Stroud District Council
Election Manifesto 2012
What we stand for - A fairer, co-operative and sustainable Stroud District. To achieve this we will work with local communities, residents, voluntary groups & businesses.
Stroud Labour will -
· Support people to live safe and productive lives
· Actively promote equality of opportunity for women
· Promote economic well-being, creating more jobs and supporting sustainable businesses
· Support sustainable development, more affordable homes and ensure the Council is run by a rigorous efficient and innovative leadership
· Fight to protect those in our society including the young and the old most affected by local and national cuts in public expenditure
· Promote a healthy lifestyle, support more play areas, green spaces, local food and allotments
The Tories have failed our young people. Youth unemployment is rising, youth clubs are being closed, careers services slashed and youth workers have been made redundant.
Labour will ensure that youth services are restored, that young people are supported by more job and training opportunities and that they are properly engaged in policy making. We support free public transport for our young people in Gloucestershire, to seek work and engage in learning.
The Tories nationally and locally are carrying out unprecedented levels of cuts in public spending. Library services have been slashed, youth services cut. Children’s centres are under threat along with services for people with disabilities. Health services are being set up for privatisation and profit rather than using need to drive services.
Labour locally is committed to ensuring local services meet local needs, and to making sure the most vulnerable in our society are supported to be able to play a full and active life
Recycling and Waste Management
The Tories have failed to co-operate with other Districts and the County Council to have more cost effective and efficient services. They support the building of a massive incinerator at the Javelin Business Park near Junction 12, Haresfield. To make this pay, the Tories support large amounts of waste being brought into the area from other parts of the country.
Labour 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 will be much nearer facilities allowing more people to recycle more items. We are also opposed to the incinerator at Haresfield which we believe will form a health risk to local people.
Financial management of Stroud District Council
Tories have failed to keep control of the use of consultants and have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds
Labour will run the council with more permanent staff and fewer consultants so that the wage bill is better controlled, leaving more money to be spent on service to the public. We will work with neighbouring districts and put in place strong management and strong systems to ensure economies of scale are achieved, with democratic oversight.
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, which recently became Unitary made far fewer). The local Tories support 6 Districts and a County Council (all of which are Tory controlled) each with an expensive Chief Executive and seven differing expensive ways of managing their business.
Labour will campaign for unitary local government in Gloucestershire. This will save £millions every year and will mean that fewer cuts in spending are needed and that money can be found to carry out the programme of work that is laid out in this manifesto and other priorities that residents identify. We are the only party calling for a Unitary Authority - a structure we know that works well elsewhere.
Housing and affordable housing
Tories have failed to work with or listen to local communities. The Tory proposed Core Strategy seeks to have 3,200 houses built in Eastington, Cam, Hardwicke, Stroud, Sharpness and Minchinhampton. There is no detail of how the increased demand for local services and infrastructure e.g. road use will be dealt with. They plan to raise Council rents and support cuts in Housing Benefit.
Labour will work with parish and town councils and developers to get affordable homes available to all communities and will prioritise working through community land trusts 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: gaining affordable housing, keeping schools and other services; getting ‘planning gain’ for local people. We will oppose housing that is not supported by local employment.
Tories have failed to use their influence to increase economic prosperity across the district. Their Core Strategy for housing states that 6,400 jobs will need to be created - but they have not given any idea of how this will be undertaken. Labour will work to increase job and training opportunities across the district, particularly in areas worse hit by unemployment, such as Stonehouse, Dursley, Cainscross and Stroud town. We will encourage businesses to locate here by actively promoting the area and will give better support and advice to existing business. We will actively promote co-operative ways of working and support business practices that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Tories have failed to listen to tenants. They pay lip service to their contract with tenants but in practice they consult but then ignore the results and have weakened the power of the tenants’ organisations.
Labour will build a stronger working relationship with tenants, supporting strong and independent tenants’ and residents’ associations that can stand up for tenants’ rights.
Tories have failed to maintain and improve the housing stock or to work well with representative groups - and they have cut resident scheme managers.
Labour will look again at how resident 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.
Policing and Community Safety
Tories have failed to get a grip on anti-social behaviour. They are cutting the numbers of front-line police and the Gloucestershire Chief Constable has stated publically that he is fearful of the effects of the cuts. Neighbourhood wardens numbers are also being cut.
Labour 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 persistent 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.
Tories have failed to make a major impact on the need for energy saving - all their schemes have been for a tiny number of households
Labour will improve on the Tory’s record by insulating more 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 measures to alleviate fuel poverty.
Tories have failed to identify and develop plans for meeting the needs of an increasingly elderly population.
Labour will work with local organisations like Care and Repair to increase the security of older people and to provide domestic and gardening help, allowing them to remain in their own homes longer. We will help older people living with fuel poverty. We will develop strategies for better housing and 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.
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.
Labour 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 continue to support local post offices, pubs and other vital local services.
Tories have failed to support rural communities - who have lost their affordable housing, their libraries, their bus services, shops and other local services.
Labour 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
Tories have failed us on health. They are making major changes to the organisation and structure of local services and cutting them .Consultation on this has been poor and the plans are worrying because there is no evidence that they will work. Hospitals could be sold off or merged as a result of the process, leaving them more vulnerable to being sold to the private sector or closed down.
Labour will demand better consultation so that the public know what is being proposed and 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 Vale hospital in Dursley. We all also continue to campaign to keep all health provision within the NHS and support the principle of need rather than greed being the basis for how we organise and deliver health services.
Tories have failed to provide effective leadership in the district. There is a total lack of evidence based policy and no clear consultation and engagement of local communities
Labour 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. We will ensure all councillors are involved in the workings of the Council and provide clear accountability for key decisions.
Tories have failed to provide enough support to the voluntary sector and have continued to cut valuable services in an arbitrary fashion
Labour will work with voluntary organisations, supporting them in their work, especially in view of the extra burden they may be expected to bear, as a result of having to carry the Government’s Big Society agenda.
A business-like Council
The Tories have failed to be entrepreneurial in the way they run the Council. Their own Government gives numerous opportunities to run local services, as individual schools and other service providers become individual purchasers of services. For example schools now decide from whom they will purchase many local services such as school improvement and careers services. As a result, most choose the private sector
Labour will work to build the capacity for the Council to be able to bid for and run local service opportunities e.g. in education, social services and health. We will seek to support relevant capital projects such as building more council houses. We will also maximise the Council’s role as a provider of services which are being cut, such as advice and guidance for young people and fuel poverty alleviation. Lastly we will seek to capitalise on the imagination and innovation of local people and businesses by using the Council as an agent to champion local purchasing, co-operation and knowledge transfer.
5 April 2012