Saturday, 9 May 2020

Time to press the reset button on all we know.

"Normal life" is on hold. 

For many of us the 'pause' button has been pressed on all we know. The all consuming,  news dominating B word 'Brexit' has been replaced with the C-word 'Corona' or 'Covid19'.  The physical places where we once came together as a society, where we met, collaborated, planned and had a darned good time on occasion, are all closed. Workplaces, cafes, restaurants, pubs, churches, mosques, temples, schools are all empty. The treadmill of everyday life  has stopped for the first time in generations. The machine has stopped. We can't simply start it again without asking some serious questions about what is important to us.

It is a time to reflect, to think about the things that we value and all that we want to see changed for the better.

We have relied on the Public and voluntary sectors like never before. They are valued like never before and so is what they can do to protect us and provide for our everyday needs. This is something the private sector simply cannot and would never match.

The NHS's future has to be secured, but it has got to go way beyond the warm words that all politicians say. Those who supported a market of NHS services need to reflect on whether the likes of Richard Branson have any place making a profit from our health services.

A positive out of this awful situation is the benefit to our local and global environment. The "engines of death" no longer leave their trails across the sky as planes are grounded at airports,o ur roads are uncongested and cycling has become a much safer option. The air is cleaner than ever before with the knock on benefit to climate change and public health.

Millions have discovered the joys of video conferencing apps for meetings, conferences or even simply meeting up with friends for a drink. That will not disappear when lockdown ceases. The need to travel and meet face to face will be much less.

Our sense of community has grown. People have been confined to their homes largely and many have helped their more vulnerable neighbours through difficult times. The Thursday night clapping rituals for the NHS have brought many together as never before.

With local government and the NHS having been at the forefront of the fight against COVID 19 there can be no return to austerity economics. Boris Johnson professes to have opposed Conservative austerity (but there is  little evidence for that in his voting record). So now we have  ensure that the vision we have for a clean environment, a more equal society and one that has support for community at the heart of its thinking is supported by the economic choices we make.

So now we must provide the space for a public debate on the future for the UK so we can press the reset button on all we know and have a new consensus about the better future that can be achieved for us all.





Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Parish Greens promote local walks during Covid 19 crisis

Councillor David Knight
Kirkburton Parish Green Councillors David Knight and Clare Walters are promoting 10 local walking routes  around the Parish. The Kirkburton Parish Walks maps were first produced around 6 years ago and feature 10 walks around the villages of Kirkburton. For added interest the maps have local photographs, illustrations and poems to keep young children entertained.


Along each of the 10 routes is a stone waymarker sculpted by former Parish Councillor and Shepley resident Dave Bradbury.
Councillor David Knight said,
“It’s so important to avoid unnecessary trips to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have all heard the stories of people driving miles to the Lake District and the Dales against official advice. 
Councillor Clare Walters said,
Cllr Clare Walters
"Having local walks to enjoy from your doorstep means people can get their daily exercise without having to travel2 
These 10 routes take you through scenic countryside and introduce local landmarks and historic characters. 
The great thing is that the maps  are available to download or print online at www.kirkburtonparishwalks.co.uk

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Newsome Ward - E-Green News – Coronavirus special – Please share!

Normally we would be out delivering our newsletters several times a year to the 7,500 households around Huddersfield that make up the Newsome Ward. Obviously with social distancing and efforts to limit the spread of the virus mass leafleting of literature is not advised. So  we have produced an e-newslettter. Please share it widely among people you know in the Newsome Ward either by Messenger, Email, Facebook or Twitter. We want to keep in touch with as many people as possible.
If you want to be added to our newsletter mailing list please email andrew.cooper@kirklees.gov.uk with your name address and email address.
Cllr Andrew Cooper with other Party Leaders
All Kirklees Parties working together in crisis

The Coronavirus crisis means Kirklees Council is having to maintain many essential services like bin collections, adult and children’s social care,  schools for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. While many Council meetings have been suspended Kirklees Leaders from all party groups are coming together each week (virtually) with the Council’s Chief Executive on the Public Health Emergency Advisory Group to work together on addressing the crisis. Councillor Andrew Cooper as Green Party Leader is represented on the group,

“ It is inspiring to see political differences being put aside for the common good and it would be good to see this sort of positive working together  continue beyond this crisis. It’s vital that we know from local people how their day- to- day lives could be improved and problems they may be having  that we can help with and so I can feed this into these meetings.”

Coronavirus Crisis – What help do you need?   
£50’000 for Community Action

Kirklees has provided £50k for each of the Council's 23 Wards to help communities deal with issues related to the current Coronavirus Crisis.
Kirklees Green Party Leader and Newsome Ward Councillor Andrew Cooper said,
"This funding provided by the Council at this most difficult of time is very welcome. What Newsome Councillors want to do is get people to give us their ideas. The sort of ideas we are looking for are things that help morale in the community, provide support to vulnerable people  and ensure that we come out of the crisis with local businesses intact. The funding is not limitless but I'm keen to harness the power of local people to help us through this public health emergency. I and my Newsome Ward colleagues have been impressed by the willingness of people to help their neighbours in this most unprecedented of circumstances. These are the people who can see needs that may not be being met and the things that may make life a little better. "

3 month rent holiday for Kirklees Business Tenants

Kirklees Council has announced it will be giving a 3 month rent holiday to its commercial tenants.
Councillor Andrew Cooper said,
" I proposed this 3 month rent holiday to ensure small Independent businesses like retailers, pubs, cafes and restaurants survive this crisis intact. We will need them to bring life back to our town centres and I am urging other councils around the country to follow Kirklees lead".
"There is now a challenge to commercial landlords of Huddersfield town centre businesses. If councils can do what is right to protect the longer-term interests of our local economy so should you. A 3 month rent holiday for your tenants now could well ensure they are your tenants in the future."
  
Local litter-picking  

Getting out and about is limited at the moment but Cllrs Karen Allison and Sue Lee-Richards have been out around where they live litter-picking their local areas cleaning up their own neighbourhoods as part of their Government approved exercise time.
Cllr Sue Lee-Richards said,
“This is something we can all do to improve our local area. It doesn’t take long and with so many of us limited about how far we can go it makes it even more important that the places around where we live are as pleasant as possible.”
Councillors meeting virtually

Green Councillors meet regularly each week but with social distancing rules in force this has to be virtually.
Cllr Karen Allison said, “It has worked really well. We share information we have picked up about local concerns and issues, see how we can help with funding local projects and keep on top of local casework which hasn’t gone away during the Lockdown. We have had Council officers join us for meetings when we have needed them and it has gone better than I expected.”

“Please be our eyes and ears”
Green Councillors ask local people to survey their streets for issues.
Councillor Andrew Cooper has asked local people to let him know of issues and concerns on their street during the crisis
“It’s not as easy or justifiable for us to be out on the streets as much as we would like so I’m appealing to local people to let us know what issues need dealing with on their street. The sort of thing we are looking for is potholes, blocked drains, street lights that aren’t working and large accumulations of litter and fly tipping. Giving us location information e.g. which house, street light number the issue is near is vital as well as photos of the problem”.
Please send to any of your local Councillors.

Help exercising for older & younger people in their own homes

Pilates Instructor Lynne Ellis of Almondbury recently extended her classes to include those who need a more gentle form of exercise by converting her sessions to be done on a chair. This was particularly popular with older people wanting to keep active and healthy. These classes ran in Community Halls and were sponsored by Kirklees to help those with less mobility keep in shape.  The sessions had become really popular bringing the community together, tackling loneliness and improving health.
Then the Coronavirus stopped all group activity!
Newsome Green Councillor Andrew Cooper contacted Lynne and suggested using ZOOM, a video conferencing app, to keep her Pilates sessions going virtually. 

Councillor Cooper said,

“I’m so pleased Lynne’s classes are going so well and that she is able to help so many people stay active even when they are confined to their homes for much of the day. The exercise will not just make people physically healthier but mentally stronger as well by having valuable social time with friends, sharing a fun experience. Who knows I might give it a try!”
Lynne runs six sessions a week, two for those who are looking for a more gentle exercise, exercising from a chair, two for Beginners to Pilates who may wish to learn or who just want to keep toned and in shape, and 2 sessions of the more Advanced/Intermediate sessions for those who really want to work their bodies and have done Pilates/exercise in the past. Membership is just £20 a calendar month and gives access to 2 sessions per week.
For more information email Lynne - lynneel@icloud.com

Volunteer? Or need help?

The Coronavirus lockdown has seen many people in our community at their best. Local people have come forward and offered their help to the more vulnerable and elderly. It has been really inspiring. Kirklees Council has been coordinating offers of help and seeking to link those offers to the people who need it.
To volunteer of to ask for help ring the Kirklees on 01484 226919 OR follow the link below https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/advice-support-and-sharing/covid-19-community-response.aspx


Help from the Kirklees Citizen Advice Bureau

Advice from the Kirklees Citizen Advice Bureau is being delivered by staff working from home who will need to call/email clients back.
            Website www.kcalc.org.uk  direct link https://kcalc.org.uk/contact-us/  (online form)
            Telephone: 0344 848 970 – this will go through to Citizens Advice call centre who can pass details back to us. Though contacting online is the key

Specialist services:
There are full details of services on the website www.kcalc.org.uk
Services can be accessed as above and enquiries will be passed through to specialist teams as appropriate.
            Debt
            Housing (they are focusing resources on homelessness – general/other housing queries should be directed to Fusion Housing) – direct contact telephone 01924 663541
            Community Care
            Discrimination
            Asylum (ONLY – i.e. NOT other immigration advice)
            EU Settlement Scheme
            Employment – direct advice number 01924 868147

Report domestic abuse (from www.gov.uk)

Domestic abuse or violence is a crime and should be reported to the police - there are also other organisations who can offer you help and support.
Call 999 if it’s an emergency or you’re in immediate danger.
The police take domestic violence seriously and will be able to help and protect you.
Contact your local neighbourhood policing team if it’s not an emergency on 101

Other organisations who can help

Pennine Domestic Abuse Partnership
0800 052 7222    https://pdap.co.uk/
Kirklees & Calderdale Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre
01484 450040    https://www.kcrasac.co.uk/
Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge
0808 200 0247                 www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people)
0800 999 5428                 www.galop.org.uk
Men’s Advice Line         
0808 801 0327                 www.mensadviceline.org.uk

Rape Crisis (England and Wales)
0808 802 9999                 www.rapecrisis.org.uk
Respect phoneline
0808 802 4040                 www.respectphoneline.org.uk

Community Facebook Groups

Newsome Green Party
Newsome Community Ward Forum
Lockwood &Thornton Lodge COVID-19 Support
Berry Brow Community Action - Covid-19 Crisis
Newsome Community Kindness
Taylor Hill Matters 
armitage bridge neighbourhood watch scheme

Councillor Contact Details


Cllr Andrew Cooper
Mobile - 07721 348619
@clrandrewcooper
Blog – clrandrewcooper.blogspot.co.uk

Cllr Sue Lee-Richards
07976 681354
@sueLeerichards1

Cllr Karen Allison
07816 759868
@greenpartykaren


Wednesday, 8 April 2020

PRESS RELEASE - Exercise classes for older people rescued from Corona crisis

Pilates Instructor Lynne Ellis
Pilates Instructor Lynne Ellis of Almondbury recently extended her classes to include those who need a more gentle form of exercise by converting her sessions to be done on a chair. This was particularly popular with older people wanting to keep active and healthy. These classes ran in Community Halls and were sponsored by Kirklees Council as part of their ‘Early Intervention and Prevention Strategy’ to help those with less mobility keep in shape.  The sessions had become really popular bringing the community together, tackling loneliness and improving health. 
Then the Coronaviris stopped all group activity!
Newsome Green Councillor Andrew Cooper contacted Lynne and suggested using ZOOM, a video conferencing app, to keep her pilates sessions going virtually.  The classes are now being done virtually and keeping people in touch with each other in these times of social isolation. 
Lynne said,
 “I’ve never been the best at social media and technology but Andrew introduced me to ZOOM and talked me through the set up and how it works, it was very easy which has been confirmed by how many of my pilates people have joined me, including those over 70.  Many thanks to Andrew. With his help and advice I have been able to continue my classes and keep me sane as I am by nature a sociable person.  This media enables everyone to chat before the session starts and enables me to correct body positions whilst the class is in progress… I love it!”
Councillor Cooper said,
“I’m so pleased Lynne’s classes are going so well and that she is able to help so many people stay active when they even are confined to their homes for much of the day. The exercise will not just make people physically healthier but mentally stronger as well by having valuable social time with friends, sharing a fun experience. Who knows I might give it a try!”
Lynne runs six sessions a week, two for those who are looking for a more gentle exercise, exercising from a chair, two for Beginners to Pilates who may wish to learn or who just want to keep toned and in shape, and 2 sessions of the more Advanced/Intermediate sessions for those who really want to work their bodies and have done pilates/exercise in the past. Membership is just £20 a calendar month and gives access to 2 sessions per week.
For more information email Lynne at pilateslynne@gmail.com

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Greens welcome 3 months rent holiday for Kirklees Business tenants

Kirklees Council has announced it will be giving a 3 month rent hoilday to its commercial tenants.

Councillor Andrew Cooper said

"I welcome the rent deferral for Kirklees business tenants for 3 months. I originally proposed it to ensure small Independent businesses like retailers, pubs, cafe's and restaurants survive this crisis intact. We will need them to bring life back to our town centres and I am urging other Councils around the country to follow Kirklees lead".

"There is now a challenge to commercial landlords of our  Huddersfield town centre businesses. If Councils can do what is right to protect the long term interests of our local economy so should you. A 3 month rent holiday for your tenants now could well ensure they are your tenants in the future."

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Corona Virus Crisis - "What do you need?" ask Greens

Kirklees has provided £30k for each of the Council's 23 Wards to help communities deal with issues related to the current Corona Virus Crisis.

Kirklees Councillors were informed by email on Tuesday that the funding would be added to the Ward Budgets that they control for activity in the wards they represent.

Kirklees Green Party Leader and Newsome Ward Councillor Andrew Cooper said,

"This funding provided by the Council at this most difficult of time is very welcome. What Newsome Councillors want to do is get people to give us their ideas. The sort of ideas we are looking for are things that help morale in the community, provide support to vulnerable people in the community and ensure that we come out of the crisis with local businesses intact. The funding is not limitless but I'm keen to harness the power of the community to help us through this public health emergency. I and my Newsome Ward colleagues have been impressed by the willingness of people to help their neighbours in this most unprecedented of circumstances. These are the people who can see the needs that may not be being met and the things that may make life a little better. "



Saturday, 21 March 2020

Strange days indeed.

Covid 19
Where to begin. We are in uncharted territory. A country effectively in lockdown, no pubs, bars, cafes or restaurants open, the state supporting millions who were only a few days ago were in employment now out of work due to Covid 19, the Corona Virus. People living in fear of their lives, social contact prohibited and the deepest religious and social rituals no longer happening until who knows when. Some people are scared and understandably.

The territory is uncharted but not unimagined. Films and TV programmes have placed the social fabric under stress in any number of dystopian and post apocalyptic dramas. The BBC's Survivors about a pandemic in the 70s with devastating effects killing millions and spread by global air travel springs to mind. Whether its zombies, triffids or a pandemic the story is all about how society and individuals respond when placed under strain. Already we have seen the best and worst of human nature. People volunteering to help the vulnerable in their droves, council services reshaping themselves to deal with the current crisis and Government giving unprecedented support to seek to ensure we return to some sort of normality. We have to hope they succeed. And then there's the panic buying. I guess a lot of us wish we had shares in toilet roll manufacturers as toilet rolls appear to be like gold dust at present. The panic buying is because there is panic. Many people have not adjusted to the new 'normal'. because it isn't normal and we're only at the beginning.

What is the role of local politicians in these times? More than ever we have to be visible, available and reassuring. Life goes on. There are potholes to fix, drains to be unblocked, traffic calming to be installed. As Newsome Ward Councillors we will be doing a street by street survey over the next few weeks. Most of the Council and community meetings we were scheduled to attend have been cancelled. We are not banned from walking the streets so why not. So if you're a Newsome Ward resident and you see one of us then please say "hello" (from 2 metres apart) and let us know your story. We'll get through this.

Rather than the chilling opening sequence from 1975 BBC's Survivors here's Curtis Mayfield's 'Move on up' It's a shot of optimism that's helped lift me when I needed it so maybe it will help you too. Enjoy

Friday, 31 January 2020

Kirklees Green Group - 2020/21 Kirklees Council Budget proposals


Last year Kirklees declared a climate emergency in response to the clear message from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have a limited time to reduce carbon emissions to levels consistent with a viable environment for human civilisation. This amendment aims to take Kirklees on to the next stage of our journey to become a Net Zero Carbon Local Authority in line with the 2038 target set for us through our membership of the Leeds City Region. We also need to ensure that regional funding is not used to provide tacit support to Leeds Bradford Airport expansion plans that threaten the viability of our emission reduction targets.

Kirklees New Build Passivhaus support fund

 Current informed estimates suggest a 5%  - 7% uplift in the capital cost for buildings built to Passivhaus standards when part of a consistent policy. This fund would ensure that all projects commenced on Kirklees owned land were properly resourced to achieve that higher energy efficiency standard, be they lead by the Council or part of a partnership arrangement using council owned land.

Kirklees Green New Deal Demonstrator

Following the Kirklees Warm Zone programme the next significant energy efficiency goal would be to carry out significant work on hard to treat properties particularly those with cavities that can only be filled using polyurethane foam. There is also a need for a room in the roof insulation project for homes that cannot receive mineral fibre wool insulation due to attic rooms. The aim would be to provide free insulation to 4000 properties as a showcase to other local authorities and national government. Within this project we would also expect 25% of the funding to be allocated to properties in fuel poverty and that they benefit from a whole house approach aimed at achieving the ‘Enerphit’ standard.
This project will demonstrate to national government the benefits and practicalities of applying ‘HS2’ levels of funding to domestic energy efficiency to achieve our Paris Climate goals, address fuel poverty, create skilled jobs and regenerate local economies.

Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing Carbon Reduction Fund

Following years of energy saving initiatives this Fund will be used to carry out pathfinding work to demonstrate how we will drive down emissions still further to levels consistent with a 2030 zero carbon target. The aim will be to achieve as close to the Enerphit standard as is practical. We are also calling on Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing to transfer homes to a low cost green energy provider when they become void.

Community Climate Action projects – Place based working 

We propose that the next round of Place based working funding is to be allocated for community lead climate action projects. This could support a range of community lead projects e.g. tree planting, reducing the carbon impact of community owned buildings, flood alleviation, community transport initiatives.

Purchase Renewable Energy 

We are calling on Kirklees to ensure that the Council’s electricity is sourced from verifiably renewable sources.

Schools Climate Change Education Project

This project will provide grants to schools promoting projects that reduce their carbon emissions linked to an education package. It is anticipated that projects such as the installation of solar panels, energy saving measures and tree planting in school grounds

Join the Global Covenant of Mayors

The Global Covenant of Mayors is where local governments in alliance with partners accelerate ambitious, measurable climate and energy initiatives that lead to a low-emission and climate-resilient future. This will allow us to assess our progress with international partners and collaborate with our peers in Europe and beyond. This does not mean lots of air travel but is about learning from best practice and hopefully demonstrating our best practice on a bigger stage. Kirklees is not a leader in action to reduce carbon emissions yet. We can learn a lot from others.

Conversion to electric vehicles project

There is a large potential for conversion of petrol/diesel vehicles to electric at a fraction of the cost of a new vehicle. This proposal is to establish a pilot project to demonstrate the potential for this in the Kirklees District.

Support the establishment of the Kirklees Climate Commission – through funding the secretariat and supporting analysis and reporting




Sunday, 19 January 2020

The engines of death ride the sky

Memory is a strange thing. Why do some memories stay in your head and others go. I remember as a child reading 'The Trigan Empire' that was a comic strip featuring the history of a civilization on the planet Elektron. It was serialised in the now defunct 'Look and Learn' comics with brilliant illustrations and imaginative stories. These words from the comic popped into my head recently "the engines of death ride the sky". A bit of a search on Interweb and I found the actual quote on the actual page of that mammoth comic series.

So why did those words pop into my head?  I was at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Zero Emissions Transport Group last week. Consultants had brought us scenarios of how transport in the Leeds City Region could play its part in reaching our 2038 Zero Emissions target. They showed us all about 'modal shift', getting people out of cars and onto public transport, or into low emission vehicles, or bikes, or walking and how that might occur with different levels of policy commitment. They even mentioned our regional Leeds Bradford Airport and talked about the emissions being generated from all those planes BUT they only were obliged to measure domestic not international flights. 

This is a global issue and has been sort of, but not convincingly addressed in the 2016 International Civil Aviation Organization agreement. This is a largely voluntary agreement whereby the carbon emissions for flights are supposedly offset by tree planting. This is a case of the aviation industry regulating itself. The scheme doesn't start till 2021 and it is voluntary till 2027. It doesn't comply with the Paris Climate Agreement targets and even if it works as described it will take till 2050 to reduce emissions by 50%. While all this aviation emissions reduction is not really going on, airports like Leeds Bradford have big expansion plans and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are assisting them.

So yes, truly, the engines of death do ride the skies unimpeded and assisted by public money.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Kirklees Green Motion to Full Council on Proportional Representation in Local Elections

The General Election. Tories lack a majority of votes but get a majority of MPs
Motion submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 14 as to Proportional Representation in Local Elections

To consider the following Motion in the names of Councillors Cooper, Lee-Richards and Allison;



This Council notes that;

The electoral system used for local elections in England and Wales, First Past the Post (FPTP), is not a fair system, because it means that votes do not have equal weight and many votes are wasted. This leads to voter apathy and a feeling of disconnection from local democracy. Certain parties are over-represented, the most extreme example in May 2019 being Havant, where the Conservative Party
took all of the seats up for election on Havant Council with just 43.9% of the vote.

The alternative to FPTP is a system of proportional representation (PR), where votes cast for parties translates more or less directly into seats won. There are many variants of PR. The Single Transferable Vote system (STV) variant of PR is already in use for local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland. With this system, voters rank candidates and those who receive the most backing
(including second and subsequent choices) are elected to serve in multi-member wards.

Kirklees Council (in common with most other Metropolitan councils) already has multi-member wards and thus the transfer to a similar system would be easier than if the wards were single-member.
The introduction of PR for local elections in Scotland has led to an increase in turnout, which was 47% at the last elections, held in 2017. In contrast turnout in Kirklees in 2019 was 33%.

A move to a system of PR for local elections would necessitate moving to all-out elections every four years, rather than the current one-third system. This would benefit the council and Kirklees residents too, since it would mean more time for decision-making.

This Council believes that a move to the use of proportional representation for local elections would boost turn-out, make the council more representative of the political make-up of its residents,
and improve the quality of its decision-making, thereby benefiting all Kirklees residents.

This Council resolves to;

- write to the Minister responsible for Housing, Communities and Local Government requesting that Kirklees be allowed to pilot a system of Proportional Representation on the Scottish model at the earliest possible election
- signal our interest to be a pilot area for Proportional Representation to the Electoral Commission
- work through the Local Government Association to promote Proportional Representation more widely in English and Welsh Local Authorities.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Andrew Cooper Speech to Kirklees Full Council 15/1/2020 - Corporate Peer Challenge - Kirklees Council

The Corporate Peer Challenge Report on Kirklees Council produced during their visits back in July is a really interesting read conducted by Councillors and Senior Officers from around the country. As you would expect it is a mixture of good and less good and areas for improvement. That is the point of the exercise. There’s praise in the report for the Chief Executive and the Council Leader and recognition for the ambition in the Huddersfield Blueprint. There are also observations and  suggestions for changes.

One of the most perplexing statements in the report for me was this one,

“ The Cabinet and senior leadership team work well together, however sharper delineation of roles between Cabinet Members and senior officers needs to be articulated as there is some confusion between the roles of Members and officers. Members should develop policy and officers should implement and deliver it.”

Talk about stating the rather obvious! What could have prompted such a statement. Perhaps things like when senior officers do the media and TV interviews particularly when there is bad news. It also indicates to some degree that there is a lack of political direction in the cabinet or parts of the cabinet. This is worrying. People go to a lot of trouble to get elected So if and when they are and they don't have an agenda and are simply officer lead it is disappointing and a waste of peoples valuable votes.

The action to address this point that the Council has decided to take makes no reference to the Cabinet at all and instead defaults to addressing the relations between all members and officers. This is wilfully and conveniently misinterpreting the recommendation from the Peer Review Team.

Another part of the report states that

"The business community is keen to work with the Council and its voice needs to be strengthened as currently they feel outside the tent."

I guess this may reflect the poor communication that many indoor market traders feel they have had regarding their future in the Huddersfield Blueprint. Or perhaps the creation of One Huddersfield and the excellent work they do is partly a reflection of the need for business to develop a stronger voice when dealing with the Council. Of course there is a danger that if you have a "We know best" approach you are by your very nature going to exclude all sorts of people, businesses, Councillors from other parties and anyone who disagrees with you. Maybe the statement in the Report that says there is a


"outmoded paternelistic approach which the peer team heard still exists in some parts of the organisation"

is a big part of the problem and if that is reflected in some Senior Politicians then that is a cause for concern and stands in the way of us being a modern forward thinking Council that is open not only for business but for fresh ideas and approaches.

The Peer Report also asked us to review our electoral arrangements

"Consider reviewing the electoral cycle to bring it in line with councils that have adopted a longer, more stable electoral pattern with the strong leadership model".

The UK Government has a 5 year cycle (usually!) North Yorkshire County Council has 4 year electoral cycle, many Principal Councils have a 4 year electoral cycle, our Parish Councils have a 4 year electoral cycle but not us. I appreciate the arguments made about accountability to electors but former leaders and Chief Executives of this Council have identified the continual cycle of annual elections as a barrier to good and sometimes difficult decision making. I also think we will have better quality elections if we have them every 4 years. Parties will be able produce manifestoes that demonstrate a programme of activity that could seek radical and positive change. Timidity and risk averse decision making would be less likely. As the report says


"The peer team identified a lack of risk appetite in the Council, which could constrain the Council’s pace and ambition. A bolder approach to risk and opportunity is required throughout the organisation and existing governance processes should be strengthened to support this.” 

So my suggestion would be that we establish as well as the Corporate Risk Register we already have a Corporate Opportunities Register where we systematically look at the opportunities that this Council could take to put up front to Councillors showing what we could do if we had the capacity and political will to do so.