Talking politics: Tim Swift, leader of Calderdale Council

Calderdale Way
Calderdale Way

Tackling congestion on the A629 will be a major achievement.

A few days ago, our Council cabinet agreed the next stages in the A629 improvements – including the outline scheme for fixing the congestion at the Calder and Hebble junction.

This will cut problems for thousands of drivers coming into and out of Halifax every day, reduce air pollution at vulnerable locations such as Salterhebble, and provide a real boost for businesses.

It’s part of a much wider programme of investment in transport – not just in roads, but buses and trains too – being delivered by Labour working in partnership across West Yorkshire – and shows that we ambition and hard work can deliver for our community.

Yes, we should be ambitious for Calderdale!

Just before the election, we set out our vision that Calderdale should be the best borough in the north. Some councillors didn’t like it – they said it was ‘competitive’. But if we think Calderdale is a brilliant place, why wouldn’t we want to aim for the best?

It certainly didn’t worry our Georgian predecessors when they built the Piece Hall. Or our Victorian ancestors when they asked some of the country’s leading architects to come up with designs for the Town Hall.

We’re seeing the same sense of ambition today in the regeneration of the Piece Hall area – which I believe will bring tens of thousands of people to Calderdale in the future; in the transport schemes highlighted above; and in the courage of local organisations in bidding for Halifax to host the Great

Exhibition of the North. Let’s remain proud of our towns, proud of Halifax, and keep aiming high!

What we need to fix the roads

Reports from the ‘Asphalt Industry Alliance’ won’t feature highly on your reading list. But if you drive a car, their Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey (ALARM) should.

What it tells us is, year on year, how inadequate government funding means a big and growing problem with the state of our roads.

Nationally, minor roads and roads on local estates are only likely to get fully resurfaced every 100. Across the country, even the most important roads will have to wait an average of 35 years between resurfacing. And as traffic volumes grow – and heavy rain and flooding cause further damage – that’s not good enough.

In total, £12 billion is needed across Britain to deal with the state of our roads.

It’s obvious that the Government’s occasional gimmick of handing Calderdale a few hundred thousand pounds to ‘fill potholes’ is simply scratching the surface. Like every council, we’re facing a huge problem that only major funding can address.

So next time you see a local Conservative councillor pointing at a pothole, ask them what they are doing to get the Government to fund the huge spending gap which is the main cause of the poor state of our local roads.