The Labour party would freeze council tax for one year, cap tax increases at 2% in future years, and make improving Cardiff’s schools its highest priority if it won control of the city council at next month’s local elections.
Unveiling their election manifesto yesterday, Labour told Cardiff voters it had an ambitious and challenging vision for Cardiff’s future, while remaining “realistic and deliverable”.
Leader of Cardiff’s Labour group Councillor Heather Joyce said the next council term would be “the toughest any of us can remember”, with Westminster cuts, stagnant wages, and benefit reductions combining to put Cardiff voters under great pressure.
She said Labour was therefore committed to freezing council tax in the first year of a new Labour administration. After that, council tax increases would be limited to 2% annually in a policy designed to “balance the need to protect the interests of local people and the books”.
Coun Joyce said her party would make very few commitments to extra spending, but where necessary it would find the cash by reducing the need for council spending in other areas – such as stopping first class travel by council staff, and putting a moratorium on international travel that does not benefit the wider population of Cardiff.
The manifesto also says the party will make raising standards in Cardiff’s schools and colleges its “highest priority”.
The pledge comes after Cardiff’s annual school performance report revealed earlier this year that 21 schools were in need or “intensive” or “extended” help in December 2011, compared to just 15 the previous year, and Labour criticised the “disappointing” record of the Liberal Democrat/Plaid Cymru administration, which it said had left Wales’ capital city at the bottom of the league for school achievement and organisation.
Labour said its ambition was to turn Cardiff into a “NEET-free city”, ensuring every young person has an offer on employment, education or training.
It added Labour would meet the growing demand for Welsh medium education in Cardiff and promote high quality nursery education.
Other pledges in the Labour manifesto include:
– Establish a new science park to increase science-based employment in the city and build on the work of Cardiff University.
– Bring new international fixtures to the Millennium Stadium to build on its reputation as a leading sports venue.
– Bring at least one more major tourist attraction to Cardiff Bay
– In social services, focus on prevention and early intervention rather than just dealing with the consequences of failure.
– Develop a new care model for older people, offering a more flexible combination of independent living and access to communal services.
– Build more council houses and increase the city’s supply of affordable housing. Abide by the Lib Dem/Plaid Cymru plan to build 1,000 new homes in the city over the next five years.
– Support the electrification of the Valleys rail network, work with Arriva to provide additional stops on existing city lines, and revive the fortunes of Cardiff Airport
– Reduce traffic congestion by introducing a flexible approach to on-street parking, incentivise park-and-ride provision and look at providing free bus travel at peak times for key-workers.
– Create a greener Cardiff by using technology to give residents information about public transport, provide more bike parking at Cardiff train stations, and more opportunities for cycling and walking.
– Deliver a Local Development Plan that recognises Cardiff’s role as the capital of Wales and a city of growing international significance.
– Establish Rumney Recreation Ground as a village green and support the return of sailing to Llanishen Reservoir.
– Create a transport hub with a new central bus station north of Cardiff Central railway station.
– Introduce a youth mayor with two deputies, elected by young people.
Read Labour’s full local election manifesto here.