Talking Politics: James Baker, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

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Over the past few weeks my inbox as a Councillor has been filled with complaints about speeding traffic.

The roll out of 20mph zones might have slowed down the average speed of sensible drivers, but it does nothing to stop the reckless drivers who tear around in high performance cars. This culture of fast and reckless driving that seems most prevalent in parts of Halifax that I am told are now high insurance premium areas. This culture of lawless and reckless driving needs to be tackled.

The Labour Police and Crime Commissioner promised that speed limits would be enforced. Yet it’s only now opposition Councillors have raised this issue, and I have written to the Police Commissioner about speeding that anything seems to be happening.

We are pleased that the police have now responded by putting operation Hawmill in place. This operation has seen the deployment of a dedicated road traffic officer in a high powered car being deployed in Halifax. Already this operation has resulted in cars being seized and banned drivers being arrested. It’s just a shame this is only a temporary deployment,

The Department of Transport calculates the cost of each fatal accident at over £2million, and each serious injury accident on our roads at around a quarter of a million.

With the human and financial costs of accidents being so high, there must surely be a case for funding a permanent road traffic office to patrol Calderdale’s highways.

Recycling and waste collection misery

On paper the new waste and recycling collection contract looks great: the option to recycle more plastics, tetra packs and cardboard whilst also saving taxpayers £1m a year. However, in practice there have been some serious problems with the implementation and delivery of this service.

We are told that only a minority of households have experienced problems, but still this is a significant number of people that have gone weeks without any form of collection.

These people deserve some sort of apology and perhaps a partial refund on their council tax bills. Let’s hope the Labour administration gets a grip on ensuring Suez deliver on this new contract quickly.

Why is Amey struggling to keep up with work?

The contract to maintain our roads and street lights is outsourced to the highways company Amey.

With our roads still in a state of disrepair, along with a huge backlog in street lights needing repair, is the Council doing enough to ensure we get the service we pay for from Amey?

A Liberal Democrat colleague of mine at Trafford Council informs me they also have problems with Amey delivering on their contract. I’ve heard the same from a colleague at Gloucestershire.

In Sheffield they are behind on delivering a PFI contract and Cumbria Council ditched them in 2012. The company had to write off an expected £55m in profits in anticipation of losing a case against Birmingham Council. Perhaps there is a pattern emerging here?