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Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2021 – Together we can re-build a better Town

by Ian Shires on 5 April, 2021

Walsall Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2021

Published and promoted by Stuart Hodges on behalf of Ian Shires and Dan Barker all at 33 Stretton Road, Willenhall WV12 5EJ

Elections go ahead – Thursday 6th May

Lib Dem Cllr Dan Barker and Lib Dem Cllr Ian Shires            Photo dated pre COVID-19

The Focus of our campaign in the Local Election on the 6th May centres around three core areas of concern you’ve said are important to you:-

  1. Supporting local people and local communities
  2. Tackling inequality and poverty
  3. Building a cleaner, greener Willenhall

 Willenhall Lib Dem Focus Team want the best for our town. We have always spoken up for Willenhall and its residents, ensuring your voice is heard in the corridors of power at Walsall’s Council House. This manifesto sets out our plans based on the things you have told us are important to you.

A message from Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Ian Shires:

“Most people, wherever they are from, are looking for the same thing. They’re not trying to get filthy rich. They don’t expect someone else to do what they can do for themselves. But they do expect that if they’re willing to work, they should be able to find a job that supports their family. They expect that they shouldn’t go bankrupt just because they get sick. They expect that their kids should be able to get a good education. They want to feel safe in their homes and secure in their local community. And they figure that after a lifetime of work, they should be able to retire with dignity and respect. That’s about it. It’s not a lot to wish for is it?

“And although folk don’t expect the Council to solve all of their problems, they do know, that with a slight change of priorities, councils could provide the help they need which is why we are focusing on those things that you have said are important to you.”

In recent years the Conservative Government aided and abetted by their counterparts in charge at Walsall Council have cut funding to local services. In Walsall, their  ideologically driven and politically motivated cuts have disproportionately hit those at most risk in our community – the elderly on fixed incomes, those with disabilities, children and young people who have little or no say on their own futures along with single parents and working families who struggle to make ends meet.

Because of these challenges we have developed our manifesto of bold ambitions to improve our town for the benefit of its people. In these difficult times we need to change the way services are designed and delivered. Now more than ever partnership working between the public, voluntary and private sector is key to success for our town.

The need to work together with local people has never been greater, this is our plan, our commitment, to work with you so that together we can make Willenhall Fairer, Greener and Healthier.

Conservatives who currently control Walsall Council voted through an inflation busting 4.99% increase in your Council Tax bill. Incredibly, at the same meeting in February, the 32 Conservatives on the council voted to increase their allowances!

Liberal Democrat Cllrs Ian Shires and Dan Barker voted against the Council Tax hike and the increase in allowances. They also voted against the Conservative Budget because it was based on a winner takes all attitude which promotes tax breaks for the super- wealthy whilst ordinary hard working families have to put up with stagnant income, layoffs and zero hours contracts.

Doing things differently:

We would build on the lessons learned during this Pandemic building a budget based on 5 Principles of Wellbeing:

  1. Supporting the mental wellbeing of citizens with particular reference to the under 25’s.
  2. Reducing child poverty and improving family wellbeing
  3. Lifting incomes by improving access to good education, training and upskilling
  4. Building a thriving local economy in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunity.
  5. Creating opportunities to aid transition to a sustainable, low-emission based local economy.

With your support Thurs 6th May we can do this.  

 -Together we can!

Lib Dem Manifesto 2021 – Willenhall Edition

Published and promoted by Stuart Hodges on behalf of Ian Shires and Dan Barker all at 33 Stretton Road, Willenhall WV12 5EJ

Willenhall Liberal Democrat Focus Team’s manifesto is guided by our ambition for this proud Black Country town and our clear values:

  • To create a town where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. No one should be a victim of their Post Code. Everyone should have an equal opportunity.
  • To reduce poverty and social exclusion.
  • Developing a green, sustainable town that people choose to live, work and relax in.
  • A creative, entrepreneurial, business friendly town where everyone has the chance to prosper.
  • A town where people take responsibility for themselves, their neighbours and for contributing to their community.

This manifesto contains the aims and objectives that we seek to achieve including our ambition to revitalise Willenhall as a district shopping centre, promote sustainable affordable homes, and boost employment and business opportunities across our town.

We want to build on our achievements between May 2016 and May 2018 when we were instrumental in putting in place devolution to communities across Walsall through four Locality Boards.

Willenhall is part of the West Locality along with Darlaston. Since being an integral part of the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, Willenhall has lost its identity. We will put Willenhall back on the map. Not only that but we will also ensure that Willenhall residents and businesses will have their say in the future of our great town.

Unlike many politicians who make promises in order to win elections only to break them once in office, Willenhall Liberal Democrats take our promises to the electorate very seriously and we believe that the Council, together with other public services, our communities and local businesses, need to thrive.

That is why we need Councillors that understand the importance of greater devolution to local communities. All the evidence shows that with greater powers, freedoms and responsibilities, towns like Willenhall can thrive; creating jobs, delivering services more efficiently and making a bigger contribution to the local economy. We need Councillors that recognise that services are best delivered closest to the people who use them.

The next Local Election on Thursday 6th May 2021 will be decisive. The choice will be whether under Willenhall Lib Dems, our town builds on its past successes, addresses the challenges of the future and achieves our ambitions. Or whether Willenhall, under the dead hand of the Conservatives at Westminster and at Walsall, goes back to the spending and service delivery mentality more fitting of the 1930’s. Willenhall was overlooked when Walsall’s Conservatives put together their £25million bid for the Town’s Fund.

This manifesto shows that Willenhall Liberal Democrats have the ambition and commitment to successfully take Willenhall forward despite the challenges we all face.

So on May 6th please take time out to secure your future by voting Liberal Democrat in the Local Elections. Together we can make Willenhall the great place we all want it to be.        

 

Willenhall People

Willenhall is one of the most diverse and welcoming towns in the Black Country and a great place to live. We want to help families get on in life by providing a good range of leisure activities, free and cheap events and excellent public services.

We know that Willenhall’s young people have energy, enthusiasm to give. That is why we want to keep more young people in Willenhall and give their ideas a chance to flourish. We will help young people find their place in Willenhall by ensuring a choice of good quality housing, access to workspace and increased work opportunities.

We also want to make life better older people in our town. That’s why we will fight to protect older people’s discounts on valued services – services such as bus passes – helping older people get around and maintain their social lives. We want older people where they need it, to have choice and confidence in the care they receive and the way in which it is delivered, maintaining dignity, independence and control.

We want to develop ways in which we can help reduce the ever increasing burden of fuel costs. We want to make our town more people friendly, a town that enables healthy lifestyles, positive outcomes and happy lives and encourages people to contribute to the wellbeing of their community.

People  

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will fight to protect from cut backs:

  • Social workers keeping our most vulnerable children safe
  • Leisure facilities which enable our town’s residents to enjoy sport and the health benefits these facilities bring.
  • Services for the frail, elderly and most vulnerable, enabling them to get the best from their lives.

Families

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will:

  • Fight to tackle fuel poverty
  • Develop ways of ensuring that local people get a fair chance when it comes to training places, apprenticeships and entry level council jobs.
  • Create safer streets for children, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Fight to ensure that a large proportion of children in the council’s care live within 20 miles of the town and increase the number of local foster carers.
  • Provide a range of positive activities for children and young people in the evening and at weekends as well as during school holidays.

Older People

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will:

  • Develop and agree an ‘Older Persons’ Charter’ in conjunction with carers and campaign groups
  • Develop a telecare and telehealth service in order to support more people to live independently
  • Grit well-used pavements as well as roads in winter to help prevent people from falling.

Living in Willenhall  

Willenhall Liberal Democrats want our town to be an even better place to live in, with good quality housing, good public transport, clean streets, well maintained open spaces and excellent leisure facilities.

We believe that an affordable, decent home is a critical cornerstone in enabling people achieve what they want in life, Willenhall Liberal Democrats will make housing a priority, working with local people, developers and local social housing providers to ensure high standards of affordable, sustainable homes are available to everyone whether they rent or buy.

But we do need local people to play their part too. For example, we could save around £750,000 if people didn’t litter and all dog owners cleaned up after their pet. That’s why we need local people to take pride in and responsibility for their neighbourhoods.

Willenhall Liberal Democrats recognise that good transport links are vital, encouraging investment, providing access to jobs, education and services. Soon passengers will be able to travel from Willenhall to Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton when Willenhall train station opens in time for the Commonwealth Games. But one train to Walsall and one to Birmingham as proposed by the Conservatives lacks ambition.

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will fight to protect from cut backs:

  • Funding for essential roads and footpaths repairs and will lobby government for more money for this.
  • Public Transport accessibility
  • The rogue landlords and environmental health teams, making sure that people are save and secure in their rented properties
  • Street lighting. Keeping lights on overnight in all our neighbourhoodsWillenhall Liberal Democrats will:
  • Fight to provide a network of continuous green pathways and safer cycle ways to encourage 10% more people to walk, cycle or take public transport to work and school and leisure
  • Campaign to extend Sprint Rapid-Transit buses from Walsall through Willenhall to New Cross Hospital and Wolverhampton providing links to the growing Midland Metro network.
  • Work with local Housing Associations to fight fuel poverty, provide zero-carbon new build homes to rent and buy delivering housing options to meet the needs of all age groups
  • Work with local residents to maintain and deliver new Green Flag Award winning woodland, parks and open spaces.
  • Support music and sporting events at Willenhall Memorial Park and other suitable venues
  • Improve the standard of taxis and their regulation to promote local businesses and service quality
  • Help local people switch energy suppliers with annual local advice events and publicity

Growing Willenhall

It’s a fact that having the right skills and being in work is key to living a fulfilled life. Willenhall Liberal Democrats are committed to encourage a thriving local economy, aiming to provide sufficient jobs for all those of working age. The economic wellbeing of our town and our local centres depends on keeping people in work wherever possible, able to spend their earnings to boost the local economy, rather than having to claim out of work benefits.

Over the next four years we will work to develop new homes on brown field sites. New homes which will be energy efficient, built within easy reach of reliable, efficient public transport corridors. We want to work to create easy to access local jobs and improve the opportunities for developing an eating out culture where people can relax and wind down with family and friends.

The Conservative policy of continuing austerity has impacted on the West Midlands as a whole and the Black Country more than most. Their policies have made it difficult for our local economy to grow and their austerity budgets have pulled money out of the local economy. Despite all of this, we want to see every person in Willenhall with the skills and ambition to find work, and we want to help create the jobs for them to fill.

But we also need our working age citizens to be involved in training and self-improvement in sustainable employment opportunities and to seek work. This way we can all make sure Willenhall’s economy prospers.

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will:

  • Work with local residents and businesses to create a Willenhall Town Centre Action Plan, giving locals a real say in the future look and development of their town centre
  • Within that plan identifying areas where we can provide the support for business start ups
  • Encourage the setting up of a creative industries business hub
  • Use open data to better provide information and services to citizens
  • Encourage low carbon vehicles by creating an infrastructure of charging stations.
  • Develop a “Smart City Collaborative” to enhance the use of new and existing technologies to make us more modern, more inclusive and more efficient

To grow Willenhall we will also:

  • Promote digital inclusion by promoting free internet and computer access points for developing digital skills and online learning
  • Promote the benefits of domestic energy efficiency using zero carbon homes projects for our most deprived areas
  • Promote an “Open Business Award” on the back of our Civic Open Data Project to encourage local companies to use open data innovatively to create new products and services

Education in Willenhall

Education is a priority for Willenhall Liberal Democrats. The move towards Academies may have changed the role of local councils in education, but it has not changed our ambition for Willenhall children to be the best they can be. We will work closely with schools to improve attendance, behaviour and attainment.

A good education is vital for our young people to become well rounded, successful and happy members of society. Willenhall Liberal democrats are committed to making our schools places of leaning for every child, not just the lucky few.

Parenting plays a crucial role in educational development. We will be the parents’ champion fighting to get the best standard of classroom teaching, but we do need parents to be their children’s champion by fostering a learning environment at home.

In Education, Willenhall Liberal Democrats will:

  • Work with schools to ensure more pupils receive 5 or more A*s-C grades including English and Maths
  • Work with schools to reduce absence from school by 20%
  • Work with schools to ensure every child is taught in a school judged to be good or outstanding by OFSTED
  • Work to ensure that every child receives a good quality work placement, wok readiness training and good careers advice before leaving school
  • Improve on the provision of special school places for children with additional needs
  • Encourage schools to equip our young people for the wider world by delivering proper sex and relationship education
  • Work to ensure our schools offer a range of after school activities for young people

Healthy Willenhall

Willenhall Liberal Democrats are ambitious for Willenhall’s development. However, Willenhall people will not feel the full benefit of this if they are not well enough to take advantage of new opportunities. Caring for our older residents and vulnerable adults is a key priority. We will build on the work we did in devolving services to Localities. Willenhall sits within the West Locality, it’s here where the NHS and Adult Social Care have begun working closely together. Willenhall Liberal Democrats want to build on the work we started to ensure better care for our vulnerable residents.

The National Health Service is a key dividing line between the political parties. Good health and social care services play a vital role of making sure that are our citizens can benefit from our town’s improvements. When it comes to District Centres such as Willenhall Walsall’s Conservatives have made it quite clear, District centres play second fiddle.

Since Walsall Conservatives took control of Walsall Council they have systematically shifted funding away from the District centres and concentrated them on Walsall’s town centre. Willenhall Liberal Democrats make this pledge, we will repeal action taken by Walsall Conservatives, returning power back to District centres such as Willenhall through the Four Localities.

We will also ensure that we reinstate the policy we helped to put in place where the funding the council has will help to reduce the deprivation residents have had to endure for far too long.

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will protect from cuts imposed by central government:

  • Vital health related services that give our children the best possible start in life
  • Effective services that reduce drug and alcohol addiction, encouraging better lives and safer communities
  • Vital aids and adaptations to people’s homes meaning they can live independently

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will:

  • Work to reduce teenage pregnancy by a third
  • Help to drive up the quality of home care services
  • Ensure that care is tailored to individual needs through properly integrated Council social care services with those delivered by the NHS
  • We will work to improve mental health services to new moms and moms–to-be as well as reducing smoking during pregnancy by a third

We will also:

  • Improve support to the often forgotten army of unpaid carers by fostering links with each other as well as the public services they rely on
  • Instigate a ‘Mental Health Strategy’, ensuring better mental wellbeing for all residents
  • Campaign to ensure that as a town we are at the front of the queue when it comes to cancer screening

Respect for Willenhall

Knowing that you are safe in your home and within your community is s important. Without this feeling of security people will leave and those who do remain won’t enjoy their lives in our great town, and businesses won’t invest.

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will make working in partnership with the Police, local housing associations, Community Protection and local people to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour a priority. We have listened to your concerns and will work to ban street drinking across the borough to make our communities safer and more family-friendly. We will also work with the Police to stop off-licences selling to those who are drunk or underage and persuade the council to use its licensing powers to limit the number of new off-licenses, casinos and sex-shops whilst at the same time encouraging small venues and restaurants.

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will

  • Work with the Police to reduce the number of victims of crime and the amount of antisocial behaviour
  • Work with partners to reduce domestic violence
  • Make use of Public Space Protection Orders to tackle irresponsible dog owners
  • Use the council’s licensing powers to reduce the number of off-licenses and supermarkets selling super-strength beers and lagers and crack down on premises persistently selling alcohol to drunks, alcoholics and underage young people
  • Ensure a zero tolerance of child sexual exploitation through a public awareness campaign to increase early awareness

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will also

  • Ensure that the council works with vulnerable families
  • Work with the Police Crime Commissioner to improve access to the Police
  • Increase the reporting of hate crime by 20%
  • Work with the council to provide free advice to households that have been burgled and take action against landlords that fail to follow the advice

Serving Residents Better

Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council (to give it its full title) exists to serve local people and local communities like Willenhall. We will work with partners to make sure that it delivers valued local services at the highest possible standard and that it listens to and engages with residents and business to shape those services to suit the needs of those local communities each of which have different needs.

Since 2015 the Conservative Government has continued to cut funding to local councils. Back in October 2018 the then Prime Minister Mrs May told the Party faithful at their annual gathering that Austerity was over. Well, there has been little or no evidence of that being the case. In fact Conservative MPs, Walsall North’s Eddie Hughes being no exception, continues to vote through reductions to local government funding.

These funding cuts disproportionately target the poorest and most deprived communities. These continuing unfair cuts have meant that Councils like Walsall have had to radically rethink the way that services are delivered. In 2018 we helped to begin a process which will make the council more efficient, easier for residents to deal with and more effective in delivering its services.

Since the Conservatives took over control of the council back in May last year, comments made by their leaders have concentrated on cuts rather than improvements to service delivery. Willenhall Liberal Democrats believe that despite what are called budget pressures, local people should be able to expect the best possible services from their council. That is why we want a council that aims to be the most accessible to its citizens in the country, with more ways for you to engage and interact with it than ever before.

Willenhall Liberal Democrats will

  • Work towards ensuring better ways of reporting problems by using apps, or by text, on the phone or in person
  • Protect from cuts as far as possible Council services by securing value for money
  • Promote the use of debt and benefit advice and the Credit Union as an alternative to pay day lending and loan sharks
  • Promote user friendly opening hours of council offices and libraries

 Liberal Democrat’s Pledge to you

Liberal Democrat Councillors care passionately about our town. They live in the borough and use local services. They want local communities to be served well by the council. That is why they make every effort to make themselves available at surgeries, on the phone and by email and social media.

That is why Liberal Democrats believe that wherever you live in the town, if you have a Liberal Democrat Councillor you should be able to expect the same level of service, someone who will respect you, listen to you, and champion your area. You can’t always expect this from other parties. But, if elected, Liberal Democrat Councillors will be the local champions our town needs.

Once elected all Liberal Democrat Councillors promise to:

  • Hold at least 2 Advice Surgeries a month
  • Do regular Ward Walks so we can spot problems and listen to your views and concerns
  • Be present or represented at community events and meetings that local people invite us to attend
  • Deliver at least 6 Focus newsletters a year in each Liberal Democrat Ward to inform the people they represent what Liberal Democrat Councillors have been doing locally, borough wide and further afield
  • Join local action groups and work to make them a success
  • Attend the committees they are appointed to and ensure that they are well briefed and constructive in its work
  • Ensure problems are tackled quickly and efficiently through their casework system and do their best to resolve them to your satisfaction
  • Seek your views on issues that matter in your area
  • Use their influence within the Liberal Democrat Party and their contacts regionally and nationally to stand up for our town.

Published and promoted by Stuart Hodges on behalf of Ian Shires and Dan Barker all at 33 Stretton Road, Willenhall WV12 5EJ

Liberal Democrats

– Doing things differently

 – Together we can!

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