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Bold thinking on Dementia

This year on Calderdale the Adults, Health and Social care scrutiny panel carried out a major piece of review work looking into dementia. The report can be downloaded and read from Calderdale’s webpage . The report encourages bold thinking to tackle the increasing number of people suffering from dementia. The United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts the dementia cases will double to 65.7 million by 2030.

One bold and interesting approach to dementia is being taken by a village over in the Netherlands. The village provides an alternative model to the traditional care home that we are used to here in the UK. The village is split up into different homes, that seek to recreate the lifestyles that residents are used to.  A mixture of arranged social activities, and recreated shops help to create an environment that seeks to recreate normalcy, whilst protecting residents suffering from dementia  against confusion.

The BBC has covered this village on some radio programs, but now has a video up on their webpage. It’s well worth taking a look at if you have a bit of time.


Snoopers Charter could cost £500 a household

The proposed draft communications bill is something I have opposed from the offset. The bill sets out to expand the amount of our communications data collected by the state, and then made accessible to officials. As currently occurs under RIPA (Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act 2000) officials will be able to self-authorise these surveillance requests. That means it can occur without a court warrant.

The NO2ID campaign for which I carry out work for is one of a group of civil liberties organisations that are opposing this bill. Recently I have travelled to a series of evenings hosted by the Open Rights Group which have been training campaigners on the details included within this draft bill.

There is opposition amongst members of both coalition partners, the Spectator reports on Dominic Raab’s battle with Home Office ministers over the bill. Many Liberal Democrats are opposing this bill, one Lord Marks QC had calculated how much the bill is likely to cost households. The amount he has calculated comes out at a staggering £500 per household! At a time when we are having to make cuts to try and reduce the huge burden of debt our country faces it is outrageous that the Home Office is trying to justify spending this amount of money on surveillance.

The cost argument alone should be enough to convince most people that this bill is not a priority in the current climate. As I would also argue that before we can start talking about increasing surveillance powers, we need to bring this type of snooping into a proper rule of law. A situation where officials and self-authorise surveillance requests lacks safeguards against abuses of power. We have to put in place a proper system of judicial oversight to ensure there is no surveillance without a warrant.

Autumn Statement

Today’s Autumn statement is certainly a mixed bag. This government has had the most challenging set of economic circumstances with which to contend with. Which you some argue come from external factors such as the euro-zone troubles, the actions of the previous government,  and others argue comes from failure of George Osborne’s economic strategy.

Many people will today be spinning elements of the statement to their political advantage. I thought it would be useful however just to pick out a few bits which I think would be considered good and bad to most people reading my blog.

The good points

  • The tax threshold will rise to £9,440, this amounts to a £600 tax cut for most ordinary people.
  • Steve Webb’s Pension Triple Lock has ensured a 2.5% rise in the State Pension, more than earnings and inflation. This means pensioners will get another £2.50 a week on top of the £5.30 a week increase that came into affect last April.
  • The percentage of borrowing compared to GDP is falling each year, as verified by independent forecasters. Was 11.2% of economy in 2010.
  • No removal of Housing Benefit from under 25.
  • No plan to remove benefits for the third and subsequent child.
  • Fuel duty rise planned for January cancelled.
  • Good news for business and manufacturing – Starting on 1st January and for the next two years, the Annual Investment Allowance in plant and machinery will increase from £25,000 to £250,000. This capital allowance will cover the total annual investment undertaken by 99% of all the business in Britain.

The Bad

  • Tax credits and benefits will only rise by 1%, which is below the rate of inflation.
  • No Mansion Tax.
  • The deficit has not bee cut as fast as had been hoped,  with National debt set to peak at 2015-16, rather than falling.
  • More people will have to pay the 40p tax rate, because the earnings threshold is increasing by just one per cent to £41,865 in 2014 and £42,285 in 2015 – below the current rate of inflation.

Anger over 20mph zone U-Turn

People in Warley Town are angry over a council u-turn over a planned 20mph zone in the village, and rightly so.  I had been informed in just September that this scheme was ‘weeks away from being advertised’. Yet now it transpires that the Highways Department took the decision to review the scheme without consulting  me or the other ward Councillors.  They have come to the conclusion that an extensive scheme covering the rural roads around the village is ‘unjustified’. A copy of their letter can be downloaded from the link below:

warley rural 20 rev 2 _1_

Residents in Warley have spent a lot of time engaging with Calderdale Council over this scheme, and were informed by officers in the Highways Department that this scheme was going ahead. It’s disgraceful that they have been treated like this.

At full Council I asked Cllr Collins the cabinet member responsible for the Highways Department why ward councillors have been ignored, and why this u-turn has been taken. I was essentially told the scheme shouldn’t have been authorised, and has been reviewed in-line with a policy of using a Matrix to determine what areas should be prioritised for 20mph zones.

It’s not acceptable  that people have been let down like this. The Highways Department informed people this scheme would be going ahead. Cllr Collins and officers within the Department should honour this initial decision, anything else will further destroy people’s trust and faith in Calderdale Council. Both Cllr Evans and myself will be continuing to campaign for the implementation of a 20mph zone. I will also be complaining as to the way this fiasco has been handled.

Minutes from the October PACT meeting

Police and community together (PACT) meetings are a chance for residents to come along and meet their neighbourhood policing team in person. Meetings such as these are at the heart of community policing, and those residents that go along and partake in the meetings are helping to ensure we have a police force that understands and responds to local needs.

A copy of the minutes from last meeting I attended can be downloaded from this site, by following the link below.

Warley PACT Minutes 30th Oct 2012

Friday Flyer

Every Friday the Halifax North & East ward forum team publishes a flyer of local events and activities. This flyer contains a huge wealth of useful and interesting information about community events going on.

You can sign up for free on their blog to get the flyer sent straight to your inbox. If you are interested in finding out what is going on in your area I highly recommend doing this!

Youth Polices

We have been carrying out some work recently on Youth Polices. These were written with Hebden Royd Town Council in mind, however if they prove successful then I am hopeful that some of the ideas could be taken up across the rest of the borough of Calderdale.

Craig Whitall one of our members in Hebden Bridge has posted up the polices on-line in a post on his website. If this policy area interests you then I would encourage you to take a look and provide us with any ideas, comments or insights you may have.

We are trying to be active to encourage young people who already play an important part in our communities to take on an even greater roll. It is hoped that this in turn could encourage greater economic participation, and a reduction in the number of Young people who are  NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) .

Tackling Speeding around Warley ward

Speeding traffic across Warley ward has been a persistent problem. Enforcement from the Police is only one to tackle this problem. Other solutions include traffic calming measures such as speed humps, gateways and traffic islands, or reducing speed limits.

The Council’s Speed Indicator device on Moor End Rod

Unfortunately engineering solutions come with quite a big price tag attached, and in the current climate of Calderdale Council having to make budget cuts there isn’t much money available for this type of work. Reducing speed limits is another route to take. Myself along with Cllr Ashley Evans have been campaigning for 20mph zones in those areas where residents are requesting them.

In order to build up evidence of where speeding presents the biggest problem we can deploy the Council’s Speed Indicator Device (SID). This device both warns motorists that are travelling to fast, and collects statistics. We are able to then use these statistics to present a body of evidence as to where speeding is occurring. The results the device generates are colour coded with a traffic light system, and the Police will prioritise enforcement in areas that get coded red.

We have been out recently on Moor End Rd with SID, collecting data. We also invited residents along to see this in operation, and to raise any concerns they have about speeding in the area. My main worry is that Police enforcement does not seem to be having an effect on this problem. Moor End Rd has for years been a known spot where cars speed, and as the results show this is still a problem.

I will be pressing for engineering works on the road, particularly on the corner at the top in order to reduce speed.

Moor End Road 2 (2)