Inside the Council: Fight for fairness for Calderdale

Halifax Town Hall
Halifax Town Hall

Local Government continues to be savaged by Chancellor George Osborne.

This year, Calderdale received over £33 million in government revenue support grant. Next year, that drops to just over £25 million. Two years later, it will be down to around £12 million.

That’s an awful lot of street lights that can’t be replaced, pot holes that can’t be fixed, parks and open spaces that can’t be looked after, unless we are able to find the money in other ways.

A couple of weeks ago, the government did find extra money for some councils. But not for areas like Calderdale, struggling with the impact of floods on top of years of spending cuts.

Curiously, almost all the Councils benefitting from this last minute windfall are in areas where Conservative MPs threatened to rebel.

Sometimes it’s very easy to become cynical about central government.

Impacts of flooding are affecting all of us

We’re asking the council to agree to create a three million pounds flood resilience and recovery fund.

We need to do that so that we can plug the gaps in funding, meet the direct costs to the council and – most importantly – take a lead on regenerating Calderdale after the floods.

Some people who were lucky enough not to be directly affected by flooding themselves might question whether it’s fair that they are asked to help with the costs of recovering. I’d argue that it is, for two reasons.

Firstly, communities standing together and helping each other is what local government should be all about.

It’s another part of Yorkshire at its best.

Secondly, the reality is that we have all been affected by the floods – whether you were personally flooded or not, the impact on Calderdale’s community and economy has touched everyone.

And in crude financial terms, if we don’t have thriving businesses across the Borough, there will be less money available to pay for everyone’s services in years to come.

Finally, the threat of further extreme weather events has not gone away.

After the floods in the Upper Valley in 2012, whilst Calderdale Council kept calling for action, national government rather forgot about us.

I’m determined we are going to do all we can to make sure that does not happen again this time.

Better rail services for Brighouse

I was disappointed that when the new rail franchise was for the Calder Valley line was announced, there were not more immediate benefits for Brighouse.

Local campaign group HADRAG have made a good case for how services could be increased at Brighouse – which in turn would strengthen the already strong case for a new station at Elland.

For the last few months, I’ve been chairing a the Calder Valley rail development group – bringing together a team of councils working across West

Yorkshire and Greater Manchester to lobby for investment in the Calder Valley line.

We’re making sure that the case for full electrification is pressed at every opportunity – and I’ll keep making the case for more trains to serve Brighouse.