Election results in Calderdale

Last year was a bad year for Liberal Democrats across the country. In Calderdale we managed to win just one ward at the local elections in 2015. Many people wrote us off as finished. Instead we have carried on fighting to represent people. Our membership is made up of local residents who want to make a difference in our communities. We believe in community politics, empowering local people and the ideas of personal freedom and liberalism. All of our polices locally are formed democratically by our members.

This year we are pleased to see our membership increasing and to have won three wards in the local elections. Making a gain from Labour in Warley Ward, and holding our seats in Greetland and Stainland and Elland. We are however very saddened to lose Janet Battye as the Councillor in Calder ward. Janet is still a Town Councillor in Todmorden and she has vowed to continue to work to represent people there. The results this year are signs that far from being dead, we are making progress in our recovery.
We just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has supported us, to all our voters, helpers, candidates and members. After a short break we shall return to campaign to remain in Europe in the forthcoming referendum.

Council Working Groups to be Open to Public

Liberal Democrat councillors have welcomed the decision to hold meetings of Council Working Groups in public.

Cllr James Baker (Liberal Democrat, Warley) told us: “I raised this matter at the Council Meeting held in February and so I am very pleased that it has been accepted by the Council. This is an important step in making the council more open and accountable to the public. As a result of us raising this issue, the public will now be able to attend Council meetings that were previously held behind closed doors”

“There will be times when information about individuals or sensitive financial matters are being discussed and these will have to be considered in private, but that is no different to what happens now at all Council committee meetings. The important principle has been established that these meetings will be held in public unless there is a very good reason not to.”

“This is just the latest example of something that Liberal Democrat councillors have pursued over many years. We pressed for a public question time at meetings of the full Council, and introduced it at Cabinet meetings. The public have a right to know not only what decisions have been taken on their behalf, but also how those decisions are arrived at. This should be a more open process from now on” said Cllr Baker.

Calderdale Labour leader rejects calls to take action against candidate defending Ken Livingstone’s ‘Hitler’ comments.

Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have asked that the Calderdale Labour party take action against a Calderdale Labour candidate who has called for Ken Livingstone to be reinstated into the Labour party. Their candidate has also shared a story that claims Livingstone was ‘vindicated’ in making his anti-Semitic ‘Hitler’ comments. The story rakes up an old conspiracy theory that Hitler was a Zionist which was first cooked up by up by an American Trotskyist called Lenni Brenner.

A further Labour candidate has shared a petition calling on John Mann to be expelled from the Labour party. This is the MP who stood up to Ken Livingstone for making his comments about Hitler and Zionism.


mn ken

However rather than take action against these candidates the Labour leader has sought to defend their actions. Claiming that they are opposed to anti-Semitism. He goes on to warn the  Conservative leader and another Conservative Councillor about possible legal consequences for making allegations against Labour candidates. You can read a copy of his email that was sent to members of the Council below.
Thank you for your email.
I can assure you that every member of the Labour group, and all our candidates, stand by the values stated in the amended resolution from the council debate last Wednesday.
And to provide further context, rather than the selective quotes forwarded to you, M Naeem has also clearly indicated his support for Jeremy Corbyn’s statement on the issue confirming his and our opposition to anti-semitism.
This is an important issue which should not be used for cynical political advantage. I was therefore shocked and dismayed to see Cllr Tagg say in the forwarded email “we need to take advantage of this”. I hope that you will agree that this is completely unacceptable.
May I also point out that both you and Cllr Tagg have re-published the email subject line, “Anti-Semitic Labour candidates”. As the email names two individuals, this appears to be a specific allegation that these two individuals are anti -Semitic. I am not a lawyer but that would seem to be potentially libellous and may also involve the publication of a false statement regarding a candidate, which is an election offence under s106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. This is likely to be particularly serious in regard to Naeem, who was for many years the Chief Executive of Rochdale Racial Equality Council. –
Email to Councillors from Tim Swift – Labour Council leader – 2nd May 2016

Housing Improvement Areas for flooded homes


Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Janet Battye is calling for new ‘Housing Improvement Areas’ to be set up to enable Calderdale Council to work with all the homeowners and residents in areas affected by floods. A plan could then be devised to refurbish houses devastated by floods and build in long-term flood resilience and protection.

Cllr Battye (Calder) said: “After talking to residents in my ward, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, it seems to me to make sense for the Council to bring together groups of residents and homeowners to help them work out what needs to be done for individual houses and for the locality. That way houses can be fully repaired and refurbished following the Boxing Day flood and be future-proofed against further flooding.

“By an imaginative scheme like this, we can help areas of housing get properly repaired and look better than they do at the moment, but also take advantage of the opportunity to protect them from future flooding. It may need walls being built, drainage improved, or pumps installed.

“I am sure funding could be found if there is a will to do this. The new Flood Fund created by the Council at its recent Budget meeting could fund Council staff to help run the scheme, and the £5,000 resilience grants can be pooled. Any and all other sources of funding should be pursued.

“The recent floods showed the ability and willingness of local people to work together for the common good and the Council could now build on this. Together we can achieve much more than we can individually” said Cllr Battye “and there is scope to establish these improvement areas from Todmorden through the Calder Valley to Elland and Brighouse.”


Wildlife crime unit faces extinction

One of the world’s leading policing units dedicated to supporting wildlife crime investigations is facing the axe. Liberal Democrat Environmental spokesperson Kate Parminter has called on ministers to step in and guarantee funding for the agency.

The unit has no funding confirmed by the Government beyond March 2016 following last Autumn’s Spending Review, with a decision expected be taken on its future by Ministers in the coming days.

Set up in 2006, the Wildlife Crime Unit acts as the focal point for all police wildlife crime intelligence-sharing, analysis and investigation in the UK – covering offences including rare bird egg theft, illegal deer poaching, the trade in endangered species, hare coursing, illegal taxidermy and indiscriminate cruelty to wild animals.

Baroness Parminter said: “Tackling wildlife crime such as smuggling, poaching and illegal trading is very important and the Government must do more.

“It is vital the National Wildlife Crime Unit, which the Liberal Democrats supported in Coalition is protected. To neglect this would be reckless.

“The Government has not committed to keeping the Unit open and we will continue to hold them to account.”

Axing maintenance grants hurts the poorest – Mulholland

Commenting on today’s debate on the abolition of student maintenance grants on those coming from lower income families, Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland said:

“The poorest students will be hit hardest by the ending of maintenance grants. Trying to do this through the backdoor shows not only their contempt for students but also their families. The Liberal Democrats utterly oppose this move.

“The abolition of grants will increase graduate loan repayments of the poorest. It will also increase the likelihood that graduates will not repay in full. It is unfair and economically illiterate.

“This hurts people the Tories talk about the most; whose who strive and go to University to better themselves.”

Message for BUSINESSES affected by the floods – more potential funding!

Information supplied by Kirsty McGregor, Founder of the Corporate Finance Network & Association of Crowdfunding Experts via flood pages facebook.

“We have heard that Calderdale Council have started issuing grant forms for businesses that have been flooded, at an initial amount of £2,500 per business. There may be also additional funding available once those initial grants have been distributed and further needs assessed on a case by case basis. All these grants are to be administered in the first instance by the Council. Grants available here

A Business Crowdfunding Campaign for Calderdale, entitled ‘Calderdale Rising’ will be launched next week, which I will personally take the lead on (as a local resident with wide-ranging expertise in this area of crowdfunding).

An information evening about this crowdfunding campaign, for business owners/directors, is taking place at Tower House at 6.30pm on Thursday 7th January. Please book here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/calderdale-rising-information-event-for-businesses-tickets-20480388393

When I was asked to propose a solution for business fundraising, I felt it was very important that any campaign was simple, effective and integrated across the whole borough.

The aims of this business crowdfunding campaign (in order of priority) are:
1. To give a positive message, some hope & empowerment to Calderdale businesses – starting today;
2. To give national/international publicity to individual businesses and the area as a whole
3. To raise finance (we may raise £20k we may raise £2m – I have no idea!)

This may seem a strange order, but the largest known benefits of successful business crowdfunding campaigns are actually in the wider publicity which is generated for the businesses. And as stated above, other financial grants are and will be available for businesses in due course to fulfil that essential need.

The criteria for businesses to take part in this business crowdfunding campaign are:
1. They must trade from a location in Calderdale
2. They must have been ‘affected’ by the floods and suffered a loss in trade– whether their premises were flooded, or they trade with businesses that were, or find that the traffic & infrastructure and general lack of footfall has had an impact on them, or loss of employees’ working hours has affected productivity
3. They must be willing to be involved in promoting the campaign through their social media channels and other contacts

The distribution of the monies raised will also be very simple. Funds raised will be equally shared by every business that is involved, irrespective of business size or level of flood impact. I am not prepared to put in extra layers of administration and time to set up grant panels to assess differing amounts due to each business. And as stated above, a financial return is only one of the aims of this campaign in any event.

I need at least 50 businesses to commit to be involved, and given there are many hundreds affected, this should be easily manageable.

Reminder – there will be an information meeting on Thursday 7th January at Tower House Hotel to explain to business owners/directors the more detailed mechanics of this. This will take place from 6.30-8.30pm. Many thanks to Robert at Tower House for offering the use of their function room for this meeting (and tea & coffee!). Please only businesses to attend this event – there isn’t the capacity in the room to take all interested individuals.

What I need you to do now please:
1. If you are a business owner/director please book your place for Thur evening here. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/calderdale-rising-information-event-for-businesses-tickets-20480388393

If you cannot attend, please send someone in your place that can feedback information to you – I know this is very short notice but I want this to move fast to maintain momentum, and it’s easier to explain verbally than on facebook or email!
2. Please share this message with businesses you know and encourage them to book & attend the event on Thur 7th
3. If you wish to donate, please hold fire for now. More information will be issued early next week. I am not sure whether this fund will be eligible for match funding yet – the rules seem to be changing on a daily basis. If it is, we will of course apply for that if we are able to within our timescale (the campaign will run for 28 days)

This may not be the extra ‘fund’ solution some were hoping for. Funds will be available through other sources and don’t forget to claim your £2,500 grant now available from the Council if you are eligible. Once this crowdfunding campaign is complete, other business groups may choose to conduct other fundraising campaigns with more specfiic criteria.

I sincerely hope this alternative and additional solution will actually provide more than just the cash. The Calderdale spirit can be demonstrated again to the world! ‪#CalderdaleRising”

Lib Dems will not stop fighting to give young people the voice they deserve

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to reverse their decision to restrict 16 year olds from voting in local elections.

Liberal Democrat peer John Shipley has tabled a motion in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill that will be debated on Tuesday as the Bill begins ping pong between the Commons and the Lords.

The motion will be called to a vote as the Lib Dems continue to fight the Tories on the issue following a series of Government defeats in recent months.

Ahead of the vote Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrat Political Reform Spokesperson, has said:

“Young people must have a say in how their lives and the communities they live in are run.

“The Government continues to discriminate based on where you live, young people in Scotland were given a vote on their future yet their Welsh and English counterparts are denied the same rights.

“We complain that younger generations are not engaging with politics and then we shut them out of the system. The Government needs to think again.

“Whilst the Tories are continuing to resist expanding the franchise, the Lib Dems will not stop fighting to give young people the voice they deserve.”