Talking Politics with Holly Lynch

Happy Valley has gripped the nation in recent weeks as Sgt Catherine Cawood and Tommy Lee Royce had one final ‘bit of a tussle’ bringing the drama to an unforgettable close after 3 series.​

​As a Calderdale MP, being asked for quotes about if I know where Tommy Lee Royce is hiding has brought some welcome variety to the sorts of requests I would normally get from journalists. However, seeing our area play the starring role as the stunning backdrop to such an iconic series has done wonders for Calderdale. The film and television work we now see so regularly in the town, brings with it skills, jobs, opportunities and investment.

It all started with Happy Valley and Sally Wainwright’s artistic commitment to making our very own streets so integral to the gripping storylines. From the opening scene of series 3 where Gary Gaggoski in his ‘concrete underpants’ is discovered at Baiting's reservoir rather than Scammandon or the reference to an ‘Ovenden doorkey’ in series 1, those references make it so real for those of us so familiar with these places. We are grateful to Sally for making that happen, playing a key role in the regeneration of Halifax.

But as you’re watching you’re also reminded of how much has changed in recent years. As the Police at the Halifax station get the urgent call to assist Catherine in Hebden Bridge you can’t help but think it’s a shame that Hebden Bridge police station closed down. Its also a shame the Sowerby Bridge station where the first 2 series were set, has also closed down. Alongside stations in Elland and Ovenden, and the 2 court buildings in Halifax which have all been sold off since 2010.

The footprint of the justice system in Calderdale is a shadow of its former self. Across West Yorkshire, as a consequence of this Government’s cuts to police budgets since 2010, 22 police stations have closed and a further 10 community contact points. Although 6 new stations opened, that is still a loss of 14 stations and 10 contact points, and we feel that in our communities.

As a shadow Home Office Minister, I’m working hard to try and make sure we have a plan to restore that presence, starting with the commitment Labour has made to 13,000 more police officers and PCSOs in neighbourhood teams. Tommy Lee Royce may no longer be on the loose, but our communities deserve strong, local policing.