FOLLOWING the Journal's highlighting of the Kirklees Valley on its front page last week the area was visited last Saturday by local Labour activists along with David Chaytor, the prospective parliamentary candidate for Bury North. After witnessing the environmental upheaval caused by some of Bury Metro's attempts at creating more open spaces for the public the Journal is taking the side of the environmentalists who would like to see at least one site in Bury devoted to wildlife. We say that with its parks, public footpaths, bridleways and nature trails the Borough already has more than enough space for its people to wander. It doesn't need more - but its wildlife does! And Kirklees Valley fits the bill.

David Chaytor was accompanied on his tour by Elton ward Councillor Glyn Heath, who is a keen conservationist, Elton Labour press officer Stuart Kaufman, prospective candidate for Elton Ward Andrea Hughes, and Elton Labour Party member Molly Stark.

He braved the wet weather to see some of the beauties - and some of the eyesores - in the valley.

Before the visit Mr Chaytor said: "We are keen to observe the valley and to consider the implications of the proposals for the area.

"We are particularly concerned about the natural environment and want to ensure that the Valley is not over-developed in the future.

"That notwithstanding, we are determined that the legacy of the Industrial Revolution should be properly cleared up so that future generations can enjoy the valley's full benefits.

"Over the coming weeks we will be consulting local residents and look forward to meeting as many people as possible."

Setting off from Brandlesholme Old Hall he visited the former Courtaulds Mill, now sadly dilapidated and earmarked for extensive development.

He also saw the Greenmount Wildbird Hospital where Molly is a keen member, and the Holcombe Hunt Kennels.

"I think the Council have drawn up a very good plan but I am not in favour of over-development" said Mr. Chaytor, who added that the public should certainly be consulted before any firm action is taken.

"We want to make the most of green lungs and a lot of dereliction needs to be cleaned up here," he added.

Mr Chaytor did not see the valley at its best but ploughed on through the mud to view one of the many attractive lodges.

In favour of preserving wildlife Mr. Chaytor nonetheless wants to see people enjoying "green lungs".

The Elton end of the valley has been selected for major development which could include houses, a hotel and a leisure complex.

Controversial Harry Smith, whose column is featured weekly in The Journal, says the valley should be dedicated to its wildlife and left in peace.

"Bury has enough parks, public footpaths and bridleways to satisfy the needs of its townspeople. Currently they are all being vandalised, and if they do eventually give the public better access to Kirklees Valley the same thing will happen there," he added.

"There isn't an area anywhere in Greater Manchester where wildlife takes priority. If Bury's councillors decide to tidy up the rough spots and leave the rest alone they'll be doing wildlife a big favour and making a unique contribution to conservation," he concluded.

We invited readers to voice their views. So far all favour leaving it untouched.

The valley is widely used by walkers and horse riders, and by children from Tottington High School who regularly take cross country runs through it.

People play sports, and motor bike scramblers use an area known locally as the Ashpits because it is covered in clinker from the workings of a former calico mill.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.