Key Liberal Democrat policies won cross-party support at Calderdale’s budget meeting last night. Both Conservative and Labour groups accepted a range of our proposals which were driven by our determination to build both a stronger economy, but also a fairer society in which everyone can get on in life.
Our proposals to build a stronger economy included:
- Increasing the Council’s Business & Economy Service to provide expert help and advice that will enable local business to increase their exports.
- Providing each Ward Forum with a sum of £5,000 so that issues of local importance can be addressed.
Our proposals to build a fairer society included:
- Increasing the size of the Safer, Cleaner, Greener teams, enabling them to place more emphasis on tackling dog fouling.
- 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.
In addition we supported a range of measures to help with the cost of living include a reversal of recent changes in parking charges that have seen residents charged up to 8pm to park in Halifax Town Centre.
Over the past couple of days it became clear there were concerns over proposals to both reduce sick pay, and give staff who take no sick pay and extra day’s holiday. We listened to staff concerns about the proposed reduction in sick pay, and did not support proposals to make this reduction in this years budget. We will be keen now for the Labour administration to demonstrated they can reduce high levels of sick pay on Calderdale Council without having to make these cuts in sick pay.
Further savings were found in a reduction in the Council’s transport budget, reducing the taxpayer subsidy to trade unions and increasing the charges of wheelie bins to reflect their actual cost to replace. We also managed to reverse Labour’s planned half million cut in the communities budget that would have seen a review of community libraries and 15 fte redundancies within the directorate.
Commenting on the proposals Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Janet Battye said ““Our overarching aims have been to make better use of the Council’s resources to support a fairer society and build a stronger economy.”
Sadly we are not very impressed by the Council’s draft business and economy strategy, as it fails to set out an ambitious vision of sustainable, fair and equitable growth.
Our criticism follows the publication of a draft business and economic strategy by the Labour Cabinet, which will determine how the Council supports local businesses over the coming years. The document demonstrates that Labour can’t be trusted with the future of Calderdale’s economy.
Cllr James Baker, Economy and Environment spokesperson said:
“The report is comparable to someone who has planned a trip by throwing a load of useful items in the back of their car, but hasn’t thought where they are heading to.”
“The report lacks ambition and focuses too much on the recession we are now emerging from, rather than planning for a future in which Calderdale prospers in a global economy. We believe that the strategy needs to do more to spell out how we will create more jobs and growth through building our exports and links to the global economy, sharing wealth through development of mutual and co-operatives and generating our own sustainable energy in a manner that reduces energy bills for local residents.”
“In comparison, our vision is to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life. An economy in which businesses in Calderdale benefit from increasing exports with Europe and the wider world, an economy where we produce our own sustainable energy, an economy in which people share in the wealth we create together.”
We will be submitting a full response to the consultation that is currently open, and we hope in due course that the Labour-run Cabinet will take on board our suggestions on how to build a stronger economy within Calderdale.
Commenting on figures showing UK manufacturing growth at a two and half 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 and a half 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 ollapse, the Liberal Democrats are determined to rebuild it in order to drive our economic recovery.
“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.”