LOCAL ELECTIONS 2023 - We ask the parties for their plans on five key Bromsgrove issues - The Bromsgrove Standard

LOCAL ELECTIONS 2023 - We ask the parties for their plans on five key Bromsgrove issues

Bromsgrove Editorial 2nd May, 2023 Updated: 2nd May, 2023   0

AHEAD of the Bromsgrove District Council elections this Thursday, May 4, we asked the parties and independents for their plans for five key issues for the area.

We opted for Bromsgrove Town Centre and regeneration, Artrix, housing, affordable housing and green belt, the transport network and the environment.

With some issues falling under the responsibility of Worcestershire County Council, we strove to choose subjects which would be hands of the district council and ones where those elected could realistically bring about change.

Here is what they had to say:

Bromsgrove Town Centre and Regeneration

The Conservatives said: “Following the appointment of a dedicated town centres manager, we have adopted a strategy for our eight commercial centres across the whole district, recognising each commercial centre has a distinct offer.

“The government is supporting our strong vision with more than £14million into our regeneration plans.”




The Independents said Bromsgrove Town urgently needed investment to bring vitality and life back into its centre.

“The town has suffered, as with many town centres, from online shopping, the economic crunch, and the closure of many high street stores.


“Urgent action is required to redevelop a town that is fit for purpose, and it should be seeking to become more of a living centre.”

The Labour Group said it would introduce a ‘pay after you stay’ parking system, reintroduce a cash parking payment as well as card and app, offer free 30 minutes parking in council car parks and free disabled parking.

The party would also purchase and fix empty town centre property and allow pop up style retail and hospitality to use it to test their business model risk free.

The Liberal Democrats said they would regenerate the whole town centre, not just strategic sites.

“We would make Bromsgrove an attractive place to visit through improved street furniture, lighting and bus facilities. We would modernise our car parks, offer more EV points, retain cash payments and offer free parking for blue badge holders.”

 

Artrix

The Conservatives said they were committed to a bright future for the Artrix and the district’s creative sector.

“It was this Conservative administration that secured more than £600,000 investment into the building, and it will be a future Conservative administration that supports the Holding Trust to deliver a sustainable way forward if we are re-elected to run the council.”

The Independents said Artrix had been grossly let down and it urgently needed support.

“We are concerned by the lack of support and investment into the district’s heritage generally.

“Artrix is a prime example of Bromsgrove District Council not supporting the district’s culture and heritage and must actively support Artrix in getting its future on a secure footing.”

The Labour Group said it would re-open the centre with a commercial mindset.

“Shows that are selected should cover the expense, if it does not, then there is no demand for such shows and therefore taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for something they do not enjoy.

“We are already speaking to entrepreneurs who have made success of national comedy clubs to understand more about the business model.”

The Liberal Democrats said: “The other parties have talked a lot about Artrix, but it was the Lib Dems who submitted a budget amendment in February to fund it properly, opposed by the Conservatives and Labour.

“Only the Lib Dems can be relied on to fight for the regular subsidy the Artrix needs.”

 

 

Housing, affordable housing and greenbelt

The Conservatives said, although it was committed to preserving the green belt, it recognised the importance of helping young people become homeowners.

“So, we work with the government to make it happen, using a ‘brownfield first’ approach.

“However, new developments must be sustainable and have the appropriate infrastructure.”

The Independents said the green belt was an important part of Bromsgrove District’s heritage and should be preserved.

“Housing development in general should be based on needs and not demand.

“Given the chronic traffic congestion and poor transport networks development is proving to be unsustainable.

“The right housing, in the right place of the right quantum should be the cornerstone of the district’s development plan.”

The Labour Group plans to abolish the cap on social housing and commit to a minimum 60 per cent affordable homes in all new developments, half of which would be reserved for social rent.

“We would prioritise brown field sites for development before green belt. Any variation on a planning agreement by a commercial developer is declared publicly, to ensure they meet all planning conditions.

The Liberal Democrats vowed to ‘stop giving developers free rein to concrete over countryside, whilst hundreds of hectares of brownfield land lie unused in Birmingham and the Black Country’.

“We would focus on genuinely affordable homes for people who live and work in Bromsgrove.”

Bromsgrove transport network

The Conservative Group said it was fully committed to improving the district’s road network, buses, and trains, recognising their essential role in the community.

“This Conservative administration introduced demand-responsive buses in the county, and we’re eager to expand this initiative.

“We remain dedicated to enhancing local transportation infrastructure for the benefit of all residents.”

The Independents said the connectivity with neighbouring villages, towns, and cities was poor and constrained the town’s sustainability.

“Bromsgrove District Council has a poor record on working with the Highways authority to tackle the chronic traffic congestion throughout the district. “The promised Strategic Transport Assessment has failed to materialise, and development continues unabated. ”

The Labour Group said it planned to introduce live timetables to key bus stops and launch a shoppers’ bus linking housing estates to the town centre.

“We would work with neighbouring authorities, including Birmingham City Council, to reintroduce the 144 bus in full.

“If development on Bromsgrove West makes the western relief road impossible, we will lobby Worcestershire County Council to come up with an alternative.”

The Liberal Democrats said: “We have consistently supported a Western Relief Road, but the Conservatives allowed houses to be built on the proposed site.

“We would commission a new independent study to assess alternative options. We would promote better walking and cycling routes and defend local bus services.”

 

The Environment

The Conservative Group vowed to deliver a ‘cleaner and greener’ district.

“Our work is already under way with 50 per cent reduction in the number of fly-tipping incidents and an increase in the number of prosecutions in the system.

“We will decarbonise the council by 2050, for example including more use of hydrogen in council vehicles.”

The Independents said: “The environment is a broad subject matter, but again it has suffered from lack of investment, care and stewardship, lack of a firm environmental policy on waste and recycling, improving both our rural and urban environmental gain and protection and improving the quality of life.”

The Labour Group said it committed to be a carbon neutral council by 2026 and said it would fit solar panels to the Parkside complex and commit to replacing the council’s current fleet with electric vehicles.

“We would install electric charging points in all council-owned car parks.

“We would reintroduce air pollution monitoring across the town centre and villages, expand the community garden scheme and encourage grow-your-own initiatives.”

The Liberal Democrats said: “The Lib Dems introduced the council motion to declare a climate emergency four years ago.

“We would retrofit the most inefficient homes and introduce collections of household food waste to reduce incineration.

“We would plant more trees and wild flower meadows and introduce more public litter bins with recycling.”

Additional note – The Bromsgrove Independents

Steve Colella, who spoke on behalf of the various independents standing, said it was important to note his answers were broad approaches, given that as Independents each person was free to take each decision on its merits and was not obliged to follow a party-political whip, which gives free speech and wholly representative of the people that elect them.

Click here to see which candidates are standing in which wards.

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