Column: Talking Politics - Never mind levelling up, can we just keep the drains clear?

Coun James Baker (Calderdale Council Lib Dem group leader) discusses the impact of blocked drains and potholes in Calderdale

By Zoe Drye
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 10:12 am
Pictured Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse - Lib Dems will continue pointing out the problems
Pictured Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse - Lib Dems will continue pointing out the problems

We hear a lot of talk of grand plans to ‘level-up’ the North.

Sadly, the day-to-day reality for most of us is roads covered in potholes, streets covered in litter and blocked drains.

A trip along Queens Road and you will be greeted with seemingly permanent replacement temporary barriers where repairs haven’t been carried out.

A walk down a ginnel in Halifax and you will be greeted with appalling litter and fly-tipping.

Bollards everywhere are knocked over, white road markings are faded to nothing, and streetlights are broken.

These are the things that impact most of us on a day-to-day basis as we go about our lives.

It’s what you get when you have a Conservative Government that cuts local Government funding and a Labour Council that fails to make the most out of the resources it provided.

A double whammy of failings from the main two parties.

Between them, they are responsible for total urban decay in the North of England.

Blocked drains are a particular problem in our borough, which is madness given we are so prone to flooding.

We might have some grand flood schemes in place which we all hope will work, but if we aren’t maintaining and cleaning drains then people are going to suffer from run-off problems.

Whenever a member of the public or a councillor reports a blocked drain, we get the same excuse “oh well a car was parked when we tried to clean it”.

This might be a plausible excuse if it wasn’t the case that the blocked drains are now starting to outnumber the clear ones, and we didn’t know how few crews we have dealing with an area the size of Calderdale.

Grand schemes and big capital grants aren’t going to solve the problems of basic maintenance of our street scene.

For that to occur we need to both increase the revenue budget for highways and street maintenance and make more efficient use of our funds.

There are many things the authority could do to improve its efficiency.

Over half term, I was enjoying a vacation in Scotland. I noticed the deployment of a jet patcher system to fix potholes on the roads.

It seems however the use of any modern method for patching or repairing our highway is beyond the capability of Calderdale Council.

Instead, we get left with botched repairs that end up costing us even more in the long one.

This is an issue officers in charge of Highways and Labour politicians might want to reflect upon!

I know our political opponents like to mock us for our ‘Lib Dem pictures’ pointing at potholes and blocked drains, but we will continue pointing these things out as they are the real things that impact people in their day to day lives.