Lib Dem Councillors Paul Bellenger, Marilyn Greenwood and Sue Holdsworth are fighting to save Clay House after the Labour-run Council mothballed the Jacobian building.
Clay House is a popular wedding venue and is the local War Memorial. Not just the plaques inside the House but the house itself, where Remembrance Day services have been held for many years.
Paul said: “Clay House is an iconic building that should be used to benefit of local people not flogged off to the highest bidder.”
Now that Greetland Library has closed down, the Lib Dems believe that a Library could be placed in Clay House, so that local people don’t lose local services.
Paul added: “Clay House could be so profitable with some additional business nous: A Central Ward Library, Local History and Visitor Centre housed in the left wing. The Bar and Reception can be secured from the Main Hall and could operate separately daily as a Tea and Coffee Shop - there are many opportunities! It’s wrong that local people could lose BOTH Clay House and Greetland Library, so I hope local people will back our campaign by signing the petition.”
Calderdale Liberal Democrats are pressing the Council to provide free school meals during the upcoming school holidays for those entitled to them.
Cllr Ashley Evans (Liberal Democrat, Warley) told us: “The government won’t take action on this matter, so it is even more important that the Council does. We have all seen the campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford on this issue and we need to show our support not just in words, but by taking action.”
“Those children who are entitled to free school meals get them only during term time and what happens during school holidays a real concern. Many parents will be facing reduced income and redundancy, so anything the Council can do to help will be of real benefit to those most in need.”
“Liverpool and Doncaster councils have already taken action on this matter, and I expect them to be joined by other councils in the near future” said Cllr Evans.
“I know the Council’s finances are tight, but the Council should take action on this matter. If it can’t do it all itself, the Council could work with local schools and businesses to provide some help to those who need it. The half-term holiday is almost upon us, but no one knows how long the current situation will last. Christmas is not that far away, then another half term and Easter”
“I will be contacting the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, and the Director of Children and Young People’s Services urging them to take action on this pressing issue” said Cllr Evans.
Calderdale Council’s Labour Cabinet has published the first of its lists of services to cut and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Among the cuts are:
Libraries – six community libraries face the chop
Public Halls – three public halls will remain closed and the buildings sold unless the local community takes them on
Household Waste Sites – closures and reduced opening hours are being considered
Rubbish Collection – your bins might be emptied only every three weeks and all Landrover collections to rural properties stopped.
Recycling – might be collected only every fortnight
School Bus Fares – up by over £3 per week
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the Council, Cllr James Baker, says: “Labour are taking an axe to many services that are valued by local residents and which improve the quality of life for people in Calderdale. And this is only the start – more cuts will be brought forward later in the year, and then there’s next year’s budget to consider.”
“If these proposals were included in the normal budget process, then the public would be consulted on them. As it stands, there are no plans to ask local residents what they think about these cuts. Furthermore, the paper containing these cuts has never been published on the Council's key decision list. This breaks the rules around executive procedures for the Local Authority and will make any decision at risk of a legal challenge."
“The financial situation facing the Council is indeed dire. This is mainly due to the actions the Council has taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that is not the only problem. Back in March, the Conservative government urged councils to do what was necessary to tackle coronavirus and promised to provide the necessary funding. That promise has not yet been kept, so we urge the government to match its words with actions that will allow this council – and all other councils – to keep on providing the local services that people value so highly.”
You can sign a petition against the proposed changes to the household waste and recycling services here
Concerns about the future of school crossing patrols were raised at a meeting of Calderdale Council (2nd September) by Cllr Sue Holdsworth (Liberal Democrat, Greetland and Stainland).
Cllr Holdsworth told the meeting that she had been contacted by concerned parents who had heard that the service might be withdrawn and one ‘lollipop lady’ who was unsure if and when she would be back at work.
“There was confusion at the meeting about which cabinet member is responsible for this service and who pays for this service. It seems that it depends on whether the school is an Academy or is maintained by the Council”.
“Either way, I would urge all concerned to ensure that this vital service is maintained. Parents and children will already have safety concerns about the return to school and don’t need any extra worries.”
“I understand that there will be additional complications at the moment, especially if schools are having staggered starts that mean crossing patrols need to be in place for longer at each end of the school day. However, I think these problems can be overcome.”
“Pupils need to be safe at school and to get there safely. The Council is encouraging people to walk to school and not be reliant on parents’ cars, but this will only happen if parents and children are reassured about safety.”
“I hope everyone involved in discussions about the future of crossing patrols can work out a solution that keeps this vital service in place”, said Cllr Holdsworth.
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.
This week Liberal Democrat Councillor Marilyn Greenwood said she respected Cllr Sophie Whittaker for "having the guts to give her opinion and speak out" for writing an article attacking the black lives movement. The article can be read on the Halifax Courier's website at this link.- https://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/news/opinion/calderdale-councillor-criticises-council-leaders-actions-supporting-black-lives-matter-movement-2919220. Cllr Greenwood also made the comment that "all lives matter, all lives are equal" in relation to this post, and made reference to the murder of Lee Rigby despite requests by his mother for people not to do this.
Cllr James Baker Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said: "Liberal Democrat values of justice, equality and liberty should compel us to back the Black Lives Matter movement."
"Cllr Sophie Whittaker's article attacked the Black Lives Matter Movement. It criticised the Chief Executive of the Council's attempts to tackle institutional racism. It also criticised the Council for lightening up Wainhouse Tower in support of the movement. Furthermore, it mistakenly claimed the entire movement was run by Marxists, which is self-evidently not true as Liberals also support it."
"Saying "all lives matter" as a response to the black lives matter movement is also problematic. The problem is not all lives are currently being treated equally, that's why it's important that we state that black lives matter. It is worth reading this article in Prospect that explains the problems of using this phrase in response to the issues of racism raised."
"As the leader of the group I have taken the decision to start an investigation under the internal procedures of our Council group into the comments and social media posts made by Councillor Marilyn Greenwood."
Uyghur genocide raises questions over Calderdale Council's closer links with China
Source: Uyghur Human Rights Project
In recent years Calderdale Council has been developing closer economic links with the Yingtan province in China.
But images of the genocide being committed against the Uyghur people should cause us to pause and question this relationship.
Cllr James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said "In Britain we value human rights. We must speak up against the genocide being committed by the Chinese Government against the Uyghur people."
"Images of people lined up like cattle waiting to be packed onto trains makes me feel sick in the stomach."
"Calderdale Council has been fostering closer economic and social ties with China. As part of that relationship we have a moral duty to raise our concerns over the treatment of the Uyghur people."
"We can't just turn a blind eye as to what is happening because it's in our economic interests."
"I am calling on the Leader of the Council to write to our counterparts in the Yingtan expressing our concerns over the genocide that is occurring in the Xinjiang."
This intervention follows the Chinese Ambassador to the UK denying on The Andrew Marr Show that the Uyghur people are being transported across China for forced labour in factories.
Last night, at a meeting organised by the Green Party, the Calderdale Liberal Democrats announced that they would not be standing a local election candidate in Northowram and Shelf, in order to give the Green candidate there a better chance of winning.
Choosing to not stand a candidate in an election is a serious undertaking, and this is not a decision that has been taken lightly. People feel a connection to the principles of the Liberal Democrats, and they want to vote for candidates that reflect those principles. To our Liberal Democrat Voters in Northowram and Shelf, we hope you understand our reasons for doing this.
The planet is in a state of existensial crisis. To avoid the most catastrophic consequences of rising CO2 levels, political parties need to work together. Governments need to work together. In places where progressive green values are not being met, radical actions need to be taken to ensure we do work together. This has to be something less cynical than asking other political parties to stand down so our own party can gain more power. We need to bring green voices to the council.
For these reasons, we are making this first step. We will not field a candidate in Northowram and Shelf. We ask that people vote for the Green Candidate in that ward. This offer has been made without expectation of anything in return.
Good Luck Elaine.
We are calling on the government to immediately reduce the requirements for new housing sites in areas that have recently and repeatedly been flooded.
Cllr Paul Bellenger (Liberal Democrat, Greetland and Stainland) has launched a petition calling on the government and local Member of Parliament to support changes to the planning rules.
Cllr Bellenger said: “We are launching this petition to allow local people to have their say on this important matter and show to the government the strength of local feeling.
“Flooding incidents over the last few years have shown us that these are not rare events, but are becoming more frequent. Allowing houses to be built in areas that should now be seen as likely to flood is just creating problems for the future. People living in any such new houses will have to go through the heart-breaking experience of having their home flooded and the effects of flooding on existing homes will be increased. We need to take action now to stop this.
“The number of new housing sites to be included in the Local Plan is driven by government policies. Those policies need to be changed to take more account of the changing local situation. The government should ease the pressure on Calderdale Council to find housing sites by reducing the number of houses it thinks will be needed. If this number isn’t reduced then the problem will simply be moved around.
“Action really is needed now” said Cllr Bellenger.
You can sign the petition here