Inside the Council by Graham Hall

150th anniversary celebrations of the Halifax Town Hall.
150th anniversary celebrations of the Halifax Town Hall.

I was honoured to represent the people of Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Ward when invited by the Mayor of Calderdale to attend the 150th Anniversary Celebration which was held last Sunday at Halifax Town Hall.

The foundation stone of the Town Hall was laid on April 2 1861. The building was opened on August 4 1863 by HRH The Prince of Wales. John Crossley was Mayor of Halifax at the time of the opening.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Councillor Ann Martin, welcomed everyone to the celebration. Followed by an interesting insight from John Hargreaves from the Halifax Civic Trust into the original opening of the Town Hall. This was followed by the unveiling of the bust of John Crossley by Tim Hare, Vice Lord Lieutenant for the County of West Yorkshire. John Crossley was instrumental in the choice of the site for the Town Hall and the appointment of Sir Charles Barry as the architect.

Unemployment is falling

Recent employment figures are encouraging.

Unemployment is down 57,000 on the quarter and the claimant count is down across the country. The number of people claiming out of work benefits is lower than in May 2010 and there are over half a million vacancies. Even the youth unemployment level at last appears to be falling.

Many thought that the government’s austerity measures, which have had to be implemented due to the last Labour Governments financial legacy, would harm the economy. They said unemployment would soar. But we have seen British businesses rise to the challenge, with 1.3 million new private sector jobs created in three years. We must also always support the public sector staff as well in ensuring good quality cost efficient services can be provided in local government and in our health services.

These figures are encouraging, but we must not be complacent. Latest statistics show that there are job opportunities out there for people who want to work hard and get on.

A pleasing return to growth

It was pleasing to see the economic figures released recently.

Chancellor George Osborne has declared that the economy is on the mend after official figures revealed that growth doubled in the three months to the end of June. GDP rose by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter, up from 0.3 per cent of growth in the previous quarter. This means that the economy has recouped more than half of the 7.2 per cent of output lost in the 2008-09 recession. Growth over the past year has been 1.4 per cent, and is coming from all sectors of the economy. The Chancellor said: “These figures are better than forecast. Britain is holding its nerve, we are sticking to our plan, and the British economy is on the mend”.

For the people of the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Ward and throughout Calderdale in general, there will no doubt be difficult economic times ahead but at last we appear to be moving in the right direction.

Everyone has right to be safe

One of the fundamental jobs of any government is to protect its citizens. Everyone has a right to be safe in their home and their communities. When this government came to power it swept away the bureaucracy that had been holding back the police and gave them just one target: cutting crime.

Since then crime has continued to fall – recorded crime is down by more than ten per cent, falling by 7 per cent, nationally, in the last year. Overall estimated crime is at its lowest level since 1981. Although residents are strongly advised not to leave any items on show in parked cars due to a recent surge in thefts from cars in the Hipperholme and Bailiff Bridge areas.

The government’s reforms seem to be working. They have swept away central targets and reduced bureaucracy, and the police should be congratulated for rising to the challenge of doing more with less.

England and Wales are safer than they have been for decades. I hope this government will continue to work hard to tackle crime and its underlying causes whilst at the same time supporting police staff and officers.

Recorded crime, here, in West Yorkshire, for the year to March 2013 has dropped by 10 per cent.