“Time for a change”Yes it’s a well worn political slogan but sometimes it is right. The brilliant local satirist of the current Council has it right, calling a Facebook page “Stale Borough Council”. The current Tory administration has been there too long. The same people have monopolised the key leadership positions. There is no drive or imagination. The Council needs to be more open, accountable and responsive to local opinion. Decision making needs to be on a more democratic and inclusive basis.Next May, local voters will have the chance to make that change. When the election comes it is about whether or not local people want a different sort of Council. It is not about who should be Prime Minister or whether or not we want a hard or soft Brexit, whatever that means. Let’s set aside these matters for another day and take the chance to shape our own local community.Labour wants to build a more ambitious future for Swale, no longer tolerating poor health services, poor housing, low paid jobs, second rate transport services and a deteriorating environment. Well, people might say, if Labour is ambitious for the local area, why have they opposed the regeneration of Sittingbourne Town Centre. That is precisely because it is a second rate unambitious use of a town centre. It speaks of a willingness to accept that Swale cannot do better than this.We are now publishing and promoting our Manifesto for the May Elections. It describes our outlook and adds a number of specific policies. It has five principal priorities
- Tackling our local housing crisis, helping homeless families, building social housing and giving tenants greater protection
- Taking a more robust stance on public health matters and campaigning for better resources to fight crime and anti social behaviour
- Making Swale more responsive to the local community on planning and regeneration matters
- Investing in our open spaces for the benefit of local people and taking genuine steps to protect our environment
- Building a strong local economy through infrastructure, transport and skills investmentThere are of course many other services being put under severe pressure by the continuing use of austerity by the Government. There is education, care of young, elderly and disabled people and the state of our roads. These are Kent County Council powers but Labour Borough Councillors speak up for these services too.We don’t expect everyone to agree with our Labour priorities. Same people are constitutionally incapable of saying that Labour is right. We will no doubt have people who don’t bother to read our Manifesto but will still complain that we intend to tax and spend regardless. Well, for those who do read you can see that we will not be raising Council tax any more than the Tories intend to do. We will use some of the £20 million of your money that has been squirreled away for years by underspending the budget you have paid for. And if necessary we will borrow for affordable housing because the rental income will be a guaranteed return-unlike the bonanza borrowing of £28 million for some commercially risky ventures in the middle of Sittingbourne.The Manifesto is linked below. Even if you have never voted Labour, give it read.