Liberal Democrat Budget Proposals – A Safer, Cleaner and Fairer Calderdale.

As a group we are proposing to amend the Labour cabinet on Calderdale Council’s budget proposals.

The intention of our amendment is to:

  1. Make Calderdale a safer place to live by supporting the Police to enforce the laws on speeding and dangerous driving around our Borough. Speeding and dangerous driving is a major concern of residents living in Calderdale. In recent months the Police have run ‘Operation Hawmill’. This successful operation has seen a traffic cop back on the streets of Calderdale. We would like to find some finances to support the continuation of an operation such as Hawmill to help tackle speeding and dangerous driving on our streets.
  2. Make Calderdale a cleaner greener place to live by establishing a task force to tackle Environmental crimes including: Littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping, and anti-social behaviour. Parts of Calderdale are sadly looking like a rubbish dump at the moment. Meanwhile anti-social behaviour is in many places making people’s lives a misery. The Council isn’t using powers at its disposal such as Community Protection Notices. We would like to setup a new Environmental Crime Task force to help tackle and address these issues.
  3. Make Calderdale a fairer place by stopping a proposed cut to the support disabled children get in early years education. D Catch funding enables disabled children in Early Years education to get the support they need. We believe that proposals to cut this would have a devastating impact on young disabled children here in Calderdale. We believe disabled children need all the support they can get at the Early Years level in order that they can go to achieve their fullest potential in life.

Council finances are of course very tough at the moment, there is no easy or quick way to find the resources required to implement any of these proposals. We would find the resources required to do all of these things by:

  1. Seeking to transfer some Council buildings to community use. We believe in localism and by transferring Todmorden Town Hall to the management of the Town Council and Brighouse Town Hall to a community group we see them put to better use.
  2. Re-introducing a previously agreed saving on fees. In previous budget consultations members of the public have said they would prefer to see fees and charges for Council services rise rather than more cuts to services. Labour sought to remove that previously agreed saving, we are seeking to re-introduce it.
  3. Reducing the cost of staff sickness through a Nurse Led Sickness policy. FirstCare is part of a sickness management framework that public section organisations, charities, and housing associations can sign up to. Under the scheme, Council employees are required to phone FirstCare to register any sick leave that they need to take.  They are then assessed by a nurse on the phone and advised as to what they need to do next. It is estimated by Council officers that if introduced on Calderdale Council for key areas this would save us £50K per annum.

This is a fully balanced amendment to the cabinet budget, it would not require any additional taxation upon what is already proposed, and neither would it require any additional use of balances.

The financial details of this amendment can be viewed below

 

If you have any comments on our suggestions for budget please feel free to post them. We have put this amendment in the public domain before Budget Council in order that residents are able to join in the democratic process and the debate.

Calderdale Liberal Democrat’s Budget Amendments

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CALDERDALE COUNCIL LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Budget 2015/18

Our principles: As Liberal Democrats, we believe that it’s important that Calderdale has a thriving economy, and cares for its local people. Supporting local businesses has to be an important feature of this, while making sure that Calderdale is a good place to live in and visit.

We also believe that the role of the Council, as the elected representatives of local people, is to lead, co-ordinate and facilitate local services. In our extensive consultation exercise in 2010, local people told us that they wanted us to protect local services but that the Council doesn’t have to directly provide local services.

We also know that local people want efficient and effective services, with an open, responsive and accountable Council. They have told us that they are prepared to pay more for some services in order to protect others.

Our achievements: In taking a leading role in running the Council in recent years, we have ensured that:

  • Youth unemployment has reduced significantly, with more apprenticeships

  • Schools have benefitted from some protection of funding and the Pupil Premium (worth some £25m)

  • Investment in local businesses and transport through the Council’s Economic Task Force, and active partnership in Leeds City Region/Combined Authority

  • Green economy and environmental issues taking a higher priority: highest waste recycling in West Yorkshire and the Community Energy scheme

Our aspirations for this budget period: In these next 3 years, we are looking to:

  • Keep Council tax increases to the lowest possible with no increase next year

  • Continue to improve the efficiency of the Council through reducing “back office” costs and explore sharing services with other Councils, etc

  • Work with local people to protect local Council services alongside developing and supporting local community services

  • Continue to support local businesses and the local economy, reducing unemployment and providing more apprenticeships and training for young people

In particular, we want to see the Council take action on the following two specific issues and commit to one general one:

Real action on energy reduction

As Liberal Democrats we are committed to real action to tackle climate change and reduce our reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels. Some targets have been placed on the Council to reduce its energy bill. We think it’s time for a much bolder and radical approach. We will set a tough target of saving 20% from our energy bills by 2018. This is achievable through a major investment in solar energy and LED lighting in Council buildings. This invest to save scheme would pay for itself through the savings in energy costs. After about five years the cost of the investment will have been paid off and the Council will then benefit financially from these savings.

This measure will be self-financing and will result in reduced energy consumption and the creation of more renewable energy. It’s a bold and forward thinking approach modernising Calderdale Council’s estate of buildings.

Affordable Warmth Scheme

In Calderdale in 2013 there were 93 excess winter deaths attributed to cold homes. Improving the insulation in homes, particularly those of vulnerable people, will help reduce the number of people suffering in cold homes. It will mean fewer people living in fuel poverty, fewer fossil fuels burnt to heat homes, and more money in residents’ pockets to be spent in our local economy.

The National Institute of Environmental Health and the Building Research Establishment have suggested that targeting the borough’s worst housing with a £1.4m investment programme could save an estimated £4.65m in associated health care costs. At a time when health services are under pressure this is a sensible and pragmatic measure the Council could take to help save lives in Calderdale.

Through smarter working and the use of technology we believe that the Council could save even more money than currently suggested. We are therefore proposing to increase the savings target for making better use technology by £100,000 and use the additional savings to fund the repayment of a £1.4m capital investment to combat cold homes in Calderdale.

Involving Local People

The public consultation referred to above was carried out nearly five years ago. It was an extremely useful piece of work, but its relevance and usefulness will necessarily diminish with the passing of time. For a number of reasons, then, including the forthcoming general election, we believe that this summer is the right time for the Council to undertake a similar consultation and engagement exercise that will assist in shaping the Councils policies and budgets for several years to come. That is why we welcomed the Cabinet’s proposal to carry out such an exercise and why we now call upon the Council as a whole to make a commitment to undertake this work.

Cllr Janet Battye

February 2015

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Liberal Democrat Amend Cover

AMENDMENTS MOVED AT MEETINGS OF THE COUNCIL – LIB DEM GROUP

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.