THE formation of the new Green Party and Valley Independents Group on Kirklees Council has certainly ruffled a few traditional feathers.
I suppose it is the shock of the new when you are used to being stuck in a more ‘conservative’ groove.
In particular, some letters to the paper (and comments online) seem unable to get out of the party political mentality.
They are unable to think outside of this box and only see the world through these particular lenses.
The letters to the paper seem unable to understand that people can work together and serve their community without the top-down control from the party whip.
Is not discussion and debate the anvil of democracy? In this we reject the controls exercised by the traditional party machines and have formed a collaborative group while maintaining independent work in our communities.
There is a fundamental principal which emerges in this discussion.
The question, what does being a representative mean? Are you elected as an individual to serve your communities or do you stand as a representative of the political party that put you up for election?
The open collaboration between the Green Party and Valley Independent councillors is based on being community representatives, not the representative of a political party.
Each councillor remains free to vote under their own moral compass and to reflect their communities. Yet as a collaborative group on the council we can also be more effective in representing our communities.
Independent Councillor Holme Valley North
Cost of collaboration
BARRY Gibson’s article on the formation of a joint group between the Green Party and the Valley Independents and the rise in allowances doesn’t tell the whole story.
Just as Greens, Independents and Labour gained seats in the election the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats lost seats and, as such, their allowances went down.
For the Conservative Business Manager the allowance went down from £7,365 to £4,911 because they went down below the 20 councillors threshold.
The Lib Dems lost their allowance for a Deputy Leader post as they now have less than 12 councillors and this represents a saving of £3,684.
The biggest rise in allowances for the Green Party and Valley Independent Group is the £4,911 for the Business Manager role.
Previously the Green Party and Independents had business managers with the same responsibilities as the larger parties attending the same meetings but with no allowance. This change simply puts us on a par with the other parties for the work we do.
The formation of our group gives us more leverage on the council and we are now officially recognised by the council as a major group which we weren’t before.
It was easier for the larger parties to ignore us. Currently, together we represent over 11% of the seats on Kirklees Council yet have no dedicated officer support in our role as local councillors.
As a joint group it should entitle us to some dedicated officer support.
However, we won’t be asking the council to employ any more staff and certainly not the three staff per group the larger parties currently receive. All we have asked for is some officer time by a fair reallocation of existing resources.
Over the last council year we have worked closely with the Independent councillors and found that we agree on a lot of issues and have much in common so forming a group gives us more clout but we also have a good degree of common cause.
Neither Greens nor Valley Independents believe in having members ‘towing the party line’ or facing party discipline so we are comfortable to operate by consensus and recognise our freedom to disagree on issues as and when they arise. This arrangement should give more power to elbow and to the people we represent.
Clr Andrew Cooper
Co-Leader, Green Party and Valley Independent Group
Defend public services
IT is true that the power of local councils has been much reduced.
Well intentioned councillors shake their heads and say there is nothing they can do about it.
So they attempt make public sector workers redundant and, at best, outsource services to the private sector.
I say at best because there are some services that would disappear altogether if a private company could see no profit in it.
Bit by bit, local authorities reduce their own power even further and consign to the black hole of history the idea of essential services being administered centrally and efficiently for the good and well being of us all.
The ‘profit’ of public services is about meeting need and ensuring a basis for a civilised society where money in the bank does not become the only requirement for any kind of a decent and fulfilling life.
What happens to the transparency, accountability, and democratic principles that are the hallmarks of public services once they are privatised?
What happens to the principle of services combining resources and co-operating across the board for the quality as well as efficiency of a particular service?
Governments across Europe have opportunistically used the idea of the need for austerity budgets to destroy public services – austerity for us while the rich continue to grab what they can in the form of bailouts.
During the past few decades there has been a frantic and very risky attempt by bankers and big business to restore profitability to the capitalist system by promoting a bonanza of cheap credit and the financing of dodgy speculative schemes. This has all come crashing down.
Now, we are supposed to accept the idea that we are all in this together. We are not all in this together and at local level we should be able to look to our councillors to represent us in giving a lead against the cuts that are being imposed on us. Communities and Trade Unions would be behind them not just here in Kirklees but in many other local authorities.
Public Services weren’t handed to us on a plate. They came mainly as a result of extra parliamentary struggle and this is how it has to be again if we are not to sell future generations short.
These cuts affect us all. Defend our libraries, Worklink and the jobs of more than 400 Kirklees administration staff faced with compulsory redundancy.
Save Slaithwaite Library Campaign
A great concert
COLNE Valley Male Voice Choir’s Grand Charity Concert staged in Huddersfield Town Hall on Thursday, May 17 and celebrating the choir’s 90th anniversary was musically a great success and, most importantly, with the support of Holmfirth Dyers raised funds for both the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice and Kirkwood Hospice.
May I take the opportunity to thank all the people, artistes and helpers alike who worked so hard towards that end.
Black Dyke Band under the excellent direction of Dr Nicholas Childs showed why they are the new European Champions and produced a wonderful and varied programme well suited to the occasion and particularly I would like to thank the band’s soloists Zoe Hancock and Gary Curtin.
Also the choir’s accompanist, Keith Swallow, for his excellent solo performance when joining the band in the First Movement of Dr Roy Newsome’s Concerto for Piano and Band.
Colne Valley Boys, led by Thom Meredith and accompanied by Chris Pulleyn, are ever increasing in confidence and were a great delight.
Colne Valley Male Voice Choir, as usual, was committed 100% and solos from the choir’s Musical Director, Thom Meredith, and choir member Arthur Quarmby were warmly applauded.
David Hoyle was an extremely able compère on the night and I am very grateful for his prior promotional assistance over several weeks on his Yorkshire Brass Radio Leeds programme.
Finally, but not least I thank charity workers Gina Fielding and Kate Leadbeater and all their much appreciated voluntary helpers.
Thanks for running
I WOULD like to thank the 130 runners from across the UK who ran for The Children’s Trust in this year’s Virgin London Marathon in April to help raise over £225,000 for the Trust.
The Children’s Trust is a national charity that provides specialist care for some of the UK’s most severely disabled children and rehabilitation to children with an acquired brain injury. The money raised from the marathon will help to enhance the lives of these very special children.
I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has applied for a ballot place in the 2013 Virgin London Marathon and would like to run for The Children’s Trust next year.
Further information can be viewed at www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/londonmarathon or phone me on 01737 365018.
Once again a huge thank you to all the runners who supported The Children’s Trust this year.
Sports Events Manager, The Children’s Trust