Leading Liberal Democrats from the region have claimed victory as the Conservative government has bowed to pressure to take decisive action on empty houses by giving new tax powers to local councils.
The government has accepted the principle of an amendment from Lib Dem Peers Baroness Pinnock of Cleckheaton and Baron Shipley of Gosforth to set in place an escalator of council tax charges. This would mean that the longer a property was left empty, the more council tax would have to be paid.
Last week Lib Dem leader, Vince Cable called for an increase in council tax for properties that have deliberately been left empty as part of a wide ranging keynote speech on tackling the country's housing crisis.
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson said:
“I am glad to see the government have listened and accepted the Liberal Democrat amendment in the House of Lords.
“The introduction of escalator payments would be an important step in tackling the housing crisis and I hope to see more of our proposals taken forward.
“The housing crisis is a human crisis. With thousands of people unable afford a home of their own, trapped in temporary accommodation or worse sleeping on the street, it is long overdue that action was taken.”
Liberal Democrat Lords Communities and Local Government Spokesperson Kath Pinnock said:
“The basis of our amendment this, a premium of 200% after five years and 300% after 10 years for those properties that are empty for 10 years or more. Any incentive to get more properties into use by families and individuals who desperately need a hand is one that we can all support.
At the same time, it stops empty homes from being a blot on their communities—and we all know examples of that.
The third reason is that it means that, if we can bring empty properties into use, we do not have to release so much greenbelt land to developers. Bringing more empty properties into use helps families in desperate need of a home but also saves precious green belt land from development."
Calderdale Liberal Democrats have launched a petition to demand better transport investment in our Railway and to sack Northern Rail.
Councillor James Baker said: "As someone who commutes for work myself I am all too aware of the frustration that is felt when at the end of a long day at work when you just want to get home you are faced with a cancelled train service."
"Turning up to the station to find their train has been cancelled has sadly become a far too familiar experience for people in Calderdale"
"Services across the North of England suffer with outdated trains, lines that haven’t been electrified and poorly run services."
"The Calderdale line has seen hundreds of cancellations and delays, making the lives of commuters who travel to places such as Leeds or Manchester a misery."
"It is a testament to a lopsided view of rail investment by successive governments: Pour it into London and the South-East, and deliver a trickle elsewhere."
The petition calls for:
- Northern to give up the line so that a company which is capable of providing a reliable service can take over.
- Fair investment in Rail for the North of England.
- The electrification of the Calderdale Line.
Gemma Wilson, Cllr for Lindley, last week joined the Liberal Democrats in Kirklees. Gemma a Councillor for Lindley since 2015 has campaigned over the past three years for local residents in support of HRI, to save Grimescar valley from development as well as tackling casework for local residents.
After confirming her decision at a meeting with Council Chief Executive Cllr Wilson said,
“I have today taken a positive step forward. As a united team for Lindley I will be working together with Cahal Burke and Richard Eastwood for the good of everyone in the ward. We are battling Kirklees Labour as they cut resources for our communities – such as the library at the heart of Lindley. From Birchencliffe to Salendine Nook and Quarmby to Oakes, we stand united on the issues that matter locally.
“And of course, I remain committed to keeping HRI at the heart of our town. And to fight to save Grimescar valley.”
She was welcomed to the Liberal Democrats by Cllr John Lawson, Lib Dem Group Leader, who said,
“Gemma works for local residents and the communities across Lindley, just like Cahal and Richard. Gemma will be a great asset to the group and will continue to speak out for the people of Lindley ward. I know she will bring a new dimension to the group and our ongoing campaign to win a fair deal for local people from Kirklees Labour.”
Cahal Burke, (LD Cllr, Lindley) also took the opportunity to welcome Gemma,
“I have seen Gemma in action, working for local people across Lindley for the past the three years. Her determination to get a good deal for local people, her passion on local issues is strong. Along with Richard and myself we will go forward as a united team – stronger, an even more effective voice for Lindley. We are looking forward to working together.”
Yorkshire and Humber Liberal Democrats are currently recruiting for a new regional communications and administration post.
Lord Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and good friend of the man himself gave the Richard Wainwright lecture at the Regional Conference in Ossett.
Liberal Democrats in Kirklees have been campaigning for many years to keep all our vital services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and will continue to do so.
Councillor Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) has condemned a further delaying of the confirmation of the HS2 route decision, leaving residents in Woodlesford uncertain about the future.
The Sheffield Liberal Democrats have welcomed the new Meadowhall expansion and called on the Labour Council to support the proposals.
The Electoral Commission has estimated that over the next six years, our area will have over 2000 extra voters, and nearly half of them will be living in Oulton.
Local Lib Dems, Councillor Steve Beasant and Kay Rudd, are opposing the Labour Council's decision to shortlist Freeman Street as a site for a new football ground.
Local Lib Dems are opposing a road to the Airport through our Green Belt. Building a trainline which would link Horsforth and the Ilkley Line would be a much better use of money.