Protecting the environment and homes for local people: St Albans political parties state their priorities ahead of council elections
- Credit: Archant
Local housing for local people and austerity are two of the issues St Albans political parties are campaigning on ahead of next month’s council elections.
There are votes to elect district and county council members on Thursday, May 3 and the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP are putting up candidates.
The St Albans Labour Party are campaigning against cuts to public services and the latest rise in council tax.
Their leader, district and county candidate Roma Mills, said: “In 2010 St Albans District Council received over £7m from the government, but it’s been whittled down and next year will amount to one big fat nothing.”
The party highlighted the loss of rehabilitation wards at City Hospital, the rise in use of food banks, and the withdrawal of £600k from Nascot Lawn respite centre, which serves children across West Herts from a facility in Watford.
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Cllr Mills complained about the lack of a cop shop in St Albans city centre, and recounted when last year she had to go to Hatfield after being the victim of a hit and run.
UKIP branch chairman and Cunningham ward candidate Alan Malin has outlined their priorities, saying: “The main issues are the district’s Local Plan, which would mean 15,000 extra homes in St Albans district, a lack of infrastructure, and the amount of pollution we already have from our existing roads. It’s quite high around Drakes Drive and traffic queues are twice what they were three years ago.
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“We do not think we can support 15,000 extra homes. We are looking at our existing infrastructure and we do not think there is enough water, as we only take it from underground aquifers and there is no provision for reservoirs to supply Hertfordshire.”
The party also wants social housing to be reserved for people with links to St Albans.
“We are worried St Albans is becoming an extension of King’s Cross, which anyone travelling on Thameslink will see from the terrible volume of traffic.”
Chris White, the leader of the city’s Liberal Democrats, has laid out the party’s local priorities. One of which is efficiency of services, after he was struck by how immaculate the streets in Watford were compared to St Albans.
He also wants the council to demand greater accountability from train companies and the police, and cut down on the number of council meetings by getting rid of the Cabinet, as they have in Lib Dem-run Three Rivers, and redefine the council’s relationship with contractors.
He said: “We should not be asking contractors, we should be telling them.
“We have to revamp how the police and council interact with the public.”
St Albans Green Party are campaigning on issues related to congestion and air pollution and has produced a ten-point Clean Air Plan, which proposes making the city centre car free, setting a default 20mph speed limit in build-up areas, stop the council using diesel vehicles, working with business to stop deliveries at peak times, stop engine idling, convert all buses to electric or hybrid, stop using diesel vehicles in the council’s fleets, and clean up vehicles used by its contractors.
Improving pavements and cycle lanes is another of their priorities, as is ensuring new homes are affordable and environmentally-friendly and used to house local people.
The party is also focusing on winning another seat in St Peters ward, replacing incumbent Conservative councillor Alun Davies.
Cllr Davies said: “It’s about time we took credit for what we have achieved as local Conservative councillors, such as having increased our recycling rate to almost 60 per cent - making the district greener and at the same time saving local people over £400,000 a year in landfill taxes.
“We’ve also committed to the regeneration of the River Ver and Verulam lake and I am looking forward to seeing my kids enjoy the improvements.”
The Conservatives are campaigning on their record of funding leisure and tourism services in the district, including £36m to rebuild leisure centres such as the one in Rothamsted Park in Harpenden and the £7.75m new museum and gallery in St Albans city centre which is due to open in June.
The Conservatives leader Alec Campbell said: “Our top priority will be to balance defending the Green Belt and delivering the right infrastructure, including schools and the right types of houses residents want to see.”