Brexit austerity means extra cuts for Calderdale Council


Councillor James Baker, leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats reports

Throughout the coalition years Liberal Democrats took a lot of flak for undertaking the difficult task of working to bring back proper management of the nation’s finances after years of reckless Labour spending. Sadly it seems all of this effort was thrown out of the window at the last Autumn Statement when the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced an extra £122Bn borrowing to pay for Brexit. This is money that could be spent on our NHS or protecting local Councils from cuts.

People will have heard in the news that the cost of social care continues to rise as the population ages, and with moves to restrict immigration there will be fewer younger workers able to pay taxes and contribute to this burden. The cost of social care is so great that a Conservative run Council in Surrey is proposing a 15% Council tax rise.

Faced with continued government cuts, and increasing social care costs it would be disingenuous to lay the blame for Calderdale Council’s tough budget decisions solely at the hand of the local Labour administration. However that does not mean there isn’t scope for improvements locally. The budget is incredibly tight, but we believe there are some additional savings to be made that the administration hasn’t explored.

One example for instance would be to transfer more services to local Town and Parish Councils. In the next few weeks the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale will be exploring some savings ideas, and we hope to bring forward amendments to the budge that will help tackle problems such as speeding, littering and fly tipping and anti-social behavior.

On a final note I must comment on what is presented in the Council’s budget as an ‘investment’ in children and social care services. The reality is this ‘investment’ is simply a year delay in previously planned cuts and savings. If these savings has been made as previously planned and agreed we would have found ourselves in an improved financial situation this year.

Work starts on Hebden Bridge market


“After all this time, it’s really pleasing to see work starting in Lees Yard in Hebden Bridge so that the market can move there and run through from Thursday to Sunday every week” says former LibDem Calderdale Councillor Janet Battye. “I’ve been leading this work on behalf of Hebden Bridge Partnership for over 10 years and this is the culmination of it. The work is now scheduled to be completed in early April.

“We are now turning the “Working Group” into a “Forum” to ensure the sustainability of the market in the long term. We particularly want to make sure that the Saturday market is a success. In our first meeting of the forum, we agreed that this would be loosely based around local Arts and Crafts with a wide range of stalls giving an opportunity for local people to show and sell their wares, adding to the goods on offer in local shops. It’s all part of making sure that businesses continue to thrive in Hebden Bridge”

Calderdale Christmas Tree Recycling


Unfortunately Calderdale Council isn’t providing lots of extra recycling points for Christmas trees. However they will be accepted in the green waste skips at any of the 5 Household Waste Recycling Centres. Remember to remove all decorations are removed before depositing in the skip!

There is also a temporary collection point at Ogden Water Visitor Centre, Ogden Lane, Causeway Foot, Halifax, HX2 8XZ. This is for trees with roots that can then be replanted around Ogden Water.

Artificial trees should either be given to charity shops or deposited in the general waste skips at the Council’s recycling centres.

we wanted to wish everyone in Calderdale a very Merry Christmas. We hope all of you have a very relaxing Christmas break with your friends and family. Our thoughts especially go out to anyone who is on their own this year, or who have lost loved ones.

2016 has been a tumultuous year in politics, we hope that at Christmas we can all come together and put politics to one side and focus on our loved ones. Here is to hoping that 2017 is full of hope and progress for us.

Below you will find a load of useful information to help ensure your Christmas break goes smoothly.

Bereavement Services

The Crematorium will be closed 25th December – 27th December and on 2nd January.

The Books of Remembrance will be open on all the above dates for visitors

Cemeteries – Open all year round (on call on bank holidays)

Contact Centre

The Contact Centre will close at 5pm on Friday 23rd December 2016.

The service will reopen on Wednesday 28th December 2016 at 8.45am.

The Contact Centre will also close on Monday 2nd January due to Bank Holiday.

Customer First

All Customer First offices will operate normal working hours on Friday 23rd December 2016.

Customer First offices will reopen on Wednesday 28th December 2016.

Sowerby Bridge Customer First will be closed on 23rd and 30th December

Household Waste Collections

Christmas and New Year Waste and Recycling Collection Dates. Collections will be a day later than usual due to bank holidays:

Usual collection day Changed collection day
Monday 26th December 2016 Tuesday 27th December 2016
Tuesday 27th December 2016 Wednesday 28th December 2016
Wednesday 28th December 2016 Thursday 29th December 2016
Thursday 29th December 2016 Friday 30th December 2016
Friday 30th December 2016 Saturday 31st December 2016
Monday 2nd January 2017 Tuesday 3rd January 2017
Tuesday 3rd January 2017 Wednesday 4th January 2017
Wednesday 4th January 2017 Thursday 5th January 2017
Thursday 5th January 2017 Friday 6th January 2017
Friday 6th January 2017 Saturday 7th January 2017

All collections should be back to your usual collection day by Monday 9th January.

Please recycle all that you can, every week.

Household Waste Recycling Centres

Household Waste Recycling Centres will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and will operate Sunday opening hours on 27th December and 2nd January.

Find your nearest HWRC and check opening times – Recycling Sites


All Calderdale Libraries will be closed on 25th, 26th and 27th December, and on 1st and 2nd January.

Normal opening hours resume from 3rd January.

For any enquiries about seasonal opening hours, please ring 01422 392630.


Licensing services will be unavailable on 25th, 26th, 27th December and 2nd January.

Museums and art galleries

Bankfield Museum
24th December 10am – 3pm
25th December – 1st January Closed
2nd January 10am – 4pm


Shibden Hall
24th December 10am – 3pm
25th December – 1st January Closed


Smith Art Gallery
24th December 10am – 2pm
25th December – 28th December Closed
29th December – 31st December 10am – 2pm
1st January – 2nd January Closed


The Register Office will be closed on 25th, 26th, 27th December and 2nd January.

Sports centres and swimming pools

For information on all facilities please visit the individual Sports Venues.

Victoria Theatre Box Office

The Box Office will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Storm Barbara – Weather alert

Calderdale Council has continued to monitor developments of the two weather systems, sharing information with both the Environment Agency and the Met Office:

  • There are two weather systems moving over the UK between the 23 and 25 December. The first of these systems has been named Storm Barbara
  • The principal risk is wind, but we will possibly experience some heavy rain tomorrow afternoon and conversations are ongoing with the Environment Agency on this
  • Friday 23 December – A warning has been issued by the Met Office for Wind, valid from 7am Fri 23 until midnight Fri 23, giving low likelihood of medium impacts. Gust speeds are currently rated as 50 to 60mph widely across the warning area, locally up to 70mph
  • Sunday 25 December – A warning has been issued by the Met Office for Wind, valid from 3am Sun 25 until 6pm Sun 25, giving very low likelihood of medium impacts. Gust speeds are currently rated as 50 to 60mph widely across the warning area, locally up to 70mph
  • During both events, vulnerable structures could be at risk of damage. Damage to roofs, falling tiles and large branches will present a hazard. Transport and utility disruption is possible, and high-sided vehicles will also be at risk
  • The two weather systems are fast moving (due to the wind)and as a consequence subject to change but there is a high degree of confidence in the forecast
  • Those experiencing the brunt of the impacts are in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England. West Yorkshire and Calderdale are just within the warning areas
  • No warnings have been issued for rain at this time, but if indications from the forecasting suggest this will change we will update you accordingly
  • The good news is that after the systems have passed through, the indications are for things to settle down again from Boxing Day onwards

Regardless of the current weather forecast Calderdale Council and partners continue to work on our response and preparedness for flooding.  We are engaged in active dialogue with the West Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, senior officers across the partnership both locally and regionally, and importantly with Council staff and volunteers who will open and staff our Community Hubs if in the unlikely event they are required. As we move towards the Holiday period the Council has invested in additional resources during its out of hours period to ensure that it can respond effectively to any emerging risk and/ or threat.

Just to reassure you, the sharing of information between key agencies will continue in real time with constant monitoring of the weather and agreed identification of risk/ threat.

Further real time information is available via Eye on Calderdale –

Please do check travel advice if you are travelling over the Christmas period, drive carefully. Look out for other motorists and have a safe journey!

Liberal Democrats Slam Council’s Refusal to Debate


Liberal Democrat councillors have slammed the decision to end the Council meeting before debating a number of important issues put forward by councillors.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) told us: “It’s a disgrace that councillors voted to end the meeting before important issues for Calderdale residents could be debated.”

“If some people wanted to get off early, they could have just left, leaving those of us who are concerned about these things got on with our jobs as councillors.”

“We had put forward motions on cuts to local pharmacies and doing more to support small schools. These should have been discussed, as should the Labour motions on buses and pensions, and the Conservative motion on the EU referendum. We could have discussed at least one of these in the time it took to decide to end the meeting.”

“The plan is that these issues will appear on the agenda for the next Council meeting, but that isn’t until the middle of February. By that time the Council may have missed the opportunity to influence events, and other pressing issues may well have come up and need to be debated.”

Cllr Baker concluded: “Some councillors were clearly uncomfortable with closing down debates in this way, but they still voted for it. The Liberal Democrat group did not.”

Conservatives Fail to Deal With NHS Blackhole


The autumn statement shows a Brexit blackhole at the centre of government finance. Parliament has heard that hundreds of billions will be taken out of the economy just when we need it most.

Liberal Democrats across our area and the country have been pushing the government to put their money where their mouth – with an immediate £4 billion cash injection to stop the impending winter NHS funding crisis.

Commenting on the Autumn Statement, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

“Figures forecast a rise in unemployment and a fall in living standards.

“We are seeing a drop in tax receipts of £8.2 billion over the next two years alone. That’s enough to fund over 330,000 nurses. In response the Chancellor offered nothing but reheated headlines and recycled announcements.

“He and his Government are not competent to deal with the challenges ahead. They are going to hit people in the pocket through their hapless handling of Brexit, and Labour can offer no opposition, having backed them on Brexit.

“Yet, the Liberal Democrats have consistently campaigned for more funding for the NHS as we are on the edge of another winter crisis and our health service is at breaking point but yet the government has turned a deaf ear to these calls.

“Sadly now patients will pay the price. There is also nothing for public sector workers, our doctors, teachers and armed forces, who deserve a proper pay rise.”

Councillor James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said:

“Before the referendum we were promised £350 million a week for the NHS.”

“I know the Conservatives have never really backed the NHS, but I did think they might be good enough to at least live up to their word. ”


Last chance to save the old Ferney Lee Grammar school building ?

The planning application to demolish the old Ferney Lee Grammar school and build a new school, is coming to Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday next week (December 6th).

“It is disheartening, to say the least, that Calderdale Council is not listening to the feelings of local people about the importance of this old building” says Liberal Democrat Todmorden Town Councillor Janet Battye.

“What is even worse, from the report to the Planning Committee, the Council seems not to have taken any advice from any experts in old buildings, not even its own Conservation Officers.

“It seems to me, and a lot of other local people, that it’s just not good enough to say that the old school has to be knocked down to build the new one. It doesn’t. It’s a large site so there are choices as to how to use it. This important building shouldn’t just be demolished for a car park or a playground.

“This is the place where our two Nobel Prizewinners had their formative, early science education and inspiration. I think that it’s a fine, Edwardian building. I have long said that if the Council doesn’t want to retain it for its own use, it should put it on the market so that other people, who might appreciate, have the opportunity to conserve it and bring it back into use.

“Local people are saying that it’s a “done deal” and, to my mind, the Council do seem to be intent on demolishing it. I hope that they will at least pause, take more advice, and think about it again before they take this final step. I thought that the era of needlessly demolishing old buildings had long passed”.

Call for fair consultation on the future of Cragg Vale Primary school


Local Liberal Democrats are supporting residents and parents in their call for the consultation on the future of Cragg Vale Primary school to be fair, and to consider the consequences of it.

“Calderdale’s Labour Cabinet is proposing to move Cragg Vale Primary school onto the Calder Hill School site, saying that the current building isn’t safe even with the large government grant which the Council applied for to fix it” says Cllr Ashley Evans, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson.

“But retaining the school on the current site isn’t one of the options that they’re offering people. This seems to be unfair. It would be better if they asked people to rank the options including keeping the school where it is, and then they would get a true reflecting of people’s views.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor on Hebden Royd Town Council, Catherine Crossland added: “We’ve been talking with local residents in Cragg Vale: some people thought that the school was safe after the attempt by Calderdale Council to close it last year and the majority value the school as a community facility and want to see it stay in Cragg Vale. Calderdale Council must listen to that !”

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.