Funds totalling £500,000 to be borrowed by the Council for work on Calderdale school

Calder High School
Calder High School

Councillors have agreed to borrow £500,000 to fund work at a school – but the school will pay it back.

Earlier this month Calderdale Council’s Cabinet received and debated the authority’s Capital Programme monitoring report but the approval of full council was needed for the payment to Calder High School at Mytholmroyd.

This week’s meeting of the full Calderdale Council approved the cash, which will be prudentially borrowed – councils can do so at special rates within regulated limits.

Calder High will meet the repayments of the principal sum and interest, councillors heard.

Councillors also approved the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy which will cover five years instead of the more usual three.

Leader of the council Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said this was ambitious as there was a level of uncertainty over council funding, including for exmaple money the council might or might not get from business rates.

But it gave the council a baseline to work from, in the light of identifying savings which had been made since 2010 and where more would need to be made to the tune of £4 million in 2020-21 and increasing amounts in the succeeding years, rising to £12.7 million of savings by 2024-25.

Officers had been asked to prioritise how the first, £4 million, gap might be bridged and also investigate longer term changes that might be required.

Assumptions included amounts of Council Tax the council would allowed to budget for and realistic expectations of the rising demand for and cost of adult social care, said Coun Swift.
Until some things became clearer, Calderdale would continue to plan responsibly and be led effectively, he said.

Cabinet member for Regeneration and Resources, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), said she was grateful for some extra funding being found by Government but with so many financial pressures it could also be seen as a case of “too many sweeties and not a decent meal.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun James Baker (Warley) asked what had happened to public consultations about budgeting that had been promised.

“In the absence of that big public conversation, no elected representatives have been involved in that and the scale of cuts are very large,” he said.

Coun Swift said cross-party discussions would take place at the appropriate time and ideas ahead of budget council early next year would be welcomed.