Manifesto  2015

Printed & Promoted by David Cooper on behalf of South Thanet Labour Party, 28-30 Newington Road, Ramsgate CT12 6EE & Iris Johnston of North

Thanet Labour Party, 44 Northdown Road, Margate, CT9 2RW on behalf of all Labour Candidates for Thanet District Council.

A LABOUR RUN THANET DISTRICT COUNCIL WILL…

BUILD 1,000 new council homes reserved for existing Thanet residents, prioritising brownfield sites

EXTEND the award-winning Margate Taskforce, bringing police and other vital services together

INTRODUCE free parking in Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate on Sundays as well as Saturdays

PROTECT current event funding, supporting tourism, jobs and businesses

IMPROVE street cleaning beyond the level provided before the Conservative cuts

And in our three historic towns, we will…

ENSURE that Ramsgate gets the full benefit of the capital receipt from the Pleasurama development

WORK with Broadstairs Town Council to keep Pierremont Hall in public ownership

COMPLETE the second phase of refurbishment and re-opening of Margate’s Dreamland

Doing more with less

Labour is an open and inclusive party and we will work with everyone in our communities to provide the high quality services needed to make Thanet an even greater place to live.

This will not be easy. Since 2010 the Conservative-led government has cut 44 per cent of the annual revenue support grant paid to Thanet District Council to supplement your contribution in council tax.

It’s all your money, but less and less is available to the council to spend on your behalf. Despite that, careful budgeting and more efficient working has allowed Labour to freeze the Thanet part of your council tax every year since 2011.

Building a respected council

Since regaining minority control of the council in December 2011 after more than eight years out of office, Labour has worked tirelessly to raise the profile and image of Thanet.

The tragedy for the people of Thanet is that because of the previous Conservative administration our district has been associated with many negative issues that have brought the council’s name into disrepute. Labour instigated an independent review and we will continue to work to the highest standards of integrity in all dealings to continue to increase pride in Thanet.

Despite severe cuts made by the Conservative-led government, Labour has protected frontline services. Careful financial management has helped to achieve this and we will lobby for more government and European help, which is essential to tackle the high levels of deprivation in parts of the district.

The Labour government from 1997 to 2010 gave much-needed above inflation increases in funding to Thanet to ensure high-quality services to residents.

We have overseen the building of a new swimming pool for Ramsgate, and the renovation of Dreamland, the first phase of which will re-open in June.

There are new children’s playgrounds and skate parks, while the Turner Contemporary and the works to Margate seafront have helped to revitalise the town. We continue to invest in improvements to Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour, with a Heritage Lottery Fund bid in the pipeline.

Labour has had to tackle a large number of legacy issues after eight-and-a-half years of Conservative neglect, including Pleasurama and the Royal Victoria Pavilion, the Broadstairs Community Centre and Margate’s Fort Road Hotel.

The good news is that a deal has now been struck for work to resume on the Pleasurama site imminently, and separately with Wetherspoon’s for a £3m investment in the pavilion, transforming Ramsgate’s seafront.

We are working closely with Broadstairs Town Council to find a mutually agreeable solution to the community centre issue and the future of Pierremont Hall, while plans for the Fort Road Hotel in Margate are being brought forward now.

We will continue to engage with residents and community groups to ensure that everyone at Thanet District Council works for the benefit of the local community.

Improving our environment

Labour recognises it is important that potential investors’ first impressions are favourable. Therefore, we will continue to make Thanet known as an attractive place in which to live, to invest, to work, to raise a family and to retire.

We recognise that clean streets are essential to Thanet’s image and one of the top priorities for residents and visitors alike. Major cuts were made in this area under the previous administration and the financial environment has required us to find more efficient working methods in order to deliver necessary improvements.

Labour will continue to invest in both the workforce and its equipment to deliver the standards that residents rightly expect. We will tackle dog fouling as a priority, with increased levels of enforcement.

We introduced the current comprehensive recycling service, which has dramatically improved levels of recycling, but we will continue to monitor performance and make improvements were necessary. We will reduce the number of missed collections, often caused by local parking and access problems.

Labour will cut the current high cost of collecting bulky items. This should help reduce fly tipping, which is not only unsightly but a drain on council resources. We will continue to take enforcement action against those responsible for fly tipping where the necessary evidence is available. Fairness and equality

Labour will ensure Thanet District Council continues to improve the services people need and ensure that all residents can access them. We will continue to promote inclusiveness and oppose any form of prejudice.

Through our Living Wage Employer policy we will encourage other employers in the district to give a fair wage for a fair day’s work without any discrimination on the ground of age, sex, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or disability.

Labour has introduced the three-year residency rule for council housing, meaning that only Thanet residents (and former members of the Armed Forces who would otherwise be disadvantaged) are eligible. We will continue to uphold this policy.

We will support the lowering of the voting age to 16, as happened in the Scottish Referendum. We want to engage with as many people in the community as possible in the democratic process.

Labour will fight for a fair deal for you and all Thanet residents and will continue to oppose unfair government cuts that impact disproportionately on our district and on the less well-off.

Building for economic prosperity

Bringing new business to Thanet and creating environmentally sustainable employment will remain a top priority. Quality jobs and apprenticeships are vital to lift people out of poverty.

We recognise the disappointment at the closure of Manston Airport and in particular deplore the loss of jobs. However, despite exploring all avenues to find a suitable indemnity partner to embark on a compulsory purchase order (CPO) process we were unsuccessful.

We understand that the owners of the site are currently producing a regeneration plan for the area. Upon its completion we will continue to engage with them to seek the best possible employment outcomes, community facilities and infrastructure.

Labour will maintain its support for tourism across the whole of Thanet through our acclaimed Destination Management Plan. Through our policies we will continue to ensure tourism plays a major role in the local economy.

We prevented the Conservatives cutting event funding when we took power in 2011 and will continue to fund events around the island for residents and visitors at current levels.

Labour recognises the important contribution this investment makes to underpin the work of so many wonderful volunteers in our community, in turn supporting tourism, jobs and businesses.

We will bring forward bold new plans to create a town square in Ramsgate’s Pier Yard, providing a new focus for the town alongside the rejuvenated seafront and successful harbour arches project.

We will continue to seek an environmentally sustainable, maritimebased, commercial use of Ramsgate port.

Labour brought the high-speed train and the Loop bus to Thanet. We will support moves for a Thanet Parkway station, but this will remain dependent on the maintenance and improvement of services already provided to our existing town stations.

We will continue to support the upgrading of the roads around Westwood Cross to cope with the increased traffic.

Labour introduced and will continue to provide free parking on Saturdays in our town centres and will extend this to Sundays. We oppose Conservative plans to increase parking charges by up to 70 per cent and will continue to keep parking charges as low as possible.

Decent housing

Everyone has the right to a decent, affordable and suitable home. Labour has been building council housing in Thanet again after years of Conservative neglect. We will bring forward proposals for the building of 1,000 more such homes, financed by future rent income and investment by partners.

Labour will seek every opportunity to increase opportunities for other forms of social housing, such as working with housing associations.

We will insist that the 30 per cent Affordable Housing Policy is maintained on all new private developments. We have increased the incentive for re-letting empty residential properties by increasing the council tax to 150% on properties left empty for more than two years and will maintain this.

We recognise the need for Thanet residents to have priority access to social housing. We have achieved this by introducing the three year residency rule. You now have to have been a resident in Thanet for three years or more to qualify.

We will expand into Ramsgate the successful selective licensing scheme in Cliftonville and Central Margate of privately-rented houses which protects tenants from unscrupulous landlords and will lobby for enhanced standards for all houses and flats.

Labour action has brought 200 empty properties across Thanet back into use for quality housing under the No Use Empty Scheme. We will continue this work.

All future development must have sufficient regard to demand for health care, schools and support services. Labour will ensure any development has to achieve good, sustainable conditions for the area, including full environmental checks to ensure all sites are free from contamination.

Safer and healthier communities

Labour opposes cuts in policing, including in PCSO numbers, and will extend the Task Force principle of co-located services working together to other Thanet areas. Labour has campaigned successfully to reverse street lighting cuts imposed on us by the Tory-run Kent County Council. Local problems require local solutions.

Our party created the National Health Service. We will fight cuts to hospital services and oppose creeping privatisation of the NHS.  We will absolutely oppose the introduction of other parties’ proposals to charge patients to see their GP and the introduction of a private insurance based National Health insurance service.

Labour introduced the Pub Safe Scheme In Thanet and will continue to monitor licensing applications carefully to ensure that all licensed premises meet the conditions imposed by their licence.

We will ensure the highest standards from Thanet’s taxi and private-hire drivers and will develop the partnership that we have established with them. We recognise that they are ambassadors for our district.

Protecting our environment

Labour takes pride in Thanet’s great architectural heritage and its many unique and wonderful buildings. These are a key asset to the towns and are a big part of what makes this a great place in which to live. We will make sure that proposals to change the built environment are  sensitive to this and wide consultation is undertaken

Labour has successfully secured registered Village Green status for a number of new sites in towns across Thanet and have designated various cliff top areas as wildflower meadows.  We will maintain strict environmental controls on developments across all areas of Thanet, protecting the green wedges.

In order to protect greenfield locations, the council is obliged by law to identify sites for potential housing development over a 20year period in the Local Plan.

Failure to do so would lead to unplanned development and the removal of protection for sites that the community would expect us to safeguard. We will not neglect this duty, regardless of the wild and undeliverable claims of our political opponents.

We have prioritised brownfield sites and some have already been developed, counting towards the total required. Ultimately, the market to determine whether the newly allocated sites are built on, based on private sector demand.

However, housebuilding will be kept to levels appropriate to the demography, services, environment and heritage of the area through stringently applied planning regulations and maximising the use of brownfield sites.

Labour will ensure a balance between the needs of residents, business and the environment and will insist that three trees are planted for every one cut down for development.

Given the sensitive nature of our underground aquifer water supply, Labour will oppose any applications for fracking in or bordering Thanet.

We will continue to press Southern Water and the Environment Agency to protect the sea water quality around Thanet.

Sensible financial management

Labour will continue to spend your council taxes wisely to the benefit of all residents and minimise the effect of central government cuts on Thanet. Effective stewardship of finances in the last three and a half years has ensured that Labour is well positioned to carry out future plans.

We will ensure adequate reserves are maintained and all resources allocated fairly.

We will maintain a procurement policy that makes it easier for small and medium businesses, local enterprises and cooperatives to gain access to Thanet District Council contracts.

Labour is the only major party to support and promote the living wage and we are proud that Thanet District Council is a Living Wage Employer.  We oppose exploitative exclusive zero-hours contracts.  Labour is working towards a policy which ensures that the council contracts only with other Living Wage Employers.

Through our policies Labour will take firm action and build pride in Thanet. We are proud of our achievements as a minority administration and we seek your support to achieve more in the next four years.