Inside the Council: Working together to enhance our community

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As is customary at this time of the year, many Echo readers will have embarked upon New Year resolutions and some may have given thought towards a different challenge or trying something new.

Although many readers will be aware of some of the fantastic groups and organisations which work tirelessly to enhance our local area and to improve the lives of local people, there are dozens of groups within our community whose fantastic contribution towards our area sometimes gets overlooked or taken for granted.

If you are able to spare a few hours each month and would like a new challenge, many of these organisations would love you to become involved.

A great number of the community groups that serve our area so well rely solely upon the dedication and commitment of an often small group of volunteers who give up their time every single week.

In many cases, it has been the same volunteers who have maintained these groups/organisations for many years and without whom, Brighouse would be much the poorer.

Although these organisations quietly do their fantastic work from year to year and will no doubt continue to do so for many years to come, I’m sure that they would be delighted to receive new members and volunteers as this will ensure that they continue to benefit our community well into the future. Whether it be joining a residents association to improve the quality of life in your local neighbourhood; helping to support a community facility such as the Waring Green Community Centre; starting a neighbourhood watch group; or volunteering for a few hours each month at the Brighouse Rest Centre, there are dozens of ways in which people can get involved in different local groups and contribute towards our community.

Brighouse is a fantastic place to live, work and shop, not least because of the tremendous work that our community groups have done for so many years.

As a community, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the volunteers who give up their time each week to make Brighouse such a pleasant place to live. Moving forward, many of these groups need your help to continue the fantastic work that they do and so if you are passionate about our area and are able to spare a few hours each month, please consider becoming involved with one of these groups.

Reducing the number of Councillors to save money

Over the next month or so, the Council will be consulting on a range of proposals for inclusion within next year’s Council Budget.

One option that the Council will almost certainly not be consulting upon is the Conservative proposal to reduce the number of Councillors by nearly a third. Although the Conservatives proposed this measure to the Council in 2012, it was rejected by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Independents. Why?

Reducing the number of Councillors by nearly a third from 51 to 36 would save £150 000 every single year. Although one might argue that this is not a large sum of money in the grand scheme of things, it is a sensible suggestion and a saving that could be made without any impact upon frontline services (the only effect it would have is that Councillors would have to work a little harder!).

In Kirklees, Councillors serve an average of 14 000 electors per ward and in Leeds, the figure is 16 000. By comparison, in Calderdale, Councillors serve an average of 8 500 voters per ward. If Kirklees and Leeds can function with much larger sized wards, why can’t Calderdale? To put the comparison in a national context, the vast majority of the 31 metropolitan boroughs outside of West Yorkshire also have considerably larger sized wards than Calderdale. In short then, there is absolutely no reason why Calderdale couldn’t function in exactly the same manner with a reduced number of Councillors.

Conservatives will continue to propose sensible savings such as this in an effort to ensure that frontline services to the public don’t get reduced. Why won’t the other parties take the difficult decisions and support sensible, cost-effective measures such as this?

By Councillor Scott Benton