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Playing away from home?

July 29, 2011

I grew up (as much as a guitarst ever grows up) in Ovenden, that much maligned North Halifax area. We moved there when I was about 4 from Pellon and lived in a council house. As a teen we moved onto Ovenden Grove and I became aware of some of the rougher characters.

I recall walking home late at night whilst a full blown shouting match was going on in one of the houses. The streets seemed busier than they were during the day as suddenly people were siezed with the need to walk the dog – mainly with-in ear shot of the barney that was going on. Cheap entertainment at someone elses expense?

I once sold a guitar amp to a friend – we took it to his house and then went out somewhere. By the time he got back the house had been broken into and the amp taken. The council came and boarded the broken window up, my friend asked when the window would be re-glazed and was told that they didn’t bother re-glazing straight away as usually the thief would wait until the insurance had been claimed and the goods replaced. Then they would come back to steal the new items too. then perhaps the council would re-glaze the windown.

I married and we lived in Lee Mount. I felt more secure than when I lived on the Grove but even Lee Mount had problems. On a Friday night I would be happy if it was raining. If it was sunny then we could expect gangs of youths to be in the park until the early hours, partying. They would then make their way home causing havoc as they passed through Lee Mount.

I now live in Copley – it’s great! Nice people, little crime – busy road but to me it’s like being on holiday each day.

I am convinced you can only know a place, its people and problems when you live there.

Calderdale has 51 councillors and 40% of these do not live in the Wards they represent. Skircoat Ward has all 3 Councillors in the ward – it’s neighbour Sowerby Bridge had none until the last election – it now has 1.

Obviously this is because someone who is part of say, The Labour Party is unlikley to succesfully stand in Skircoat but will stand a better chance in Illingworth. But as I pointed out – how can they really understand the needs of the residents of Ovenden or elsewhere if they live in a nice residential part of Halifax?

The Cabinet of Calderdale MBC has 8 members. Of these only 3 live in the area they represent.

In my work for the campaign against the unpopular Sowerby Bridge/Copley Valley scheme I have come across council officers who live in North Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. Perhaps the worse offender of “playing away from home” would be the Ward Champion of Skircoat Ward who lives in Cumbria!

I think this needs an overhaul – Council candidates currently only need to be proposed by people who live in the Ward – I think added to that should be the stipulation that the candidate should reside in the ward. Then they really would have more in common with the people they represent and their impetus to resolve these problems would be greater as it directly affects them.

When it comes to senior  Council officers, well they have zero allegiance to the borough – it seems to be the norm that they stay for a relativley short time then disappear – with or without a golden goodbye. In fact the current Director of Economy and Environment is on record as saying he intends to be here for 5 years. So the recently approved Sowerby Bridge/Copley Valley Project will not have been finished before he goes. He will not have to deal with any of the fall out of his and his officer’s decisions. It is the residents who will.

I can’t really blame him – he will no doubt be adding to his CV that HE “brought in this £64m scheme against public wishes and against massive opposition and expert recommendations” and he will move on to another post to inflict misery on another borough. It’s the system that stinks that allows this to happen time and time again.

It must be stopped – a professional should be held responsible for the things that have gone wrong. So if as predicted the roads around Halifax become grid-locked due to the traffic generated from the SBCV Scheme then, as he and his officers have been warned about this then they should be held responsible for their decisions – even if they have moved onto another more lucrative post.


From → politics

  1. Mick, I will post some more detailed views on ‘cllrs living in the ward’ on my own blog shortly, as it’s a longer argument than will fit in a comment. But your figures for the Cabinet are slightly wrong – actually four members of the Cabinet (Cllrs Megan Swift and I, Beacroft-Mitchell, and Nash) live in their wards; Cllr Battye lives just outside of hers. There’s a lot more I could say, but that’s why it needs a longer post.

    • Tim – Firstly thanks for taking the time to read my blog and respond. I must admit that hadn’t realised Southowram was in Town Ward. Looking forward to reading your blog.

  2. Rob Mloyd permalink

    it’s strange that many people/residents who say they “live” in a place – said proudly that they are local. Moreso, local politicians who I’ve never seen anywhere in the countryside, woodlands, etc in Copley Valley. From my pov of walking around the area for many a year, the majority of local people don’t get out of their cars, houses, gardens etc and actually walk around their area!
    This is a common modern problem, that is, people think they own a place i.e. a car, a house, dogs etc but don’t actually involve themselves in the nature of the very place they live. Sad methinks….

  3. Otterman permalink

    If people were not so steriotypical then couns Peel and Byrne – Which are they, Cons or Labour? – who cares people just tick the box of the party – they would never be voted in if they ever stood on their own, for the bumbling, misleading, non-caring, fools that they are. Apart from the fact they are never ever seen in area apart from a press photo opportunity.

  4. DM82 permalink

    When living in Wibsey,Bradford I remember one local election seeing Geraldine Carter of Ripponden standing. Needless to say she didn’t get my vote!

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