Lib Dems Slam Proposed Parking Charge Increases

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group has slammed proposals to increase car parking charges throughout Calderdale.

The matter was discussed by the Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel at a meeting on Thursday 8th September, and will be discussed again by the Council’s Cabinet on Monday 12th.

Councillor James Baker (Warley), the leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group said: “Yet again the Council seems determined to upset local residents, shop-keepers and business owners by introducing hefty increases in parking charges.”

“Although increases are planned for towns across Calderdale, Hebden Bridge seems – again – to be being singled out for particularly harsh treatment. It is already the only town in Calderdale where charges are in place for seven days a week, but now there is a suggestion that on-street charges could be increased from 40p an hour to £1. It is too much. No wonder people think the Council is treating Hebden Bridge as a cash cow.”

“It is particularly annoying to be told by Labour councillors that increased charges have been known about for some years. When concerns were raised previously, we were told that it wasn’t just about putting up prices. I feel that we have been misled.”

“We have previously suggested that a free half-hour could be introduced to aid shoppers who just want to buy a newspaper or a snack, but nothing seems to have come of this. Calderdale Council needs to sort out its parking issues, but at the moment it doesn’t look as if it will”, said Cllr Baker.

Don’t airbrush LGBT history from Shibden Hall

Calderdale Liberal Democrats are accusing the Council of not doing enough to tell the LGBT history that lies behind Anne Lister and Shibden Hall.

Shibden Hall is a landmark historic building in Calderdale and a wonderful place to visit. The hall was home to Anne Lister whose personal diaries detailing her lesbian relationships are recognised as part of the UNESCO memory of the word programme. The diaries have also been the subject of a BBC film by James Kent entitled the ‘Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister’.

A recent visitor to Shibden Hall, Mr Manley-Green, complained that the film wasn’t available to buy and that they had even run out of books on Anne Lister. Mr Manley-Green said “I’m not keen on being told ‘we have to be careful what we say to school groups’. I can’t think how different my life would have been if I’d have been told the story on my school trip some 50 years ago!”

Councillor James Baker (Warley), the leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats, said “It appears the Council are trying to airbrush out the LGBT history from this site. There is little mention of Anne’s diaries on the Council’s webpage about Shibden Hall, there is a promotional video of the hall that does mention the diaries but it airbrushes out any reference to their importance as a piece of LGBT history.”

“This is a great opportunity for the Council to show Calderdale as a beacon of tolerance and a leader of putting history into a modern context. There are undoubtedly many commercial opportunities available to promote this destination as the home of the ‘first modern lesbian’”, said Cllr Baker.

Orginal picture by Rictor Norton & David Allen (CC BY 2.0) adapted to add rainbow flag. https://flic.kr/p/a4oKRT

Orginal picture by Rictor Norton & David Allen (CC BY 2.0) adapted to add rainbow flag. https://flic.kr/p/a4oKRT

“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.”

Speeding Traffic Letter

The Halifax Courier has today published this letter from Cllr Ashley Evans.

Speeding traffic is causing increasing concern to residents of the Warley ward and I am frequently contacted by people expressing anger and frustration at this dangerous and anti-social behaviour. Through the Ward Forum and other community meetings my colleague James Baker and I have begun to address the problem.

Initially, SID (the Speed Indicator Device) was deployed and, despite its high visibility, it recorded speeds of up to 40mph in the new 20mph zones and speeds over 40mph in 30mph zones. The police, with the help of local residents, seized one Quad Bike and reported the driver. This was a step in the right direction but the dangerous driving continued. James and I decided enough was enough.

I e-mailed the local Police Commander and received a very positive response in under an hour. Senior officers were tasked with dealing with the problem and keeping us informed of actions and results. Extra funding was provided for a targeted operation (covering Warley and other parts of Halifax) that quickly issued 16 fixed penalty notices and seized two expensive and powerful cars – a good start, and well done to all those involved. This increased level of enforcement must be continued and James has written to our Police & Crime Commissioner asking him to make tackling speeding traffic a higher priority in his work and that of the police.

We very much welcome this action but it must be combined with more community-based approaches. The police agree and they intend to tackle the ‘culture’ behind anti-social and dangerous driving through both education and ‘enhanced enforcement’.

We will also support and work with the local Ward Forum Team who wish to set up a Warley Action Group involving the Police, the Fire Service, Road Safety officers, local schools’ representatives and the wider community. We will pass on local views on the success of this.

A combined approach may be the way to tackle this problem and it could be extended across Calderdale.

Cllr Ashley Evans

(Liberal Democrat, Warley Ward)

Speeding Traffic Concerns

PB and SIDResidents’ concerns over speeding motorists in parts of the Greetland and Stainland ward have led to the Speed Indicator Device (SID) being used to get a more accurate picture of the problem.

Cllr Paul Bellenger (Liberal Democrat, Greetland and Stainland) says: “I take these concerns very seriously, so I visited the areas myself to get a clearer indication of which roads were more of a hotspot. I passed this information on to Council officers and requested the deployment of SID, which was set up in Greetland and Sowood on a number of dates during July.”

“The results were very interesting. Having watched SID in action monitoring vehicles we noticed that our perceptions were often very different to the SID results. Vehicles that we thought were travelling way above the speed limit were actually often close to it. What looks like speeding to someone on foot often isn’t.”

“However, the speeds of some motorists in some areas were too great and this information has been passed onto West Yorkshire Police. I hope they will be taking action to bring speeds down to a safe level.”

“Speeding traffic is a concern in many communities and we will continue to work with the Council and the police throughout the ward and do what we can to make it safer” said Paul.

Plummeting home ownership across West Yorkshire shows housing is no longer just a London problem.

Councillor James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats  said:

“Fewer people are getting the opportunity to own their own homes, many younger people now struggle to be able to afford their own property. The struggle to buy property makes it harder for people to gain financial security that they may need to rely on in later life.”

The analysis shows that having peaked at 71 per cent in 2003, the proportion of people owning their own home across England has fallen steadily over the last decade by seven per cent.

Back in 2003, 70.8 per cent of households living in West Yorkshire were owners –  However, home ownership has since plummeted by 10 per cent – more so that by this year year just 60.2% per cent of households living in West Yorkshire owned their own home.

This fall in home ownership has corresponded with a near doubling in the proportion of private renters across England, up from 11 per cent in 2003 to 19 per cent in 2015.

Councillor Baker added:

“Here in Calderdale The Labour Council blames the Conservative Government. And the Conservative Government blames the Labour Council. Meanwhile there are people struggling to put a roof over their head, it’s time both Labour and the Conservative’s stopped arguing over whose fault it is and started working with us to find a solution.”

 

Home ownership across UK:

Area Peak of home ownership Home ownership in Feb-16 Change Date of peak home ownership
East Anglia 73.4% 66.9% -6.5% Oct-03
East Midlands 75.0% 66.9% -8.1% Oct-04
Greater Manchester 72.4% 57.9% -14.5% Apr-03
Inner London 42.6% 36.4% -6.2% Oct-04
Merseyside 71.4% 62.3% -9.1% Apr-03
Outer London 71.4% 57.8% -13.5% Oct-00
Rest of North West 78.7% 71.4% -7.3% Oct-99
Rest of Northern region 72.4% 63.3% -9.1% Oct-05
Rest of Scotland 71.5% 63.7% -7.7% Oct-04
Rest of South East 75.7% 70.5% -5.3% Apr-00
Rest of West Midlands 78.1% 68.7% -9.5% Oct-05
Rest of Yorks & Humberside 74.6% 65.0% -9.5% Apr-04
South West 75.2% 69.3% -5.9% Oct-99
South Yorkshire 68.2% 58.4% -9.8% Oct-05
Strathclyde 66.7% 63.3% -3.4% Nov-07
Tyne & Wear 64.0% 56.5% -7.5% Apr-03
West Midlands (met county) 70.5% 59.3% -11.2% Apr-05
West Yorkshire 70.8% 60.2% -10.6% Apr-03
England 70.8% 63.8% -7.0% Apr-03
Northern Ireland 73.5% 63.0% -10.5% Nov-06
Scotland 69.1% 63.5% -5.6% Oct-04
UK 70.9% 64.1% -6.8% Oct-04
Wales 74.8% 69.6% -5.1% May-06

Local Liberal Democrats Win Green Campaign Award

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Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group has won the Green Campaigning Group of the Year Award for 2016. The award is one of a number made annually by the Local Government Association’s Liberal Democrat Group.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr James Baker (Warley) told us: “I am very pleased that the group has won this award. It recognises our local campaigns on environmental issues over many years.”

“This award was made because of our recent work on the Green Economy in Calderdale, securing a £1.2 million affordable warmth insulation scheme in the Council’s 2015/16 budget, and getting the Council to commit to a 20% cut in its electricity consumption.”

“The Liberal Democrats are totally committed to protecting our environment and we will continue to press the Council to do more locally as well as playing its part in pushing for action nationally and internationally” said Cllr Baker.  “Reports this week have shown that, globally, last year was the hottest on record. June was the hottest June ever recorded and the 14th month in a row to break this record. Action is on the environment now is more important than it ever has been.

Calderdale Lib Dems make Freedom of Infomration Act request to reveal Greenbelt sites under review

An impressive and detailed report into the Green Belt has recently been discussed by the Council. This  draft report  suggests that some areas may be removed from the Green Belt and which will be subject to further review. However to date we have been unable to obtain the detailed list of where all these sites are.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats have now made a formal freedom of information act request to Calderdale Council to reveal the details of the 64 Greenbelt sites in Calderdale that will be examined for review.

Councillor James Baker (Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats) said: “We campaigned on the Council for all working group meetings to be held in public and for their papers to be published online. We were also informed by the Labour cabinet that this information would be in the public domain when the papers for the meeting were published.

You can imagine therefore how disappointed we are that it has  been impossible to get hold of the appendix to this report that lists all the sites. We raised this at full Council on 20th July and we have now submitted a formal Freedom of Information Act request for the information.” Rather than accept this document should have been made public, Labour Councillors have acted defensively, accusing us of dishonesty, and claiming the report is too large to publish online. This is regrettable.”