The Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire has voted 10 to 2 in favour of moving Huddersfield closer to London. The vote comes after a long public consultation that was largely supportive of the proposal, although some residents of the town expressed severe reservations about the move which is now set to go ahead to coincide with the Olympics in 2012. Although the exact site for the town has yet to be decided officials have announced that the most likely location will be east of Potters Bar in Hertfordshire.
The move is likely to revive the economy of Huddersfield which has seen swinging cutbacks in funding for local services such as owl maintenance, chip degreasing and radiators. Towns in the south have suffered less with cutbacks than comparative areas in the north since the general election in 2010 and Huddersfield residents are hoping for a dramatic increase in financial support for the popular local sport of newt-baiting.
After the move has been completed prices for a rail ticket to the capital will be slashed from an average of £88.50 to just £6.90 although First Great Western Railways, which currently operates the line, have stated that the journey time will be unaffected and will remain at approximately three hours. Adele Fortingsworth, a spokesperson for the train operator, explained "We currently have 190 miles of track running from London to Huddersfield and are contracted by Network Rail to utilize and maintain it until our contract is renewed in 2019. Accordingly we cannot legally cease using the line so once the town moves south the tracks will be relocated to encircle the town 27 times in a spiral, which will be approximately 190 miles."
Not all inhabitants of the town are happy with the move, though. Iain D'Offpeak, a local spider technician, spearheaded the campaign to vote against the proposal and was so vocal during the public consultation that the local paper, The Huddersfield Strangely, dubbed him "Iain". "I have nothing against the south per se", he explained, "but for goodness sakes has anyone thought of the children? Will someone please think of the children. They will be teased mercilessly because of their Yorkshire twangs when leaving Huddersfield and visiting the new local towns, such as St. Albans and Welwyn Garden City for, say, sweets or drugs."
Although the contract to move the town has yet to be put out to tender, the repositioning of the town is not likely to be easy. A similar proposal was rejected by Lincoln in 1978 on feasibility grounds when it was suggested the town move east and 65 miles into the North Sea to revive its flagging fishing industry, which had been suffering significant difficulties due to the town being permanently landlocked. More recently in 1999 an attempt was to move Swindon into the channel tunnel but was abandoned after the RSPB legally intervened to save the local population of starlings which could not survive underground.
There have, however, been some success stories in area relocation. In 1941 Ashford Airfield was regularly used by the allies to launch bombers against Germany due to its favourable proximity to the east coast, however Churchill feared retaliation against the airfield from the Luftwaffe and the entire field was moved to Fort William in Scotland. The topsoil wasn't returned to Ashford until 1972.