'Tenuous' promise of 2,400 jobs at new Amazon warehouse in Yorkshire

There are doubts that thousands of jobs promised as part of plans for a massive Amazon fulfilment centre on farmland in West Yorkshire will materialise.

Campaigners who are against plans for a new warehouse on a 59-acre site near junction 26 of the M62 in Scholes, have questioned the employment figures.

Last year planning officers on Kirklees Council said it was “acceptable in principle” due to the 1,500 jobs it would create. That number has since swelled to 2,400.

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But objectors say other Amazon sites where green fields have been bulldozed have failed to deliver on jobs.

The site plan for the Amazon warehouse in CleckheatonThe site plan for the Amazon warehouse in Cleckheaton
The site plan for the Amazon warehouse in Cleckheaton

At Haydock near St Helens figures of between 2,500 and 5,000 jobs were quoted with “employment opportunities” providing justification for building a “sortation” centre. Locals say 90% have failed to materialise.

Similar fears are now emerging in the Spen Valley where objectors say the perceived benefits of the Amazon facility are outweighed by the “disbenefits”.

Liberal Democrat Councillor John Lawson is not convinced by the big numbers of anticipated jobs associated with the Amazon site.

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He said: “When you start to examine that closely it perhaps risks not delivering its promise.

“If these jobs don’t materialise there’s nothing the council can do as a local authority to hold Amazon to that promise because there’s no mechanism to enforce it. And by then it’ll be a done deed.”

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He added: “What does Cleckheaton gain from losing one of its last remaining green spaces? The promise of jobs is tenuous. It’s quite thin.

“So we’re in unknown territory. We don’t know that this is going to deliver jobs – but we know what’s going to be lost.”

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Councillor Lawson criticised the proximity of the Amazon site to Scholes village and said local roads faced being swamped by hundreds of HGV movements every day on a 24/7 operation.

He contrasted the location with another Amazon facility at Doncaster, which, he said, was “miles away from any residential area.”

He suggested the Scholes site was better placed as a science park for one of the county’s universities.

He said: “In the end there will be something built on that land because it’s in the Kirklees Local Plan, something we as Liberal Democrats voted against.

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“But why can’t it be something prestigious involving high-quality apprenticeships and career jobs with progression?

“It’s in a prime position with connections to the motorway yet it’s being sold at bottom dollar.

“The value of the Amazon jobs is a concern. We don’t know how many senior management posts will be local appointments or whether they will be existing Amazon staff dropped in to the facility.

“How many of the other jobs are going to be permanent? And how many will be low-skilled or unskilled.

“Employment is a main plank of the Amazon application. They are trying to swing all the disbenefits with one big benefit: jobs.”