Voting day is almost upon us, and the date to remember for the local elections across England is 22nd May. In Southend-on-Sea, there is everything to play for. For the first time in many years, control of the council hangs in the balance. In 2014, your vote counts more than ever to shape the future direction of the town. The main parties pitching their platforms are the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Independents, UKIP, and of course Labour.
So what are the Labour Party offering the voters of Southend in 2014?
It was, of course, all leading to this. I have examined the offers of all of the other main parties in Southend (Greens, please form an orderly queue to complain) and now I have come to Labour.
One of my main complaints writing about the other local parties, has been that they have no clear and overarching policies. Fortunately, that is not a problem with Southend Labour. We are the only party in the borough to issue a manifesto, setting out the policies which a Labour administration would pursue.
It’s probably worth pointing out that whilst the other parties have various disparate and individual offers, they have very little in the way of policy. Labour is the only local party who publish a binding manifesto of pledges.
So what does this manifesto contain? Well, just to highlight a few notable points:
- Set up a partnership with business to promote Southend, to promote investment and benefit a town founded on tourism, alongside investment in arts and crafts industries to grow tourist attractions and regenerate the town.
- Build new social housing on brownfield sites across the town, to fight the growing housing crisis and improve the quality of housing by putting derelict sites to work for the borough.
- Re-introduce neighbourhood wardens to fight crime and anti-social behaviour, and resist attempts by the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex to further cut police numbers in Southend.
- Get permanent health centres for St Luke’s and Shoeburyness, to address local health needs.
- Protect libraries as community hubs and cultural assets, and ensure that they stay open.
- Use council land to provide a community facility in the town centre, to compensate for the loss of Warrior’s Square Pool, Queensway House and Focus youth centre.
- Review planning policies to protect Southend’s historic architectural heritage, and promote more traditional designs.
And that is just the start. There are many more policies contained within the manifesto, which I share below and encourage all voters in Southend to read. This is the only comprehensive offer you will receive at these local elections. The proposals are not ideological, they are not for the purpose of pursuing any agenda, save making Southend a better place. I believe — and I know my fellow Labour candidates and activists agree — that Southend has the potential to be a truly great town. None of our community’s problems are insurmountable, and this manifesto is a roadmap to fixing them.
It is not a panacea, a cure-all, but it contains solid policies which will help Southend residents, and get us on the road out of Conservative-led stagnation.
What are Labour offering Southend? A plan. What will a vote for Labour get you on 22nd May? A better future.