Over 8,800 young people in Calderdale help hit 2m apprenticeship goal 


Two million apprenticeships have been created in the UK since 2010 with 8,810 people in Calderdale getting a vital start in life.

Apprenticeships offered by companies such as Marshalls, Crosslee PLC, and Royal and Sun Alliance performed a crucial role in the local economy.

Apprenticeships are a vital part of building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Unemployment has fallen to a lower level than when Labour left office in 2010 and this massive increase in apprenticeships is helping to give more young people the opportunities they need to make a start and get on in life.

That is why I am delighted young people in Calderdale have benefited from fantastic training and employment opportunities that apprenticeships offer. I started my own career with an apprenticeships, so I’ve seen for myself the opportunities in life an apprenticeship can offer, and I’m delighted that over two million young people across England have been able to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills Vince Cable MP has commenting on the news saying:

“Reaching the two millionth apprenticeship is testament to Liberal Democrat’s commitment to apprenticeships. Apprenticeships give young people the chance to start a career and give businesses the talent to grow.

“This isn’t just about numbers. From space engineering, to TV production, to legal services, apprenticeships are the ticket to a great job and a route employers trust to access the skills they need.

“That is why the Liberal Democrats made them a priority when we entered office and I am delighted that we have been able to deliver on our promise to have two million apprentices start in this Parliament.”

Update on Town Centre Parking Fiasco

The following email was sent to all Councillors as an update on the parking fiasco affecting Halifax Town Centre.
Dear Councillor
You will be aware of the problems that have arisen regarding Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) in Calderdale, particularly in Halifax Town Centre and Skircoat.
However, it is clear that communication of the issues, timescales for their resolution and progress in achieving them, has been unsatisfactory.
Officers have apologised to Members directly affected, and will be providing a weekly update to all Councillors from today.
By way of background information, the Council’s website includes a page titled “Parking Refunds” which can be accessed from the banner at the top of the home page or by the link below. This contains information, and links to maps and frequently asked questions.
Officers are dealing with claims for refunds of Penalty Charge Notices and future updates will provide more information relating to these. So far, 2890 have been received, of which almost half have been dealt with.
Work is proceeding on the replacement Halifax Town Centre (Inner) TRO as a priority, not least because of the economic importance to the Borough,
Due to concern over traffic congestion a Temporary Order is in place to allow control over the periods motorists are able to park, although on-street charges remain suspended.
The new order will be advertised in the press and by site notice on 19 December, with it coming into force, following completion of statutory procedures, in mid-February 2015.
RTA Associates is assisting with survey and mapping work. Officers are currently checking that work against the order schedules, to replace them with maps which  allow easier interpretation  of the parking restrictions.
Work will continue on drafting the new Town Centre (Outer) and the Skircoat TROs, with implementation envisaged for both by May 2015. Officers have also been asked to consider an extension to the Skircoat parking order, over and above the area affected by the current issues, and we know this has added to some of the communication issues. We have now clarified that the extension cannot be done at the same time as the rectification work now underway as it would require further consultation covering the whole area and therefore a longer delay in putting right the problems. We have agreed to work with residents to consider the feasibility of the extension and hope to make a decision on whether or not this would be possible by the end of March.
In addition to RTA, a locum solicitor was brought into the Legal Team to assist the Council solicitor dealing with the TRO issues. Unfortunately, he has taken up another position at Leeds City Council, and we will find a replacement as a matter of urgency.
I hope that you find this first update helpful, and a further update will be provided next Friday.
Best wishes
Geoff Willerton
Head of Planning and Highways

Scrutiny work on Environment & Public Health


As the Chair of the Economy and Environment scrutiny panel on Calderdale I’ve had three main priorities. This include holding the Highways Department to account on its performance and spending, working to build a greener economy here in Calderdale and ensuring the Council does everything it can to get the local economy back on track. Recently I’ve instigated a detailed scrutiny review into the local Environment and Public Health.

It is my opinion that for too long public health has been approached as a behavioral problem, with poor health being blamed on poor lifestyle choices that people make. I take the view however that most people try to act in a way that is good for their health, and that the major contributing factors to poor health are systematic factors. The long hours we have to work, environmental pollution such as air pollution, cold homes,  and living in  a  society where junk food is cheaper and quicker then fresh food. That’s why I wanted to examine the environmental impacts on public health, to see if there were things the Council could be doing to alter the physical environment in such a way that it led to all of us enjoying improved health.

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).

I would very much welcome the views and input from the public, businesses and other stakeholders in this work. 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: Paul.Preston@calderdale.gov.uk 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. The terms of reference for the review are below.

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.

Christmas Pub Boost


This year the Council’s Economic task force which I am a part of allocated £1,000 to each ward to boost Christmas trade. I developed a scheme here in Warley ward for the money to go towards helping local pubs. A small grants scheme has been setup to reimburse pubs some of the costs of additional Christmas decorations. The money isn’t vast amounts, but hopefully it will go a little way to helping out your local, and making it a little bit more jolly this Christmas.

Autumn Statement – Key announcements

Following the annual budget the autumn statement announced by the government is the second biggest financial statement the government makes about it’s future spending plans. I thought it might be useful to provide a selection of some of the key announcements.


Danny Alexander has laid out plans for 1,400 flood defence projects, providing protection for 300,000 homes. The six year programme – funded by £2.3 billion of capital investment set out at the Spending Round 13 – will help prevent over £30 billion of economic damage.

Our parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley Alisdair Calder McGregor spoke at our conference debate on flooding, and successfully amended the policy on flooding to take into account the type of flash flooding that impacts upon us here in Calderdale.


One of the key proposals is for the government to master-plan, directly commission, build and even sell homes, as proposed by Danny Alexander at Lib Dem Autumn Conference. We will provide almost £2 billion of new funding for affordable housing in 2018/19 and 2019/20, delivering 55,000 new homes a year.

Funds have also been set aside to ensure that 275,000 affordable homes are delivered in the next Parliament – more than during any equivalent period in the last twenty years. Here in Calderdale it’s essential the Council gets on with completing the local plan, and not delaying difficult decisions about where new houses are to be built.


£38 billion Network Rail delivery programme, including electrification of key lines, in addition to commitments to transformational projects such as Crossrail. Here in Calderdale we have seen rail improvements with the new track linking up Todmorden and Calderdale, and over the past couple of days the government has announced it will be replacing the old pacer trains which one along our train line.

There are major signalling and station upgrades planned for the Calder Vale line which will decrease journey times. A lot of this funding has come through the West Yorkshire Combined Authorities transport plan, which is funded from a £1Bn local growth deal that Nick Clegg secured for our region.


Start closer discussion with Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd to establish whether a potential tidal lagoon project at Swansea Bay is affordable and value for money for consumers. If the project were to progress it could become the first tidal lagoon project in the world.

Supporting an increase in electricity interconnection capacity to ensure the UK has access to the imports it needs.

Support for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles: up to £50million between 2017/18 and 2019/20 to support innovation in manufacturing of ULEVs in the UK.

The Roads Investment Strategy sets aside a further £15million over the course of the next Parliament for a national network of charge points for ultra-low emission vehicles.

Clean Vehicle technology fund: up to £4 million to extend it in 2014-15.

A cooperation agreement with Toshiba, GDF Suez and NuGen to provide a guarantee to assist the financing of a new nuclear power plant at Moorside.

Mental Health

Nick Clegg announced a £150m investment to radically reform treatment of children and young people with eating disorders – paving the way for new waiting time standards. The investment, which will be rolled-out over five years, has been secured by the Deputy Prime Minister in this year’s Autumn Statement. It is part of an ongoing campaign by the Liberal Democrats to put mental health services on a par with physical care. It comes after research showed an increasing number of young people, from as young as five, are being admitted to hospital for treatment of eating disorders. The goal is to channel money from expensive institutional care to local provision and act as a base for the development of waiting time and access standards for eating disorders for 2016.

We will:

Support schemes to get young people with eating disorders and self harm early access to services in their communities with properly trained teams.
Extend access to talking therapies so that children and young people have a choice of evidence-based therapies, a treatment plan and monitored and recorded outcomes.

This will deliver:

Swifter access to evidence based community treatment; Fewer transfers to adult services – reducing to up approximately 70% of those who need to be treated as adults; An end to the current cliff edge of transition for young people with eating disorders when they turn 18 and a more standardised level of provision for children, young people and their families


The government is to triple spending on roads with a £15 billion plan, adding more than 1300 miles to Britain’s road network. Improving Britain’s roads is a massive priority for the Liberal Democrats.

New projects include:

South West: a commitment of £2 billion to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge.

North East: setting aside £290 million to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham, just 25 miles from the Scottish border.

North West and Yorkshire: completing the smart motorway along the entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds.

North West: committing to improve links to the Port of Liverpool, as part of a plan of 12 projects designed to improve access to major international gateways.

South East: funding £350 million of improvements to the A27 along the south coast, tackling severe congestion at Arundel, Worthing and Lewes.

East of England: investing £300 million to upgrade the east-west connection to Norfolk, by dualling sections of the A47 and improving its connections to the A1 and A11.

London and the South East: improving one-third of the junctions on the entire M25.

Midlands: improving the M42 to the east of Birmingham, including paving the way for the new High Speed 2 interchange station.

Other investment

- £100 million to improve cycling provision at 200 key locations across the network, as well as a commitment to cycle-proof any new schemes being developed.

- £300 million environmental fund to mitigate carbon emission and reduce the number of people affected by serious noise by 250,000.

- £100 million to unlock future growth and housing developments.


Liberal Democrats fought to ensure extra funding for the NHS next year is in the Autumn Statement. The Government is expected to announce an extra £2bn funding for frontline NHS service at Wednesday’s Autumn Statement. Health Minister Norman Lamb called on the Government to agree this money weeks ago and Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander have delivered. The easy choice would have been to put off a decision until after the election for the next Government to deal with but that would have betrayed patients. Our NHS needs this money urgently and we have acted in the national interest to make it a priority. The funding will be in place from next April.

In addition, the Liberal Democrats have called for at least £1bn extra for the NHS in every year of the next parliament, including £500m for mental health. We have also pushed for a review of health and care budgets involving the public and all parties.

Lib Dems want to create opportunity for everyone by building a stronger economy and a fairer society. That means properly funding the NHS, to treat both for physical and mental health problems.

Calderdale declares itself a ‘Frack Free’ zone


Calderdale Council has passed a motion I proposed opposing fracking, and  has now declared itself a frack free zone. The original text of the motion was the model text suggested by Friends of the Earth. Labour had also proposed an anti-fracking motion so we worked with them to agree an amalgamated text prior to the meeting , and one of their Councillors seconded the final motion. The amalgamated text was passed with support from the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups, with the only opposition coming from some Conservative members of the Council. The wording of the motion passed was as follows:

Shale Gas Exploration


(a)  this Council notes that it has a responsibility to tackle climate change and protect the environment and the wellbeing of local communities;

(b)  this Council acknowledges that exploration of unconventional fossil fuel undermines action on climate change and diverts resources away from investment in a safe and secure renewable energy future;

(c)  this Council notes that there are possible significant adverse impacts from shale gas exploration and exploitation, including water contamination and air pollution, and supports a ‘Frack-Free’ declaration for this area; and

(d)  this Council calls on her Majesty’s Government to impose a moratorium on shale gas exploration within the UK to prevent the adverse impact it will have on green house gas emissions and climate change.

(e) whilst this Council remains committed to hearing all planning applications in a fair manner and in full accordance with the law, proposals for shale gas extraction within Calderdale are likely to generate significant public concern. In the event of such an application we request that our officers take all possible steps to ensure that the environment of Calderdale and the amenity of its residents are protected.

Sadly this doesn’t mean we can guarantee that fracking won’t occur in Calderdale as ultimately it is a decision of the government. However this motion is a positive step on the right direction and it does ensure officers will do all they can within planning law to oppose fracking. Calderdale Council has sent a clear statement to the government that we don’t want fracking here in Calderdale in the Pennines.




Our Labour MP keeps talking down Halifax, find out how

Linda Riordan’s latest annual report is being delivered to houses across Halifax. In it she makes a number of claims about the economic situation in Halifax which are misleading and paint a far gloomier picture than the reality. Linda should stop talking down the town,  and be proud of Halifax and its economic turnaround. Let’s have a look at her claims:

Unemployment has  increased, job prospects have decreased and a number of small and medium sized businesses have struggled to survive in the recession – Annual Report Winter 2014

The truth is unemployment has fallen in the three years since 2011 when it was at 10.5% the latest constituency figures showed it at 8.7% which is lower than when Labour left office in 2010. Another way to measure unemployment is to look at the people claiming job seekers allowance. This figure is also falling with 3.8% claiming in October 2014 compared with 5.6% in April 2010 when Labour left office. Sorry Linda it simply isn’t true to say unemployment has increased. She should retract this claim, ask yourself this, if people think it’s a high unemployment area how likely are they to want to move into the area or buy a house here?

She also claims small and medium sized businesses have struggled to survive in the recession. Although some businesses of course did struggle in the recession that followed the global financial collapse the numbers of micro, small and medium sized enterprises in Halifax has been increasing since 2011. Don’t just take my word for it, look for yourself. So again the MP is painting a picture of doom whilst ignoring the fact the economy is growing, and it’s growing here in Halifax and Calderdale.

Now let’s see some of the real facts about our economy

Engineer Teaching Apprentices To Use Computerized Lathe

Key Economy Facts

  • Unemployment in Halifax is lower than when Labour left office in 2010 and more people are in work than ever before.
  • Liberal Democrats on Calderdale Council have ensured extra funds are available to help local businesses enter export markets.
  • 4,740 new apprenticeships have started in Halifax since 2010. Part of the biggest increase in apprenticeships since the 1950s, which is helping the opportunities for young people.
  • Liberal Democrats helped ensure a historic £1Bn growth deal for the West Yorkshire Combined authority. Which is bringing in major transport investment into the borough.
  • There numbers of businesses enterprises in Halifax is increasing.
  • The UK will be the fastest growing economy in the G7 this year.






HGV misery on Raw End Rd

I’ve had complaints that HGVs keep trying to get down Raw End Rd which cuts off from Workhouse Ln despite their being signs to warn them not to go down there. The problem is they get stuck, or have to reverse on a residents drive which causes damage to it. I’m requesting that the Highways Department try to improve the signage in the hope that drivers will notice it and stop trying to head down the road.

Warley ward forum Monday 1st December

The Warley ward forum is taking place on Monday 1st December at 6.30-7pm at Asquith Court. I hope you have a chance to come along to this meeting, it’s really your chance to speak to your Councillors, and other agencies such as the Police to get an update on local news and issues and raise any problems or concerns that you or your neighbors have been experiencing. Thanks proposals that I put into the Council’s budget each of the ward forums now has a small budget of £5,000 which it is able to put towards small grants for community groups. So if you run a community group or have a project then it’s worth attending to find out how you can apply to make use of these funds to improve your neighborhood.