Discussion Forum
Hebden Royd bye-election

From Jason Elliott
Friday, 1 August 2008

Oh dear.

Having read the statements that the two candidates sent into the Hebweb, it looks like Chris Sawer hasn't done his homework.

If he had, he would know that Kerbside DO collect batteries from our homes and have done for quite some time. Also, from his reference to a SITA consultation later in the year, he seems to be quite happy to just accept to demise of a wonderful social enterprise, deeply interwoven in the fabric of our town, as a done deal.

Wherever Hebden Bridge residents' party political allegiances lie, very few of would say that Nader Fekri and Janet Battye don't get properly stuck in and try their best for the town, they were both at the Halifax Town Hall Kerbside demo for example, so saying "if elected I will do my best to follow their example" would seem like a good idea. Well, go on the Chris, follow it!

I'm also concerned that when Chris says "In the past, much of the money has been spent on events which attract mainly tourists" he will be lobbying for a reduction in the funding for the Arts Festival. Hebden Bridge has established itself as a little town with a big voice, partly thanks to its thriving arts scene, and the Arts Festival itself generates for the town many, many times more revenue than it costs Hebden Royd Town Hall. (Simple maths Chris.) Or is he referring to the £200 of assistance the Big Green Weekend received?

The thing is, these events, together with the World On Your Doorstep and the great many others held, not only bring in far more money to the town than they cost, they are also organised by local people and are part of what makes life here so rich and varied for the local residents. It's true that more could always be done for vulnerable and marginalised sections of local society (and things are going on, investigate the Big Shed project and Northlight Studios forthcoming workshops for example) but that need not be at the expense of events that create revenue for the local economy.

On the other hand, John Rhodes seems clear, concise, knowledgable and business-like, with a clear focus on local answers for local issues.

I have no party political ties myself, but I fear this is not really much of a contest.

From Chris Sawer
Friday, 1 August 2008

Just to respond briefly to the two points raised.

1. Recycling collection
Sita, the council's official contractor from Monday, do not collect batteries in their doorstep collections. Kerbside do - I should have made this clear. This is yet another reason for supporting Kerbside in their campaign to continue collecting recycling in the Calder Valley. I, and the other Liberal Democrats, support them fully in this, which is why I went to the protest in Halifax on Wednesday.

2. Council tax
The Hebden Royd Town Council Precept increased by 13.2% this year - this figure is printed on everyone's Council Tax Bill, and was a Labour proposal. I personally believe that such a huge increase is unacceptable at a time when everyone is facing rapidly increasing fuel and food bills. If elected I would not support such big increases unless there were exceptional circumstances.

Chris Sawer
(Lib Dem candidate, West End by-election)

From Joseph S
Saturday, 2 August 2008

I'm not sure I agree with you Jason. Having read both candidates Hebweb messages I wonder why you've taken the time to dissect and mis/over-interpret Mr Sawers bit in such detail if you are a real independent?

You seem to be suggesting Mr Sawer has said things I could not find in his piece. I'm not sure why you have bothered to do this?

They both seem ok to me so your judgement that "I have no party political ties myself, but I fear this is not really much of a contest" seems a bit unusual.

From Ernest Jones
Sunday, 3 August 2008

Chris Sawer (Lib Dem candidate) refers in his post to the "huge" 13.2% increase in the Town Council precept this year, which he deems unacceptable. He is referring to the same budget that Cllr Nader Fekri (Lib Dem) praised as "bold and far-sighted", and in reference to which Cllr Bampton-Smith (Lib Dem) stated "We are especially mindful of extravagant increases (but) I believe that we are incredibly good value for money".

Perhaps Chris could put this increase into perspective. If my maths are right the increase was around £33K. As Cllr Young (Labour) commented at the time, this works out as an additional "9p a week for the average council tax-payer".

I hope he will join me in applauding the council for doing a fine in using the money to support a wide variety of events that bring vitality and prosperity to the town, as well as improving the environment and making the community a safer place.

Like Jason Elliott, I find John Rhodes to be knowledgeable, concerned with with finding local answers for local issues, and am sure he will be an asset to the council.

From Jason Elliott
Monday, 4 August 2008

Thank you for your comments Chris and Joseph.

Having praised the only two Liberal local politicians I personally know and respect doesn't really mark me down as a Labour party member, now does it?

But back to the issues... Kerbside will continue to collect recycling going forward, so, in my opinion anyway, to speak about Hebden Bridge recycling as though we will only have the option of the reduced service of Sita available seems not to present the whole picture. All residents can continue to support them by leaving their recyclable items in the black Kerbside boxes if they wish. Chris has pointed out that he was also at the demo in Halifax last Wednesday so I find it a little odd that he takes this view.

I'm afraid the Kerbside issue is something I can be a bit boring about as it is a cause close to my heart, and whilst there is a point in keeping the subject in the spotlight, I make no apologies for continuing to do so.

I am also of the opinion that bringing outside revenue into HB by the various initiatives HRTC support that attract tourists is a good thing. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't see why you would think it was odd of me to say so too.

As to why I didn't pick any holes in John Rhodes' statement; well, there's nothing there at all that I disagree with. That's all there is to it. Nothing sinister at all. It's just my personal opinion.

I think its great that both of the candidates have put their viewpoints across on the Hebweb, and I wish them the best of luck, and that we are priviliged enough to have the right to respond to what they say on this forum.

From Jonathan Timbers
Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Chris Sawyer says, The Hebden Royd Town Council Precept increased by 13.2% this year - ... and [this] was a Labour proposal. But the fact is it would never have been passed if the larger Lib Dem group hadn't supported it. Chris, either the Lib Dems will say anything to get elected or you're standing for the wrong party.

Have you considered the Tories? Or are you part of a Lib Dem breakaway faction?

Can we have some honesty and respect for the electorate in election material, please?

From Cllr Tim Swift
Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Like Mr Sawer, Labour councillors want to see much more consultation about all the issues surrounding rubbish collection and recycling.

That's why, back in February, Labour councillors wanted the whole issue of the new waste contract with SITA referred to full Council for debate and discusion.

Sadly, Calderdale's Lib Dem councillors would not back us and allowed the new contract with SITA to go ahead.

Perhaps Mr Sawer could explain why?

From John Beacroft-Mitchell
Wednesday, 6 August 2008

As someone who was actually present at the HRTC budget meeting I would like to clear up Jonathan Timbers' unfortunately misleading statement.

There were six Labour, five Lib Dem and three independent councillors at the meeting.

The final 2008/09 budget was proposed by the Mayor Cllr. Nader Fekri in his neutral mayoral capacity (not political capacity) and was passed by all Labour councillors present and the independent councillors.

I would be grateful if Mr.Timbers could enlighten me on: Who the "larger Lib Dem group" is/was?

Many thanks


From Jonathan Timbers
Thursday, 7 August 2008

John Beaucroft-Mitchell's reply to my posting is disingenuous and an example of the lack of straight debate from local politicians (imho particularly Liberal ones)

I looked at Hebweb archive and Hebden Royd Town Council and it seems that the following were elected as Liberal Democrats:

Christine Bampton Smith
JBM himself
Nader Fekri
Jade Smith
Karl Boggis
Lesley Jones
Gian Gabbi (if this is the same person as the John Gabbi who stood in 2007)
Scott Trickett

Now unless there's been a mass defection that makes them the biggest group on the council. It is unlikely that the budget was passed without the support of the largest group on the council. In fact, Ernest Jones in a previous posting quotes leading Liberal Democrats speaking in support of the budget.

I suppose the Liberal Democrats could have a policy of letting their candidates say exactly what they want but that would seem to suggest rank opportunism. Or collective amnesia.

From John Beacroft-Mitchell
Thursday, 7 August 2008

A closer look at the minutes of the actual budget meeting (also online) would reveal that:

The following attendees were:

N Fekri(Mayor) - Lib Dem
J T Allison - Independent
C Bampton Smith - Lib Dem
J C Beacroft-Mitchell - Lib Dem
Mrs Beacroft-Mitchell - Independent
R Dixon - Labour
C Groves - Labour
L Jones - Lib Dem
J Oosthuysen - Labour
S Press - Labour
Dr M A Smith - Independent
S Trickett - Lib Dem
D Young - Labour

Cllrs. Betty and Harry Ward (LIB) had unfortunately stepped down from the council that month for health reasons. Karl and Jade had yet to be elected.

That makes my maths:
Lib Dem 5 (inc. Mayor acting in neutral capacity)
Labour 5
Independents 3

I hope that clears matters up and ends the statistical pedantry.

From Joseph S
Saturday, 9 August 2008

Aaah I see what all this nonsense was about now. Labour seat, nobody voting Labour anywhere no matter how good the candidate, need to back the candidate and ahem "big them up." I imagine strategies drawn up in smokeless pubs, with maybe a TV spinoff called The West (End) Wing etc etc. Do you think that the low turnout was inspite of or because of the calibre of debate on this thread?

From Paul D
Saturday, 9 August 2008

The debate has been quite good, robust at times, but clean. For example, nobody has mentioned why the previous holder of the seat resigned, even though in pubs that's the subject of conversation. I haven't heard anyone trying to smear the Labour party, or make political gain from one man's misfortune, so in that regard we've had a clean election, won by the much better organised and better regarded Lib Dems.

The low turnout was possibly linked to holidays and general disaffection with local and national politics. The big issue to those who perhaps like me held their nose and voted for Chris in the last general election is can the Lib Dems now go on to take the seat? I think on the back of some pretty effective action locally and because they are so well organsised, they will. My mum regards them as the only party worth a candle locally and she's been voting since the days when your employer told you which box to tick. Labour since she's had the freedom to do so. We've had a clean contest, but the writing is on the wall for Labour, so it could get messy. The Lib Dems will need to put their wellies on.

From Jonathan Timbers
Friday, 15 August 2008

Yes, Paul D is right. How could anyone support a former Chancellor who still presides over an unpopular and wasteful war? It is true that he did a lot of good when he was chancellor, particularly for pensioners, but by turning away from progressive causes and by supporting oppressive measures, particularly against protestors, he has ruined his credibility and that of his party. And that's not to mention the cash for honours scandal.

Yes, I'll never vote for the Lloyd George again!

But that was 90 years ago and the Liberals haven't had to take responsibility for anything since, which is why they are able to say one thing in council chambers and another on leaflets when wooing votes.

That's why they will never win in the serious election in Calder Valley, which is not just Hebden Bridge, but Walsden, Todmorden, Luddendenfoot, Mytholmroyd, Elland, Brighouse, Rastrick and Hipperhome and Lightcliffe etc.

I think Tory candidate Craig Whittaker must be feeling pretty confident at the moment and I don't think he'll be over-worried by the Liberal 'challenge'.

Mind you, on key questions, the only difference between the 3 parties is one of emphasis. All of them want to use the voluntary sector to deliver public services.... I prefer Labour's emphasis because it retains a little bit of social democracy, not enough to really like it but enough to keep on voting for it.

If it was between the Liberals and the Tories, I wouldn't bother voting ... or I'd vote Green because, despite the nuttiness of some of their policies, at least they oppose privatisation.