A Liberal Democrat manifesto for Bradford on Avon 2017
This manifesto sets out our agenda for action across the Bradford on Avon Community Area over the next four years. The area covers the town of Bradford on Avon and the villages of Holt, Limpley Stoke, Monkton Farleigh, South Wraxall, Staverton, Westwood, Wingfield and Winsley.
Our elected county councillors and two town councillors will seek to implement as much as possible of this manifesto, working with the town council.
These include the values set out in our party’s constitution:
‘A fair, free and open society’ and ‘public services of the highest quality’.
Our party’s policy is also to make decisions and deliver services at “the most local level viable”. Our councillors are therefore free to apply our principles as they see best in each situation and vote on each issue as individuals. We do not have a party ‘whip’ on the town council and we work with councillors from other parties to find solutions. This manifesto has been written and agreed by our Bradford on Avon area team without any involvement from the party at any higher level.
If elected, we will build on our record and continue to work on the issues that matter most to local people, as set out below. We know what those issues are because of our own surveys and the consultations carried out by the LibDem-led Town Council and Area Board of the County Council.
As well as working and campaigning on these specific issues, we will continue to work to keep facilities open in the town and villages and defy the cuts being forced on local councils by the Conservative government. So far, we have saved and taken over St Margaret’s Hall, the youth centre, public toilets and Tourist Information centre, with a small increase in council tax of 40p per week for a Band D home. If necessary, we will also fight to save the library, swimming pool and any other local amenities that may be threatened by the government’s policies. If the county seeks to transfer these assets to the town, we will take them on and run them efficiently and affordably. If necessary, we would ask residents for a modest increase in council tax to preserve these important facilities but our intention will be to make them profitable or revenue-neutral.
We will support and develop initiatives towards the goal of making Bradford on Avon carbon neutral by 2050, a vision pioneered by Climate Friendly Bradford and adopted by the Town Council.
Pedestrian safety – identified by 73% in community consultation* as a major issue
We will campaign with our local groups to make Bradford on Avon town a safer and better place for pedestrians. We will act to reduce traffic flows in whatever ways we can.
We want to make the Bradford on Avon Area a better and safer place for families and children, walkers and cyclists. Over recent years Liberal Democrats have played their part in working for the 20 mph limits across the Area, including those proposed in Bradford on Avon for areas near schools and homes. Our councillors have fought for pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures at Town and County level. The LibDem-led Town Council is currently supporting a pedestrian ‘river crossing’ survey of people’s travel patterns. If elected, we will conduct a fresh review of road safety priorities, looking for new ways to control traffic and make walking a better, safer experience in Bradford on Avon and the surrounding villages.
Housing and planning - identified by 69% in community consultation as a major issue
We will work to complete and implement the Neighbourhood Plan that will preserve the green spaces and historic character of the Bradford on Avon Community Area while supporting any specific high-quality developments that provide homes, jobs, products and services for local people.
The Bradford on Avon area is a popular place to live that has faced a lot of pressure for new housing. The LibDems have a strong record of fighting for developments that serve the interests of the whole community and resisting unwanted and unnecessary ones, such as the one currently proposed for Woolley Street and previously for the town’s golf course. With the recent approval of several new developments, the area has very nearly met its current housing allocation. The LibDem-led Town Council has led on drawing up of a Neighbourhood Plan that clearly designates areas for housing and businesses and areas to be protected. Our priority if elected will be to get that plan approved and implemented as it provides important protection against unwanted developments.
Isolation and loneliness among older people - identified by 80% in community consultation as a major issue
We will work with others to provide older people with more opportunities to meet others, take advantage of services they are entitled to and enjoy a social life.
Building on the existing work being done with older people in the town, the LibDem-led Town Council and Area Board are involved in two innovative new projects. They are working with Age UK and the Bradford on Avon Health Partnership to support the ‘Living Well’ network of volunteers to visit and befriend elderly people in the town and surrounding villages and ensure they are properly cared for. They are also working with the Dementia Friendly Communities programme on ‘memory cafes’ where people can meet and share experiences. In the community consultation, mental health needs were identified as a priority by 77% of community leaders.
Positive leisure time activities for young people - identified by 61% in community consultation as a major issue
We will keep working to provide more positive leisure activities for young people, from the town’s youth centre to support for arts, sporting and other organisations and events. The LibDem-led Town Council has already acted to stop the town’s youth centre being closed. Through the Area Board, the Town Council has promoted a Local Youth Network. This has funded a range of activities, from a new girls’ rugby team to theatre workshops and information technology for Air Training Corps to counselling for teenagers. If elected, we will also fight for better youth services in the villages within the Bradford on Avon Community Area.
Supporting business and jobs - identified by 69% in community consultation as a major issue
We will support all local businesses from traditional companies, trades and shops to the creative and digital industries. We will continue to promote tourism and trade as well as fostering new initiatives.
The LibDem led Town Council and Area Board have supported the local business community in many ways, most recently in taking new steps to attract tourists. The town council saved the Tourist Information Centre from closure in 2015 and has appointed a tourism and events officer to help build the town’s brand. If elected, we will continue to promote the area’s town’s retail and tourism sectors and spread the benefits into local villages, by initiatives like the Walkers’ and Cyclists’ Wheels. We will also lead a drive to support and connect local professionals, with the aim of enabling the area to fulfil its potential as a ‘creative cluster’ where innovation flourishes and grows.
How we will make this programme work
The Bradford on Avon Area Board is a Wiltshire Council body where the local Wiltshire Councillors meet with Council officials and local people to decide how money should be spent. The Board meets bi-monthly in public, with meetings rotating across the Community Area parishes. In practice, it offers a shared platform for local issues requiring shared action between County, Town and Parishes. This includes transport issues, youth services, health and education.
The Liberal Democrats Town and County Councillors actively co-operate on the Area Board and on the many critical issue groups it sponsors, including the Community Area Transport Group. Over the past four years, this joint working has ensured that we maximise our influence in an otherwise Tory-dominated Unitary Authority.
If the Liberal Democrats maintain a commanding presence on both bodies we will work to further a shared approach, including the full participation of key local voluntary groups. This is the only way to ensure that the Bradford on Avon area has a positive future in the context of ongoing budget cuts.
* The community consultation referred to here was the Area Board meeting held in January 2017 to discuss the Joint Strategic Assessment for the Bradford on Avon Community Area with local community leaders.