In the run up to the West Sussex County Council elections, The County Times has asked the leaders of the four main parties to set out their mandates to readers.
The council is currently made up of 43 Conservatives, 18 Liberal Democrats, three Labour and one UKIP member and all 71 seats are up for election in on May 2.
The Conservative Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UK Independence Party have each responded with their views.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of the council and WSCC Conservative group
County Councils are at the forefront of the local community. In West Sussex alone in 2013-2014 we will spend £535 million on 80 per cent of our services from social services to roads and drains.
This is action at a very local level that touches the community in real time, addressing their real issues which is why we urge everyone to come and vote on May 2 to ensure their voice is heard. It is the local level where policies have a direct impact.
Over the last three years considerable savings have been achieved through driving greater efficiencies into our local services. More robust management and teamwork has enabled us to think and operate in a way suited to the current economic climate we all have to face.
We are all in very difficult financial times at present, which is why a key priority for us has been, and remains, to keep council tax bills down. For the last three years, we have worked tirelessly to keep council tax unchanged.
Whilst driving cost reductions has been an economic necessity; we have also continued our concerted focus on generating and strengthening the local economy in West Sussex. We are and will continue working with a number of businesses, both large and small, to help foster opportunities for all.
We believe in strong, vibrant, self-reliant communities and for this coming year have committed over £750,000 in our Big Society and Community Initiative Grants to help a range of community activities.
Looking forward we also need to ensure that our infrastructure can support the demands of the local community as well as the changing environmental climate. Our programmes include improving the road infrastructure; enhancing flood and drainage schemes; helping our elderly and very vulnerable live better lives and helping our young to a good start in life.
Conservative Councillors work tirelessly for their local communities and for the good of West Sussex and will continue to do so. Keep West Sussex strong and vote Conservative on the May 2.
Brenda Smith, leader of the WSCC Labour group
West Sussex Labour Party cares deeply about West Sussex. About the different towns and rural areas, its people, its economy, its past, its present and its future. We strongly oppose the current administration’s commitment to outsource all council services and become a Commissioning Council.
1. We will review the Highways budget and contracts to ensure that West Sussex highways, are maintained to a high standard of safety and wear.
2. We will campaign for increased funds for Adult Social care for those in moderate need and provide Day Centre facilities and care for all.
3. We will campaign to restore adequate support to Youth services across the County to provide the services in your locality
4. We will ensure that all Health and wellbeing services are provided with care quality and respect, to ensure the best possible life expectancies for West Sussex residents.
5. We will promote and campaign for improved recycling facilities to keep the use of Landfill to a minimum
6. We will campaign and negotiate with Commercial transport providers to provide a fast and frequent public transport network that serves all communities both rural and Urban as prices that people can afford and encourage the reduction of car use.
7. We will re-instate good quality, nutritious Hot school meals for primary school children.
8. We will ensure that all schools in West Sussex, are accountable and that elected representation remains available to parents.
9. We will ensure that staff and contractors serving West Sussex, are accountable and effective but are also paid a Living Wage with good working conditions and agreements.
10. All Labour councillors will serve their constituents, honestly and diligently they will listen to and respond to their concerns and complaints.
11. We will ensure that all future negotiations regarding West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services provides a safe and secure environment for West Sussex residents.
12. We will continue to work in Partnership with other Local Authorities and Statutory bodies to provide the best possible services in all areas of our responsibility.
Morwen Millson, leader of the WSCC Liberal Democrat Group
If the Liberal Democrats are elected to run West Sussex County Council on May 2, we are determined to improve services, particularly maintenance of the county’s roads, pavements and cycle ways, but also to help the many vulnerable people in the county whose services have been cut in recent years.
It will be difficult to turn back the clock and reinstate lost services, but we believe we can get better value from better management and from working more closely with voluntary organisations.
Our top priorities: -
- Liberal Democrats will ensure the county’s roads and pavements are usable, dealing with flooding and potholes quickly - supporting the economy and reducing injuries to pedestrians and damage to vehicles.
- We will fund major projects imaginatively - using new fundraising powers to support growth and create the new jobs that are needed in the county.
- A Liberal Democrat council will cut waste by smarter joint working with other councils, and forming closer partnerships with Sussex Police, the local NHS and voluntary groups. Our council will respond quickly and effectively when issues arise.
- Too many decisions are currently made by the Cabinet in Chichester. We will use the localism powers the Government has provided to empower local communities, working with them, helping to make their areas safer for road users and residents, and developing 20’s Plenty schemes where these are wanted.
- Money has been shovelled into reserves. A Liberal Democrat council will use some of the reserves to reduce the impact of recent cuts - to support vulnerable adults, to support young people and to restore vital bus routes.
- We supported the Council Tax freeze and will continue to keep Council Tax at a low level, taking advantage of any Government initiatives to do this.
Liz Wallace, chairman of Arundel and South Downs UKIP branch
Our candidates are realists and do not expect to be included in any “inner circle”, but wish to learn how county works and can offer their experiences of the results of decisions taken at county level.
We are all working in our own areas to support the community and have stood in this election to serve more effectively.
Listening to those who have been on the council a long time will fill in the gaps in our knowledge of what is happening, and it is likely that we can question and suggest directions as we live closer to those who voted for us.
It will be possible to give a fuller answer to the questions we are asked, and of course, as we are not under pressure to give a Party line, we can be open about the results of our enquiries.
We know that funds are available for projects that support the community and we will be better able to link those working in the area with this help. It is terrible to see an increasing number of food banks across the county and also too many young people unable to read and write.
We are surrounded by unemployable young people who need to develop such basic skills as punctuality and courteous speech. They need help to believe that these changes can be made.
Too many are being suspended from school and left to wander the streets. The country is struggling so county is squeezed, but somehow we have to build a future for the next generation and we are keen to help this happen.