Halifax MP Holly Lynch has accused the Government of treating flood-hit residents as a low priority after it was revealed that they have refused to reopen a vital grants scheme, which assisted thousands of households in Calderdale and around the country in 2015/16, for those affected by recent flooding.
Lancaster and the village of Galgate were the worst affected in last month's floods as heavy rain fell in areas which were also badly hit by Storm Desmond two years ago. Lancaster University recorded the highest ever 24hr rainfall total in 50 years of observations.
After Storm Desmond in 2015 the Government made grants available of £500 to support households in the immediate aftermath, and offered up to £5,000 to help make properties better prepared to cope with any future flooding.
The scheme also provided support for businesses, providing local authorities with funding worth over £2,500 for every business flooded. At the time Calderdale Council said that they had received over 1,120 applications and expressions of interest for the repair and renew grant from residents, and nearly 40% of eligible businesses had applied.
However, the Government have now revealed that they will not offer Lancaster City Council the funding to provide grants to those affected by the latest floods, raising questions about their commitment to providing these grants after future flooding events in other parts of the country. Responding to a written question Minister Jake Berry said:
“For events of the scale as seen recently, local areas are expected to provide support from within their own resources. The Government therefore has no plans to activate a wider cross government recovery programme.” He added that Storm Desmond and Eva “was an exceptional case.”
Labour's Shadow Flooding Minister Holly Lynch MP has called on the Government to reconsider this decision and raised the issue in Parliament this week. She believes that the decision is concerning for all those at risk of flooding who may require these grants in the future.
Ms Lynch said:
"Conservative Ministers decide whether to offer these crucial grants on an ad hoc basis with the money then delivered by Local Authorities. I think it shows appalling judgement that the Government claim these recent floods are not severe enough for them to provide support.
"We're working in Westminster to pressure Ministers to make sure they provide a full support package for residents and businesses affected.
"It sets a worrying precedent that this widespread flooding is being treated as such a low priority by the Government and will be of concern to residents in Calderdale who are threatened by future flooding."
Halifax MP Holly Lynch has accused the Government of treating flood-hit residents as a low priority after it was revealed that they have refused to reopen a vital grants scheme, which assisted thousands...
Halifax MP Holly Lynch has criticised the Conservative Government’s Budget delivered on Wednesday for failing to provide additional funds for local services.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a number of new proposals including a pledge to spend £30m to improve mobile and digital connectivity on the TransPennine rail route.
But she was concerned that the Government hasn’t taken action to address the housing crisis or restore funding to the Police and Social Care services, all of which she says are crucial for residents of Calderdale.
She said: “This was not a budget that delivers for Halifax. Although many of our essential local services are facing a funding crisis, the Chancellor has mostly ignored their calls for extra resources.
“There is no extra money for Calderdale Council, even though they have seen the worst cuts in a generation.
“They simply can’t provide the same level of services when their budget continues to be slashed. It will also be a huge challenge to ensure that quality Social Care is provided to all our elderly residents who need support.
“Homelessness is rising yet this Budget takes no significant action on affordable homes and changes to Universal Credit are not due until as late as April. This means we’re not going to tackle this growing problem any time soon.”
Ms Lynch has also backed calls by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, for more cash for the service, saying that since 2010, West Yorkshire police have faced cuts of £160 million and lost 1,200 frontline officers and about 800 members of staff.
“Police budgets need to increase so that the public, and officers, are safe and the forces can tackle all kinds of crime in a quick and efficient way that provides justice for victims of crime” she said.
“With violent crime rising, and increased threats from terrorism, I was hugely disappointed that the Government offered no extra money for policing. Proper community policing cannot be done on the cheap.”
Halifax MP Holly Lynch has criticised the Conservative Government’s Budget delivered on Wednesday for failing to provide additional funds for local services. Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a number of new...
Courier Column 29/09/17
It’s been clear for a long time now that our rail services are in desperate need of investment. The frequent delays, overcrowding and outdated trains are all evidence of the need for change.
The Conservative Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is certainly aware of the situation. During his whistle-stop visit to Sowerby Bridge railway station during the general election campaign he repeated the promise that our local rail services would be modernised and electrified. However, fast forward three months and you will now see the Government arguing that full electrification might not be feasible, even while the hugely expensive Crossrail 2 in London is getting the green light.
Those who live and work here know that our transport infrastructure has been ignored for too long. There is a clear cross-party consensus in Yorkshire, and amongst councillors in Calderdale, that electrification should be a top priority and that Central Government funding is the only way to achieve this.
The benefits of electric trains are clear; they are faster and more reliable than the diesel trains we currently have on the line. They would be less polluting, quieter and provide a first impression that we can be proud of to business travellers and tourists coming by rail.
Electrifying links on the main trans-Pennine line from Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds, and on the Calder Valley Line, would also benefit our regional economy. It would be possible to live in Halifax and look for jobs in Manchester, Liverpool, Chester or beyond knowing that you’d be able to commute in comfort and arrive on time. Businesses here could recruit from a wider pool of workers making Halifax a more attractive place to start or relocate a firm.
It would also help increase tourism, building on the success of recent developments. The exciting new ‘cultural quarter’ including the Piece Hall, the newly-built library and extended Square Chapel will attract many more people to our town and it would be great if they could travel here using a modern transport system.
A recent report found that more than half of the UK’s total spending on transport networks is invested in London. While on average every person in Yorkshire and the Humber receives the equivalent of £190, they found the figure for London was £1,943 per head. This is the reason why talk of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ was so welcome; it seemed to signal a recognition of how unbalanced our country has become between London and everywhere else, and a desire to address this.
So, I will continue to make the case in Westminster for improved rail services and more generally for increased investment in the North. It’s time the Government delivered on its promises to voters and committed to supporting our region.
Courier Column 29/09/17 It’s been clear for a long time now that our rail services are in desperate need of investment. The frequent delays, overcrowding and outdated trains are all...
Holly Lynch at Sowerby Bridge Railway Station
Halifax MP Holly Lynch has warned that proposed changes to rail timetables by train operator Northern could see a cut to services at Sowerby Bridge station.
Northern are currently working with Network Rail to determine the timetable proposals for the Calder Valley Line from May 2018 which will impact the frequency of services, which stations they stop at, and the times of the first and last trains of the day.
Ms Lynch has written to Northern’s Director Alan Chaplin, highlighting a number of changes which she believes will negatively impact rail users in Sowerby Bridge.
She has raised concerns that the last direct train from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge could be as early as 21:20, that there will be a diminished service for those travelling from Sowerby Bridge to Huddersfield, and that direct services on Sundays from Sowerby Bridge to Todmorden and Manchester could be discontinued.
Commenting on the proposed changes Ms Lynch said:
“There are many problems with Northern services at present, including massive overcrowding for commuters so I’m working closely with local rail users to ensure that things start to improve.
“I appreciate that it is difficult to schedule trains so that everyone is happy with the result, however it does appear that Sowerby Bridge is being left behind with these particular proposals.
“Cuts to services at Sowerby Bridge could bring a number of problems for rail users. For example those heading for a night out in Manchester could be forced to return home just after 9 o’clock, or pay for a taxi at significant extra expense.
“There are elements here that are to be welcomed such as the new routes to Manchester Airport and Chester due to Network Rail’s construction of the new ‘Ordsall Chord’ in Manchester.
“However, to maximise the benefit of these investments it is crucial that Sowerby Bridge is well served by the new timetable.”
Halifax Action District Rail Action Group's (HADRAG) have also campaigned on this issue. Their ‘Rail Views’ Autumn 2017 reads:
HADRAG and the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Sustainable Transport Group responded jointly to Northern’s timetable proposals. Welcoming new connectivity, we also listed a catalogue of concerns—unintended consequences maybe of ambitious plans. The train company will have submitted its proposals to Network Rail by now. We hope at least some of our concerns will have been addressed. More detail on website but some key points include:
Calder Valley Manchester trains to go through all day hourly to Chester and to Manchester Airport — the expected good news.
York-Blackpool trains to call Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd all day ‒ long standing HADRAG aspiration and welcome increase in weekday frequency. But these two stations appear to have no Sunday trains to Manchester — surely not acceptable.
Brighouse (Leeds-Halifax-Huddersfield) to go hourly on Sundays, improving on present 2-hourly. But no proposal to run the Leeds-Brighouse-Manchester service on Sundays — missing an opportunity to develop leisure travel along the valley.
Loss of attractive connections upper Calderdale-Huddersfield.
Uneven spacing of 4 trains/hour service Leeds-Halifax/Hebden Bridge — far from even quarter-hourly. Pathing of the new services round Manchester and via the new Ordsall Chord has resulted in a less than ideal pattern eastwards towards Leeds.
Some increased journey times via the Brighouse Line. Leeds-Brighouse-Manchester trains are to run fast Rochdale Manchester but look to be little if any faster overall because of extra time between Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge. Disappointing.
Missing early morning trains Halifax/Brighouse-Leeds.
Late evening Manchester-Calder Valley trains not serving intermediate stations such Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd despite being improved to half-hourly. Surely this can be fixed!
HADRAG is also concerned about the next big timetable change in December 2019. We have asked for a meeting with the train company.
Update to follow in Winter edition of Rail Views.
Holly Lynch at Sowerby Bridge Railway Station Halifax MP Holly Lynch has warned that proposed changes to rail timetables by train operator Northern could see a cut to services...
As we approach the two year anniversary of the devastating floods which hit the Calder Valley following Storm Eva, it’s a good time to assess some of the ongoing work that aims to better protect us in the future.
As the Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for flooding I’m following these developments particularly closely and have been getting involved with some exciting projects in Calderdale. A couple of weeks ago I joined Yorkshire Water at Gorpley reservoir above Todmorden helping plant the first of around 200,000 trees which will help reduce flood risk downstream.
Many readers will no doubt be aware of the growing significance of this kind of ‘natural flood management’. The idea is that for too long flood prevention has neglected the uplands, from where most of the water rapidly flows during periods of heavy rain. By creating an environment where water is slowed and absorbed before it reaches the valleys we can reduce the risk of conventional defences being breached. Tree planting is one method of achieving this, another is creating ‘leaky dams’ which consist of logs placed across upland water courses in order to hold more water in the countryside upstream. I’ll be joining local group Slow the Flow to help construct some of these in our local rivers next month.
Yorkshire Water are doing some good work in this area. They have announced that they will trial reducing the level of some of their reservoirs in Calderdale this winter to manage flood risk. If this practice is to become more widespread there are some issues that need sorting out in Westminster. At the moment water companies have a statutory responsibility to prevent droughts, with financial penalties if they fail to do so, yet there are no such legal responsibilities, or monetary incentives, to tackle flooding. This is something I’ll be urging the Government to address as I know from the number of letters I receive on this issue, that there is a lot of support for reservoirs being managed in this way.
It is crucial that if flooding does hit people’s homes and businesses that they are adequately insured to clean up the damage. The Flood Re scheme, which guarantees that many homeowners can get flood cover, seems to have been relatively successful in this area. However, it can still be improved as neither small businesses are included nor B&Bs and leaseholds in larger blocks. To get a clear picture of where things are working and where they can improve I’m leading a consultation for the Labour Environment team on Flood Re which will launch before the end of the year. I’m hoping local residents will be able to share their thoughts and I will soon be publicising full details on how to do this.
Published 10/11/17 As we approach the two year anniversary of the devastating floods which hit the Calder Valley following Storm Eva, it’s a good time to assess some of the...
Holly Lynch, Bradford MP Judith Cummins and Chair of the Fire Authority Councillor Judith Hughes joined West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service(WYFRS) crews on Saturday (4th November) to experience life as a firefighter on a busy bonfire weekend night.
Fire Chiefs described the evening as ‘busy but quieter than last year’ and called for a safe and enjoyable Bonfire Night tonight.
On Saturday evening crews came under attack twice in the Bradford area and once whilst an engine was returning to Halifax fire station.
Holly said: “On Saturday I witnessed first hand incredible partnership working from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police, which has ensured our communities could enjoy themselves, and stay safe over bonfire weekend.
“However, it was disappointing that once again, crews in West Yorkshire were subject to attacks and had fireworks thrown at them whilst they were trying to do their jobs.
“The ‘Protect The Protectors’ bill will create a new offence of assaulting an emergency service worker to send a strong message that it is absolutely unacceptable to assault our 999 responders.
“The new law is currently progressing through the House of Commons and my experiences on shift this week will help shape it to make sure that it provides all the necessary protections firefighters require to stay safe whilst doing their jobs.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton added: “We are pleased to report that whilst busy, we experienced a quieter night on Saturday than last year. Notwithstanding this, our crews came under attack from a minority of mindless idiots on two occasions in the Bradford area and once as they returned to Halifax fire station. Fortunately none of these incidents resulted in injury.
“As Bonfire Night itself commences we have seen already one attack on our crews and we urge people to think twice about this reckless behaviour."
Holly Lynch, Bradford MP Judith Cummins and Chair of the Fire Authority Councillor Judith Hughes joined West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service(WYFRS) crews on Saturday (4th November) to experience life as...
West Yorkshire Police Federation have praised Halifax MP Holly Lynch for her campaign to offer more protection for police, firefighters and NHS workers from assaults which has been passed with cross-party support in the House of Commons.
Last year Holly began her ‘Protect the Protectors’ to deter people from assaulting emergency service workers, calling debates on the issue and introducing a bill to Parliament. Although the initial bill failed to pass due to time constraints, the bill has now been reintroduced as a ‘Private Member’s Bill’ by her Labour colleague Chris Bryant MP.
It would, for the first time, make it an aggravated offence to attack an emergency worker and offer greater protections against spitting.
Federation Chair Nick Smart has been working with Holly on the campaign. He said:
“It was my meetings and briefings with Holly in relation to the dangers faced by officers that led to that fateful night in Halifax with Holly and PC Gallant, that started the Protect The Protectors campaign.”
“She went out on patrol with PC Gallant, one of her local Halifax officers and ended up calling 999 for back up when they were surrounded by a group of individuals after pulling over a car.
“This bill is a massively important step forward in the campaign to impose stronger deterrents and stronger sanctions to better protect those who we all rely on. Any form of assault is unacceptable and is not part of the job for police officers or any other emergency service worker.
“Thanks to Holly’s phenomenal campaign we are hopeful that this law could be on the statute books as early as Easter next year.”
The new law would apply to emergency service workers including firefighters, paramedics, and those involved in Search and Rescue. It has support from the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, the Fire Bridges Union, and the GMB union.
Holly, whose parents both worked in frontline emergency service roles, said:
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that many hard-working men and women face serious assault and abuse simply for doing their jobs trying to keep us all safe and well.
“Any assault on emergency workers is unacceptable, and it’s about time the law reflected the seriousness of attacks on people working for the public good.
“Society owes a debt of thanks to our emergency workers, so I’m delighted that this campaign has secured the backing of the Government which will massively increase its chances of passing through Parliament.
“After the debate in Parliament last Friday MPs passed this bill unanimously. This sends a clear message that we will not tolerate violence and abuse towards those who protect us, and it will hopefully help stem the tide of this worrying trend of assaults.”
West Yorkshire Police Federation have praised Halifax MP Holly Lynch for her campaign to offer more protection for police, firefighters and NHS workers from assaults which has been passed with...
Holly has called on the Government to ensure that Halifax features in plans for the proposed ‘High Speed 3’ rail line describing it as a potential ‘game changer’ for the area.
The Government have expressed their backing for HS3, also known as Northern Powerhouse Rail, which would see a 30-minute link created between Manchester and Leeds, rather than the current 49-minute journey, with trains reaching speeds of up to 125mph.
The exact route across the Pennines has yet to be decided with options understood to include an upgrade of the line through Huddersifeld and Stalybridge, constructing a brand new line, or substantial upgrades along the Calder Valley line route.
Holly has quizzed Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, on the plans in the House of Commons saying:
“If High Speed 3 connected Leeds and Manchester via the Calder Valley line, that would be an absolute game changer for my part of the world. Will he update the House on whether and when that connection could become a reality?”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling responded:
“We have modernised the Calder Valley line and are about to launch the modernisation of the main trans-Pennine route between Leeds and Manchester.
“I am now waiting for the detailed Transport for the North proposals for Northern Powerhouse Rail. In the short term, we modernise the trans-Pennine route, and in due course we will build Northern Powerhouse Rail to ensure that we have those better links for the future.”
Speaking after the debate Holly said:
“High Speed 3 must be delivered in the right way. I’m hopeful that the final plans will include either a stop in Calderdale or allow Calder Valley trains to run on parts of the high speed route which could bring Halifax to Leeds journey times down to less than 20 minutes.
“The Transport Secretary has consistently let down pubic transport users in the North and his claims to have 'already modernised' our ageing line are ludicrous. However I hope he will see sense on this major scheme so that our area doesn’t lose out."
Holly has called on the Government to ensure that Halifax features in plans for the proposed ‘High Speed 3’ rail line describing it as a potential ‘game changer’ for the...
Holly has welcomed today’s decision by Wetherspoons to phase out straws across its 900 pubs in the UK and Republic of Ireland by the end of this year.
She has recently launched a campaign to reduce the amount of waste resulting from plastic drinking straws and wrote to the top 20 chain restaurants and pubs urging them to offer straws on request only.
Commenting on today’s announcement by Wetherspoons she said:
“This is a really welcome announcement by one of the country’s most prominent pub chains. It is great to see them taking a lead on tackling avoidable plastic waste.
“Globally over 500m straws are thrown away every day with almost all of them ending up in landfill, being incinerated, or in our waterways, seas and oceans.
“I’m calling on more pubs and restaurants to join this growing campaign which has widespread public support. Working together on this we can make a real difference towards tackling the problem of single use plastics.”
Holly has welcomed today’s decision by Wetherspoons to phase out straws across its 900 pubs in the UK and Republic of Ireland by the end of this year. She has...
This week, I have written to the top 20 chain restaurants and bars asking them to join the campaign to ditch drinking straws.
We are all in the habit of using low-cost, consumable plastics which may offer small conveniences at the time, but all add up to have a detrimental impact on our communities and environment.
However things are starting to change. When you consider the reduction in the use of plastic carrier-bags since a fee was introduced in conjunction with awareness raising campaigns, progress is being made in reducing the amount of plastic waste we produce.
Similarly, drinking straws have become ever-present in our bars, pubs and restaurants. It is not unusual to order a drink which comes with one or two straws whether we have asked for them or not. These straws are designed for a single use, lasting for a matter of minutes, yet once thrown away they will litter our planet for centuries.
Globally, over 500 million straws are thrown away every single day. They are very rarely recycled meaning most will be either incinerated or sent to landfill. Unfortunately, many straws also end up in our waterways, seas and oceans and form part of the estimated 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons afloat at sea. This results in great harm to sea life, impacting on birds, fish and sea mammals.
There have been many highlighted cases of this including a study last August by Plymouth University which reported that plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish with cod, haddock and mackerel all affected. Many people will also have seen the video of a Sea Turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nostril which has to be removed, causing immense pain for the animal.
An obvious first step is to ask ourselves - do we really notice if a drink comes with or without a straw? Is a straw really necessary? Much in the same way many of us do with plastic bags since the introduction of a small charge.
So this week, I have written to the top 20 pub, bar and restaurant chains to urge them to adopt a straws on request policy. Listing straws on menus as ‘available on request’ and providing biodegradable straws to those who do need them would help bring about a huge reduction in plastic waste.
All Bar One have taken a lead on this and have already committed to phasing out plastic straws from their bars in an effort to reduce the 4.7 million straws they purchase each year.
You can let your favourite bars, pubs and restaurants know that you’re joining the #GoStrawFree campaign by tweeting your support or writing to their head office. It is crucial that they know there is widespread public support for tackling damaging levels of plastic waste.
It is my hope is that with consumers, businesses and law makers working together on this, we can make a real difference towards tackling the problem of single use plastics.
This article first appeared on the Politics Home website https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/environment/opinion/house-commons/89135/holly-lynch-mp-its-final-straw-waste-plastic-bars
This week, I have written to the top 20 chain restaurants and bars asking them to join the campaign to ditch drinking straws. We are all in the habit of...