Talking politics: Tim Swift, Calderdale Council leader

Public services like libraries are coming under financial strain

Public services like libraries are coming under financial strain

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In my last column, I criticised the way in which the Government tries to avoid any responsibility for the cuts they are making to public services.

We’ve seen this once more with their misleading approach to local government spending.

Just before Christmas, the Local Government Secretary announced what each council would receive in various forms of grant.

And in the face of huge concern about the services that provide help at home to frail older people and others with care needs, he claimed to be providing “more money” for social care.

Except it wasn’t really true.

Effectively, he’s told councils like Calderdale to put up the Council Tax by an extra three per cent to pay for social care.

That will raise just under £2.5m next year.

But at the same time, he’s still cutting the main revenue support grant to the Council by over seven and a half million – almost three times as much!

So the actual reality is this – put up the Council Tax, but still have less in total to spend on services.

That’s the government message for local people - pay more council tax and still see less money spent on the local services you value, in the hope that you’ll blame the local council rather than the government ministers who are actually forcing these choices on you.

Not a very cheery New Years’ message, but that’s what the Conservative government are doing to local services.

Sunshine after the rain

One year on from the floods

The bright winter sunshine on Boxing Day afternoon was a stark contrast to the devastating storm and flooding of the year before. And the period around Christmas was an opportunity to reflect on the fantastic community effort that has gone into recovering from the impact of Storm Eva.

But of course there’s still a massive amount of work required, not only to make sure every community in Calderdale is fully recovered, but also to drive forward the work to make our area as well protected and resilient as we can for the future.

We need to maintain and grow the strong partnership between the council, the Environment Agency, vital partners such as the Community Foundation for Calderdale, and of course most importantly, the communities and volunteers who are at the heart of our efforts.

It’s been really encouraging recently to see so new volunteer flood wardens in place and new flood groups being set up in Elland, Copley, Luddendenfoot and Sowerby Bridge.

Promoting Calderdale

Just before Christmas, the Courier highlighted the important economic benefit that tourism brings to our area.

It’s fantastic that Hebden Bridge won the Great British High Street Award in the Small Market Town category, recognition of the bounce back from the floods.

And the inclusion of a significant part of Calderdale in the route for this year’s Tour de Yorkshire will provide another opportunity to promote our great area to a different regional and national audience.