This year for Calderdale's budget Council we will be submitting an amendment to the Labour's cabinets proposals. Our amendment includes the following proposals
- Creating a new affordable warmth insulation scheme to tackle rising bills and the climate crisis
- A new innovative approach to tackling litter and fly-tipping
- Expanding redevelopment schemes in North Halifax to cover a wider area
- Introducing a real-time air pollution monitoring system
- Scrapping the evening parking charges across Calderdale
We would achieve these areas of growth by
- Altering planning growth to reflect recruitment difficulties in sector
- Commercialisation of Town Hall Tours
- An alternative to children's residential care
- Adoption of Committee system and review of Councillor allowances
- Commercialisation transformation of Manor Heath Jungle Experience
Each of these proposals comes with an accompanying background document that you can view and download in our budget pack. We will update these to include Head of Finance comments, and equalities assessments once these have been completed by officers of the Council.
Commenting on these proposals Councillor James Baker, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group said
"People face a cost of living crisis and rising fuel bills. The Conservative Government has scrapped green home schemes leaving some of the poorest people in fuel poverty. We believe Calderdale Council must do more to tackle this issue and help people to reduce their bills by insulating more homes."
"We have also listened to local businesses who are complaining about the impact of increased evening parking charges on their businesses. Our proposals listen to what residents in Calderdale have been telling us on the doorsteps. For example time and time again we hear how the impact of litter and fly-tipping is spoiling people's enjoyment of their local environment."
"We work hard all year round in the areas we represent, and these proposals represent the concerns residents have raised with us."
"The financial situation the authority faces is still challenging. With rising inflation impacting heavily on the financial outlook of the authority. It's, therefore, a shame that the administration chose to give an extra £150K a year to a large company like Suez for providing a substandard household waste collection. Being tied into that decision meant there are fewer funds to spend on local services. We did explore whether we could remove that funding in our amendment, but were advised by officers that since the decision had been made we were now tied into it."
"We believe Calderdale Council could better mitigate the impact of Conservative cuts to services by making more of an effort to generate an income from some of its tourist assets, and exploring new ways of generating an income. Attractions like the Manor Heath Jungle Experience require investment to turn them into profitable enterprises. Our vision is for a 'Blue and Green' Planet attraction where residents and visitors could enjoy exploring fauna and flora from around our planet, and learn more about nature, conservation and sustainability."
"We need to increase and improve our offer to visitors. The Town Hall should be opened up to visitors to explore our unique culture, history and heritage. Proposals like Crowdfunding for community projects represent our attempts to find more ways to get funds to spend on projects that would improve our communities. We would urge the administration to implement previous ideas we have put forward such as a 'community lottery' for Calderdale. We need to empower communities."
"Finally we believe that the fiasco over the decision to build a 'too shallow' pool for Halifax expose the problems with the Leader and Cabinet Decision making process. Sadly major decisions are made by a handful of Councillors in the cabinet (handpicked by the Leader) behind closed doors. Other Councillors in the group are then whipped to support it.
"We would implement a more transparent Council where Councillors from all parties made decisions in public together on politically balanced committees. In doing this we would also save on the extra 'special responsibility allowances' paid currently to members of the cabinet."
Christine lives in Greetland, and has experience running successful businesses and a charitable homeless shelter. She has been selected to contest our target ward for Greetland and Stainland where we are working hard to win a seat from the Conservatives.
Chris Prashad Liberal Democrat candidate for Greetland and Stainland said:
"I have owned and managed a variety of businesses with my husband since 1979. For six years I also ran a charitable shelter for the homeless in Manchester. I believe that it was during this time that my eyes were fully opened to the injustices in our society.
Having moved to Greetland in 2004 from my birth town of Oldham, I was instantly struck by the friendliness of the people of the area and was welcomed with open arms so to speak."
"I am very passionate about the area in which I live and want to preserve the green spaces and character of Greetland and Stainland. I am a Committee member of the Greetland Norland and West Vale Neighbourhood Plan Committee. I’m well equipped to represent residents’ issues on the local plan.
Since being selected I’ve been working alongside Cllr Paul Bellenger and Cllr Sue Holdsworth. Together we will make a great team for our area."
"If I become a councillor for Greetland and Stainland I will have a far greater voice in representing residents. I’ll be able to apply my business experience, and my social conscience to improve the area I love to live in."
Boris Johnson has dragged the British public through hell and back in recent months.
Each new story about Covid laws being broken in Downing Street brings more pain for those who didn’t get to say goodbye to their loved ones. People who went months without seeing their family, and frontline workers who worked tirelessly to keep our country going.
While residents in Calderdale made sacrifice after sacrifice to protect each other, Johnson and the Conservatives partied on. He thinks he’s above the law - but he’s not. And it's time for him to go.
Councillor James Baker, Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats, said "We have written to Craig Whittaker MP calling on him to condemn the Prime Minister's behaviour. We call on him to submit a letter to the 1922 committee of Conservative backbench MPs to trigger a leadership contest."
"We are also urging Conservative Councillors in Calderdale to speak out and condemn Johnson's behaviour"
"It is time for this embarrassment to end"
Calderdale Liberal Democrat Councillors are calling for the Council to be tougher with waste collection firm Suez over recent failures to collect waste and recycling from Calderdale households.
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Ashley Evans (Warley) told us: “Calderdale residents are rightly angry that their waste and recycling are not being collected as they should be. This is a service that the Council, and therefore the people of Calderdale, pays a lot of money for and we all deserve a better service.”
“Suez have come up with a number of excuses for the drop in their performance, but the bottom line is they are not doing what they are paid to do. The Labour Leadership of the Council really needs to take a tougher line with Suez. Unlike the Council, Suez does not appear to be particularly short of money.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) added: “If Suez cannot complete all the collection rounds due to driver shortages, then surely they are saving money on wages and fuel. We think it is reasonable to ask that the people of Calderdale get a share of these savings as they are the ones receiving a reduced service.”
“It seems to us that the Labour leadership is being taken for a ride over this and this brings into question their ability to manage the Council’s finances. They need to be tougher with Suez to either get the service back up to agreed levels or get some money back” said Cllr Baker
The Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Government provide emergency support to rural communities who have been left without power for days after Storm Arwen.
In a letter to ministers from Liberal Democrat Communities Spokesperson Tim Farron MP warns that rural communities in areas like Calderdale are being taken for granted and “abandoned by the Government in their time of need.”
Tim Farron also raised the issue in Parliament yesterday and criticised the Government for failing to make an official ministerial statement on the issue.
The letter calls for ministers to step in and provide food, emergency accommodation and other essential supplies to vulnerable people on the ground impacted by the storm. It also urges the armed forces to be brought in to provide emergency electricity generators to communities until power is restored, and for the Government to provide additional support to engineers working hard to bring back power as soon as possible.
The Liberal Democrats are also calling for new rules requiring electricity companies to prioritise investing some of their profits into local power networks, to help prevent outages in future. The letter states that it is “frankly unacceptable” that people are being left for days without electricity. The plans would require electricity providers to restore electricity to homes as soon as possible when power cuts do occur, or face fines from the regulator Ofgem.
The Liberal Democrat proposals would mean electricity companies like SP Energy Networks in Shropshire, which made £80.7 million in profits last year, would have to invest more in strengthening local power supplies.
Liberal Democrat Communities Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:
“It is a disgrace that families in rural areas have been abandoned by the Government for days following Storm Arwen. Ministers need to urgently step up and provide emergency support to those impacted, while taking action to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“People in our rural communities are fed up with being taken for granted and left without proper support when things go wrong.
“We are calling for strict new rules that would force electricity providers to invest more in local power networks, with a duty to restore electricity as soon as possible when power cuts do happen.”
Councillor James Baker Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said:
"Parts of Calderdale have been left without power for days. It simply isn't good enough. We clearly need to bolster our national ability to respond to disasters and emergencies."
Calderdale Liberal Democrats claim plans to cut the Eastern leg of HS2 and scale back the Northern Powerhouse Rail represent another broken promise from Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government.
Councillor James Baker (Warley), Leader of the Calderdale Council Liberal Democrat Group said:
“The Conservative party promised it wouldn’t raise taxes on working people, then broke that promise. They promised they wouldn’t scrap the triple lock for pensions, then broke that promise. So, is it any surprise they have broken their promise of rail improvements for the North of England?”
“Proposals to cut the Eastern leg of HS2 will set back plans to improve rail capacity on our networks – dashing the opportunities for increased passenger connectivity, and rail freight, along with all the environmental benefits that brings.”
“As we look to the future, this leaves West Yorkshire and the Northeast of England further isolated from the global economy with diminished future transport and economic opportunities.”
“Increased red tape from leaving the single market was one nail in our Northern economy, scaling back infrastructure improvements is another. Is it any wonder the Northern regions of England are among the most economically deprived in all of Northern Europe?”
“This U-turn on investment in the North also represents a massive lobbying failure by local Government leaders in West Yorkshire, and so-called “Red-Wall” Conservative MPs. If between them they can’t generate enough influence over Whitehall and the Government what hope is there for our future? It just shows we have nodding noddy Conservative MPs in West Yorkshire and Labour council leaders whose influence is considerably less than they would have us believe” said Cllr Baker
Craig Whittaker MP for Calder Valley votes to water down sleaze rules
Responding to yesterday's vote in Parliament in which local Conservative MP Craig Whittaker voted to water down rules for dealing with MP sleaze and corruption, Liberal Democrat Cllr James Baker said:
“It is shameful that our local Conservative MP voted to water down rules aimed at preventing political sleaze.
“Local constituents deserve better than this stitch up that is dragging our politics through the mud.
“We’ve already seen this government wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, from dodgy Covid contracts to the refurbishment of Boris Johnson's flat.
“Tough rules and independent scrutiny are vital to prevent yet more sleaze scandals that end up with more public money being wasted."
National issues are having a detrimental effect on some local bus services and need to be addressed, says local Liberal Democrat councillor, Amanda Parsons-Hulse (Warley) who chairs the Transport Scrutiny Committee of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Cllr Parsons-Hulse told us: “Local residents have contacted me about reductions in some local bus services that are causing problems for getting to work, school and out to the shops.”
“I am told that there are a number of problems – some of them national – that are combining to make things difficult on some routes and school buses. Some drivers have been ill with Covid-19 and others have gone off to be HGV drivers, to address the shortage that has been so much in the news recently. Additionally, getting MOT tests for buses is proving difficult due to the backlog.”
“On the positive side, new buses have been ordered and delivered and some of these are smaller buses that should make routes more economical to run and so lessen the risk of them being withdrawn altogether. Some of these are more environmentally friendly than those they are replacing. The delivery of new buses has, though, been affected by the supply chain issues we’re all well aware of.”
“All of these factors have combined to make travelling by bus more difficult. I urge all the affected bus operators to increase their efforts to solve these issues and, just as importantly, keep their customers informed about changes to timetables and reduced services. The travelling public deserves to be kept up-to-date with what is going on” said Cllr Parsons-Hulse.
At tonight's meeting of Calderdale Council we are calling for an urgent re-think of proposed plans for Halifax Swimming Pool. Halifax has been left without a pool since the existing Halifax Pool was shut under a safety pretext within the COVID lockdown. Although previously being told there would be a like for like replacement. the plans drawn up by Labour Town Hall bosses show a lack of ambition, and fail to meet the needs of many of the previous users of Halifax Pool. Most notably, there are
- Too shallow for the synchronised swimming club.
- No diving boards or facilities.
- A lack of children friendly activities such as slides, water cannons or play equipment.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Sue Holdsworth is proposing a motion to Council to ask the administration to change these plans.
If you want to support a better Pool for Halifax, a number of residents are coming to the Town Hall at 5pm on Wednesday 22nd September to show their support.
Motion to Council
Calderdale Liberal Democrats have vowed 'never again' in their fight to combat anti-Semitism across the Borough. Our pledge comes as images of an individual parading a poster of Netanyahu flanked by swastikas, blood around his mouth with the title "murderer of children" come to light.
This hate incident occurred at an event in May in Hebden Bridge. It was organised by Halifax Friends of Palestine that is chaired by the Labour Cabinet member Councillor Jenny Lynn. The anti-Semitic images at this protest use iconography of Nazism, and play on the trope of the 'blood libel' to attack the actions of the State of Israel. The images paraded at this protest are threatening, and abusive and seek to stir up racial hatred in our Borough.
Councillor James Baker, Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said: "We are opposed to all forms of hatred and racism in Calderdale. We are fully committed to rooting out racism wherever we encounter it. We are calling on Councillor Jenny Lynn to publicly condemn the symbols of hate on display at an event she has organised.
"As the lead member responsible for public safety, she must speak out and show leadership in attempts to tackle all forms of racism. Silence is complicity. We have reported this as a hate incident to West Yorkshire Police, and we hope they will investigate whoever was behind it. We urge anyone who wants to support the cause of the Palestinian people to learn how to do this while also combating anti-Semitism. Layla Moran MP the first British MP of Palestinian descent has written about this, and I encourage people to read her words."
Update: The Police Crime Reference number for this incident is:13210443777. Please do contact West Yorkshire Police if you know who this indivdual is.