Don’t worry, unlike Corbyn I won’t be supporting any asteroids

Impact_event

“Impact event” by The original uploader was Fredrik at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Vojtech.dostal.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Impact_event.jpg#/media/File:Impact_event.jpg

Since his election the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has come under a barrage of criticism for the various wacky left wing things he has said and done over the years. Some of these criticisms are quite justified, others like him not buttoning up his top button on his shirt are just plainly daft. Of all the things I’ve come across perhaps the weirdest view Jeremy has endorsed is the following:

and believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.

This statement was included in an Early Day Motion that he signed in parliament along with his now Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell 

Personally speaking I have a much more positive view of people and the future.  I think that one day technology will beat cancer, that we will solve the problems of poverty , climate change, and that we will learn how to travel into space to fully explore the universe. In the meantime I’ll be doing my bit representing people who live in Warley ward on Calderdale Council.  You can relax, I won’t be supporting any asteroids.

House building development back on at the Maltings site

A development of affordable housing down at the Maltings site in Fountainhead village had been left in limbo after Southdale had gone into administration. I’ve just had the following email from our Housing department informing me that the development is now set to continue after the Homes and Communities Agency made some additional funding available for it.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) have now given official approval for Home Group to utilise their national pot of Recycled Capital Grant Funding to meet the funding shortfall at the Maltings (as a result of Southdale going into administration). As such the newly procured contractor STG (Strategic Team Group) have been allocated the contract and will be making a start on site this week with a 40 week build programme, so expected completion around June 2016.

We need additional housing to support our growing populations, however I do have concerns over the traffic implications for the roads coming in and out of Fountainhead village. At some point the Council is going to need to do more to support the Highways infrastructure in this area so it’s suitable for the volume of traffic.

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.

How to tackle drug abuse in Calderdale

As a Councillor I regularly attend Ward forums, time and time again we hear from the Police how hard it is to tackle the numbers of people driving around in cars and dealing drugs on our streets. The police are faced with an imposable task. We have to accept they will never prevent people taking and dealing drugs, this is because it is primarily a social and public health issue rather than a criminal one.

Our neighbours in Portugal have nearly eliminated drugs overdoes. They did this by decriminalizing all drug use, providing addicts with housing rather than jail, shifted funds from policing to treatment and prevention, doubled spending on rehab clinics and provide addicts with jobs skills and training. There is a lot we could be learning from their policy approaches.

This week a former deputy assistant police commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service, Lord Paddock laid down a series of amendments in the House of Lords to the Government’s psychoactive substances bill. Lord Paddock knows a thing about the tackling drugs from his time in the Police force. His amendments if accepted by the Government would decriminalise the possession of all drugs for personal use and the legalisation of medicinal use of cannabis when it is prescribed by a doctor. This would allow drug users to seek help without the fear of prosecution.

In Calderdale the answer has to be to put more public health resources into helping and supporting those people with addictions rather than trying to deal with them through the criminal justice system. The Police do a fantastic job enforcing the laws politicians create, the problem is in this case politicians have asked them to tackle a social problem as a criminal one.

Calerdale Council has to start tacking drug abuse more seriously as a public health issue. This means that we also need to start treating mental health as seriously as physical health, as underlying mental health conditions are often associated with addictions.

A combined what? No thanks, a Yorkshire parliament please.

The County of Yorkshire is being carved up into various regional bodies called combined authorities. Currently we have a West Yorkshire combined authority that includes Calderdale, Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Wakefield and York, and a South Yorkshire combined authority that includes the Sheffield City region, Barnsley, Doncaster, and Rotherham. These new bodies have a lot of power but local people have no chance to elect politicians directly onto them. Politicians get simply appointed onto these bodies from the Councils to which they were elected.

This creates an undemocratic and piecemeal devolution, what for instance happens to districts like Selby and Harrogate or the Humberside which are left out of the combined authorities? What happens if you don’t like the politicians running the combined authority given you don’t get to say who they are?

Now we are told in order to be granted any more powers each of these new combined authorities would have to have a directly elected Mayor. This will centralise political power in the hands of one person, rather than distributing it to a wider group of people with a range of experience and political views.

As Liberals we believe power is best wielded when it is devolved to the people. That’s why we would like to see a Yorkshire parliament with similar devolved powers to those of the Scottish Government. In terms of size Yorkshire is very comparable to Scotland, and there is no reason a Yorkshire parliament couldn’t be making decisions about how things are run rather than civil servants and ministers down in London.

Such a parliament could be elected on a proportional system as happens in Scotland. This would allow the views of people who vote UKIP, Green and Liberal Democrat to be heard and represented in the new parliament. It would have proper democratic oversight, and allow for proper debate on topics and issues. Yorkshire is a proud and powerful region, and it deserves to have it’s own unified voice and it’s own parliament.

Warley Ward forum funding for 2015/16 is now open for grant applications

With regard to the ward forum grants the 2015/16 grant pot is now open and the first application deadline is 31st July. There will be 2 x £2,500 grant rounds from April 2015 to March 2016. If you recall this is the £5,000 year funding I managed to secure for the ward in the Council’s budget.

For further information or details on how you can apply contact Tony King at Tony.King@calderdale.gov.uk

We are also looking at a possible project is a cleanup event in the Mt Pellon area. A cleanup event would involve the area being leafleted informing residents about the cleanup and asking them to bring out their rubbish and putting it in skips, staff along with volunteers would be in the area doing a litter pick.

A £500 ward forum grant would pay for the hire of several skips from a local provider.

12 Community groups in Warley benefit from 5K funding pot I established

12 Community groups in Warley ward have benefited from the first year’s worth of a five thousand pound a year community funding scheme. I established this £5k budget for each of the wards when it was passed as a Liberal Democrat budget amendment at the 2014 budget Council meeting.

I’m a firm believer that the Council should work closely with community groups, and the activities that these groups carry out represent good value for money. The Council provides a small amount of funds to help with the projects people in the ward think up, but it’s the ideas and energies of local residents that make the projects happen. This is my idea of Liberalism in action, a Council that works with people, and tries to help empower them to improve their lives in partnership with them.

You can download a full report of the panel meeting to determine the funding below

Warley panel reports

 

Name of Group Project Title How much applied for Approved
1 FRIENDS OF WEST VIEW PARK WEST VIEW PARK – SPRING CLEAN £500  250
2 The Addy Community Pellon Easter Arts & Crafts £499.77  200
3 International group, Christ Church Graveyard tidy up £350  200
4 Wednesday Lunchbox Food with Friends £500  500
5 12th Halifax Boys Brigade Replacement table tennis table £500  500
6 Neighbourhood Award planning Committee Our Communities neighbourhood awards event. £500  500
7 West View Park Fun Day Committee West View Park Family fun Day £500  500
8 Mt Tabor Rainbows Mt Tabor Rainbows £500  250
9 Mount Tabor Guides Improvements to Guiding at Mount Tabor Guides. £475  250
10 Mount Tabor Community Caring Association Senior Citizens day outing £500  500
11 St Columbas JFC Football in the Community £500  500
12 SharX SharX activities £500  500

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

LabourPlans

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.

Regular coffee mornings at ‘The Addy’ (Pellon Network Centre)

At the last meeting of The Addy Community group we agreed we would start to run a regular drop-in coffee morning for the local community. We want to encourage more community use of the building as we put together our bid to take over the running of the building from the Council.

So come along on Friday 14th November and drop by our coffee morning in ‘The Addy’ on Rye lane to say hello. It will be running from about 10am for an hour or so. I’ll be there so I can hold an impromptu surgery if you have any local issues or concerns that you need my help with.