Faster Internet for Warley Town – Campaign launched

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We were recently contacted by a resident Mr David Hinchliffe who lives in Warley Town. Broadband speeds in the village can be dreadful, as low as 1.5-3 mb/s. This really isn’t good enough in this day and age, and both the government, Council and infrastructure providers BTOpenworld should be doing more to deliver a better service. People rely on having a decent internet connection for work, gaming and for streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon or BBCiplayer.

That is why we are launching a petition and campaign to try and lobby for faster internet speeds in the village. It’s possible to do, it just requires some of the local infrastructure to be upgraded. The more people who sign this petition, the more we can demonstrate that there is a decent demand for this service.

You can sign the petition online here

Download a PDF of the petition here. Please feel free to copy this PDF, and get your friends and family to sign it. There is a return address on the petition.

Save Sandhall Green play area

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When I was elected as a Councillor I requested details of all the unspent Section 106 moneys allocated to Warley ward. I identified a sum of money (I recall around £40k) that had been allocated to improving green spaces. This money was given to the Council by the developers who built over the old play area on what is now Bridleway Ct. Working with Council officers your Liberal Democrat Councillors helped to devise a scheme to improve the green as a recreation ground. Following a public consultation in 2013 the Council went ahead and built a small children’s play area, football posts, planted new trees, built a fence around the play area, created some parking spaces, and improved the planting with some new trees.

Just three years later and the Labour run Council is now proposing to build eight bungalows on the site. You can see the plans for what is proposed below. They would be placed right over the existing play area, and leave a much smaller space. Destroying the space for people to walk dogs and the football play area in the process. This decesion is going to cabinet on 14th November so we have just a couple of weeks to encourage the Labour cabinet not to build over this play area.

You can sign the petition against this scheme here

Picture that shows plans to build bungalows on Sandhall Green

Kinder new politics lasts a day… then Tom Watson speaks.

Corbyn made a noble call to improve the quality of political debate in this country:

I want a kinder politics, a more caring society, don’t let them to reduce to you believing anything less. So I say to activists whether Labour or not, cut out the personal abuse, cut out the cyber bullying and especially the misogynist abuse online and let’s get on with brining real values back into politics

Sadly his Deputy Leader Tom Watson didn’t seem to be listening:

“that useless bunch of lying sell-outs the Lib Dems”

Compare that attitude with Tim Farron on the Marr show:

I’ve never been a tribialist, I’ve always taken the view we should work with others whether they be on the progressive wing of politics or not to achieve what we want”

Upcoming Events this week

Just a quick reminder that this week we have the Warley ward forum that is taking place up at the Mount Tabor Methodist Church Hall. It’s 6.30pm for a 7pm start. The main topic of the meeting will be the Council’s budget Consultation.

Additionally on Saturday it is the West View Park Family Fun Day. This day is  packed with fun activities for all the family including ferret racing, falcon display, childrens entertainer, pony rides and more.

On Saturday 12 September 2015 – 12pm to 4pm
At West View Park, Warley Road, Halifax.

If you would like a promotional/fund raising Stall or for further information, please contact Tony King on 01422 255402 or tony.king@calderdale.gov.uk

Calderdale Council Budget – Have your say

Calderdale Council has launched a major consultation with local residents on its future budgets. There have been smaller consultations around each year’s budget proposals but it was 2010 since this was last done on such a large scale. With additional cuts to the Council’s spending coming from the Conservative government now is a good time  to once again launch a major consultation with the public on what it is the Council ought to do.

We think it’s important people get a chance to have their say on what it is the Council ought to spend it’s budget on. There are some services that the Council has to provide which are called statutory services (these might include things like looking after vulnerable children) but there are also additional services like leisure centres that it doesn’t have to run. These are refereed to as non-statutory services. We believe it’s also important that the Council takes a radical approach as to how it provides services. Where possible working in partnership with the community and third sector organisations to deliver services for local people. There is no point just moaning about the cuts if those leading the Council don’t work out how to make the best out  of the situation the government places us in.

There are a series of events that form the consultation and these include the Warley ward forum that takes place up at Mount Tabor Methodist Church at 7pm on Wednesday 9th September. If you are reading this article you will obviously be on-line, and I would encourage you to complete the survey on-line here, and also to get in touch with me personally to express your own view.

There is also a budget simulator that you can partake in to try and balance the budget. Although this simulator gives you some idea, it’s quite limiting in determining the impact of the budget reductions you select. There are a range of presumptions here about what the impact of cuts and increases in funding might be. For example there isn’t an option to reduce senior officer pay, change car parking fees , or to outsource HR to reduce the high levels of staff sickness to get more out of taxpayers money. Neither are there any options about ‘investing to save’ that you can use with the budget simulator. I wonder what use it is really, and whether that was worth the money spent on developing it. On the one hand it gives people some idea of the task ahead, but on the other it does seem to limit the imagination of what might be done.

 

Top Marks for Northern Gas Networks

 

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Following a complaint about these service containers being placed on an unadopted road without permission I contacted Northern Gas Networks via email. I sent the email at at 7.25pm on Thursday night and despite this being out of work hours they had responded to me with a phone call in less than an hour. This phone call was then followed up by a second phone call from another member of their staff to confirm I was happy with the outcome. They informed me the containers would be removed by Monday at the latest, but they had removed them by Friday afternoon. Less than 24 hours of me complaining about them.

You have to give credit where they are due. I only wish every organisation I dealt as a Councillor displayed this level of customer service and competency!

Why didn’t back either Conservatives or Labour

The Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council took the decision to retain our independence and didn’t back either Conservative or Labour’s bid to run the Council. The consequence of this is that Labour as the largest political group on the Council went ahead and formed a minority administration.

It probably would have been possibly to try and do a deal with either party, if we had done so we would have gained some additional positions of power on the Council. Instead we took the decision that it was more important to focus on retaining our independence, so we are free to set out our own values. We took a stance that puts our principles ahead of attempts to grab power.

Additionally the Conservative government unrestrained by Liberal Democrats moderating influence is intent on introducing a further £12Bn of welfare cuts, scrapping the Human Rights Act and risking our economy with the uncertainty of a referendum on our place in Europe. In this situation we would have struggled to continue supporting a Conservative administration on the Council.

This year we were the only political party to actually produce a manifesto for Calderdale Council. Our manifesto was created entirely from the ideas contributed by local members. This is what we offer to residents who vote for us in local elections. A genuine democratic model of local government, in which local members get to determine the issues and priorities of the Council.

Our manifesto includes commitments to reform how Calderdale Councils operates, returning it to the democratic committee system, involving residents in how local services are run, and putting local people in charge rather than delegating responsibility to a small group of senior officers. We will strive as an independent, Liberal and democratic party to implement these changes.

Big litter clean up around Mount Pellon

 

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On Wednesday morning I joined Council workers and residents for big litter and household waste blitz in the area around Mount Pellon School on Queensway and Batterson Rd. This area has to be one of the worst in the ward for litter and junk and rubbish left in people’s yards. It was amazing just how much stuff got filled into skips. Sadly this isn’t a long term solution, this type of litter blitz from the Council is good work, but I think we need a much more concerted effort to try and change the mindset that says it’s acceptable just to throw junk and rubbish on the floor.

I’ve exposed Labour’s secret plan to sell-off buildings

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Using the Freedom of Information Act I have today exposed that the previous Labour administration on Calderdale Council had plans for a wholesale sell-off of council-owned properties – plans marked as ‘restricted’ that were to remain under wraps until after next year’s elections.

I only got to find out about these plans by using the Freedom of Information Act but I can now reveal that that Labour councillors have discussed selling off over 95 properties including at least seven community centres and 15 public toilets. They were not planning to make any of this public until after next year’s local and general elections.

When we voted to remove Labour from the leadership of the council in July, we said that one reason was the secretive manner in which they operated. This just shows how right we were.

Not only is it appalling that councillors have only found out about these plans by resorting to the Freedom of Information Act, but even worse is the fact that local people would have had no say in the matter. These buildings are provided for their benefit, not the council’s.

No one wants the council to waste money on unnecessary buildings, but it can only decide what is necessary through holding open discussions within the council and, before that, with the public we are here to serve. I don’t believe Labour were even thinking about such discussions.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats think the council to save money by creating community hubs so people could access public services in the communities they serve. This would mean we could spend less money on Council offices. Instead of drawing up a secret list we would have launched an open public consultation on the future of council-owned buildings. This shows a major difference in approach between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and that Labour cannot be trusted.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Janet Battye said: “This flies in the face of Cllr Tim Swift’s assertion made in May 2013 that the Labour Cabinet would be ‘open and transparent’. When the Council has had to work on other large and difficult issues – such as the improvement of Children’s Social Care, or the work on the Piece Hall – it has been done together, across the political groups, and been more successful because of this. Why didn’t Labour do that this time?”

All the documents detailing the plans can be downloaded from What Do They Know . The Appendix in the following document lists a whole host of buildings that were planned for disposal. The plans also include transferring the Shay Stadium and Victoria theater into community ownership.