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2015 Local Elections principles and priorities

April 27, 2015 7:31 AM

SLOUGH

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

2015 Local Elections:

principles and priorities

The way forward for Slough:

spending sensibly, listening locally

Printed, published and promoted by Gary James Griffin for and behalf of East Berkshire Liberal Democrats, all at 45 Victoria Road, Slough Berkshire. SL2 5NF.

One page summary of key points from the Slough Liberal Democrat manifesto for the Slough Borough Council elections in May 2015

  • Boosting education: Liberal Democrats welcome the £16 million extra for Slough schools from the Pupil Premium policy introduced by the Lib Dems in Government. This and the Lib Dem's free school meals for 5,400 Slough pupils have improved pupil performance.
  • Stopping wasteful spending: Money is tight because of the deficit left by Labour. Now it is even more important to spend sensibly. But the Labour Council made a loss on a scheme intended to save money, and spent money on unwanted traffic schemes across Slough.
  • Spending sensibly: Slough needs councillors who will fight against wasteful spending by Labour, and fight for boosting funding in areas that have been cut and/or need more funding eg bus services, youth services and measures to fight fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.
  • Managing properly: Lib Dems elected to Slough Council will hold the Labour-run Council to account for its appalling mis-management, eg of the Heart of Slough/bus station project and the Children's Services which Labour ran so badly central Government had to take over.
  • Listening locally: Liberal Democrats have a good record of listening to thousands of Slough residents the Labour Party ignores eg over planning in Langley etc, traffic schemes in Chalvey etc, parking schemes in the Diamond Road area, and anti-social behaviour.
  • Promoting health and access to GPs: Liberal Democrats in Government made sure Slough regained control of public health services. The Council must improve leisure facilities to help boost fitness. Slough Council should do more to get better access to GP services.
  • Building safer communities: The Lib Dems believe the Council should help build safer communities, eg former Lib Dem Councillor Robert Plimmer led the way in working with residents to boost security by getting gates for back alleyways, but more action is needed.
  • Protecting the environment: Liberal Democrats have been right to highlight the dangers of climate change. Slough Council must increase recycling and micro-generation, and back former Lib Dem Councillor Robert Plimmer's plan for the Council to go carbon-neutral.
  • Campaigning with residents: Liberal Democrats will continue to work with residents to press the Council to listen to local people on planning etc, to get rid of unwanted traffic schemes in Chalvey etc, and to restore the funding cut from bus and youth services.
  • Working together on the Council:This mini-manifesto will form the basis on which Slough Liberal Democrat Councillors would negotiate with other groups so as to work cooperatively to address the problems facing our town, consult local residents and spend sensibly.

Published and promoted by Gary James Griffin for and behalf of East Berkshire Liberal Democrats, all at 45 Victoria Road, Slough Berkshire. SL2 5NF.

The way forward for Slough:

spending sensibly, listening locally

Summary of key points from the Slough Liberal Democrat manifesto for the Slough Borough Council elections in May 2015

  • Boosting education: Liberal Democrats welcome the £16 million extra for Slough schools from the Pupil Premium policy introduced by the Lib Dems in Government. This and the Lib Dem's free school meals for 5,400 Slough pupils have improved pupil performance.
  • Stopping wasteful spending: Money is tight because of the deficit left by Labour. Now it is even more important to spend sensibly. But the Labour Council made a loss on a scheme intended to save money, and spent money on unwanted traffic schemes across Slough.
  • Spending sensibly: Slough needs councillors who will fight against wasteful spending by Labour, and fight for boosting funding in areas that have been cut and/or need more funding eg bus services, youth services and measures to fight fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.
  • Managing properly: Lib Dems elected to Slough Council will hold the Labour-run Council to account for its appalling mis-management, eg of the Heart of Slough/bus station project and the Children's Services which Labour ran so badly central Government had to take over.
  • Listening locally: Liberal Democrats have a good record of listening to thousands of Slough residents the Labour Party ignores eg over planning in Langley etc, traffic schemes in Chalvey etc, parking schemes in the Diamond Road area, and anti-social behaviour.
  • Promoting health and access to GPs: Liberal Democrats in Government made sure Slough regained control of public health services. The Council must improve leisure facilities to help boost fitness. Slough Council should do more to get better access to GP services.
  • Building safer communities: The Lib Dems believe the Council should help build safer communities, eg former Lib Dem Councillor Robert Plimmer led the way in working with residents to boost security by getting gates for back alleyways, but more action is needed.
  • Protecting the environment: Liberal Democrats have been right to highlight the dangers of climate change. Slough Council must increase recycling and micro-generation, and back former Lib Dem Councillor Robert Plimmer's plan for the Council to go carbon-neutral.
  • Campaigning with residents: Liberal Democrats will continue to work with residents to press the Council to listen to local people on planning etc, to get rid of unwanted traffic schemes in Chalvey etc, and to restore the funding cut from bus and youth services.
  • Working together on the Council:This mini-manifesto will form the basis on which Slough Liberal Democrat Councillors would negotiate with other groups so as to work cooperatively to address the problems facing our town, consult local residents and spend sensibly.

Context:

Slough's Labour-run Council waste money on things residents do not want, including unwanted traffic schemes across Slough. Then the services that people do value, such as bus and youth services across Slough, including in Cippenham and Langley, are cut back by the Labour Council. This approach must end, and the cuts should be reversed

Similarly, the Labour leaders of Slough Council must be forced to take more responsibility to provide adequate leadership on key issues where so far they have performed very badly, such as the Heart of Slough project/the bus station and Children and Young Adult Safeguarding Services. And yet, when challenged in the Council over damaging reports from the official inspection body (OFSTED) Labour councillors refused to accept responsibility. Instead of listening to others, leading members of the Labour-run Council just resorted to 'a foul-mouth outburst', as reported in local papers. So Labour councillors did not listen, and just carried on much as before. Then a second official inspection report was so damning that central Government had to take over running the service. Labour messed up this vital service so badly there needs to be much greater scrutiny of how they run other services.

In common with all councils, Slough Council faces an uncertain and, inevitably, difficult time ahead as the country deals with the massive public expenditure deficit that was run up by the former Labour Government. Under Labour the deficit was rising by £400 million every day. But in times of austerity it is even more important that the spending is sensible and focused on the priorities of local residents, and that services are managed properly.

Despite the need to tackle the deficit, the coalition Government has taken some measures to help local councils, and especially ones such as Slough that have extra demands on the education system. The Pupil Premium scheme is a key Liberal Democrat policy that is being implemented by the coalition Government. It is especially valuable in supporting education authorities such as Slough that has received £16 million extra because we have a lot of children who benefit from additional support. This money helps address a whole range of issues and contributes strongly to overall improvements in the performance of the full range of pupils and schools. The introduction of free school meals for all 5-7 year olds is another successful policy introduced by the Lib Dems in the coalition Government. 5,400 Slough pupils now benefit from this, which has been shown to boost pupil performance, as well as helping hard-pressed families. The coalition Government has also provided an additional allocation of capital funding for Slough schools to address the local shortage of school places. Slough gets one of the highest figures per head of population in the whole country. Furthermore, there is also major new funding for apprenticeships in Slough.

So, in the coalition Government the Liberal Democrats are promoting measures to help Slough despite the need to clear up the massive deficit left by Labour. Going forward, the Lib Dems have plans for new Garden Cities, innovative rent-to-own schemes and in total build 300,000 new homes a year in a way that should help reduce the considerable pressure on housing in towns such as Slough. Locally, we have identified a list of key principles, priorities and issues on which Liberal Democrat Councillors and candidates will continue to campaign for the residents of Slough.

Principles: Accountability, co-operation, decentralisation, listening locally and spending sensibly

  • Accountability: Liberal Democrats recognise that Labour will retain control of Slough Council following the elections in May 2015. However, Lib Dems elected to Slough Council will work hard to hold the leaders of Slough Council to account for their mismanagement (especially of the Heart of Slough project), and damaging policies (for example closing youth services serving several local communities in Slough, and reducing bus services). Where problems are identified by inspection bodies, such as happened with the Children and Young Adult Safeguarding Services, it is vital that the Labour Council accepts responsibility and takes action rather than just resorting to 'a foul-mouth outburst'.
  • Co-operation: Liberal Democrat Councillors and candidates will take the long-term view and work effectively with other groups to improve the services provided by Slough Council and help create healthier, safer and greener communities. Liberal Democrat Councillors will work positively with others to ensure that Slough benefits to maximum extent from the UK's membership of the EU, eg ensure opportunities for collaborative funding for R&D available from the EU are promoted and harnessed for the benefit of the town's industries, especially the high-tech companies that are so reliant on R&D.
  • Decentralisation: The Liberal Democrats believe local people know best about services in their area. Therefore we support the decentralisation of politics so that local people will have a greater say over local services. We support the Localism Act that shifts more powers from central government and gives them to local councilsand localcommunities. We also support implementation of the Sustainable Communities Act which gives people the right to propose actions in their local areas to improve sustainability.
  • Listening locally: Liberal Democrats are committed to listening to residents and putting them at the heart of the decisions that we take. The Chalvey one-way traffic scheme continues to inconvenience and frustrate residents and local businesses. The Labour-run Council failed to listen to what was wanted here, just as it has failed to listen to residents across Slough on unwanted traffic schemes, and unwanted parking schemes, for example in the Diamond Road area.

Lib Dem councillors in Foxborough Ward had a good reputation for consulting residents and working with them on issues. These included issues where eventually the Labour Council did not listen, such as opposing Labour cuts to the local youth services, and opposing unwanted planning applications. There were also issues on which Lib Dem councillors and residents were successful, including introducing gates in the back alleyways of the Foxborough Estate, getting the re-development of play areas to meet to local wishes, and getting improvements in the Parlaunt Rd area, including to some of the housing stock.

In Cippenham many residents tell the Lib Dem Focus Team they do not think the Labour councillors listen sufficiently to them. One example clearly illustrates why Slough Council needs Lib Dem councillors who will listen to local people. Two Mile Brook is the boundary between Cippenham Green and Cippenham Meadows. It therefore has six Labour councillors supposedly addressing the issues of the area. Yet residents complain of uncleared litter, concerns about anti-social behaviour, and a dangerous gap in the railings on one of the bridges. The area clearly needs Lib Dem councillors who will listen and who will demand that resources are spent sensibly on addressing such issues rather than spending on things residents do not want.

  • Spending sensibly: Dealing with the national deficit left by Labour is imposing greater strain on local councils. It is therefore more important than ever that money is spent wisely. And yet, when the Labour Council boasted they were going to save £26.5 million on a scheme to contract out back-office functions to a private company, Arvato, they so-miscalculated the figures it ended up costing Slough residents hundreds of thousands of pounds extra each year.Lib Dems will strongly press for: 1) more efficient spending; 2) a reduction in the amount spent on unwanted traffic schemes and overly generous payouts to senior staff when they leave; and 3) increased spending on addressing fly-tipping, litter and anti-social behaviour, and restoring money cut from supporting the bus services and funding youth services.

Three main priorities: a healthier, safer, greener Slough.

Key aspects of major services, including education, social services and housing, have been described above in the principles etc. Here we identify three further areas which will need particular attention in coming years.

  • Health and Well being: Responsibility for public health services has been given back to local councils by the coalition Government. Therefore, Slough has regained control of its own local public health services that were lost in one of the many reorganisations of the health service imposed by the last Labour Government. Slough Council needs a long-term strategy that should include working with partners to ensure better access to GP surgeries and increased use of leisure facilities by sections of Slough's population who might most benefit from enhanced levels of fitness. As part of this strategy, more needs to be done to improve deteriorating leisure facilities.
  • Safer communities: Liberal Democrats elected as councillors would continue to support the great work currently being carried out by our Community Wardens in Slough to attempt to tackle anti-social behaviour and make residents feel safer. Former Liberal Democrat Cllrs such as Robert Plimmer led the way in working with local tenants and residents' associations to get gates introduced into back alleyways, and hence improve community safety, and also backed local Neighbourhood Action Groups (NAGs).
  • Greener Slough: Climate change is the single greatest threat to our way of life. The Liberal Democrats have long emphasised the important of this issue and, following the recent extreme weather events, others are now increasingly realising that the Liberal Democrats were right to be so concerned. Councils, working with communities, need to be at the forefront of reducing carbon emissions, and cutting waste, if we are to protect the planet. In 2009 Liberal Democrat Cllr Robert Plimmer successfully secured all-party support for a motion that Slough Council should go carbon-neutral by 2020. Liberal Democrats believe recycling should be taken further and plans to encourage micro-generation of energy in Slough continue to be developed.

Continuing campaigns: Liberal Democrat councillors will continue to campaign to promote these principles and priorities. We shall also campaign on behalf of local residents on a range of other issues. For example, Robert Plimmer has campaigned for better treatment from the Council for leaseholders across Slough, for example on issues to do with Slough Council's inefficient processing of invoices that leaves leaseholders very little time in which to pay council demands.

Working with others: This document will form the basis on which Slough Liberal Democrat Councillors would negotiate with other groups so as to work cooperatively to address the problems facing our town. Liberal Democrat Councillors in Slough have a good reputation for collaborating with councillors from other parties, and more widely with groups across the town. As an example, former Councillor Robert Plimmer served Slough in a voluntary capacity as the town's highly successful Fair Trade Champion.