Saturday, 27 December 2014

Politics: Labour launch bus campaign

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Regional Growth Gordon Marsden visited Brighouse Bus Station to launch his party’s Passenger Power campaign.

Under the proposals, local authorities would have more right to make decisions about their own bus routes and making it easier for smaller companies and charities to take over services.

Mr Gordon Marsden said: “This Government’s lack of care for buses has led to services becoming more centralised and only profitable services being prioritised, while local communities have been isolated.

“A lot of people we have spoken to today understandably said they’d be more likely to use buses if there were a more comprehensive service. That’s why as part of our grants to bus companies we will expect them to put a greater emphasis on serving their communities than on their profits and executive bonuses.”

Josh Fenton-Glynn, Labour parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley, said: “One of the reasons I was so keen to talk about this campaign is because from Blackshaw Head and Mill Bank to Rastrick and Brighouse communities in Calder Valley are being left isolated because of cuts to bus services, and it’s something that is regularly brought up when I knock on doors.

“We have fought hard to protect the services for these communities in Calderdale but until more local controls are given to regions over bus routes, bus barons will continue to carve up the profitable services while passengers suffer.”

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Friday, 26 December 2014

Reportage: Crunch time for sixth form college bid

Plans to open a 1,000-place sixth form college in Halifax town centre have moved a step closer to becoming a reality after its bid has reached the final stage of the application process.

Trinity Academy, the school leading the bid to open Calderdale 6th, has announced that its application has advanced to the final interview stage.

The bidders will attend an interview in London in early January to progress the bid further, with a view to open the college in September 2016.

The bid has almost 2,500 signatories who have signed to say that they would seriously consider sending their child to such a 6th form when it opens in 2016.

However, the bid did not get the backing of Calderdale Council following an amendment pushed through by the Labour group in October to hold more discussions on the school before offering its support.

Michael Gosling, principal at Trinity Academy, Holmfield, said: “We are very much looking forward to discussing the details of the bid in full.

“The evidence for the need for Calderdale 6th is overwhelming, both in terms of the picture for the results and the fact that currently a quarter of our young people need to travel out of the district to obtain the post-16 experience that they deserve.

“The bid has attracted a great deal of support from a number of important quarters, but particularly from the young people and their parents it will serve.

“We have had almost 2,500 signatories from young people and parents who said they would look to join us when the doors open in 2016.”

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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Court: Jealous man jailed for life after frenzied attack on rival

A jealous boyfriend who stabbed a man to death in a frenzied knife attack after finding out he had slept with his girlfriend was jailed for life at Bradford Crown Court.

Daniel Campbell was stabbed repeatedly while he slept at his Elland home in an attack Judge Mr Justice Coulson described as “bestial in its violence”.

The killer, Robert Lyn, 45, appeared in court for sentencing after he admitted stabbing 38-year-old Mr Campbell at his house on Elizabeth Street on July 18.

Prosecutor Peter Moulson QC told the court that Mr Campbell had spent the night with Lyn’s girlfriend.

Mr Campbell accidently telephoned his own girlfriend while the pair were together, the court heard.

She recognised their voices and posted a message about the incident on her Facebook page.

Lyn found out he had been cheated on while checking his phone on the bus ride home from his agency job in the complaints department at the Morrisons head office, Bradford.

Mr Moulson said Lyn visited the Aldi supermarket at Lane Gardens, Elland, and purchased a packet of three knives from the store.

He drank half a bottle of brandy and hid two of the knives and the packet they came in in a toilet cubicle at the Travellers
Rest public house on Huddersfield Road, Elland.

The court heard Lyn then headed to Mr Campbell’s home at around 7.20pm with a six-inch chef’s knife - a neighbour who saw him said Lyn “looked possessed.”

Lyn knocked on a neighbour’s door and asked if they knew where Mr Campbell was, he said: “I’ve got a surprise for Danny.”

Mr Moulson told the court that Lyn started kicking Mr Campbell’s front door, and could be heard shouting “I know you’re in there - let me show you what a real man looks like.”

Lyn then picked up a concrete plant pot and used it to force open the front door.

Lyn found Mr Campbell sleeping in his bed, he then stabbed Mr Campbell 20 times in the neck and abdomen.

The court heard that while this was happening, Lyn’s girlfriend was in the bathroom unaware of what had happened to Mr Campbell.

She emerged from the bathroom and was confronted by a bloody Lyn who said: “How do you like your boyfriend now?”

Lyn left the scene and made his way to a nearby take-away and asked the owners to call him a taxi.

The court heard that when the taxi arrived, Lyn lay on the back seat covered in blood and told the driver to “go go go.”

The driver said he was going to call the police and Lyn ran from the cab and headed towards Elland town centre.

Lyn was quickly chased down and arrested by PC Gallagher who gave chase and an off-duty officer PC Macnamara who happened to be passing in his car.

Upon arrest Lyn asked the officers “Is he dead yet?” and said “What would you do if you found out your girlfriend had been cheating?”

The judge applauded both officers for their bravery and quick thinking, adding that they had potentially saved a lot of police resources by bringing Lyn into custody so quickly.

A statement from Mr Campbell’s mother read out the court described her grief at the sudden loss of her son.

She said: He was a pleasure to be with and had a lot to live for.

“I have a Daniel shaped void in my life that will be with me forever.”

Richard Wright QC, defense counsel for Lyn, told the court: “This was a pointless and needless death” and said Lyn was “wholly remorseful” for what had happened.

Summarising the case, Judge Coulson said: “However upset you may have been, you do not inflict violence, especially this level of violence, before you speak to the man.

“I do not accept that you were provoked - you are 45 not 15.”

Judge Coulson considered the “appalling injuries on a sleeping and defenceless man.”
He told Lyn: “You butchered him.”

The judge outlined Lyn’s previous convictions which included robbery, assaulting a police officer and possessing a knife in a public place.

Lyn, of Huntingdon Avenue, Huddersfield, will serve a minimum of 26 years in prison.

After the case, Det Ch Insp Steve Snow, of Protective Services (Crime), said: “Daniel was a quiet, caring and loving son, who was loved by all his family. However, on July 18 the lives of Daniel Campbell’s family were changed forever by Robert Lyn.

“Lyn’s brutal attack was fuelled solely by jealousy and he subjected Daniel to a violent, sustained and savage attack whilst he lay in his bed, for which he has shown no remorse.

“The events of that evening have without doubt had a significant and profound effect on Daniel’s family.

“Robert Lyn is a dangerous individual who, today, has been sentenced to spend his life in prison for this brutal attack.

“I hope that today’s sentence can bring some small comfort to the family of Daniel, who hopefully one day can start to rebuild their lives.”

Features: Dealing with debt this Christmas

It’s easy at this time of year for people to get into debt, and the temptation to borrow money from payday lenders or doorstep loan sharks can lead to a quick descent into hardship.

Those struggling with debt are not alone, and there are a number of services across Calderdale that can provide advice and support when things can look their most hopeless.

Payday lenders and loan sharks charge high levels of interest that can quickly become unmanageable if payments are missed, with some lenders charging interest rates in excess of 4,000 per cent.

The council offers support for people in financial hardship by offering money to help with council tax and housing.
Kerry Maynard, revenues and benefits team manager at the council, said: “We’ve got a number of statutory schemes across the council to do with housing benefits and council tax reduction.

“Over and above that, we’ve introduced a lot of new initiatives to help people through change.

“So, on the council tax side, we’ve actually put aside a hardship fund for people who are really struggling to get their finances in order.”

Traditionally, the profile of people taking this sort of help was people who were out of work and claiming unemployment benefits, however, over the past few years the number of people who are in work seeking help has increased dramatically.

Kerry said: “We’ve noticed a change in people seeking support over the past 18 months - certainly from a housing benefit and council tax benefit perspective - we’ve got more people who are working and on low incomes than who are unemployed and claiming benefits.

“When we talk about helping people, there’s been a real shift - it’s not just people on unemployment benefits, it’s a much wider spectrum now.”

Frances Burns, director at Calderdale Credit Union, said employers who take advantage of their staff through irregular working patterns and low wages have a lot to answer for when it comes to people in work struggling to make ends meet and turning to payday lenders or loan sharks.

She said: “The real tragedy is that employers are getting away with not paying people a decent wage - and that’s the heart of it.

“Someone in work might think ‘I’ve got a salary coming in next month, so it’s okay to borrow two or three hundred pounds’ - you might as well jump into a bucket of tar.

“What we are shocked at is that it’s not people who don’t have bank accounts or are excluded from the financial system any more.”

Calderdale Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial institution that offers a selection of financial services including affordable loans, savings and debt advice.

Frances said: “The key thing for people to understand is how much money have you got coming in, and how much money have you got going out.

“No matter what your social level, unless you understand that you’re not to get anywhere.

“Sit down and write it out - you’d be shocked at how much you pay out day-to-day.

“Be honest, and work out what your priorities are.”

For building financial security the main piece of advice is to save money - even if is a pound a week.

Frances said: “I’ve seen it time and time again how much dignity there is in having your own money - even if it’s a small amount.

“When the savings are going up and the debt is going down, it’s easier to see light at the end of the tunnel - for me that’s why I do what I do, I want everyone to see that light at the end of the tunnel.”
Perhaps, most importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with debt don’t be afraid to ask for advice or seek help.

Kerry said: “People are willing to come forward, but we are very aware that there are a number of hard-to-reach people in the borough who just aren’t engaging, and if they did we might be able to help them with a multitude of things.

“People are willing to come forward, but we are very aware that there are a number of hard-to-reach people in the borough who just aren’t engaging, and if they did we might be able to help them with a multitude of things.”

Schemes and strategies

A number of schemes and strategies to tackle debt have been launched across the borough by organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Noah’s Ark, Calderdale Credit Union, Age UK, DART and Calderdale Council.

Stuart Muxlow, project manager at Calderdale Council, explained that there are a lot of small things the council has done to try and help people avoid taking out high-cost loans.

He said: “We know payday lending has been booming for a number of years now and the council welcomes all the recent national reforms to the market - it was a real growth industry that was going largely unchecked.

“We took a stance a while ago and blocked links to payday lenders from council computers including in libraries.”

The council has been working with Calderdale Credit Union to encourage 11-year-olds to start saving and change their attitudes to managing money.

Stuart said: “Today, most people’s first experience of money tends to be online, so people are growing up with this perception of an endless credit card attached to iTunes or eBay or wherever.

“It’s moving away from the idea of saving up money to buy something you want.”

The Junior Savers scheme encourages Year pupils to save regularly, with the council agreeing to give the pupils a £15 bonus if they are still saving at the end of Year 11.

Debt advice has also been made available across the borough with drop-in sessions being held at events like children’s playgroups to reach people within their communities.

Stuart said: “If you’re feeling pressure you might not necessarily want to pay your bus fare into town to see Citizens Advice and identify yourself as needing help.

“We thought that maybe if we put help in more community-based groups and advice can be given at that point, we thought that might be useful.

The council has put aside £99,000 to put into a consortium which includes the Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK, DART, the Dean Clough Foundation and WomenCentre.

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Politics: Handling of A&E plans 'a total shambles'

Linda Riordan has struck out at health bosses, branding their handling of the restructuring of local hospital services “a total shambles”.

The Labour MP for Halifax has called for a halt to proposals which could lead to the downgrading of A&E to an emergency walk-in centre.

She has demanded a full and transparent review of local health services.

Mrs Riordan said: “The issue has now become a farce. We have the Trust saying one thing, the CCG doing another and the Government failing to deliver on its promises.

“It is little wonder that the people of Calderdale are so disgusted with what is going on. No one is taking any responsibility. The outline business case clearly sets out that the A&E in Halifax will close.

“The outline business case does not have one clinical argument in it. It was all business and finance speak. It is 200 pages long, but fails to make one effective argument as to why the A&E in Halifax should close.”

Dr Alan Brook, chair of Calderdale CCG, said: “I can’t see a future where there isn’t some sort of emergency centre in Halifax.

“The outline business case is not actually a proposal to invite rejection or acceptance - it’s a work-in-progress.The document contains some aspirations that we’ve said should be phased - so we’re focusing more on the care closer to home before addressing the in-hospital services.

“What’s described in the OBC is only a component of what the future service would look like,” he added.

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Reportage: Green light for transport plans

A £1.4bn programme of transport improvements for West Yorkshire has been agreed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, with £150 million being set aside for Calderdale.

The programme of 30 schemes across the region will see road improvements, a new junction on the M62 near Brighouse, rail line upgrades and increased opportunities for park and ride at more accessible stations. They are among schemes to be undertaken under the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund.

Coun Stephen Baines, Conservative leader of Calderdale Council, said: “This is great news for the region, providing the essential investment in our infrastructure which is needed to fuel economic growth, create new jobs and stimulate business productivity. For Calderdale it will bring improvements to the A629 Halifax to Huddersfield corridor, to Halifax town centre and much needed enhancements to the Calder Valley rail line.”

Coun Barry Collins, deputy leader of the Labour group, said: “Calderdale has punched above its weight in the two-year Transport Fund negotiations. The result is an estimated £150 million of infrastructure investment across the borough. Over the next decade, the challenge will be to drive our projects effectively to completion.”

Peter Box, chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said, “This vital programme of transport development focuses on delivering benefits which transcend district boundaries.”

Work should start on most schemes by 2021.

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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Reportage: £500,000 boost for Square Chapel

Halifax’s Square Chapel Centre for the Arts has been awarded more than half a million pounds to deliver its Creative Communities project.

The £500,927 grant from the Big Lottery Fund will enable Square Chapel, in partnership with Hebden Bridge-based arts organisation Verd de Gris and Orangebox young people’s centre, Halifax, an outreach project aimed at improving community cohesion, to improve skills and opportunies for those involved.

The partnership programme includes arts and crafts classes and afternoon dances for older people; drama, dance, arts and music workshops for young people; some creative inter-generational projects; and an extensive schools outreach programme.

The project aims to reduce social isolation, improve community cohesion and improve skills, knowledge and quality of life for people in Calderdale.

Michaela O’Sullivan, education and outreach manager at Square Chapel, said: “We’ve been delivering outreach programmes for the last 12 years, and this funding will help us to continue the great work we’ve been doing for at least the next three years - it’s a really exciting prospect.”

Verd de Gris will be delivering a large programme of work with communites across Calderdale to improve cohesion between generations and cultures.

Jeff Turner of Verd de Gris said: “We do a lot of work with older people, a lot of work with schools - the main focus is to bring people together from different age groups and different communities.

“We do a lot of work about sharing and learning from one another.”

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Obituary: Tributes paid to former Mayor

Tributes have been paid to former Mayor of Calderdale and councillor William “Bill” Carpenter who died peacefully at the age of 88 at Calderdale Royal Hospital on December 2.

Born in London in 1926, William Charles Albert Carpenter served on Calderdale Council for more than two decades.

He was a messenger for ARP during the Second World War before enlisting in the RAF at the age of 17 in 1943.

After serving in Burma, he re-enlisted in the RAF as an electrical engineer. He was commissioned in 1959 and was awarded the Sword of Honour.

On retirement in 1976, he moved to Brighouse and began a career in local government.

He was first elected to Calderdale Council in May 1980 and served as a councillor for Rastrick until May 1984.

He lost his seat at the May 1984 elections, but returned to the Council in August 1984 through a by-election in the Northowram and Shelf ward.

He represented Northowram and Shelf from August 1984 to June 2004 when he retired as a councillor.

He served as Mayor of Calderdale in 1992/93 and as Deputy Mayor in 1995/96 and was granted the Freeman of the Borough in 2000.

Council leader Stephen Baines said: “He really was a very good councillor who served the people of Calderdale very well. He was hard-worker and had a good sense of humour, and he was a very good debater.”

He had a wide range of interests including history, current affairs, classical music, jazz, choral singing, amateur radio and military history.

He was the husband of his late wife Margaret who he married in 1947, and the father of Linda, Amanda, Philippa, and his late son Paul.He also leaves six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

The funeral service and cremation will be held on Friday, January 9, at Park Wood Crematorium, Park Road, Elland.