Council must debate response to Covid-19 pandemic



All members of Calderdale Council should meet to discuss the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial problems facing the Council, says the Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr James Baker (Warley).

The full Council has not met since February and is not scheduled to meet again until early September, though other meetings have been held remotely.

Cllr Baker said: “While we are grateful to all Council officers for their hard work and dedication to serving the public, major decisions are being taken under emergency powers with little democratic oversight. We believe there is an urgent need for the full Council to debate and discuss the situation we find ourselves in.

“Also, the local authority faces a dire financial situation. The Council is currently forecasting an overspend of over £17million and though much of this can be attributed to the pandemic, there are underlying pressures of £4.7million where the Labour administration has failed to meet its savings targets.

Cllr Baker continued: “I have written to the Mayor asking that she uses her powers to place an item on the agenda of the next Council Meeting so that all members can have their input. A meeting is already scheduled for September, mainly to discuss the devolution proposals for West Yorkshire, but the Council’s position with regard to the pandemic is at least as important.

“The Liberal Democrat group wants to see three things: that the current decision-making process has input from more than just Labour councillors; that any budget proposals are subject to public consultation, and that some form of scrutiny body is established to look at what the Council has done so far so that lessons can be learnt for the future. Our over-riding concern, though, relates to the democratic processes.

“There is no doubt that all local councils have suffered from years of underfunding and undermining by the Conservative government but we are where we are and the Liberal Democrat councillors want to play their part in building a better future” said Cllr Baker.

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