On 4 May 2023 Canterbury will face a choice: continue with the ruinous current Conservative administration or elect Liberal Democrat councillors with fresh new ideas for our district. Lib Dems promise to:
STOP SEWAGE DUMPING
We will protect our environment by demanding that water companies stop discharging raw sewage into the rivers and sea. This will be part of a serious commitment to the environment and achieving the goals we all agreed in declaring a Climate Emergency.
BUILD THE RIGHT HOUSING IN THE RIGHT PLACES
The Liberal Democrats oppose the current draft Local Plan, especially the disastrous zoning proposal. The Local Plan must meet the needs and wishes of residents, not of developers. The Liberal Democrats will join other councils in challenging the unrealistic housing target imposed by the Conservative government in Westminster.
MANAGE THE MONEY
Conservatives have repeatedly wasted money on ill-thought-out schemes such as the Station Road West Car Park and ill-judged investments such as Whitefriars where the value has fallen by over £75 million. The Liberal Democrats believe that the Council urgently needs to move to “zero-based budgeting”: setting priorities such as housing, climate change, waste collection, transport and inward investment, then allocating spend according to need.
Our manifesto pledges fall under the following six areas:
- Healthier communities: We will lobby for a new hospital in Canterbury and introduce measures to improve public health and well-being.
- Getting us moving: We will halt the sell-off of city-centre car parks, introduce a residents’ parking rate and introduce people-focused transport initiatives.
- The environment at the heart of everything we do: We bring a rigorous approach to the Climate emergency, as well as planting more trees and protecting the rural environment.
- The houses and homes we need: We are facing a housing crisis, but this council has built no new council homes. We will work towards building at least 250 new homes a year, ensuring that the provision of council housing is a priority.
- A bright future for the next generation: The Lib Dems will put an end to Conservative mismanagement of our finances, and begin the process of restoring the finances of Canterbury City council, and the district as a whole.
- Repair Canterbury’s Democracy: The current administration has created a democratic deficit; the Lib Dems will improve scrutiny and decision-making.
1. Healthier communities
- A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a new hospital in Canterbury. Many promises have been made by Conservatives at all levels of government, but Canterbury is still without an emergency department. Lib Dems will ensure Canterbury City Council is at the forefront of lobbying for this to happen and addressing the local issues that contribute to the staffing crisis.
- We will build a community that works for everyone: students and locals, drivers and pedestrians, the night-time economy and residents. We will make tackling antisocial behaviour a priority, and improve lighting in our streets and parks.
- Establish, with public consultation, a set of priorities and make sure sporting facilities across the district are protected and enhanced, including a new skate park in Canterbury
- A Lib Dem council will be committed to retaining breastfeeding clinics. The Riverside Centre is again under threat of closure by the Tories, along with community services across the district. We will fight to keep those services.
- Lib Dems are constantly pushing for improved children’s play facilities across the district.
- We will provide extra support to community groups, including making funds available to voluntary organisations that help make our district the best place to live in the country.
- We’ll be there for the homeless and those needing Food Banks. The Lib Dems believe offering help today avoids personal anguish and cuts costs tomorrow. Lack of job security, major problems with Universal Credit and a lack of housing are pushing more of us into desperate circumstances. Prevention saves money and avoids needless suffering.
- We will do more for parents. Families on free school meals are struggling to feed their children in holidays. Demand for Food Banks jumps outside term time. We don’t accept this situation and will take immediate action to help.
2. Getting us moving
- Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay are beset by traffic problems and radical solutions are needed. Our plans will concentrate on actively promoting electric buses, cycling and public transport, along with intelligent strategies to make our roads safer.
- We will scrap the Conservatives’ proposed zoning scheme and insist on a radical re-think of the draft local plan. This should prioritise people, not developers and ensure traffic is reduced not simply moved to new roads.
- Lib Dem Councillors have already proposed a discounted parking rate for residents, to encourage local people to use our city and town centres, whilst protecting revenue from tourists.
- We will restore the faith and community parking permits and the free parking in Whitstable between 8.30am and 10.00am.
- The Lib Dems campaigned against the Tories’ multi-storey car park in Station Road West. We will immediately stop the sell-off of city centre car parks and reopen the Sturry Road Park & Ride
- We will create an integrated transport hub in Canterbury and make sustainable transport a priority. We will create more space for buses, bikes and taxis, and still provide the extra parking Canterbury needs for commuters and shoppers.
- We will investigate a trial of American-style school buses to help parents with the morning drop-off.
- We will significantly increase the number of electric charging points in the district, and insist on their inclusion on all new developments.
- We will work with the bus companies to introduce hopper buses to help get people between the railway stations and around the city quickly and easily.
3. The environment at the heart of everything we do
- Since the Canterbury City Council unanimously voted to declare a climate emergency in 2019, the Conservative administration has not taken its commitment to making Canterbury carbon-neutral by 2030 seriously. A lib Dem Council will.
- A Lib Dem council will not only introduce measures to reach and exceed this target but will publish regular reports to demonstrate how we are proceeding to the target.
- We will protect our environment by demanding that water companies stop discharging raw sewage into the rivers and sea, and work to find a long term solution to the pollution of the Stodmarsh nature reserve.
- Trees are our natural protectors against air pollution. We will embark on an ambitious programme of tree-planting and aim to plant one tree for every four residents in urban areas within the next council.
- We will commit to bringing air quality back to within legal limits within four years. This will include innovative ideas and the latest green technologies like CityTree to help achieve our ambitious climate targets.
- We will urgently review the flawed Local Plan and make sure that any new development meets more than minimum environmental standards and incentivise building to PASSIVHAUS standard.
- We need to tackle litter in the city and villages and along the A2. The current system is not working. Seagulls break open waste bags and rats are a common problem, especially in warm weather.
- We will ensure that our streets and pavements are regularly swept and kept free from litter and weeds, without the use of glyphosates.
- The Lib Dems will work with KCC and other partners to introduce community wardens across the whole district to support our local communities and we will always campaign to ensure our roads are as safe as possible for children.
- We will clamp down on the profusion of A-boards on our high streets.
- We will reform planning processes to remove unnecessary barriers to the installation of solar panels on many homes.
4. The houses and homes we need
- The Lib Dems will stop many of the threatened developments in the draft local plan and follow several other councils in challenging the unrealistic housing target imposed by the Conservative government in Westminster
- We’ll put the right type of houses in the right places, supported by the roads, facilities and services that communities require if they are to thrive and succeed.
- Within two years a Lib Dem council will be building 250 new council homes each year.
- Ordinary people can’t find secure housing – and it ruins lives. Evictions are common. It takes an income of £70,000 a year to afford a mortgage for a so-called ‘affordable home’ putting it out of reach for most families.
- We will cut the queue of 2,500 households waiting to be housed in the district, provide more help to private sector tenants who lose their homes, and force developers to build to safe and decent standards.
- The Lib Dems will clamp down on unlicensed shared houses (HMOs) and seek to remove licenses from properties deliberately kept vacant.
- We will end the proliferation of student blocks and grant planning permission only when there is a demonstrable need and benefit to the community.
- We are pushing for solar panels and chargers for electric cars to be compulsory in most new housing.
- Lib Dems will improve planning enforcement, and support the officers to take swift and strong action on breaches.
5. A bright future for the next generation
- The Conservatives have mismanaged our finances, and wasted money on costly capital projects. The Lib Dems will announce an immediate review of all capital projects, recent, ongoing and planned with a halt to all building and disposal of car parks.
- We will review how best to reduce the exposure to debt, increase revenue and improve the services starved of investment for so long.
- Our heritage is a key element of life in the district. We will protect our heritage, ensuring that never again are we threatened with losing World Heritage status.
- The City of Canterbury should have a world-class market that benefits both residents and traders. A Lib Dem council will restore and enhance a city centre market.
- The Lib Dems work with universities, schools, employers and councils to plan ahead and build a strong local economy with high-quality jobs.
- We will continue to fight against the damaging effects of a Brexit which harms everything from our tourism industry to our universities.
- We will restore the council’s grant to the Canterbury Festival and Whitstable Oyster Festival which bring in millions to the economy every year.
- We will bring the universities and agricultural colleges together with local farming and fruit businesses and seek to develop our area as a leading commercial and research centre for new technologies in agriculture.
- We will expand the help and support available for new businesses, enabling them to access funding, find affordable premises and tap into advice from mentors.
- We will work with building owners to bring empty upstairs floors on Canterbury’s high street back into residential use or office space.
- Canterbury district is not just about the past, we will highlight the booming food and drink sector as well as fostering technological innovation.
- We will work with licensees to minimise antisocial behaviour, especially after 11pm.
- We will engage with interested parties to explore the introduction of a water taxi service between Whitstable and Herne Bay.
6. Repair Canterbury’s democracy
- The current administration has created a democratic deficit. We will begin the process of restoring the Canterbury and Rural Forums, as well as establishing more committees, with a view to restoring the committee system of governance.
- We will restore the post of Chief Executive for Canterbury City Council, an organisation of that size needs strong executive leadership.
- We will review the work of the Lord Mayor and Civic team to ensure these roles are accountable, distributed fairly and working for the good of the whole district.
- We will consult on town councils for Whitstable, Herne Bay and Canterbury, especially important if local government reforms bring in Unitary authorities. In the meantime, we will reinstate the Whitstable and Herne Bay forums to ensure local voices are heard.
- Parish councils have been side-lined by the current administration and we will bring them back into the decision-making process, and acknowledge all the work they do.
- The cabinet system has operated in the manner many feared, concentrating power in the hands of a small number of councillors. We will consult on re-introducing the committee system.
- Over the course of the next council we will introduce more cabinet committees to improve scrutiny and decision making.
- We will introduce a cabinet post for Climate Change, with the holder tasked with driving and reporting on all of our activities in this area.