Thanet Labour Party Manifesto 2011 Summary | home
Local Labour Manifesto 2011
Printed & Promoted by Michelle Fenner on behalf of South Thanet Labour Party, 28-30 Newington Road, Ramsgate CT12 6EE & Iris Johnston of North Thanet Labour Party, 44 Northdown Road, Margate, CT9 2RW on behalf of all Labour Candidates for Thanet District Council.
For the past eight years Thanet has suffered badly from a Conservative-led district council. Deprivation, empty properties and poorly kept streets are sadly all too common in our main towns and villages; the neglect is clearly visible for all to see. Our main High Streets have too many boarded up shops and prime attractions such as Ramsgate Royal Harbour & Marina and Margate Harbour have been badly neglected.
The visible signs of neglect are bad enough, but what has gone on behind the scenes is probably much worse. In a desperate bid to raise money, the Conservatives have tried to sell many well-used and much-loved community assets.
Whilst the Conservative political leadership have been busy bungling decisions, leading council officers have been even busier reorganising TDC from the top down. This situation was more fully exposed during the February 2011 meeting of TDC when Labour councillors suggested a cap on leading officers pay whilst other members of staff were being made redundant. The Conservatives didn't just vote against the idea, their leader went a step further and publicly ordered his Conservative members not to discuss the issue.
A change of direction is urgently needed at TDC and Labour offer that change to the people of Thanet.
Building a Respected Council
During its eight years in control of the council from 1995 to 2003, Labour worked hard to raise the profile and image of Thanet and succeeded in bringing new investment and jobs to the district.
Labour recognised it was important that potential investors' first impressions were favourable because these impressions were likely to be long-lasting. To aid these good impressions Labour set out to make the name of Thanet synonymous with a decent place in which to invest, to work, to raise a family and, for many of us, in which to retire.
Regretfully, after eight years of a Conservative-led council, the name Thanet has now come to mean exactly the opposite. Regeneration failures costing millions and wasting many years, along with repeatedly poor standards among the Conservative leadership, have all sadly made national headlines.
The tragedy for us, the people of Thanet, is that our district has been associated with so many negative issues that the name of the Council has been brought into disrepute by these Conservative bunglers. Add the absence of cleanliness, apparent across the whole of the district, and it is absolutely clear that all decent standards have been abandoned by the Conservatives.
The only solution the Tories can think of is to sell assets, even against the wishes of local residents. Indeed, the Conservative administration has spent many tens of thousands of pounds of ratepayers' money in legal battles fighting Thanet residents.
Labour is determined to bring pride back to Thanet. Since May 2003 there has been little inward investment. Our business parks too often stand as they did in 2003 with the only activity being what was brought to them by the previous Labour administration, supported by a Labour Government.
More Government help is urgently needed if we are to tackle the high levels of deprivation in Thanet.
The Labour Group will lobby the Conservative-led Government to obtain more funding.
The Labour Government gave above inflation increases to Thanet in 12 of the last 13 years.
The Conservative-led Government's financial settlement for TDC gives Thanet a shocking 5.29% cut in this year's funding; a massive 16.26% cut in 2012/13 and 30% over four years. With 'smoke & mirrors' they use Council Taxpayers' money to keep Thanet Council Tax bills artificially low at 0%. This is a cynical attempt to get local Tories past the forthcoming local elections.
The Conservative-led Government relishes the chance to inflict totally unnecessary financial pain on the most vulnerable members of our society; a recent Institute of Fiscal Studies Report states that the poorest will be hit ten times harder than the richest.
Labour will do everything it can to redress that balance and fight for a fair deal for Thanet.
Bringing Back Pride
Labour will insist on Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for ALL councillors.
Labour will ensure that Thanet Council continues to modernise and streamline itself so that it can deliver promptly and efficiently the services the people deserve. We want Thanet District Council to aim for 'Excellent Council' status; this is unlikely to happen under a Conservative administration.
Labour will bring back openness and honesty to all the Council's activities and will again encourage the public's awareness of its work.
Labour will commence the process of reducing the number of Councillors from the current 56 towards a more realistic number. This will have financial benefits.
Labour will use the electronic voting system installed in the Chamber during its administration and not used by the Tories who too often look around to see how their colleagues are voting before they put their hands up.
Building for Economic Prosperity
Bringing new businesses to Thanet and the creation of employment will again be a top priority for Labour. We will seek all opportunities to bring about much needed inward investment and press those with the regional responsibility to achieve this.
Labour brought the fast train to Thanet. We will support moves to reduce the travel time to London but not at the expense and environmental damage of a new Parkway Station and the closure of Ramsgate Station.
Labour will support the development of Manston Airport but will always be mindful of the impact on residents and the environment.
Labour will implement a policy of no flights during the hours of 23:00 to 07:00, except emergency landings and humanitarian flights.
Labour will work with the airport operators to ensure that the Section 106 Agreement is properly enforced and also ensures the Council takes its responsibilities seriously once again.
Labour will insist the Section 106 agreement is immediately renegotiated and strengthened.
Labour will insist proper flying routes are agreed and used at all times.
Labour will support the upgrade of the road network around Westwood to cope with the increase in traffic.
Labour will see that Tourism gets the real support denied over the past eight years.
Labour will continue the regeneration of Margate Seafront.
Labour will act to resolve the problems at Dreamland and seek a first class tourism product for this important area.
Labour will support the development of Ramsgate Royal Harbour and Port.
Labour will work across all areas of the island. Thanet been neglected for far too long under the Tories.
Labour will take every opportunity to encourage economic regeneration and the development of new businesses whilst ensuring that strong environmental controls are maintained.
Labour will encourage both educational and training opportunities for local residents. We will work with local providers to ensure all avenues are explored and ensure the Innovation Centre once again does the job it was designed to do until it was abandoned by the present administration.
Labour will also ensure the Spatial Development Company, set up by Labour many years ago, is held to account and a report to Thanet residents will be a priority.
Labour will ensure that wherever possible only `brownfield sites' will be developed.
Decent Quality Housing
Labour has always believed everyone has the right to a decent accessible and affordable home and will continue to work to ensure the highest standards in both public and private housing.
Labour Councillors consistently engage with Resident Groups and Social Housing providers and in 1995 set up the original Landlord Forum. We will continue to do so.
Officers at TDC had to be constantly reminded by Labour members to properly consult on the handing over of the management of ALL our Council Housing to a newly formed Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO). This organisation is dominated by the present four Conservative-run District Councils. Despite the required 'majority of tenants affected' not formally supporting this hand over it has now gone ahead.
Labour will work hard to ensure this is NOT the privatisation of our Council housing stock and if in control after May 5th will see what can be done to mitigate this travesty.
Since 2003 the Conservatives have had to be reminded to include Housing in the Corporate Plan and have overseen an increase to 6,000 on the Council's waiting list. The Conservative-led Government have drastically attacked benefits for the most vulnerable and may attract even more homeless people to Thanet as they seek less expensive accommodation
Labour will work with our partners to ensure there is an increase in socially rented and affordable homes and attempt to undo the damage inflicted by both National and local Conservative actions.
Planning powers will be used to provide decent homes on `brownfield' sites near services whilst preserving essential green space recreational areas.
Labour will ensure that the Council housing stock is maintained to a high standard.
Labour believes that everyone should have a decent home and will tackle the number of unfit homes.
Labour will fully implement Labour legislation on HMO's and the licensing of private sector landlords to improve the condition of rented homes.
Labour will use all the powers available to improve the quality of life for residents experiencing nuisance neighbours.
Labour will take every opportunity to increase the supply of social housing.
Labour will use the Planning Process to maximise the number of affordable homes on new housing developments.
Labour will do everything possible to reverse the rise in homelessness.
Safer Neighbourhoods - Tackling crime and disorder
Labour Councillors have been to the forefront in supporting the Police and our communities in fighting crime and anti-social behaviour.
We will object to any proposal to remove Police Officers on the beat, Wardens and PCSO's, all of whom work well with us in fighting crime. We are dismayed by the current Conservative proposal to reduce the Police Service in Kent by 1500.
Residents and Traders who asked for CCTV to make their areas secure will continue to be supported by Labour Councillors despite the Conservative-led Governments plans to remove them.
The previous Labour Government not only gave Councils and the Police the powers to fight anti-social behaviour but also the funding to make our communities stronger and safer. The building of new play areas and support for other cultural diversions led to a significant drop in crime in Thanet and Labour Councillors will continue to lead on these initiatives.
From 1995 to 2003 local Labour led on saving the Accident and Emergency Service at the QEQM and improving facilities around the island. We supported the opening of new Doctor Surgeries, Surestart and Children's Centres.
We supported the previous Labour Government's emphasis on healthy eating and improved participation in Sport and have opposed the Tories' every move to sell off open spaces for housing where it affects recreation and well being.
Disability Facilities Grants
Labour Councillors have had to fight to ensure the Conservatives at Thanet District Council stopped `raiding' funds earmarked for home improvements for the disabled. Funds agreed in the Budget must be ring-fenced and honoured and under Labour will not be transferred to `pet' projects such as TDC window- replacements later in the year.
Hundreds of homes in Margate benefited from the previous Labour Government's grants for improvements and your present Labour Councillors have monitored the expenditure. Concerns over the application of grants to some businesses have been raised and Labour Councillors WILL ALWAYS monitor the actions of officers and whatever group is in power to ensure the utmost probity.
Licensing and Land Charges
Labour will continue to monitor Licensing applications and work with the Police and improve the Out of Hours service. Under the Conservatives at TDC any resident complaining about noise from local establishments at weekends has been told to phone on the following Monday. Our residents deserve an immediate response and Labour members have consistently raised this matter.
We expect the highest standards and cleanest records from anyone wishing to become a taxi driver.
Land Charges will conform to the nationally recommended figure
The preservation, restoration and enhancement of Thanet's architectural richness, its conservation areas and the beauty of its environment are important. Our Victorian, Georgian and Regency architecture, the natural beaches and bays are among the area's greatest assets; they must be preserved and utilised to their fullest potential.
Planning decisions should ensure a balance between the needs of the residents, business and the environment.
Labour will ensure that all planning applications will be subject to genuine public consultation.
Labour will legislate to ensure that for every tree removed three replacement trees will be planted within Thanet.
The Revitalisation of the Historic Town Centres
Plans likely to lead to family homes in town centres will be encouraged; when people live in town centres, vandalism and crime are discouraged and town centre businesses become more viable. Labour recognises the importance of ensuring a proper mix of properties to enhance the social viability of all areas.
Labour will use Supplementary Planning Guidance to control the over-concentration of bed-sits and one- bedroom flats in areas where the conversion of larger properties has gone uncontrolled for too long.
The Cliftonville West Renewal Area will be refocused on residents' priorities and, where appropriate, extended to other deprived wards.
Thanet's Local Development Plan was drafted under the previous Labour administration and has been praised for the firm control over encroachment into Thanet's green spaces. House building will be focussed on agreed brown field sites and the renovation of existing properties. Building on green field sites will be resisted wherever possible.
The council will aim to achieve the housing targets set out in the Local Plan, in particular the need for social and affordable housing.
Labour will resist attempts to build on well-used community open green spaces. Labour successfully prevented Thanet Tories building on Dane Park Margate, assisted the successful HOOT campaign to remove the Montefiore Tennis Courts in Ramsgate from the Tory council's asset disposal list. Labour also supported the WASP campaign in Westbrook.
Labour will support sustainable and eco-sensitive housing and commercial development in appropriate locations.
Labour supported the Planning Inspector's recommendation on Dreamland. Despite this, and against the wishes of local Residents, Thanet Tories voted to allow housing on part of the site.
Labour will work positively with any potential developer who is committed to creating a first class tourist attraction which will bring more visitors and badly needed employment to Thanet.
Quality of Life
Labour will make Improving the quality of life for Thanet's residents is a priority.
Labour will work towards improving public parks and open spaces, making them cleaner and safer places for the residents to enjoy.
Labour will protect and improve our current tree stock and proactively encourage the planting of more trees.
Labour will protect animal rights and seek to increase our current wildlife habitats.
Labour believes that it is important for communities to have local facilities that can be used by all.
Labour will work with local agencies to reduce anti-social behaviour.
Labour will work with local agencies to reduce drug -related problems.
The Natural Environment
The current Tory administration has failed to manage properly the collection of refuse / recycling and the cleaning of our streets and town centres. It will be a Labour priority to improve this vital service.
We will do everything possible to encourage tourism, improve our leisure facilities and protect our natural resources.
A Labour Council will adhere to our previous Animal Welfare Charter which has largely been ignored by the present Conservative administration. We will continue to oppose hunting live animals with hounds and transporting live animals to and from our ports.
Labour will protect Thanet's natural resources.
Labour will apply the highest environmental standards to Thanet's beaches.
Labour will properly manage the collection of refuse and increase the level of recycling.
Labour will properly clean our streets and Town Centres.
Labour will take rigorous enforcement action against people responsible for littering, graffiti and dog fouling.
Bad management by the current Tory administration has left our finances in a mess.
Despite spurious claims that the Conservative-led Government's 2011/12 financial settlement 'tries to insulate the poorest and most vulnerable in society' they have cold-heartedly removed all Thanet's Specific Grants.
These Grants were awarded by the previous Labour Government to improve community cohesion, citizenship, social inclusion, to build safer & stronger communities and to assist the regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods by helping those on welfare back into work.
We have had a total of £100,000 cut from neighbourhood crime prevention and victim support projects.
In the Tory budget for 2011/12 many fees & charges for local residents will increase by around 4%, museum entrance fees will go up between 5% and 12% and crematoria fees will rise by an inflation- busting 13%. Short -sighted bulky goods collection increases of up to 25% will undoubtedly lead to more fly- tipping and dumping that will affect all our lives and could further impact financially on street-cleaning & enforcement service costs.
The Conservative administration at TDC are still desperately clinging to their Shared Services experiments to 'save the day' but with just one of a prospective stream of services within the scheme at present, TDC is already £30,000 short of the promised savings and the TDC financial risk-assessment clearly states Shared Services are probably the largest risk facing TDC.
The TDC General Reserves are also beginning to run down below the recommended level under the current administration.
Four Conservative Councils in East Kent have spent a considerable amount of tax payers' money over the last three years working towards amalgamating all of our publicly -owned Council Housing under one 'Arms Length Management Organisation'. The promise was that this particular 'shared service ' will save money & be better for tenants is not borne out even by TDC's own estimates. It is clear that the first year of operation will be given over to 'organisational' matters and tenants may not see any real improvement in service. Based on TDC's own figures any actual savings may not be realised until Year Six. There are also serious concerns regarding the poor funding made available for Disabled Facilities Grants in the budget.
Proposed cuts by the Conservative-led Government will have a huge impact on Thanet. Massive savings will need to be made to balance the books. We will endeavour to reduce the impact of budget cuts on our staff and services.
Labour will publish a full report on the state of the Thanet's finances.
Labour will ensure that your council taxes are spent prudently for the benefit all residents.
Labour will ensure rigorous financial monitoring.
Labour will ensure that adequate reserves are maintained.
Labour will ensure resources are allocated fairly.
Labour will ensure the allocation of funds for the Disabilities Facilities Grant.
Labour will seek resources for capital investment through the disposal of unused and unwanted assets, subject to genuine public consultation.
Labour will ensure the highest possible collection rate of Council Tax and Business Rates.
Labour will reduce Councillors' Special Responsibility Allowances by 20% to provide funds for Councillors' Community Projects.
Labour will encourage people to develop a healthy life style by making available sporting activities at an affordable cost.
Labour will seek finance to improve Thanet's sport and leisure facilities and work with local providers.
Eight years of Conservative leadership in Thanet has left our district in a very poor situation.
Residents are quite rightly concerned at the state of the area and they deserve action.
People are not fooled by last minute cover-ups and late attempts at `window dressing' just before the forthcoming local elections.
Many people here in Thanet are also embarrassed by the poor standard of local leadership in recent years.
We've suffered long enough - local people deserve better.
Through our policies, Local Labour will take firm action and bring back pride in Thanet!