As a former employee of Calderdale Council, I read with interest the letter “So is it time to get rid of Calderdale” (Courier, March 14).
The idea that Calderdale (pop 201,000) was “never sufficiently large to operate efficiently” was quite a common one 30 years ago, but as it overlooked the fact that the vast majority of English local authorities were much smaller than Calderdale it rather went the way of the views held by the flat earth society. So it was a surprise to see it repeated again. Never mind, it would be a shame to let the facts get in the way of a good story. Your correspondent has noticed that Calderdale has lost a lot of functions. True, but so has every other comparable local authority. And some more than Calderdale – Leeds and Bradford lost responsibility for Education years ago.
So what about carving up and transferring functions to neighbouring authorities as your correspondent suggests. At the upper end of the valley we would be looking at a transfer to Burnley pop 85,000 (oops) or Rochdale (204,000) which is the same size as Calderdale. Never mind, let’s transfer everything to Bradford pop 506,000. Is this is the same “sufficiently large to operate efficiently” Bradford where the centre of the city has been a wasteland for several years ?
Ironically the loss of functions would actually support something I and others hoped would happen, the centralisation of Calderdale’s staff in a single location. Northgate House would be ideal for this. At a public meeting a couple of years ago Kersten England, now Chief Executive at York (pop 198,000) told us Northgate House was unfit for purpose because it did not have air conditioning, an argument met with some derision. With that as background, I suspect that the debate over Northgate House has not a lot to do with the condition of the building and quite a lot to do with the developers of Broad Street wanting the guaranteed rental income if the Council’s staff were to move in there.
The debate over Northgate House should not be hijacked by a debate about the future of Calderdale. Beware of letting go of nurse, for fear of getting something worse.