City of Wakefield

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This article is about the local government district. For the settlement, see Wakefield.
City of Wakefield
City and Metropolitan borough
A view over central Wakefield, from Sandal Magna
A view over central Wakefield, from Sandal Magna
Official logo of City of Wakefield
Coat of arms of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
Wakefield shown within West Yorkshire
Wakefield shown within West Yorkshire
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Ceremonial county West Yorkshire
Founded 1974
Admin. HQ Wakefield
Government
 • Type Metropolitan borough, City
 • Governing body Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
 • Lord Mayor Cllr Elaine Blezard
 • Leadership Leader & Cabinet
 • Executive Labour
 • MPs: Ed Balls (Labour),
Yvette Cooper (Labour),
Mary Creagh (Labour),
Jon Trickett (Labour)
Area
 • Total 130.7 sq mi (338.6 km2)
Area rank 127th
Population (2011 est.)
 • Total 326,400
 • Rank Ranked 19th
 • Density 2,500/sq mi (960/km2)
Time zone Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) British Summer Time (UTC+1)
ISO 3166-2 GB-WKF
ONS code 00DB (ONS)
E08000036 (GSS)
NUTS 3
Ethnicity 97.7% White
1.4% S.Asian
Website wakefield.gov.uk

The City of Wakefield /ˈwkfld/ is a local government district in West Yorkshire, England, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough. Wakefield is the district's administrative centre. The district includes the "Five Towns" of Normanton, Pontefract, Featherstone, Castleford and Knottingley. Other towns include Ossett, Hemsworth, South Kirkby & Moorthorpe and South Elmsall. The City and borough are governed by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. Wakefield lies between Leeds and Sheffield and is ranked as the 89th largest city in the European Union.

In 2010, Wakefield was named as the UK's third 'most musical' City by PRS for Music.[1]

Economy[edit]

In recent years, the economic and physical condition of several of the former mining towns and villages in Wakefield District have started to improve due to the booming economy of Leeds - and an increase in numbers of commuters to the city from the sub-region - and a recognition of undeveloped assets. For instance Castleford, to the North East of Wakefield is seeing extensive development and investment because of the natural asset of its outlook on to the River Aire, its easy access to the national motorway network and the availability of former mining land for house-building. In Ossett, house prices have risen from an average of £50,000 in 1998 to £130,000 in 2003.

Although unemployment was amongst the highest in the country for most of the 1980s and 1990s, Wakefield District now has below-average unemployment. The "Wakefield East" ward had 4.7% unemployment in May 2005 (source: Office for National Statistics) - which was more than 1% higher than any other ward. The eastern half of the district remains considerably less prosperous than the western half, with several deprived wards

The district is mainly made out of old coal-mining towns, although other industries include wool, chemicals, machine tools, glass and other forms of manufacturing. Horbury is something of an anomaly in having had a large steel works. When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 there were 21 pits in the district. By the time the 1984 Strike began this had decreased to 15, however it still had more colleries than any other district in the country. At the time of privatisation in November 1994, only two remained: the Prince of Wales at Pontefract, which closed in 2002, and Kellingley at Knottingley which is now the sole remainder of the industry that once dominated the district. Most of the district's pits had been very hardline during the 1984 strike.

History[edit]

The former Borough of Wakefield was raised to city status by letters patent in 1888. It became a county borough in 1913, taking it out of the jurisdiction of the West Riding County Council. The present boundaries were set in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, when the county borough of Wakefield merged with the West Riding municipal boroughs of Castleford, Ossett and Pontefract, the urban districts of Featherstone, Hemsworth, Horbury, Knottingley, Normanton and Stanley, along with Wakefield Rural District and parts of Hemsworth Rural District and Osgoldcross Rural District. The new metropolitan district's city status was reconfirmed by letters patent in 1974. The Council's headquarters is County Hall, originally built for the West Riding County Council and acquired by Wakefield in 1989.

Governance[edit]

The district is divided into 21 wards, with each ward represented on the district's Wakefield Metropolitan District Council by three councillors. Each councillor is elected on a first past the post basis, normally for a four-year period which is staggered annually with the other councillors of that ward so that only one councillor per ward is up for election at any one time. Exceptions to this include by-elections and ward boundary changes.

Wakefield Metropolitan District wards[edit]

Ward Areas covered[2]
1 Ackworth, North Elmsall & Upton Ackworth, Ackworth Central, Huntwick with Foulby & Nostell, Hessle & Hill Top, West Hardwick, Badsworth, North Elmsall, Thorpe Audlin, Wentbridge & Kirk Smeaton, Ackworth West, Upton
2 Airedale & Ferry Fryston Airedale, Ferry Fryston, Townville, Fryston Village
3 Altofts & Whitwood Normanton (Altofts), Normanton (Lee Brigg), Whitwood, Whitwood Mere, Roundhill, Half Acres, Normanton Industrial Estate, Featherstone North West
4 Castleford Central & Glasshoughton The Potteries, Central Castleford, Wheldon Road & Lock Lane, Glasshoughton, Redhill (part), Smawthorne Estate, The Maltkilns, Healdfield Area, Cutsyke
5 Crofton, Ryhill & Walton Chevet, Notton, Notton - Bleakley, Walton South, Walton North, Crofton, Ryhill, Wintersett, Havercroft with Cold Hiendley, Havercroft East
6 Featherstone Featherstone Central, Featherstone East, Featherstone North West, Featherstone South, Sharlston
7 Hemsworth Hemsworth South, Hemsworth East, Fitzwilliam, Kinsley, Hemsworth West, South Hiendley
8 Horbury & South Ossett Horbury Bridge, Horbury Central, Horbury Junction, Horbury North, Horbury West, Ossett Low Common, Ossett South East, Storrs Hill
9 Knottingley Ferrybridge, Hill Top, Knottingley South, Simpsons, Weeland, Cridling Stubbs (part)
10 Normanton Newland with Woodhouse Moor, Normanton, Normanton Woodhouse, Warmfield-cum-Heath (Heath), Warmfield-cum-Heath (Warmfield), Normanton Common
11 Ossett Broadowler, Flushdyke, Gawthorpe & Paleside, Headlands, Holme Lees, Ossett Central, Ossett Towngate, Ossett East, Ossett West,
12 Pontefract North Castle, Park, Monkhill, Central, Nevison, Barracks’ Estate
13 Pontefract South Baghill, Carleton, Chequerfield, Darrington, East Hardwick, Wakefield Road, Westbourne, Wentbridge (North)
14 South Elmsall & South Kirkby Moorthorpe, South Kirkby, South Elmsall
15 Stanley & Outwood East St John’s North, Outwood West, Bottomboat, Lake Lock, Newton Hill East, Outwood (Leeds Road), Stanley, Newmarket Lane, Stanley Lee Moor, Lofthouse Gate, Lofthouse
16 Wakefield East Heath View, Northgate, St Swithuns, Windhill, Pinders Heath, Belle Vue, Greenhill, Northgate South, Primrose Hill, Portobello, Northgate North, Stanley Marsh
17 Wakefield North Plumpton, Peacock, St John’s East, St John’s West, West Alverthorpe Central, Westgate Common, Silcoates, Kirkgate, Alverthorpe North, Newton Bar, Whitehall Rise, Batley Road, Flanshaw
18 Wakefield Rural Crigglestone, Durkar, Hall Green, Newmillerdam, Painthorpe, Middlestown, Netherton, West Bretton, Woolley East, Woolley (Haigh Hill), Woolley West, Calder Grove
19 Wakefield South Agbrigg South, Kettlethorpe, Sandal Castle, Sandal Woodthorpe, Agbrigg North, Belle Vue, Milnthorpe
20 Wakefield West Snapethorpe & Roundwood, West Alverthorpe South, Calder, Kirkgate South, Lupset East, Lupset East Central, Snapethorpe South, Lupset West Central, Westgate Central, Westgate North, Westgate South, Lupset Park, Roundwood, Wakefield Road
21 Wrenthorpe & Outwood West Kirkhamgate, West Alverthorpe North, Gentian Court, Newton Hill West, Carr Gate, Outwood (Ledger Lane), Outwood North, Lingwell Gate, Wrenthorpe, Silcoates

Elections[edit]

Party political make-up of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
   Party Seats Current Council (2012)
2010[3] 2011[4] 2012 [5]
  Labour 33 40 52                                                                                                                              
  Conservative 24 20 11                                                                                                                              
  Independent 5 3 0                                                                                                                              
  Lib Dems 1 0 0                                                                                                                              

The city was the safest Labour council in England in 2003, but there was a short-lived swing against Labour in recent years. After the 2008 election results the Labour Party had a majority of just one. However the death of Labour councillor Graham Phelps meant that the authority was for a time in no overall control.[6] Labour did however, hold the seat in the by-election in January 2010 restoring their majority.[7]

In the May 2010 local elections Labour held all of their seats and made a net gain of one seat from the Independents increasing Labour's majority on the Council to three. Following the defection of an Independent to Labour, Labour's majority was increased to 5.[8] In January 2011 a Conservative Councillor defected to become an independent Councillor, leaving the Tories with 23 seats.[9]

In May 2011 Labour increased their majority on the council to 15 making 5 gains, taking 3 seats from the Conservatives (Horbury and South Ossett, Pontefract South and Wrenthorpe and Outwood West), and 2 from the Independents (Featherstone and South Elmsall and South Kirkby). The Conservatives gained Ossett from the Liberal Democrats, which means there are no Liberal Democrat councillors in Wakefield.

The current Council make up is Labour 52, Conservatives 11 following the 2012 local elections held on 3 May 2012.[10]

Sports[edit]

The city district is home to three professional rugby league clubs, the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Castleford Tigers who both play in the Super League and Featherstone Rovers who play in the Championship. All three have had periods of success. Current England rugby league internationals from the area include; Tom Briscoe, Rob Burrow, Zak Hardaker, and Brett Ferres. Wakefield is also home to Wakefield F.C. association football club who play in Northern Premier League Division One North.

The district has a strong heritage of cricket with former Yorkshire and England captain Geoffrey Boycott born in Fitzwilliam and current Yorkshire and England cricketer Tim Bresnan from Pontefract.

Social aspects[edit]

The City of Wakefield MDC's Queen Anne style administrative HQ, County Hall (1898), Wakefield

Crime is generally lower in this district than in the rest of West Yorkshire. Other problems typical of such an area include rates of suicide that are consistently amongst the highest in the country and a heroin problem that saw addiction rise by an incredible 3361% between 2000 and 2004.

A decision was made, in 2004, to transfer the district's extensive council housing to Wakefield and District Housing (WDH), an 'independent' housing association, who would be more efficient with repairs and maintaining decent accommodation; as council housing represented almost 30% of the district, this was the second-largest stock transfer in British history. WDH are investing over £700 million to regenerate the District and working with partners, such as WMDC, are investing in new housing within the District.

Population[edit]

Settlement Population
Wakefield 76,886
Castleford 39,192
Pontefract 28,250
Ossett 21,076
Normanton 20,872
Featherstone 15,244
Knottingley 13,503
Hemsworth 13,311
South Kirkby 10,979
Horbury 10,002
Outwood 7,623
South Elmsall 6,107

References[edit]

Coordinates: 53°40′59″N 1°29′56″W / 53.683°N 1.499°W / 53.683; -1.499