Labour is the only political party in west Cheshire with a costed and credible plan for our social and economic recovery from Covid-19. We must take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer, greener future for everyone in our area. Councillor Louise Gittins
Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council
Facing the future together
The pandemic has been hard on us all in lots of different ways.
For some the consequences have been tragic, and for others it has left us feeling isolated, facing financial difficulties and has impacted on our mental health and wellbeing.
It has also exposed the fragility of our society – bringing normality to a halt and enforcing restrictions upon our lives that none of us could have expected or would ever want.
For most of us though, it has served to remind us of the importance of family, the value of community and reaffirmed that we are stronger together than we are divided.
Locally, Labour councillors and MPs in West Cheshire have been on the frontline in their communities, setting up or volunteering in foodbanks, helping with re-opening high streets, supporting businesses with rapid access to support grants and being the person that local people can turn to when they need help.
Whatever you think about the Government’s handling of this pandemic, locally our Labour team has remained focused on keeping Cheshire West safe – leading a Council that has built bridges between public organisations, and created an ever-deeper partnership with voluntary, faith and community groups so that funding and resources have been available when and where they have been needed most.
There have been difficult choices to make, but Labour councillors have kept vital council services running, reducing some where necessary to protect the frontline, ensuring Care homes have had access to PPE, supporting Shielding residents, running our local Test, Track and Isolate system, and supporting NHS colleagues with the vaccination roll out across our Borough.
Importantly, our local Labour team has also been busy planning for a time beyond the pandemic and in the same way that we have faced these past months together, we must now face the future together.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we have to stop looking to tomorrow to solve today’s problems. We must take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer, greener future for everyone in Cheshire West; in our towns and villages, in our city and across all of the rural areas of our Borough.
Labour is the only political party in Cheshire West and Chester with a costed and credible plan for our social and economic recovery from Covid-19.
Over a decade of Conservative Government cuts to the Council’s budget has meant our area has lost out on over £400 million, and the recent pandemic has left a local funding gap of £80 million through until 2023. For some councils elsewhere in the UK, similar pressures have meant bankruptcy.
But not here Cheshire West.
It is in this context that locally Labour continues to be responsible and innovative in our plans to build stronger communities. We will continue to balance the Council’s books, whilst delivering a positive vision of HOPE for the future in our Borough.
Putting families first
Our priorities are your priorities, that’s why Labour is putting families first.
We will not allow the impact of the pandemic on education to create a lost generation of children and grandchildren, instead Labour will target local resources to help young people have the best start in life. Assisting local schools to re-open safely and supporting teachers to teach has been our priority throughout the pandemic, as well as looking after children in care and protecting children who have been impacted by abuse, exploitation and domestic violence during the months of successive lockdowns.
Additionally, the government’s failure to provide proper funding and solve the crisis in adult social care means that 65 pence in every pound of the council tax you pay goes on supporting elderly and vulnerable residents in our Borough. We will use this money more effectively by working with partners in the NHS to re-design our local services and help adults to live longer, happier and healthier lives.
Using new technologies, we will help you and your relatives to retain dignity in old age. We will support people who wish to stay in their own homes for longer to do so, and we will develop a new support service where personal assistants provide direct care to elderly residents and support families and communities to help with care too.
We will also refocus the role of our leisure centres on addressing public health issues as well as providing fair-priced, local sports facilities for residents to keep fit, stay healthy and improve their wellbeing.
Financial security and a strong economy
Labour understands the importance of having a job you enjoy and feeling financially secure. We will mobilize our Workzones, Business Support Services and Skills Programmes to support local employers and help people to find good work where they live.
Rising levels of child poverty, in-work poverty and homelessness was a problem before the pandemic, but these past months have seriously exposed just how fragile our economy has become. It is now clear that we are all just a few pay cheques away from financial insecurity and the safety net that once existed has been eroded through ill-conceived Government intervention.
In Cheshire West, Labour has declared a poverty emergency and we will ramp up support for people who need it. We will re-design our services to help prevent people reaching crisis point, and we will support community food projects to ensure that nobody goes hungry.
Labour recognises that poverty is a symptom of a broken system, where low wages, inequality, discrimination, and government cuts to health and education have left some families behind. Creating good jobs, that pay fair wages, will be the cornerstone of our plans to create an inclusive economy.
Pride in our communities and being involved is what is happening locally
Labour understands that having pride about where you live and being involved in what is happening in your community is really important to residents in our borough. That’s why we will launch new platforms to involve residents in decisions that affect their lives. We will also invest in regeneration programmes that create new jobs and re-model town centres so that they are responsive to the changes in how we shop, work, learn and spend time together. We will also invest in our digital infrastructure to ensure that local communities are connected and nobody is excluded because of their technological skills, wealth or where they live.
By continuing our investment in parks, play areas, outdoor sports facilities and public spaces, we have given families a place to go when everything else has been closed. Where other councils are closing public facilities, we are opening them because we know that Cheshire West residents want neighbourhoods that are greener and safer for everyone to enjoy.
Looking out for one another
Communities working together and looking out for each other runs deep in the Labour tradition. That’s why supporting people to have good mental health and working together to protect family, friends and neighbours from the impacts of climate change is a priority. In partnership with residents and businesses, we will reduce our Borough’s carbon footprint and process household waste more effectively. We’ll invest in public transport, build new cycling and walking infrastructure, plant new forests, decarbonise local industry, and help retro-fit buildings and homes to make them more energy efficient.
We are Cheshire West Labour. We care because we live where you live. We are your friends, we are your neighbours. Let’s face the future together.