Liberal Democrats launch ‘Save our Pubs’ Campaign

We are launching  a campaign to save Calderdale pubs from threats of closure. Research from CAMRA that shows across the country 26 pubs are closing every week and  if something isn’t done now we risk losing more of our cherished community pubs.

The Coalition government has introduced measures in the localism act to register community facilities such as local pubs as community assets. This power has already been used in Calderdale by campaigns to save the Fox & Goose in Hebden Bridge and the Holy Well Inn in Holywell Green. However we believe both the government and the local Council need to go further to protect our cherished pubs from closure.

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The campaign is asking for a number of practical measures from Calderdale  Council and Government such as reforming large pub companies to giving pubs better protection under planning legislation. We have launched a campaign website and petition at www.savecalderdalepubs.com which local residents are signing to demonstrate their support. We then intend to put forward a motion to Council calling for better protection of pubs. We hope this will receive cross-party support.

 Councillor Janet Battye leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said: “Local pubs are hubs of the community and are vitally important, especially in the villages that have lost their post officer or shop. We are running this campaign to get Calderdale Council to take action to protect pubs. ”

Cllr Baker & Battye supporting the Little Valley brewery based in Calderdale. Photograph by Jade Smith.

Cllr Baker & Battye supporting the Little Valley brewery based in Calderdale. Photograph by Jade Smith.

Councillor James Baker said “The coalition has helped reduce the cost of living by scrapping the beer duty escalator.  We think it should go further in lowering beer tax so people can afford to be social and visit their local, rather than having to buy cheap booze from a supermarket.

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.”

Manufacturing figures fantastic news – Birtwistle

Commenting on figures showing UK manufacturing growth at a two-year high,

Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills, Gordon Birtwistle said:

“The Liberal Democrats have helped to create more than a million jobs in the private sector – now we want to help create a million more. Manufacturing is absolutely crucial to that and UK manufacturing growth hitting a two-year high is fantastic news.

“These figures are welcome but there is a long way to go. For years Labour and Conservative governments let British manufacturing collapse, the Liberal Democrats are determined to rebuild it.

“That’s why we are putting billions of pounds into high-tech manufacturing, science and renewable energy. And it’s why we are massively increasing the number of apprenticeships to make sure employers get the skilled workers they need.”

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£91 Million to turn empty houses into homes.

The Liberal Democrat communities Minister Don Foster has announced that towns across England will benefit from £91 million to refurbish and bring back into use over 6,000 empty and derelict homes and commercial premises, particularly in the Midlands and North where the problem is most acute.

The funding will be spent on refurbishment in areas where empty properties have commonly led to problems such as squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices, driving remaining residents away. There funding can be accessed through the empty homes funding programme by registered social landlords, and community and voluntary groups.

The government has already invested £130 million to refurbish up to 11,500 empty homes since 2010. This includes £100 million to bring empty property back as affordable housing, and the first ‘clusters of empty homes’ programme investment of £30 million.

In addition New Homes Bonus, under which government matches council tax income on new build or empty homes brought back into use, has supported over 50,000 empty homes being refurbished for people and families to live in and rewarded councils with £59 million. Councils now also have the power to charge owners 150% council tax rate for properties left empty for more than six months, using the money to keep down council tax for ordinary families.

Councillor James Baker deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council said “It’s good news for families on the housing waiting list that our region of the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber has already received  £11,522,648 from the empty homes programme. This extra money from the government will help bring empty houses back into use and provide much needed homes for people. It makes sense to redevelop existing empty homes, as building space for new homes is limited across Calderdale.”

Creating jobs here in Calderdale

We are passionate about crating jobs here in Calderdale. When we were running the Council we made certain that it was helping to support and grow businesses through Business Networks, especially for Creative, Manufacturing, Green and Tourism. We worked more closely with Calderdale College and local universities to develop skills and we set up Business breakfasts so that the Council can talk directly to businesses.

In government Liberal Democrats have

 

  • Helped 1.2 million people start an apprenticeship since 2010, including 5,140 in Calderdale.
  • Giving up to 2,930 businesses and charities in Calderdale a £2,000 jobs tax cut. This could be worth up to £10,400,000 in tax cuts and could enable every local business to employ one extra person on a £22,400 salary or four extra people on the minimum wage, without having to pay any extra tax.
  • Secured a £473,000 grant for local business Holts Brothers Ltd, creating 268 jobs across nine sites. The grant will help deliver a £28.5m project to develop the UK supply chain for gearboxes used in the manufacturing of wind turbines.
  •  Given a £175,000 grant to a project to improve local cycling and green travel at Calder Valley Greenway – Colne bridge/Bradley to Brighouse. The project involves constructing Calder Valley Greenway up to district boundary with Calderdale including links on upper quarry road and on to Park Lea, Beadley.
  • Given £4,856,893 to support West Yorkshire Council to create 833 new homes in Calderdale, either new ones or by bringing back empty homes, helping create jobs and giving the local construction industry a much-needed boost.

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A Million Jobs Campaign

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Cllr Janet Battye has welcomed the Liberal Democrat Million Jobs Campaign, which was launched by Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

More than one million private sector jobs have been created since the Coalition Government came to power. Liberal Democrats now want to create a million more.

This will build on what Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government have already achieved. Business Secretary, Vince Cable has overseen a record rise in apprenticeships, including 5,580 apprentices in Calderdale since 2010. To support jobs in manufacturing, £5.5bn extra has been invested into science, high-tech manufacturing and renewable energy and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has introduced £2,000 cash back on National Insurance contributions for employers who take on more staff.

Commenting, Cllr Janet Battye said:

“The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

“Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government have helped businesses create more than one million private sector jobs, and now we’re working to help them create a million more.

“I look forward to working with local businesses, community groups and schools and colleges to turn this ambition into reality in Calderdale.”

 

Demand for Calderdale Council to consider energy from waste on Cromwell Bottom landfill site

Liberal Democrat Councillors are concerned about the environment impact of the Council’s decision to burn off methane at the Cromwell Bottom former landfill site between Brighouse and Elland. They are asking the Economy and Environment scrutiny panel to consider whether the gas released at the site can be filtered to remove pollutants, and then put to use creating energy.

 “This is another of those problems that I had to make sure we sorted out when I became Leader of the Council in May 2010” said Cllr Janet Battye (Leader of the Liberal Democrat group and ward Councillor for Calder ward). I welcome the progress made in sorting out the old landfill site, but I want to be sure that everything possible is being done to use this landfill gas productively as a source of energy.”

“The Council should be taking a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy, so we can’t let this opportunity go by.”

 

SMOKING CHIMNEY AT HELSINKI POWER STATION, FINLAND - 2 JAN 2003

  Councillor James Baker the Deputy Chair of the Economy and Environment Scrutiny panel said “The proposal is to burn the gas off by ‘flaring’. I am concerned that this may create dioxins which could damage local people’s health. These dangerous chemicals are created by burning hydrocarbons such as methane with chlorine, which is present in landfill gas, in the presence of oxygen.”

“I want the panel to double-check this to ensure the gas will be properly filtered and then, if possible, is put to a productive use to power homes or heat water in boilers.”

This issue will be considered at an extra meeting of Calderdale Council’s Scrutiny Panel being called on Monday, June 17th at 6pm in Halifax Town Hall.

Communities Directorate Handed Over “In Good Order”

The Communities Directorate of Calderdale Council has delivered a balanced budget at the end of the 2012/13 financial year, according to a report to the Council’s Cabinet today (3 June 2013).

Commenting on this, Councillor Pauline Nash (Liberal Democrat, Skircoat), who was, until last month, the Cabinet Member for Communities told us:

“I do not have to follow the example of Liam Byrne, Labour’s last Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who left his successor a note saying there was no money left. I am handing over to the new Cabinet member a directorate in financial good health and delivering services that are valued by the people of Calderdale.”

“I hope the same is true when the next annual accounts are published in a year’s time”.

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.”

Child Care Business Grants

A new £2m scheme has been launched by the Coalition Government to help boost childcare businesses and help women back into work.

People who want to set up a nursery can apply for grants of up to £500 to help cover things like legal and insurance costs, training, equipment and adaptations to buildings. The scheme is aimed to launch up to 6,000 new childcare businesses across England.

We hope people in Calderdale will take up this offer so that a significant number of new nurseries will spring up here, boosting options for parents.

This funding boost comes on top of other recent good news for parents. Last month it was announced that 524 of the poorest two-year-olds in Calderdale stand to benefit from 15 hours free childcare a week from this September. This was championed by Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government to ensure those toddlers have a good start in life and education.

 

Commenting, Cllr Ashley Evans said:

“Liberal Democrats want to create a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life. Childcare plays a vital role in achieving those goals. It helps the early development of children and removes barriers for those parents keen to return to work.

“We have seen time and time again the important difference that good quality childcare can make in giving children the best possible start in life.

“This money will help entrepreneurs set up and run new childcare facilities which along with over £1.4 million extra to help fund child care for two year olds will be a boost to Calderdale’s economy and a massive help to families here.”