£1m mental health debate

£1m mental health debate
By Tony Earnshaw
Local Democracy Reporter


DISCUSSIONS are continuing over how to deliver a £1m mental health support programme in Kirklees.

A pilot scheme is getting closer to a start date, but there remain concerns over how the project – dubbed Place-Based Partnerships – will fairly disseminate money across the borough.

Kirklees Council has pledged to improve “mental health outcomes” for local people in 2019/20.

It is allocating £1.4m to the project, with £1m directed towards mental health and the remaining £400,000 going towards tackling domestic abuse.

The authority is championing place-based partnerships as a way of overseeing community-based matters across the borough. The cash for mental health and domestic abuse will be overseen by seven “place leads” – councillors selected to head up seven areas.

Those areas – Batley; Birstall and Birkenshaw; Spen Valley; Dewsbury; Huddersfield North; Huddersfield Central; Huddersfield Rural; and Colne Valley – will be divided up amongst Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

Each councillor who becomes a place lead will be paid a special responsibility allowance of £5,009.

Meeting in Huddersfield Town Hall, members of the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee agreed to refer a report by the Members’ Allowances Independent Review Panel for consideration at Full Council on September 18.

But there were questions over how individual areas and projects would be funded given the disparity of size.

“Do we have a million and everyone gets a seventh of it?” asked Coun John Taylor (Con, Kirkburton). “We need to be a bit more nuanced than that.”

And he urged those working on the place-based project to be mindful that individual areas possessed their own identities and that “artificially shoving wards together” could diminish their sense of place.

There was agreement from the Lib Dems’ Coun Andrew Marchington (Golcar) and Labour’s Coun Steve Hall (Heckmondwike), who recognised that different areas faced different problems.

But they agreed that the scheme – a flagship strategic project being driven by Council Leader Shabir Pandor – should be progressed quickly.

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