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

Labour MP slams ‘Halifax NHS chiefs’ for PFI deal his own party signed off

According to reports on the Huddersfield Examiner the Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman has blammed the problems facing our local health services on the awful PFI contract that ‘Health chiefs in Halifax got into’.

Mr Sheerman and his colleague, Colne Valley’s Jason McCartney, have both insisted the move is to shore up the controversial Private Finance Initiative which funded the Calderdale Royal Hospital.

Mr Sheerman said: “Health chiefs in Halifax got into serious debt and negotiated a very poor PFI contract to secure the new hospital.

“In Huddersfield we had a very well-run health and hospital service but we were persuaded to merge with Calderdale.

“Now we are being told by the Clinical Commissioning groups that because of that PFI we will have to make the move and send all our people to Halifax for care.

“It makes me furious and I am sure it will make everyone in the town furious.”

Someone ought to point out to Mr Sheerman it was Alan Milburn who was the Labour health secretary at the time who signed off on the deal. This followed extensive lobbying from the then Labour MP for Halifax Alice Mahon, who was in favour of the plan. It should also be pointed out that Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against this PFI deal for years, as this old press cutting demonstrates. It was the late Stephen Pearson a former Calderdale Councillor and Dr Bob Heys who helped run this campaign. At the time not a single Labour or Conservative Councillor signed the petition opposing the PFI deal.

So we now have a Labour MP in Huddersfield blaming the PFI deal his own party signed off for the threat of Huddersfield A&E department. Meanwhile the Labour party in Calderdale are trying to pin the financial blame for the mess on the last government. Here is text taken from their petition

I condemn the threats to local health services caused by the Tory-Lib Dem government.

I call on NHS decision makers to keep urgent care services like Calderdale’s Walk-In Centres and A&E department open.

Labour need to get their story straight on this mess they are responsible!

Bonfire & firework nights across Calderdale – 2015

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As autumn sets in Halloween and Bonfire night are not along around the corner. I’m going to updating this page with a list of bonfire and firework nights across Calderdale as I become aware of them. If you have a bonfire night planned that you would like advertising please use the contact section of this website to let me know about it!

Saturday 31st October – 6.30pm – New Hobbit, Hob Lane, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX6 3QL – New Hobbit Bonfire and firework night

Thursday 5th November – 6.30pm – New Hobbit, Hob Lane, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX6 3QL – New Hobbit Bonfire and firework night

Friday 6th November – Todmorden Golf Club @TodGolfClub

Saturday, 7th November –  5.30pm – Hullenedge Park, Elland –  ELLAND ROUND TABLE CHARITY BONFIRE AND FIREWORK DISPLAY 2015

Saturday, 7th November – Fire lit at 7pm – Long Can Hall, Fountainhead Village, – Long Can Hall – Pub firework and bonfire evening

Sunday 9th November 2015– 6.30pm The Clubhouse, North Dean, Stainland Rd, Greetland, Halifax – The Heath and Heath RUFC

 

 

 

 

Calderdale Liberal Democrats launch campaign to save Halifax’s Court

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The Conservative government has launched a consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. These proposed closures would affect the Halifax County Court and Family Court and the Halifax (Calderdale) Magistrates’ and Family Court.

Under these proposals residents of Calderdale would be required to travel to Bradford to access justice; journey times to Bradford from many parts of Calderdale are significantly longer than assumed in the consultation document.

The historic Grade II court building is an important asset to Calderdale, and the Ministry of Justice’s consultation includes no plans as to what would happen to the building if the Courts were to close.

Taken alongside cuts to legal aid the closure of local Courts will restrict people’s access to justice, particularly for local residents who lack the means to travel easily. Calderdale Liberal Democrats are opposing the closure of our local court. We urge you to support our campaign and sign our petition here.

We are submitting an urgent late motion to next Wednesday’s meeting of Calderdale Council opposing this closure. We hope the Mayor will accept this late item as the consultation on the Court’s closure was only announced yesterday.

Keeping up the pressure on rail improvements

Calderdale Liberal Democrats are calling on Calderdale Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to increase the pressure on the government to press ahead with the electrification of the rail line from Manchester to Leeds. The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, recently announced that a number of electrification schemes, including the Manchester-Huddersfield-Leeds line, would be ‘paused’.

Cllr Battye Liberal Democrat group leader said: “We are deeply concerned about this decision, and the knock-on effects it is likely to have on the electrification of the Calder Valley line. These schemes form part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ plan that was promised by the Conservatives during the election campaign. This plan now seems to be in serious trouble only a matter of weeks later. If the Conservatives’ ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is to mean anything, this work has to be done and it’s simply not good enough for them to blame Network Rail for any problems.”

“Electrification of the rail routes is an important next step in the improvement of public transport in the North as the lines are heavily used by an increasing number of people to get to work, as well as for pleasure.”

“It is important that Calderdale Council and the Combined Authority speak out clearly in support of rail electrification and that we all continue to make the case for it as strongly as possible. I have tabled a motion to next week’s Council meeting to allow the Council to publicly and forcefully make the point that this work needs to be carried out as soon as possible”.

Budget Council report – We have secured an investment into affordable warmth

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A Liberal Democrat amendment to the Council’s budget meeting that occurred on Monday 23rd February has secure a £1.4m investment into affordable warmth. The cost of this insulation scheme will be repaid through additional savings made through the smarter use of technology by the Council in its working practices.

In Calderdale in 2013 there were 93 excess winter deaths attributed to cold homes. Improving the insulation in homes, particularly those of vulnerable people, will help reduce the number of people suffering in cold homes. It will mean fewer people living in fuel poverty, fewer fossil fuels burnt to heat homes, and more money in residents’ pockets to be spent in our local economy.

The National Institute of Environmental Health and the Building Research Establishment have suggested that targeting the borough’s worst housing with a £1.4m investment programme could save an estimated £4.65m in associated health care costs. At a time when health services are under pressure this is a sensible and pragmatic measure the Council could take to help save lives in Calderdale.

Personally I’m delighted this affordable warmth scheme I have proposed was passed. Around 93 people a year in Calderdale die prematurely as a result of living in cold homes. These people are all someone’s grandparents, friends and relatives.  Lives will be saved from this measure, and many more will have their quality of life improved from being lifted out of fuel poverty. It will also reduce the burden of costs placed upon the NHS as prevention is cheaper for the taxpayer than cure.

This simply wouldn’t have happened without all of the support of Calderdale residents who vote Liberal Democrat in local elections. It is a crying shame that Labour failed to back this measure, simply because we proposed it and they did not want to be seen backing a Liberal Democrat amendment. I can’t understand that kind of party political petty mindedness.

Further features that the amended budget passed by Council and supported by the Liberal Democrats will deliver for Calderdale include

  • A Council tax freeze.
  • A 20% saving in the Council’s energy bills to be achieved through an investment in LED lighting in Council buildings and solar panels.
  • All future savings the Council has to make in 2017/18 to be determined by a major public consultation this summer.

In Contrast Labour’s amendment would have meant

  • No public Consultation
  • Council tax rises in two out of the three next years.
  • Money taken out of the road maintenance budget for other Labour priorities
  • An £800,000 cut in Children Services in 2017/18

The would have used the money raised from these cuts and Council tax rises on a risky venture of building 150 Council houses, a Town Square in Sowerby Bridge and a waterside park in Mytholmroyd.

 

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.

Bedroom Tax needs to be scrapped

The interim report on the removal of the spare room subsidy aka Bedroom Tax makes for sobering reading. Only 4.5% of those affected have downsized to a smaller property, compared to 6% who have been forced to borrow on either credit card or take out loans to cover their additional costs. It’s clear from the evidence that the policy is failing to achieve the aim of  freeing up social housing for families desperately in need of larger houses as they have children living in overcrowded accommodation.

When this issue was debated in Calderdale Council I supported the broad efforts of the policy to try and help families  living in overcrowded housing find suitable accommodation. I put in an amendment to a Labour motion condemning the Bedroom tax that  sought  to introduce some practical measures to lessen any negative impact of the policy.  Although Labour’s motion was critical of the policy, I considered it grandstanding  that didn’t offer anything practical that would actually help local residents.

Now the policy has been in place and its impact has been assessed it’s abundantly clear it needs to be radically altered. The result of the policy as it stands is that more people are falling into personal debt and financial problems. Additionally the evidence shows the policy isn’t achieving it’s aim of encouraging people to downsize.  When the facts change, so should people’s views. I hope other Liberal Democrats that had supported the aims of this policy will now agree with me it’s not working and needs to be changed.

Conservatives back Labour to run Council

Conservative Councillors have voted to appoint a Labour Councillor as Leader of the Council. Labour does not have a majority on the council, so the election of a Labour leader was not a certainty. However, the Tories made sure that it did happen by backing Labour and Cllr Tim Swift as leader of the Council.

Although Labour won nine of the 17 seats this year, they got less than one-third of the votes cast. Their vote went down by about 3,000 and their share of the vote by about 7% compared to the last elections in 2012. That’s not exactly a mandate to govern or a ringing endorsement of their work over the last year.

I hope residents who voted Conservative will question why their Councillors backed Labour when it came to the vote given they claimed to be acting in opposition on their leaflets!

Still no flood recovery website

Last year the Economy and Environment Scrutiny panel of Calderdale Council examined the ongoing flood recovery operations of Calderdale Council. One clear recommendation to come out of that work was that the Council’s progress at delivering flood recovery, and resilience against future flooding should be published on a publicly focused web page.

Minute F22/16 of the 8th August 2013 Scrutiny Meeting Meeting

(b) the Flood Resilience Strategic Partnership Manager, in consultation with the Director, Economy and Environment and the Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment and in liaison with the Council’s Marketing and Corporate Communications and Web Teams, be requested to look at the introduction of a prominent, publicly focused web page on the Calderdale Council website which provides regular updates to the public on the ongoing flood recovery/delivery work and that the updates on progress be provided on a traffic light system of information wherever possible.

Nine months have passed since that recommendation was made, and still no such website exists. Letting people know how things are progressing in this area of work is of vital importance in an area at high risk of devastating floods. Calderdale Council could do  a lot better in communicating it’s flood recovery work.

While we are on the topic of floods, it would also be nice if the Government could provide the kind of support for Northern Mets affected by flooding as it has some of the Southern Counties!