County council elections - Manifestos
Parties launch their manifestos ahead of the elections for Northamptonshire County Council on May 4
From talk of light railways and promises to buy up industrial land for profit, to pledges to dissolve the council structures altogether – it can only be manifesto launch week in Northamptonshire.
But despite their widely differing viewpoints, the parties vying for control of Northamptonshire County Council on May 4 do have some common goals.
All of them promise to be the safest pair of hands in improving child protection services; all promise to protect vulnerable adults over the next four years as finances dwindle.
But in the week the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party all launched their manifestos for the upcoming poll, let’s put the generalities aside for a week.
Let’s look at what they are actually proposing to do.
Take a look at our at-a-glance guide here and get into the nitty-gritty of the parties’ pledges.
- Continue “integrating services with the police, the NHS and “strategic partners” such as the University of Northampton.
- Build a dementia village in Northampton.
- Create a £20 billion economy by 2021, delivering 32,500 new jobs and 37,000 new homes.
- Continue with plans to set up a ‘next generation’ council by moving all of its services over to mutual trusts.
- Look into setting up one single countywide unitary authority, dissolving the current county council and seven districts in favour of a single super authority that looks after everything from parks and bin collections to the fire service and highways.
Group leader Councillor Heather Smith said: “During the past four years we have had to steer the county council through huge reductions in funding whils at the same time providing services for a rapidly growing population.
“We have changed ours ways of working to save public money while protecting the most vulnerable in our community.
“Our record shows we have almost completed our street lighting upgrade, and superfast and even ultra fast broadband in difficult to reach areas is moving ahead fast.
“The Corby Link Road has been completed and upgrade highway work is under way on the Kettering to Northampton stretch of the A43.
“A new link road to Daventry, bypassing Flore and Weedon, is underway and we have plans for further road upgrades over the next four years.
“We have continued to meet increased demand for school places and have been extending and building new schools throughout the county.
We have ambitions for Northamptonshire to be a great place to live in and work in.
“This county has a rich heritage, which draws in visitors from around the country.
“Increased tourism will provide economic benefits for Northamptonshire and this is all part of attracting businesses to our county.”
- Develop collaborative links between the best and struggling schools, opposing further funding cuts to education and moving away what it says is the “forced academisation”.
- Promote Northamptonshire as a leading authority in community energy schemes – such as solar panels on public and privately owned buildings – and will invest in a programme business insulation.
- Help to tackle the “air quality emergency” in the county by increasing cycling routes and promoting eco-friendly vehicles.
- Advocate complete transparency by extending consultations around the NHS’s five-year trasnformation plans.
“Northamptonshire Green Party recognises a county-wide unitary authority
would fail to best serve
the needs of Northamptonshire’s individual communities.
“As such, we would advocate a system of smaller, local unitary authorities, that would save costs through sharing back office functions, and allow authorities to best judge the needs of, and deliver services to, those local communities.”
- Carry out a “root and branch” reform of council finances – partly by buying areas of industrial land as long term investments to bring in income to the cash-strapped authority.
- Restore adult social services “back to democratic control” – or rather, to not see them run by the mutual organisation NASS, being offered by the Conservatives.
- Spend “at least £1 million” making walking and cycling safer and will work with developers to put cycle ways into new developments,
- Implement 500 metre “community safety zones” around areas such as schools, health centres and care homes. These will have better street lighting, quality CCTV and more dropped kerbs.
- Set up a “properly funded” programme to replace existing old and worn out schools.
Party leader John McGhee, said: “Labour will immediately set up a root and branch reform of the council’s finances, starting from the bottom up and involving all staff across all areas, providing joined up-services to provide a smoother experience for residents.
“The Tories have led Northamptonshire County Council since 2005 and our great county has seen the local Tories slash and burn services with barely a whimper of compassion.
“The sheer financial incompetence and dogmatism of the of the local Tories over the past 10 years has meant the cuts have been deeper and more unfair.
“If NCC was a private business they would have been declared bankrupt some time ago.
“Labour has stood, and will always stand, for a better tomorrow.”
- Stop the Tories’ “next generation” council projects and work towards the “abolition” of Northamptonshire County Council as it is in favour of smaller unitary authorities
- Build the northern orbital road around Northampton, that it says will alleviate traffic in the north of the county town.
- Work with the Regional Schools Commission to ensure new schools are built in the right place.
- Deliver 100 council-run apprenticeships or supported apprenticeships within the first 100 days of power.
- Enact a number of green initiatives from improving cycle routes around the county, increasing park and ride schemes and installing free-to-use electric recharging stations.
“The Conservatives came to power in 2005 claiming that Labour was incompetent and they would sort out their financial mess.
“For 12 years they have pursued a reckless policy of keeping council tax low to attract votes and remain in power; rather than a strategic and fair policy to ensure they can do their job – to plan for and deliver efficient, effective public services in both the short and long term.
“Northants County Council is in financial meltdown.
“The Conservatives are rearranging the deckchairs with their new next generation programme.”
They go on to say: “We will support unitary councils to come together in voluntary partnerships to strategically plan and deliver some services - but with councillors in control to maintain democratic oversight and accountability to taxpayers.”
- Commit more funds towards roads maintenance, in order to deal with the “ever-increasing number of potholes in the county” and to pursue plans for the Northampton orbital route, aimed at alleviating Kingthorpe gridlock.
- Explore the possibility of opening a “light railway” in Northampton to help alleviate congestion and address air pollution.
- Bring a “breath of fresh air” to local politics - by considering dissolving the current cabinet governance system and removing the position of chief whip.
- Support plans to bring health and social care together under the NHS.
Jonathan Bullock, UKIP campaign manager in Northants, said: “It is clear that the finances of the Council are in a complete mess and their external auditor has given an adverse value for money opinion.
“We therefore need UKIP councillors elected to hold the council to account and act in the interest of residents. UKIP councillors have no party whip so they can represent the local community, not just follow a party line.
“Our councillors come from different walks of life and understand the communities they represent.
“They say it “like it is”. They know what is happening on the ground. They know what people really feel about the needs of their local communities.
“They make their voices heard, rather than being crushed by a ‘party line’ enforced by a party whip.
“UKIP councillors not only don’t have a party whip, but they are encouraged to stand up for what they believe in and to the represent the interests of the people who voted for them, not the party to which they belong.”