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Liberal Democrats Frustrated by Further Local Plan Delays

Local Liberal Democrat councillors have expressed their frustration at further delays in producing a local plan for Calderdale that will form the basis for deciding planning applications for years to come.

Cllr Ashley Evans (Liberal Democrat, Warley), a member of the Council’s Local Plan Working Party says: “This work seems to be taking forever. Deadlines come and go, new deadlines are set but then these pass without a plan being produced. Now we are told it will be next March – at the earliest – before a plan will be agreed and members of the public asked for their views.”

“I accept that this will be an important document and that it needs to be right, but progress is painfully slow. The publication date always seems to be some months in the future and we never get there. The last timetable involved publishing a plan in September, but clearly it’s going to be at least another five months before it sees the light of day.”

“It seems to me that the scale of this project has been underestimated – and therefore under-resourced – right from the beginning. I am also not convinced that enough time has been built in for public consultation.”

“The Council’s Cabinet needs to get a grip on this process and provide the resources and the political will needed to ensure that a high-quality plan is produced on time. This must not be allowed to be delayed again” said Cllr Evans.

Council has no plans to stop using glyphosate weedkiller linked to cancer

Calderdale Liberal Democrats have questioned the Council over whether it plans to stop using the weedkiller that the World Health Organisation has declared is ‘probably carcinogenic’ . You can read the question asked by Liberal Democrat Councillor Marilyn Greenwood and the reply she received at the last Council meeting below.



As a number of British local authorities and, indeed, whole countries have banned the use of glyphosate as a weed killer because of concerns about its detrimental effects on health of those who use it and on others, would the portfolio-holder give details of any plans this Council has to stop using glyphosates and switch to safer alternatives?


  • Glyphosate is licensed for use in the UK and so the real issue is with the licensing system/national government, rather than users at a local level.
  • We use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions/industry guidelines, our operatives are fully trained and the Council’s Health and Safety Manager is content with the arrangements in place.
  • In spring 2016, Council spraying operatives completed an extensive training review, covering the use of all pesticides and focussing specifically on glyphosate.
  • We have listened to concerns and our aim is to reduce the amount used by 10% year on year, until 2021.  We have already achieved a 10% reduction this year which was made possible by spot spraying as opposed to blanket spraying, using low volume nozzles and reducing spray bands.
  • We are also actively researching alternative products but we have not yet found anything which is as cost-effective (this is not just about price – we would never put cost above the health of our communities, and particularly children – but is about whether it does what it’s meant to do, i.e. kills weeds effectively).
  • We are in regular contact with other Councils, contractors who use alternative treatments, the Health & Safety Executive and the Chemicals Regulations Directorate (who confirmed on 29 June 2016 that the use of glyphosate within the EU has been extended for a further 18 months, until 31 December 2017).
  • Of course we understand why people are concerned and we welcome dialogue about how we can continue to manage Calderdale’s public realm and green spaces  in a safe and effective manner.
  • This is one of the reasons why the Communities Scrutiny Panel has undertaken a detailed review of the use of pesticides and has already reported their findings to Cabinet. The issue will be further considered by Scrutiny as part of a review of Safer, Cleaner, Greener in November.

Liberal Democrat Questions to Council 29/09/16

COUNCIL MEETING ON: 29 September 2016

Making use of vacant land



 You will be aware of my interest in land use and housing development to meet our commitment to increased provision whilst wishing to minimise the impact on our precious green spaces.

In this context I note with interest that Birmingham City Council intend to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire vacant land from owners who refuse to develop it. In addition, owners who land-bank vacant sites will be first encouraged to develop them and those who refuse will be treated similarly. It is also intended that empty homes may be targeted in this way.

How much vacant land and how many empty properties are there in Calderdale that could, or should, contribute to the additional provision needed and have you any plans to adopt an approach similar to Birmingham’s?


Vacant land is not specifically defined in the question; however, there is currently planning permission to build 875 dwellings on previously developed land, and 1800 properties are currently vacant for more than 6 months in Calderdale. Within the sites currently being considered through the Local Plan process, there is capacity to build 1,735 dwellings on 59.03ha of previously developed land (This figure excludes sites that have been filtered due to their unsuitability (due to flooding or ecology for example).

Assumptions are made in the calculations of housing supply about the implementation of these planning permissions; bringing empty properties back into use; and for “windfall” development on small sites (those under 0.25ha), many of which will be brownfield sites.  These are all taken into account in the process of determining how much land needs to be allocated for development in order to meet our full objectively assessed needs.

In determining the final allocations previously developed land will be prioritised in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework, subject to an overall view being taken on the site’s sustainability and deliverability.

Compulsory Purchase is a last resort and must be underpinned by a compelling case in the public interest. In view of this, and a lack of evidence that house builders are banking significant amounts of deliverable previously developed land in Calderdale, it is not considered that there is a compelling case to follow Birmingham’s lead on CPOs at the current time.


Greetland Junction Station Viability 



 Bearing in mind that the site of the former Greetland Junction rail passenger station already possesses easy access from Stainland Road; is on a flat site with ample space for park and ride facilities; is on the main Halifax-Elland bus route, with buses every few minutes, and that, in the relatively near future the site will be even better served by the proposed new link road with the A629 and roundabout in close proximity, and could provide easier access to the (possibly reconfigured) Calderdale Royal Hospital from the Brighouse area and/or the Calder Valley townships, will the portfolio-holder press for a feasibility study to be carried out into the construction of a passenger rail station on this site to encourage less road use and improve air quality by the reduction of traffic fumes?


WYCA undertook a New Station study in 2014 which looked at over 60 potential new stations in WY including Greetland. They looked at commercial viability, constructibility and deliverability. The stations were then scored. Greetland station was not considered commercially viable when compared to other locations in WY – which were prioritised.

The New Station study is available by contacting [email protected]

Enforcement of car dealing businesses from private residence


TO:   COUNCILLOR Sutherland

 I am increasingly receiving complaints from residents that second hand car dealing and repair businesses are being run from private residential addresses in Halifax. This activity causes problems to neighbours in terms of disturbance and parking spaces being used up. Every time I have reported this issue the investigations seem to take forever and no action ever seems to arise from it. Can you tell me what the Council is doing to tackle this issue?


Planning legislation is complex and establishing whether a breach of planning control has occurred is not always straightforward. Establishing whether or not an activity/operation constitutes a material change of use in planning terms can be difficult. Uses can come and go/increase in frequency;  it is necessary to ascertain whether this is a business or hobby activity.  The type of information required is the frequency the activity happens, dates and time etc. The site needs to be monitored for a period of time to establish whether how the alleged business is running and operating and its impact on the amenity of the area.

Repairing cars  from home would not necessarily require planning permission if it is low scale. The key test is whether the overall character of the house has materially changed as a result of the activity. Some of the key considerations are outlined below:

  1. a) Is the home still used mainly as a private residence?
  2. b) Does the activity result in a marked rise in traffic movements, or do visitors or customers need to attend the house in connection with activity?
  3. c) Do employees to come to the property?
  4. d) Does the business generate any noise or smells?
  5. e) Is there activity during antisocial hours?
  6. f) Does the activity affect the external appearance of the property?
  7. g) What activities are usually acceptable in a residential property?
  8. h) Are there any advertisements at the property?

The Council must be sure of its grounds before considering formal enforcement action. There must be clear evidence that a breach of planning control has occurred, that the development would not be acceptable in planning policy terms and further more that it is causing demonstrable harm. It must also be in the public interest to take action. If all of these steps are not satisfied then there would be a risk to the Council of having costs awarded against it in the service of an Enforcement Notice.

Financial reporting within Coucnil



 The Leader may be aware that concerns were raised at the Use of Resources Scrutiny Panel meeting on the 24 August 2016 regarding the sometimes large differences between the third quarter revenue monitoring report forecasts and the actual outturn figures achieved only three months later.

There also appear to be discrepancies between financial reports submitted by the same directorate to different Scrutiny Panels.

Bearing these points in mind, would the Leader accept that there is a need for improvements in both the financial monitoring processes of this Council, and in the way these are reported to members?

If so, would the Leader outline what actions he intends to take on these matters?

Reply from Councillor Tim Swift

The overall outturn position for the Council last year on service controlled revenue expenditure was an underspend of £474k compared with a forecast overspend of £920k in the final monitoring report to Cabinet that year. The final monitor is carried out as at the end of November to meet the committee reporting timetable and to allow sufficient time for corrective management action should it be needed.  This can lead to changes by the time we get to the   outturn position, especially in demand-led budgets such as in Children’s Social Care or budgets which are heavily dependent upon winter demand (like building energy costs and Winter Maintenance last year).

Although this represents a movement of nearly £1.4m between the two reports it is actually less than 1% of the overall gross expenditure of the Council. It was also pleasing to see that directorates managed within their agreed budget plans despite a number of budget pressures and challenging savings targets.

This is not to say that improvements cannot be made in the monitoring processes and I will ask the Head of Finance to examine these differences and review whether any changes should be made to those processes.

I am informed that some changes were made to the monitoring reports to the Scrutiny Panels last year as a result of discussion with Members of the Panels and in order to improve transparency and consistency. The intention was that the reports to different Scrutiny Panels would include the same core information but continue to allow individual Panels some discretion about additional information which they believe might help their Scrutiny role. For example, the reports to the Children & Young People’s Scrutiny Panel include regular information about the number and cost of different types of placements for Looked After Children.

The Head of Finance is however planning to undertake further development sessions with Scrutiny Members later this year and I will ask him to ensure that these sessions include discussion with Members about how the presentation of financial information might be improved.


Council Snippets What’s been happening on Calderdale Council


More Council Cuts to Come

As things stand, Calderdale Council will have to reduce its spending by over £13m over the next three years. This is on top of the £93m that will have been made by next year.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker said: “The scale of the cuts is now too large. The Council has done a good job in becoming more efficient but there is only so much that can be done without damaging services. It is now a crunch time in local government.”

Departmental Merger Moves Forward

The Council has agreed to merge the posts of Director of Children’s Services and Director of Adults, Health and Social Care. Other changes to the two existing directorates will be decided later. Deputy Leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Ashley Evans said: “I don’t think that the how and why of this move have been fully considered. Both of these directorates are large and complicated. Putting then together will result in an even bigger, more complicated directorate. Children’s Services have only just come out of ‘special measures’ and there is a danger that the Council will take its eye off the ball of improvement. I know that many councils have already merged these two departments, but many haven’t and some of those that had have now split them again. I am not convinced that the case has been made.”

Taking Action on Dangerous Driving

After a few small changes were made to James Baker’s motion on dangerous driving to include points made by the Labour and Conservative groups, everyone present supported it. Cllr Baker said: “The issue of dangerous driving is a major concern to many councillors, and it’s not just about speeding but includes tailgating, driving without insurance and driving while using a mobile phone. I think the standard of driving is deteriorating. There is an economic case and a moral case for tackling this issue.”

At the end of the debate Cllr Baker added: “It’s good to see local democracy in action with this issue being discussed at a number of Ward Forums, but with a quango making decisions on the use of speed cameras, decision-making is moving away from local people. The Council now needs to turn its words into actions and Conservative councillors could raise the matter of police cuts at their Party Conference next week.”

Improving Social Care

Liberal Democrat councillors supported a Labour motion on Social Care. Cllr James Baker said: “We agree that better joined-up working between social care providers and the NHS is needed. Social care doesn’t come cheap, though, and we may have to put our hands in our pockets and pay for it. As a society, we need to look at this issue and it may be that extra taxation is needed.”


20mph Zones

Liberal Democrat councillors opposed a Conservative motion to halt the introduction of 20mph zones until their effectiveness has been demonstrated. Cllr James Baker said: “The Conservatives know that this matter is to be discussed at the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel meeting in November. This motion is premature as all the evidence they want can be reviewed in detail at that meeting.”

Cllr Paul Bellenger said: “20mph limits do work, but it’s about education, not just physical changes to roads. Drivers need to be made aware of the dangers of driving over the speed limit.”

Grammar Schools

Liberal Democrat councillors supported a Labour motion asking the Government not to proceed with its reported policy of allowing the creation of more grammar schools. Cllr James Baker said: “We seem to have a policy based on nostalgia, but we need a forward-looking education policy. The evidence shows that grammar schools don’t help the majority of pupils who don’t go there. There are many more pressing problems in education, such as teachers leaving the profession because of the bureaucracy involved and box-ticking education.” 

Valley of Sanctuary

Liberal Democrat councillors supported the Labour motion that would “make Calderdale a formal part of the City of Sanctuary movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees and asylum seekers seeking sanctuary from war and persecution”. It being rather late by the time this was discussed, hardly anyone spoke on the matter. The motion was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors, with the Conservatives abstaining from voting. 

Small Victory

Ashley Evans again beat his Labour opponent from May, this time to become a member of the Warley Trust. His margin of victory was, though, considerably smaller this time.

Compulsory Purchase Powers

Cllr Ashley Evans asked if Calderdale Council intended to follow Birmingham City Council’s example of making more use of compulsory purchase powers on land owners who refuse to develop their land, thus reducing the need to develop on green field sites. The answer, though in considerably more words was basically “no, it’s not needed here”.

Glyphosate Weed Killer

Cllr Marilyn Greenwood asked if the Council had any plans to stop using glyphosate weed killers and switch to safer alternatives because of concerns about the effect on human health of glyphosate. The answer is that the Council aims to reduce its glyphosate usage by 10% each year until 2021. It has managed this this year, but has not yet found a suitable alternative. 

Greetland Station

Cllr Marilyn Greenwood asked whether the portfolio-holder for Regeneration and Economic Development would press for a feasibility study into building a passenger rail station at Greetland. The answer is that this was looked at in 2014 and was not thought to be commercially viable.

Marilyn’s argument is that things have changed: there are now plans for major alterations to the nearby road network and (possibly) to the hospital, which is relatively close by.

Planning Enforcement

James Baker asked about taking enforcement action against people using residential premises for car sales and repairs. The official answer was, roughly, that this is a very complicated area. However, later in the meeting the portfolio-holder distanced himself from this answer (prepared by officers) saying that it was a typical response that set out why the problem was not being fixed, rather than saying what was going to be done to fix it.

Monitoring Council Spending

Paul Bellenger asked a question about the sometimes large variation in council spending between the projections resulting from monitoring carried out in November and the actual spending at the end of March. He wanted to know if monitoring processes, and the way these are reported to councillors, needed to be improved. The answer, again taking up rather more words, was that both are being looked at.

We must fight to keep Britain open, tolerant and united – Tim Farron’s speech to Conference


Tim began with a story from just after the referendum…

At the start of his speech, Tim spoke about a meeting held in Preston – the town he grew up in and learnt his values in – to talk about the referendum and the realisation he’d had there:

The people in that church hall in Preston, they’d voted differently to me but I thought, you know what, we’re on the same side here.

We see a London-centric no, Westminster-centric approach from politicians and the media. Treating the provinces as alien curiosities.

Those people in Preston and Sunderland and Newport see a divide between those who win and those who lose. When the country is booming, they don’t see the benefit. And when the country is in decline they are the first to be hit.

Those people … wanted, quite understandably, to give the powerful a kicking. So they did.

At that meeting they talked about low wages. About poor housing. About strains on hospitals and schools. Their problems weren’t caused by the European Union, they were caused by powerful people who took them for granted.

By politicians who have spent decades chasing cheap headlines and short-term success for their political careers, and never acting in the long-term interests of the whole country.

So those people in that room, like millions of others, wanted, quite understandably, to give the powerful a kicking. So they did.

…he then set out how he wants to reach out to Leave voters…

I wanted Britain to remain in the European Union and I still do. But we have got to listen, to learn and to understand why millions of people voted to leave. We can’t just tell them they’re wrong and stick our fingers in our ears.

So I want to do two things.

I want to persuade those who voted leave that we understand and respect their reasons, that we are determined to take head on the things about today’s Britain that have left so many people feeling ignored and I want to give them their say over what comes next.

…next, he turned to Theresa May and her “plan” for Brexit…

Theresa May – tell us what Brexit really means. You’ve had three months. You are the Prime Minister. Stop dithering. What is your plan?

The Liberal Democrats have a plan. We know what we want and we know where we want to take our country. When Theresa May does agree a deal with the EU, we want the people to decide.

Not a re-run of the referendum, not a second referendum, but a referendum on the terms of the as-yet-unknown Brexit deal.

…he then turned to the refugee crisis…

The biggest crisis facing our continent since the Second World War. They did nothing to help right until the point they thought it was in their short-term interest to act, when a photo of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi face down in the sand was on the front page of every newspaper.

The people were shocked, heartbroken, they demanded action and the Tories did the bare minimum. But since the front pages have moved on, they have barely lifted a finger.

Now there are some on the centre left who are squeamish about patriotism, but not me. I’m proud of my country; I hate it when my government makes me ashamed.

I hate it when my government makes me ashamed.

…and told a story from Lesbos…

We’d helped to land a flimsy boat of desperate refugees, I was handing out bottles of fresh water and a few yards away was an aid worker from New Zealand, who knew that I was a British politician.

She looked at me and shouted,

stop handing out bottles of water and take some f***ing refugees

Because that is how Britain is seen. Mean and not pulling its weight. And maybe that doesn’t bother some people, but it bothers me.

Because I am proud of who we are – always a sanctuary for the desperate, the abused and the persecuted; and I will not stand by and watch my country become smaller, meaner and more selfish.

That is not Britain. We are better than that.

…he then turned to the NHS and social care in England…

For years, politicians have chosen to paper over the cracks rather than come clean about what it will really take – what it will really cost – not just to keep the NHS afloat but to give people the care and the treatment that they deserve.

And that means, finally, bringing the NHS and the social care system together.

…and laid out why improving social care matters to him…

In my Grandpa’s journey through Alzheimers, he had good care in the home he spent his last couple of years in. But when he first became ill after the death of my Grandma, the place he was put in was despicable.

Lonely, unclean, uncaring. It’s a few years back, but as I fought to get him out of that place and into somewhere better, it occurred to me that this was a standard experience for too many older people and their loved ones.

Maybe some people can just shrug and accept this, well I can’t.

I’ve seen enough terrible old people’s homes. And I’ve seen enough people who’ve had to wait forever for treatment – particularly people who don’t have someone to fight their corner. It’s not civilised to let people slip through the net.

It’s not civilised towards the people who love them, who go out of their way to try and make their lives easier when everything else is making their lives harder. It’s not civilised and it’s not good enough.

…and proposed a solution to improve social care and make our NHS fit for the future…

We need to face the hard truth that the NHS needs more money – a lot more money – not just to stop it lurching from crisis to crisis but so that it can meet the needs and the challenges it will face in the years ahead. So that it can be the service we all need it to be for the long-term.

That means having the most frank and honest conversation about the NHS that the country has ever had. What Beveridge did for the 20th century, we need for the 21st century.

We need to face the hard truth that the NHS needs more money – a lot more money

In Norman Lamb we have the politician who is most trusted and respected by the health profession – and deservedly so. And Norman and I are clear, we will not join the ranks of those politicians who are too scared of losing votes to face up to what really needs to be done.

We will go to the British people with the results of our Beveridge Commission and we will offer a new deal for health and social care, honest about the cost, bold about the solution. If the only way to fund a health service that meets the needs of everyone, is to raise taxes, Liberal Democrats will raise taxes.

…Tim then turned to our schools…

Governments have designed an education system especially at primary school level that is focused not on developing young people for later life, for work or for further study, but on getting them through the wrong kinds of tests.

It’s not about whether kids can solve problems, or converse in other languages – or even their own. It’s about statistics. Measurements. League tables.

Instead of building an education system, we have built a quality assurance industry.

Instead of building an education system, we have built a quality assurance industry.It’s no wonder so many teachers are so frustrated. No wonder so many leave the profession.

…and laid out a plan to reduce testing and give teachers freedom to teach…

I want our schools to be places where our teachers have the freedom to use their skill and their knowledge to open young minds, not just train them to pass exams.

I want them to be places where children are inspired to learn, not stressed out by tests.

So I want to end the current system of SATS in primary schools that are a distraction from the real education that professional teachers want to give their children; that weigh heavy on children as young as six and add nothing to the breadth of their learning.

…and then launched a blistering attack on grammar schools…

What are we doing, in 2016, threatening to relegate 80% of our children to education’s second division by returning to the 11-plus? Every parent wants to send their kids to a good school. But more selective schools are not the answer.

We need better schools for all our children, not just those who can pass an exam at the age of 11. We can’t just leave children behind.

…he then turned to his problem with Jeremy Corbyn…

My problem with Jeremy Corbyn is that, for him, holding the government to account is not a priority. Winning elections is a bourgeois distraction – unless it’s his own leadership election.

It is baffling to see the Labour Party arguing about whether or not they should even be trying to win an election.

Can you imagine that? The Liberals and Liberal Democrats spent decades out of power and then when the opportunity finally came – in incredibly difficult circumstances, when the easiest thing in the world would have been to walk away – we chose to take power because we knew the point of politics is to put principles into action. To get things done. Not just to feel good, but to do good.

It is baffling to see the Labour Party arguing about whether or not they should even be trying to win an election.

So we took power … and we got crushed. So you could forgive us for thinking twice about whether power is really worth it.

But of course it’s worth it.

Having fine principles but no power is just turning your backs on the people who need you the most, its letting someone else win the day.

…and had a message to everyone who wants a real opposition to the Tories..

Whichever party you supported at the last election, we all know that Britain needs a decent, united opposition. So if Corbyn’s Labour has left the stage, then we will take the stage.

Britain needs a strong opposition. The Liberal Democrats will be that strong opposition.

…Tim then set out his plan to build a Britain that’s open, tolerant and united…

So here is my plan. We will dramatically rebuild our strength in local government, deliberately, passionately, effectively.

Winning council seats is our chance to shape, lead and serve our communities to put liberalism into practice.

Liberals believe in local government, I believe in local government, every council seat matters to me.

So my challenge to you is to pick a ward and win it, and my commitment to you is that I choose to build our party’s revival on victories in every council in the country.

And my plan includes continuing to grow our party – our membership is up 80% in just 14 months – but that is merely a staging post, we will continue to build a movement that can win at every level.

I will lead the Liberal Democrats as the only party committed to Britain in Europe, with a plan to let the people decide our future in a referendum on the as yet non-existent Tory Brexit deal.

I will lead the only party with a plan for our country’s long-term future. Green, healthy, well-educated, outward-looking, prosperous, secure.

I will build the open, tolerant, united party that can be the opposition to this Conservative government. On NHS underfunding, on divisive grammar schools, on its attacks on British business.

I want the Liberal Democrats to be ready to fill the gap where an official opposition should be. I want the Liberal Democrats to be the strong, united opposition.

That is my plan. I need you to join me to fight for it.

…Tim then set out the biggest threat to the Tories…

Well, look, no one believes, whether boundary changes happen or not, that Labour will gain a single seat from the Tories. The SNP could only possibly take one seat off the Conservatives. But there are dozens of Tory seats in our reach.

Which means that the only thing standing between the Conservatives and a majority at the next election is the revival of the Liberal Democrats.

…he gave a warning about Brexit and coined a phrase…

When Conservatives talk about a ‘hard Brexit’, this is what they mean. A Brexit that cuts us off from our neighbours, no matter what the consequences for people’s jobs and livelihoods.

A Brexit that toys with the lives of hard-working people who have made Britain their home, paid their way and immersed themselves in their communities, just as more than a million Brits have made their homes on the continent.

A Brexit that will leave us poorer, weaker and less able to protect ourselves. But we will not let Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain win. To coin a phrase. I want my country back.

…and Tim closed with this note of hope for our party.

Together, we must fight to keep Britain open, tolerant and united. Together, the Liberal Democrats must be the real voice of opposition. Together, we must win.

Lib Dems Call for More Council Action on Dangerous Driving

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group is calling on the Council to take more effective action to stop dangerous driving. The issue will now be debated at next week’s Council meeting.

Councillor James Baker (Warley), leader of Council’s Liberal Democrat Group says: “Traffic accidents cause tremendous personal grief and immense expenditure by the public sector. We believe that the Council can and should do more – on its own and by working with others – to tackle this problem.”

“This is a very important, and growing, issue for communities across Calderdale. It affects a wide range of people: pedestrians trying to cross roads; parents worrying about their children playing outside; aggressive driving and tailgating is making the lives of motorists a misery, and high insurance rates are hitting our purses.”

“Figures from the Department for Transport suggest that over £2m could be saved for each fatal accident that is prevented. Much of this falls on the Police and the NHS and it could be better spent on other things.”

“We believe that local councils are well placed to take more effective action on dangerous driving, especially on speeding, which has been shown to lead to more, and more severe, accidents. As well as taking action itself, the Council should also ensure that it is working with others – particularly the police – to clamp down on dangerous drivers,” said James.

The motion submitted by James for discussion at the Council Meeting to be held on 29 September 2016 reads:

Tackling Dangerous Driving

This Council notes that:
a) Traffic accidents cause immense personal grief and trauma to those involved and to witnesses;
b) The Department for Transport estimate that the financial cost of accidents can be enormous: over £2million for a fatal accident; around £25,000 for even a ‘slight’ accident;
c) Nationally, the cost of all reported road accidents is estimated to be over £16billion. Some argue that the true cost may be twice this amount;
d) Much of this cost falls on the public sector, especially on the Police and the NHS, and
e) Driving at high speed increases the number and the severity of accidents, and is a matter of real concern to many Calderdale residents.

This Council believes that reducing incidences of dangerous driving (including speeding) is a matter in which it should play, along with its partners and local communities, a significant role.

Council therefore resolves to:
a) Reaffirm that tackling the issue of dangerous driving is important to this Council;
b) Support, wherever possible, requests by local communities for the provision of speed cameras;
c) Use its position as a multi-functional local authority to ensure that Public Health, Highways and Education departments (and others) are working together effectively and consistently to reduce dangerous driving;
d) Request that the Leader (or relevant Cabinet member) explore with other interested partners the possibility of the proceeds of traffic offence fines and vehicle seizures being retained locally solely to fund increased activity aimed at reducing dangerous driving, and
e) Request Cabinet to consider a report on these matters, including the extent and effectiveness of inter-departmental and inter-agency working, before the end of this municipal year.

Additionally, this Council calls on the West Yorkshire Police, and the Crime and Police Commissioner, to ensure the provision in Calderdale of a permanent police unit charged with reducing dangerous driving, and that all Calderdale’s neighbourhood policing teams equipped with, and trained in the use of, mobile ‘speed guns’.

Lib Dems Slam Proposed Parking Charge Increases

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group has slammed proposals to increase car parking charges throughout Calderdale.

The matter was discussed by the Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel at a meeting on Thursday 8th September, and will be discussed again by the Council’s Cabinet on Monday 12th.

Councillor James Baker (Warley), the leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group said: “Yet again the Council seems determined to upset local residents, shop-keepers and business owners by introducing hefty increases in parking charges.”

“Although increases are planned for towns across Calderdale, Hebden Bridge seems – again – to be being singled out for particularly harsh treatment. It is already the only town in Calderdale where charges are in place for seven days a week, but now there is a suggestion that on-street charges could be increased from 40p an hour to £1. It is too much. No wonder people think the Council is treating Hebden Bridge as a cash cow.”

“It is particularly annoying to be told by Labour councillors that increased charges have been known about for some years. When concerns were raised previously, we were told that it wasn’t just about putting up prices. I feel that we have been misled.”

“We have previously suggested that a free half-hour could be introduced to aid shoppers who just want to buy a newspaper or a snack, but nothing seems to have come of this. Calderdale Council needs to sort out its parking issues, but at the moment it doesn’t look as if it will”, said Cllr Baker.

Don’t airbrush LGBT history from Shibden Hall

Calderdale Liberal Democrats are accusing the Council of not doing enough to tell the LGBT history that lies behind Anne Lister and Shibden Hall.

Shibden Hall is a landmark historic building in Calderdale and a wonderful place to visit. The hall was home to Anne Lister whose personal diaries detailing her lesbian relationships are recognised as part of the UNESCO memory of the word programme. The diaries have also been the subject of a BBC film by James Kent entitled the ‘Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister’.

A recent visitor to Shibden Hall, Mr Manley-Green, complained that the film wasn’t available to buy and that they had even run out of books on Anne Lister. Mr Manley-Green said “I’m not keen on being told ‘we have to be careful what we say to school groups’. I can’t think how different my life would have been if I’d have been told the story on my school trip some 50 years ago!”

Councillor James Baker (Warley), the leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats, said “It appears the Council are trying to airbrush out the LGBT history from this site. There is little mention of Anne’s diaries on the Council’s webpage about Shibden Hall, there is a promotional video of the hall that does mention the diaries but it airbrushes out any reference to their importance as a piece of LGBT history.”

“This is a great opportunity for the Council to show Calderdale as a beacon of tolerance and a leader of putting history into a modern context. There are undoubtedly many commercial opportunities available to promote this destination as the home of the ‘first modern lesbian’”, said Cllr Baker.

Orginal picture by Rictor Norton & David Allen (CC BY 2.0) adapted to add rainbow flag.

Orginal picture by Rictor Norton & David Allen (CC BY 2.0) adapted to add rainbow flag.