Halifax’s Labour MP set to back Tory and UKIP’s Hard Brexit.

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Theresa May has said she wants to take the UK out of the single market. This is the hard Brexit that the likes of Nigel Farage and UKIP have campaigned for. Despite this Halifax’s Labour MP Holly Lynch has said she will back the Conservative Government’s plans to trigger Article 50 and vote to take us out of the EU.

A hard Brexit will put jobs in Calderdale at risk, and make people struggling to get by poorer. That’s why Calderdale Liberal Democrats are challenging the Government’s plans. We respect the result of the referendum, but we also think people should be given the democratic choice to have their say on the final deal, and if they don’t like the facts of that deal to change their minds.  The Liberal Democrats will only vote to trigger Article 50 if the British people get a say on the final deal.

Councillor James Baker who has been selected to stand for Halifax for the Liberal Democrats if there is a snap general election said:

“From Trump to Putin, to the far right parties here in the UK, an ugly nationalism is on the rise. Trump who backs Brexit and is friends with Farage wants the EU to fail ”

“The European Union was forged after the second world war to prevent conflict, and to protect the rights of European citizens. It seeks to bring people of different nations and different backgrounds together in a project of peace, security and human endeavour.”

“If Labour vote for Article 50 as Corbyn has instructed they will be helping Theresa May pursue a hard Brexit. A Brexit that will see us having to suck up to Trump a man who wants to destroy the EU.  If Holly Lynch backs Brexit she will be on the wrong side of history.”

 

Liberal Democrats Slam Slump in Recycling Rates

Local Liberal Democrat councillors have reacted angrily to the news that Calderdale has seen the biggest decrease in household recycling in any council in England.

Calderdale Council’s household recycling rate dropped from 60.4% in 2014-15 to 46.3% in 2015-16.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) told us: “Calderdale had been one of the best performers in the country when it comes to recycling. The Labour administration was keen to publicise this, but don’t appear to be quite as keen to publicise this unacceptable drop in performance. It is just a few months since the Council decided that it wanted to be the ‘Best Borough in the North’ but it seems that in some areas the Council is moving in the wrong direction.”

“A Liberal Democrat Council would be striving to make Calderdale greener with increased recycling, solar energy generation and refitting all Council buildings to become energy efficient”, said Cllr Baker.

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.

QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR Mrs Greenwood

TO:     COUNCILLOR Press

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?

Answer

  • 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.

“Sort Out Waste Collection Problems” Say Liberal Democrats

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat Group are calling on the Council to sort out the problems around the new waste and recycling collection service.

A new waste and recycling scheme was introduced in August and was intended to provide a much more reliable, efficient and cost effective service that would allow residents to recycle more.

Cllr Paul Bellenger (Greetland and Stainland) says: “We fully support the aims of the new service, but the way it has been introduced leaves a lot to be desired.”

Uncollected Rubbish in Drury Lane, Stainland

Uncollected Rubbish in Drury Lane, Stainland

“We understand that a new service could have some initial teething issues which we allowed for during the first week. The issue then was missed collections. In the second week this continued, so we began to question why this hadn’t been resolved. By the third week this still continued and became a matter of increasing concern. As we have now passed week four and there are still problems, the situation has now become unacceptable. Throughout Calderdale we have residents who have weeks of waste building up outside their properties, even after calling the missed collections in to customer first they still remain untouched.”

“The majority of residents I have spoken to are ones who are live on side streets where only the smaller collection vehicles could access, so they relied upon the smaller vans and not the large wagons. This raises a number of questions:

  • Why have these properties been overlooked?
  • Why when the teams are the same are places getting missed?
  • Why when we now have technologically-advanced collection vehicles has the service decreased?

“Not only do we have unsightly side streets full of rubbish but soon we will see the increase of vermin to these locations. Things must get much better in September” said Cllr Bellenger.

Leader of the Calderdale Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) added: “weeks go by and still people are still experiencing problems with their recycling collections. If Labour spent their time resolving problems in the Council they run rather than on acrimoniously arguing about who their leader will be then perhaps we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Support for Flood Commission Recommendations

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Liberal Democrat councillors fully support the recommendations of the Calderdale Flood Commission. The Commission was set up following the floods that devastated parts of the borough on Boxing Day 2015 and has spent the last few months collecting evidence from local people, the emergency services, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and others.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) said: “The Commission has produced a good, detailed report. This is an example of cross-party working at its best. However, now that the Commission has examined the evidence and its recommendations have been accepted, the Council needs to turn those recommendations into action. Calderdale Council must play a significant part in tackling the causes of flooding and reducing its effects. It needs to do this as a service provider, a community leader and as a regulator. The Council cannot do everything, but it must play a leading role in co-ordinating the activities of others and keeping up the pressure on central government, government agencies and the insurance companies. Accepting that flooding is always going to occur does not mean that steps should not be taken to reduce the effects on our communities”.

Protecting the Green Belt

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As part of the process of producing a local plan, Calderdale Council is reviewing the local Green Belt.

Cllr Ashley Evans (Liberal Democrat, Warley) said: “An impressive and detailed report into the Green Belt has recently been discussed and this suggests that some areas may be removed from the Green Belt. However, once a site has been built on it is gone forever, so we must be extremely careful about this.”

“It was virtually impossible to see the details of the 64 sites that are to be examined further. More information has been promised, but has not yet arrived. I accept that printing out thousands of pages and sending it to councillors would not be a good idea, but I don’t accept that it couldn’t be made available on-line. The Chilcot Inquiry report into the Iraq war is available on-line and that consists of 12 volumes containing 2.5 million words. These things can be done, if there is a will to do them.”

“Members of the public should use the consultation process scheduled for later this year to make their views known, but they need to have all the information they can on what the Council is proposing. More houses are needed, but building these must not alter our communities out of all recognition.”

Liberal Democrat councillors back call for Council’s Cabinet to do more to tackle Calderdale’s housing problems.

Construction worker laying bricks showing trowel and guideline.

Construction worker laying bricks showing trowel and guideline.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr James Baker (Warley) said: “Our population is increasing and the way we live is changing and both are increasing the local demand for housing. However, figures just released show that during David Cameron’s premiership, house building was at its lowest level since 1923. Many people – especially young people – are struggling to get onto the housing ladder. We need more houses to rent and to buy and covering the whole range of types and prices.”

“Calderdale needs a strong construction industry to provide the houses and the jobs that local people need. Action needs to be taken now to equip our young people with the skills the industry needs, especially if we are to become less reliant on workers from across Europe.”

“Houses need to be of good quality and built in the right places. We must protect our green spaces and especially the Green Belt. We want to see an emphasis on building on previously-developed brownfield sites. As the Council has given planning permission for over 3,000 homes on sites that are currently not being developed, building these homes would be a major step forward and reduce the pressure to build on other, less appropriate sites”

“With interest rates at record lows, now is the time to be investing in housing to ensure a better future for Calderdale residents”.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.