West Yorkshire Police say “no offences were committed” by Calderdale Conservatives in relation to 2015 General Election expenses

Calder Valley constituents have been trying to find out about progress with the West Yorkshire Police criminal investigation into an allegation of financial irregularity on the part of Calderdale Conservatives Association. The investigation, which related to Craig Whittaker’s 2015 General Election expenses, was launched a year ago in May 2016. Continue reading

Sita’s parent company has successfully sued Argentininan government for putting human rights above its profits

Through its privatised household waste and recycling service, Calderdale Council have been handing over public money to a subsidiary of a global waste and water company that puts profits above the human right to water and other vital utilities.

But Calderdale Council’s contract with Sita runs out shortly and the Council has put a new waste and recycling contract out to tender.

This raises some questions about:

  • the conditions that Calderdale Council requires companies to meet, before they can bid for contracts to run our public services
  • the specifications for the household waste & recycling service – what it collects, when and where.

Plain Speaker suggests that the process of privatising public services should include the online publication of all procurement documents, so the public can see what our money is being spent on, whether the contract specifications meet the public’s needs and whether companies bidding for the contracts are ethically fit to provide public services. Continue reading

More the merrier – come along to Hebden Bridge “Bin the Infrastructure Bill” demo, 11am Sunday 18 Jan

Updated 18 Jan Braving the snow, several members of the public turned out for the “Bin the Infrastructure Bill” demo this morning in St George’s Square, Hebden Bridge. The demo was organised by anti-fracking activist Helen Chuntso.

Demonstrators – including me – were calling on Craig Whittaker MP to vote for vital amendments to the Infrastructure Bill, that Green MP Caroline Lucas and LibDem MP Norman Baker are putting forward. (More info below about the amendments.) Continue reading

Get full copy of official fracking impacts report before you vote in House of Commons, constituents tell Craig Whittaker MP

Some Calder Valley constituents – who are worried about proposed new fracking legislation in the Infrastructure Bill which MPs are to vote on in the House of Commons this week – have asked Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker to tell the government to release the full version of the Defra report on Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts.

The version that has been published (PDF) has over 60 redactions, and Green MP Caroline Lucas has accused ConDem ministers of having “something to hide” over fracking. Continue reading

No support for recognising state of Palestine from #CalderValley MP Craig Whittaker

On 13th October, MPs voted by a big margin (274 for, 12 against) for a motion plus an amendment that:

“This House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel ‘as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.’”

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Calderdale Against Bedroom Tax underwhelmed by Council’s vote to review policy for awarding Discretionary Housing Payments

A majority of Councillors at the full Calderdale Council meeting on 2nd October voted that Cabinet should re-examine the Council’s policy for awarding Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), to make sure that the awards are made to as many residents as possible who need help with the Bedroom Tax

They also voted for a review the Council’s Housing Strategy to make sure that the supply of affordable housing meets the needs of residents, especially smaller households. Continue reading

Who knew? The public can ask questions at full #Calderdale Council meetings

The public can ask questions at full Council meetings, under Council Procedure Rule 12. This means emailing questions to be with Ian Hughes (Head of Legal and Democratic Services) no later than 7 working days before the Full Council meeting. A question must be no longer than 100 words.

Ian Hughes’s email address is Ian.Hughes@calderdale.gov.uk.

Postal address: Ian Hughes, Head of Legal & Democratic Services, Calderdale Council, Town Hall, Halifax, HX1 1UJ

Mob: 07900 240387

Tel: 01422 393063

#Calderdale Council Meeting 2nd October: Councillors’ chance to question Cabinet and Scrutiny Panel reports & vote on motion condemning Bedroom Tax

The Summons to the 2nd October Council meeting says that any Member of the Council may comment on, or ask the Chair of a Scrutiny Panel or a Committee a question about, the discharge of the Panel/Committee’s role and responsibilities since the last meeting of the Council.  In the absence of a Chair, the question may be asked to the Deputy Chair.

(Too late for this meeting, it turns out the public can also ask questions at full Council.)

If there are any issues you’d like your Councillors to ask about, here’s how to find out who they are and how to contact them. Continue reading

Government plans for a market in environmental “services” – part of the financialisation of everything

The 2011 National Environment White Paper is heavily business-oriented. It’s based on the 2011 National Ecosystem Assessment which puts a monetary value on all the “services” that we take from the natural environment.

For example, it identifies that parks and green spaces will enhance human wellbeing to the value of £290 per household per year in 2060.

The government spin is that putting a monetary value on the services we take from the environment will mean that businesses will have to take account of the costs of pollution and environmental damage that they cause, instead of ignoring them. But critics say that turning the natural environment into an accounting exercise is neoliberalism run mad. Continue reading

Shambolic #Calderdale Budget meeting sees ConDems slash funds for deprived neighbourhoods

In a meeting that the Mayor described as “shambolic”, and that led a Councillor to say that it was no wonder that only 23 percent of the electorate bothered to take part in Council elections, Calderdale Council voted by 26 to 23 in favour of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat Amendment to Revised Cabinet Budget Proposals for 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.

The ConDem amendment’s main effect is to shift funding away from the most deprived neighbourhoods in Calderdale. It cuts £500K from Neighbourhood Working in North & West Central Halifax, and spreads some of the savings thinly across the whole Borough, with £5k/year to be spent by each of the 17 Ward Forums, as it sees fit. Which costs £255K over 3 years, if my arithmetic is right. A net saving of £245K.
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