Tories slash special needs funding in Calderdale by £6,514 per pupil

Tories condemned for slashing local special needs budget by £6514 per pupil
 
The Liberal Democrats have today condemned the Conservative Government for slashing Calderdale's budget for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by £6514 per pupil in real terms since 2015, resulting in a loss of specialist provision.
 
The National Education Union, which published these statistics on 15 April, has warned that local authorities have now reached crisis point. 
 

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Labour's air pollution plan thrown out as inadequate

Calderdale Council has sent Labour's air pollution plan back to the drawing board. The plan had a number of major flaws in it. As such it would have been inadequate at addressing Calderdale's air pollution problems. The plan will now go back to the drawing board for improvements, before coming back to Council.

We have the following concerns about the plan:

 

1.  It contained no clear dates for completing actions to improve air quality. In the Estimated / Actual completion date column, many actions simply have no entry. As shown below a few actions simply have the entry as being 'date'. 

2. No evidence of an impact assessment or the methodology used is included within the report. Whilst we are aware of how much we need to reduce air pollution to meet statutory requirements, the report does not state whether the interventions will meet these objectives. It does not even predict what the shortfall will be.

Many of the impacts are listed as being 'neutral', others are given vague categories such as 'moderate' or 'significant' with no prediction of the likely pollutant levels after the intervention, or the percentage decrease. All of these points were raised by Defra in the formal consultation to the plan. They can be read on page 59 of the report. The administrations attempt to address these points is clearly insufficient. 

Some of Defra's many criticisms:

"The Technical Guidance TG(16) states that the Local Authority should subject their AQAP measures to an impact assessment that provides a clear estimate of the emissions reductions the measures may be expected to deliver within an agreed timescale. 

It is also expected that there will be an assessment of whether the package of within the AQAP can expect to meet air quality objectives. These are expected to be reflected within a final action plan and future ASR reports. 


There is no evidence that the measures presented in Table 5 have been assessed for their impact and potential effectiveness to reduce emissions in the AQMA, and emissions reductions have not been quantified to an agreed timescale. "

3. The report makes no mention of air pollution sources other than traffic. Whilst traffic pollution makes up a sufficient amount of air pollution it is not the only source. Woodburner stoves and coal fires also contribute. As do some industries. The Council has statutory powers in relation to the enforcement of the Clean Air Act 1993 and the enforcement of smoke control areas. There is also a significant problem with people burning building waste in Calderdale.  This should form part of our general enforcement activities. This issue is not addressed in the report.

4. The report fails to set out an adequate plan for monitoring air pollution levels. There are now readily available dual laser air sensors. These networked devices upload their data straight onto the cloud and onto websites. We could easily monitor air pollution in real-time. Furthermore, these devices measure PM 1 and PM 10 alongside PM 2.5 which is mentioned in the report. Currently, no local authority in the UK measures PM 1 levels. These devices have been used in Salt Lake City in Utah to good effect. Details on how they are used can be found here.

For these, reasons we are glad the report is being sent back to cabinet. If some of the issues we are raising here are incorporated into a revised report then the outcome will be an improvement in the air quality in Calderdale. 

 


Javed Bashir is demanding better for Elland


Javed Bashir, pictured, a specialist in innovation and business growth is standing for the Elland ward at the forthcoming election to Calderdale Council.

Javed was born in Elland and has lived here all of his life. Speaking at a meeting of local Liberal Democrats Javed recounted the story

of how when his wife was about to give birth to their first son and his mum was helping out, the midwife arrived and his mum recognised her as the same midwife who had delivered Javed himself - so my roots are firmly anchored in Elland he said.
His grandfather came to Elland to fulfil the need for textile workers in the 1960's. Javed attended local primary schools and then Brooksbank School before obtaining a place at Huddersfield University. He graduated with an Honours Degree in Business Administration and Master's Degree in Innovation with Entrepreneurial Studies.

Javed now has four children with his wife Naseem who he met in Leeds, three boys (the youngest being born on the same day as HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge on 2ndMay 2015) and a girl. He works for a regional organisation as an Innovation Growth Manager. He has 20 years experience working in various sectors from start-ups to global organisations and specialises in business transformation. He is regularly involved in seminars and workshops helping to pass on his experience to the next generation.


Statement on Christchurch Killings

On the 15th March 2019, 51 people were brutally murdered by a white supremacist, a terrorist, during Friday prayers in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

As Calderdale Liberal Democrats, we offer our deep condolences to those affected by this needless act of barbarism. We condemn those that would visit such horror on innocent Muslims, and we condemn again those that would do it at a time of prayer. We offer our condolences to the families who have lost children, parents and family, but also to the many people in Calderdale who feel grief and fear over what has happened. We hope we can help console you at this time. As no person should have to grieve alone, also no community should have to grieve alone. We stand with you, as brothers and sisters.

As well as thought, there should be action.

There is a rise of radicalisation across the world, and as a political party, we will redouble our efforts to reduce this. This year, Calderdale Liberal Democrats tried to make changes to national Lib Dem policy to help curb the use of the internet to recruit and train white supremacists. We shall be taking these policies back to our national party and we will fight harder for them. I have already written to our Policy chair about this.

In line with national guidelines set out at Spring Conference, we will also demand better of ourselves in creating more diversity within the Liberal Democrat party. This will be applied in terms of members, but also our councillors and executive committee. Our communities can understand each other better if we work together & there is more diversity in our local party.

 

Sean Bamforth. 
Treasurer, Calderdale Liberal Democrats. 
Chair, Halifax Branch, Liberal Democrats.

 


Reverse the cuts to Safer, Cleaner, Greener teams

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Calderdale Council has cut its funding to Safer, Cleaner, Greener teams by over £400,000 a year. We face a double whammy of Conservative Government cuts and excessive borrowing by the Labour administration.

Nationally the deficit is reducing. The Conservative Government could choose to stop its cuts to Local Government. Yet further reductions in our grant mean budget cuts of £0.9M this year and £6.7M the year after. 

To make matters worse the local Labour administration won’t stop borrowing money. £7.6M for Northgate House is the latest expenditure. Council debt is set to rise from £78.6M in 2017 to a massive £124.1M by 2020. Now they plan to borrow £10M to spend on Market Towns. They have allocated this budget without even having an idea what the money will be spent on!

If we cancelled this planned borrowing the savings on repayments would equal £500,000 a year. Enough to reverse all the cuts to the Safer, Cleaner, Greener teams that maintain our public spaces. 

A Liberal Democrat Council would be prudent with finances. Lower waste and borrowing would mean we had more money now to spend on your priorities such as street cleaning and highways. 

Please sign our petition to reverse the cuts to our Safer, Cleaner Greener Teams


Liberal Democrat Budget Success

Following a six-hour long budget Council meeting that was stuck in deadlock, the Liberal Democrat group was successful in forcing concessions from the ruling Labour group, including a trial of extra mental health provision for children and young people.

All three political parties on Calderdale had produced their own Council budgets this year and all three agreed that Council Tax would have to rise by 2.99% to offset the Government’s reduction in funding for Council services.

 The Liberal Democrat budget contained proposals to:

  • Improve street cleaning;
  • Strengthen the action taken against fly-tipping and dangerous driving;
  • Increase the number of grit bins by 20%;
  • Remove the unpopular ‘Tip Tax’;
  • Provide funding for a two-year pilot project to address mental health issues in local schools;
  • Provide funding for the Council to implement carbon reduction schemes to address the ‘climate emergency’ that has arisen from climate change.”

It also proposed £1m fewer planned cuts than either the Labour or Conservative budgets.

This would have been achieved over the planned three-year budget with an additional 1% increase in Council Tax in 2020-21 and new methods of bringing funding into the Council such as crowd-funding and asking residents if they would make additional Council Tax contributions for projects.

Following votes on all three budgets, the Council was stuck in a deadlock with no budget passing. The Liberal Democrats suggested a cross-party solution that included something from everyone’s proposals. However, the Labour group were unwilling to go ahead with a Conservative party suggestion that some of our looked after children could be placed in boarding schools.

Cllr James Baker leader of the Liberal Democrat group said “The Labour group had initially amended their budget to include some of our proposals. We had already secured additional grit bins, funding for a project to tackle climate change and funding for war memorials. However, we wanted to hold out for a pilot of additional mental health services for young people.  I’m delighted that, in the end, we prevailed and funding has been provided for this scheme to go ahead”. 


Liberal Democrat Budget proposals

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We have published our alternative Council budget proposals for the coming year, and the two years after that.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) said: “Calderdale Council, like every other council, is having a very tough time balancing the growing need for services against the reducing amount of money provided by the government. It is a job that has to be done, though, and the Liberal Democrat group has tried to minimise the effect of any cuts and put extra money into the services local people tell us are of most concern to them.”

“Our budget contains proposals over the next three years to:

  • Improve street cleaning;
  • Strengthen the action taken against fly-tipping and dangerous driving;
  • Increase the number of grit bins by 20%;
  • Remove the unpopular ‘Tip Tax’;
  • Provide funding for a two-year pilot project to address mental health issues in local schools;
  • Provide funding for the Council to implement carbon reduction schemes to address the ‘climate emergency’ that has arisen from climate change.”

“All of this has to be paid for, so we think that the Council should plan to increase Council Tax by 3% in each of the next three years. The Council also needs to be more innovative in how it brings in extra money, so we are suggesting that schemes introduced by other councils are looked at. These include using crowdfunding as a source of funding local community projects and asking the better-off to make a voluntary contribution by way of additional Council Tax payments.”

“In addition, we would increase the additional Council Tax that can be levied on empty houses to the maximum permitted and reduce the Council’s borrowing for uncommitted capital schemes.”

“The result of taking these actions is that, when the Council comes to consult local residents on where further cuts should fall over the next few years, the savings the Council needs to find would be more than a million pounds smaller than that put forward by the Labour administration.“

You can download and read the full budget here

The equality impact assessments of our budget here


Labour & Conservatives reject Lib Dem calls for tougher CO2 reduction target

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Cllr James Baker moved an amendment to Labour’s motion on declaring a “Climate Emergency” seeking to strengthen it. James wanted the working party that Labour wished to set up to draw up “a costed action plan for Calderdale to be carbon neutral by 2030”. Additionally, James wanted this action plan to “set out how advice, encouragement and support can be provided to the people and businesses of Calderdale to take additional action in support of this aim”.

Labour were not happy, particularly with the bit about setting a target to work towards. Not for the first time, Labour rejected James’ call for target against which their performance could be measured. In lots of other areas the Cabinet has set targets. It’s almost as if Cabinet is picking and choosing targets that can more easily be met.
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We Demand Better from Council's Anti-Poverty Strategy

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Liberal Democrat councillors believe the Council’s Anti-Poverty Action Plan, which was recently discussed by the Cabinet, is not good enough. We have ‘called-in’ the Cabinet’s decision for further discussion at a Scrutiny Board meeting in the hope of strengthening the plan.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor James Baker said: “As I said at the Cabinet meeting, we welcome the fact that the Council is to have an action plan, but do not believe that the plan as it stands is ambitious enough. It reads like a list of loosely-linked, small-scale actions without any clear aims. We think the Council can do better, and we are demanding better from it”

 

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Pay Household Waste Workers a Living Wage

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A pay dispute between UNISON and Suez the company that delivers this contracted service is resulting in possible strike action here in Calderdale.

Currently some of the lowest are paid £7.93 per hour – 10p above the minimum wage – but were they employed directly by the Council they would be earning at least the ‘real’ Living Wage rate of £8.75 per hour.

As a living wage accredited employer Calderdale Council must put in place a plan to ensure all its sub-contractors are paid a living wage.

We have therefore written to the Labour administration running Caldedale to ask what plans they had in place with Suez to ensure workers collecting our household waste and recycling are paid the living wage.

If they are serious about paying the living wage then the Labour administration can’t just outsource the work to companies that pay below it.

 


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