In the last few weeks Calderdale Council has been consulting on the proposed Budgets for the next three years.
I can’t say I’m excited by such exercises, but I’m pleased that the council have chosen to consult widely on the matter before the Full Council Budget meeting on February 26.
I’m glad that I’m not an Elected Member, because I’d find it very difficult to make the decisions that are required. Local Government has had its funding slashed by Central Government for the last ten years.
Someone told me this week that the council used to have some 9000 employees, and now it’s down to barely 2500? How on earth do we expect the local council to do anything at all other than fulfil its Statutory duties – I can’t believe that there is any money left to do anything? No wonder they need to charge in car parks – it’s one of a few means of generating income?
Last week I went to an excellent business breakfast at The Shay, where the proposed budget was shared with business leaders, and I realised that out of every pound the council spends, something like 67p is spent on Children and Social Care, and its only about 4 per cent of the population that access its provision?
No wonder the council got into trouble with winter gritting – there is almost nothing left in the pot to pay for anything?
So where is the future of the Public Sector? I hear nothing from any political party? This greatly saddens me, because as a nation we have had good public sector services in the past, and I’m not suggesting they didn’t require improvement or that they were perfect. I also think that the private sector working in partnership with the public sector is a positive model, particularly in the NHS, where the private sector can play a useful role if properly regulated and scrutinised.
Its no good looking backwards to the good old days – they weren’t all good – but we need to look forward with hope, and build on what we can change for the better, rather than moan about what we can’t change and effect.
The council have begun to talk about Calderdale 2024 as a vision for the future, and to be launched in March of this year.
Halifax is certainly changing, both in terms of its physicality and in terms of population growth and the delivery of employment, health, education, and social mobility. As well as improving the physical look of the town, it’s the quality of life that makes the biggest impact, and why people choose to either stay or leave, or as I have done, come to live and work here, and bring my family with me.
I’m unsure about ‘The Shoreditch of the North’ but I still believe Halifax is one of England’s best kept secrets, and everyone I meet who comes to visit is bold over by the heritage and the stunning geography of the place. I certainly have hope for the town going forward, and if we don’t shout about everything that’s happening here, no one else will, so we’d better get on with it!
As the vision for the future unfolds, so too we all need to participate in the process, and to share our own visions for going forward, for by working together we might achieve something as a legacy for future generations to cherish, and a community that is sustainable for everyone.