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Speeding Traffic Letter

The Halifax Courier has today published this letter from Cllr Ashley Evans.

Speeding traffic is causing increasing concern to residents of the Warley ward and I am frequently contacted by people expressing anger and frustration at this dangerous and anti-social behaviour. Through the Ward Forum and other community meetings my colleague James Baker and I have begun to address the problem.

Initially, SID (the Speed Indicator Device) was deployed and, despite its high visibility, it recorded speeds of up to 40mph in the new 20mph zones and speeds over 40mph in 30mph zones. The police, with the help of local residents, seized one Quad Bike and reported the driver. This was a step in the right direction but the dangerous driving continued. James and I decided enough was enough.

I e-mailed the local Police Commander and received a very positive response in under an hour. Senior officers were tasked with dealing with the problem and keeping us informed of actions and results. Extra funding was provided for a targeted operation (covering Warley and other parts of Halifax) that quickly issued 16 fixed penalty notices and seized two expensive and powerful cars – a good start, and well done to all those involved. This increased level of enforcement must be continued and James has written to our Police & Crime Commissioner asking him to make tackling speeding traffic a higher priority in his work and that of the police.

We very much welcome this action but it must be combined with more community-based approaches. The police agree and they intend to tackle the ‘culture’ behind anti-social and dangerous driving through both education and ‘enhanced enforcement’.

We will also support and work with the local Ward Forum Team who wish to set up a Warley Action Group involving the Police, the Fire Service, Road Safety officers, local schools’ representatives and the wider community. We will pass on local views on the success of this.

A combined approach may be the way to tackle this problem and it could be extended across Calderdale.

Cllr Ashley Evans

(Liberal Democrat, Warley Ward)

Speeding Traffic Concerns

PB and SIDResidents’ concerns over speeding motorists in parts of the Greetland and Stainland ward have led to the Speed Indicator Device (SID) being used to get a more accurate picture of the problem.

Cllr Paul Bellenger (Liberal Democrat, Greetland and Stainland) says: “I take these concerns very seriously, so I visited the areas myself to get a clearer indication of which roads were more of a hotspot. I passed this information on to Council officers and requested the deployment of SID, which was set up in Greetland and Sowood on a number of dates during July.”

“The results were very interesting. Having watched SID in action monitoring vehicles we noticed that our perceptions were often very different to the SID results. Vehicles that we thought were travelling way above the speed limit were actually often close to it. What looks like speeding to someone on foot often isn’t.”

“However, the speeds of some motorists in some areas were too great and this information has been passed onto West Yorkshire Police. I hope they will be taking action to bring speeds down to a safe level.”

“Speeding traffic is a concern in many communities and we will continue to work with the Council and the police throughout the ward and do what we can to make it safer” said Paul.

Plummeting home ownership across West Yorkshire shows housing is no longer just a London problem.

Councillor James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats  said:

“Fewer people are getting the opportunity to own their own homes, many younger people now struggle to be able to afford their own property. The struggle to buy property makes it harder for people to gain financial security that they may need to rely on in later life.”

The analysis shows that having peaked at 71 per cent in 2003, the proportion of people owning their own home across England has fallen steadily over the last decade by seven per cent.

Back in 2003, 70.8 per cent of households living in West Yorkshire were owners –  However, home ownership has since plummeted by 10 per cent – more so that by this year year just 60.2% per cent of households living in West Yorkshire owned their own home.

This fall in home ownership has corresponded with a near doubling in the proportion of private renters across England, up from 11 per cent in 2003 to 19 per cent in 2015.

Councillor Baker added:

“Here in Calderdale The Labour Council blames the Conservative Government. And the Conservative Government blames the Labour Council. Meanwhile there are people struggling to put a roof over their head, it’s time both Labour and the Conservative’s stopped arguing over whose fault it is and started working with us to find a solution.”


Home ownership across UK:

Area Peak of home ownership Home ownership in Feb-16 Change Date of peak home ownership
East Anglia 73.4% 66.9% -6.5% Oct-03
East Midlands 75.0% 66.9% -8.1% Oct-04
Greater Manchester 72.4% 57.9% -14.5% Apr-03
Inner London 42.6% 36.4% -6.2% Oct-04
Merseyside 71.4% 62.3% -9.1% Apr-03
Outer London 71.4% 57.8% -13.5% Oct-00
Rest of North West 78.7% 71.4% -7.3% Oct-99
Rest of Northern region 72.4% 63.3% -9.1% Oct-05
Rest of Scotland 71.5% 63.7% -7.7% Oct-04
Rest of South East 75.7% 70.5% -5.3% Apr-00
Rest of West Midlands 78.1% 68.7% -9.5% Oct-05
Rest of Yorks & Humberside 74.6% 65.0% -9.5% Apr-04
South West 75.2% 69.3% -5.9% Oct-99
South Yorkshire 68.2% 58.4% -9.8% Oct-05
Strathclyde 66.7% 63.3% -3.4% Nov-07
Tyne & Wear 64.0% 56.5% -7.5% Apr-03
West Midlands (met county) 70.5% 59.3% -11.2% Apr-05
West Yorkshire 70.8% 60.2% -10.6% Apr-03
England 70.8% 63.8% -7.0% Apr-03
Northern Ireland 73.5% 63.0% -10.5% Nov-06
Scotland 69.1% 63.5% -5.6% Oct-04
UK 70.9% 64.1% -6.8% Oct-04
Wales 74.8% 69.6% -5.1% May-06

Local Liberal Democrats Win Green Campaign Award


Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group has won the Green Campaigning Group of the Year Award for 2016. The award is one of a number made annually by the Local Government Association’s Liberal Democrat Group.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr James Baker (Warley) told us: “I am very pleased that the group has won this award. It recognises our local campaigns on environmental issues over many years.”

“This award was made because of our recent work on the Green Economy in Calderdale, securing a £1.2 million affordable warmth insulation scheme in the Council’s 2015/16 budget, and getting the Council to commit to a 20% cut in its electricity consumption.”

“The Liberal Democrats are totally committed to protecting our environment and we will continue to press the Council to do more locally as well as playing its part in pushing for action nationally and internationally” said Cllr Baker.  “Reports this week have shown that, globally, last year was the hottest on record. June was the hottest June ever recorded and the 14th month in a row to break this record. Action is on the environment now is more important than it ever has been.

Calderdale Lib Dems make Freedom of Infomration Act request to reveal Greenbelt sites under review

An impressive and detailed report into the Green Belt has recently been discussed by the Council. This  draft report  suggests that some areas may be removed from the Green Belt and which will be subject to further review. However to date we have been unable to obtain the detailed list of where all these sites are.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats have now made a formal freedom of information act request to Calderdale Council to reveal the details of the 64 Greenbelt sites in Calderdale that will be examined for review.

Councillor James Baker (Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats) said: “We campaigned on the Council for all working group meetings to be held in public and for their papers to be published online. We were also informed by the Labour cabinet that this information would be in the public domain when the papers for the meeting were published.

You can imagine therefore how disappointed we are that it has  been impossible to get hold of the appendix to this report that lists all the sites. We raised this at full Council on 20th July and we have now submitted a formal Freedom of Information Act request for the information.” Rather than accept this document should have been made public, Labour Councillors have acted defensively, accusing us of dishonesty, and claiming the report is too large to publish online. This is regrettable.”



Support for Flood Commission Recommendations


Liberal Democrat councillors fully support the recommendations of the Calderdale Flood Commission. The Commission was set up following the floods that devastated parts of the borough on Boxing Day 2015 and has spent the last few months collecting evidence from local people, the emergency services, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and others.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) said: “The Commission has produced a good, detailed report. This is an example of cross-party working at its best. However, now that the Commission has examined the evidence and its recommendations have been accepted, the Council needs to turn those recommendations into action. Calderdale Council must play a significant part in tackling the causes of flooding and reducing its effects. It needs to do this as a service provider, a community leader and as a regulator. The Council cannot do everything, but it must play a leading role in co-ordinating the activities of others and keeping up the pressure on central government, government agencies and the insurance companies. Accepting that flooding is always going to occur does not mean that steps should not be taken to reduce the effects on our communities”.

Protecting the Green Belt


As part of the process of producing a local plan, Calderdale Council is reviewing the local Green Belt.

Cllr Ashley Evans (Liberal Democrat, Warley) said: “An impressive and detailed report into the Green Belt has recently been discussed and this suggests that some areas may be removed from the Green Belt. However, once a site has been built on it is gone forever, so we must be extremely careful about this.”

“It was virtually impossible to see the details of the 64 sites that are to be examined further. More information has been promised, but has not yet arrived. I accept that printing out thousands of pages and sending it to councillors would not be a good idea, but I don’t accept that it couldn’t be made available on-line. The Chilcot Inquiry report into the Iraq war is available on-line and that consists of 12 volumes containing 2.5 million words. These things can be done, if there is a will to do them.”

“Members of the public should use the consultation process scheduled for later this year to make their views known, but they need to have all the information they can on what the Council is proposing. More houses are needed, but building these must not alter our communities out of all recognition.”

Liberal Democrat councillors back call for Council’s Cabinet to do more to tackle Calderdale’s housing problems.

Construction worker laying bricks showing trowel and guideline.

Construction worker laying bricks showing trowel and guideline.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr James Baker (Warley) said: “Our population is increasing and the way we live is changing and both are increasing the local demand for housing. However, figures just released show that during David Cameron’s premiership, house building was at its lowest level since 1923. Many people – especially young people – are struggling to get onto the housing ladder. We need more houses to rent and to buy and covering the whole range of types and prices.”

“Calderdale needs a strong construction industry to provide the houses and the jobs that local people need. Action needs to be taken now to equip our young people with the skills the industry needs, especially if we are to become less reliant on workers from across Europe.”

“Houses need to be of good quality and built in the right places. We must protect our green spaces and especially the Green Belt. We want to see an emphasis on building on previously-developed brownfield sites. As the Council has given planning permission for over 3,000 homes on sites that are currently not being developed, building these homes would be a major step forward and reduce the pressure to build on other, less appropriate sites”

“With interest rates at record lows, now is the time to be investing in housing to ensure a better future for Calderdale residents”.

The Liberal Democrats will be fighting for the 48%

Nigel Farage had said that if the referendum result was 48-52 then there would likely be another referendum. It was clear that he and other people who wanted to leave the EU wouldn’t have given up if their side had lost. Likewise those of us who want to remain in Europe are not giving up.

The Liberal Democrats respect the result of the referendum but it hasn’t changed our beliefs or values. We are still a party that is firmly committed to a UK that is part of the European Union. Many people consider themselves to be European as well as British and we will continue to stand up for those people, and the 48% of people who voted for us to remain in Europe.

We will be fighting the next general election on a platform of either keeping us in Europe or taking us back into Europe if we have already left by then. It is this stance that has seen a massive boost in our local membership, which is up 20% here in Calderdale and up over 12,000 nationally. Whilst Labour and the Conservative’s argue among themselves we have a clear purpose and vision. We think that as the promises of the leave campaign unravel more and more people will come to regret having voted to leave the EU. That leaving the EU won’t fix all our problems as promised.

Locally we are pragmatists, we realise that Leaving the European Union will have profound consequences locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. That Local people, the local economy and Council services will be affected; and Calderdale Council has a role to play in ensuring that any harmful effects are minimised and any new opportunities are grasped.

That is why we have called for the formation of a cross-party working group on the Council In order that Councillors from all parties work together to get the best out of whatever situation arises. Our views on Europe are clear, but regardless of them we will work in the best interests of local people.

Councillor James Baker

Leader Calderdale Liberal Democrats