The battle for control of East Cambridgeshire District Council began today with Labour unveiling a full slate of candidates to contest local elections on May 4.
Labour failed to win a seat in the district four years ago but with the party, nationally, showing a commanding lead in the polls and a Labour Mayor of Cambridgeshire elected in 2021, their hopes are high.
Their manifesto promises were revealed today at a special launch in Ely attended by candidates, Labour MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner and Mayor Dr Nik Johnson.
And so the local election campaigning in Cambridgeshire really takes off …..
— Mayor Dr Nik Johnson (@NikJohnsonCA) March 25, 2023
Labour activist Elizabeth McWilliams, vice chair of Landbeach parish council, described the manifesto as “an amazing piece of work”.
The manifesto says: “There’s plenty that East Cambs Council can change and Labour will make it a top priority.”
On wages and the cost of living, Labour says it will:
★ Declare a cost-of-living emergency and use this to drive action across the council.
★ Commit the council to paying the Real Living Wage and make a permanent commitment to pay all staff and all contractors’ staff enough to live on.
★ Create and implement the first-ever East Cambs anti-poverty strategy to involve people on low incomes, public agencies and voluntary groups.
★ Appoint a financial Inclusion officer to support financially vulnerable residents, including through outreach sessions. Reinstate funding to Citizens’ Advice.
★ Provide free sanitary products in community centres to cut period poverty (that affects 1 in 8 British women).
On housing, Labour says “a decent home is a basic human right.
“Years of Tory rule means East Cambs is England’s 46th (out of over 300) worst district for housing and services.
“Housing is too expensive and services hard to reach.
“The Tories have failed to deliver affordable homes. Fewer than 1 out of 5 new homes built is classed as affordable.”
The manifesto says that “when there was a Tory mayor, millions of pounds meant for cheaper homes were lost to our area.
“Over half of homes in East Cambs are poorly insulated and expensive to run Labour’s plans are designed to provide truly affordable, safe, and good quality homes.
“Local people should have the choice to keep living in the area that they know and love.”
Labour says it will:
★ Insist on 40% min affordable homes in developments of 15+ homes. Prioritise social housing with secure tenancies.
★ Set targets for housing to be accessible to people with disabilities, with at least 5% of new homes specifically adapted.
★ Push towards new homes at net zero carbon standards to cut heating bills. Better promotion of existing insulation schemes to reduce running costs.
★ Expect infrastructure to be in place before people move in and “stop the endless twists and turns in proposals such as seen at Soham Eastern Gateway”.
★ Increase inspection and enforcement against landlords and “we must end bad conditions such as mould in Soham homes that hit the national press”.
★ Cut local homelessness with a strategic prevention service that uses the £670,000 grant awarded to the council to deliver long-term change.
★ Work with the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance to improve our response. Labour believes that “lack of housing is the main barrier to fleeing violence (for women especially)”.
On the climate crisis, Labour says one local council can’t solve it “but that’s not an excuse for inaction”.
Labour’s manifesto says it will
★ Speed up progress to a net zero council. Stop buying or investing in fossil fuels.
★ Create Local Nature Recovery plans, with communities and landowners, that enhance our fens, grasslands, meadows, woodlands, and chalk streams.
★ Protect communities from the impact of climate change, e.g. nature-based antiflood measures and keep gullies clear.
★ Work with the county council to move away from just patching up potholes to a pro-active repair programme as “this reduced pothole numbers by a third last summer”.
★ Cut the 46% of local waste sent to landfill here. Put recycling bins next to litter bins and encourage more repair cafes.
★ Increase tree cover. East Cambs has just 5% tree canopy. This is the 8th lowest in England.
★ Install more electric vehicle charging points especially in terraced streets with limited or no off-road parking. Phase in a requirement for taxis to be low emission.
★ Stand with the Labour Combined Authority Mayor to improve public transport “despite relentless Tory cuts; we will campaign for bus franchising to run services for public good”.
★ Invest in a greener local economy and raise additional funding through a Community Municipal Investment fund (ethical crowdfunding for local people).
Labour says its will listen to residents, and work with others so that every part of East Cambs enjoys decent services.
The Labour manifesto promises to:
★ Strengthen the network of community and sports centres to deliver a range of clubs, sports, leisure activities and entertainment for all ages. Involve disadvantaged groups.
★ Organise more free and low-cost activities, seeking sponsorship to support this.
★ Support local businesses, through a new economic recovery officer.
★ Champion 20mph limits in areas where people live.
★ Introduce Civil Parking Enforcement “to end the scourge of bad parking. And make good use of CCTV to improve safety”.
★ Labour says it will “get a grip of the management of waste collections so there are no repeats of the chaos seen last year. And take steps to address the bins contract overspend of £500,000”.
Labour says it believes that Government, at every level, has a duty to use its powers for the good of the community.
“Working people are the real wealth creators,” says the manifesto. “Wealth created by the community should be retained locally so that we all benefit.”
Labour promises to:
★ Put lead councillors in charge of key policy areas. “If the Council is to drive change, we need accountability,” says the manifesto. “Currently everything is lumped into an unfocused operational services committee”.
★ Work with local communities to create a new Local Plan. “A plan where local people, not developers, decide what’s best,” says the manifesto. “A plan that includes public transport connectivity.”
★ Capitalise on Section 106 planning powers to provide and maintain the infrastructure the community needs, e.g., roads, cycle ways, recreation, education, nurseries, GPs and dentists, and homes for local people.
★ Review Community Land Trusts (CLTs).
“And support only those that are community led, have wide support and that focus on affordable housing,” says the manifesto.
★ Focus East Cambs Trading Company on projects that bene
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