With just two weeks to go until polling day, Alex Claridge looks at the manifestos of those standing and examine five key pledges of each. Major themes running through them are tackling congestion and pollution, altering the way the council works and protecting open spaces. Outside the five main parties, we also include the pledges of Labour-turned-independent councillor John Wratten and three candidates from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), all of whom are standing in Whitstable’s Gorrell ward
• The Tories will focus on the needs of elderly people and will support increased care for dementia and mental illness as well as focusing on the needs of the young with investment in leisure centres to provide better opportunities for sport.
• Candidates have been focusing on what is best for each of their wards so that post-election “individual councillors will have far more say in the decision-making process and, therefore, residents will be able to have far more of an input”.
• The Conservatives pledge to continue “sound economic management” and “keeping council tax low while maintaining services” and protecting the environment. They promise to balance the budget despite economic times.
• They will encourage the local economy, through business and tourism and provide more affordable housing through the Local Plan and would work on a regeneration scheme for Wincheap.
• The Tories also boast that they have successfully attracted outside funding for projects to save taxpayers money and completed the Marlowe Theatre and Beaney library and art gallery while running the city council.
• The party is planning a raft of changes to transport in an effort to reduce congestion. It is calling for buses to operate “a regular and reliable service around the district, unimpeded by obstructive parking” and wants to see a hopper service in and around Canterbury and the towns.
• Labour will address the “desperate shortage of homes in this district” and create housing people can afford to buy or rent. It will “ensure the building of affordable houses by enforcing a minimum requirement for 30%” for each development.
• It is promising to be active in creating a sound economic base to promote employment in the district. It plans to “support start-up and social enterprises by providing low-cost start-up offices and works hops”.
• The environment: Labour will oppose the sell-off of open spaces, work on keeping streets and beaches clean, reduce fly-tipping and lower pollution by cutting congestion.
• Labour is urging a change in the culture of the council and its relations with residents to improve transparency and accountability. It will listen to community groups on all matters that affect them, and Introduce a system of “more participative consultation”.
• The party is promising to increase transparency in the city council, arguing that too much is done “behind closed doors” and “without proper discussion”. It Is vowing to improve public participation and supports the idea of allowing parish and town councils to take their own decisions.
• Plans to sell off car parking spaces in central Canterbury will be opposed. Ukip wants to welcome drivers to Canterbury so they don’t depart for out of town shopping centres. It is also calling for a reduction in parking charges.
• Ukip wants bus services which operate “for the benefit of their passengers, not those providing them”. It is urging the council to break the monopoly Stagecoach holds on services and wants to try to find other transport providers.
• It will oppose the sell off of open spaces such as the Kingsmead Field. Brownfield sites must be considered before greenfield ones when new housing developments are proposed.
• Floods in recent years mean more needs to be done to protect people’s homes. Ukip is calling on the council to work with Southern Water and make sure rivers such as the Nailbourne are properly dredged and managed.
• The party pledges its unwavering support for the new committee system and says there will be no return to an executive or cabinet system of governance. Plus they will introduce town councils in Whitstable, Herne Bay, and Canterbury “where there is support from residents to do so”.
• Lib Dems will protect open spaces and will try to block the sell-off of 20% of Kingsmead Field. They will also increase investment in play areas and parks across the district “by ensuring that all new developments Include excellent public open space paid for by developers”.
• They will support plans for more cycle lanes and cycling facilities across the district as part of a connected cycle network. They also want 20mph limIts In residential areas and wi-fl on all buses.
• Rather than building 800 houses per year, the Lib Dems propose 500 per year “with an emphasis on building In Herne Bay, which needs the economic benefit of new housing”. They also want a 10% limit on houses in multiple occupancy within a 100-metre radius.
• On the environment, the party wants to “improve waste management services so that all household waste and recycling is collected, wheelie bins are not left by contractors blocking pavements”. They also oppose fracking.
• The party will “prioritise funding for sustainable transport”, extend bus lanes on routes into the city, introduce 20mph limits in residential areas and “fund more comprehensive monitoring of air quality in all parts of Canterbury”.
• The Greens want to protect places such as Kingsmead Field, Chaucer Fields and Duncan Down as community open spaces. They say “all open space should be valued as a community asset. The walk to the shops should be as welcoming as a walk in the park”.
• The number of homes included in the Canterbury district’s Local Plan can be reduced from 15,500 to 8,500. It wants to see small scale developments rather than vast housing estates with thousands of homes on them.
• A local currency should be created by the council in order keep money circulating in the district. The Greens also want to “expand local producers’ street markets, co-operatives and directories of local businesses”.
• Landlords and letting agents should be made responsible for ensuring their tenants are familiar with and comply with rules on rubbish collections and recycling. Anyone caught flouting the rules repeatedly can expect to be fined.
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
• Tusc councillors will oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions.
• The party promises to support all workers’ struggles against the cuts, privatisation and austerity and will campaign for a living wage for all council workers and those working for council contracts.
• It pledges to reject increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
• Tusc will vote against the privatisation of council jobs and services, or the transfer of council services to “social enterprises” or “arms length” management organisations.
• it will use all legal powers available to councils to oppose both the cuts and government policies which impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.
• Mr Wratten says that as an independent, he will only support policies and which are achievable and of benefit to the people of Whitstable.
• He will urge the council to tackle the issues of parking and congestion in central Whitstable. S A Whitstable town council or a beefed-up Whitstable Area Member Panel with more decision-making powers would Improve local democracy.
• Whitstable harbour should be retained as a “working harbour without any residential encroachment”.
• Housing both in the public and private sector should be made affordable “so that our families can remain in the town”.
Herne Bay Gazette, April 23rd 2015