Winter gritting update

The Council is making some rapid changes to this year’s plans for winter gritting to respond to concerns about the new pilot policy.

There were three things that led the Council to review the winter gritting policy (that’s the rules that set out which roads are going to be gritted, and how frequently)

  • There was new national guidance issued earlier this year which provides criteria for all local authorities, so that they provide a service based upon fairness and clear principles. Previously, the Council’s gritting programme was based upon custom and practice with no clear rules for the selection of routes;
  • The previous policy was costing a lot more than had been allowed for in the budget – and the costs are going up, so savings were having to be made on other parts of the highway maintenance budget to cover the difference – this at a time when Government cuts have forced the council to find savings of over £100 million since 2010; and
  • The previous contract the council had with Amey has come to an end, so winter gritting is now being done by a mix of in-house teams and smaller private contractors.

The new policy had been looked at by both council officers and councillors from all parties, but seeing something written down is not the same as putting into practice. That’s why it was only introduced as a pilot this year.

Some parts of it are working really well. The priority routes – the busiest roads, main bus routes and roads which give access to hospitals, emergency services and community facilities such as schools and shopping centres – are being gritted very quickly.

But as it soon as it became clear that there were problems in some areas with some urban and rural roads which were not being gritted, the Council agreed to suspend that part of the policy and restore secondary gritting to them.

It’s not possible to restore gritting for every road immediately, as the Council needs to obtain some new gritters for the in-house team. These should be in place very shortly. In addition, the Council also has 200 more grit bins on order and these will be here very shortly.

 

The right plan for Calderdale

Local Plan graphicLabour leader Cllr Tim Swift, in his latest column in the local press, sets out his views on the next stages in developing the Local Plan for Calderdale

Getting the right plan for future housing and employment land in Calderdale is a huge challenge. We are a victims of our past success – for many years, most new homes have been built on brownfield sites – that’s land that has previously been developed. So when Government guidance required us to provide for 17,000 new homes in the next fifteen years, it’s not surprising officers had no choice but to bring forward many green belt sites.

So the Labour group has welcomed the opportunity given by changing guidance to call for a redrafted plan that proposes a major reduction in the number of homes required. This will mean a much reduced need for sites to be found within the green belt. Continue Reading

Pause Universal Credit, say local Labour

Presenting Universal Credit petitionLabour councillors Megan Swift and Dot Foster have presented a petition to Holly Lynch MP calling on the Government to pause the roll out of Universal Credit.

Cllr Megan Swift, who is the Council’s lead member for children, says that she is particularly concerned about the impact of Universal Credit on families with young children. Continue Reading

Labour proposes major reduction in local plan housing numbers

Local Plan graphicCalderdale Council should be cutting the number of sites for new homes planned over the next fifteen years to under 10,000. That’s the view of Calderdale Labour Group, who have today announced that they will be calling for a new version of the controversial Local Plan based on this new target.

The council has originally faced with a Government target of finding land for 16,871 houses. As the recent consultation document revealed, this would have resulted in an extensive use of Green Belt, which the Labour Group’s proposal would dramatically reduce, requiring land for 40% fewer homes. Continue Reading

Councillor hits out over Universal Credit problems for local families

Dan Sutherland helpiong a local resident with a Universal Credit application
Dan Sutherland helping a local resident with a Universal Credit application

Illingworth and Mixenden councillor Dan Sutherland is warning that North Halifax residents are facing increasing financial hardship as a result of the roll out of the Government’s controversial Universal Credit.

Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits, and affects people in work on low pay as well as those out of pay. But the system has been hit by problems that are causing real hardship for people with low incomes, including many who are in jobs. Continue Reading

Terror attack in London – statement from Cllr Tim Swift

Everyone has been shocked by the events in Westminster today. As a sign of our respect for those killed and injured, we will be flying the Union flag at half-mast over Halifax Town Hall from tomorrow morning. On behalf of the people of Calderdale, I want to offer our deepest condolences to the families of… Continue Reading

Danger Warning – Conservative budget plans

Labour have issued a ‘Danger’ warning about Conservative budget plans for Calderdale, arguing that they would have a devastating impact on many low-paid working families. Labour leader Cllr Tim Swift said:- “By publishing their plans just a few days before the budget council meeting, the Conservatives are hoping people won’t have time to read the… Continue Reading

Tory plans could close day care at Calderdale’s children’s centres

Cllr Megan Swift is warning that Conservative budget proposals could force the closure of the day care at Calderdale’s Children’s Centres. And she is accusing local Conservative councillors of going back on previous campaigns to save the service. Cllr Swift said: “Hidden away in the small print of their budget, the Conservatives have a plan… Continue Reading

Public will have just one week to consider Conservative budget plans

After Labour’s criticism of them yesterday, the leader of Calderdale Conservative group has now said that they will be publishing their budget amendment tomorrow – just one week before the Council votes to agree a budget. Labour council leader Tim Swift said, “Calderdale is facing massive challenges as a result of the Conservative Government’s cuts.… Continue Reading

Autumn Statement ignores social care crisis, says Council Leader

By failing to address the issues in social care and the NHS, Philip Hammond has betrayed the most vulnerable in our society. Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift has criticised the Chancellor for failing to provide any extra funding for social care or the NHS in the spending review – and warned that the Council will… Continue Reading

Further Government back down over forced academy plans

Labour councillor Megan Swift today welcomed news that the Government has withdrawn their planned Education Bill. When this was introduced in March, it included proposals to force all schools to become academies. Although this was dropped from the Bill after national and local protests, the Bill continued to undermine the role of local councils in… Continue Reading

Welcome news as Rochdale Canal fully reopens

Labour leader Tim Swift has welcomed news that the Rochdale Canal through Calderdale is now fully reopened after repairs to the huge damage caused by the devastating Boxing Day floods. The Canal and Rivers Trust have spent more than three million pounds on repairing damage throughout the length of Calderdale, including repairing 15m of damaged… Continue Reading

Government policy to blame for Todmorden Sixth Form closure

The decision by Todmorden school governors that they cannot continue to provide a sixth form is a direct result of government policy, Labour councillors in Calderdale said today. Cllr Megan Swift, Labour’s spokesperson for Children and Young People said changes in funding by central Government left governors with little choice – despite every effort being… Continue Reading

Labour slams Tory bid to stop further residential 20 mph schemes

Calderdale Labour have slammed an attempt by Conservative leader Scott Benton to halt the roll out of residential 20 mph schemes in Calderdale. Labour’s Public Health spokesperson, Faisal Shoukat, said: “Cllr Benton’s call for a block on further 20 mph schemes is misinformed and would be a massive backward step for Calderdale. “Introducing 20 mph… Continue Reading

Say “No” to more selection

Calderdale Labour are calling on the Council to take a stand against the Government’s plans to extend selection. Thursday’s full Council will be asked to back a motion opposing the plans, which will undermine the track record of progress and achievement of many of Calderdale’s existing comprehensive schools. Continue Reading

Flooding: Don’t backtrack on the national resilience review

Back in January, then Cabinet Minister Oliver Letwin was put in charge of the national resilience review.This was established to assess how the country can be better protected from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events Since the change of Government, the future of this review seems to be doubt – yet adequate preparation for… Continue Reading

Secretary of State urged to visit Calderdale over flood concerns

Calderdale Labour leader Tim Swift is urging the new Secretary of State for Defra, Andrea Leadsom MP, to visit Calderdale as soon as possible. Tim said: “With all the changes in Government personnel, we now have a situation where none of the Ministers who visited Calderdale after the December floods are still in the same… Continue Reading

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