Column: Talking Politics with Coun James Baker - Time to fix Calderdale’s roads
Whenever we raise the issue of road maintenance in council meetings, the cry goes out from the Labour administration that the problems are a result of the Conservative Government’s cuts to local authority budgets. This is certainly a huge part of the problem. At this year’s budget, Jeremy Hunt announced an extra £200m for local road maintenance. However, this figure represents just half of the annual cut to funding that was put in place for each of the last four years of the current parliament. But that’s only part of the story. The second problem is the poor quality of repairs that are undertaken by Calderdale as a highway authority. Tarmac is thrown down in temporary patches but isn’t correctly sealed. I’ve spoken to dozens of residents who work in the trade who all shake their heads in despair when they see the quality of work the council is doing. So why hasn’t our Labour authority invested in technology like more jet patches that can fill potholes efficiently and to a higher quality of repair? This is certainly something we think is needed.
Dangerous driving and speeding traffic is the other major issue. As you walk about the streets of Halifax you see so many near misses, people speeding in modified cars, pulling out without looking, and dangerous driving. Recently a speeding car mounted a pavement in our ward and took out a wall. It’s dreadful to think what would have happened if a kid had been walking down the street at the time.
Back when Calderdale Council was in no overall control we had been able to use our influence at the budget council meeting to get some of our own ideas passed. We took this opportunity to provide funding for Police Operation Hawmill. The police operation to tackle dangerous driving. Although this has been a successful operation, catching many dangerous motorists, we still need more enforcement. So, we are calling on our Deputy Mayor for Policing for West Yorkshire to double the resources that go into Operation Hawmill. Dangerous driving costs lives. Law and order needs to be restored to the streets of Halifax. If we gain enough seats in May’s local elections to tip the council back into no overall control then we would once again be able to act on this issue.