Praise for local people and services: demand for more government help

Local Liberal Democrats are applauding the efforts of local people and services in response to the floods across Calderdale but want to see more real support from national government.

“Yet again Calderdale has found itself suffering the effects of heavy rainfall” says Cllr Janet Battye, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council and ward Councillor for Calder ward. “The extent of the flooding across Calderdale has certainly been unprecedented and it’s important that our needs don’t get overlooked in the scale of flooding in the north. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, is promising help. We want to make sure that it happens. Our local MPs are scheduled to attend the next planned meeting of the Strategic Flood group in early January and that’s certainly the message that I’m expecting that they’ll be taking back to London.

“As I’ve gone around the area, I’ve been overwhelmed by the what’s happened in the communities along the Calder valley. Video footage on the Facebook page says it all: the torrent of water along the river and canal, the extent of the flooding and the damage it’s done. It’s heartbreaking to see people again clearing their homes out which they’ve only been back in for 3 years since the last major flooding, and the shops again clearing everything out.

“As Council Leaders, we’ve already talked about working with the Community Foundation and other local groups to help people get back into their homes, and shops and businesses get up and running again. Walking round and talking with people, they are appreciative of this although their first requirements are to get power back on again and help with getting rid of rubbish.

“I’m expecting that, as the law requires, Calderdale Council will do a thorough investigation with their partner agencies, especially the Environment Agency, to understand what happened and what other measures need to be taken to protect people’s homes and jobs. The current programme of work still to be done after the last floods is expected to cost over £30m, most of which is still unfunded, and this could now be much substantial and must be funded nationally if the government gives any thought or care about local people”

Councillor James Baker who chairs the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel on Calderdale Council added: “We are witnesses a tremendous amount of people power. Sikhs traveled up from Slough at 4am to help people affected, churches have opened their doors and Muslim lads from Halifax have been helping out in the upper valley. There are countless stories like this, people from all backgrounds are standing together and working together, and organizing on social media with very little help or support from the government. It makes you proud of the country we live in to witness this.

The Government needs to put money into flood funding to mitigate against the damaging affects of Climate Change. It also needs to reverse the cuts to things like Solar Subsidies and invest more in renewable energy. Only by moving to a low carbon future will we be able to reverse the damage climate change is already causing to communities across the North of England.

Councillor James Baker,  helping flood affected families in Hebden Bridge

Councillor James Baker, helping flood affected families in Hebden Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Outrage over Council plans to build on green spaces

OpenspacesWeb

Calderdale Council has announced its consultation on the sites its planning to allocate for housing within the Ward. If the sites included in this consultation were to make it into the local plan we would lose almost every green space in the ward.

I’ve been working with Liberal Democrat campaigner Ashley Evans to launch major campaign to save and protect the green spaces within Warley ward. There are plenty of places that you could build in Calderdale that would not result in the loss of playing fields, recreation grounds and children’s play parks or allotments. It is unacceptable for the Labour run Council to list these sites as potential housing sites in the current consultation on the local plan.

To illustrate the sheer scale of what is being proposed here is a quick list of some of the sites identified in Warley ward:

Doctors Hill LP1459

Ling Bob Playing Fields Site reference LP0967 – To build 72 houses on the playing fields behind Harewood Avenue, Ling Royd and Rye Lane.

Fountainhead – LP0983 – Another 40 houses

Mount Tabor – LP1440 – 110 houses and LP0872 87 houses.

Pellon Allotments – LP0156 – To build 31 houses on site that is currently uses as allotments.

Roils Head Moor LP1374, LP1458, LP0093 – 97 Houses behind Vicar Park, another 32 by the Reservoir, and a further ‘urban expansion citing a residential capacity of 2862

Sandbeds Park LP1353 – 16 Houses on the Children’s play park.

Warley Town LP0042, LP1276 & more – Land on recreation ground, cricket pitch and Green Hill. 56 Houses on recreation ground, 30 on the Cricket Ground and 47 at Green Hill.

Windle Royd – LP1457 – Urban expansion with a population size of 1762 cited.

If you are as concerned about these plans please respond to the consultation and also sign the petition we have set-up to help protect Calderdale’s green spaces.

You can also help the campaign by downloading our petition on it and collecting signatures from your friends and family before returning it. ProtectGreenSpacesPetition

HousingPlan

Warley Town is surrounded by new housing sites under the plan

Liberal Democrats call for green spaces to be protected

GreenSpaces

As Calderdale Council launches its consultation on the proposals for allocating land for future house-building in Calderdale, Calderdale Liberal Democrats are launching a campaign to protect greenbelt around towns and villages, and open spaces within towns and villages.

Cllr James Baker said:

“We are really concerned about some areas of land apparently marked for potential house-building sites all across Calderdale”. In my own ward, it looks as though the Council is proposing that houses be built on playing fields, parks and allotments, as well as around villages in the open countryside where road access is poor”.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Janet Battye added: “

We know that there is a need to build more affordable housing and social housing, but we think that the Council should look first at existing planning permissions – some 3,000 houses with permission have not yet been built – and then brownfield land which has already been built on, as well as pressing harder to bring empty buildings into use.”

“It’s also disappointing that more imaginative approaches don’t seem to be being considered, such as looking at how we might use the Garden Cities approach in Calderdale.

“We’re encouraging local people to look very carefully at these land allocation plans on which the Council is currently consulting and make their views known.”

There is a need for local affordable housing and more social housing, but expensive houses build in desirable greenbelt areas will not help struggling families looking to buy a home or move to a less crowded home. Alternative developments on brownfield sites will not only be cost-efficient, but also energy-efficient as they will minimise the need to travel. We can create local communities without compromising green spaces.

You can sign our petition calling on the Council to protect greenbelt around towns and villages, and open spaces within towns and villages here.

You can view the consultation and make comments on it here

Picture attribution to Pam Wright – https://www.flickr.com/photos/pamwright99/ (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Our use does not suggest or imply the artists endorsement. 

Second Conservative quits a Town Council within Calderdale

Mark Gledhill becomes the second Conservative in Calderdale to stand down from a Town Council. Mark was going to fall foul of the six month rule, whereby if you don’t attend a Council meeting within six months you get chucked off the Council. His resignation is likely to trigger a Town Council by-election in the Walsden ward of Todmorden Town Council.

Mark is the second Conservative to quit from a Town Council after Nicola May who won a Calderdale Council seat failed to ever turn up or sign her acceptance of office to Hebden Royd Town Council. It’s with some gall then that the Conservative’s claim to be working for people in Luddendenfoot ward, when their newly elected Calderdale Councillor couldn’t be bothered to carry out the public duty she stood and got elected to carry out. A Liberal Democrat Anthony Hodgins was co-opted onto the Council and is actually serving his community!

Both Nicola and Mark were the only Conservative Councillors on their respective Councils (well technically Nicola never became a Councillor) leaving the Conservatives without any representation in their tier of government in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge or Mytholmroyd.

 

 

Bonfire & firework nights across Calderdale – 2015

fw99

As autumn sets in Halloween and Bonfire night are not along around the corner. I’m going to updating this page with a list of bonfire and firework nights across Calderdale as I become aware of them. If you have a bonfire night planned that you would like advertising please use the contact section of this website to let me know about it!

Saturday 31st October – 6.30pm – New Hobbit, Hob Lane, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX6 3QL – New Hobbit Bonfire and firework night

Thursday 5th November – 6.30pm – New Hobbit, Hob Lane, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX6 3QL – New Hobbit Bonfire and firework night

Friday 6th November – Todmorden Golf Club @TodGolfClub

Saturday, 7th November –  5.30pm – Hullenedge Park, Elland –  ELLAND ROUND TABLE CHARITY BONFIRE AND FIREWORK DISPLAY 2015

Saturday, 7th November – Fire lit at 7pm – Long Can Hall, Fountainhead Village, – Long Can Hall – Pub firework and bonfire evening

Sunday 9th November 2015– 6.30pm The Clubhouse, North Dean, Stainland Rd, Greetland, Halifax – The Heath and Heath RUFC

 

Remember – If you are attending or holding a bonfire night then please remember to think about safety. There is a really good website filled with safety advice here that you can look at

 

 

 

Update on Brow Foot Gate Lane

Ashley

Lib Dem campaigner Ashley Evans

We have been campaigning for the Council to take action on the traffic problems around Brow Foot Gate Lane for a fair amount of time now. Having continued to raise this issue at various Council meetings it seems we are getting somewhere. Copied below is the latest response we have been given by the Highways Manager at the Council.

Brow Foot Gate Lane is one of the schemes that will be progressed. Owing to the complexity of BFG Lane and the surrounding roads there are likely to be a number of options that will generate local interest and involvement. After discussion with legal colleagues we consider that an experimental traffic regulation order (TRO) would be a good way to identify local concerns and requirements and help in identifying the best solution for everyone in the quickest time.

I have attached a link (http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06013/SN06013.pdf )  to a briefing paper about TROs that includes the following text about experimental TRO’s:

Making an experimental order as a precursor to a permanent order can have material benefits, specifically it can truncate the requirements as to consultation, notice of proposals and objections, providing other requirements have been met (see Regulation 23). This can be a more cost effective and flexible approach (allowing e.g. for immediate feedback and minor changes) than a permanent order or a temporary order

We will need to carry out some feasibility work to identify what the experimental TRO will consist of and carry out technical surveys and consultation. This work has not started yet but I will ask my colleague, Roger Archer-Reeves, to advise you when the feasibility work starts.

Meanwhile we continue to push for small improvements, having requested the Council gets around to repairing the steps at the bottom of Kelvin Avenue, and working to try and get vegetation on Churn Lane cut back.

 

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.

 

Outrage at increase in charges for people on private water supplies

empty wallet

Increasing charges to houses with private water supplies will hit rural communities in the pocket.

Speaking up for households on private water supplies, Cllr Janet Battye (Liberal Democrat, Calder ward) at Calderdale Council’s Cabinet meeting, she called on them to rethink their proposals.

“Cllr Collins (Labour, Deputy Leader) said that this issue is ‘esoteric’, by that I assume that he means that it’s unimportant and is only of concern to a few people. But a clean, constant water supply is the stuff of life”, she said. “There are 1,863 households in Calderdale that are dependent on a private water supply, and they have no choice but to pay this fee to the Council. The workings of the countryside might seem esoteric to a Councillor who lives in Halifax but this is very real issue for those people who live in our rural communities.”

Councillor Pat Allen (Liberal Democrat, Elland) is a member of the Use of Resources Scrutiny and she comments: “We’ve been studying subsidies to Council services and this should have been included in that piece of work rather than an early decision taken by Cabinet. So we’re asking the Scrutiny Panel to look closely at this specific issue by calling the Council decision in.

“People have no choice but to pay this fee, increasing it will be an extra burden living in properties that rely on their own, private water supply.

“I’m also concerned that the Cabinet has now decided that the Director of Economy and Environment can raise the charges again without having to come back to Cabinet. So people won’t know what the charges are going to be until they get the bill”

Calderdale Liberal Democrats urge local support for refugees

 

Cllr Janet Battye, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council, has joined her colleagues across the country in urging local councils to show central government that they are ready and willing to offer to take in refugees from the Middle East fleeing persecution. But they are disappointed that the Government didn’t act sooner and faster.

“The recent photos of drowned Syrian refugees are shocking” says Cllr Battye. “As a parent and a grandparent, it saddens me to see these images. Britain has a strong history and track record in supporting human rights across the world and fighting for values of tolerance and compassion.

“I am urging Calderdale Council to examine urgently what we can do to help. I know that we are already offering to care for a small number of unaccompanied refugee children but I think that we can do a lot more to help. This is our moral and humanitarian duty. At the same time, central government must say what it will do to make sure that Councils get funding to help them do what it needed.”

 

Calderdale Liberal Democrats launch campaign to save Halifax’s Court

spruce-image (1)

 

The Conservative government has launched a consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. These proposed closures would affect the Halifax County Court and Family Court and the Halifax (Calderdale) Magistrates’ and Family Court.

Under these proposals residents of Calderdale would be required to travel to Bradford to access justice; journey times to Bradford from many parts of Calderdale are significantly longer than assumed in the consultation document.

The historic Grade II court building is an important asset to Calderdale, and the Ministry of Justice’s consultation includes no plans as to what would happen to the building if the Courts were to close.

Taken alongside cuts to legal aid the closure of local Courts will restrict people’s access to justice, particularly for local residents who lack the means to travel easily. Calderdale Liberal Democrats are opposing the closure of our local court. We urge you to support our campaign and sign our petition here.

We are submitting an urgent late motion to next Wednesday’s meeting of Calderdale Council opposing this closure. We hope the Mayor will accept this late item as the consultation on the Court’s closure was only announced yesterday.