Manifesto for Croydon 2018

Liberal Democrat Manifesto for Croydon 2018

Introduction

The upcoming local elections are an important opportunity for Croydon residents to choose their local representatives. Croydon Liberal Democrats say that residents have been taken for granted by Labour and the Conservatives, and it’s time for change.

Liberal Democrat Councillors elected by Croydon residents will be familiar with the local community, with personal knowledge of its problems, but also of its potential. They will also be able to draw on the party’s experience of successfully running many other local authorities, including neighbouring Sutton, which will enable us to provide scrutiny and critique.

This manifesto identifies the issues on which Liberal Democrat candidates will fight in Croydon. Many of these have been identified to us by local people through surveys and personal contacts.

Housing and Planning

  • London has a housing shortage, but Croydon Council is not prioritising those most in need, who simply need a safe, decent home they can afford to rent.
  • Croydon Council has a poor record of consultation on its proposed developments, and of facilitating community engagement in third party planning applications.
  • We would support meaningful and full consultation on planning and development throughout the borough.
  • We would seek to maximise the provision of affordable rented accommodation in new housing schemes initiated by the council, including those through the Brick By Brick delivery vehicle. As part of this, we would explore options for building new council housing.
  • We would scrutinise existing Brick By Brick schemes to understand whether the balance of affordable rented accommodation can be increased.
  • We would maintain strong links with and support community sector organisations that help the street homeless and those without safe, decent homes into suitable accommodation.
  • We support more communities in Croydon developing their own Neighbourhood Plans to have a greater say in how development affects their local area.
  • Council supported schemes such as Brick By Brick should be co-designed with the local community. Whilst there is a general trend of communities being supportive of new housing developments in principle, they must be given a say during design and planning stages.
  • We would work to advise local residents of upcoming planning decisions, including ensuring adverts are placed in local press that covers the site of the development, giving planning street notices an identity distinct from other Croydon Council street notices and clearly placing submissions and objections on the Croydon Council website for local residents to read.

Leisure, Civic Services and Local Business

  • We are concerned about the current state of the redevelopment at Fairfield Halls, and would commit to ensuring that the site will reopen as an arts and entertainment venue.
  • We would encourage a cultural quarter and small business culture in Croydon, supporting independent cultural centres, pubs and venues.
  • We would work in partnership with existing businesses to develop plans for building on already established success, including the ability to raise money to incentivise clustering by businesses with particular specialisations.
  • We would look to make Croydon's parks safer, more welcoming and accessible to all.

Environment, Waste and Transport

  • Croydon Council is missing out on regional and national funding for schemes that promote walking, cycling and clean vehicles, and which use smart solutions to reduce the number of delivery vehicles. These schemes have important health benefits and can cut congestion.
  • We would work to improve facilities in the borough for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • We would look to provide secure, street-level cycle parking near flats and railway stations.
  • We would expand the number of electric vehicle charging points.
  • We would work with local businesses to identify smart ways to cut the number of delivery vehicles without negatively impacting on their trade, looking at innovative schemes elsewhere in London and beyond.
  • We support the extension of the Night Overground service to Crystal Palace, Norwood Junction and West Croydon. This would give those in the north of the borough access to a night train service and encourage a thriving night-life economy in Croydon.
  • We support improved bus connections to the Victoria Line at Brixton from parts of the borough without a railway station close by.
  • Fly-tipping remains a problem in many areas of the borough, but recycling and disposing of large items can be very difficult.
  • We will work with neighbouring councils to co-ordinate waste services through our Local Waste Solution, making it possible to use waste and recycling centres in other boroughs where this would be nearest and easiest.

Social Care, Safe Neighbourhoods and Public Health

  • We would make sure public spaces support our ageing population, such as through the Dementia Friends initiative pioneered in Sutton.
  • We would keep public health within local government, where it is effectively joined up with preventive community services.
  • We would support Save the NHS through the Liberal Democrats’ proposed 1p on income tax to give the NHS and social care services the cash they need.
  • We would support the provision of mental health services throughout the borough. Most treatment centres have been closed down and specialist teams disbanded, contributing to issues with homelessness. We would make waiting times for mental health match those for physical health and ringfence money from the 1p income tax rise to provide additional investment in mental health.
  • We would ensure that all frontline service professionals, including in schools and universities, receive better training in mental health.
  • We would tackle stigma against mental ill health, building on the good work done by organisations like Heads Together.
  • We would ensure that police Safer Neighbourhood Teams are based within the communities they support in order to provide real neighbourhood policing.

Europe

  • We acknowledge the result of the 2016 referendum, which gave the government a mandate to start negotiations to leave. However, we believe the final decision should be made by the British people, not politicians.
  • Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to give the final say to the British people in a referendum on whether to accept the deal or remain in the EU.
  • We would keep the UK in the single market and customs union – trade must continue without damaging customs controls at the border.
  • We will protect the rights of EU and UK citizens living abroad, ending the uncertainty for millions of people.

Education and Young People

  • We would support skills development and training for the future for people of all ages across the borough.
  • We would oppose any new grammar schools and ensure that the Council has proper control over admissions and new schools.
  • We will encourage local headteachers with a strong record to play a key role in school improvement and work with schools to do so.
  • We would ensure any new schools are built in areas where there is a need for new school places, instead of wasting money on over-supply.
  • We would improve links between local employers and schools, encouraging all schools to participate in enterprise and employment schemes that promote regular experience in business, with a particular focus on encouraging children and young people to follow scientific and technical careers by partnering with relevant businesses.
  • We would aim to double the number of local businesses hiring apprentices of all ages, including extending apprenticeships to new sectors such as creative and digital industries.
  • We would improve early-years provision, especially for children from disadvantaged families, by ensuring that children’s centres and nurseries are run to the highest standards and that they maintain admissions policies that are fair to all. 

Openness, transparency and localism in Croydon

Liberal Democrat councillors will fight to:

  • Scrap the current Cabinet system and replace it with an open, cross-party committee system.
  • Encourage local citizens to engage with and inform local government of concerns and priorities.
  • Engage young people in the processes of local democracy.
  • Establish Local Area Committees with their own budgets.
  • Seek and take on board community feedback early in the decision making process.
  • Publish key details of all major contracts and have open tendering processes.
  • Regularly publish performance data, benchmarked against peers and national averages.
  • Publish details of the Council’s property interests and trading subsidiaries.
  • Continue to push for openness and availability of data across all areas of local government.
  • Make available risk information relating to council business.
  • Respect Freedom of Information law by providing a straightforward process.

Sound financial management in Croydon

Liberal Democrat councillors will fight to:

  • Identify community needs and use the resources at our disposal to best meet them.
  • Improve collection of council tax arrears.
  • Continually review the effectiveness and value for money of all contracts.
  • Look to bring the council’s ballooning debt under control.
  • Introduce open and proper tendering processes to ensure ‘cronyism’ is not possible.
  • Provide opportunities for smaller local businesses to compete on fair terms for Council contracts.
  • Make all decisions open and transparent.