Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Local elections part II and why I'm voting Liberal Democrat.

As the local elections loom ever closer more and more people are (or at least should be) considering whom they will vote for. This is a bit of a difficult proposition as many of the voting public wonder why bother? Surely Politicians are all the same? It doesn't matter who gets in...
This is a bit of a sweeping statement that certainly isn't true... Not all politicians are the same, they aren't after your money and full of lies and deceit and with the local elections it is even more important for you to vote as the council is the governing body in charge of YOUR services such as refuse collection, roads, parks, aids towards education, NHS, policing, the state of YOUR town/city. This is the one you should be paying most attention to and voting in.

More importantly with the Localism act being debated in parliament and the cuts being deferred to the Local authorities the councils are actually the ones with all the power. The government has put the burden on the local authorities to make cuts in their boroughs, this means that the government does not wield the axe mercilessly and indiscriminately but asking the local authorities to be grown up and decide what is best in their constiteunts' (that's you) best interests. In Medway the council have cut around 200 jobs so far which isn't too bad compared with others. According to figures mentioned by Nick Clegg in his speech on the 13th March Sheffield council has had to make cuts of 8% and have cut a similar amount of jobs where as Manchester, suffering a similar 8% cut has axed 2000 jobs. Sheffield has also ring fenced sure start centres, other councils have saved as many public libraries as is possible. Unfortunately I predict Sheffield council will be voted out and Manchester returned to power. Why? Because Sheffield is a Liberal Democrat council and Manchester is a Labour council.

Let us not drag national politics into local issues at this stage. So you don't like Clegg or Cameron? You think the cuts are unfair? Disagree with war in Libya? NHS reforms to rushed? Tuition fees rise vex you? Well what have Medway council got to do with any of that?
Lets be honest with each other... I'm not happy about all of the cuts. I think the NHS is in need of reform but I think it should be well thought out but I want my rubbish taken away, I want parks my daughter can play in and sure start for her so that she can have the best possible start in the world and so I need to look at what the local politicians are doing first until May 6h... then I can go back to the bigger picture.

Though if we are going to drag in national government and policy I'm just going to say a couple of points...

Voting in Labour or the Conservatives will not oust Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister, nor him as an MP. If you vote councillors who have done a good job representing you and stopping the cuts and vote in another party you could be cutting your nose to spite your face.

6000 Medway residents no longer have to pay Income tax and a total of 102,000 will find themselves in better tax based circumstances.

The pupil premium means school children from poorer backgrounds get a massive boost to their education funds.

Which party is responsible for this?

Liberal Democrats.

So why am I going to vote Libdem again?

Clearly you are voting out of party loyalty.

Well if I can just say even that would not keep me voting for a candidate I thought was lazy or did nothing to represent my needs. I am, as a lot of my friends know, fairly mercenary about some things and my family is one of those things I care more about. I am not writing this as a Liberal Democrat, nor am I on the campaign team and this is not an official statement rather as a member of the Medway citizenary voicing their opinion.

Onto the issues. Libdem propositions such as reintroduction of free swimming for children and the elderly, parking permit charges to be frozen, more allotments and even the council tax freeze and freedom passes for 11-18 year olds have now made it into the council budget. The people of Medway will definetly benefit from these measures.

So surely these measures are supported by the other parties?

Nope... Labour and the indpendents voted against them.

Labour and the Tories also voted to keep extra allowances for councillors whilst everyone else had to take a pay freeze.

Party politics to one side all I can say is heh? Why should anyone keep their bonuses whilst everyone else gets pay freezes? That's not fair.

Lets take a step further into the microcosm... Gillingham South ward, where I live and the ward represented by councillors Stephen and Sheila Kearney and Geoff Juby and encompasses the War memorial up to medway hospital, across to Nelson road and splits around Gillingham park and up to woodlands Avenue, quite a sizable chunk of town. So what have they done to deserve my vote?

Well they've certainly been busy improving where I live! Fresh trees to be planted in Gillingham high street, the clock repaired and telling the correct time, a fresh salt bin on Imperial road, campaign for graffiti removal, grass bank repairs at the hospital, new benches, road resurfacing (including mine - Sturdee Avenue which was in dire need of repair!) campaigning for better parking at the hospital (when my grandmother was in hospital my family found it very difficult to park and visit 4 years ago so any improvement is welcomed!) supporting Watling ward councillors to improve Gillingham park (somewhere all of us in this part of the ward visit.) fresh playing equipment at Balmoral gardens, working with Southeastern trains to improve Gillingham Station and the road approach (any one who has tried to pick some one up at the station will know that it is not currently well laid out) and improvements to Rookery fields play area (which is where I take my daughter to the swings). Wow... that's quite a bit. It's also a proven record that has benefited us the residents of Gillingham South.

So what are they going to do for us in the future? Well according to Focus they're going to fight for a fair share of council money for the ward, make sure road repairs continue, combat the use of the controversial CCTV car as a "cash cow" for the council and use it for its proper use, catching out unsafe parking as well as more of the same achievements as the ones they've already done including continuing to use the Ward improvement funds for projects like playgroups, primary schools, church groups, asthma charity and a volunteer hospital radio they've already helped. These are the same funds the Independents wanted to scrap!

Well that sounds very good... So they've done a lot of good for my community and are going to continue to do so? Definitely have my vote, and if you live in Gillingham south I urge you, not as a Liberal Democrat but as a concerned citizen and someone who wants to improve their community, to vote for Kearney, Juby and Kearney on 5th May and return a Libdem ward.

I think the election Focus says it best:

This is a local election about local issues - Cameron doesn't empty your bins nor does Clegg sweep your streets and Milliband doesn't fix your lights.

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