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Open letter to Craig Whittaker MP on local plan

Dear Craig Whittaker MP,

In recent meetings between party political leaders on Calderdale Council the Deputy Leader of the Conservative group Councillor Baines stated to me that the Conservative group is opposed to the local plan currently out for consultation, and that they would prefer it if the Government stepped in to do the local plan for us.

The Government has also restated its intention to step in and produce plans for Councils that do not produce one in its recent housing white paper. In addition the Secretary of State for Local Government Sajid Javid MP addressed the Local Government Association conference recently, criticising Council’s that had not agreed local plans.

Calderdale Council is in no overall control and the Conservative group’s stated opposition to the local plan decreases the likelihood of us agreeing a local plan at full Council in December. If the Council doesn’t agree a local plan, then at some stage the Government would step in and produce one for us.

I’m aware you have recently arranged a series of public meetings across the Borough where your opposition to building on Greenbelt land has been stated. With that in mind can I ask: ‘Have you been able to get an assurance from the Secretary of State that if the Government were to produce our plan, it would contain no house building on land currently classified as Greenbelt? Can I also enquire, if the Government were to produce a plan for us, how many houses would they make provision for in the local plan’?

Yours Sincerely,

Councillor James Baker

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council.

June & July planning applications for Warley Ward

Local Plan – New Map of Housing Sites Now Available

On Monday the 19th June the Labour cabinet that runs Calderdale Council agreed to put the local plan out for a six week Consultation. The local plan will provide a framework for development up until 2032. The government requires the Council to find the spaces for 1,000s of new homes. If we don’t determine where they go locally the Government will step in and do it for us (The local Conservative group  position is that they would prefer the Government to determine where the new housing sites go). This Consultation was due to launch on Monday 10th July, but has been delayed as it has been called into scrutiny. It should however launch in the next couple of weeks.

As soon as the Consultation goes live it ought to be available on the Council’s Planning Consultation Portal. Residents will then have six weeks to let their views known on the plan and any of the housing sites contained with in. You can view the map of all the sites in Calderdale here – https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51780

In order to make it easier to see the sites in Warley Ward I have provided a couple clippings from the land allocation map below. I’ve also provided links to the sites, so that you can read the detailed review of each of them and how they have been RAG rated.

In terms of our comments on these proposals, we are pleased to see that a number of sites around Mount Tabor and Roils Head Moor have been taken out of the plans. We ran a campaign to protect the Greenbelt in locations like these and that campaign appears to have been successful. ~However we still have concerns about some of the sites down at Fountainhead Village notably sites LP1607 and LP0983.

Also looking at the plans it appears as if the cricket pitch in Warley Town is listed. Warley Town is a conservation area and the loss of its cricket pitch for housing would be a shame. We assume the club would be able to purchase a new pitch perhaps with the receipts from the sale of this land. There is also a site at the bottom of Paddock Lane which is currently part of the Golf Club. We again make the assumption that if this land were to be used for housing then the Golf Club would have to re-arrange their course, presumably with fewer holes. What do you think of these sites?

Our approach to the local plan will be to let people know about this consultation and encourage local residents to get involved and contact us if they have any further concerns about it.

It is worth considering that if we just oppose the plan outright as the Conservatives appear to be suggesting they might then the Government would step in and do it for us. This might actually lead to even more housing sites, the sites at Tabor and Roils Head going back in, and further loss of Greenbelt. We are minded therefore to try and engage constructively with this consultation, and then decide whether or not to back the plan based on the outcome of that consultation and the extent to which the Council has listened to local residents.

 

The details on site LP0418 & LP0417 are in: https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51762

The details on site LP0968 are in this document – https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51768

 

The details on site LP0983 and LP0984 are in this document – https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51768

Why I’m standing to be your next MP

 

I’m passionate about Liberalism and i’d like to tell you why. My mother brought my sister and I up together as a widowed parent after my father passed away. Despite the difficulty of losing her husband, she studied part-time to get a University degree and to get a better job to support our family. The government gave our family a helping hand with the widows pension, and that enabled her to get a better education and improve all of our opportunities.

It was her example that has taught me that it is possible through hard work and education for people to improve their own lives. It also taught me that sometimes people need a helping hand, and a government that is prepared to give them a leg up so they can then grow to stand on their own two feet. That’s why I am passionate about creating a society with a government that helps individuals to reach their fullest potential.

Following that example I went on to University myself. I studied Holocaust studies as part of my Humanities degree. I can remember one seminar where we that was particularity harrowing. We were sat around in the pub after it, all a bit shocked at what we had just learnt about. I couldn’t believe a civilised society could descend into such inhumanity.

I vowed to myself that I would work to try and prevent such an atrocity happening again. I am a firm believer in the good of the European Union for that reason, it has brought together countries that once fought each other, and it strives to protect the rights and humanity of all people. I am also passionate about protecting individuals and their civil liberties from bullies and state abuses of power.

I want to stand up for a Halifax that embraces Liberalism, that embraces openness and tolerance. The politics of fear and division are on the rise in the US, in France and here in the UK but it doesn’t have to be like that. We can work together to build a positive future based on openness and understanding.

If you feel the same way and want to help me to stand up for these values then please support my campaign.

Widow’s Pension Cuts: Cruel and Unnecessary

The Widow’s Pension is designed to help create security and safety for families when they lose a loved one. But this week it is under attack from a new wave of Government cuts. With less money being paid to widows, widowers and surviving civil partners from April 2017 onward.

The changes will only effect those families who lose a loved one after April 6th 2017.

The new rules will add pressure to families when they’re struggling most. Families who’ve just lost a parent are learning to cope on a single income and with one fewer parent. The previous system helped to ease the financial stress with a ‘parachute payment’ which is now greatly decreased.

Families with a terminally ill parent are facing the worst of it, with many having planned for life under the old system now having to look again at the support they can offer to their children or loved ones.

If you want the Government to change it’s mind and reverse cuts to bereavement benefits then please share this article with friends and family.

If these changes effect you, friends or family you should visit www.turn2us.org.uk to get support and help.

Liberal Democrats secure extra funding for a traffic cop

Speeding and dangerous driving has been an issue that has been raised with us a lot recently. Both myself and Cllr Ashley Evans have passed on these concerns to the Police on numerous occasions. At the same time as we were raising it as an issue in Warley Ward, Councillors in Skircoat Ward were doing the same thing. This resulted in the Police launching Operation Hawmill last year.

We wanted to ensure there was a continuation of having a traffic cop back on the streets in Calderdale. Therefore we have secured £100,000 in this years Council budget as an amendment that was made to the ruling Labour group’s budget. Despite currently only having five Liberal Democrat Councillors on the Council this shows how we often punch above our weight to deliver things that residents tell us are a concern.

This money will go towards providing a continuation of traffic policing across Calderdale. Getting dangerous drivers off the streets of Calderdale is a priority for us as a party, and this funding shows how we are listening to people’s concerns and taking action to address them.

Calderdale Conservative’s nasty budget

Calderdale Conservatives have released their alternative budget for the Council. Under their proposals you will pay more and get less. It is a budget that seeks to balance the books on the poorest and most vulnerable in Calderdale.

Council tax increases are occurring up and down the country. You might have heard on the news about the real crisis that exists in social care funding. A large amount of the Council tax increase you will face are the result of something called the ‘Social Care Precept’. This is money that will be spent on social care, however the extra raised from Council tax is simply making up for money that is being cut by central government. Someone still has to pay for social care, under Conservative Government’s plans it will be funded by Council tax payers, rather than taxation revenues collected by the treasury.

Council tax levels

Under the Council’s Cabinet proposals, Council Tax will rise from the current £1,300.85 to £1,459.48 in 2019/20 (all figures for Band D properties). This is a rise of 12.2% over three years. Under the Conservative proposals, the final figure will be £1,432.82 – a rise of 10.1%, and a difference of £26.66. The difference between the budgets is, then, around 51p per week – less for most people as they are not in Band D properties. Despite Council tax levels rising the overall amount the Council has to spend will decrease. So you will be paying more but getting less under this Conservative Government.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme for people on benefits.

Basically this asks those on benefits to pay more Council Tax.

Currently, a claimant in a Band D property will be paying 19% of £1,300, so £247; under the Conservative proposals, they would be paying (in 2018/19) 30% of £1,405, so £422. This is a rise of around 70%. Most claimants, though, will not be in Band D properties, so the actual amounts are likely to be lower, though the proportions will remain the same. This will push more people into debt and poverty.

Discretionary rate relief. 

The Conservatives are proposing to cut the discretionary business rate relied for charities and sports clubs pay. This means that they will have to pay more business rates, and will have less money to spend on charitable causes.

Cuts to children services

The Conservatives are planning on cutting over £1m a year from the money Children’s Centres get to provide day care services. This will make those services more expensive for working families who rely on the Centres for day care services.

Attacks on Council staff

The Conservatives want to cut sick pay for the first two days off work, make Council staff take two days off work unpaid every year (a cut of apx £200 in staff’s salaries), they also want to move to spot salaries. All of this will involve major changes in terms and conditions, and it might not even be possible to achieve. Ask yourself this if the Council doesn’t pay sick pay for its staff, will your own employer follow suite? The Conservatives are facilitating a race to the bottom in terms of how employers treat their employees.

You can read our proposals for Calderdale Council’s budget here 

New bus Routes Serving Calder High School

We were contacted a few months ago by resident’s living within Warley Ward who were complaining about the time it was taking their children to get to Calder High. We are very pleased to say that we have been successful in lobbying for two new school busses that will serve people living in Mount Tabor, Norton Tower, Pellon, Moor End Road and Highroad Well.

We are pleased to begin the operation of two new services from Wainstalls, Mixenden, Mount Tabor, Norton Tower and Pellon areas of Halifax to Calder High School. These routes will commence from Monday 27th February, 2017. The routes and times are:C82: Wainstalls Turning Circle (07:50) – Mount Tabor Road – Heath Hill Road – Roils Head Road (08:00) – Gibbet Street – Warley Road – Burnley Road (08:10) – Calder High (08:20)

C83: Mixenden Road near Crag Lane (07:50) – Clough Lane – Mount Tabor Road – Moor End Road – Highroad Well Lane – Roils Head Road (08:00) – Gibbet Street – Warley Road – Burnley Road (08:10) – Calder High (08:20)

You can view a map of the route here

Both routes operate AM to school and PM from school (departing school at 15:10 and arriving Wainstalls/Mixenden at 15:40 following the above routes in reverse).

To ride on these services you must register for a place. Please complete this application form.

All bus stops on each route will be observed. The fare is £1.10 with an Under 16 Photo-Card or 16-18 Photo-Card (else full adult fare applies).

Our plan to stop Labour’s cut to funding for disabled children

One of the proposed cuts the Labour cabinet on Calderdale Council is planning to make will affect disabled children and their families here in Calderdale. This is what mum of two Katherine had to say about the cut:

“As a mum of two children with neurological disabilities and mobility issues. George my son is four he has neuro fibromotis and ataxia plus dystonia and diagnosed with cognitive delay of 2 years. So George is 4 but in most areas he functions cognitively around 2 2 half yrs old. Samantha my 8 yr old daughter as ataxia and mild learning difficulties. Because of her tremors in her body she is unable to write also struggles carrying things and her balance and Co ordination is impaired.

These things make my life hard as it is that’s why I was shocked to find out that the council would consider cutting services that are a huge help to me and other families.After looking at the plans it makes no sense to me to cut schemes and services that have a positive impact on the children and families of disabled children and children with learning difficulties.

To cut these services now when local schools are facing cuts of around 400k leads me to wonder were the councils priorities are by the looks of this not with the families of disabled children in Calderdale.

Councillors of all parties need to look again at viable solutions. They must be other ways to address the lack of funding the council recieves from central government without taking it from the most vulnerable people in our Town.”

The proposed cut was to D Catch funding. This funding provides money to disabled children in early years education to ensure they get the support they need in nurseries across Calderdale.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats are putting forward a budget amendment that will save enough money to prevent this cut.

Councillor James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said:

“Our amendment includes a saving that arises from adopting a ‘nurse-led sickness policy’. A policy like this was adopted by Watford Council and it has saved them a great deal of money. Essentially staff in certain areas with high sickness will have to phone a nurse first when reporting in sick for work at the Council. The health advice they receive helps staff to get back to work sooner. This cuts down on cover costs and agency costs and saves the tax payer money. Officers on Calderdale Council are confident this would save money, and we are proposing it is used to stop this cut. We hope this idea will win cross-party support.”

The full Liberal Democrat budget amendment can be read here