Hebden Royd bye-election

Thursday, 31 July 2008

There is to be a bye-election for West End ward of Hebden Royd Town Council on Thursday, 7th August.

There are 2 candidates: John Rhodes (Labour) and Chris Sawer (Liberal Democrat).

Both candidates have written a few hundred words for the Hebden Bridge Web - see below (alphabetical order)

John RhodesJohn Rhodes (Labour)

Hebden Bridge is a great place to live. My family and I have been here since 1995. I've watched the town grow and change over the years and it's where my two teenage sons have grown up and gone to school. 

I was Chair of Governors at Riverside while the lads were there. One of my big concerns is that they will not be able to afford to live in the town in which they grew up.

I have always been an active trade unionist and work for UNISON, Britain's biggest public sector trade union.  I spend my working life representing and campaigning for people at work and our local Labour Party does the same for people in our community.

Why do I think I can make a difference?.  I will campaign for the following:

  • Low-cost affordable housing and especially social housing for our town.  We don't need any more luxury developments and high-cost homes.

  • An end to low pay. Hebden Bridge is a great place to shop but some of our local stores are paying as little as £3.53 an hour, the national minimum wage for the under-18s.  That’s why I'm a part of the Hebden Bridge Fair Wage Campaign, which aims to improve wages for the young in our town.  Our Fair Trade town needs to be a fair wages town.

  • I will oppose inappropriate development.  The answer to the car parking problem is to provide car parks and to reduce our reliance on the car…not build Garden Street.  We need fresh thinking about the troubled Brown's Field site.  I first stood for election in 2007 on a platform of opposing the controversial planning application.  After being narrowly beaten in that election, the planning application went ahead.  However, since then, little or no work on the site has taken place.  The changed housing market and the global credit crunch means we should rethink uses for the site.  This land could be used for affordable social housing and to extend the Mytholm Court development.

Our town needs an overall vision and plan.  The only elected body accountable to the local people is the Town Council.  We should not be at the mercy of unelected and unaccountable quangos.  It’s true that the Town Council doesn't have a lot of power but, by getting involved in local campaigns, and speaking up for local people, I believe it can act as a powerful advocate for positive change within our community.

Chris SawerChris Sawer (Liberal Democrats)

Upper Calder Valley Liberal Democrats have selected local campaigner Chris Sawer to fight the by-election for the West End ward of Hebden Royd Town Council, caused by the resignation of former Councillor Stewart Brown earlier in the year.

Chris lives in Hebden Bridge and has been a Lib Dem campaigner for five years. He writes:

“I am delighted to have been chosen as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the West End by-election. Hebden Bridge is my home, and I relish the opportunity of giving something back to the town by becoming a member of the local council.

I have been a Liberal Democrat campaigner for five years now in Manchester, Trafford and Calderdale. I have spoken at both local and national levels on issues that affect local people. For example, at the recent Lib Dem conference in Liverpool, I gave a speech from the main stage highlighting the issue of rising energy prices and the disproportionate effect they have on the low paid. Locally, I have spoken out against cuts to train services, and called for better provision for cyclists.

I want to see Hebden Bridge continue to thrive, and most importantly, for local people to have a say in what happens to the town. Many local residents have spoken to me about the proposed development for Garden Street. I was shocked at the recent consultation, which lasted only three days and was announced the day before it was due to start. Lib Dems have been trying to get the exhibition extended, and I have been publicising how local people can make their views known to the council.

Another issue which has a real impact on people’s lives is rubbish collection. I am strongly in favour of more recycling and think it’s a disgrace that items ranging from cardboard to batteries and plastic bottles can only be recycled through driving to Eastwood. We have heard much talk about wheelie bins, but no definite answers on which parts of Hebden Bridge will get them. Calderdale Council have told me that the contractor (SITA) will be doing a public consultation later in the year, and I hope that they really do take the opportunity to listen to what local people think.

I believe that this year’s Hebden Royd Council Tax precept increase of 13.2%, proposed by Labour councillors, was excessive at a time of rapidly rising food and energy costs. When it comes to council spending, I am strongly in favour of awarding grants to organisations which most benefit the residents of Hebden Royd, young and old. In the past, much of the money has been spent on events which attract mainly tourists. Meanwhile, young people in our town have precious little to do in the evenings. I believe this balance has to change.

I am a passionate believer in local democracy, and organised the petition of ten signatures to ensure that this election was held (otherwise the vacancy would have been filled through co-option). Local Lib Dem councillors Nader Fekri and Janet Battye are well known for their hard work and determination to get things done. I am delighted to have their support, and if elected I will do my best to follow their example.”

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