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2012 Local Election Manifesto

April 22, 2012 4:39 PM

We believe that the Labour Council in Newcastle was elected last year largely because of national factors, and it's taking our city backwards.

  • Back to the days of decisions being taken in secret.
  • Back to top-down, unaccountable, partisan politics
  • Back to a lack of leadership on economic development
  • Back to the days when the last Labour Council ignored environmental sustainability

Labour has created nothing. It's been a year of vacuous politics, when the windbags have taken over. "Let's Talk" they say - but there's no action. Meetings all over the city but nothing to show for them. Setting up commissions and panels which have taken all year to deliberate but just happen to report after the elections. Reorganising the deckchairs at the civic centre.

Instead Labour has scrapped plenty - the popular neighbourhood charters, an effective process for scrutinising the council's decisions and policies, the £5m Myplace project for young people in the city centre, the joint economic development company with Gateshead, the Local Strategic Partnership (the platform for working with other key players in the city), and the Sustainable Communities Strategy which set out the needs of the city and guided the council - Labour still has no replacement plan. What have they been doing?

A year on and there's not only no plan for the city and no direction for the council, but no Enterprise Zone for Newcastle and no City Deal agreed with Government. Others are stealing a march on us.

Instead there's been a hapless Labour budget that scrapped the mobile library service, park keepers and rangers, the collection service for garden waste and support for care home wardens, with disproportionate cuts to local environmental services and a disgraceful and a unjustified switch of resources for road and pavement maintenance to "Labour's areas". And there's been a crude and clumsy threat to the Green Belt of the city through the badly-handled Local Development Framework process.

Labour is obsessed with blaming the government for everything and taking responsibility for nothing. It's been a wasted year for Newcastle, a year of local government by slogan and no action.

Our message to the electors at this election is:

  • Newcastle needs a strong Liberal Democrat Opposition to defend our legacy when in power and to hold Labour to account.
  • Newcastle needs a council that will restore open and accountable local government.
  • Newcastle needs a council that will protect the environment and promote sustainability.
  • Newcastle needs a council committed to targeting resources on those most in need, with a focus on prevention, the closest cooperation between agencies and on value for money.
  • Newcastle needs a council that will get on with kick-starting economic development and regeneration, in partnership with central government, and end the slogans and posturing.

Nationally we recognise that the huge deficit in the public finances left by an irresponsible and incompetent Labour Government needs to be tackled. However we continue to lobby for the burden to be shared more fairly across the country and in particular for cuts to local government to be more evenly apportioned.

The Liberal Democrats' commitment to community politics means we work tirelessly for local people - we are not beholden to either big business or the trade unions. Despite very difficult times, Liberal Democrats are dedicated to doing what is right for the country and right for local people.

Please see our full Manifesto for more details, in the "Download Area" on this site.