In our manifesto we promised an open and progressive local government that will be financially responsible and answerable to residents.
We believe it is possible to have a local government that is open, forward thinking and works for residents. As demonstrated by our success at running the now multi award winning Saffron Walden Town Council shows, a lot can be achieved when political differences are put aside and residents work together to get the job done.
Now that you have elected us to lead at Uttlesford District Council we intend to do the same for the whole district. There are a lot of things to do and many difficult decisions will need to be made, but we will always seek to put residents first. Thank you for trusting us with your vote.
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 the councils we control more transparent and accountable.
Local government of the residents, by the residents, for the residents.
In summary our policies are (alphabetically):
- Economy & Jobs: We will support local economic growth and jobs, continue to promote our district as a great tourist destination, and work to get the infrastructure we need to prosper.
- Environment & Green Communities: We will protect and enhance our environment, create new green spaces, reduce pollution, increase recycling, create low-carbon homes and encourage local clean energy.
- Health & Social Care: We will promote health and well-being, push for improvements in social care and work to ensure Uttlesford residents of all ages have access to the high quality care they need.
- Libraries, Arts & Museums: We will protect funding for libraries, arts and the museums, and promote and expand their activities.
- Pandemic & Emergency Response: We will proactively play our part in national emergency response and recovery to protect residents and businesses, whilst holding government and other authorities to account where they make decisions for us.
- Planning, Housing & the Local Plan: We must fix the Local Plan so it is evidence-led, puts infrastructure before new homes, is controlled by local communities and not developers, and provides homes that are really affordable for local people.
- Police & Emergency Services: We will hold the Essex Commissioner to account, encourage the funding of police community support officers, and fight against cuts to emergency services.
- Roads and Transport: We will hold Essex County Council to account to improve our roads, deliver cycleways and for public transport to be upgraded to meet the needs of our district.
- Running Your Councils & Finance: We will be open, transparent and accountable to you; we will run services efficiently and effectively and be a strong voice for Uttlesford with authorities and on policies that we don’t directly control.
- Schools & Education: We will work hard with other authorities to ensure our children have a top quality education at a school near where they live, and push for reliable and free transport for those living further away.
- Sports, Community & Leisure: We will invest in better facilities and compel developers to provide green, play and sports areas when new homes are approved.
- Stansted Airport: We will work for a fairer deal with the airport that balances employment with their environmental responsibilities to deal with CO2 emissions, pollution, noise, road and rail congestion, and village fly-parking.
You said:Why does no-one listen to residents? Provide better value and services for our council taxes.
We are a residents’ party and we will listen to you and act for you. 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.
To give residents and stronger local voice, where possible, we will devolve decision-making to towns and villages. We will review and improve or replace the current Cabinet system to make the District Council fairer and to ensure that all voices are heard, and we will work closer with young people through the Youth Council which we insisted was set up.
We will ensure that services are effective and meet residents’ needs. We will make the councils which we control more efficient, stop money being wasted and provide better value for your council taxes. We will ensure that any investments that a council has to make are based on sound, independent and expert investment advice.
We will be strong advocates for Uttlesford on policies we can’t directly control such as education, highways and health care, and support vulnerable residents and the agencies working with them.
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 we will encourage economic growth and high-quality, well-paid local jobs by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship; maximising the employment opportunities at and near the airport; supporting existing businesses; encouraging others to come to Uttlesford and working to improve major infrastructure and digital technology such as broadband speeds.
We will develop business partnerships that allow Uttlesford companies to benefit from the economic growth of surrounding areas and develop better links with major employment centres such as Cambridge and Harlow.
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:In times of crisis we need a council that keeps the vulnerable safe, protects our residents and businesses, and helps us recover.
In times of crisis we know that everyone must pull together. Where we lead a council we expect level headed leadership that uses the available evidence to decide the best course of action in our district, towns and villages. We expect proactive measures to safeguard those most at risk, and to ensure residents and our local businesses are protected. We also expect residents to follow the rules – this is about community responsibility.
Where we do not hold the authority to decide for our area, we expect the leaders who do to use the best available evidence when making their decisions. In these situations we will continue to work in our local interests, holding them to account to do just that.
Where there is an emergency response directed by the government, we will work quickly and efficiently to implement their measures. Where there is a funding package to implement these programmes, we will seek the best funding available for residents and their businesses.
In more critical circumstances, we expect those that make decisions for us to have a clear plan and transparent criteria for moving out of crisis, and a post-emergency recovery programme to help residents and businesses get back on their feet.
You said:Crime needs to be back under control and we want police back on our streets.
We pay a substantial amount of council tax for our Police and Fire Services, yet Essex has one of the poorest-funded police forces and the crime rate has been increasing above the national average.
We want Uttlesford to be a low-crime district and stop the spread of organised crime. We will hold the Essex Police, Fire 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 within an acceptable time and able to take patients to the closest geographical Accident and Emergency Units.
You said:Our libraries and museums are important and we don’t want them reduced or closed.
We believe that our libraries and museums exist to educate, inform and serve our communities and have the ability to boost literacy and life-long prospects for all. Our libraries provide welcoming spaces for reading and borrowing books, socialising, clubs, exhibitions, professional assistance, internet access and help in job-hunting.
We will not allow the closing of libraries. They are community hubs that we believe should be invested in, not cut. 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 feel under constant threat from developers. Sort out the costly ongoing Local Plan mess; listen to us, act for us, and make sure our communities are better as a result of building.
We will work to fix the expensive Local Plan fiasco so as to protect our communities from predatory development. We will make sure that scale of development in Uttlesford closely relates to the identified housing need, and also that the Local Plan satisfies the Planning Inspectorate.
Under the Local Plan new housing will be built in the locations that the evidence shows is the most sustainable. We will obtain the right mix of social and market housing built to high environmental and energy efficiency standards with designs in keeping with the local area, and ensure that houses are built which are truly affordable for local residents.
We will adopt the Community Infrastructure Levy, the government mechanism for maximising developer contributions toward infrastructure. We will hold to account both developers and the agencies responsible for the delivery of that key infrastructure, ensuring that this is in place as new housing is built.
We will encourage parishes and towns to develop Neighbourhood Plans so as to give those communities a stronger voice and more control over their future. We will consult with residents about all planning applications in an open and transparent manner. We will actively involve town and parish councils in arriving at decisions based on evidence, not on political influence.
We have four key principles that we will apply to any new settlements that may be developed in Uttlesford and major Local Plan sites. Their locations must be evidence-led, infrastructure must be put in first, they should be under local control, and they must provide homes that are really affordable for local people:
- Evidence-led: Proper empirical evidence should be produced, used and published to determine the number of new houses Uttlesford needs to provide and the best locations, including that for housing need, sustainability, air quality, water, green spaces, roads, schools and other infrastructure.
- Infrastructure First: Building of new homes in any new settlements must happen after or with the delivery of key primary supporting infrastructure, such as roads and schools, and alongside secondary items such as retail facilities, employment land, medical centres, sports/green spaces, high-speed broadband and utilities.
- Local Control over Future: Any new settlement creation that happens will be steered by local Development Corporations that will hold developers in check, ensure infrastructure delivery, protect existing communities, and get the best deal for local people. They should be majority owned by UDC, and include board members from adjacent town and parish councils.
- True Affordability: A portion of the affordable housing provided any new settlement must be retained and prioritised for local people, and include schemes for local key service-workers that are index-linked to wages, making them truly affordable.
You said:We want the airport to be a better neighbour.
We commit to a fairer deal with Stansted Airport that balances employment with their environmental responsibilities to deal with emissions, pollution, noise, road and rail congestion, and village fly-parking.
We will work closely with Stansted Airport to maximise local employment opportunities and to grow and keep new businesses in Uttlesford by exploiting the airport’s position as a logistics and communications hub near to London.
We believe that it is important that the airport owners recognise the principle that Stansted is an ‘Airport in the Countryside’ and accept the negative impacts caused by its operation and make progress towards their mitigation.
As such, we will consult with local people and parishes to identify issues and work with the airport owners and other authorities to implement measures that will bring about:
- Reduced Environmental Impact: Reductions in CO2 emissions, air pollution and noise nuisance, including limits on night flights.
- Sustainable Transport: Improvements in public transport, including the rail network, around the airport to reduce local airport-related environmental pollution. Better and more regular bus routes and timetables to reflect local needs and access to jobs.
- Infrastructure Investment: Improvements in the surrounding local roads and the national road network.
- Action on Parking: Effective measures to prevent fly-parking in nearby communities.
- Access to jobs: Improvements in local employment levels at the airport.
You said:Our schools are full. We need school places that are local to us and we want choice.
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:
- To maintain the existing funding for our schools and nurseries.
- To resolve the chronic shortages of early years, primary and secondary places.
- To ensure that viable plans are developed to fulfil the further demand created by new housing developments.
- To provide reliable and free school transport for children in rural areas.
You said:Sort out our road and parking problems, and make public transport better.
Our roads are not fit for purpose and they should be repaired quickly when needed and maintained to a high standard. We will insist that Essex Highways maintains our roads to a high standard and deals with existing traffic problems, rather than continuing to ignore them.
Our trains and buses are unreliable, too infrequent and don’t serve our rural areas properly, leaving many residents without access to any public transport. 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.
We will look for innovative ways of moderating access by heavy goods vehicles to towns and villages especially during peak hours, and push for 20mph zones in residential areas and near schools and public places.
We will encourage low-carbon and low-pollution transport initiatives such as safe cycling, safe walking routes and school ‘walking buses’. This will reduce car usage and improve car parking management.
We will facilitate the uptake of electric vehicles by providing a dependable charging infrastructure. New developments will be required to supply charging bays, public car parks will be fitted with charging bays and we will explore the possibilities of providing on-street charging for residents who have no driveways or garages.
You said:We need to take action on climate change and protect our rural environment.
We recognise that climate change is a real and growing threat to this planet and accept our responsibility to show determination and leadership in addressing the challenge and preparing Uttlesford for a sustainable future.
We will strive to deliver truly Green Communities, with new open spaces, more trees and improved connectivity for walking and cycling.
We aim to ensure that everyone can breathe clean air, and live in unpolluted towns and villages with clean public transport, more vehicle charging points and clean low-carbon local energy. We will give local town and parish councils the means to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of our towns and villages.
We will monitor and seek to reduce pollution; improve and increase recycling; reduce single-use plastic; monitor flood protection, and improve and increase wild green spaces. We will support allotments and local food production and will encourage more farmers’ markets.
We will seek to continually raise the energy standards of our homes and workplaces and insist that developers install energy conserving technologies in their designs.
Through our Stansted Airport Policy we are committed to striking a fairer deal with the airport so that they take responsibility for their environmental impact, including dirty air, noise, recycling rates, congestion, and village fly-parking.
Where we control council budgets, we will aim to replace petrol and diesel-driven equipment with electric or alternative fuels at the end of their working lives.
You said:We need more local health services and better access to the ones we have already.
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.
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, commissioning groups, local parishes and community groups to develop a strategy for a healthy Uttlesford – promoting healthier and more active lifestyles and ensuring quick and easy access to healthcare when needed.
When our children or family members require social care, we should have good quality services able to provide the care we need. We will oppose cuts to social care and make sure those adults and children needing support or care receive the excellent service they deserve.
You said:We need youth clubs and better sports and leisure facilities.
We will work with existing providers of sports and leisure facilities to invest in better facilities and make them financially and physically accessible.
We will encourage healthier living and wellbeing activities such as walking, cycling, exercise and horticulture, and work to improve the infrastructure that supports these and other activities.
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.