Campaign launched to Save our Stroke Unit

Calderdale Liberal Democrats campaigning to save our Stroke Unit

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.

Council Asked to Think Again About Cragg Vale School Closure

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.

Congratulations to her Majesty the Queen for 65 years on the throne

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The Queen’s Sapphire Jubliee has been marked with a 41 gun salute. The Queen is the first ever ruling monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee. #

Councillor James Baker, leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said “The Queen has dedicated 65 years of her life to public service as the Monarch of the United Kingdom, her historic reign is worthy of our respect and admiration.”

Work starts on Hebden Bridge market

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“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

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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


Libraries

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

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

Registrars

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 – http://eyeoncalderdale.com/

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

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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.”

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

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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 Snippets What’s been happening on Calderdale Council

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More Council Cuts to Come

As things stand, Calderdale Council will have to reduce its spending by over £13m over the next three years. This is on top of the £93m that will have been made by next year.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker said: “The scale of the cuts is now too large. The Council has done a good job in becoming more efficient but there is only so much that can be done without damaging services. It is now a crunch time in local government.”

Departmental Merger Moves Forward

The Council has agreed to merge the posts of Director of Children’s Services and Director of Adults, Health and Social Care. Other changes to the two existing directorates will be decided later. Deputy Leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Ashley Evans said: “I don’t think that the how and why of this move have been fully considered. Both of these directorates are large and complicated. Putting then together will result in an even bigger, more complicated directorate. Children’s Services have only just come out of ‘special measures’ and there is a danger that the Council will take its eye off the ball of improvement. I know that many councils have already merged these two departments, but many haven’t and some of those that had have now split them again. I am not convinced that the case has been made.”

Taking Action on Dangerous Driving

After a few small changes were made to James Baker’s motion on dangerous driving to include points made by the Labour and Conservative groups, everyone present supported it. Cllr Baker said: “The issue of dangerous driving is a major concern to many councillors, and it’s not just about speeding but includes tailgating, driving without insurance and driving while using a mobile phone. I think the standard of driving is deteriorating. There is an economic case and a moral case for tackling this issue.”

At the end of the debate Cllr Baker added: “It’s good to see local democracy in action with this issue being discussed at a number of Ward Forums, but with a quango making decisions on the use of speed cameras, decision-making is moving away from local people. The Council now needs to turn its words into actions and Conservative councillors could raise the matter of police cuts at their Party Conference next week.”

Improving Social Care

Liberal Democrat councillors supported a Labour motion on Social Care. Cllr James Baker said: “We agree that better joined-up working between social care providers and the NHS is needed. Social care doesn’t come cheap, though, and we may have to put our hands in our pockets and pay for it. As a society, we need to look at this issue and it may be that extra taxation is needed.”

 

20mph Zones

Liberal Democrat councillors opposed a Conservative motion to halt the introduction of 20mph zones until their effectiveness has been demonstrated. Cllr James Baker said: “The Conservatives know that this matter is to be discussed at the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel meeting in November. This motion is premature as all the evidence they want can be reviewed in detail at that meeting.”

Cllr Paul Bellenger said: “20mph limits do work, but it’s about education, not just physical changes to roads. Drivers need to be made aware of the dangers of driving over the speed limit.”

Grammar Schools

Liberal Democrat councillors supported a Labour motion asking the Government not to proceed with its reported policy of allowing the creation of more grammar schools. Cllr James Baker said: “We seem to have a policy based on nostalgia, but we need a forward-looking education policy. The evidence shows that grammar schools don’t help the majority of pupils who don’t go there. There are many more pressing problems in education, such as teachers leaving the profession because of the bureaucracy involved and box-ticking education.” 

Valley of Sanctuary

Liberal Democrat councillors supported the Labour motion that would “make Calderdale a formal part of the City of Sanctuary movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees and asylum seekers seeking sanctuary from war and persecution”. It being rather late by the time this was discussed, hardly anyone spoke on the matter. The motion was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors, with the Conservatives abstaining from voting. 

Small Victory

Ashley Evans again beat his Labour opponent from May, this time to become a member of the Warley Trust. His margin of victory was, though, considerably smaller this time.

Compulsory Purchase Powers

Cllr Ashley Evans asked if Calderdale Council intended to follow Birmingham City Council’s example of making more use of compulsory purchase powers on land owners who refuse to develop their land, thus reducing the need to develop on green field sites. The answer, though in considerably more words was basically “no, it’s not needed here”.

Glyphosate Weed Killer

Cllr Marilyn Greenwood asked if the Council had any plans to stop using glyphosate weed killers and switch to safer alternatives because of concerns about the effect on human health of glyphosate. The answer is that the Council aims to reduce its glyphosate usage by 10% each year until 2021. It has managed this this year, but has not yet found a suitable alternative. 

Greetland Station

Cllr Marilyn Greenwood asked whether the portfolio-holder for Regeneration and Economic Development would press for a feasibility study into building a passenger rail station at Greetland. The answer is that this was looked at in 2014 and was not thought to be commercially viable.

Marilyn’s argument is that things have changed: there are now plans for major alterations to the nearby road network and (possibly) to the hospital, which is relatively close by.

Planning Enforcement

James Baker asked about taking enforcement action against people using residential premises for car sales and repairs. The official answer was, roughly, that this is a very complicated area. However, later in the meeting the portfolio-holder distanced himself from this answer (prepared by officers) saying that it was a typical response that set out why the problem was not being fixed, rather than saying what was going to be done to fix it.

Monitoring Council Spending

Paul Bellenger asked a question about the sometimes large variation in council spending between the projections resulting from monitoring carried out in November and the actual spending at the end of March. He wanted to know if monitoring processes, and the way these are reported to councillors, needed to be improved. The answer, again taking up rather more words, was that both are being looked at.