Calderdale Cabinet: some good news, some not-so good

The Good News as the Cabinet meeting started was that they bowed to pressure and reason and withdrew the proposal to consult on moving Cragg Vale school down to Calder High school. Not a good idea at all – the government seems likely to give the Council a substantial grant to do remedial work on Cragg Vale school building but the Council appeared to want to use some of it on Calder High school building (also in a bad state of repair needing a lot of work doing to it). But Cragg Vale school is a small, rural, community school that parents have chosen to educated their child. And that’s it, I’m pleased to say, Not quite the end of the story because it’s important that the work is done and the money spent on the school.

The Bad News was that charging for testing private water supplies was called “esoteric” by the (Labour) Cabinet member. Not for those 1,863 households that are dependent on it (including us). I reminded him that it’s stuff of life for us and that we have to pay for it all ourselves but they’ve gone ahead and increased the charges anyway (and reserved the right, apparently, for the Director to change the charges if need be).

A number of items were recommended to Council for approval including the Medium Term Financial Strategy. Exempt items included the Council’s scheme to enable children in care to “stay put” in their foster placements after they officially leave care at 18.


Health, Work and Wellbeing

I like going to conferences, seminars etc because I enjoy learning more and meeting and talking to people about the topic and just finding out more about what’s going on (so that I can take both some theory and practice back). And this conference was better than most because I really did learn more about an important topic, the speakers were all interesting, and the audience was very mixed. Thank you, Minding the Gap.

We assume that work is just a good thing in itself – but the most intriguing piece of research by the Work Foundation appears to show that while being out of work is bad for you, being in poor quality work isn’t as good as people might have hoped …. so the challenge is to put the Marmot “Reducing Health Inequalities” proposal to create fair employment and good work for all.

So the issue that I take back for us to work on in Calderdale is the Workplace Wellbeing charter as promoted by Public Health England.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats launch campaign to save Halifax’s Court

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The Conservative government has launched a consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. These proposed closures would affect the Halifax County Court and Family Court and the Halifax (Calderdale) Magistrates’ and Family Court.

Under these proposals residents of Calderdale would be required to travel to Bradford to access justice; journey times to Bradford from many parts of Calderdale are significantly longer than assumed in the consultation document.

The historic Grade II court building is an important asset to Calderdale, and the Ministry of Justice’s consultation includes no plans as to what would happen to the building if the Courts were to close.

Taken alongside cuts to legal aid the closure of local Courts will restrict people’s access to justice, particularly for local residents who lack the means to travel easily. Calderdale Liberal Democrats are opposing the closure of our local court. We urge you to support our campaign and sign our petition here.

We are submitting an urgent late motion to next Wednesday’s meeting of Calderdale Council opposing this closure. We hope the Mayor will accept this late item as the consultation on the Court’s closure was only announced yesterday.

Anyone’s Child – Families for Safer Drug Control Launch Campaign

Today a new network of families whose lives have been wrecked by our current approach to drugs will hand in a letter to 10 Downing Street calling for the legal regulation of drugs. Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control is a project supported by Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

A spokesperson for Anyone’s Child said:

“Our vicious and stupid drug laws don’t stop young people from taking drugs. But putting dangerous criminals in charge has devastating results for them and their families. In 2002 David Cameron called for a debate on legal regulation. Since then, there have been over 26,000 drug deaths in the UK – compared with 453 UK soldiers in Afghanistan. Enough is enough. He should immediately commission an independent review of our drug laws. The government knows the evidence proves that legally regulating drugs would help protect all our families.”

You can read their letter to the Prime Minister here

Keeping up the pressure on rail improvements

Calderdale Liberal Democrats are calling on Calderdale Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to increase the pressure on the government to press ahead with the electrification of the rail line from Manchester to Leeds. The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, recently announced that a number of electrification schemes, including the Manchester-Huddersfield-Leeds line, would be ‘paused’.

Cllr Battye Liberal Democrat group leader said: “We are deeply concerned about this decision, and the knock-on effects it is likely to have on the electrification of the Calder Valley line. These schemes form part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ plan that was promised by the Conservatives during the election campaign. This plan now seems to be in serious trouble only a matter of weeks later. If the Conservatives’ ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is to mean anything, this work has to be done and it’s simply not good enough for them to blame Network Rail for any problems.”

“Electrification of the rail routes is an important next step in the improvement of public transport in the North as the lines are heavily used by an increasing number of people to get to work, as well as for pleasure.”

“It is important that Calderdale Council and the Combined Authority speak out clearly in support of rail electrification and that we all continue to make the case for it as strongly as possible. I have tabled a motion to next week’s Council meeting to allow the Council to publicly and forcefully make the point that this work needs to be carried out as soon as possible”.