We will put communities at the heart of decision-making once more.
- A council that is integrated into the community it is meant to serve;
- A review of the routine loss of public assets;
- Collaboration between the seven councils to deliver a better service for our residents and save money to be spent on front-line services.
This Conservative administration has overseen the piecemeal withdrawal of services from local communities, to the point where the County Council barely interacts with the majority of those residents that it is meant to serve.
Yet, if the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value and importance of working with communities to best deliver community solutions.
As we look to rebuild from the pandemic, the Liberal Democrats would maintain and enhance those relationships, working closely with communities, parishes and district councils to coordinate community services, that are both cheaper and more effective in the long run than reacting to problems further down the line.
The services we would look to coordinate are wide ranging, but could involve such things as:
- Working with parish and district councils to introduce community hubs – or a base where the public and professionals can interact – and supporting those that are already providing a service to the local community and enhancing their offer.
- Working with the NHS and local partners to introduce and enhance “social prescriptions” – with “link workers” taking a more rounded approach to people’s physical and mental health – in GP surgeries, schools or local libraries.
- Collaborating with local community groups to support and grow community transport and befriending schemes, so they can help a greater number of residents.
Similarly, the Conservatives have long had a policy of selling off all public buildings and land to cover their costs. Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats oppose the routine loss of these public assets and, in power, would reconsider how these properties or public land could best benefit our communities and residents. This could include developing their use for:
- Community or affordable housing, in collaboration with our district councils and local partners;
- Green energy generation or
- Community hubs and spaces for service provision.
“GLOUCESTERSHIRE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS WOULD STOP SELLING OFF PUBLIC ASSETS AND RECONSIDER HOW IT COULD BEST BENEFIT OUR COMMUNITIES.”
Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats would similarly want to work more collaboratively with our district, parish and town councils to devolve functions to and deliver locally driven services for our communities.
We would also ensure that the County Council invests more time in to working with district colleagues to plan the necessary infrastructure to support housing developments. Too often, plans for school places or green infrastructure are left to the last minute and shoehorned into place.
County Council Services
There are huge opportunities to invest wisely to save money across the county. The seven councils all spend considerable sums on IT and customer care, which could instead be spent on frontline services. We would immediately start the conversation with our district partners to share IT and customer services, so that all Gloucestershire residents have just one point of contact for all their council queries.
In power, we would continue to protect our County Council managed Fire Service, to ensure it provides a range of services to benefit our communities, while also being supplied with cutting-edge technology to protect residents and officers in the case of a serious incident.
We will also enhance our trading standards teams that have been starved of funding, to help businesses navigate the new trading relationship with the EU while also ensuring residents remain protected from criminal scams and dangerous black-market goods.
All this, we will do while ensuring that the county council budget is responsibly managed, and the County Council remains financially secure.