Calderdale leaders outline their plans

Halifax Town Hall
Halifax Town Hall

The Conservative and Liberal Democrats will have new leaders in Calderdale as councillors meet for the first time on Wednesday after the elections.

Councillors Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) and James Baker (Lib-Dem, Warley) were elected as the new leaders of their respective party’s groups.

Coun Benton has replaced Stephen Baines who has stepped down from the role.

On his appointment, he said: “I am delighted to be elected as leader of the group.

“Coun Stephen Baines has led the group incredibly well. I will be consulting experienced members of the group and build on the work that has already been done and maybe look to do things a little bit different in making sure things are run effectively.”

Coun Benton said that the council continues to face financial challenges and he will look to push Labour in delivering services in a different way.

Outgoing leader Coun Stephen Baines said: “ I am 100 per cent behind him and he will forge ahead.

“Everywhere I have been in Calderdale, they have been disgusted with the standard of service. It’s time to fight back.”

Coun Baker was elected after Janet Battye lost her Calder ward seat to Labour’s Josh Fenton-Glynn.

He said: “Despite the loss of Janet, these elections results were better for us than last year. We won three wards in Calderdale, including a gain of Labour in Warley ward. Across the country we gained 45 seats which is more than any other party.”

“I’m delighted to have been elected as the new leader of our group.

“I want to set out a principled vision of what Liberalism means and what it is that Calderdale Liberal Democrats stand for. Locally that means a focus on community politics, taking power from the Town Hall and giving it to local people, and pursuing polices that seek to enhance fairness, opportunity and personal freedom.”

“As our constitution states the Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

Coun Tim Swift was re-elected as the Leader of the Labour group in Calderdale.

“Labour were the clear winners in last week’s local elections, winning more seats and far more votes than the Conservatives, and remaining the largest group on the Council,” said Coun Swift. “So we hope to continue providing the strong but inclusive leadership we have shown over the past twelve months.

“We will ensure that our local communities and businesses gain the maximum benefit from the huge investment we have secured for Calderdale - including the completion of the Piece Hall and new library, our major road repair and flood prevention programmes, and the delivery of the multi-million pound A629 and Halifax station gateway improvements.

“Whilst continue to balance the books and protect front line services, we will complete the on-going reform of our highways section and drive forward the replacement of tens of thousands of worn out and potentially unsafe street lights and columns.

“Our plans to set up town development boards will give local councillors and local people more say in how we grow businesses in our market towns.

“And we’ll take another look - on a cross party basis - at how we develop and agree a strong local plan for Calderdale that protects our great countryside whilst providing the homes and jobs local people need for the future.”