So, I had a blog which I’d not updated for a while which went under the title ‘Towncryer’.
A few days ago I went to update it and discovered that somehow the files had got corrupted …. and there wasn’t a backup. (I know).
So this is a quick attempt to recreate it. Perhaps one day I’ll find a backup of what I’d written before.
(However uninspiring and infrequent my previous postings, I wouldn’t like you to think that I’m rewriting history. Some parts of the previous blog can be found on the ‘web archive’ – see here for example.)
The elections on May 2nd are our best chance to gain a Labour majority on Calderdale council for the first time since 1998. As we move into the final stages of the campaign, my speech welcoming Jeremy Corbyn set out our three priorities for Calderdale.
Calderdale Labour has spoken out against the cuts to local government from day one. They are affecting everyone – and it’s not just about local government services; our schools and our local police are all seeing the impact. Benefit cuts and the freeze on benefits is grinding down struggling families and putting more and more children into poverty. And yet in 9 years the local Conservaties have never once spoken out. And in the five years when the Liberal Democrats were part of the coalition and enabling austerity, they didn’t speak out either.
Providing great services
Despite being forced to find over £100m savings as a result of austerity, we’ve worked to protect services. We’ve kept open our children’s centres and early intervention – and as a result we’ve turned round children’s services, from the failing service we inherited from the Tories in 2010 to one that’s good with outstanding features today. We’ve invested in adult services; introduced 20 mph limits to make our residential streets safer. We were the first West Yorkshire council to become a Living Wage employer. I could go on – and we’ve done all of this in the teeth of austerity and despite never having a working majority on the Council.
Investing in the future
And we’ve fought to invest in the future, from transformative transport schemes to the regeneration of the Piece Hall. We’ve worked with the Environment Agency to deliver a huge programme to recover from the 2015 floods. And now we’re creating a new sixth form centre so that our young people can get a great education post 16 without the need to go out of the Borough.
And we’re offering a wider vision
The role of local councils in our communities is about much more than just providing services. It’s about creating a sense of shared purpose; and it’s about giving people the hope and faith that the lives they live can be better and fuller. Over the last year, we’ve started to lead the council to set out our vision of the kind of place that Calderdale can be, building on the talents of local people, strengthening the resilience we have shown in bouncing back from the devastating floods of 2015, encouraging the spirit of enterprise not just in business but in communities and voluntary groups.
And to deliver that we need two things from a Labour government. We need the resources and investment to mark the end of austerity. And we need to be set free – trusted to take the right decisions locally for our communities, not micro managed and restricted by bureaucrats in Whitehall. And in turn that will allow us to give our local residents not only the services they deserve, but also the opportunities to build a sustainable, fairer future for themselves, their families, and our communities.