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Our plan to stop Labour’s cut to funding for disabled children

One of the proposed cuts the Labour cabinet on Calderdale Council is planning to make will affect disabled children and their families here in Calderdale. This is what mum of two Katherine had to say about the cut:

“As a mum of two children with neurological disabilities and mobility issues. George my son is four he has neuro fibromotis and ataxia plus dystonia and diagnosed with cognitive delay of 2 years. So George is 4 but in most areas he functions cognitively around 2 2 half yrs old. Samantha my 8 yr old daughter as ataxia and mild learning difficulties. Because of her tremors in her body she is unable to write also struggles carrying things and her balance and Co ordination is impaired.

These things make my life hard as it is that’s why I was shocked to find out that the council would consider cutting services that are a huge help to me and other families.After looking at the plans it makes no sense to me to cut schemes and services that have a positive impact on the children and families of disabled children and children with learning difficulties.

To cut these services now when local schools are facing cuts of around 400k leads me to wonder were the councils priorities are by the looks of this not with the families of disabled children in Calderdale.

Councillors of all parties need to look again at viable solutions. They must be other ways to address the lack of funding the council recieves from central government without taking it from the most vulnerable people in our Town.”

The proposed cut was to D Catch funding. This funding provides money to disabled children in early years education to ensure they get the support they need in nurseries across Calderdale.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats are putting forward a budget amendment that will save enough money to prevent this cut.

Councillor James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said:

“Our amendment includes a saving that arises from adopting a ‘nurse-led sickness policy’. A policy like this was adopted by Watford Council and it has saved them a great deal of money. Essentially staff in certain areas with high sickness will have to phone a nurse first when reporting in sick for work at the Council. The health advice they receive helps staff to get back to work sooner. This cuts down on cover costs and agency costs and saves the tax payer money. Officers on Calderdale Council are confident this would save money, and we are proposing it is used to stop this cut. We hope this idea will win cross-party support.”

The full Liberal Democrat budget amendment can be read here

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.

Councillors kept in the dark

Calderdale Council has has a poor communications culture. It is often the case that Councillors find out about what officers and the cabinet members of the Council are up to via the local media and press releases. The same is true with matters that affect the wards that Councillors represent. Whereas you might expect a Councillor is consulted with and informed what is going on, the truth is that cabinet members and officers of the Council do all they can to by-pass the elected representatives in an area.

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This is bad for democracy, already too many decisions on the Council are made by un-elected officers. People vote for Councillors thinking they will be able to make decisions, and would expect that Councillors are briefed on issues, and have an opportunity to get involved in decision making.

A perfect example of this is the recent opening of Elland Bridge. Where one of our local Councillors Marilyn Greenwood only found out about it by chance. Marilyn likes to keep residents up to date with the latest news and information, but how can she do this is the leadership of the Council’s priority is to tell the press before telling members of the Council?

A Liberal Democrat run Council would aim to put decision making back in the hands of Councillors, and members of the public.

 

 

Calderdale Liberal Democrats support #visitmymosque

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Cllrs James Baker, Marilyn Greenwood, Ashley Evans and Janet Battye along with Town Council candidate Jonny Gale

 

Last Sunday a group of Calderdale Liberal Democrats including three Calderdale Councillors went along to visit the Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith Mosque on Hopwood Lane. The open day was part of a national #visitmymosque day where Mosques across the country opened their doors to people of all faiths and no faiths.

Councillor James Baker, leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said: “I think it is important to try and understand different religions and to build bridges with neighbours in our communities rather than erecting walls and divisions. We all received a very warm welcome and learnt more about both the religion of Islam and the good charitable work that the Mosque does within the local community. As Liberals we are very much committed to interfaith dialogue.”

 

 

 

Congratulations to her Majesty the Queen for 65 years on the throne

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The Queen’s Sapphire Jubliee has been marked with a 41 gun salute. The Queen is the first ever ruling monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee. #

Councillor James Baker, leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said “The Queen has dedicated 65 years of her life to public service as the Monarch of the United Kingdom, her historic reign is worthy of our respect and admiration.”

Halifax’s Labour MP set to back Tory and UKIP’s Hard Brexit.

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Theresa May has said she wants to take the UK out of the single market. This is the hard Brexit that the likes of Nigel Farage and UKIP have campaigned for. Despite this Halifax’s Labour MP Holly Lynch has said she will back the Conservative Government’s plans to trigger Article 50 and vote to take us out of the EU.

A hard Brexit will put jobs in Calderdale at risk, and make people struggling to get by poorer. That’s why Calderdale Liberal Democrats are challenging the Government’s plans. We respect the result of the referendum, but we also think people should be given the democratic choice to have their say on the final deal, and if they don’t like the facts of that deal to change their minds.  The Liberal Democrats will only vote to trigger Article 50 if the British people get a say on the final deal.

Councillor James Baker who has been selected to stand for Halifax for the Liberal Democrats if there is a snap general election said:

“From Trump to Putin, to the far right parties here in the UK, an ugly nationalism is on the rise. Trump who backs Brexit and is friends with Farage wants the EU to fail ”

“The European Union was forged after the second world war to prevent conflict, and to protect the rights of European citizens. It seeks to bring people of different nations and different backgrounds together in a project of peace, security and human endeavour.”

“If Labour vote for Article 50 as Corbyn has instructed they will be helping Theresa May pursue a hard Brexit. A Brexit that will see us having to suck up to Trump a man who wants to destroy the EU.  If Holly Lynch backs Brexit she will be on the wrong side of history.”

 

New Parish Council a Step Nearer

A new parish council – the first in Calderdale since local government reorganisation in 1974 – has moved a step nearer to being created.

Members of Calderdale Council’s Governance and Business Committee this week (23rd January) agreed to the creation of the Stainland and District Parish Council, though a final vote will be taken at a meeting of Calderdale Council in February.

Cllr Paul Bellenger (Liberal Democrat, Greetland and Stainland) told us: “I hope the proposal to create a new parish council covering Stainland, Sowood and Holywell Green is accepted so that elections can be held and the council gets up and running as soon as possible.”

“Parish Councils up and down the country have proved their worth over many years. They can provide local services and be the voice of local communities at very little cost to the residents. That’s why I, along with a number of other local people, started this process some time ago. It has been quite a long process and has included consultation with local people, and I hope that the final hurdle is crossed in February.”

The leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker, who attended the meeting of the Governance and Business Committee told us: “I was very pleased to support the creation of a new parish council. Liberal Democrats are very keen to see councils operating as close as they can to the people who elect them. I would urge people in Stainland and District to think seriously about standing for the council so that they can make a difference to their communities.”

Brexit austerity means extra cuts for Calderdale Council

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Councillor James Baker, leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats reports

Throughout the coalition years Liberal Democrats took a lot of flak for undertaking the difficult task of working to bring back proper management of the nation’s finances after years of reckless Labour spending. Sadly it seems all of this effort was thrown out of the window at the last Autumn Statement when the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced an extra £122Bn borrowing to pay for Brexit. This is money that could be spent on our NHS or protecting local Councils from cuts.

People will have heard in the news that the cost of social care continues to rise as the population ages, and with moves to restrict immigration there will be fewer younger workers able to pay taxes and contribute to this burden. The cost of social care is so great that a Conservative run Council in Surrey is proposing a 15% Council tax rise.

Faced with continued government cuts, and increasing social care costs it would be disingenuous to lay the blame for Calderdale Council’s tough budget decisions solely at the hand of the local Labour administration. However that does not mean there isn’t scope for improvements locally. The budget is incredibly tight, but we believe there are some additional savings to be made that the administration hasn’t explored.

One example for instance would be to transfer more services to local Town and Parish Councils. In the next few weeks the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale will be exploring some savings ideas, and we hope to bring forward amendments to the budge that will help tackle problems such as speeding, littering and fly tipping and anti-social behavior.

On a final note I must comment on what is presented in the Council’s budget as an ‘investment’ in children and social care services. The reality is this ‘investment’ is simply a year delay in previously planned cuts and savings. If these savings has been made as previously planned and agreed we would have found ourselves in an improved financial situation this year.

Work starts on Hebden Bridge market

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“After all this time, it’s really pleasing to see work starting in Lees Yard in Hebden Bridge so that the market can move there and run through from Thursday to Sunday every week” says former LibDem Calderdale Councillor Janet Battye. “I’ve been leading this work on behalf of Hebden Bridge Partnership for over 10 years and this is the culmination of it. The work is now scheduled to be completed in early April.

“We are now turning the “Working Group” into a “Forum” to ensure the sustainability of the market in the long term. We particularly want to make sure that the Saturday market is a success. In our first meeting of the forum, we agreed that this would be loosely based around local Arts and Crafts with a wide range of stalls giving an opportunity for local people to show and sell their wares, adding to the goods on offer in local shops. It’s all part of making sure that businesses continue to thrive in Hebden Bridge”