Inside the Council: Scott Benton, Leader of the Conservative Group

Brighouse traders opposing plans to introduce parking charges in Brighous
Brighouse traders opposing plans to introduce parking charges in Brighous

Last month the ruling Labour administration published plans to introduce a raft of new parking charges across Calderdale,

These plans also included charging for on-street parking in Brighouse town centre. Within days of the plans being released a speculator u-turn was performed and the proposals were withdrawn. The stated reason for this was so that the Council could ‘listen to the views of businesses and the public’. The real reason was that Labour could not force the plans through the Council and so were left with no other option. No discussion was held with businesses, residents or other political groups before the proposals were released so the idea that this administration is now interested in the views of the public is hard to believe.

Scott Benton with the Councils Waste Services Manager, Jonathan Lord

Scott Benton with the Councils Waste Services Manager, Jonathan Lord

Although the proposals were withdrawn, the leader of the Council made it clear that he still intends to meet his target for increasing revenue from parking charges (equating to £600,000 per year) and that some amended proposals would be forthcoming before Christmas. Well, as his administration is suddenly interested in the views of others, I would urge him to think very carefully Businesses and residents have made it clear to me that they don’t support on-street charges in the town centre and are willing to fight any attempt to impose them. Such charges would undoubtedly discourage shoppers from visiting the town centre and this would hurt the small businesses and traders who are the lifeblood of our successful town centre.

Readers will recall that several years ago, this same Labour administration implemented new parking charges in Brighouse to which businesses, residents and Conservative Councillors were resolutely opposed. Our campaign to remove the unwanted parking charges was successful when a ‘vote of no confidence’ was passed in the then administration which allowed the Conservatives to run the Council, abolish the new charges, and start to clean up Labour’s mess. To avoid history repeating itself I sincerely hope that this administration thinks long and hard about its plans and draws up other proposals to make up their financial shortfall.

Chaos of new waste collection contract (almost) under control

The vast majority of Echo readers will have experienced some disruption to their waste and recycling collections following the start of the Council’s new contract. Throughout August and the start of September I was receiving dozens of calls from residents every week who were understandably upset that the Council had missed their collection, in many cases, for several weeks running. It is still not clear why such problems were so widespread and why it took the Council so long to get a grip of the situation. The threat of financial penalties against the contractor seems to have solved most of the issues although there are still a number of persistent problems across the Brighouse area. Now that the problems of the last few months are largely under control I hope the contract brings the financial savings and the increase in recycling rates which were originally hoped for.