Somerset Labour County Manifesto

LABOUR FOR A FAIRER SOMERSET

County Labour Leader Leigh Redman (Bridgwater South)

The Conservative County Council is out of control

Somerset needs a change – and we need it now

In everything we do, Labour County Councillors will put people in Somerset first. We will fight for fair funding from government and ensure our Council Taxes are used to provide the services we need.

Conservatives have failed to stand up for Somerset. People are suffering because of their mismanagement. They have wrecked essential services, sacked or driven out staff with valuable skills, knowledge and dedication, run up massive debts, and kept residents in the dark about what they’re doing.

We are all paying the price, in cash and in our quality of life – especially our youngest, oldest and disabled residents. Labour will put Somerset’s people, economy and environment first.

We will involve communities and partner organisations in the work of restoring our services and invest in building a stronger, sustainable local economy and vibrant communities.

Sustainable Communities

Andy Govier and Minehead
Wellington County Councillor Andy Govier on the campaign trail

To be sustainable, our communities need to feel safe and secure, inclusive and well-served by those who are elected to represent them. Labour would consult with statutory and voluntary sector agencies to agree priorities for improving the quality of life for Somerset people and work with voluntary sector agencies as equal partners in serving our communities.

Housing is fundamental to enabling individuals and families to thrive. Labour County councillors would do everything within their powers to increase the availability of secure, decent, affordable housing in Somerset.

Labour will:

  • Lobby government to make sure Somerset receives the funding we need to meet the costs of rural service provision, including digital and mobile services
  • Review the County’s assets to see whether County land can be used to increase the supply of genuinely affordable housing
  • Work closely with local councils to ensure that the necessary infrastructure, including schools, is in place to support proposed housing developments
  • Support cultural, sports and community events, celebrating the vibrancy and beauty of our County
  • Work with communities to identify problems, find solutions, and tackle social and economic inequalities and disadvantages that arise from discrimination.
  • Work with the Police and Crime Commissioner, the police and PCSOs, to keep our communities safe
  • Replicate successful schemes that promote social integration such as the ‘One-Team’ model in Taunton Deane and the ‘Together Team’ in Sedgemoor.
  • Maintain the Local Assistance Scheme to support individuals and families in severe crisis situations
Labour will be standing more young candidates than ever before. Chelsea Chadwick is one such candidate.

Education and young people’s services

Labour will work to keep our children safe and healthy.  Labour believes every child deserves the best possible start in life, with integrated services that support them to achieve their full potential and prepare them well for adulthood.

Children and young people have been hit badly by Conservative policies made here and in parliament. We have a child protection service in crisis, with too few directly employed staff and too many costly agency temps.

Under the Tories we have:

  • Vulnerable children lacking the care and support they need
  • Massive costs incurred by employing agency staff
  • Children’s centres hollowed out and starved of funds
  • The County youth service dismantled
  • Voluntary youth services underfunded
  • Children’s mental health services severely underfunded and inadequate
  • Further Education undervalued and neglected

Labour believes that every child should have access to a first class education at a local school that meets individual learning and support needs. Schools should have properly qualified teaching and non-teaching staff, and responsive pastoral care linked to external support services.

We want to see a Fair Funding system for schools and the 23 million revenue reserves in schools used to support equality of educational opportunity for all children.

Labour in councillors would fight to reinstate local oversight, control and planning powers into the schools system. We would end ‘academisation’ and reverse moves to return to the second-class education that grammar schools would bring about.

Labour’s plan for children and young people would include:

  • high quality early years provision and support for parents
  • affordable childcare for all parents who want it
  • post-16 education with the resources and capacity to meet needs and aspirations
  • high quality, integrated youth, careers, and counselling services
  • reviewing the unfair transport charges imposed on pupils and students
  • establishing a County-wide education partnership to hold decision-makers to account and lobby for changes that parents, governors teachers and head teachers want to see

 Health and care

Labour will be seeking to displace the Lib Dems from places such as Yeovil, where we now have a growing number of councillors such as local activist Terry Ledlie

Labour recognises the enormous hidden contribution that Somerset’s older generations make to the economy and to community life through formal and informal voluntary work.

We also recognise the anxieties that come with the onset of physical or mental frailties when individuals and families seek the support needed to maintain safety and independence. Too many find this support lacking as Somerset’s social services are near crisis point.

We believe good quality health and social care can only be achieved through fully integrated, properly funded services. These should be delivered by experienced and dedicated in-house staff, serving the diverse needs of our communities.

Labour’s plan for Somerset will:

  • ensure genuine involvement of older and disabled people, carers and their families in shaping better services and support, along with health and other service providers
  • Invest in our public health service and give it the priority it needs in order to tackle health inequalities. We will develop a pro-active, preventative approach to Public Health in close collaboration with district councils, GPs, voluntary organisations and the NHS commissioners and providers
  • support and progress work towards a fully integrated health and care service, with shared budgets across Somerset

A Labour government will create a national Health and Social Care Service which would ensure high quality, sustainable social care services for the future.

The Jobs and the Economy

Brenda in Taunton
Labour will be hitting the Tories hard in the County town with experienced candidates such as Taunton stalwart Brenda Weston

The full impact of the decision to leave the European Union will take some time to emerge, and much will depend on government policy.

Whatever the outcome, Labour believes the County Council needs a clear, sound economic development strategy for Somerset. We will develop our strategy in partnership with local councils, businesses, colleges and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership to support and promote secure, high-value jobs, quality apprenticeships, and fair employment and training opportunities for semi-skilled and unskilled workers.

Our five-year strategy will:

  • Encourage green enterprises, community interest companies, and co-operatives
  • Support businesses to set up and thrive in Somerset
  • Remove barriers to local Small and Medium-sized Enterprises providing services to the County Council
  • Make sure people have the right skills and training they need to work and earn a decent living
  • Support those in the self-employed sector who are struggling
  • Recognise the contribution made to the economy, as well as community well-being, by voluntary sector organisations through the provision of services, jobs and training.

Transport

Unlike the Conservatives, Labour understands that reliable, affordable transport is vital for our communities, our local economy and our environment. The ability to get to where we need to go is fundamental for our health, wellbeing, and productivity, whether this is getting to school or work, visiting friends or family, shopping or attending appointments.

The Conservatives have made year-on-year cuts to our bus services, and reduced the scope of concessionary fares, hitting pensioners, disabled people, younger people and poorer households hardest. Many people in our rural communities can’t travel to and from our towns at weekends or in the evenings, leaving them isolated and the towns struggling for trade.

Labour’s spokesman on Youth matters Cllr Diogo Rodrigues out in Bridgwater Town Centre with Long standing Somerset County Councillor Dave Loveridge (Bridgwater North & Central)

Labour will:                    

  • Invest in the road, bus and rail network to enable people to travel for work, education and leisure
  • Develop integrated bus and community transport services available to all
  • Explore ways to extend the service to people who are unable to work or are seeking employment
  • Work with district councils to embed public transport, cycling and walking into all infrastructure planning including new housing developments

Our natural and built environment

Labour takes seriously the threat of climate change to our health and wellbeing as well as to our environment.  Our policies for public transport, jobs and the economy will help to deliver a green, ethical and sustainable Somerset. Labour opposes fracking and strongly supports the development of renewable energy solutions.

Residents on the Somerset Levels have experienced at first-hand the devastation caused by our over-reliance on fossil fuels and our failure to protect the natural environment. David Cameron promised that ‘money is no object’, and Somerset Tories failed to keep him to his word on behalf of our devastated communities.

County Labour Leader Leigh Redman attacks Tory Government underfunding for local government

Labour will:

  • Implement a flood prevention strategy that tackles the broader environmental causes of flooding, as well as ensuring the right defences are in place. Working with the communities affected, Labour councillors will fight hard to achieve fair funding from government to tackle flooding.
  • We will work closely with district councils to ensure that new developments are always supported by the infrastructure (bus services, roads, schools etc) necessary to meet community needs. Services should be in place when people start to move in.
Our plans for Somerset will bring genuine democracy into the County Council. In all our policies we will show how we value Somerset’s people, our businesses and our environment.

For a fairer Somerset vote Labour on 4th May 2017