'Six to Fix' - Our Plan for Wiltshire
Wiltshire's Liberal Democrats have doubled their membership and upped the number of candidates by over 50% in this year's local Wiltshire Council elections on May 4th.
Fighting on a 'Six to Fix' manifesto, we are calling out the Conservative administration for paying off former council staff with cash for silence and for increasing their leaders' allowances and perks while cutting vital services.
"Wiltshire's Conservatives are wasting our money on the wrong things. I've seen them doing it," says Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Glenis Ansell. "They say money is tight and cut Youth Services to ribbons, slash public transport subsidies and leave social care in chaos. But why have they paid out £ 500,000 in 'hush money' to ex-employees? Why have they agreed an extra £ 200,000 of Council Taxpayers' money for Conservative council leaders' pay increases? Why have thousands of your pounds been wasted on self-congratulatory banners at County Hall? They are incompetent and incapable of standing up for Wiltshire's residents against swingeing government cuts."
The Lib Dems discovered the half a million pound hush money through a Freedom of Information request last year and have since been trying to find out just what the Tories have been so keen to keep quiet.
Bolstered by by-election wins in Amesbury and Trowbridge last year, they and their 1100 Wiltshire membership are fighting for positive changes in six areas:
1. Potholes, Paths and Pavements - Ensuring the £800,000 government road repair fund is spent wisely, following the disastrous Balfour Beatty contract under the current administration.
2. Youth Services - Rebuilding the Youth Services department, which was slashed from 144 youth workers to 7 over the last four years.
3. Public Transport - Resisting bus route cuts, continuing their campaign for new rail stops in Corsham and Royal Wotton Bassett and better disabled access, as they achieved at Chippenham. This ties in with their plans to reduce road use and improve air quality in many Wiltshire towns.
4. Care Services - Massive funding cuts have left carers unable to cope and the elderly treated dreadfully. The Lib Dems know the money is tight but believe the Scandinavian method of fewer visits for longer periods will help both carers and the cared for.
5. Overdevelopment - Wiltshire needs over 60,000 new homes but the Lib Dems think they should be more far more affordable homes for local people near local jobs. They claim Wiltshire's Tories have missed vital government planning targets, meaning developers have built what they like, where they like instead of what Wiltshire needs.
6. Recycling - The cuts in opening times for recycling centres have provided an incentive for fly-tipping, according to the Lib Dems. This, they say, is a false economy that costs far more than it saves.
The Lib Dems are fielding 89 candidates in Wiltshire, many of whom have been motivated to join the party since the General Election and the European Referendum. "It is great to have such a range of experiences on our team," says Cllr Ansell.
"We have teachers, doctors, business leaders and parents. It's a team of quality, variety and energy that we're going to need to sort out the mess the Tories have created. But we've led Wiltshire successfully before and are ready to do it again."