Political parties in Brent outline their manifestos
Reopening closed libraries, cracking down on fly-tipping and common sense approach parking charges are some key areas the main political parties in Brent have identified as key issues in their respective manifestos.
The Times has picked out some of the key points from the documents ahead of the hotly contested local elections taking place today.
The Conservative contingent are hoping to improve on the seven seats won at the last election by vowing to freeze council tax for the next four years and provide incentives for early payments.
In their manifesto, the Tory have also vowed to reform parking measures in the borough, by introducing one hour free parking on high streets in a bid to bluster nearby businesses, and abolishing controversial CCTV spy cars –dubbed as “unfair” and “overzealous” way of enforcing parking.
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To tackle environmental disputes, the party has pledged to review property edge refuse collection; abolish charges for domestic users of the reuse and recycling centre, in Park Royal, and increase the hours of the noise pollution patrol.
In addition, the party promises to bring back the hotly debated scratch card permits for visitors to controlled parking zones areas, and freeze existing parking charges, if elected.
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The group are hoping to attract votes by pledging to re-open Barham, Preston and Kensal Rise libraries, which were axed to save one million pounds a year, staffed by using community volunteers.
They have also announced plans to reintroduce funding for religious festivals and co-operate with Swaminarayan Temple, in Neasden, authorities to build a park in front of the religious building.
Plans to open up a new swimming pool in Kingsbury, oppose development of building over 18 stories high, and support £33 billion HS2 high speed railway project through Old Oak Common, in Harlesden, have also been unveiled by the Brent Conservatives.
Cllr Suresh Kansagra, leader of Brent Conservatives, said: “Labour in Brent are hiding behind the cuts in government funding.
“Many Conservative run Councils have had to make savings but still manage not to close libraries, not to tax housing benefit claimants and protect front line services we promise to provide more efficient services at less cost.”
Safeguarding local services, greater accountability, climate change and better protection of Green spaces are at the forefront of the Green Party’s manifesto.
The group has promised to oppose further cuts to the council as well as bluster transparency in its dealings with the public.
The Green are looking to tackle climate change by promoting of green jobs through a Brent Green Industries zone with start-up subsidies, a programme of energy efficiency in council homes and Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) properties.
To reduce vehicle emissions, they have pledged to work with Green Assembly members for action at the London level to tackle high polluting vehicles and reduce dependency on cars. They will also support the London Cycling Campaign’s ‘Space for Cycling’ initiative and press for better public transport to reduce the need of car use.
Housing and education is also high up the Green’s agenda. They promise to oppose evictions of tenants who have defaulted on rent payments because of bedroom tax; support local developments on viable brown field sites that include at least 50% genuinely affordable housing and fast track the delivery of the delayed family housing in the Wembley Quintain development.
For education, they aim to strengthen the role of the local authority and its accountability in terms of school improvement and Special Educational Needs provision and campaign for it to be able to build new schools where needed, rather than rely on the “costly” and “undemocratic” free schools and academies.
Alex Colas, a 44-year-old university lecturer, is hoping to represent the Willesden Green ward.
He said: “The neglect of our High Street and disappearance of public spaces are big issues as is the loss of our area’s social mix due to lack of social and affordable housing.
“I want to stop secretive planning decisions which ignore local people’s voices. We need a Brent-wide policy that enforces the protection of Assets of Community Value.
“Any new build must contain a high proportion of genuinely affordable housing units.
“Willesden Green needs an independent voice representing residents directly, not narrow party-political interests. I will stand for the needs of our community and challenge profiteering developers.”
Brent Labour is hoping to maintain their political dominance of the borough with the launch of their manifesto, referred to as a contract, with a cache line of “better backing to get through tough times.”
The group have earmarked 9 wards to add to the 40 seats they gained in the last elections in 2010.
They hope to achieve this by putting the cost of living crisis, in which the group claims to have been spurred on by “big cuts” made by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government, at the fore front of their campaign.
Brent Labour have vowed to invest in the future of children living in the borough, by announcing pioneering plans to open a savings account at a credit union with a starter deposit of £10 for all Year 7 pupils, in a bid to promote money saving.
In addition, the party has unveiled plans to spend £100m in creating much needed school places.
In its manifesto, it promises to build 3,000 new affordable homes by 2018, as well as inject £110 million over the next four years to “radically” improve the quality of existing council houses.
The party has also pledged to crackdown payday lenders who “grind down” vulnerable people, by banning them from advertising on council-owned billboards and bus stop.
Other notable pledges include plans to help 1,000 more residents in employment and tackle youth unemployment by creating 100 new apprenticeships in the council workforce by 2017.
They also plan to boost transparency in the housing benefit system by publishing an annual register of companies and individuals in Brent getting more than £250,000 in payments.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Labour, said:
“These are tough times. Rising food and energy bills, rents and rates mean everyone’s having to watch the pennies, and big cuts from the Coalition Government mean the same is true of Brent Council. But, by changing the way the council works, Brent Labour believes we can keep on making life a bit easier for the 312,000 people who call our borough home.
We know that together we’re better, and that by unleashing the power of our community we can turn the challenges we face into opportunities and emerge from tough times as a fairer and better borough.”
The Liberal Democrats aims to better their 2010 election tally of 15 seats by promising to reopen closed libraries which were axed by the current Labour administration in 2011 to save £1m a year, and crackdown on fly-tipping.
The group has vowed to re-establish Barham, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston reading rooms, run by community volunteers and supported by paid professional librarians.
The state of borough streets is high up the party’s priority list, with promises to improve street cleaning services, and dish out stern punishments to those find guilty of illegal dumping
They have announced plans to implement a “common sense” approach in the council’s parking policy, including the reintroduction of visitor scratch cards, and freeze existing parking charges.
The left wing party has pledged to tackle the shortage of school place by further cash injection; restrict numbers of large tower block development; and support Brent businesses whilst creating more jobs.
Paul Lorber, leader of Brent Lib Dems, said: “The prime Liberal Democrat objective is to clean up Brent and to bring back important local services which local people value but which out of touch labour Councillors cut.”
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
TUSC prospective candidates in Brent aim to tackle issues affecting the borough, with specific mention to housing, education and healthcare.
They vow to oppose all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions and the implementation of the Bedroom Tax –claiming councils should write off all bedroom tax-related arrears.
The group promises to stand against the privatisation of council jobs and services, or the transfer of council services to ‘social enterprises’ or ‘arms-length’ management organisations, as well as support action against climate change.
TUSC candidates would campaign for the introduction of a Living Wage above the minimum wage, including for council employees and those working for council contractors.
UKIP candidates have pledged to stand up for local people and “common sense,” rather than toeing the party line.
They aim to protect older people’s services and accommodation, to save post offices from closure, protecting green spaces, opposing parking charges and fighting against “overbearing” large housing estates.
The group would aim to keep council tax should be as low as possible; control immigration into the borough to relieve pressure on our health, education, housing and welfare services and protect green spaces.
UKIP has also promised to tackle crime by increasing the number of police on streets.