Shadow environment secretary wants meat eaters to be treated like smokers

People at work in a grocery store

Warnings and adverts discouraging us from eating meat could become a reality if Labour’s shadow environment secretary gets her way.

There are many benefits to eating more vegetarian meals, they are often healthy and can have less of an impact on the environment. Additionally you do not have the suffering that can sometimes come with industrialised farming methods. I think most people would accept this, and be open minded towards having a few vegetarian dishes a week, along with a bit of fish and a few meat dishes as well – what we might call a balanced diet!

You can put a good case together that nutritional health advice should encourage people to try a few vegetarian dishes a week. I wouldn’t think many people would have a problem if some of the healthy eating advice gave some gentle encouragement towards vegetarian meals, so long as it was still their choice and they weren’t feeling harangued into a certain lifestyle.

However Labour’s new vegan shadow shadow environment takes a much more hard line approach. She wants advertising campaigns such as those targeted towards smokers, to stop people eating meat. Sadly this is typical of a lot of Labour’s approach to health issues, a strong nanny state paternalism that seeks to control society, rather than a more gentle educational approach. As a Liberal I think we should help educate people as to what’s healthy, and then allow people the freedom to choose what they eat.  We saw the same type of paternalism here in Calderdale where the Labour group wanted controls placed on E-cigs (despite their being evidence they can help people to give up smoking.) This nanny approach to health is all born out of good intentions, but the ‘we know what’s best for you attitude’ does wind me up as someone who values individual choice and independence.

“I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it.” – Kerry McCarthy shadow environment secretary.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want a load of money spent on nagging adverts warning us not to eat bacon sandwiches. We have to consider as well that a lot of land simply isn’t suitable for growing vegetables. A lot of the steep sided Pennine upland is really only good for sheep farming, or cattle when you get a bit lower into the valleys. There are a lot of farmers still in Calerdale, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying quality meat raised in Calderdale at a local butchers and eating it as part of a balanced diet.


Liberal Democrat support request for government help with carbon reduction

Local Liberal Democrats gave their support for the lobby of government on Calderdale’s ‘ask’ for help with reducing carbon emissions, extending renewable energy, developing sustainable integrated transport, reducing fuel poverty by improving affordable warmth.

We’ve come a long way with the work done by Calder Energy Future over the last few years” says Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Janet Battye. “This is now a strong working group with active involvement from enthusiastic people across all areas of the community, including businesses.

But the challenge is so significant that it can’t be met without real and tangible support from government, so I’m delighted that we’re being represented in this national lobby.

I’m sorry to hear that it’s likely that only one of our newly elected MPs will be there. I understand that although the date was fixed with Craig Whittaker before the election, he may be too busy to participate in it. This issue is important to many local people so I hope that it’s important to him and that he will represent us.”

Liberal Democrat Environmental Budget Changes Agreed


Local Liberal Democrat Councillors have succeeded in getting proposals on affordable warmth and reducing the use of energy in council buildings included in Calderdale Council’s budget plans.

“We think that it’s time that Calderdale Council took some serious action on issues that it’s been talking about for a long time” says Cllr James Baker (Liberal Democrat, Warley), Chair of the Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel.

Councillor Baker said: “I’m delighted that the affordable warmth scheme I proposed was agreed. Around 93 people a year in Calderdale die prematurely as a result of living in cold homes. These people are all someone’s grandparents, friends and relatives. Now some of the money saved by the Council through the better use of technology will be used to fund a £1.4millon programme of work to insulate some of the coldest houses in the borough. Lives will be saved from this measure, and many more people will have their quality of life improved by being lifted out of fuel poverty. It will also reduce the burden of costs placed upon the NHS as prevention is cheaper for the taxpayer than cure. I would have expected Labour to understand and support this, but they didn’t.”

This scheme simply wouldn’t have happened without the support of Calderdale residents who vote Liberal Democrat in local elections. It is a crying shame that Labour failed to back this measure, simply because we proposed it and they did not want to be seen backing a Liberal Democrat amendment. I can’t understand that kind of party political petty mindedness.

Cllr Janet Battye (Liberal Democrat, Calder), a member of the Calder Energy Futures group added: “We also want the Council to reduce its use of energy and reduce carbon emissions. This needs some investment, but lower energy bills means that the Council should get this money back within 5 years and continue to save money after that. Labour didn’t support that either.”

Calderdale Liberal Democrat’s Budget Amendments

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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


Derelict Sites in Todmorden

The state of the derelict sites in Todmorden is an important local issue that Liberal Democrats in Todmorden have been trying to get Calderdale Council to tackle for some time. The Council has the power to act, but has not always shown the willingness we would like. The lack of action by the previous Labour administration was one of the reasons we voted to remove them in July.

Since then, the matter has been pursued strongly by the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel, chaired by Cllr James Baker (Liberal Democrat, Warley) and a way forward was presented to the new Cabinet last year. Even then we had to put some pressure on them to take action, but are pleased that this now seems to be having an effect.

Asda have now cut the grass and removed self-sown trees from the former Abraham Ormerod Centre but we wait to see whether they are going to do anything else with the buildings which are becoming increasing derelict – or, more importantly, start to build the long-promised supermarket.

We  will be repeating her request for the Conservative Cabinet to take action to get the appearance of the Halifax Road site improved at the next available opportunity. Nothing has happened with this site and, indeed, it looks worse than ever because the inadequate fencing has now fallen down. The Council seems to have been reluctant to take action because it believes that the site owner is about to make a planning application.


We started the campaign to clean up derelict sites in Todmorden back in 2013, you can read our campaign page here.


Call to evidence – Environmental impacts on public health

Calderdale’s Council’s Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel, has appointed a cross-party scrutiny review group of Councillors to look at the relationship between the local environment and public health.

The chair of this newly appointed detailed Scrutiny Review Group,  Liberal Democrat Councillor James Baker, commenting on this important piece of research work said:-

The Scrutiny Review Group will be focussing on exploring the relationships between the local environment and public health to see if we can improve public health by making our environment a healthier place to live. Our objectives at forthcoming meetings are:- developing policies that promote active and sustainable travel across the borough (10th December, 2014); developing policies that reduce the negative effects of living in cold homes upon public health (early January, 2015); and developing policies that seek to mitigate the public health effects of environmental pollution (late January, 2015)
Councillor Baker added that he would very much welcome the views and input from the public, businesses and other stakeholders in this work.

He further added “If you are able to, please take the opportunity to share your views with the Review Group. You can do this by making a written submission, either e-mail it to Paul Preston, Scrutiny Support Officer: [email protected] or by post to the Scrutiny Support Office, Room 10, Halifax Town Hall, Crossley Street, Halifax, HX1 1UJ. Alternatively, if you would like to attend a Review Group meeting to share and discuss your views, please contact Paul Preston in the first instance on 01422 393250 for further details.

Detailed Review of “the local Environment and Public Health” Approved Terms of Reference 1. Background

As part of its work plan for the 2014/15, Municipal Year, the Panel at its work planning session in August, 2014, at the request of the Chair (Cllr Baker) agreed to look into the possibility of undertaking a joint piece of detailed scrutiny review work with the Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel (and/or other non-executive Councillors) on the topic of “the Environment and Public Health”.

Councillor Baker agreed to in the first instance discuss this matter further with the Chair of the Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel (Councillor James) and further outline his proposals for taking this work forward at the September, 2014 meeting of the Panel.

Subsequently, the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel, at its meeting held on 11th September, 2014, Councillor Baker further outlined his reasoning for the undertaking of such a piece of work and the Panel made the following resolution:- “the Panel agree in principle to a detailed review being undertaken on the topic of “the Environment and Public Health” and the Chair be requested to develop more detailed “terms of reference” for such a review, including expressions of potential membership from other interested non-executive Councillors, not Members of this Panel, and provide an update back to the next meeting of this Panel.”

2. Detailed Review Membership

Membership: to be determined by the Panel, (but a suggested maximum membership of no more than 7 Members). This could include Members of the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel; Members of the Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel; any other Councillors who are not a Member of the Cabinet.

The Chair (or Co-Chairs) of this detailed Review Group, to be determined by the Review Group at its first meeting

3. Review Objectives

To explore the correlations between the local environment and public health and identify any gaps in provision with particular focus on:

  1. Developing policies that promote active and sustainable travel across the borough.

  2. Developing policies that reduce the negative effects of living in cold homes upon public health.

  3. Developing policies that seek to mitigate the public health effects of environmental pollution.

4. Key Stakeholders

  • Portfolio Holders, Economy and Environment

  • Director, Economy and Environment

  • Portfolio Holder, Adults, Health and Social Care

  • Director, Adults, Health and Social Care

  • Director of Public Health

  • Chief Executive

  • Director of Communities and Business Change (TDF legacy)

  • Local Schools / Academies / Head of Learning Services

  • Residents (including those who live and/or work in Calderdale)

  • Businesses

  • Others to be identified as the review develops

5. Methodology

  • Undertake evidence gathering sessions interviewing key stakeholders in public.

  • Identify any expert advice that may be available from, for example, local universities, the Marmot report

  • Undertake site visits to exemplars of good practice

  • Desktop research and analysis

  • Horizon-scanning and local impact analysis of national, regional and sub-regional policy and strategy

6. Resources Required

Most work will be undertaken by the Scrutiny Support Officer and officers from Economy and Environment and/or Adults, Health and Social Care Directorates and/or the Public Health team. Transport may be required for some site visits.

7. Outline Timescales

To ensure that the review is thorough but focussed it is proposed that a final report including any long-term recommendations will be completed by the beginning of March, 2015 and submitted to the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel on 2nd April, 2015 for consideration, and seeking endorsement and approval.

New Park on Sandhall Green

Work has commenced on a new park on Sandhall Green in Warley Ward. This work is being undertaken with money from the development of some new houses nearby. Liberal Democrat Councillors James Baker & Ashley Evans requested a list of any such monies still to be spent in Warley Ward, and pushed for it to be spent on improving green spaces.

A full consultation was carried out with local residents, to determine what people would like to see on the Green and the plan produced by Council staff in the Safer Cleaner Greener team represents these views. A link to download a PDF of the plan of the new park is available at the bottom of the page.

Councillor Ashley Evans by Sandhall Green where work has started on a new park.

Councillor Ashley Evans by Sandhall Green where work has started on a new park.


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.


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.”

Labour would spend bank tax revenues more than ten times over on eleven different things

Labour would spend bank tax revenues more than ten times over on eleven different things

Today, Labour have committed themselves to spending the proceeds of more bank taxes on eleven different things, giving a total of at least £30.695 billion in spending commitments. And this does not include uncostable commitments to reduce the deficit and more spending on public services.

This is more than ten times the £2.3 billion that was raised by Labour’s bonus tax – that their own Chancellor said could only be a ‘one-off’ – and more than ten times the £2.5 billion that the Government’s permanent bank levy raises every year on 11 different things…

1) Youth Jobs Guarantee – £1.04 billion

2) Reversing the VAT increase – £12.75 billion

3) More capital spending – £5.8 billion

4) Reversing the Child Benefit savings – £3.1 billion

5) Reversing Tax Credit savings – £5.8 billion

6) More Regional Growth Fund funding – £200 million

7) Cutting the deficit – ?

8) Turning empty shops into community centres – £5 million

9) Spending on public services – ?

10) More housing – £1.2 billion

11) Childcare – £800 million

Total: At least £30.695 billion


1) Youth Jobs Guarantee – £1,040 million

How Labour will pay for it: ‘Labour has already proposed a compulsory Youth Jobs Guarantee, which would use funds raised from a tax on bank bonuses to fund a guaranteed job for every young person out of work for a year or more – which they will have to take’ (Ed Balls, Politics Home, 4 January 2013, link).

Cost: £1,040 million to pay for a Youth Jobs Guarantee (HM Treasury, FOI request, 20 September 2013).


2) Reversing the VAT increase – £12.75 billion

How Labour will pay for it: Ed Miliband: I said for example we should have a higher bank levy’ (BBC Radio 2, Jeremy Vine Show, 6 January 2011).

Cost: Reversing the VAT increase in 2015/16 would cost £12.75 billion by 2014-15 (HMRC, Tax expenditures and ready reckoners, Table 1.6).


3) More capital spending – £5.8 billion

How Labour will pay for it: ‘The combination of these existing tax plans, and the call for banks to pay their fair share, could contribute £7.5bn by the end of the Parliament. (Alan Johnson, Speech, 18 October 2010).

Cost: If the Capital Gains Tax rise and the basic freeze revenues are taken away, Labour need £5.8 billion by 2014-15 from the bank levy to meet their £7.5 billion of capital spending.


4) Reversing the Child Benefit savings – £3.1 billion

How Labour will pay for it: ‘If we can get more for example from the banks in a higher bank levy, to protect ordinary families, like on Child Benefit…we should do so’ (Ed Miliband, The Politics Show, 10 October 2010).

Cost: £3.1 billion in bank taxes needed to fund it. Reversing withdrawing Child Benefit from higher rate taxpayers would cost £1.8 billion by 2014-15. Reversing the Child Benefit freeze would cost £1.3 billion by 2014-15 (HMT).


5) Reversing Tax Credit savings – £5.8 billion

How Labour will pay for it: Ed Miliband: ‘Their economic strategy is based on…reducing tax credits for working families and a range of other changes…I said for example we should have a higher bank levy’ (BBC Radio 2, Jeremy Vine Show, 6 January 2011).

Cost: £5.8 billion in bank taxes needed to fund it. Reversing all the tax credit savings from the June 2010 Budget and the Spending Review would cost £5.8 billion by 2014-15 (HMT, Budget 2012, Table 2.2).


6) More Regional Growth Fund funding – £200 million

Cost: £200 million in bank taxes needed to fund it. Based on Labour’s own costing (Labour Party Press Release, 14 March 2011, link).

How Labour will pay for it: ‘With the £2 billion that could be raised this year from repeating the bank bonus tax, Labour says the government should.Boost the Regional Growth Fund by £200m.’


7) Cutting the deficit – Not costable

How Labour will pay for it: ‘You’re right that tax should play a part in reducing the deficit… that’s why we’ve said there should be another bankers’ bonus tax this year’ (Ed Miliband, Fresh Ideas Q&A, 25 March 2011).

Cost: Not costable.


8) Turning empty shops into community centres – £5 million

How Labour will pay for it: ‘Today Labour is launching a four-point plan to save our high streets… And it will give £5 million, raised from a repeat of the bank bonus tax to councils to transform units that are empty into cultural, community or learning centres’ (Chuka Umunna, The People, 24 July 2011).

Cost: £5 million. Based on Labour’s own costing (ibid.).


9) Spending on public services – Not costable

How Labour will pay for it: ‘If we can get more for example from the banks in a higher bank levy, to protect ordinary families…like on public services, we should do so’ (Ed Miliband, Politics Show, 10 October 2010).

Cost: Not costable.


10) More housing – £1.2 billion

How Labour will pay for it: ‘With the £2 billion that could be raised this year from repeating the bank bonus tax, Labour says the government should…Provide £1.2bn to fund the construction of more than 25,000 homes across the country’ (ibid.).

Cost: £1.2 billion. Labour’s own costing (ibid.).


11) Childcare – £800 million

Cost: £800million. This is based on their own costing

How Labour will pay for it: ‘Labour will pay for the expansion of free childcare with an £800m rise in the bank levy’. (Ed Miliband, Twitter, 23 September 2013, link).

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.