How does freeze fit in with localism?

Regular Courier readers will be aware that cuts to the local government budget, coupled with the council tax freeze championed by Eric Pickles, have meant that Calderdale Council has to save £55 million over 3 years. One has to question how this council tax freeze fits in with the Tories’ localism agenda.

I thought they were in favour of power being decentralised to allow communities to make more of their own decisions, based on their own needs?

If savings on such a scale are to be made some services must inevitably be cut or reduced, meaning councils have to make decisions that are difficult and sometimes unpopular.

Whilst the Conservative Party is forcing councils into making these unprecedented savings nationally, locally the same party is delivering newsletters that point the finger at the Labour-Lib Dem council for implementing them and reducing services.

Not only that, but they compare ‘success’ from their time in council - when they enjoyed significantly higher levels of funding - against the situation now, as if the two periods are directly comparable.

The truth is that despite a huge challenge the Lab-Lib coalition has protected the most important services for the most vulnerable people of Calderdale and made far fewer redundancies than neighbouring authorities.

Of course there is another way for the council to save money and that is the great Tory ‘Huddersfax’ proposal - the populist idea of cutting our number of councillors by a third (whilst the number in Kirklees stays the same) and merging services with Kirklees, all to save £2.5 million - a fraction of what the Lab-Lib coalition has already been able to save in the past two years.

In return for this modest saving jobs would be lost, we would sacrifice Calderdale’s identity, much-valued services would be relocated in Huddersfield, and key decisions affecting Calderdale would be made by people in Kirklees.

Again, how on earth does this fit in with the Tories’ localism agenda? There is clearly no joined-up thinking here.

Some people currently have concerns about the possibility of the Central Library being relocated a relatively short distance.

If the Tories gain power locally, how long will it be before we’re having to travel as far as Huddersfield for some of our services?

Adam Wilkinson

Prospective Labour Party Candidate

Sowerby Bridge