January will be a busy month for us all, catching up after well-earned breaks with family and friends and recharging those batteries so 2015 is a better year for the people we care about.
At the City Council, that means caring for everyone who lives, works or studies in Cambridge.
Despite many challenges, we will expand our work with local businesses, both Universities and our vibrant voluntary sector to grow and share the city’s prosperity, and develop the best sustainable small city in the world. Cambridge is a city of considerable magic, and we will protect that unique quality of life, preserving our safe, welcoming and inclusive city, and keep it free from prejudice and division.
Since being elected to run Cambridge last May, Labour Councillors have four top priorities, informed by our hundreds of conversations with city residents every month.
First, we will protect core services that residents need most, building on 2014 improvements to street cleansing and recycling, and initiatives to make Cambridge safer, by helping our police tackle alcohol-related problems and anti-social behaviour.
Second, we will transform Council services working with our committed managers, staff and trades unions. This includes new 'shared services' with adjacent councils including waste and recycling, computing, building control and planning, and new trusts for arts and events, and tourism. We will review the council from top to bottom to increase efficiency and protect key services.
Our strong partnerships with South Cambridgeshire and the County Council will also deliver at least 33,000 badly needed new homes by 2030, and join up our two LocalPlans. That includes the first ‘City Deal’ investments of at least £20m per year by 2020 to tackle Cambridge’s major transport problems, with plans being published in January.
We are determined to tackle congestion, improve bus services, create a more accessible and less polluted city centre, and add extra cycling routes between new housing and expanded city employment areas.
Third, we will target scarce resources to people who need our help the most. Our 2015 budget will address an annual funding gap rising to £6m, by 2020 made much worse by 40% cuts to our core grant by the Coalition since 2010. Cambridge really is a 'Tale of Two Cities'. Too many families and people under 40 cannot afford local rents, never mind purchase prices. 3 in 10 of new development houses like those on Trumpington Meadows are at affordable rents. The Council will also build many more, starting with 39 council homes beside Homerton College.
Labour Councillors will target help to households worst hit by falling real incomes since the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came to power nationally. Housing, food, rail and bus fares, and domestic fuel bills have all soared since 2010. Many Cambridge families have also been forced to pay the 'bedroom tax' just to stay put. Better targeting of council grant funding for voluntary organisations and our anti-poverty strategy will help low income Cambridge families struggling to pay the bills.
Fourth and finally, we will make far better use of the Council’s assets and reserves. In January, the new Labour Council’s first full budget will strengthen the city's finances. This will enable us and our Greater Cambridge partners to mount a compelling case for greater local decision making and freedom from Whitehall controls. Like many residents, we hope that after May’s General Election we will have a Government far more in tune with the city’s needs than the current one, enabling a local and national partnership to make our great city an even better place both to live and to work.
Romsey Labour is determined to deliver for all residents while prioritising projects and policies that will make a real difference to those who need our help the most.’
Going forward together - the team at Romsey Labour having won one election and now looking forward to the next.
Clear on what we want for the people of Romsey and Cambridge - A safer society in which 'fairness' is the keyword.