Following on from the recent Calderdale Council meeting which set a budget that will see; charges for the Care of Elderly up 33%, charges for leisure facilities up 25%, charges for car parking up 20% and library resources cut by £250,000, local Conservatives have criticised the council’s failure to reduce the annual subsidy it pays to unions representing council employees.

Cllr Stephen Baines, Leader of the Conservative Group said:

“The council is obliged to allow union officials reasonable paid time off to undertake their union related duties. However, it is not obliged to gold plate what it provides and we are firmly of the view that the local council taxpayers will not support the continuation of approximately £250,000 per year of their money being used to pay union officials working on behalf of council employees.

"I cannot stress enough that we recognise the value of what the unions do for council employees, but they should do so with money taken from the annual subscriptions of their members, not with taxpayer’s money.

"It cannot be right that whilst the council is cutting funding to services for vulnerable people and voluntary organisations, it is continuing to fund at the current level, the activities of unions which can afford to make massive donations to political party campaigns etc. It could be said that in effect, the taxpayer is making or at least subsidising union donations to political parties etc, as they could not do this if their subscription income was used for what it should be.

"I do not doubt that even union members, including those employed by the council will consider it inappropriate for public money to be spent on what should clearly be funded by member subscriptions.

 “I have discussed the matter with the Leaders of the other West Yorkshire Conservative Groups, who share our concerns. Across the County approximately £2 million of taxpayers money is being handed over to public sector unions. We are all calling for this to be removed or at least dramatically reduced.