Communities urged to bid for funds

Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats Councillor Janet Battye is urging local residents to apply for a share of a new government fund to help plan building projects.

The government has just announced that £17million will be available over the next 18 months to help people meet the costs of the design and planning stages of proposals that will benefit their communities.

 Cllr Battye told us: “People often have good ideas that need more work before they become concrete proposals able to attract the funding to make them happen. I think this new government fund will help people through that difficult middle stage and I urge people to apply.”

 “Playgrounds and Community shops are specifically mentioned among the projects this fund is intended to support, and those are just the sort of thing that we should be encouraging locally. If people have ideas along these lines, I urge them to apply for funding” said Cllr Battye.

 

New powers to protect vulnerable consumers from rogue traders – Swinson

Liberal Democrat Business Minister Jo Swinson has today announced new plans to tackle rogue traders and give better protection to vulnerable and elderly consumers.

Rogue traders cost consumers billions of pounds per year and can cause distress and alarm to people, especially elderly and vulnerable people.

The new proposals amending the Consumer Protection Regulations from Unfair Trading Regulations will:

    • give consumers 90 days to cancel a contract and receive a full refund if they have been misled or bullied into agreeing it. After the 90 days consumers can still receive a proportion of their money back. Currently, it is unclear what consumers are entitled to in this situation
    • give consumers new rights to recover payments made to traders who mislead or bully them into paying money which was not owed. Currently, the trader can be prosecuted but the consumer finds it much more difficult to get their money back; and
    • they will also have the right to claim compensation for any alarm or distress caused by these practices

Jo Swinson said:

“For too long the rules that apply when buying goods and services have been murky for both consumers and businesses. The situation is even worse for vulnerable consumers who are misled into buying something they neither need nor want.

“We want consumers to be confident to shop with a range of traders and to drive rogues out of business. The new rights announced today will mean consumers are entitled to the same level of protection whether they are purchasing goods or services online, at home or in a shop.”

Labour and Conservatives block attempt to make Calderdale more transparent

Just weeks after Labour took control of Calderdale Council saying that it was going to be “open and transparent” it has turned down an opportunity to extend this to committee minutes.

 Liberal Democrat Councillors Janet Battye and James Baker asked the Council’s Governance and Business Committee to change the rules about minutes for the Council’s Scrutiny Panels and Committees so that they would record which Councillor had proposed and seconded decisions being made.  But this was resoundingly refused by both Labour and Conservative Councillors.

 “If and when schemes like the Copley Valley development or Central Library come under discussion at scrutiny people should have a right to see who has proposed and seconded a course of action ” says Cllr Battye. “How else will they know which Councillors have been taking the lead on matters which can have significant effects on local people and businesses?”

“Labour said that they would be open and transparent in the way that they run the Council, and yet just downed down the first opportunity to do so.”

Pensioners and carers to benefit from Liberal Democrat policies

Thousands of pensioners as well as those who need care and their carers stand to benefit from measures announced in the Queen’s Speech, with a fair flat-rate pension for all and a reform of social care announced.

The Care Bill will put fairness back into social care funding, ensuring people do not have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care by capping costs as recommended by the independent Dilnot Commission. It will also extend the means-test threshold for financial assistance.

To support carers, councils will have to assess what support they need to manage their own lives and provide services to those who need them.

The Queen also announced a reform of the pensions system, ending the confusion state pension provision by introducing a single, flat-rate pension. This is in addition to the triple lock, championed by the Liberal Democrats, which has ensured record rise in the state pension of £12.50 a week since 2010. The triple lock will continue to safeguard an increase in the state pension in line with earnings, inflation or 2.5% – whichever is higher.

Cares will also benefit from the new flat-rate state pension, even if they take time out of work to support relatives.

Commenting, Cllr Janet Battye  said:

“The Queen’s Speech shows the influence Liberal Democrats have in the Coalition Government. Our priority to build a stronger economy in a fairer society is clear in these reforms.

“For too long, pensioners and those who need care have received a raw deal and the previous Labour government refused to act and take responsibility. Instead, Gordon Brown gave pensioners an insulting 75p rise in their state pension.

“These reforms will ensure thousands in Calderdale will have dignity in old age with a fair, single-tier pension and peace of mind by protecting them from catastrophic costs for their care.

“That’s the fairness the Liberal Democrats are ensuring is at the heart of this Coalition Government.”