Independent Brighouse Councillor Colin Stout thinks it is time the council sold the Shay...
“Having been a councillor through two recessions, I know how difficult it is to have to make savings by cutting services to the public.
And it has been made more difficult by the government saying we can’t increase our council tax, to raise the money to ensure we can maintain all of the services the council provides.
It has been left up to Councillors to interpret the instructions we receive from central government.
So we then start the process of finding savings and cuts to achieve the government’s targets.
Simple you may think, cut out senior officers on large salaries? Cut duplication and bureaucracy?
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But to ensure we give the best service to the public of Calderdale, we need the right talent in offices.
And with government targets and indicators we need all the back office staff.
So we have the dilemma of the community’s secretary Mr Eric Pickles saying that councils should concentrate on core services, and provide only statutory services to the public.
And this is where the fun begins.
Which services do we cut, privatise or fund?
Now depending on what services you use, and how they will affect you, if they are cut, will determine how you react. Some services the council provides are not statutory but people expect them to be there.
Let’s take Community Services.
Which include things like; sporting facilities throughout the borough, the Victoria Theatre, Customer First, and so on.
Now I find it difficult in fact ludicrous for the council to own a sports stadium that is neither fit for purpose nor used by the majority of people in Calderdale. In fact, less than a couple of thousand.
This stadium The Shay should have been sold years ago. It has no real benefit to the majority of people in Calderdale. It’s like an open wound and just keeps bleeding us dry.
As councillors, we now have to assess the viability of all our facilities.
This one to me comes well below the radar.
We are not getting the rent income because of numerous issues that keep arising from it.
We are owed rent from people using the facility; it has cost you more than £5 million to part complete the stadium. Last year after we cut services, in other more deserving areas, the Council saw fit to spend £120,000 on a new PA system.
This is before the ‘E’ Stand has even been completed. More money has been allocated in this budget this is despite opposition from myself and other Councillors.
We are having our review of all council-owned buildings in the borough, and The Shay should be the top one to go.
In comparison we have the Victoria Theatre which last year we imposed a £1 levy on every ticket, to every show shown.
There were over 91,700 tickets sold which means the council made over £91,000 in revenue. I think that was a success, but this year we are cutting the Victoria theatre’s budget by over 30 per cent and trying to make it a charitable trust.
We also have between 24,500 and 42,000 and 27,921 people a week using our swimming pools and leisure centres. Again we are cutting back these facilities and charging higher prices.
I think someone once said (the last chief executive) ‘we need to grasp the nettle’ unfortunately, his nettle went limp.
We really do need to sort out where our priorities should lie in sports facilities and it’s not at The Shay. “