Local Government Manifesto for Torridge & West Devon
AGENDA FOR ACTION
Consultation Care Community
We seek the support of the people of West Devon for a Conservative led Borough Council, and residents of Torridge where Conservatives are contesting seats. For too long both Councils have had no political direction; and don't know where they are going. Let's have an end to the shilly-shallying.
We offer you firm decisive leadership for a change.
* Consult you once a year over the next 4 years what you want us to do,
* Publish a Council newspaper four times a year showing what we are doing,
* Set out in the newspaper our targets and whether we are meeting them,
* Take all decisions at public meetings (unless private or business information)
* Make it easy for you to attend and take part in our meetings,
* Lay down policies and programmes for all Council services, review them regularly and keep them on track,
* Continue to run the Council through Committees meeting in public - no secret Cabinets for us.
The relentless reduction in Government grants to Torridge & West Devon has meant you have had to pay more and more council tax for local services. This is Gordon Brown's biggest and worst "stealth tax". We will
* Lobby central government for a bigger share of the cake for Torridge & West Devon,
* Streamline all expenditure so it is quite clear where all the money goes,
* Be relentless in seeking out best value for your tax,
* Challenge all expenditure and cut out any waste we find,
* Make sure the Council does its job properly - no cutting corners - no cheap and nasty services,
* Set up Council contact points - one-stop shops - in the towns and bigger villages.
We will make jobs our top priority - they must come first. So we will
* Do all we can to help industry, business and shops to thrive and prosper in all our towns and villages,
* Encourage firms to invest in Torridge & West Devon,
* Work with the County Council, government offices and others to attract businesses and provide them with good facilities here,
* Provide new land for commercial development wherever it is allowed
* Support tourism and promote Torridge & West Devon and its attractions
* Help town and village businesses to develop tourist facilities
* Back our farmers and help them get fair prices for their produce
* Promote Torridge & West Devon food and drink,
* Support farmers markets,
* Encourage the use of broadband IT access for business and general use,
* Support the Countryside Alliance and share its objectives
* Work with all other interests in planning improvements in our market towns and finding money for them
* Help in any way we can to keep open village garages, pubs, post offices and shops
* Set up a special agency with its own management to attract money from outside the district for local projects.
* Work with town and parish councils and the County Council to make our towns and villages vibrant, safe and accessible places where people want to live, work shop and enjoy themselves.
* Empower town and parish councils to run their own shows on the spot - with our support wherever general interests are at stake.
The young people of Torridge & West Devon
Schools are the province of the County Council. We will help their management and staff all we can. Where the Borough Council can help is with young people's sports and leisure. For too long we think they have had a raw deal. They are our future. So we will:
* Make helping them our second top priority,
* Encourage the creation of a Torridge & West-Devon-wide Youth Parliament to pursue the needs of our young people in the district, and give it our full support,
* Support the Youth Forums of our Towns and help them to achieve their objectives
* Back existing plans for Skateparks and "cyber cafes",
* See through the good work going ahead for the new sports centre and pool in Okehampton,
* Pursue energetically the plans for more football and other sports pitches such as in the Crowndale Valley and elsewhere,
* Ensure both our swimming pools give best value for your money,
* Continue to back the Community Recreation Associations of our Towns,
* Continue to help town and parish councils to provide and equip play areas for young children,
* Continue our backing for all sports clubs with their rates and their facilities,
* Investigate the idea of a leisure centre in the South of the Borough.
We think that councillors who are answerable directly to you the electors should be accountable for spending government money in Torridge & West Devon - not unelected quangos. But we want to work with all local voluntary and community groups as our partners in developing the district. We will
* Give our full backing to West Devon Homes & TDC to build more affordable homes for local people,
* Work with all the authorities and agencies in tackling homelessness in the district,
* Work with all interested groups in writing a "Community Plan" for Torridge & West Devon and putting it into effect,
* Work with all interested local bodies in writing planning improvements in our market towns and surrounding parishes and putting them into effect too,
* Continue to contribute to key voluntary bodies like the CAB and the Community Council,
* Give as much money as we can find to keeping our parish and village halls up to scratch and accessible to disabled people,
Keeping Torridge & West Devon clean
We think most residents approve of existing arrangements for collecting rubbish and keeping the streets clean. We will
* improve services when we can,
* reject the government's absurdly ambitious and impracticable targets,
* Arrange to offer residents a second green box for weekly recycling,
* Look into recycling industrial and business waste
* Investigate local waste to energy plants,
* Look for a market for waste plastics,
* Work to minimise air, water, noise and light pollution across the district,
* Work with others to remove all abandoned vehicles within 48 hours,
* Encourage energy conservation and support it financially,
* Continue existing work on making decontaminated land safe and tackling radon in private water supplies,
Torridge & West Devon is said to be among the safest places in which to live. We will
* Work closely with the Police and other authorities especially the town and parish councils to keep it that way,
* Make fresh efforts to tackle vandalism and public disorder,
* Back police efforts to reduce drug taking and pushing in West Devon,
* Use wisely our powers to issue licenses and control drinking in our streets,
* Do all we can to reduce violence in the home and help those suffering from it.
We are lucky we do not have the problems of the crowded cities of England but we still have our problems. We will
* Press the County Council much harder to ease town centre traffic congestion by providing bypasses for heavy traffic,
* Work with the County Council and others to improve the quality and safety of our roads, especially the A 386,
* Work for better and more frequent local bus services especially for the elderly and disabled and for young people in the evenings
* Press all the authorities to push ahead with plans to restore the rail services from Bere Alston to Tavistock and Okehampton to Exeter,
* Press the County Council much harder to give town centre residents priority in parking their cars outside their homes,
* Give residents to choice in a referendum of paying for our car parks by way of charges or the Council tax,
* Investigate quickly the pros and cons of paying for parking on exit rather than entry,
* Investigate quickly too ways of offering town centre workers cheap rates in the more distant car parks.
Town and country planning
West Devon Borough Council is responsible for planning only outside Dartmoor National Park.
In the area for which we are responsible we will
* Press the government much harder to allow us to decide for ourselves how many new houses and businesses should be put up year by year,
* Encourage new building as much as possible in derelict and abandoned old sites
* Permit as little development as possible on farmland,
* Continue to oblige developers to make a large proportion of the dwellings they put up available at low cost for those who can't afford today's house prices,
* Strengthen this obligation where it becomes possible to do so,
* Fight to preserve all the beautiful and attractive countryside in the district,
* Promote high quality design for new house building and developments especially in our town centres.
The NHS has been reorganised again (!), and the Government has said local authorities must hold it to account. We will
* Work with the County Council and others to check the quality of local NHS service,
* Give full support to the local hospitals,
* Work with the County Council and others to ensure that those in need of special help receive it in the district,
* Investigate the provision of day centres for the elderly in our communities,
* Ensure our public buildings provide access for the disabled wherever we can.