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Make it cheaper and easier to park in town

On January 27, parking charges will come into effect on three car parks in Brighouse town centre that up until now have been free to use. These extra charges that were agreed as part of Calderdale Council’s ‘Parking Income Generation Study’ will take effect on the Mill Lane, Church Lane and Bank Street car parks.

The vast majority of the traders in Brighouse town centre have been united in their opposition to these extra charges ever since they were proposed by the then Labour/Liberal council administration in 2012. Indeed, businesses in Brighouse organised a petition against the charges, signed by over 2,000 people, which I was delighted to present to the council on their behalf. Since then, I have spoken to hundreds of local people about the charges. As well as concerns raised in relation to the possible effects that this policy will have upon the vibrancy of our town centre, there have also been many other concerns raised, not least by those patients who frequently visit the surgeries on Church Lane and will now have to pay to park.

Last month, the RAC released figures for every single local authority in the country which showed that councils in England generated a combined ‘profit’ of £594m from their parking operations last year. Here in Calderdale in 2012/13, the council received £4,485,000 through parking charges, which meant a surplus or ‘profit’ of £1,157,000 – a figure which is likely to increase this year with the advent of a raft of extra charges. The Government has made it quite clear that it expects councils to make it cheaper and easier for motorists to park in town centres; unfortunately, this is a recommendation that our Labour-run council seem happy to ignore.

Local Conservatives have consistently opposed extra parking charges in Calderdale and will continue to oppose measures that will undermine the success of our town centre here in Brighouse.

Coun Scott Benton
(Cons, Brighouse)

Anthony John Rutherford

Finkil St

Large problem requires a daring solution

Do you think the cost of living crisis is real? Have you noticed prices going up week after week? Have your wages been frozen or even cut? Are you working less hours than you would like or having to work longer for no extra pay?
Even if you feel OK do you worry that children will grow up into a world where they are less well off than their parents? Do you look back and see that you had opportunities because things worked differently when you were young?

Food prices are up almost 20 per cent since 2010, gas up 29 per cent, electricity up 39 per cent, water bills up 20 per cent, bus fares 22 per cent and trains up 27 per cent. Private rents have gone up by over £1000 on average. Housing benefit, most often for those in work on low wages not just those out of work makes up the second largest part of our welfare bill after the state pension. That just isn’t right.

At the same time pay has fallen due to inflation and higher VAT as well as other taxes. We should be in no doubt that the global financial crisis was the product of huge irresponsibility in the banking sector, as governments around the world failed to regulate as they should have done. Ed Miliband this week pointed out what is obvious to almost everyone …the banking system has been “an incredibly poor servant of the real economy.”

This Government thinks everything is OK because forecasts say that average wages will eventually overtake prices at some ‘jam tomorrow’ time in the future. After seeing price rises outstrip wages every single month bar one during this government I’m sure everyone hopes that happens.

But a few months of better statistics won’t solve the cost of living crisis. The problem is larger and the solutions required need to be daring. If we carry on as we are, we will end up stuck with the same old banks, the same old problems and the threat of another crash being worse than the last. We need banking reform to improve the price and quantity of lending to small businesses and improve service to customers. It’s a message of hope for all small and medium sized businesses, it is time we stopped serving the banks and instead the banks need to serve you. We need to get Britain working again. Businesses need support need to grow, to employ more people, pay decent wages and make the profits to help Britain succeed.

I’ve just one thing to add that I am sure everyone in Calderdale hopes this might mean a return of the Halifax. Building societies worked to serve their customers as a matter of principle that banks never matched.The break up of the banks needs to be visionary and restore the sort of institutions that made our region great.

Peter Judge
rastrick

Should all bus services have to make a profit?

Short of a last minute change of heart by First Bus, the 570 bus service will be completely cancelled after 25th January. This service runs from Nunnery Lane in Rastrick to Bradford via Hipperholme and Shelf, and provides a useful link from many parts of Rastrick through Brighouse without the need to change.

This change is particularly surprising, since it is only around 18 months ago that this service was amended. At that time, the service continued from Brighouse to Halifax (via Upper Edge). However this part of the route was changed, and instead rerouted to Nunnery Lane where it currently terminates. Along with others, I campaigned for a replacement service between Brighouse and Halifax via Rastrick, and Metro arranged for the 573 service to serve this route.

Having amended the route, according presumably to some market research or other assessment, why are First now taking the drastic step of ending the 570 service completely? How will they encourage bus use when their services are constantly being changed?

The answer of course, lies in the phrase “public transport service”. Yes, that’s right. Something we no longer have. The only word in that phrase that is now vaguely true is the word “transport”. It is no longer a public service. And fares have risen in excess of inflation year after year after year. Of course, public transport is particularly vital for the elderly, for our children and students; and for the less affluent who have no access to a car. So in today’s political climate it is not important. Only profits are important.

What sort of society do we want? One where the buses and train are run solely to make private profits, and routes and times change upon a whim? Or one where the words “public transport service” mean just that – and the buses and trains are run by local councils, regional authorities (or where appropriate, national bodies); at affordable fares, and to timetables that are robust, sustainable and do not change every 5 minutes.