Six to fix - how the Liberal Democrats will change Newcastle City Council

May 3, 2016 8:48 PM

Newcastle deserves better than this dismal Labour council

So here's the Liberal Democrat priorities for our great city

At the annual Budget meeting of Newcastle City Council in March, the Liberal Democrats group put forward alternative ideas. Labour voted down the opportunity to save money and protect key services. So they're part of the Libera; Democrats manifesto for the local elections this week, on the white ballot paper (If necessary postal votes can be handed in at the nearest polling station)

  • Reversing £800,000 cuts to libraries with a plan to reduce spending on utilities;
  • Restoring the £350,000 cuts to youth services by increasing recycling rates and reducing waste disposal; as well as saving money on the Labour Leader's rising office costs
  • Retaining care services for children and older people and for mental health by saving £250,000 on back office and management and increasing the drive for commercial income;
  • Investing £5 million of the £39 million extra in financial reserves amassed this year to fund road and pavement renewal; reviewing the £45 million Civic Centre plans already under way.

We have also called for closer partnership with North Tyneside Council including plans to deliver some services jointly across both authorities, so retaining important services whilst reducing bureaucracy.

Many people tell us that the Liberal Democrats did a good job running Newcastle City Council between 2004 and 2011 - dramatically improving performance, keeping council tax under control, and delivering on our 6 to Fix priorities. Since 2011, local services have deteriorated sharply under Labour - partly due to cuts but also due to poor decisions and political management. Newcastle needs a Liberal Democrat council with fresh priorities and a focus on the City, its people and its future.

1 Value for money

Spending money wisely and a fair share of local resources - not borrowing £45 million pounds to spend on refurbishing the Civic Centre. We'll protect the most vulnerable - we've opposed Labour's "disabled tax" cut to Council Tax for severely disabled residents, and their "student tax".

2 Local decision making

We'll end Labour's control freak culture of secrecy and top-down decision making at the Civic Centre and scrapping of local ward committee budgets and slashing number of public Ward meetings. Why are decisions on fixing pavements made by the Council Cabinet instead of local ward councillors?

3 Education

Under the Lib Dems educational attainment in Newcastle was amongst the most improved in England. Now OFSTED say performance is "weak", results have deteriorated for some schools and the council wouldn't even publish this year's GCSE results.

4 Sustainability

Under the Lib Dems Newcastle won awards as the UK's greenest city. Now environmental sustainability isn't a priority for the council - it's barely even on the agenda under Labour! Lib Dems will reinvigorate the city's commitment to zero carbon and zero waste policies.

5 Cleaner, greener, safer

We'll make park maintenance, street cleaning and local road and pavement repairs a priority. Under Labour, even the road safety budget's been under threat. We'll restore responsive local services.

6 Customer Service

The council often gives the impression of not caring about concerns of council taxpayers and service users. It no longer responds during the night to noise complaints and has even scrapped the Envirocall email address. We'll make better customer service and performance management a priority.