I am writing to publicly ask Cllr Baines and the Conservative group to set the record straight over some inconsistencies in their plans for merging services between Calderdale and Kirklees.
1. In a press statement, they described the proposals as “the biggest change in local government in West Yorkshire since 1973” - yet now Cllr Baines is suggesting that it will make little or no difference in Calderdale. Which is correct?
2. Could Cllr Baines provide a breakdown of the plan’s supposed £2.5m savings? Would these all accrue to Calderdale or be shared between us and Kirklees? And if so, in what exact proportion?
3. Why does the Conservative budget document claims that “Calderdale Council would continue to make all decisions that affect the citizens of the Borough” when his party’s briefing paper refers to at least three major services - adult care, childrens services, and transport and regeneration -being provided on a joint basis? Surely the most important decisions about these services will be made behind closed doors at meetings of the three council leaders, where Calderdale will always be outvoted?
4. One of the services to be shared is adult health. But there are major differences between Calderdale and Kirklees – service charges are higher in Kirklees, and the eligibility criteria much tighter. Surely this means worse choices for Calderdale as services are operated jointly?
5. Finally, the media briefing paper refers to most neighbourhood services being “commissioned”. Can Cllr Baines therefore confirm that it is the Conservative’s intention to contract out services like our safer, cleaner greener teams to the private sector?
The current information is fairly thin, so I look forward to the Conservatives sharing their detailed proposals with us and with the residents of Calderdale.
Cllr Tim Swift
Leader Calderdale Labour Group