This week marks the last week before the elections begin for Kent County Council. There are elections for County Councils elsewhere up and down the country. The Conservatives made some big gains in 2009 so we are hoping to make up the ground on them. Kent and Swale would benefit from a stronger Labour presence in Sittingbourne & Sheppey. Please help if you can. If you are not sure what you can do please get in touch.
The Tories are out of touch locally. You only have to see this on Swale Council.
It was great to see members of the local Labour Party come and attend the Full Council meeting at Swale House last Wednesday. The next Full Council meeting is not until May. If you are interested in attending in future please get in touch.
Here’s some of things that have happened most recently …
Tories award themselves a pay rise while others go without
Locally, all 29 Tories who attended the Full Council meeting on Wednesday voted through an increase in their allowances taking the Tory Leader’s own allowance from £11,000 to £18,000.
But they voted down Labour’s proposal to provide a small uplift to 70 employees who receive less than £7.45 an hour, the Living Wage. The 70 employees work for SERCO which runs our leisure centres, Blenwood which maintains our parks, and a company called KGB which provides security services at Swale House.
Awarding themselves a pay rise in the same month that our local housing associations are scurrying around the borough handing out notices to some of our most vulnerable residents telling them their rent is going up by a quarter is an absolute disgrace.
958 families in Swale hit by David Cameron’s ‘bedroom tax’
Figures released by Swale Borough Council to Cllr Mike Haywood show that 558 families in Swale will be hit by the Bedroom Tax when it is introduced on 1 April.
Of these, 244 families will have their income cut by £25.64 per week or more than £100 a month.
Many of these families are some of the poorest in the borough, so these represent massive cuts for local families.
Local charities will benefit from Labour amendment
Local charities and community and amateur sports clubs will benefit from a Labour amendment to simplify they way discretionary rate relief is granted by the Council. There are around 250 local charities that benefit from some form of rate relief. By law, charities are entitled to up to 80% relief off their business rates. Swale Borough Council has powers to award a further 20% relief if they meet certain conditions. In an amendment moved by Labour Councillors at last Wednesday’s Full Council meeting the Council agreed to introduce a rolling reapplication programme for charities that have had no change in circumstances from one year to the next. For more details see:
‘Mummy tax’ in Sittingbourne & Sheppey
On top of the real terms cuts to child benefit and tax credit changes faced by all parents – including child benefit freezes, reductions in support for childcare and frozen tax credits – new mums have already faced the scrapping of the Health in Pregnancy Grant; the restriction of the Sure Start Maternity Grant; and the scrapping of the baby addition to the Child Tax Credit.
An estimated 1,362 mums-to-be in Sittingbourne & Sheppey will be worse off in 2013 thanks to David Cameron’s anti-family policies. For more details see:
Tough new housing allocation policy – a ‘sign of the tough times’
In a sign of the tough economic times we are going through, Labour has proposed a much tighter housing allocation policy to reduce the number of people languishing on Swale’s housing register that have no hope of getting a home.
At the same time, if adopted our proposals will protect local families who have ‘served their time’ in the area. The register used to apportion housing association properties in the borough. For more details see:
Cllr Mike Haywood is Councillor for Roman Ward along with Martin McCusker. You can read more from their regular blog posts at: http://thankyoumrmayor.wordpress.com/