Finance and Health despatched swiftly
By Helen Gavaghan, Halifax
Report of a meeting of Calderdale Council on 1st October, 2015
Calderdale's Council this evening passed its medium-term, three-year financial strategy. Only one speaker, Councillor Scott Benton (Con), declared opposition before the vote, saying he thought a 2 percent increase in council tax called for in the third year was unfair.
From finance, the meeting moved to approve appointment of three new members to the Health and Wellbeing Board. Councillor Stephen Baines MBE (Con), leader of the conservative group, urged that the appointees have full voting rights. The three are: Mr David Birkenhead, medical director, Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust; Ms Anna Basford, director of commissioning and partnerships, Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust and Dr Adrian Berry, South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust.
Councillor Janet Battye, (Lib Dem), chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said to me during a break - explicitly - that she backs the call for the new members, who currently have non-voting rights, to have full voting rights.
Much of the rest of the meeting tackled thorny issues such as community cohesion among ethnic and socio-economic groups and whether flying the Union Flag would promote British values, and how such matters might be achieved. Though much of the meeting argued amendments, amendments of amendments, dictionary definitions, brackets and procedural rules, there were the reassuring sounds of obligatory political grenades being lobbed, with the conservatives and labour parties disappointingly, or reassuringly, predictable, depending on your point of view.
Controversially, a motion under council procedure rule 14, submitted by Councillor Janet Battye (Lib Dem), and seconded by Councillor James Baker (Lab), invited the meeting to write to the prime minister expressing dismay at how few Syrian refugees a rich country like Britain is willing to take. The debate preceding the vote echoed that held at a national level.
Councillor Tim Swift (Lab), leader of the Council, said there was all-party support for the 50 refugees taken by Calderdale, and that next week the Council will send a report to government. Councillor Swift then spoke in favour of the motion. The motion was carried on Party lines.
At 9.50 PM the meeting moved to the final two motions on the agenda, submitted by Councillor Barry Collins (Lab) on trade unions, and by Councillor Mrs A Collins (Lab) on child tax credits. I (Helen Gavaghan) had to leave the meeting to catch a bus home. Apologies.