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Not So Happy Valley....

Many of you will have seen the excellent TV series 'Happy Valley', starring Sarah Lancashire and written by Sally Wainwright, filmed in and around the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. Now the Calder and neighbouring Ryburn Valley are my patch. I was brought up here, and I have also lived, worked or studied for a fair amount of time in Leeds, Manchester, and other areas close by. So to see the devastation caused by flooding of the past couple of days across this area is horrendous. This is my country, and it is horrible to see what has happened.

OK, so the weather of the past few days has been exceptional, the temperatures have been high, meaning there's more moisture in the air, and as we keep getting told repeatedly, global warming is having a major impact. 

However, it keeps happening again, not just here but in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, and no doubt in due course, down the Severn Valley. Does it not occur to the powers that be that the preventative action taken is inadequate? Are they not taking into account the impact of global warming? Carry on cleaning the drains, dredging the rivers, this would at least help. The floods in Somerset the other year were in part attributed to allowing the rivers to silt up. But no, the fact is that as local government powers have been stripped away as part of the gradual and cynical dismantling of the state's commitment to a caring society, and services have been cut as local authorities have been forbidden to increase council tax, it has meant that basic services have been cut back. And guess what, cleaning the drains, maintaining the roads, and other basic services have been neglected as this is deemed less important. I have heard that monies were provided for increased flood defence, but ended up being allocated to what were seen to be more pressing issues. Which is perfectly understandable, if your income is being reduced, you have to make what at the time are appropriate decisions.

But, add to this, the drive to stoke the economy by building 'affordable homes' or offer financial incentives to take up industrial units on hitherto flood plains where excess water could drain off with little damage to the local area and you have another potential cause. When I lived in Elland, for years the old power station site on Lowfields  - which in itself was fairly spaced out when it was still in operation - was open and able to absorb any potential floods. Now, the site is so tightly crammed with offices, factories, and warehouses there isn't room to swing a cat, or the dog I used to walk across there! So where can the water go?

So I say: if our government thought more about our own people, dropped the ridiculous idea of overseas aid to growing economies like China and India, and trying to impress the rest of the world in the deluded view that we still have a major influence, we would at least think they were on our side. If they could just for once stop committing money to futile wars in far away lands, like Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria, and stop cutting our vital services at every opportunity, and start looking after our own country. Maybe if they had to deal with the sludge and the stench and the general mess it might change their minds?

Back here in the Calder Valley, my heartfelt wishes go out to everyone affected, hope its effects are as minimal as possible - people like my friends Allan and Doreen in Elland, Alan and Alyson from Calan's in Hebden Bridge, and countless others....

Hebden Bridge, 26/12/15


  1. Thank you Chris. We hope to be open for a day or two...or even three from New Years eve. We have a number of casks we rescued to above water line and are aiming to serve on gravity. We served up around 400 pints of mainly beer and some cider the other day on our temporary free bar. It was an absolute joy to see spirits raised and other restaurants like Aya Sophia and Watergate cafe joining in with fabulous tasty treats and drinks nearby.This on top of all the amazing help and kindness from volunteers. Watch out on Facebook. Thank you again Chris.

    1. Glad to hear this. Will try to pop over at some point if I can.

  2. Power is still operating at Lowfields. Takes up quite a huge part of Lowfields.

    1. Thanks for the comment, what I was referring to was how the site has got so much more built upon since the days of the old Elland power station. Cheers Chris


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