Originally sent as a newsletter to members 10 April 2022
"So what difference does it make to have a Lib Dem council leader?"
"I don't see any changes."
"I didn't even know a Lib Dem leads the council."
These are the sorts of questions I get asked and, to be fair, if a local resident is not involved with local politics they will often not be aware of the situation. So today I thought it would be a good idea to outline five ways in which having a Lib Dem council leader is good for you. There are more than five, of course, but these are a good start.
1 Introduced greater transparency in decision-making
To improve management of risk in decisions, an independent member of the audit committee has been appointed.
Far more information is now available to residents (eg Benwell Court). Decisions are being taken by committees (with genuine discussion) and not by a small clique of Cabinet members.
2 Created a cross-party initiative to reduce Local Plan housing numbers
Council Leader Lawrence Nichols, with cross-party support, has written to Kwasi Kwarteng explaining why the housing numbers imposed on Spelthorne are unacceptable. Despite compelling evidence that 611 new homes per year is unreasonable, nothing has happened to reduce the number. Just warm words from our MP, but no action.
3 New Corporate Plan agreed after two years of Conservative delay
The old Plan expired in 2019 and Tories didn't get a grip and push it forward. Now we have a plan that includes a new focus on Service Delivery and with outcomes that can be monitored.
4 Greater involvement of councillors in Spelthorne Council development decisions
A new Development Sub-Committee authorises and monitors Council developments. Ward councillors are now involved in shaping schemes in their area. None of this happened under the old regime.
5 Looking at ways we can make Council-built homes more affordable for tenants
We looked again at what "viability" of developments means, making sure that rental income covers debt repayments rather than only commercial valuation.
This will allow the Council to build more affordable housing for rental to local people.
Want to make a REAL difference to the lives of local residents?
Consider becoming a councillor. One of the joys of a borough council is that it can make a real, direct difference to the lives of local people - a pedestrian crossing here, and innovative affordable housing scheme there, a greater sense of community everywhere. Councillors receive grants they can give to local causes and they get to sit on one of the council committees who, thanks to the new structure we have introduced, now make real decisions and have influence.
Next elections are in May 2023 and campaigning will start soon. We'd love to answer any questions you might have about standing. And you won't be making a commitment by asking them.
Until next time