This Thursday (May 2) voters will be turning out to have their say at the polling stations on who should represent them on Herts County Council.
But who will get your vote? If you’re still undecided take a look below at the manifestos of each party to discover what they pledge to bring to the table if elected.
There are a total of 77 county councillors in Herts who are elected every four years. Each councillor covers a different area in the county and it is their job to represent the interests of local householders.
Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday. The count - being held at Hemel Hempstead’s Sportspace for Dacorum - will start at 10pm with the results expected to be in at around 3am on Friday.
>For a full list of the candidates for the Dacorum area click here
>Radio Dacorum presenter Francois Henderson has put together a podcast with representatives from the five political parties. Each were asked the same five questions. To listen to what they had to say click here
Conservatives have put you first when balancing the books at County Hall. We’ve frozen the council tax for four years to save the average family over £500.
We know that people are finding it tough while we all pay the price for Labour’s financial incompetence. Unlike other parties, we won’t play games with your standard of living - but will do all we can to help you.
We’ve been tough on the council; and tough on its suppliers and contractors to save £150m a year, and have focussed the money we
do have on vital front-line services.
We will still spend around £2 billion pounds next year; £8 billion over the next four years. Our record proves we can be trusted to spend this huge sum wisely and to play fair with hard-pressed household budgets.
When you decide whether and how to vote on 2 May, please ask if you and your family can risk allowing any other party to take charge of your local taxes.
Would you vote for a council that:
>freezes its tax for four years
>invests record sums on road
>keeps open all your libraries and children’s centres
>cuts management costs by 25%
>reduces planned debt, and runs some of the very best services in the land.
You’ve already got one! To re-elect it vote Conservative on May 2.
In four years we have:
>not added a penny to your council tax
>resurfaced five million square metres of roads
>invested £10m in major library improvements
>reduced new pot-holes by a third
>achieved some of the best GCSE and ‘A’ level results in the land
>built the equivalent of more than 30 new primary schools
>frozen councillors’ allowances
Local action makes a real impact:
Conservatives believe in helping communities to shape their own futures and will give people clearer information and a greater say in local decisions that affect them.
Your conservative councillors will work with local volunteers and groups who make such an important contribution and, through their locality budgets, will continue to offer small grants which can make such a difference.
Street light review promised:
As predicted by the Police, crime did not go up when some street lights were turned off at midnight. These
changes are saving millions of pounds and cutting carbon emissions.
But the Conservatives always promised a review of the impact of the changes and this will take place in the summer. Your local county councillor will be able to ensure that local views are taken into account.
The Green party
Quality of life is paramount for the Green Party. We want a Hertfordshire in which all citizens have equal access to the resources of the county. We need the road infrastructure to be properly repaired and then regularly maintained with an increase in the number of safe cycleways and footpaths. We also require a decent, clean, reliable and secure bus service which runs at times needed by the population and is co-ordinated with train services.
Hertfordshire needs a thriving public sector. Fire, police, social services should be effective without cuts. Hospitals should fit the needs of the surrounding community. All of our children need a decent education and we would oppose selling off school playing fields. Libraries are a very important resource for the community and must be retained. All of the above must be adequately staffed. We would expect that all people working in the various sectors mentioned to be well paid with decent working hours and a democratic say in the workplace.
We want maximum protection of the Green Belt. The Green Party are strongly opposed to airport expansion with its increased noise and air pollution which has a detrimental effect on the health of people over a wide area of Hertfordshire.
This county is situated in both the driest and most heavily populated region of the British Isles. It does not have the necessary water supplies to maintain a large increase in population. We need to substantially increase local food production, with more allotments, allied with organic and free range farming. We need a vast increase in tree planting to combat climate change and help with nature diversity.
Rapid conversion to all forms of renewable energy is urgently needed which should be community owned benefiting the local population. Increased energy conservation measures in all new buildings mandatory.
All of the various item mentioned are part of a New Green Deal. When people have work and are well paid they pay taxes which boost the economy, locally and nationally, and with progressive taxation allied with carbon and land value taxation makes for a more egalitarian society.
If you believe in economic and political democracy, ecological sustainability and social justice, then vote Green.
A Hertfordshire that works – building a strong economy that creates jobs, grows businesses and provides a future for our young people
>Work with business to create a 1000 jobs in 2 years
>Guarantee an apprenticeship, job or training place to all 16 -24 year olds
>Create four new business incubation centres in the County
>Work with the Local Enterprise Partnership to strengthen our existing business base and attract new investment to the County
>Provide subsidised transport for 16 – 24 year old jobseekers
>Introduce the Living Wage for HCC and promote it for the whole county
A travel-friendly Hertfordshire – a transport system and strategy that enables people and businesses to move around the county more easily
>Repair the roads and paths – fix potholes and broken paving quickly and
ensure it is quick and easy to report them
>Make bus routes work for passengers, not bus companies by devolving bus subsidy budgets to local communities
>Improve East – West county bus routes
>20 mph speed limits around schools and gritting of all school routes not just those on main routes
>Lobby for investment in our main-line railway routes
>Introduce ‘smart-card’ travel
A healthy Hertfordshire – defending the NHS and tackling health inequalities at district level.
>Establish and maintain a high quality Public Health function
>A funded programme to tackle the main causes of health inequality including smoking, obesity and lack of exercise
A safer Hertfordshire – fighting crime and building strong communities
>Switch the street lights back on in urban areas while a low cost/low carbon solution is found
>Guarantee future funding for Police Community Support Officers
>Support the Thriving Families Programme
>Work with the Police Commissioner to establish a ‘no tolerance’ policy on anti-social behaviour
>Tackle Domestic Abuse through a comprehensive action plan funded by all partners
A Caring Hertfordshire – practical support for children and families and high quality council-run services for the elderly, disabled people and their carers
>Guarantee the future of our Children’s Centres and build on their excellent early years provision.
>Implement a Child Poverty Commission in Hertfordshire and take action on its outcomes
>Provide the support that older people need so they can live independently as long as possible.
>Ensure older and vulnerable adults are cared for with dignity
>Establish Hertfordshire as a ‘Carer-friendly County’
>Work with the NHS build better links between hospital and home for the
elderly and their carers
A Local Hertfordshire –working in partnership with districts to put communities and local people at the heart of decision-making
>Devolve budgets and decisions as much as possible to local forums
>Encourage young people to get involved for example by including two seats at County Council meetings for Herts UK Youth Parliament members and electing a County Youth Chairman
>Use existing HCC facilities like libraries to deliver ‘front-door’ to county services for local people.
>Work with young people to provide the services that they need locally
>Address the long-term inequalities in educational attainment across the county
>Ensure academy and free schools are accountable to students, parents and local communities
A green Hertfordshire – protect our environment and review the way we deal with our waste
>An immediate moratorium on building any incinerator in Herts while alternative technologies are evaluated.
>Aim to achieve the highest level of recycling in the country
>A county-wide programme for energy saving based on insulation and efficiency to both reduce householders fuel bills and CO2 emissions.
Cutting costs, slashing spin, listening locally
Liberal Democrats believe that decisions about our lives should be taken locally. So do most people.
But the long years of Conservative rule have meant that more and more decisions affecting you, your family and the services you depend on are taken by a narrow group of councillors and officials, deep in County Hall, away from public gaze.
Even decisions about road repairs are now taken by a single councillor at County Hall rather than by local councillors meeting in public in your area.
And while less and less money is available for highways, social care and libraries, the Conservatives run a bloated propaganda department pumping out publicity praising their activities, while letting contracts to private companies without adequately checking in advance how a contract will be monitored once it is under way.
Things can be different: we believe that power can be returned to local people. And your money can be spent more effectively and in a way that works for you and your community.
In financially tough times Liberal Democrats in government have reduced income tax for low and medium earners. Our approach to Council Tax will similarly reflect a concern to be fair to local residents. Liberal Democrats in Hertfordshire will always aim to freeze Council tax through savings in areas such as Council expenditure on Press and Media and an end to vanity pet projects.
1. Living Herts
When even the right-wing Mayor of New York and city traders acknowledge the effects of global warming, you know it’s urgent.
We have not only to do our bit for the environment but completely reshape some of our services.
We will introduce the Herts Schools Challenge to persuade schools to switch off lights develop a green grants system for small businesses to improve their carbon footprint start the significant changeover to LED street lighting, which will be greener, more reliable and more cost effective.
We will have an immediate review of the waste management strategy, and ensure that Hertfordshire disposes of its waste responsibly and in a way that does not damage the environment or adversely affect the lives of local people.
2. Learning Herts
Everyone has a right to a good education. Recent legislation has not helped communities plan for the future but the county council is still responsible for planning school places and improving school performance for all children whatever their abilities or needs.
The track record of the local Conservatives in both these areas has been poor: there are still shortages of school places, the education performance of our looked after children is unacceptable and parents of disabled children have too little say in the education they receive.
Where Pupil Premium is being used effectively, it is making a real difference for the poorest pupils but in some schools it is not being used to the best effect to help disadvantaged children.
Too many children don’t have a nearby primary school.
We will revamp the county council’s school provision system to find more sites for new schools provide strong support to underperforming schools by giving them stronger links to schools with a good track record encourage schools to revamp their relationship with parents so that they get more timely and relevant information about progress, delivered by modern communication methods ensure all schools use their Pupil Premium to help their most disadvantaged pupils insist that schools provide a proper education for our children in care place parents at the heart of the special needs provisioning service.
3. Moving Herts
The most visible aspect of the County Council’s failings is over transport: our roads and footways are poorly maintained and there is too little local input. Street lights are switched off in areas which need them and kept on in areas which can do without.
We will increase the overall spend on highways and footway maintenance ensure that the vast majority of decisions about roads, pavements and street lighting are taken locally, by local councillors, meeting in public introduce proper supervision of private highways contractors which are currently operating with next to no public accountability restore the right of people to present petitions about local road problems make it much easier for communities which want 20mph limits to have them. But highway maintenance is not the only issue. Cyclists feel unsafe. Trains are expensive, overcrowded or late. Buses are too infrequent and too unreliable - far too often children or elderly people are left stranded by uncaring bus companies.
We will require all new road schemes to design in safety measures for cyclists stand up to railway companies and fight for new franchises from passenger-friendly companies demand a quality service from bus companies, with the county council actively monitoring performance encourage later bus running in urban areas develop east-west high speed bus routes find ways to fund taxi-bus services in rural areas protect funding for school crossing patrols
extend the saver card to cover all under 19s.
4. Working Herts
Even in a prosperous county like Hertfordshire, we need active interventions to encourage business. Key to this is ensuring that our town centres are thriving and that the county council’s assets are directed to delivering growth and jobs.
We will review the county council’s assets to ensure that they are sold or used to create meaningful employment opportunities
introduce, working with local people, schemes for reviving town centres: library hours need to be extended to encourage increased footfall, signage and the street scene need improving to make our high streets look more cared for work with businesses and the University to develop start-up facilities and science parks encourage much higher take up of high speed broad band.
5. Caring Herts
The vast majority of the County Council’s budget is spent on social care. But this is under threat - from poor contract management and the council’s contempt for the voluntary sector.
We will ensure that contracts are let with a much greater concern for quality drive the county council to engage much more effectively with the voluntary sector - rather than seeking to undermine it with its own services or favoured providers.
The county council is the only way we have of controlling the NHS locally. Much of the care is good. But GPs are inefficient, especially in their opening hours and communications. Some hospital care, notably for the elderly, is not good enough. And much of it is delivered far too far away from where people actually live.
Despite these problems, the Conservatives have spent as little as possible on challenging the quality of local healthcare provision.
We will improve and expand the county council’s health scrutiny function develop a new pact with the NHS so that it comes under proper democratic control, rather than being managed by a narrow clique of professionals and Conservative councillors.
6. Young Herts
It is often tempting for politicians to see young people as solely a matter for education - the Conservative Leader of the council once claimed that the youth service ‘has a curriculum to deliver’.
We believe that young people deserve better and have concerns about mental health, transport, jobs and the environment. But they need to be at the heart of any proposals to improve their services.
We will work with young people to develop a five year programme for services provide funding for arts projects and rehearsal studios, to build on this county’s enviable reputation for the performing arts work with district councils to build on the Olympic legacy to provide better opportunities for sport, leisure and recreation work with schools and the NHS to provide a better approach to tackling young people’s physical and mental health issues.
Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
In this climate of recession all the main parties, UKIP, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour, are in favour of vicious cuts in jobs, services and benefits that hit the poorest in society the hardest.
In these County Council elections trade unionists, socialists, students, NHS and community campaigners and many working class activists across the country have joined forces under the platform of Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts.
In Welwyn Hatfield we are standing four candidates on a clear “no-cuts” platform. This is a serious and sincere effort to build a genuine alternative, representing the needs of the ordinary people.
Our pledges are:
We will fight against every single cut.
We believe that our health care, ambulance, fire services, police and all the other public services should be improved, not cut or sold off for private companies to make profit.
Schools should be cherished and improved by local authorities, not handed over to businessmen and run as academies.
We believe there should be more affordable housing, maintained by the local authority.
At a national level:
UKIP are the only party offering to come out of Europe – a clear statement that others will fudge and offer negotiation and eventually a referendum as a way of procrastinating! However the EU isn’t working and we, the UK, would be better off out of it!
It means UKIP are the only party offering to properly control immigration – pro-Europe parties can’t as they have to allow freedom of movement, which means as an example we will continue to be inundated with health and welfare tourists we cannot afford!
And whilst other parties accuse UKIP of being a single issue protest party we are not and we have a complete set of common sense policies affecting health, defence, education, energy, bureaucracy, tax, spending and so forth that will simply change the way we run our lives for the better.
The key then is how this translates into local policies; where our messages are simple:
UKIP will give power back to the people by introducing local referenda on major issues which will be binding if the people demand it. This will undoubtedly result in giving local people priority over housing, education and social services, amongst others. A key local issue is of course local Accident & Emergency services which need a sensible joined up plan, which we UKIP will address and rectify!
UKIP will reduce the unacceptable levels of crime and anti-social behaviour by deporting foreign criminals, making sentences meaningful and put more police on the beat. We will also switch the lights back on! What is Dacorum thinking?
UKIP will also stop the ‘gravy train’, we will slash excessive local pay deals for senior Council staff, we will limit the numbers of high paid employees and we will remove the Councils advertising and self-promotion budgets. Whilst we are in favour of delegated budgets the way the locality budgets are currently used is wrong.
Finally we will re-introduce grammar schools, make it easier to sack bad teachers, and we will have a joined up sport and fitness plan for all children that gives them a healthy start to their lives.