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Petitions and debates at full Council

From Cllr Tim Swift

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Interesting to see Cllr Baker's motion on petitions (see HebWeb News item), which Labour has no problems in supporting. I'm a bit surprised that their PPC is claiming any great originality for the idea, though - many councils already have such a scheme, and in 2009 the previous Labour government brought in legislation that required all councils to have a rule such as this. For some reason, the coalition government then scrapped that legislation. At the time, I think we made a mistake in not simply going ahead with the scheme that had been worked up - although we were probably rather busy dealing with the initial round of massive Government cuts.

I'm not sure the rhetoric about democracy in Calderdale being 'broken' is terribly helpful, though. After all, the Council is being run now under exactly the same procedures that were in place when the Lib Dems had the Council leadership between 2010 and 2012.

From Cllr James Baker

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Tim I'm glad the Labour group backed this motion. It was suggested as an idea by one of our local members at our policy day.

We think local democracy and the way the Council works is broken and needs much reform . Including webcastings all Council meetings and returning to the old Committee system.

This proposal was just one measure that as Liberal Democrats we put forward to try and ensure the Council is held accountable to the people.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Far be it from me to intervene in a debate between two councillors representing Halifax seats but it is a bit rich for the Lib Dems to lecture the rest of us on broken democracy.

They seem to have short memories as it was only May when they managed to lose 16 out of 17 seats including a collapse of their vote in Calder Ward.

Their one win left them with six seats so what did these champions of democracy do with this huge mandate from the people?

The answer is they used six seats to engineer a backroom deal with their Tory mates to create a coalition to throw the minority Labour administration - the biggest party - out of office.

Their excuse was that Labour wasn't listening but instead of talking to Labour they were running round the town hall fixing a deal with the Tories. The irony is that the issues they said Labour weren't listening to weren't even then discussed at full council.

Of course in a democracy people can use their votes as they wish but the thing that galls me is that their deal with the Tories has left the Upper Valley with not one seat in the cabinet that has a huge amount of power over where money is spent.

So next time we get a lecture on broken democracy from six councillors remember that thanks to their actions we are now relying on Lower Valley Tories to fight our case. Not a very reassuring or democratic position.

From Cllr James Baker

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Paul, a majority of Councillors on Calderdale Council voted for a new cabinet to be formed because we didn't think the previous leader or cabinet was listening to the will of Council over issues such parking charges or Hipperholme Crossroads.

It wasn't ideal but under Tony Blair's broken cabinet system of local government it was the only recourse Council had to change that decision.

At our policy day this year our members voted that we should push to adopt the committee system of local government. Under such a system it would have been possible to change certain decisions without changing the administration.

It would also end the situation where a Councillor leader appoints their cabinet. That ability to appoint people leads to a system of patronage, and friends of the leader (rather than those of ability) getting rewarded with positions of power.

In Calderdale it resulted in the previous Labour Council leader Tim Swift appointing his own wife as the cabinet member in charge of our Children Services. I don't think it's right that you can appoint you own family member to a position of power like that, but that's what the current constitution of the Council allows for.

From Paul Clarke

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

James, as always with the Lib Dems you don't actually address the issues raised when you are challenged.

I note you didn't address the fact that two issues you were so 'concerned' about - parking charges and Hipperholme - weren't discussed at full council because of the chaos your ill thought out coup caused.

You make a snide comment about lack of talent in the outgoing Labour cabinet but looking at the current Tory regime are you really telling us they are any better?

You may be a Halifax councilor but again you ignore the fact that your coup has left the Upper Valley with no representation in the cabinet to fight our corner. You deal has left us relying on Lower Valley Tories which as I pointed out is hardly democratic.

If we want to see he results of that then you only have to look at the front of the Tod Times. It seems the new cabinet which you helped install is reviewing all of Labour's decisions. One of those is the massive investment earmarked for Ferney Lee Primary School and Tod High,

Former cabinet member Steve Sweeney asked the deeply unimpressive Deputy Leader of he Council - who is only there because of your six votes - if this project was going ahead. Instead of a simple yes or no answer the out of his depth Deputy Leader you are keeping in power refused to say instead pathetically promising a letter.

This is the direct result of your coup.

You issued a press release after the coup boasting about all the concessions you got for giving your votes to the Tories.

One them was a review of the cabinet system so can you tell me when that review is going to happen, can you point me to the documents that set out the remit of that review, who will take part in the review, the dates of its meetings, how members of the public can contribute to that review and when it is scheduled to report its findings.

If you are serous about open government then we should be able to see what the remit of that review is and as citizens we should be able to comment on it.

Whatever the arguments about the merits of the cabinet system the fact remains your party has created a situation where the Tories run Calderdale Council and left thousands of Upper Valley voters disenfranchised.

It is no wonder you lost every seat in the Upper Valley in May and this decision to put Lower Valley Tories into power is certainly not going to help your credibility with the electorate.


See also:

HebWeb News: Proposal to let residents petition for items on Calderdale Council agenda