Flying the flag

There is a story in the Express UKIP fury as Labour and Lib Dems ‘claim Union flag is nasty and nationalistic. This story is based off a Conservative party press release that UKIP MEP Jane Collins has reacted to. She is quoted as having said:

They’re quite happy to take their expenses off the British taxpayer yet insult the country by saying that children should not sing the national anthem and that the Union Flag is ‘nasty’.

We categorical deny having called the Union Flag nasty, and wonder where the UKIP MEP who wasn’t at the meeting got this quote from. It’s an example of really bad journalism where one person makes an allegation, and then it’s reported in the headline in a way that makes it seem like a fact.

What’s alarming is how quickly some people have accepted that story as gospel. At least one UKIP supporter has suggested that we ought to be hung for treason! UKIP should be ashamed of this type of incitement to violence from one of their supporters.

We have no problem if schools choose to fly the flag or sing the anthem. We said we don’t think it’s the role of the Council to encourage them to do this. I find it immensely hypocritical that the Conservatives  having spent years arguing schools should be run separately as academies  now see the Council as an appropriate vehicle to try and tell them how to teach citizenship.

Our position is clear,  It’s down to teachers and governors to decide how to teach citizenship and choose themselves whether they want to fly flags, not the Council. We expect many will choose to spend 15 mins on education rather than saluting the flag and singing the anthem.

Below for the sake of clarification is the wording of the Labour amendment to the Conservative motion. This amended was carried and that became the substantive motion the Council passed. Noticed nowhere does it call the flag ‘nasty’, in fact it includes a schedule of days in which we WOULD fly the flag on Council buildings and promote citizenship ceremonies.


The full text of the motion is as follows:

Flying the Union Flag

This Council: 
(a) Notes that promotion of our British values and participation in civil society is an important part of the national curriculum, and recognises that headteachers and governors have the responsibility for determining the most appropriate ways of applying and promoting our shared values within their school community.

(b) Resolves to continue to delegate decisions over the flying of flags from the Town Hall and other civic buildings to the Governance and Business committee, in consultation with the Civic Advisory Group, and notes the current arrangements agreed by the Council as per below:

(c) Requests the Governance and Business Committee to consider how greater prominence can be given to Citizenship Ceremonies, highlighting the commitment show to this country by those who seek to adopt our citizenship.


Date Event Flag 
9 January Birthday of the Duchess of Cambridge Union Flag
20 January Birthday of the Countess of Wessex Union Flag
6 February Her Majesty, The Queen’s Accession Union Flag
19 February    Birthday of The Duke of York Union Flag
10 March   Birthday of The Earl of Wessex Union Flag
21 April       Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen Union Flag
23 April St George’s Day           St George’s Flag
2 June          Coronation Day Union Flag
10 June    Birthday of The Duke of Edinburgh      Union Flag
moveable date in June        Official Celebration of Her Majesty’s    Birthday Union Flag
21 June Birthday of the Duke of Cambridge Union Flag
17 July Birthday of The Duchess of Cornwall     Union Flag
15 August Birthday of The Princess Royal   Union Flag
Second Sunday in November Remembrance Day   Union Flag
14 November       Birthday of The Prince of Wales         Union Flag
20 November       Her Majesty The Queen’s Wedding Day       Union Flag  
Second Monday in March Commonwealth Day Commonwealth
Two weeks before Poppy Appeal Royal British Legion Flag
Last week in June Armed Forces week Armed Forces Day flag
1 August Yorkshire Day Yorkshire Flag
Two weeks before Remembrance Sunday Poppy Appeal Period Poppy Appeal Flag
17th May International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) Rainbow Flag
25th November White Ribbon Day



Crime update – Warley Ward – 6/7th October.

Please be aware of the following incident(s) that have been recorded for the Ward during the period 7am 6th October  to 7am 7th October.
Burglary Dwelling & attempts   
Woodlesford Crescent, Mount Tabor – overnight 5/6th October – Rear door lock is snapped off and entry gained to dwelling.  Various items of property are removed including car keys.  Vehicle is also taken from the drive.
Gleanings Drive, Norton Tower –  overnight 5/6th October – attempt to force locks on both conservatory door and front door of premises has been made, however, no entry was gained.
Moor End Road, Halifax – 6th October 9/9.25am – 38 year old man has been arrested and is currently in custody.
Burglary other (including garages & sheds)
None recorded
Damage to buildings non dwelling
None recorded
Damage to motor vehicle
None recorded
Damage non specific
None recorded
Theft non specific
None recorded
Theft from motor vehicle
None recorded
Theft of vehicle
None recorded
If you have any information regarding these, or any other crimes, please phone the Police on 101 or CRIMESTOPPERS: 0800555111

Enforcement of 20mph zones



A lot of residents in Warley ward are rightly concerned that there is very little enforcement of the new 20mph zone that has been introduced. This is despite an assurance from the Police and Crime Commissioner that these 20mph zones would be enforced.

I’m currently chair of Calderdale Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel. The Panel, as part of its work programme for 2015/16 has agreed to take a detailed look at the introduction of and the on-going roll-out of 20mph speed limits in the Borough and to hear from Council Officers and other interested parties in this regard. The meeting will be held on Thursday 12th November, 2015 at 6.00pm at Halifax Town Hall.

There will be an opportunity for members of the public to contribute to this meeting with evidence, or examples of their own personal experience. Feel free to turn up to the meeting, or if you can let me know before hand if you are planning on coming along.



Syrian Refugees – Britain can do more, say Lib Dems

Child Detention

I’m very pleased to say that the Council backed a Liberal Democrat motion calling on the government to do more to aid people fleeing for their lives from Syria.

We’re not talking here about the wider problem of people trying to get to Europe from North Africa, but specifically about Syrians displaced by the conflict in their own country; those understandably in fear of their lives, caught between the actions of their government on the one hand and a barbaric cult on the other. Britain is a relatively rich nation and we believe that the government could do more, and that the council should play its part in giving people a warm welcome here. Taking people directly from the refugee camps around the Syrian borders will not encourage the people traffickers so much in evidence elsewhere.

The Council debate brought out the best and the worst in people. The Labour group admitted that they had considered tabling a motion on this subject, but shied away from it, fearing the response from the Conservative group. We, however, are proud to be saying that this country needs to be doing more to show compassion for those experiencing such dreadful hardships.

British Values – More Than Flag-Flying

Liberal Democrat councillors on Calderdale Council voted against a Conservative motion calling on the Council to fly the Union Flag more often and encouraging schools to do the same and sing the National Anthem in assemblies. People don’t need to wave a flag and sing to show pride in their country.

We would encourage patriotism, but the Tories are in danger of encouraging the nationalism that did so much damage in the twentieth century. Citizenship is an important part of the national curriculum in schools and we should leave it to teachers and governors to decide on the most appropriate ways of promoting British values in their schools.

One British value that we believe in – that of compassion for those in more difficult circumstances – was sadly lacking in the Conservative comments on Syrian refugees within the Council meeting.

Kinder new politics lasts a day… then Tom Watson speaks.

Corbyn made a noble call to improve the quality of political debate in this country:

I want a kinder politics, a more caring society, don’t let them to reduce to you believing anything less. So I say to activists whether Labour or not, cut out the personal abuse, cut out the cyber bullying and especially the misogynist abuse online and let’s get on with brining real values back into politics

Sadly his Deputy Leader Tom Watson didn’t seem to be listening:

“that useless bunch of lying sell-outs the Lib Dems”

Compare that attitude with Tim Farron on the Marr show:

I’ve never been a tribialist, I’ve always taken the view we should work with others whether they be on the progressive wing of politics or not to achieve what we want”

Motions on flags, refugees, tax credit cuts and segregation in our schools.

There are a series of motions going to the next full meeting of Calderdale Council this Thursday 1st October. I’ve listed them all below with a quick summation of what they are about.

Conservative Motion – Flying the Flag

Basically have made most of our schools free schools that are independent from the Council, the Conservatives now want the Council to try and influence these schools to fly the Union flag and sing the national anthem. They also want the flag flow more often from Council buildings. This motion seems like it’s aimed to poke fun at Labour after Corbyn failed to sing the anthem. My personal view is it should be up to head teachers not local government to determine what they do in assemblies. If you have an opinion on this then let me know, I’m happy to hear it before the debate.

Liberal Democrat Motion – Syrian Refugee Crisis

As a party we think Britain should be doing more to help Syrian Refugees and that’s what this motion is aimed at trying to do. It calls on the government to accept more than the 20,000 refugees it has currently said it will accept, and for the Council to play an active role in helping to tackle this humanitarian crisis. Tim Farron’s speech at conference explains why we care about this issue so much.

Labour Motion – Trade Union Bill

This motion is opposing the Government’s trade union bill that seeks change how it easy it is for unions to take strike action. It’s also an attempt by the Conservatives to restrict the funding Labour get from the trade unions. I’m personally opposed to the bill on civil liberties grounds. 

Labour Motion – Tax Credit Cuts

This motion is opposing the Government’s cuts to tax credits. The Liberal Democrats have also spelt out their opposition to these cuts that will impact on some of the poorest families living in Calderdale.

Conservative Motion – Ethnic Segregation in schools

This is the second Conservative motion on schools, this motion tries to address the ethnic segregation that exists in Halifax’s schools.

Conservative Motion – Transparency

This motion attacks the Council over its lack of transparency, and suggests the solution is for the executive of the Council to try and involve ward Councillors more often. Calderdale Liberal Democrats agree there is a lack of transparency. We think the root of this problem is the cabinet style of local government where a few Councillors form an executive with most of the control on the Council. We prefer the old committee system where all Councillors got a say.

The Liberal Democrat group will be meeting on Wednesday before the Council meeting to decide it’s position on all these motions, and any amendments that we might make. If you have a view on any of the motions then feel free to get in touch with me and let me know what they are.

Housing is a Liberal Democrat Priority – Tim Farron

It was Lib Dem conference last week in Bournemouth. Our membership has grown by more than a third since the election and it was the first Conference speech from our new Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron MP.

Tim spoke passionately about his main priority housing. Stating that we have a national emergency when it comes to housing. There are 90,000 children in the UK who don’t have a place to call home because there simply isn’t enough social†housing with 1.6 million people on social housing waiting lists.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats oppose the Conservatives plans for the forced sell off of housing association homes. Liberal Democrat MPs and Peers will vote against any measure that encourages the sell-off of housing association homes when it comes to Parliament.

Tim and the Lib Dems also want to see more homes being built, introducing a target of building 300,000 homes a year, by lifting the borrowing cap for local authorities so they can build more houses as well as establishing a Housing Investment Bank to boost house-building.

As Tim said: Housing is the biggest single issue that politicians don’t talk about. Well, we are going to talk about it, campaign on it, go on and on and on about it, and make a difference to the millions who have been ignored.

Communities up and down this country have spent 25 years building housing association homes, picking up the pieces of Mrs Thatcher’s destruction of council housing, and we will not allow David Cameron to destroy that work too.

Watch Tim’s full speech, below:

You can join the Liberal Democrats here.

Is the greater Yorkshire devolution deal on its way?


There are currently a few different devolutions deals on the table for Yorkshire. There is a West Yorkshire deal (that contains Leeds,Bradford, Calderdale, Wakefield, Leeds and York), a North Yorkshire Deal and a Greater Yorkshire Deal. All of these are with the government to decide which option happens.

The Liberal Democrats in Yorkshire and Humber would like to see powers devolved to the entire region rather than see Yorkshire being carved up into different areas. Unfortunately Labour are supporting a separate South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire deals. Cynically you might say this is because they are strong in those areas and want to stay in control of them (there is a reason it was called the people’s republic of South Yorkshire). The local Conservatives are however supporting a greater Yorkshire deal, and a Conservative government making the decision the later option could well be the one that is chosen in the end. I hope so as I think it would be good for the region to stay united.

The devolved area is only one of the questions at hand, others are what powers will be devolved, and also what governance structures are put in place to make use of those powers. Currently the government is insisting that to get these powers the regions will have to have a new directly mayor. This new regional Mayor though will have none of checks and balances that exist with Mayors such as the London Mayor.

We would like to see a fully fledged regional assembly or parliament for the Yorkshire and Humber region. Such a body could have people elected to it on a proportional voting system. It works in Scotland and Wales, and Yorkshire as a region does have roughly the same GDP and population as Scotland. Failing that if we are to have a Mayor it would be much better if there was something like the London Assembly model to hold them to account. This would stop too much power being in the hands of one person. I’m told the majority of Conservative Council groups in Yorkshire are now in support of this London Assembly model too. If it’s a good enough model for London, I don’t see why we can’t have it up North too. It’s not as a good as an assembly but at least it allows some plurality in the ideas and political views that will govern our region.

The cost of funding some of this could be reduced if you were to give the new body the powers that are currently with the Police and Crime Commissioners. Cutting all the commissioners and their deputies across the region would likely cover a big chunk of the expense. So would scrapping the special allowances that go to Councillors currently servicing on combined authorities, as the new body could take on those roles too.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign for the most democratic system that we can get. A system in which political parties have representation on the new body, based on the percentage share of the vote they get. This will ensure thousands and thousands of people who vote Green, UKIP or Liberal Democrat will get their voices heard alongside those that vote Labour or Conservative.

Shadow environment secretary wants meat eaters to be treated like smokers

People at work in a grocery store

Warnings and adverts discouraging us from eating meat could become a reality if Labour’s shadow environment secretary gets her way.

There are many benefits to eating more vegetarian meals, they are often healthy and can have less of an impact on the environment. Additionally you do not have the suffering that can sometimes come with industrialised farming methods. I think most people would accept this, and be open minded towards having a few vegetarian dishes a week, along with a bit of fish and a few meat dishes as well – what we might call a balanced diet!

You can put a good case together that nutritional health advice should encourage people to try a few vegetarian dishes a week. I wouldn’t think many people would have a problem if some of the healthy eating advice gave some gentle encouragement towards vegetarian meals, so long as it was still their choice and they weren’t feeling harangued into a certain lifestyle.

However Labour’s new vegan shadow shadow environment takes a much more hard line approach. She wants advertising campaigns such as those targeted towards smokers, to stop people eating meat. Sadly this is typical of a lot of Labour’s approach to health issues, a strong nanny state paternalism that seeks to control society, rather than a more gentle educational approach. As a Liberal I think we should help educate people as to what’s healthy, and then allow people the freedom to choose what they eat.  We saw the same type of paternalism here in Calderdale where the Labour group wanted controls placed on E-cigs (despite their being evidence they can help people to give up smoking.) This nanny approach to health is all born out of good intentions, but the ‘we know what’s best for you attitude’ does wind me up as someone who values individual choice and independence.

“I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it.” – Kerry McCarthy shadow environment secretary.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want a load of money spent on nagging adverts warning us not to eat bacon sandwiches. We have to consider as well that a lot of land simply isn’t suitable for growing vegetables. A lot of the steep sided Pennine upland is really only good for sheep farming, or cattle when you get a bit lower into the valleys. There are a lot of farmers still in Calerdale, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying quality meat raised in Calderdale at a local butchers and eating it as part of a balanced diet.