CONSERVATIVE plans for running Calderdale and Kirklees together are anti-democratic and a bureaucratic nightmare.
They also run totally counter to the Localism Act recently passed by the coalition government that gives councils incentives to decentralise powers and service provision to community groups and parish and town councils.
Here in Calderdale, the Liberal Democrats first priority is to give our residents the best deal possible in council services.
To do that the council is working with a wide range of partners that includes Kirklees Council but goes very much wider.
For example, the council is working successfully with the Greater Manchester and East Lancashire councils on plans to get the local rail service electrified and getting funding to reopen the Burnley Curve outside Todmorden Railway Station to give direct access to Burnley, Preston and Blackpool and to open up rail routes to the wider North West and Scotland. Kirklees has no interest in this sort of scheme because it doesn’t affect them.
The council is also setting up a joint waste disposal facility with Bradford Council that should raise our recycling levels to 80 per cent and produce power locally.
The Lib Dems support working closely with all the West Yorkshire Authorities and the wider Leeds City region to encourage investment into West Yorkshire, to attract funding for transport improvements, to enable joint contracting for services like external placements for looked after children, legal services and joint services run on a county-wide basis by West Yorkshire Joint Services. We believe Calderdale’s interests are best served by a variety of partners, not just one.
We are also highly critical of the way power would be concentrated and centralised in the Tory plans. The Lib Dem Council Team has plans to create community hubs as the focus for decentralised services run by a variety of local providers and want to see new town and parish councils established to bring decision making and service provision nearer local people and we wants to move forward quickly to push power down to communities, not up to bureaucratic officer structures and away from the democratic process.
Of course there will be occasions when we have joint interests with Kirklees, most notably on hospital services, but very often a partnership with a local organisation within Calderdale is a much better fit. Joint work with a community organisation or another public body will give better value for money. Joining up with Kirklees is putting all our eggs in one basket, never a good thing to do.
We want the best deal possible for Calderdale residents. That means a variety of partnerships.
We don’t think that people in Todmorden want to be run from Huddersfield! We think the Conservative plans take us in the wrong direction entirely and we will fight them tooth and nail.
Dr Michael Taylor
Todmorden Liberal Democrats