Labour Manifesto – Northamptonshire County Council Elections 2017

Thursday May 4th 2017 

Manifesto for Northamptonshire May 2017

Labour Councillors working with you, working together for real change: Local services for local people by local people.

Our Priorities

  • Labour Council will sort out the financial mess at County Hall.
  • Labour will help our vulnerable adults and older people. Putting people before profit.
  • Labour will improve our failing children’s services. Sport not court for our young people.
  • Labour will keep public services in public ownership.
  • Labour will help and support local business working with small companies and sole traders.
  • By providing fulltime dedicated staff Labour will stop the waste of millions of pounds on agency workers.
  • Labour will improve our pavements and roads.
  • Labour will improve street lighting and community safety.
  • Labour will build new schools. A school place for every child.
  • Labour will put people at the heart of decision-making and hold meetings around our County.
  • The helping hand when you need it most.

Labour will immediately set up a root and branch reform of the council’s finances starting from the bottom up involving all staff across all areas providing joint up services to provide a smoother and better experience for people.

The Tories have led Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) since 2005 and our great county has seen the local Tories slash and burn services with barely a whimper of compassion.

The sheer financial incompetence and dogmatism of the local Tories over the last ten years has meant that the cuts have been deeper and more unfair. This Tory administration has the worst services of the 26 county councils and is bottom on helping our children. They spend the lowest on older people with social care services. They have been selected as the worst in their ability to pay their way and if NCC was a private business it would have been declared bankrupt some time ago.

Labour will deal with this Tory incompetence and start the hard job of reclaiming the wasted money thereby restoring decency, competency and financial stability to the County Council. The waste under Tories has been truly staggering. Rather than facing their responsibilities to the people of Northamptonshire they have pushed a programme of outsourcing nearly all public services, including children’s services that are amongst the poorest in the country.

Labour has and always will stand for a better tomorrow for everybody in Northamptonshire and a decent today for the people who need support in our community.

Labour – public services publicly owned

It is no secret that the County Council’s finances are in a precarious state and they have been getting worse and worse over the last ten years or so with the current position that the Council is pretty much on the verge of being insolvent.

This was highlighted recent in a damming independent report from the council’s external auditors which questioned the arrangements to ensure it took informed decisions and concluded the council was not offering value for money for its residents or council tax payers.

Our Response:

If in control the Labour Group would immediately set up a root and branch reform of the Council’s finances starting from the bottom up and involving individual budget mangers as well as senior management and ensure the data processes were adequate to be able to take informed decisions.

The current financial pressures on the Council are huge and it will be a mammoth task to bring them back to a situation where we can transform the council’s finances, but we will aim to do this within four years by taking a number of initiatives, including looking at private finance initiative (PFI) contracts.

Restoring social services back to democratic control

The Tories out of dogma have transferred social services into Olympic Services, a public limited company, which will no doubt be flogged off as soon as they can find a buyer. This company will cost an extra £600k per year to operate because of VAT and other taxes.

Labour will restore social services back into democratically accountable council control because running services in a business-like manner does not mean running them for profit.

Public services provided publicly

The County Council is a large employer in our county – and should set a proper example to all other employers in the county. Instead, the Tories have treated our staff abysmally. Their series of random cuts and expensive privatisations have destroyed morale. Labour will treat its staff as proper partners and invest in proper staff training and IT support, so that they can get on with the job they do best – delivering quality services

Helping local businesses to supply the County Council

As a Northamptonshire County Council we will use local companies where it is sensible to do so. We will work to ensure that NCC pays all supplier invoices within at most seven working days and will look to arrange to make timely progress payments on its capital projects so that its otherwise profitable contractors are not forced out of business by cash flow problems.

Labour will make sure that the County Council purchasing policy puts an appropriate weighting on quality local service not just price to help Northamptonshire suppliers.

Labour will help and support local business especially small companies and sole traders

Too many young people are trapped into a vicious cycle of not having the experience to get a job – but then without a job, how can they ever get the experience. Programmes to help in careers planning have been cut and cut again. Labour will offer a £2,500 incentive to 200 small businesses employing less than 30 people to employ a young person for a year. There will be appropriate controls to ensure young people are not exploited and the grant will only be paid at the end of the year. We will work with the Regional Commissioner to challenge schools and employers to provide good careers advice.

Labour believes that there are many areas that it can and should be working with borough and district councils across the county to deliver services on a more economic basis.

There are obvious examples, such as why there are different council tax collection systems across the county instead of one, or why are there different waste collection systems.

We will also work with partner organisations to ensure the proper joining up of health, housing and social care service for all, especially to older people and the homeless.

Highways – roads for everyone

We have all seen pothole repairs being washed away in weeks.
Labour will introduce a fair and effective system for highways repairs so that money goes where it is needed most.

Labour’s key priorities for major road schemes are to work with the Government to dual the A43 from Moulton to Kettering and a relief road north of Northampton. These are needed to sustain the county’s economic competitiveness.

Encouraging walking and cycling

Many people will only walk and cycle more when they feel it is safe to abandon their cars. For other people there is not the same luxury of choice. Labour will ensure that at least an extra £1m will be spent to make walking and cycling safer. We will work with developers to put cycle ways in new housing developments.

Community safety zones around key locations

Working in partnership with the Police and other local authorities, Labour will negotiate and implement 500 metre community safety zones around places that are most used by the most vulnerable people such as schools, health centres, old peoples and children’s homes.

Within these safety zones there will be better street lighting, quality CCTV, more dropped kerbs, cleaner streets and targeted use of police and other community resources.

Enforcing speed limits because they save lives

The Tories have switched off the speed cameras in the county simply because they do not like them. The rest of the community know that speed kills.

Labour will invest £1 million into restoring a proper network of speed cameras so that fewer families get the dreaded knock on the door from the Police telling them their loved ones have been killed.

More police where they are needed in our communities.

Residents have repeatedly said to us that PCSOs were a huge success in their areas. Labour will work with the Crime Police Commissioner and the districts and boroughs to match fund PCSO’S for priority areas.

Helping make it safer for vulnerable people

Labour believe street lighting is as important as highways and will cover community safety. Labour will talk to our communities where there are problems with community safety and issues where older people live to ensure there are sufficient streetlights to make people feel safe. We will look at how street lighting can be powered by either a community owned wind farm or by the energy recovered from the waste it currently dumps into landfill.

Labour will work with partners to identify and introduce a range of local parking solutions to meet the local problems of each neighbourhood. These solutions will include a mix of:-

  • A hotline for residents to report problems for a quick response.
  • Stronger policing of areas around schools.
  • Stronger policing of cars parking illegally on street corners and verges.
  • All new schools will have a built in drop off pick up point.
  • Provide in house wardens responsible for a public service

Sure Start Schemes that work to ensure all under 5’s get a proper start in life are well known for their record of success.

Despite their proven record this Tory Council has closed centres, continually attacked them and cut their funding by millions of pounds. It is important that these services are made accessible to all families. Everyone should be entitled to support that can help them become better parents, create happy homes, where their children can thrive, can learn and grow their way out of poverty. Labour will broaden access to make the service available to all.

We know that a good education is a key route out of poverty, but the difference in cognitive performance between disadvantaged children and their peers is already noticeable by the age of three.

Investing in early intervention will save taxpayers billions later down the line, so we need to look at how to embed these services within our communities, so they can reach vulnerable families and children as quickly as possible.

Labour will ensure there is a full range of different and properly funded children’s centres serving all our families. Further, we will establish rolling four year funding agreements so that Children Centres can properly plan for the long term.

Northamptonshire County Council is the corporate parent of every child in care. Labour will make sure the Council thinks and acts like a parent first. In particular, Labour will:-

  • Make it simpler but no less safe for people to adopt or foster looked after children. • Open three new children’s homes.
  • Ensure every help possible is given before a child is taken into care.

When your child is being bullied at school it can be very stressful and confusing to decide what steps to take to get the bullying to stop. Different schools tackle the issue in different ways, their policies differ.

Labour will work with schools and the Regional Schools Commissioner to bring about an anti-bullying contract that schools will sign up to and which will be monitored.

A fair admissions policy at every school

Every parent wants to get their child into the right school to meet their child’s needs. The Tories have stood idly by while schools have made it ever more difficult for ordinary parents to successfully apply to the school of their preference.
Labour will work with all schools, and in the last resort will use its statutory powers, to ensure that local children get a fairer chance of being admitted to their local school.

New schools, because kids only get one opportunity at school

A properly funded local programme to replace existing old and worn out schools is essential. We will work with organisations such as the Cooperative movement and with the Regional Commissioner to build new schools here in Northamptonshire.

Labour will work with all schools to make sure sport is an important part of the school day. In particular, we understand the importance of young people being able to afford to use local sports facilities. To this end, we will work with other local authorities to introduce as a minimum a series of free swimming lessons and sessions for young families and young people during school holiday periods.

Education

Labour will work with every school to ensure that every child reaches its potential and will work with all the Further and Higher Education establishments in the county to ensure they are putting on the courses that are needed and that these courses are available and affordable to those adults and young people that need them.

It is a natural reaction for family members to want to care for or help to care for family members who need help. Instead of helping, the Tories have axed support for carers.

Labour will invest in a proper support infrastructure that enables the cared for and carers to first their needs on first diagnosis and support them over the long term with training, real respite help when it is needed and to create an environment where carers are valued.

Labour will put trained inspectors in place to monitor the quality of the service given to our residents in care homes across the county.

We will have a clear home care strategy working with residents and providers to ensure needs are met in our own care homes and in the charity/private sector.

We will work with our partners to provide care home villages on the models that have been very successful elsewhere.

We want care homes to have qualified staff on duty 24 hours per day, have the necessary full range of equipment required for residents, have rigorous training, auditing and supervision to maintain standards, develop individual care plans in discussion with the patient/family/carer/doctor and other health professionals. We would expect an appetising and nutritious menu to be offered catering for the various dietary requirements.

Provide in house wardens responsible for a public service.

Proper training, providing respite to and valuing Carers

It is a natural reaction for family members to want to care for or help to care for family members who need help. Instead of helping, the Tories have axed support for carers. Labour will invest in a proper support infrastructure that enables the cared for and carers to first their needs on first diagnosis and support them over the long term with training, real respite help when it is needed and to create an environment where carers are valued.

Preventing falls ruining elderly persons lives

A quarter of all ambulance trips are to assist people, many of whom are elderly, who have fallen. Most will require extensive medical and rehabilitative care. Some never regain the confidence to live in their own home again.

Labour believes that money would be better spent in preventing the fall in the first place with a comprehensive programme of simple mobility aids and household adaptations, this also links in with better footpaths, replacing old slab pavements that the elderly trip over etc.

From Hospital to Home

It is vital people get better support when leaving hospital to go home. Labour will ensure real support will be there. We will work to guarantee adaptions are in place and that better care is provided. Labour will work with partners to make the transition from NHS care to social care is as seamless as it can be.
Northamptonshire County Council social workers will be working in hospitals to ensure a smooth transition.

Labour understands the importance of having clear information for both the patient and the family/carer so we will ensure a leaflet is provided clearly stating the support available and the contact points.

Anyone who has visited our libraries knows what a brilliant service is provided by our staff to the public. Our library staff have been let down by the Tory cuts.

Labour will:-

  • Invest an extra £250,000 into children’s library books and free internet access.
  • Reduce children’s library fines to reasonable amounts.

Ending wasteful and expensive landfill of rubbish

The Tories in Northamptonshire County Council have failed dismally in working with the districts and boroughs to find a common sense approach to reduce waste and landfill and associated costs.
Labour will grow a strong partnership and work amicably with our fellow councils to improve collections and reduce costs Labour is committed to developing recycling and energy efficient recovery plants that will be environmentally and economically sound.

Carbon neutral County Council within four years

The County Council employs many in Northamptonshire and has a duty to set a green example to all other employers.

Labour will make the County Council carbon neutral within four years by taking making many simple and affordable actions including an energy audit of all council premises, planting more new trees and installing more wind and solar powered street lights.

Tories have slashed bus subsidies year on year and under the Tories the council have appeared incapable of negotiating with the bus companies, costs have escalated, while services have got worse and almost disappeared after six o’clock at night.

Labour will engage in robust negotiations so that we get better value for our subsidies and will demand bus companies provide better services not earn even bigger profits.

Labour will encourage and support community bus services to address the increasing need within our communities.

For far too long, too much investment has been made into out of town shopping centres. They are convenient and have their place but Labour believes that now is the time to start investing in our town centres. Northampton as our capital town, Kettering and Wellingborough for example.

Labour has shown the way in Corby with new shops, civic centre and Olympic sized swimming pool. Only a Labour County Council can do the same for the rest of the County.

Labour will re-build relationships to enable our towns and villages to flourish.

Helping to create the jobs of the future

Labour will work with all employers to help bring decent and sustainable jobs into Northamptonshire and will seek to help broaden the base of the economy to ensure we do not become overly dependent on businesses in the distribution sector. Labour working with financial partners will establish a £20 m venture capital fund to make direct investments in high technology and innovative businesses in the county.

Building on the skills and experience of NCC staff

The Tories have treated the council staff appallingly with a series of notices of staff being at risk of redundancy that are then withdrawn before initiating another round of notices of being at risk. Reneging on a promise to reward staff who achieved, froze wages for 4 years, refused to implement the living wage, yet paid massively inflated amounts to agency workers etc.

They also deployed 10 people and allowed them to create their own individual companies so that they could pay themselves out of their company thereby getting round PAYE and reducing their tax liability, a practice the Government frowns on.

This is no way to treat the most valuable asset of any organisation. Labour will ensure that the County Council, as a large employer in the county, sets a proper example in the way it treats and trains its staff.

Valuing the Voluntary Sector

Labour recognises that we more than double every pound we put into the voluntary sector, some banks put the figure around £9 for every £1 as a result of the time and effort put in by the community. Labour will create a £1m opportunities fund to enable county organisations to bid for lottery and other grants, bringing money into the community.

We will also make sure that:-

  • Grants go to the deserving not the well connected. Grants will have a 4-year period and be well monitored.
  • Everyone working with vulnerable people is checked for a criminal record. We recognise and support the work that the volunteers do.

A Growing Northamptonshire

Even today, Northamptonshire is the fast growing area of the country. There is a simple choice. Do we follow the Tory agenda and bury our head in the sand? Or do we follow the Labour way and engage with developers to ensure we can support the new population? Labour is committed to taking a firm line to make sure employment opportunities and facilities for all the community are in place before and as houses are built – not after.

A healthier Northamptonshire

Labour in Northamptonshire believes that it is morally wrong that people living in affluent areas can expect to live over ten years longer than people in deprived areas of the county.

Working in partnership with the Health Service and Government, we will establish and implement long term programs to vastly reduce these differences over the next twelve years.

Leader
John McGhee – 07912774785 – Johnmcghee78@hotmail.com

Deputy Leader
Bob Scott – 07946290134 – maxine.belsky1@ntlworld.com

Corby & East Northants
Julie Brookfield – 07762206576 – julie.brookfield1@btinternet.com

Daventry
Ken Ritchie – 07754165551 – ken.ritchie@lineone.net

Kettering
Maggie Don – 05602938118 – maggie@www.ketteringlabourparty.org

Northampton North
Anjona Roy – 07976260268 – anjonaroy678@yahoo.co.uk

Northampton South
Anjona Roy – 07976260268 – anjonaroy678@yahoo.co.uk

South Northamptonshire
Sophie Johnson – 07747 805389 – enquiries@southnorthantslabour.com

Wellingborough
Kevin Watts – kevinwatts1604@outlook.com