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Update on Brow Foot Gate Lane traffic problems

At the last full Council meeting I asked another question about the traffic problems affecting Brow Foot Gate Lane (and neighbouring roads like Trimmingham Lane, Churn Lane). Essentially I was concerned that this had been considered as a minor traffic and parking issue rather than a road safety issue. As it appeared that a lot of time and energy had been wasted considering it under the wrong policy when perhaps it ought to form part of the road safety programme.

Councillor Collins has asked me to respond to your query about Brow Foot Gate Lane following the Economy and Environment Scrutiny panel meeting in July.

The approved cabinet report and policy states clearly that speed reduction and road safety measures are not covered and are part of the road safety programme. These are largely driven by evidence, based on Killed and Seriously Injured data.

The minor traffic and parking schemes policy is primarily to prioritise and address relatively small scale schemes involving traffic issues and parking, that will in general require a traffic regulation order to regulate traffic. In identifying whether any work needs to be carried out each request is assessed against a number of criteria including road safety. When requests are assessed we look at existing safety issues as well as any potential ones that may be caused using the prioritisation matrix.

We have not been able to allocate a staff resource to carry out the feasibility work to identify a potential scheme at Brow Foot Gate Lane to date. I advised all councillors at the beginning of the financial year that, as we had just implemented a new structure and had a high number of vacancies, we would be concentrating on delivery of the core revenue and capital programmes of work to ensure that these were spent and weather-dependent work was delivered in the summer and autumn months. This work is progressing well and resources should become available shortly for other areas of work, such as requests under the minor traffic and parking schemes policy.

Since the scrutiny meeting in July the portfolio holder for Economy and Environment has made a commitment to increase resources to ensure that significant progress can be made to start delivering the schemes that have been prioritised through the policy. This will enable dedicated staff resource to be secured for a fixed period of time. We are now putting together a costed and deliverable programme of works to maximise the number of schemes that can be progressed, and this will include Brow Foot Gate Lane.

I cannot give definite timescales for the feasibility study to be completed for Brow Foot Gate Lane. Having spoken to colleagues there does not appear to be a simple solution and the feasibility study make take some time. Any solution will need wider buy-in through consultation and it may not be the solution that the two requestors have proposed. However, as soon as additional resources are secured I will ensure that Brow Foot Gate Lane is considered straight away.

So we are still waiting on a time-scale for when a feasibility study can be completed for the road. Although we have more promises that it’s coming at some point in the future. Like many residents I would be happier if an actual date could be provided. That might fill me with some confidence that the department is able to properly schedule and then carry out such works.

Resurfacing of Ling Royd Avenue

I wrote to the Highways department about the resurfacing of this road on the request of a resident. Five months later I have received a reply from the department. Can you imagine any organisation taking five months to reply to a query?

Further to your request in March regarding the above, we are writing to advise you that we have no immediate plans to resurface Ling Royd Avenue. The reason being is that in the past a system of “referrals” was used to assess parts the highway network which should be considered for maintenance.
Referrals were originated from a variety of sources, including highway safety inspectors, highway area superintendents, members of the public and condition surveys. However, with the formation of a new Highways Asset Management Team under the Highways Service re-structure (effective from 1 April), this has now changed.

All roads within Calderdale will be subject to technical surveys which will be undertaken by an external contractor. The surveys will measure the road condition and will be used to identify where maintenance should be targeted in the short, medium and longer term. We are using a tender process to employ the contractor and hope to be able to start the surveys as soon as possible. In the meantime, the road will be subject to monthly safety inspections and members of the public are encouraged to report any defects they are aware of.

Cause of short duration power cuts

Last month a resident contacted me about a number of short duration power cuts they had experinced on Moor End Road. I wrote to Northern Powergrid asking why that happened and a month later I have just received a response. I’m copying it below in case it is of interest to any other residents.

Thank you for taking the time to contact Northern Powergrid on 13 July 2015 on behalf of one of your constituents regarding the reliability of supply at their home. I would like to take this opportunity to say sorry for any inconvenience caused, we understand how frustrating power cuts can be and we are very sorry for the recent interruptions.

I am writing to you today to explain the reasons for the recent power cuts at your constituents home. I would like to reassure you that we do try our very best to keep the power on and we work as quickly as possible to restore supply when the power does go off. However, there are many reasons why the power goes off and we cannot guarantee to provide a supply that is never disrupted.

Since May 2015, your constituents property has experienced 4 short duration power cuts. These have been caused by problems on underground high voltage network and they have affected approximately 2000 of our customers in the Halifax area. Northern Powergrid restored supplies during these faults by rerouting the power and remotely switching the network from our control centre in Leeds. This allows us to restore your supply quickly without engineers travelling to site.

Our records indicate that the referenced property has not had any further power cuts since 2013.

It might be helpful if I explained our electricity distribution network in more detail, the power cuts were due to faults that happened on different sections of our wide area distribution network with different causes. We cannot, therefore, carry out any remedial action as the faults were not connected. Our wide area distribution network is vast and it is possible that a fault, that may seem a long distance away, can affect your premises and the surrounding area. Northern Powergrid are committed to providing excellent customer service making us aware of your concerns gives us the opportunity to investigate and put matters right for you.

I hope you find the above information helpful in understanding the cause of the power cut. Should you or your constituents require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me on the contact details below and I will be happy to help.

15th August set as launch date for Friends of Roils Head Moor Group

Following the successful establishment of the friends of West View Park community group we are looking to establish a similar group of
residents who are interested in improving the Roils Head Moor recreational ground. Currently the Moor is a favourite spot for dog walkers, and horse riders. However it also has underused sports playing fields, problems with off road bikes, and a play area that is in much need of some care and attention.

Our vision is for people who enjoy the Moor to work as a community group in partnership with the Council to help improve and protect this valuable bit of green space on our doorstep. Projects the group could carry out could range from improving footpaths, notice boards, protecting wildlife and helping to report incidents of fly-tipping and off road vehicles.

At a time when Council services are under financial this type of partnership working with the community is a necessity if we are to see improvements to our local neighbourhood. We hope anyone interested in getting involved or finding our more information will attend an initial Consultation meeting with local Councillors and Council officers on Saturday 15th August from 10am.-12pm at Grace Baptist Church.

Highways department publishes satisfaction survey – The results might surprise you

The Highways department at Calderdale Council has published the results of a survey into levels of public and Council member satisfaction with the service it supplies.

In total just over 300 members of the public replied and around 23 members of the Council (just under half of the Councillors). The survey shows there is a poor level of stratification with the time it takes the Council to respond to problems, with only 22% of Councillors and 50% of the public being satisfied with the response time. The satisfaction with the final outcome of issues was equally poor with only 47% of the public being satisfied with the solution to the problem they raised.

The surprising result though was that 87% of the public were satisfied with the Council’s road safety measures and 93% with street lighting (despite their having been reported problems with street light repairs).

You can download the a summary of the report here

A summary of the department’s response to the survey can be read below

The key findings of the survey are summarised in the attached report. What is abundantly clear is that we need to be better at telling you what work we are doing and why; keeping you informed about your requests; and we need to respond quicker.
Since the survey was carried out we have been working hard to address your concerns. The following is some of the work we have been carrying out:
– Implementation of a new staffing structure and filling vacant posts;
– Improving our process for dealing with customer requests;
– Making the process for reporting things to us on line much easier so that so you can track the progress of work and receive an automated response when work has been carried out;
– Improving the information we have on our website to help you find what you want more easily. We will also be providing Frequently Asked Questions for the most common things that you report to us. These will hopefully answer your question without you needing to use valuable time to contact us;
– Improving the information we provide to Customer First so that you get your query or request dealt with at the first point of contact wherever possible.
All of this work is ongoing and we are making good progress. We ask that you are patient with us while we carry out these improvements but we hope that you will have a more positive experience when you contact us in the coming months.
We are hoping to hold a “Market Place” Event in October where we can share the work we are doing with you and get further feedback and suggestions from you. We will let you know about this nearer the time and hope that you will be able to join us.
We know we don’t get everything right but we do take pride in providing the best service we can for residents and visitors. The fact is that in these times of austerity we have to work more creatively to make every pound go that much further. Although we can’t carry out all the work you ask us to do, we will explain to you why and we want to work with you to make our funding stretch as far as possible.

Labour contest mired in entryism problems

Last week I was chatting to a senior local Conservative Councillor about the Labour leadership contest. I was remarking on how it seemed daft to allow anyone to sign up for £3 to become a supporter of Labour and vote in their leadership contest. He informed me whilst chuckling that a load of local Conservative members had been signing up just for the intention of voting for the left wing candidate Corybn. This is part of an on-line campaign #ToriesForCorbyn that is backed by folk such as Toby Young. I don’t agree with that type of wrecking strategy, yea I guess it’s kind of amusing on one level but I don’t think it’s ethical to mess with another parties democratic processes. What would be really amusing is if their plan backfired and Corbyn got elected, but then turned out not only to be electorally successful!

Anyway dress it up how you like but this is clearly entryism, a political tactic where supporters attempt to join an organisation to subvert it for their own purposes. This entryism is understandably really annoying some long standing Labour members who are essentially seeing their leadership contest hijacked by a mixture of Conservatives and hard left socialists. The tweet below is just one example of what’s going on. Could you imagine if you had been a member of a party for years paying your subs, only to then have someone come along pay £3 and get an equal say as you?

Twitter

The problem is such that some Labour MPs are calling on the leadership contest to be delayed whilst checks can be carried out on all these new £3 supporters. Corbyn has dismissed claims there is infiltration occurring, but there is an orchestrated campaign encouraging it available for anyone to read about. It’s farcical what’s going on, and the contest has been bought into dispute. However pausing what is already a long drawn out contest doesn’t seem like an option for Harman.

Rather than opening up the leadership contest it appears the ‘£3 supporter’ plan has backfired spectacularly, undermining the democratic process of the Labour leadership contest and bringing a question of illegitimacy into whatever result is declared.

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.

Details of proposed Warley Town 20mph zone released

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There has been a campaign to get a 20mph zone in Warley Town for a number of years, and back in 2012 there was anger when there was a Council u-turn on introducing a 20mph limit for the village. The good news is that a scheme is now once again back on the agenda and set to go ahead.

20mph zones are not the only solution to speeding traffic. I’m very much aware that they are ignored by a large number of people. However there is evidence to show that they reduce the average speed of traffic, and there is also evidence to show that accidents with pedestrians occurring at a lower speeds have a much higher survival rate. In this sense it is clear they do create some improvement in road safety for ourselves, our family and our children and as such I personally support them in residential areas.

A consultation on the details of the scheme is now open and runs until the 31st July. You can find out more information about the consultation here.

There is also a map of the proposed 20mph zone that you can download here 

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”.