By Ian Dipple 27/04 Updated: 27/04 09:32
REDDITCH goes to the polls next Thursday (May 3) to vote in what could be one of the tightest elections in the town’s history.
Labour will be hoping to regain control of the council they lost in 2008 while the Conservatives aim to fend them off despite the coalition’s unpopularity nationally.
The Liberal Democrats face being wiped out if their one remaining councillor Malcolm Hall loses his seat in Winyates while the Greens and the independents will be looking to cash in on disaffection with the mainstream parties.
Here the Standard takes a brief look at the key pledges of the main parties and a round-up of what the independents have to offer.
DELIVERING on their promises is the message from the Conservatives.
Since taking control of the council in 2008 they have delivered the new £6.5million Abbey Stadium, established an Adult Learning Unit at Greenlands along with NEW College to support people to gain work and skills and have re-established the Business Support Unit, abolished by Labour, to help businesses to expand and create jobs.
They have also invested in new dial-a-ride buses and are piloting the Redditch Hopper Community Transport Scheme in Webheath as well as paying for a direct bus link from the town centre to the Abbey Stadium.
If they retain control of the council they plan to build council houses in Redditch for the first time in almost 20 years and have started the redevelopment of Church Hill Centre, insulation work on homes in Winyates, plan further improvements to Church Green and more car parking spaces in neighbourhoods. It has also saved more than £1million through shared services.
JOB CREATION is at the heart of Labour’s manifesto.
If elected the party want to insist developers create at least one apprentice position for a young person in Redditch in all new major developments as well as increase the number of apprentices employed by the borough council.
It would also work to bring high tech, green industries to the borough to deliver well paid jobs.
Other pledges include the introduction of free swimming for the under-16s and over-60s as well as reinstating pre-9.30am concessionary bus travel for the elderly and disabled
It would also scrap parking charges on council owned car parks which would save about £2,000 of taxpayers money.
The party would work to deliver high quality affordable housing through Redditch Co-operative Homes, set-up by a Labour council, and campaign to protect the Alexandra Hospital from the worst of public sector cuts and deliver an improvement plan to make it a first class hospital.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS -
A FRESH start for Redditch is the title of the Liberal Democrats manifesto.
Key pledges include using all legal means possible to ensure no housing is left unoccupied and future development is concentrated on brownfield sites first not green belt land.
They would also call on providers of further education and training to increase employability levels among school-leavers and help small businesses and third sector organisations obtain borough council contracts where appropriate.
Other pledges include installing an electric car charging point in every residential street where on-street parking is the norm and helping people get allotments to grow their own food.
All council owned property would be equipped with high levels of insulation and at least one source of renewable energy within the next 10 years.
Money saved would be reinvested into the housing stock.
They would also demand essential services are maintained and improved at the Alexandra Hospital.
GREEN PARTY -
THE GREEN Party has drawn up an eight point plan focusing on job creation by insulating homes across the town and fitting them with solar panels and repairing/renovating old furniture and other items in a unit on Crossgate Road and selling them.
Shop rents and business rates would be reduced for small independent shops and they would save Redditch Youth House and provide more free/cheap youth facilities across the town.
They also oppose the sale of pockets of green space across the town and would insist new homes were built on brownfield sites first and be affordable/starter homes.
They would also stop the development of more factories/warehouses in Redditch as there are empty units across the town which should be filled first.
They would also look to improve public transport and introduce 20mph zones outside schools and in residential roads to encourage cycling/bus usage.
PAUL SWANSBOROUGH is campaigning to win the seat in Winyates under a ‘let’s get things done’ banner. Key pledges include campaigning to restore late night buses on the 57/58 route, extend surgery opening hours at Winyates Health Centre, new equipment and a redesign for the Rocket Park and working with the county council to tackle pot holes.
If elected he would also encourage businesses to invest in apprenticeships, campaign to restore nursery nurses at the Alexandra Hospital and fairer funding for Worcestershire Schools.
AGNES WIECEK wants to be the one voice representing residents in Church Hill. Having lived in Redditch since 2007 and in the process of becoming a British citizen, her pledges include providing safe areas for children to play, supporting and encouraging businesses to open up in the district and protecting the environment. She also believes young people are neglected and wants to do more to provide more opportunities for them including tackling youth unemployment.
Another key pledge is to increase Redditch’s appeal as a tourist destination by promoting assets such as Arrow Valley Country Park and Forge Mill.
HUSBAND and wife Orion and Pam Moon are both standing separately for election in Lodge Park but believe making promises which cannot be kept is bad for politics so they make only one pledge to residents - to listen to what they have to say and stand up for their demands.
RICHARD and Isabel Armstrong are also husband and wife and are standing separately in Church Hill where two seats are available. Having lived in the town for almost 40 years and having educated their three children in Redditch they are promising to do politics differently by offering an independent voice to serve residents and not ‘serve you up’ as they claim other councillors have.
The list of candidates standing in this year’s Redditch Borough Council election on Thursday, May 3. Polling stations open from 7am until 10pm. Visit www.redditchbc.gov.uk and click on the council and democracy and electoral services links to find out where to vote.
Batchley and Brockhill
Tom Baker-Price Conservative
Loretta Hope Griffin Green Party
Pattie Hill Labour
Peter Paul George Merricks Liberal Democrat
Greg Chance Labour
Mohammed Salim Khan Green Party
David James Smith Conservative
Diane Elizabeth Thomas Liberal Democrat
Church Hill (two seats available)
Isabel Margaret Armstrong Independent
Richard Kevin Armstrong Independent
Kath Banks Conservative
Lee John Bradley Green Party
David Howard Gee Liberal Democrat
Bill Hartnett Labour
Kathy Haslam Conservative
Rosemary Kerry Green Party
Daniel Thomas Taylor Liberal Democrat
Agnes Wiecek Independent
Pat Witherspoon Labour Party
Joe Baker Labour Party
William Guy Darrell Norton Conservative
Anthony Pitt Liberal Democrat
Rylma Elaine White Green Party
Headless Cross & Oakenshaw
Roger Michael Bennett Conservative
Yassar Mahmood Labour Party
John Gordon Stanley Liberal Democrat
Alistair Derek Waugh Green Party
Orion Moon Independent
Pam Moon Independent
Mark Henry Shurmer Labour Party
Jean Elizabeth Smith Conservative
Ian David Webster Liberal Democrat
Kevin White Green Party
Emma Louise Bradley Green Party
Anita Janet Clayton Conservative
John Gary Fisher Labour Party
Simon Brookes Oliver Liberal Democrat
Michael John Braley Conservative
Louise Mary Deveney Green Party
Rita Margaret Hindle Liberal Democrat
John Witherspoon Labour Party
Malcolm William Hall Liberal Democrat
Bev Minto Green Party
Michael John Slevin Conservative
Yvonne Smith Labour Party
Paul James Swansborough Independent
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