Cllr John Lodge R4U Chairman
Where we have many councillors we have made sure that residents’ voices are heard, longstanding problems are fixed, budgets are balanced, spending is properly focused, and our quality of local life is improved. Elsewhere where others make the decisions, we hold them to account on behalf of residents.
Our policies provide a roadmap of what we propose to do if elected to do so. In our policies we promise an open and progressive local government that will be financially responsible and answerable to residents.
In short we would form a local government of the residents, by the residents, for the residents.
We are a residents’ party and our principles mean that we will:
- Listen to residents and make objective decisions that are right for local communities.
- Plan strategically for the long term and focus on sustainable development.
- Deliver excellent services and fiscal responsibility.
- Develop ideas and policies that are progressive and independent from national party politics.
- Make our local councils more transparent and accountable.
Local government of the residents, by the residents, for the residents
In summary our policies are:
- Council Services, Local Government & Finance: We will be open, transparent and accountable to you; we will be responsible and run services efficiently; we will be a strong voice for Uttlesford on policies and authorities that we can’t directly control.
- Economy & Jobs: We will support economic growth and employment in Uttlesford, continue to promote our district as a great tourist destination and work to make sure that we get the infrastructure we need to prosper.
- Housing & Planning: Our planning will be driven by local housing needs, homes will be built to high environmental standards, and we will incorporate the infrastructure essential for our vibrant and growing communities.
- Roads and Transport: We will make sure that our roads and public transport are improved to meet the needs of residents who travel for work and leisure.
- Schools & Education: We will work to give students a top quality education at a school near where they live with an affordable and reliable bus service for those further away.
- Health & Social Care: We will promote health and well-being, oppose significant reductions in social care, and work to ensure Uttlesford residents of all ages have access to the high quality care and facilities they need.
- Police & Emergency Services: We will hold the Essex Police & Crime Commissioner to account, encourage the funding of police community support officers and special constables, and fight against cuts to emergency services.
- Environment: We will protect and enhance our built and natural environment, creating new green spaces, reducing pollution and improving sustainability.
- Sports, Community & Leisure: We will invest in better facilities and compel developers to provide the recommended green, play and sports areas when new homes are approved
- Libraries, Arts & Museums: We will protect library and museum funding and promote and expand their activities.
You said:Why does no-one listen to local people? Stop wasting our money.
We are a residents’ party and we will listen to you and make sure that we all ‘get our voice back’. We will always be open, transparent, democratic and accountable to you and make rational decisions based on evidence – not on party politics. We will work for the community together with other parties and independents to truly represent the interests of Uttlesford residents. Where possible, we will devolve decision-making to towns and villages. We will review and improve, or if necessary replace, the current Cabinet system to make the Council fairer and all voices heard.
We will make the Council more efficient, stop the waste of money and provide better value for your Council Taxes, including resolving the issue of the millions of pounds currently held in duplicated or seemingly unneeded reserves.
We will be strong advocates for Uttlesford on policies we can’t directly control such as education, highways and healthcare, and support vulnerable residents and the agencies working with them.
You said:Our libraries and museums are important and we don’t want them to close.
We believe that our libraries and museums exist to educate, inform and serve. Our libraries also provide neutral community spaces for professional assistance, internet access, help in job-hunting, and the ability to boost literacy and life-long prospects for all.
We will push to maintain existing library opening hours. We will work to ensure that the proper funding is in place for our libraries, museums, arts and other community facilities. And to further help maintain their funding and relevance, we will seek to maximise the tourist value of our museums, arts and other heritage assets.
You said:We need quality business parks, infrastructure and start-up hubs, and we want to keep our individual shops and cultural centres.
Uttlesford is a great place to live and work and should offer a wide choice of high quality jobs. We should benefit from the economic growth of surrounding areas and develop our own innovative businesses and support those that are already here.
We will develop plans to encourage economic growth, contest the conversion of viable employment sites into housing, and make the whole of Uttlesford a great place to work, visit and do business.
We will promote innovation and entrepreneurship; support our businesses and encourage others to come to Uttlesford; work to improve major infrastructure and digital technology such as broadband speeds and develop better links with major employment centres such as Cambridge and Stansted Airport. These measures will enable the creation, development and retention of a wide range of businesses offering high-quality, well-paid local jobs.
We will continue to promote our district as a great tourist destination, particularly through the support and development of our parks, art and historical assets.
You said:Crime needs to be back under control and we want the police back on our streets.
Essex is an affluent and relatively well educated area, with low unemployment; it follows that much of the county has a low crime rate. Even so, we pay a substantial amount of council tax for our Police and Fire Services, and the county has one of the poorest-funded police forces, and the crime rate has been increasing above the national average.
We want Essex to be a low-crime county, and resist the spread of organised crime from London. We shall hold the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner to account to make sure they improve the performance of our police and fix funding gaps. Where local policing has been withdrawn by central government funding cuts, we will encourage our communities to fund their own police community support officers and special constables to maintain safety.
We will work to protect our fire service and ensure that we have the fire-fighters and responsive service that we need to protect our homes and businesses.
We will work with the healthcare provisioning authorities to make sure that in emergencies ambulances and local paramedics are available and able to take patients to the closest geographical Accident and Emergency Units.
You said:Build for locals and put the infrastructure in first.
Our planning will be driven by identified housing needs and realities and we will put in place a series of measures to conserve the natural and built environment of Uttlesford. Our planning will be sustainable and innovative, incorporate the infrastructure essential for our vibrant and growing communities.
To meet that identified housing need, if it is the most sustainable option, we will explore the possibility of building one or more settlements in suitable areas that will take the majority of new housing. We will consult with residents about any such proposals. Recommendations will be based on evidence and best practice – not Westminster party politics or central government edicts.
We will encourage parish Neighbourhood Plans and consult with you about implementing the Community Infrastructure Levy so that towns and villages can directly receive up to 25% of the financial proceeds of any homebuilding in their communities.
We will obtain the right mix of social and market housing built to high environmental and energy efficiency standards and ensure that designs are in keeping with the local area. We will ensure that developers meet all their commitments in full with significant and worthwhile contributions for the benefit of local communities.
You said:Sort out the mess left after the Local Plan was rejected; make sure our voices are properly heard, and don’t wreck our communities.
We will produce a new Local Plan which will both guarantee that all development in Uttlesford relates closely to identified need and also satisfies the Planning Inspectorate. We shall involve Town and Parish councils in arriving at decisions based on evidence, not on political influence. We shall hold to account both developers and the agencies responsible for the delivery of key infrastructure, ensuring that this is reviewed prior to giving planning permission. We will remove political influence over the Planning Committee, make their meetings more accessible to residents, and reverse the ban on public speakers.
You said:We need more schools.
All children should have the opportunity of an excellent and properly funded education, including access to the right support if they have special educational needs. Parental choice should be maintained, and students should be able to go to top quality schools near their homes, and not be bussed across the county or further.
We will work with Essex County Council and the independent academies, and continue lobbying the Department for Education to meet these objectives. We will also encourage them to maintain the existing funding for our schools; resolve the existing chronic shortages of early years, primary and secondary places; ensure that they develop viable plans to fulfil the further demand created by new housing developments; and that they provide reliable and affordable school transport for rural areas.
You said:Sort out our road and parking problems. We need more and better bus services.
Our roads are in a mess and they should be repaired quickly when needed and maintained to a high standard. Our trains and buses are unreliable, too infrequent and don’t serve our rural areas properly, leaving lots of residents without access to any public transport.
We will insist that Essex Highways maintains our roads to a high standard and deals with existing traffic problems, rather than ignore them. We need innovative ways of moderating access by heavy goods vehicle to towns during peak hours and introducing 20mph zones will make towns safer for all.
We will encourage initiatives such as safe cycling, safe walking routes and school ‘walking buses’ to minimise car usage; and improve car parking management. We will work with transport companies to develop a strategic plan for the transport infrastructure of Uttlesford to significantly improve the reliability, accessibility and frequency of local rail and bus services.
You said:We need communal and green spaces where the generations can mix.
We should all have access to green spaces, have clean towns and villages and breathe clean air. All too often, developers build housing estates that have no community, sports or play areas, and that must change.
We shall give local councils the means to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of our towns and villages. We will also require developers to provide sufficient open, recreational space and landscaping in their plans, with appropriate landscaping. We will monitor and seek to reduce pollution; increase recycling; monitor flood protection, and improve and increase green spaces. We will seek to continually raise the energy standards of our homes and workplaces, and encourage developers to install state-of-the-art energy conserving technologies in their designs. We support allotments and local food production and will encourage more farmers’ markets.
You said:We need more and better health services.
Many of our doctors’ surgeries and dentists are oversubscribed. We should all be able to see our GPs and dentists when we need to and not have to wait weeks for an appointment. When our children or family members require social care, we should have good quality services able to provide the care we need.
We will promote the provision of specialist facilities to encourage GPs, dentists and medical auxiliaries to set up new practices, or to improve the current ones. We will work with the NHS, local councils and community groups to develop a strategy for a healthy Uttlesford – promoting healthy and active lifestyles but ensuring quick and easy access to healthcare when needed. We will oppose cuts to social care and make sure those adults and children needing support or care receive an excellent level of care.
You said:We need youth clubs and better sports and leisure facilities.
We will work existing providers of sports and leisure facilities to invest in better facilities and make them financially and physically accessible. We will compel developers to provide significant green, play and sports areas for the community when new homes are approved. This will benefit everyone in our community including families, young people, the elderly and those with special needs.
We will encourage healthy living and wellbeing activities such as walking, cycling and horticulture, and work to improve the infrastructure that supports these and other activities.