Calderdale Council discusses the Floods Commission Report, and Housing
Thursday, 21 July 2016
The HebWeb has received reports from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats following yesterday evening's Calderdale Council meeting.
Report from Cllr Josh Fenton (Lab)
I would like to take this opportunity to update you on our discussions this evening on flooding, housing and give some more flavour of the discussion.
We discussed the Final Report of Calderdale's Flood Commission. The report is a more detailed piece of work than any other council has produced, it looks at different recommendations to help us respond to the latest floods, build in future resilience, reduce flooding and take a lead in tackling climate change.
I raised two specific points. Firstly what could be done to ensure land owners take responsibility for upland water management. Secondly I sought assurance as a council that we will do our utmost to ensure government commitment to funding and support is maintained despite a change in minister. Following earlier representations on that particular issue by me, as a Council we have written to the relevant minister and invited her to see the need for investment.
The main motion discussed was calling for more house building in response to our national shortage. Ironically it was raised by the Conservatives, despite recent figures showing David Cameron's government has been the worst for house building since 1924. Working with the Liberal Democrats on a cross party basis we proposed amendments looking at the need for development of the brownfield, the importance of social housing and equipping our next generations by providing good quality apprenticeships in house building.
I raised a particular point about the job of all Councillors being to show leadership with local developers standing up to anti development practices like land banking and ransom strips to prevent development.
Following discussions the whole council unanimously passed both motion and amendment. It's great to see all parties coming together to take seriously our communities need for new homes.
On a more disheartening note following Cllr Press' presentation on her work, ranging from community centres to welfare reform, the Conservative Councillors asked 5 questions on the cuts to hanging baskets and none on welfare in a council where 932 families are hit by the bedroom tax. The work our council has done on protecting advice services is something I'm very proud of.
Report from Lib Dem team: the Flood Commission
Liberal Democrat councillors fully support the recommendations of the Calderdale Flood Commission. The Commission was set up following the floods that devastated parts of the borough on Boxing Day 2015 and has spent the last few months collecting evidence from local people, the emergency services, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and others.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr James Baker (Warley) said: "The Commission has produced a good, detailed report. This is an example of cross-party working at its best. However, now that the Commission has examined the evidence and its recommendations have been accepted, the Council needs to turn those recommendations into action.
"Calderdale Council must play a significant part in tackling the causes of flooding and reducing its effects. It needs to do this as a service provider, a community leader and as a regulator.
"The Council cannot do everything, but it must play a leading role in co-ordinating the activities of others and keeping up the pressure on central government, government agencies and the insurance companies. Accepting that flooding is always going to occur does not mean that steps should not be taken to reduce the effects on our communities".
Liberal Democrat councillors have backed a call for the Council's Cabinet to do more to tackle Calderdale's housing problems.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr James Baker (Warley) said: "Our population is increasing and the way we live is changing and both are increasing the local demand for housing. However, figures just released show that during David Cameron's premiership, house building was at its lowest level since 1923. Many people – especially young people – are struggling to get onto the housing ladder. We need more houses to rent and to buy and covering the whole range of types and prices."
"Calderdale needs a strong construction industry to provide the houses and the jobs that local people need. Action needs to be taken now to equip our young people with the skills the industry needs, especially if we are to become less reliant on workers from across Europe."
"Houses need to be of good quality and built in the right places. We must protect our green spaces and especially the Green Belt. We want to see an emphasis on building on previously-developed brownfield sites. As the Council has given planning permission for over 3,000 homes on sites that are currently not being developed, building these homes would be a major step forward and reduce the pressure to build on other, less appropriate sites"
"With interest rates at record lows, now is the time to be investing in housing to ensure a better future for Calderdale residents".