Lodge

James Frith MP and local Labour candidates and councillors for Elton, Tottington and North Manor are working together with Bury Council and local residents and community groups to secure the long term future of Island Lodge on the Kirklees Nature Reserve in Tottington.

The issues affecting the Lodge were brought to the attention of James by local Labour candidates and residents in Elton, Tottington and Greenmount at public meetings he held across the area in July and he committed to working with the council to get some answers and resolve the problems with this much loved beauty spot frequented by thousands of local people throughout the year.

James and his office have had extensive conversations with Bury Council in recent months to establish the facts of the situation, understand the challenges involved in resolving the problems faced by the Lodge and work to identify possible feasible solutions.

Here are the key issues:

  • Misconnected drains at some houses in Greenmount have been sending household waste into the overflow drain, which connects to Island Lodge, rather than into the sewer system.
  • The Victorian dam is slowly deteriorating, causing leakage from the Lodge and lowering the water level.
  • A combination of factors this year – the sewage, lower rainfall, higher temperatures and leakage – led to further lowering of the water level, a build up of weeds and algae, lower oxygen and higher CO2 levels, which led to the tragic death of some fish.

There is a separate issue with a drain on Mill Street which is not connected to the Island Lodge issue but which we have reported to the council.

James and your Labour team have spoken with Bury Council, the Environment Agency and United Utilities. We’re assured that the misconnected drains are being fixed, following joint efforts by the council and United Utilities to identify and inform the houses involved.

The dam is a more complicated and difficult issue to resolve which could cost many hundreds of thousands of pounds, which the council simply doesn’t have because of cuts to their budget. Here’s where we are:

  • Bury Council is carrying out an engineering report to assess the extent of the damage to the dam and the costs for any repair or replacement.
  • We’re working closely with Cabinet member Cllr Alan Quinn and Cllr Rishi Shori the leader of the council to develop innovative solutions. One idea we’re keen to explore further is the inclusion of the Kirklees Brook and Island Lodge in the Redvales and Radcliffe flood management plan, which our efforts secured significant funding for from government earlier this year.
  • We’ve also asked United Utilities to look at whether there are opportunities through their drain water management plan.
  • Conversations are now taking place between Bury Council, James Frith, the Environment Agency and United Utilities to explore these options further.
  • Should this avenue be unsuccessful, we’re also considering approaches to potential external funders including the Lottery, English Heritage, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

What your Labour team is calling for:

  1. A public consultation by the council to gather views not just on Island Lodge but the whole of the Kirklees Nature Reserve and The Lines, which has so much potential for improvement.
  2. Council backing for the new community-led Friends of Kirklees Valley and The Lines group as the best conduit to harness the passion of all interested parties for this vital green space.
  3. Ring-fenced funding from the council’s Social Capital Fund to be provided as match funding for any scheme to repair or replace the dam.

We are keen to work closely with the whole community who use the nature reserve and the Lines to resolve these issues and develop the whole area into the best possible resource it can be for the local community. Do contact James or your local Labour team to share your views and ideas.

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