Calderdale Liberal Democrats are launching a campaign to oppose the possible closure of the Stroke Unit at Calderdale Royal Hospital.
The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) states that officials “need to reduce the number of hyper-acute stroke units across West Yorkshire and Harrogate” in an attempt to plug a £1bn funding shortfall by 2020/21. Calderdale’s Stroke Unit is believed to be particularly at risk.
Councillor James Baker, leader of Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “Calderdale Liberal Democrats are outraged that leading members of this Conservative Government stood in front of a bus promising £350m a week extra for the NHS, but are now failing to ensure the NHS has the funding it needs to provide vital services here in Calderdale.”
“We are not going to stand by and watch the lies that we would have extra for our health service go unchallenged. Nationally, we are demanding an extra £4bn cash injection into the NHS and care services. We have suggested that, in the short term, more funding for the NHS could be raised through an extra 1p on income tax. This would tackle the crisis in our health service until a long term plan can be put in place.”
“When Stroke fights you need to act F.A.S.T. as every minute helps. That’s why it’s essential we retain our acute Stroke Services here at Calderdale Royal Hospital. We are launching a campaign to save our local Stroke Services, and I would urge everyone to support our campaign by signing our petition online.
Members of Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat Group are asking the Council to think again about the closure and relocation of Cragg Vale Junior and Infant School.
The Council’s Cabinet agreed earlier this month that the school should close and be amalgamated with Calder High School on part of the high school’s site. That decision has now been ‘called-in’ for further discussion by the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel on Monday 27 March.
Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Cllr Ashley Evans said: “In spite of concerns raised by parents during the consultation period, the authority still intends to go ahead with the closure and relocation of Cragg Vale School. I believe that parents succumbed to pressure from the authority – they gave up, feeling that their concerns were not going to be taken into account.”
“I share their concerns about the impact on the children and their community and locating a junior school within a senior school environment. There is also a feeling that the local authority is overstating the number of additional primary places needed and I am worried about the impact this will have on other local primary schools such as Burnley Rd and Scout Rd, potentially affecting their viability.”
“My overriding concern is that this move could be the thin end of the wedge in relation to closing down small rural schools with the inevitable effect on communities and the provision of a small school education from which many young children benefit” said Cllr Evans.
Figures reveal Calderdale will be among the hardest hit areas in Yorkshire in terms of the NI hike on self-employed people. The Chancellor broke a Conservative manifesto pledge by proposing to increase National Insurance contributions for the self-employed, hitting them with an average cost of £240 a year.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show there are over 15,000 self-employed workers in Calderdale making up 11.6% of the total workforce.
The government has also announced cuts to corporation tax are still set to go ahead at a cost of over £2.5 billion a year.
Councillor James Baker, Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats commented:
“This will come as a major shock to the thousands of self-employed people in Calderdale already facing a Brexit squeeze to living standards.
“This breaks a Conservative manifesto commitment not to raise National Insurance levels.
“This government is giving tax cuts to wealthy corporations and tax rises to hard-working entrepreneurs.”
“I challenge Craig Whittakker MP to make clear about whether they knew this change was coming and whether they will now vote against it.”
“Don’t demolish Todmorden Community College and give the local community a chance to run it” says local Liberal Democrat Town Councillor Janet Battye. “That’s the simple message that local people are trying to give to Calderdale Council. And nearly 1,000 people have already signed the petition.
“If Calderdale Council decide that they don’t need the building any more, the next thing they should do is to give the opportunity to local people to see if they need it and can run it themselves.
“At this week’s Development Board meeting, it seems that Calderdale Council’s Labour Cabinet is now listening to the views of local people and that it’s likely that, with the probability of the building registered as a “community asset” under the Localism Act, this will “pause” the sale of the building to Aldi for 6 months and give us that time to work the plans up.”
Calderdale Conservatives have released their alternative budget for the Council. Under their proposals you will pay more and get less. It is a budget that seeks to balance the books on the poorest and most vulnerable in Calderdale.
Council tax increases are occurring up and down the country. You might have heard on the news about the real crisis that exists in social care funding. A large amount of the Council tax increase you will face are the result of something called the ‘Social Care Precept’. This is money that will be spent on social care, however the extra raised from Council tax is simply making up for money that is being cut by central government. Someone still has to pay for social care, under Conservative Government’s plans it will be funded by Council tax payers, rather than taxation revenues collected by the treasury.
Council tax levels
Under the Council’s Cabinet proposals, Council Tax will rise from the current £1,300.85 to £1,459.48 in 2019/20 (all figures for Band D properties). This is a rise of 12.2% over three years. Under the Conservative proposals, the final figure will be £1,432.82 – a rise of 10.1%, and a difference of £26.66. The difference between the budgets is, then, around 51p per week – less for most people as they are not in Band D properties. Despite Council tax levels rising the overall amount the Council has to spend will decrease. So you will be paying more but getting less under this Conservative Government.
Council Tax Reduction Scheme for people on benefits.
Basically this asks those on benefits to pay more Council Tax.
Currently, a claimant in a Band D property will be paying 19% of £1,300, so £247; under the Conservative proposals, they would be paying (in 2018/19) 30% of £1,405, so £422. This is a rise of around 70%. Most claimants, though, will not be in Band D properties, so the actual amounts are likely to be lower, though the proportions will remain the same. This will push more people into debt and poverty.
Discretionary rate relief.
The Conservatives are proposing to cut the discretionary business rate relied for charities and sports clubs pay. This means that they will have to pay more business rates, and will have less money to spend on charitable causes.
Cuts to children services
The Conservatives are planning on cutting over £1m a year from the money Children’s Centres get to provide day care services. This will make those services more expensive for working families who rely on the Centres for day care services.
Attacks on Council staff
The Conservatives want to cut sick pay for the first two days off work, make Council staff take two days off work unpaid every year (a cut of apx £200 in staff’s salaries), they also want to move to spot salaries. All of this will involve major changes in terms and conditions, and it might not even be possible to achieve. Ask yourself this if the Council doesn’t pay sick pay for its staff, will your own employer follow suite? The Conservatives are facilitating a race to the bottom in terms of how employers treat their employees.
One of the proposed cuts the Labour cabinet on Calderdale Council is planning to make will affect disabled children and their families here in Calderdale. This is what mum of two Katherine had to say about the cut:
“As a mum of two children with neurological disabilities and mobility issues. George my son is four he has neuro fibromotis and ataxia plus dystonia and diagnosed with cognitive delay of 2 years. So George is 4 but in most areas he functions cognitively around 2 2 half yrs old. Samantha my 8 yr old daughter as ataxia and mild learning difficulties. Because of her tremors in her body she is unable to write also struggles carrying things and her balance and Co ordination is impaired.
These things make my life hard as it is that’s why I was shocked to find out that the council would consider cutting services that are a huge help to me and other families.After looking at the plans it makes no sense to me to cut schemes and services that have a positive impact on the children and families of disabled children and children with learning difficulties.
To cut these services now when local schools are facing cuts of around 400k leads me to wonder were the councils priorities are by the looks of this not with the families of disabled children in Calderdale.
Councillors of all parties need to look again at viable solutions. They must be other ways to address the lack of funding the council recieves from central government without taking it from the most vulnerable people in our Town.”
The proposed cut was to D Catch funding. This funding provides money to disabled children in early years education to ensure they get the support they need in nurseries across Calderdale.
Calderdale Liberal Democrats are putting forward a budget amendment that will save enough money to prevent this cut.
Councillor James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said:
“Our amendment includes a saving that arises from adopting a ‘nurse-led sickness policy’. A policy like this was adopted by Watford Council and it has saved them a great deal of money. Essentially staff in certain areas with high sickness will have to phone a nurse first when reporting in sick for work at the Council. The health advice they receive helps staff to get back to work sooner. This cuts down on cover costs and agency costs and saves the tax payer money. Officers on Calderdale Council are confident this would save money, and we are proposing it is used to stop this cut. We hope this idea will win cross-party support.”
The full Liberal Democrat budget amendment can be read here
As a group we are proposing to amend the Labour cabinet on Calderdale Council’s budget proposals.
The intention of our amendment is to:
- Make Calderdale a safer place to live by supporting the Police to enforce the laws on speeding and dangerous driving around our Borough. Speeding and dangerous driving is a major concern of residents living in Calderdale. In recent months the Police have run ‘Operation Hawmill’. This successful operation has seen a traffic cop back on the streets of Calderdale. We would like to find some finances to support the continuation of an operation such as Hawmill to help tackle speeding and dangerous driving on our streets.
- Make Calderdale a cleaner greener place to live by establishing a task force to tackle Environmental crimes including: Littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping, and anti-social behaviour. Parts of Calderdale are sadly looking like a rubbish dump at the moment. Meanwhile anti-social behaviour is in many places making people’s lives a misery. The Council isn’t using powers at its disposal such as Community Protection Notices. We would like to setup a new Environmental Crime Task force to help tackle and address these issues.
- Make Calderdale a fairer place by stopping a proposed cut to the support disabled children get in early years education. D Catch funding enables disabled children in Early Years education to get the support they need. We believe that proposals to cut this would have a devastating impact on young disabled children here in Calderdale. We believe disabled children need all the support they can get at the Early Years level in order that they can go to achieve their fullest potential in life.
Council finances are of course very tough at the moment, there is no easy or quick way to find the resources required to implement any of these proposals. We would find the resources required to do all of these things by:
- Seeking to transfer some Council buildings to community use. We believe in localism and by transferring Todmorden Town Hall to the management of the Town Council and Brighouse Town Hall to a community group we see them put to better use.
- Re-introducing a previously agreed saving on fees. In previous budget consultations members of the public have said they would prefer to see fees and charges for Council services rise rather than more cuts to services. Labour sought to remove that previously agreed saving, we are seeking to re-introduce it.
- Reducing the cost of staff sickness through a Nurse Led Sickness policy. FirstCare is part of a sickness management framework that public section organisations, charities, and housing associations can sign up to. Under the scheme, Council employees are required to phone FirstCare to register any sick leave that they need to take. They are then assessed by a nurse on the phone and advised as to what they need to do next. It is estimated by Council officers that if introduced on Calderdale Council for key areas this would save us £50K per annum.
This is a fully balanced amendment to the cabinet budget, it would not require any additional taxation upon what is already proposed, and neither would it require any additional use of balances.
The financial details of this amendment can be viewed below
If you have any comments on our suggestions for budget please feel free to post them. We have put this amendment in the public domain before Budget Council in order that residents are able to join in the democratic process and the debate.
Calderdale Council has has a poor communications culture. It is often the case that Councillors find out about what officers and the cabinet members of the Council are up to via the local media and press releases. The same is true with matters that affect the wards that Councillors represent. Whereas you might expect a Councillor is consulted with and informed what is going on, the truth is that cabinet members and officers of the Council do all they can to by-pass the elected representatives in an area.
This is bad for democracy, already too many decisions on the Council are made by un-elected officers. People vote for Councillors thinking they will be able to make decisions, and would expect that Councillors are briefed on issues, and have an opportunity to get involved in decision making.
A perfect example of this is the recent opening of Elland Bridge. Where one of our local Councillors Marilyn Greenwood only found out about it by chance. Marilyn likes to keep residents up to date with the latest news and information, but how can she do this is the leadership of the Council’s priority is to tell the press before telling members of the Council?
A Liberal Democrat run Council would aim to put decision making back in the hands of Councillors, and members of the public.