July 25 2014 Latest news:
by Sam Gelder
Saturday, May 10, 2014
With the elections now looming, the campaigning parties have rolled out their manifestos, highlighting the issues they will address should they be voted in on May 22.
The Recorder has seen manifestos from Labour, the Residents’ Association (RA), Ukip and both Romford (RCA) and Hornchurch and Upminster (HUCA) Conservative Associations.
While there are some shared pledges among the parties, such as keeping council tax as low as possible, there are differing views on other issues - some coming from within the same party.
The RCA, who for the first time have issued a separate manifesto to the HUCA, have said they will hold a referendum on the day of the general election next year about restoring Romford and Hornchurch as the name of the borough to “reflect traditional towns.”
But council leader, Cllr Steven Kelly, of the HUCA, said that will not be happening.
“It’s not in the Conservative policy,” he said. “To spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on the referendum, not to mention having to change all the stationery, road signs and school signs, is not what the people need.”
The RCA will also invite the boundary commission to withdraw ward lines, while “reducing council bureaucracy”, cutting the number of councillors and introducing single-member wards, which Cllr Kelly also slammed.
“It is unworkable,” he said. “For a long while we have been talking with group about possibly reducing it to two member wards and we’re not even sure that’s possible with the growth of population.”
Elsewhere, immigration is a key issue for both Ukip and the HUCA.
Ukip believe it must be controlled to relieve pressure on health, education, housing and welfare, while the HUCA oppose all illegal immigration and support the government’s commitment to “holding a referendum of the free movement of people within the EU.”
Labour and the RA will reduce councillor’s allowances, with Labour calling the current costs “outrageously high.”
Ukip will cut highly paid council executives and want to see money used for local services.
Labour pledge to help residents get on the property ladder by “demanding” more affordable homes in the borough, while the HUCA want to introduce a five-year residency qualification for council homes.