Agreement Reached on Budget Changes

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The Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups on Calderdale Council have reached agreement on amendments to Labour’s budget proposals and will be putting these to the Budget Council meeting to be held on Monday (24February).

Together, the two groups have 28 members to Labour’s 21, with two independents.

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Janet Battye (Calder) told us: “While Labour say they run an open and transparent administration, that has not been our experience. Labour have drawn up their budget plans with no involvement from any other group and apparently no plan as to how they were going to get the Council to approve it. Although they run the Cabinet, they do not have a majority on the Council.”

“Our overarching aims have been to make better use of the Council’s resources to support a fairer society and build a stronger economy. Our plans do this by:

  • Freezing the Council’s element of the Council Tax bill for the coming year and the following year. We also aim to freeze Council Tax in 2016;
  • Increasing the Council’s Business & Economy Service to provide expert help and advice that will enable local business to increase their exports;
  • Reversing some of the recent changes to car parking charges and increase a shoppers’ parking scheme. Both will aid the local economy;
  • Increasing the size of the Safer, Cleaner, Greener teams, enabling them to place more emphasis on tackling dog fouling;
  • Providing each Ward Forum with a sum of £5,000 so that issues of local importance can be addressed;
  • Establishing a fund that local schools can access to tackle issues with their buildings that are too big for their own budgets, but which never make it to the top of the Council’s priority list.

“These budget proposals give a clear signal of the way we wish the Council to operate over the coming years. I hope that the Council approves them” said Cllr Battye.

Halifax Liberal Democrats select parliamentary candidate.

Halifax Liberal Democrats have selected Mohammed Ilyas as their parliamentary candidate for the 2015 general election.

Mr Ilays has been a resident of Halifax since 1973.He represented the Liberal Democrats as a Calderdale council as a councillor from 2008 to 2012. He works self employed as a driving instructor.

Commenting Mr Ilays said “ The Liberal Democrats stand for an open and a fairer society in which everyone can play a role without any prejudice of colour religion race or backgrounds. We want to enable everyone to get on in life and achieve things based on their ability not privilege. “

“We will let people know that Labour can’t be trusted with the economy, and the Conservatives can’t be trusted to build a fairer society. It is only the Liberal Democrats who can both build a stronger economy and a fairer society.”

“In 2010 we took the bold decision to join the coalition to bring back Country on its feet. The economy is growing again, and more people are in work now in Calderdale than in 2010 when Labour left office.  We have held back the worse excess of the Conservatives, and tried to make things fairer by giving ordinary people a tax cut of £700.”

“In Halifax we will do more to do to involve young people into training sessions,apprenticeships and creating more job opportunities for everyone.”

 

Keep cleaning the streets!

Calderdale Council’s Labour Cabinet needs to think again about its proposal to reduce the number of street cleaners, say Liberal Democrat councillors.

 Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Janet Battye (Calder) told us: “Listening to local people, we know that they are very concerned about the state of our streets and how clear and tidy they are. The local Safer, Cleaner, Greener teams are very popular and effective and we don’t believe that the Labour Cabinet should reduce them – indeed, we want to build on their success and invest further in their work. Dog fouling is still a significant problem and we know that local people want the Council to do more about this.”

“This highlights the importance of local services. We want the Council to have an effective and efficient core that organises and runs services, but those services must be delivered locally. Our libraries, Customer First, Children’s Centres and so on, are important and we want to see the Council working more closely with other public organisations and local community groups” said Cllr Battye.

Calderdale’s Labour Cabinet budget: The devil’s in the detail

The initial response from local Liberal Democrats questions both the process and the contents of the budget proposals.

“When Labour took control of the Council in May 2013, with the passive support of the Conservatives, they said that they would run an ‘open and transparent’ Council. However, their method of preparing these budget proposals has been anything but. They have been closed and secretive” says Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Janet Battye (Calder). “While I’m not surprised at some of the proposals, Labour chose not to continue the open process of cross-party Budget Review groups which we set up when we began to run the Council with them and continued throughout the 3 years that we were part of the Cabinet”.

“Secondly, although Labour talk about “ambition”, and we have challenged them to explain their vision, they still will not say what role they see for the Council and what type of services local people can expect to get. There are a lot of words in the preamble to the figures, but little meaning.”

“Thirdly, the devil’s in the detail: from the information provided in the budget papers, it is difficult to understand what they intend to do. How are they going to “realign other services with Public Health outcomes”? There are four proposals about the waste collection service with an initial reduction of over £0.5m – what impact will that have? Let alone a “Future Workforce Programme” which we’ve never heard of”.

“There are 27 proposals in total, 11 of which involve Reviews. These are substantial pieces of work with little clear explanation of how and why they fit into any vision or strategy for local services. Given the slow pace of development and implementation of many of their recent strategies – such as Child Poverty on which work appears not to have started – we must seriously question their competence to run the Council without close involvement of all Councillors”.

“It is deeply disappointing that, despite Labour’s fine words, there seems to be nothing in these proposals to support and invest in the local Green Economy, carbon reduction and affordable warmth. We particularly want to see more work done on Community Energy. It is likely that our budget proposals will include something on this.

“I’m not sure that Labour, on their own, have the economic competence to make savings without affecting services. Only Liberal Democrats can deliver both a stronger economy and a fairer society”

Councillor Janet Battye – Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Calderdale Council

MEP slams Calderdale Council’s waste of EU funds

Liberal Democrat MEP for the Yorkshire & Humber region Edward McMillan-Scott has slammed Calderdale Council for proposing to sell off a community centre only recently opened with a mix of EU, charity and Council funding.

Labour run Calderdale Council has given just 21 days notice over the Christmas period of its plans to sell a community centre in the Pellon area of Halifax. The Pellon Network Centre was opened in 2008 with a chunk of funding from the European Regional Development Fund. This fund was meant to help an economically deprived area of Halifax.

Commenting on the proposal McMillan-Scott MEP said:

“I am very disappointed that a local community centre – set up with the help of EU funds – is going to be sold-off by local Labour councillors just a few years after it has opened. With such investment from the EU and elsewhere, this is a centre worth fighting to keep open.”

Liberal Democrat Ward Councillor Ashley Evans is pointing out that the terms of the EU funding stipulate the economic lifetime of assets should be 15 years, this would be from 2008. If the Council wants to change the use or dispose of the assets within 15 years they need to get the permission of the Secretary of State, otherwise they could have to repay the grant back to the EU.

Councillor Evans said:

“Attempting to sell this community centre over the Christmas period is a disgrace. The EU gave this money to help a struggling area of Halifax, and now the Labour Council want to sell it off just a few years after it has opened. I don’t know if they have the economic competence to have realised this could result in them having to repay the grant.”

Councillors Ashley Evans, James Baker campaigning to save the centre with Paul Tait and Jennifer Pearson

Councillors Ashley Evans, James Baker campaigning to save the centre with Paul Tait and Jennifer Pearson

 

Sign the petition to keep the centre open.

Notes: Appendix 4 “Economic Lifetime of Assets” of the National European Regional Development Fund Handbook on page 64 under item c states the economic lifetime of assets should be 15 years. This would be from 2008. If the Council wants to change the use or dispose of the assets within 15 years they have to get the permission of the Secretary of State (this would be DCLG so Eric Pickles). If they don’t get permission then they could have to repay the grant back to the EU.

A link to the document is provided here

 

 

Good news for rural broadband

Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has published the Coalition Government’s National Infrastructure Plan – a plan for more than £375bn of public and private sector investment in energy, transport, flood defence, waste, water and communications infrastructure up to 2030 and beyond.

It comes on the day that six major insurers announced plans to collectively invest £25bn in UK infrastructure over the next five years. Much of this investment could go into the projects published today.

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Commenting, Danny Alexander said:

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

“Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. But the Coalition’s economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built – it wouldn’t be happening without the Liberal Democrats.

“The announcement today that six major insurers will invest £25bn over the next five years is a massive vote of confidence in the UK economy. It supports the wider £100bn public investment to rebuild Britain over the next seven years that I announced at the Spending Round 2013. Underground, overground, on shore, offshore, wired or wireless, tarmac or train track. You name it, we’re building it right now.

“This is great news for the people of the UK because after years of neglect, the UK’s energy, road, rail, flood defence, communications and water infrastructure needs renewal. It will boost the UK economy creating jobs and making it easier to do business. It will also make the UK a better place to live for everyone who calls it their home.”

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley welcomed the announcement saying:

“Increasing rural broadband brings huge benefits to everyone living or working there. It’s tremendously good news that the government is looking at all options, including mobile broadband enhancements which could also boost phone signals along the Calder Valley, having positive benefits for safety in emergencies and enhancing the draw of the area for Tourism.”

Helping to save your local

This week Calderdale Council debated our motion to help save Calderdale’s pubs. Thanks to the support of all of you that backed this campaign.  We are delighted to inform you that the motion won cross-party support and was passed.

We now need to build on this success to make sure the Council puts into action what it has agreed.
The motion contained a range of practical measures that will help change how the Council handles planning applications. It will also ensure the Council lobbies the government to take action on things like the high taxes on beer that our killing our locals.
Picture by Robert Wade. Some rights reserved. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossendalewadey/3863910769/

Picture by Robert Wade. Some rights reserved. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossendalewadey/3863910769/

We also think there is more scope for the Council to work with pubs so we are delighted the communities scrutiny panel will examine these possibilties in more detail. We know elsewhere in the Country people have been able to borrow library books, or collect parcels from their local. This would be of great benefit to some of the village communities in Calderdale.

Our jobs, social spaces and traditions are built around our fantastic pubs. So thank you for doing your bit to help protect your local.

We are always looking for people to help get involved with in local politics. As you can see the campaigns we run can make a real difference to our community. Our membership is growing, and this is a great time to get involved. 

Calderdale Liberal Democrats will fight to protect local A&E provision.

Calderdale Liberal Democrat have  stated that they are opposed to any decline in the quality of emergency care within Caldedale. The party has given its support to a motion passed by Calderdale Council that calls on all partners to work together to ensure continued, safe and appropriate access to 24-hour urgent and emergency care within Calderdale, in full consultation with the public.

Although the government has protected NHS funding, the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS trust face a range of budgetary pressures arising from increasing costs of health care, appalling PFI contracts entered into, and demographic pressures.

For example, while the capital cost of rebuilding Calderdale Royal Hospital is £64.6m, the PFI scheme entered into will end up costing Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust a total of £773.2m.

As a result of these pressures and a national report on the future of A&E services the local NHS trust has decided to review the shape of our unplanned emergency care service. At this stage no proposals have yet to been drawn up.

Cllr Janet Battye leader of the group said. “ We want to see the options coming out of the Strategic Review in the New Year with good opportunities for open and informed consultation and debate on them. We need top quality
local services that people can rely on, that means we also have to review them, modernise them, and make sure they meet our health needs. We will fight to protect, quality services for local people.”

The Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Calder Valley Alistair McGregor said:” We would urge the Conservative and Labour parties to stop arguing over whose fault the PFI contracts are and start working on a cross party basis to ensure the NHS’ proposals meet the needs of local residents. We know the reckless borrowing and PFI schemes of the past are putting pressure on the services of today. The question is not whose fault that is but what we can do about it”

Calderdale Conservatives complain about Labour, forgetting they put them there

I am intrigued to read Cllr Pillai’s comments about the Labour group running Calderdale Council.

As we know, Labour does not have a majority of Councillor in Calderdale. The only reason that they can be said to be running the council is that, when it came to the relevant vote at the Annual Council meeting, Cllr Pillai and his Conservative colleagues ‘sat on their hands’ and allowed Labour to form an administration. The Conservatives, then, brought about the very thing that they now complain about.

 

Cllr Janet Battye

Leader of the Calderdale Council Liberal Democrat Group

Council is failing to tackle fly-tipping

Calerdale Council has failed to issue a single fixed penalty notice or make any prosecutions over fly-tipping in the past year. The figures released this month by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs show that despite over 1,100 incidents reported, the Council has failed to fine or prosecute anyone.

Cllr James Baker (Warley), the Liberal Democrat Economy and Environment spokesperson said:

“Although the Council has investigated these incidents and issued warnings it has failed to make a single prosecution or issue a single fine. This simply isn’t good enough, and sends out the message that people can blight our landscape and get away with it. The Labour run Council need to do more to tackle this environmental crime.”

The figures show that from 2012-13 there were 1,156 incidents of fly-tipping reported across the borough. This lead to 548 warning letters, 35 stop and searches and 11 formal cautions. The estimated cost of these investigations came to a total exceeding £40,000, and the cost of actions arising more than £30,000.