Over the next few weeks, on the lead up to the General Election, we will not be able to escape national politics in the media. It would therefore be easy to overlook that on the 7th May we will also be voting for whom we want to run Swale Borough Council for the next four years.
Since 2002 the Conservative Party has been in control of the council so it is timely to remind voters of their record in office over these past thirteen years.
Sittingbourne town centre regeneration has stagnated for years with now a final desperate and cynical push by the Tories to get any development plan in place by election day. Our council car parks have been given away freely to developers to build on them. Since 2010, Sheppey regeneration has been completely ignored.
Under the Tories, front line services have been cut back whilst they sit on £13m of savings. Grass lays uncut, litter and weeds cover our streets , council rubbish bins overflow and free parking on Sundays was stopped. They do nothing to encourage the building of more affordable homes leaving many tenants relying on below standard private rented properties and the Planning service has got worse with some planning decisions taking months to be made.
The Tories have become lazy and bereft of new ideas. They have a small tired clique of councillors who decide how to avoid spending your money on vital front line services. Two of them moved to Lincolnshire in 2013 but still claim their allowances and travel expenses and the Council leader had his allowance increased by £7000 a year.
We now need fresh ideas. To start, the Swale Labour Party will allocate £1 million for Tourism and Recreation. That would include improvements to the Sheerness sea front around Beachfields, Oare Gunpowder works, Milton Creek Country Park, refurbishment of facilities at Bartons Point, other improvements to the coastal foreshore and improvements to the Faversham Rec.
We will have open Space makeovers in our High Streets, Public Parks and Cemeteries with better pathways, benches and signage. We will also commit £1 million to update our Play Areas and sports facilities including football pitches across the Borough. We will make sure our streets are cleaned and litter is collected. We will work to complete the Northern Relief Road to alleviate the traffic gridlock in and around Sittingbourne town centre. We will work to get safety improvements made on the A2500 Lower Road on the Island. We will make sure that residents are listened to on the Faversham Creek proposals.
When you vote for your next MP on 7th May, just take a second or two to think about the local performance of this Conservative Council when you look at your Swale ballot paper.
Cllr Adam Tolhurst
Leader of the Swale Labour Group of Councillors