‘Funds for our economy should stay’

PUTTING around £450,000 from the council’s economic task force fund back into balances would be a mistake, say the opposition Conservative group.

The Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition which runs the council has earmarked moving the cash, which will be taken from around £900,000 which remains from the initial pot of just over £2 million, set up with all-party support by the then Conservative controlled council two years ago.

Conservative group leader on the council, Coun Stephen Baines, said it would be a mistake to take the money out of the fund.

“The fund has done a lot of good helping businesses through the recession. There is around £950,000 left and they have taken £450,000 and put it into reserves. We believe that’s totally wrong,” he said.

Coun Baines said support provided by the fund had helped retain and create new jobs. One example of its success was small £500 grants which had helped small businesses get started.

“At the current time of spending reserves, to take it out of something that has proven to be good is stupid,” he said.

But council leader Coun Janet Battye said money was still available in the fund, which had not been wound up.

“If we need to put money back into the economic task force we will be happy to do just that but we need to make sure the council has as much funding available as possible to protect front line services,” she said.

Coun Battye explained that the council would be looking at what it could do with strategic partners such as Calderdale Forward, which brought together organisations ranging from the police to Calderdale College to help people.

Although the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties had supported the establishment of the fund they were aware it was operated from the council alone and would have preferred to work with partners. she said.

l SHOULD the money have been kept in the economic task force budget? Let us know what you think about this issue by emailing todnews@todmordennews.co.uk or hbtimes@hebdenbridgetimes.co.uk or writing to us at Fielden Square, Rochdale Road, Todmorden, OL14 7LD or 19a Crown Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8EH. You can also leave comments on this story on our websites, www.todmordennews.co.uk or www.hebdenbridgetimes.co.uk