"Budget represents a fair balance of different interests"

Halifax Town Hall
Halifax Town Hall

One again, despite everything the Tory government has thrown at us, Labour has managed to build a council budget that defends our key services, protects our community’s most vulnerable people and extends our astonishing Halifax transformation programme to the rest of Calderdale with a £10 million investment package for our smaller towns.

We call it prudent radicalism: holding the fort against the relentless pressures of Conservative “austerity”, whilst planning innovatively for the future. And, once more, we’ve done it by working together, with Liberal Democrats and Independents, to defeat the counter-proposals of the most right-wing Tory council group in Calderdale’s history.

Of course it’s not been easy. Government cuts mean that Calderdale – like every council – faced the unpalatable choice of raising council tax and still having to make cuts to services.

The budget that’s been agreed represents a fair balance between different interests – and is in stark contrast with Tory proposals that required an additional five million pounds of cuts whilst targeting some of the most vulnerable parts of our community.

The unsung heroes

Last week’s bad weather reminded me again of the importance of Calderdale’s unsung heroes. The gritter drivers who were out in all conditions WHILE most of us were safe and warm at home.

The home care and health workers who battled through snow and ice to make sure that older and vulnerable people were safe, and continued to receive the care they needed

And the hundreds of volunteers, activists and just good neighbours who acted to clear paths, ferry doctors and nurses about in their four wheel drives, or just keep an eye on the vulnerable in the streets and villages where they live.

And also the staff who came in to make sure the phones were answered, the problems identified and the teams despatched to deal with the most urgent challenges.

You’re all part of what makes our community so special. Thank you.

A blank piece of paper…

That appears to be all that the Conservatives are offering in response to questions about the local plan.

They’ve spent months sniping from the sidelines, criticising Labour and telling residents up and down the valley whatever they think they want to hear.

But they have not once said what they will do differently.

Meanwhile, their various candidates continue to make wildly misleading and inaccurate claims about what the plans would actually mean.

Agreeing a local plan is a tough process. Councillors need to be straight with people about what the choices are, and what they will mean for each community.

Whilst the Tories have dithered, Labour have provided the leadership needed.

We’ve done the hard work to make the case to reduce the number of housing sites required from 16,000 to just over 9,000 and in the process drastically cut the amount of green belt land needed for housing.