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Political parties say why they need your vote in Deal, Dover and Sandwich

By Eleanor Perkins

Local elections will take place in Dover, Deal and Sandwich on Thursday, May 2.

There are only 32 seats available on Dover District Council.

Here, the four main political parties make their pleas as to why you should select their candidates to be your district representatives.

District council chairman Sue Chandler (Con) who opened the new Dover Leisure Centre is standing for re-election
District council chairman Sue Chandler (Con) who opened the new Dover Leisure Centre is standing for re-election

Conservatives

Your local Conservatives know the council’s main job is to deliver excellent services for the best possible value. And that’s exactly what we do.

Firstly, we delivered the long-awaited St James development in Dover town centre. Where derelict buildings like Burlington House and the multi-storey car park once stood, a complex containing shops, a cinema and restaurants has risen in its place. A £26 million leisure centre has been built too, recently delivered on budget and on time.

But we appreciate how important the existing town centre area is. That’s why we’ve set up a £500,000 High Street Grants scheme, allowing local people to apply for cash to open businesses in the town centre. To help get them ready to flourish, we took ownership of the former Co-Op building, turning it into a space to set up starter-units to test business models.

We have even more exciting plans for the future. We want to regenerate Market Square with lights, a new fountain and an extended pedestrianised zone. We want a bridge connecting the town centre to the seafront, which itself is undergoing major regeneration. And we are pushing for yet more bars, shops and restaurants along the new Marina Curve.

In Deal, the Pier is undergoing the most comprehensive refurbishment of its 60-year history – with a better walkway, better seating and a new restaurant. We have kept the pressure up on the owners of the Regent Cinema. Hugely exciting plans are now progressing.

Across the district we will deliver new homes – affordable, built to last and where the environment can take them. We are committed to becoming a carbon-free district by 2030 and will encourage green tourism as a main driver for our growth. We have maintained our waste collection cycle – and are carrying out regular roadside clean-ups. We’re also spending almost £1 million improving every street light we own by next winter, upgrading all our CCTV cameras to digital and providing free Wi-Fi across our town centres. At Kearsney Abbey, we’re spending more than £3 million returning this magnificent park to its former glory.

All this has been achieved with the lowest council tax rates in east Kent. The Conservatives are extremely proud of our record. Success has been driven by a group of incredibly hard-working councillors. Each of us cares deeply about our community.

Standing alongside experienced representatives, this election will see some of our youngest ever candidates running. From business owners to farmers and charity workers, we represent everyone. We make sure we always put our community first – while delivering true value for money.

Deal and Dover Labour Party has 29 candidates
Deal and Dover Labour Party has 29 candidates

Labour

The last nine years of austerity have been disastrous for local councils and our communities.

Since 2010, when the Conservatives and Lib Dems set up their coalition and then under successive Conservative governments, Dover District Council (DDC) has had its budget slashed.

By 2019/20, your district council’s budget will have fallen by 60%.

Right now, DDC is led by local Conservatives who have just accepted the savage cuts imposed by their Tory colleagues at Westminster. Instead of fighting your corner, DDC’s Conservatives have tried to balance the books using risky and desperate measures.

They have raided the council’s capital reserves – meant for emergency use – with no idea when they could build those reserves up again.

There is hope. A Labour government would put more money into the public services you use and local councils, including DDC, would see their funding rise sustainably.

If the Conservatives stay in power, though, don’t expect the ‘end of austerity’ that Theresa May promised. Expect DDCs budget to fall by another 20% beyond even the massively reduced levels of 2017/18.

Dover & Deal Labour take a prudent approach to the future. We know that there is only so much any local council can do, especially with finances stripped back by the Tories and some council staff now having to do jobs previously done by two or three people.

Conservative policies will leave a legacy of damage which it will be hard for us to undo and which may limit our ability to meet some of our aspirations. Still a Labour-led DDC will work as effectively as possible for our communities, using partnership working or campaigning for solutions when we can’t make things better alone.

We have selected a team of candidates dedicated to improving life in the district. These people live, work and raise their families in our communities. They will listen to you and bring your concerns to the council chamber and are dedicated to creating a better, fairer district.

We hope and work for the best – a Labour government that will put money back into the services the Tories have slashed.

We also plan for the worst – a Conservative government clinging on to power, cutting services you use and pay for to the bare bones, while the wealthy few get tax giveaways.

A Labour controlled Dover District Council will: Build 1,5000 environmentally sound new council homes across the district, ensure council supplies pay the real living wage and do no use zero hour contracts, improve town centre and key public spaces for all residents to use and enjoy, develop a not-for-profit bus service to restore and improve access for all, continue to work to make Dover and Deal accessible, dementia and autism friendly towns.

Dover District Council Local Elections (8391791)
Dover District Council Local Elections (8391791)
Steve Green, Penelope James and Aston Mannerings are among the Liberal Democrats' 12 candidates
Steve Green, Penelope James and Aston Mannerings are among the Liberal Democrats' 12 candidates

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat team across the Dover district believe that, as lovely as our local area is, we can always be doing better for local people.

We want to put the interests of the local community first rather than petty political interests and Labour-Conservative bickering. Your local Liberal Democrats have three priorities: the environment, economic infrastructure, and housing.

On the environment, Dover and Deal Lib Dems are committed to protecting the local Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), demanding more regular testing of our local air quality to ensure that pollution is kept to a minimum and we also want to make Dover a national leader in recycling and plastics reduction.

Second, on the economy, we believe that Dover District Council could be doing better to care for the local area and local residents’ needs and that doing the bare minimum and charging as little in council tax as possible is not what is best for our local communities. The Liberal Democrats would take a pragmatic approach to council tax in order to provide better services and make proactive choices for the betterment of the district.

Finally, your local Liberal Democrats have a bold and optimistic plan for tackling housing needs across Dover district. We would get DDC to borrow against the value of its assets in order to fund the sort of housebuilding that we need, allowing DDC to use CPOs (Compulsory Purchase Orders) to acquire redundant commercial properties in our town centres and convert it to residential use. New rural housing developments would need to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Three key candidates standing for district council elections include Aston Mannerings (Alkham and Capel-le-Ferne); a 26 year-old history teacher who has lived in Capel-le-Ferne for 20 years.

He is interested in protecting wildlife and making sure any future developments across the district are environmentally sustainable.

Penelope James (Dover Downs and River); a communications and PR consultant who has run her own independent consultancy since 1995. Penelope has lived in Wootton for 17 years and her top concern is ensuring the safety of our roads, keeping our rural, residential roads free of unnecessary HGVs.

Steve Green (Dover Downs and River); a 55 year-old lecturer who has lived in West Hougham since 2006. He is passionate about promoting educational opportunities for all, and supporting local businesses.

Deal and Dover Green Party candidates
Deal and Dover Green Party candidates

Green Party

The local Green Party in Dover District are standing 13 candidates for DDC in 11 wards; and 13 candidates for town/parish seats in the district.

Mike Eddy, candidate in Mill Hill (which he has represented since 1995) said: “Huge wealth inequality damages the whole of society.

"More local Green councillors means more independent, principled, local people rolling up their sleeves for people and planet without an elite in London breathing down their necks.

"Our NHS is better if it is publicly owned and profiteering health care companies are stopped. District councils don’t control the future of the NHS but can speak up for a fairer future for all. "Greens want regeneration plans that help small, local, tax-paying businesses flourish, rather than international chains.”

Christine Oliver (candidate in Mill Hill) said: “The whole population of the district from Maxton to Preston deserve to be able to enjoy the woods, fields, parks and allotments that bring with them healthy well-being, and local farm food, so we save on the costs of ill-health. Our rural, coastal assets are also the secret to attracting national and European tourists to spend their money in local businesses and to carbon capture and the fight against climate emergency.“

Beccy Sawbridge, (candidate in Town and Castle -Dover) said: “We Greens speak truth to power, we stand up to the political elite, because we need homes that are cheap-to-rent and cheap-to-heat; a fairer, low-carbon future for all. The poorest 19% in UK don’t own cars, and don’t fly; we have the lowest carbon footprint. DDC and KCC must prioritise us non-car owners and deliver better, cheaper bus services, new pavements and cycle paths. We are an anti-austerity party and we say the Universal Credit system is broken and must be replaced, fast."

There are now five times as many Green party councillors at district level or higher, than there were a few years ago. Because more people nationally vote Green Party in LOCAL elections now, even if they vote for a bigger party in parliamentary elections.

The 11 Dover District wards where people can vote Green Party are;

Mill Hill (Deal), Eastry Rural, Town and Castle (Dover), Guston Kingsdown and St Margarets, Middle Deal, Little Stour and Ashstone, Tower Hamlets (Dover), Walmer, Sandwich, Whitfield, St Radigunds (Dover).

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