Stroud Constituency Labour Party
Manifesto for SDC 2011 election
Tories have failed to increase recycling or to deliver what people want, for example: cardboard recycling along with all plastics. Under Labour SDC was 98th in the country for recycling, now it’s 312th.
abour will improve recycling, both in terms of what is collected and how much recycling is done. We will provide more facilities at kerbside and elsewhere, so that even if all recycling cannot be collected kerbside, there are much nearer facilities allowing more people to recycle more items. With the huge increase in costs for landfill, this is the only sensible way forward. We will seek to have a Gloucestershire wide joint solution to recycling rather than having the 6 different approaches we have at present owing to there being 6 different Councils. Our approach will save money and be more efficient, and will have more of our rubbish recycled.
Tories have failed to keep control of the budget - they didn’t even notice the Housing Department went nearly £1million over budget, then over £1million under budget. The Canal is over budget (with extra concerns now the Project Manager has resigned). Money was deposited in banks for longer than the Council’s own policies dictate, so the Council lost money as a result of the Icelandic bank collapse.
abour will introduce sound financial management: no risky investments that can’t be recovered; no £1million housing budget losses; proper regular checks on all department spending. The Council’s money is public money - it should be properly managed, with spending controlled and no risky investments.
Managing Council business
Tories have failed to manage the council’s work competently - for years independent inspectors have said their project management is poor. Projects go over budget, over time and do not deliver results.
abour will put in place strong management and strong systems to make sure the Council is not vulnerable to losing money and that residents do not suffer as a result of projects not being delivered, being delayed, not happening at all or costing more money.
Housing and affordable housing
Tories have failed to provide enough affordable housing in the areas people need them. Their Homebuy schemes have only helped handfuls of people. Current government proposals for housing incentives are not likely to improve the situation
abour will work with parish and town councils and developers to get affordable homes available to all communities and will prioritise working through community landtrusts so that the homes continue to remain affordable over time.
We will also oppose large scale development in any one area, preferring small scale dispersal of housing so that all communities benefit from development: getting affordable housing, ensuring the retention of schools and other services; getting ‘planning gain’ for local people. We will oppose housing that is not supported by local employment. A key issue for all our communities is affordable housing, particularly for our young people. We will ensure we increase the opportunities for social and community housing.
Tories have failed to listen to tenants. They pay lip service to their ‘compact’ with tenants but in practice they consult but ignore the results and have weakened the power of the tenants’ organisations. In sheltered housing they failed to listen to the responses to their own consultation and removed resident scheme managers, leaving pensioners feeling vulnerable without the support they have always relied upon.
abour will build a stronger working relationship with tenants, supporting a strong and independent tenants and residents association that can stand up for tenants’ rights. We will look again at how scheme managers to all sheltered housing units in the District can be provided. We will work with older people and representative tenant groups to listen to concerns and meet the needs of older tenants across the district. We will encourage and support tenant management of the areas where they live, including the setting of the standards for repairs and the lettings policy.
Tories have failed to use their position to increase economic prosperity across the district.
abour will work to increase job opportunities across the district, particularly in areas worse hit by unemployment, such as Stonehouse, Dursley and some wards of Stroud. We will encourage businesses to locate in this area by actively promoting the area and giving better support and advice to interested businesses. We will work with local business to encourage more take up of apprenticeships and other job creation schemes. We will ensure the Council and other public bodies, buy local and hire local -supporting local people and businesses.
Tories have failed to get a grip on anti-social behaviour.
abour will prioritise plans to deal with anti-social behaviour, working with the Police and using the legislation provided by the previous Labour Government to help communities that continue to be plagued by continuing acts of anti-social behaviour which reduce the quality of life for residents. There has been a decline in youth crime over the last few years, but now that the Tory-run County Council is no longer providing youth workers and youth clubs, there is a concern that young people will be on the streets with nothing to do. Young people need an opportunity to receive the appropriate advice and guidance about jobs and training together with an opportunity to meet and undertake organised activities. Labour commits to giving our young people a fair deal.
Tories have failed to make a major impact - all their schemes have been for a tiny number of households
abour will improve on the Tory’s record of insulating homes of the less well-off, finding ways to make faster progress. This will benefit individuals as well as the environment. Through the planning system we will promote developments that are carbon neutral and we will encourage all house building to aim at the highest environmental standards. We will enforce legislation that exists to reduce litter and dog fouling. We will support joint purchasing arrangements for fuel and power thereby giving residents a lower price by working together.
Tories have failed to identify and develop plans for meeting the needs of an increasingly elderly population.
abour will work with local organisations like Care and Repair to increase the security of older people and allow them to remain in their own homes longer and to provide domestic and gardening help. We will help older people living with fuel poverty. We will develop strategies for better housing; we will support the retention and creation of Day Centres in all communities. In rural areas strategies will be needed to manage the effects of Tory cuts in services and public transport on older people, so that they are not doubly disadvantaged. We will work with representative groups and organisations like the Stroud District Older Persons’ Forum, to be able to have a greater say in the operation of local services, including the choice of where, how and by whom local services are delivered.
Town centre vitality and viability
Tories have failed to work with partners to develop cohesive plans for town centre regeneration and have greatly reduced the council’s capacity to work on such plans.
abour will work with town and parish councils to support existing town centre regeneration plans, helping to turn the plans into reality, to improve the vitality and viability of our town centres. We will ensure that they are vibrant and friendly places for young and old, and, most importantly, fewer empty shops, with local businesses given every opportunity to grow and thrive.
Tories have failed to support rural communities - who have lost their affordable housing, their libraries, their bus services, EMA and other local services
abour will rural-proof our policies. We will make the planning system more accountable and work better with parish councils to maintain and improve the sustainability of our market towns and villages. We will encourage more local services and support local people in having a greater say in determining what local services are offered and how they are delivered.
Tories have failed to keep control of the use of consultants and have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds
abour will run the council with more permanent staff and fewer consultants so the wage bill is better controlled, leaving more money for services to the public. We will ensure the Council adheres to the national standards for Value for Money and that all work is tendered for following national guidelines.
Tories have failed to work together in Gloucestershire to save money, so local cuts have been worse for us compared to other county council areas (Wiltshire made far fewer cuts as they have just moved to unitary).
abour will campaign for unitary local government in Gloucestershire. This will save £millions every year and will mean that not so many cuts in spending are needed and that money can be found to carry out the programme of work that are part of this manifesto and that residents identify as priorities.
Tories have failed our local hospitals. When Weavers Croft was closed in 2006, the Council paid for a study into setting up a social enterprise model to deliver services locally but nothing happened. Now there are plans for the future of our community hospitals which could threaten their future. Consultation has been poor and the plans are worrying, with no evidence that they are likely to work. Hospitals could be sold off or merged as a result of the process, leaving them more vulnerable to being closed down.
abour will demand better consultation so that the public know what is being proposed. We will use the Scrutiny process to challenge the process. We will campaign for a secure future for Stroud Hospital, Stroud Maternity Hospital and the new hospital being built in Dursley. We will fight all closures and support the principle that all healthcare should be free at the point of delivery. We will support local NHS staff whose jobs are threatened and who are delivering key services.
Tories have failed to provide strong leadership in the district
abour will take the lead for the benefit of all residents and communities - working with Councillors from all tiers of local government, alongside businesses and the voluntary sector to get cohesive and overarching plans for the economic, social and environmental well-being and future prosperity of the district.
Tories have failed to provide enough support to the voluntary sector
abour will work with voluntary organisations, supporting them in their work, especially in view of the extra burdens they may be expected to bear, as a result of having to carry the Government’s Big Society agenda. We will support
the role that the Voluntary Sector has to play in delivering complementary services, not using them as a substitute for the responsibilities that statutory bodies have, for example with health and vulnerable people.