Liberal Democrats call for green spaces to be protected


As Calderdale Council launches its consultation on the proposals for allocating land for future house-building in Calderdale, Calderdale Liberal Democrats are launching a campaign to protect greenbelt around towns and villages, and open spaces within towns and villages.

Cllr James Baker said:

“We are really concerned about some areas of land apparently marked for potential house-building sites all across Calderdale”. In my own ward, it looks as though the Council is proposing that houses be built on playing fields, parks and allotments, as well as around villages in the open countryside where road access is poor”.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Janet Battye added: “

We know that there is a need to build more affordable housing and social housing, but we think that the Council should look first at existing planning permissions – some 3,000 houses with permission have not yet been built – and then brownfield land which has already been built on, as well as pressing harder to bring empty buildings into use.”

“It’s also disappointing that more imaginative approaches don’t seem to be being considered, such as looking at how we might use the Garden Cities approach in Calderdale.

“We’re encouraging local people to look very carefully at these land allocation plans on which the Council is currently consulting and make their views known.”

There is a need for local affordable housing and more social housing, but expensive houses build in desirable greenbelt areas will not help struggling families looking to buy a home or move to a less crowded home. Alternative developments on brownfield sites will not only be cost-efficient, but also energy-efficient as they will minimise the need to travel. We can create local communities without compromising green spaces.

You can sign our petition calling on the Council to protect greenbelt around towns and villages, and open spaces within towns and villages here.

You can view the consultation and make comments on it here

Picture attribution to Pam Wright – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Our use does not suggest or imply the artists endorsement. 

Why the Bedroom Tax must now be scrapped

The spare room subsidy more commonly known as the bedroom tax was an attempt to try and encourage social housing tenants living in properties with spare rooms to downsize. The intention was to free up larger properties for families on the waiting list, currently living in overcrowded housing. This is similar to what Labour introduced for privately renting tenants on local housing allowance in 2008. The wider issue is of course the housing crisis brought about by a chronic lack of affordable housing built under last government. To address this in government we have now increased the number of new affordable homes being built to the fastest rate in 20 years.

To mitigate against any adverse affect of the bedroom tax would have on local residents Liberal Democrat ministers argued that Councils should be given extra money in the form of a discretionary housing payment fund, this money was to help those most in need. Unfortunately in the last year the Labour administration only spent £94,425 of the £383,941 allocated to it from the government for this purpose. This is money that could have helped those most in need has been wasted by the Labour run Council.

An interim report into the policy shows that only 4.5% of people affected have actually downsized, whereas 6% of people affected have been forced to incur extra debt on credit cards or personal loans to afford their rent. This clearly shows that the policy has not been achieving its aims, and is not helping to enable more people to get on in life. This fact coupled with the local Council’s incompetence in using money allocated by the government to help local residents has led us to the conclusion the bedroom tax should be scrapped and replaced with a fairer policy.
Alisdair Calder McGregor – Liberal Democrat PPC for Calder Valley
Mohammad Ilyas -Liberal Democrat PPC for Halifax
Cllr Janet Battye – Leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrat Council Group
Cllr James Baker – Deputy leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrat Council Group

£91 Million to turn empty houses into homes.

The Liberal Democrat communities Minister Don Foster has announced that towns across England will benefit from £91 million to refurbish and bring back into use over 6,000 empty and derelict homes and commercial premises, particularly in the Midlands and North where the problem is most acute.

The funding will be spent on refurbishment in areas where empty properties have commonly led to problems such as squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices, driving remaining residents away. There funding can be accessed through the empty homes funding programme by registered social landlords, and community and voluntary groups.

The government has already invested £130 million to refurbish up to 11,500 empty homes since 2010. This includes £100 million to bring empty property back as affordable housing, and the first ‘clusters of empty homes’ programme investment of £30 million.

In addition New Homes Bonus, under which government matches council tax income on new build or empty homes brought back into use, has supported over 50,000 empty homes being refurbished for people and families to live in and rewarded councils with £59 million. Councils now also have the power to charge owners 150% council tax rate for properties left empty for more than six months, using the money to keep down council tax for ordinary families.

Councillor James Baker deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council said “It’s good news for families on the housing waiting list that our region of the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber has already received  £11,522,648 from the empty homes programme. This extra money from the government will help bring empty houses back into use and provide much needed homes for people. It makes sense to redevelop existing empty homes, as building space for new homes is limited across Calderdale.”