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LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Lewisham Liberal Democrats Manifesto 2010
freeze council tax
for a minimum of two years

revitalise council housing
and build the first council homes for a decade

strengthen local police teams
and have them work with young people and local enforcement teams

double recycling rates
by improving facilities and processes

improve young people’s lives
by providing more facilities, activities and opportunities

campaign to abolish the mayoral system
and create a more democratic and accountable form of government

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LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Liberal Democrats want to provide Lewisham with a fresh start. We want to create a place where people choose to live because it’s a safe environment, offers good quality of life for all residents and because it’s a place where people of all ages can realise their full potential.

Labour has run Lewisham for nearly 40 years, and our community has suffered because of it. There is a stale, uninspired and complacent attitude towards delivering services to local people. Liberal Democrats know we can do better. We will revitalise the Council and our local communities by making sure that residents are at the heart of all the Council’s activities. Liberal Democrats will make sure that Lewisham Council works harder for its customers, and that our borough is a better place to live, bring up a family, and grow old. We are the challengers to Labour across the whole of Lewisham. For the last four years, Liberal Democrats have been a strong and effective opposition. Our councillors have a proven record of serving their communities, keeping people informed, consulting residents and making a real difference.

At this election, only the Liberal Democrat team fully represents the diversity of Lewisham residents; only we have the vision, experience, vitality and enthusiasm to make a real change in Lewisham. A vote for the Liberal Democrats… or the stale, old Labour party? The choice is clear. In this manifesto, we set out policies that will achieve our vision of making Lewisham a great place to live: a place people choose because it is a safe, caring community and has a council that helps them lead the life they choose. It is time for a change, and we hope that you will help us make it happen.

Chris Maines Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Lewisham

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LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Lewisham Liberal Democrats Manifesto 2010
housing community safety environment our community children and young people open, efficient and accountable local government beating the recession
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Published and promoted by Marcus Mayers on behalf of Chris Maines and the Liberal Democrats, all of 8 Woodham Road, SE6 2SD

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Housing Liberal Democrats believe that decent and affordable housing is every citizens’ right

Under Labour, there are 17,000 families on the waiting list for housing in Lewisham, and 70% of Lewisham Homes’ housing fails to meet the government’s basic decent homes standard. Very little has been done by the current Labour Mayor to address Lewisham’s housing crisis. Liberal Democrats want to tackle homelessness and provide more family housing. We would seek to raise the standard of all tenures of housing in Lewisham, starting with service improvements for Lewisham Homes customers. We want to empower tenants and leaseholders so they can exercise more control over their homes, services and estates.

Tackling homelessness
• A Liberal Democrat Mayor will build Lewisham’s first new Council Houses for a decade. • We will enlist the support of local housing associations to access Temporary Social Housing Grant funding to bring empty properties back into use. • We will seek to establish London’s first Community Land Trust within Lewisham, working with the Mayor of London.

Providing more family housing
• We will provide more attractive incentives for tenants occupying larger houses to move to smaller homes, covering removal and redecoration costs. • We will look creatively at Lewisham’s existing housing stock to see where larger homes could be created by merging flats together, or ‘de-converting’ shared houses. • Where private sector housing is built on Council-owned land, we will ensure residents get better value for money with a higher proportion of affordable housing, and more family units.

Raising the standard of Lewisham’s housing
• A Liberal Democrat Mayor will seek urgent discussions with the new Housing Minister to demand the reinstatement of Lewisham’s Decent Homes funding. • Almost a third of the housing stock in the borough is now privately rented. We will establish a ‘Lewisham Standard’ for private rented accommodation.
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Improving housing services
• Within 12 months of a Liberal Democrat Mayor taking office, we will submit Lewisham Homes to an external inspection to ensure tenants are receiving quality services. • Tenants will be entitled to a £10 refund if a repair appointment is missed. • We will introduce a ‘repairs guarantee’, whereby tenants can arrange their own repairs with private contractors if the council fails.

Empowering tenants
• All council tenants will be offered the opportunity to take control of their housing through a tenant management or community gateway approach if the majority of residents want it. We will also explore the transfer of community centres and tenants halls to community groups. • We will ensure that leaseholders are properly consulted on works that affect their properties, and provide access to independent sources of help and advice.

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Community safety We will introduce effective policies to make the borough safer for everyone.

We recognise that the experience and fear of crime and antisocial behaviour are of great concern to all Lewisham residents. Tackling gun, knife and gang crime is essential. We know that these are challenging problems but we are committed to finding imaginative and creative solutions for them.

Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour
• Provide a 24-hour patrol service and telephone line for reporting anti-social behaviour. • Strengthen local police teams by involving council enforcement officers, anti-social behaviour officers and local youth workers in Safer Neighbourhood teams. Where necessary, provide extra PCSOs and work with the police to provide night-time cover. • Hold a public question-and-answer session with the borough’s Police Commander at least once a year. • Work with partners and agencies to tackle and reduce domestic violence throughout the borough, and ensure that victims and their families receive more support and advice. • Work with national and local police and other agencies to address the problem of crime against children and young people near bus stops and on buses.

Tackling gun and knife crime
• Initiate an amnesty for knives and weapons – create a confidential advice line for those aware of knives and weapons in the community. • Work nationally and locally with the police and the community to implement intelligence-led policing against guns and gangs. • Collaborate with schools, youth clubs and other agencies to support local communities in tackling gun culture and drug problems. • Provide specialist training and support to carers and families who are concerned that their children are involved in gang activities.

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Creating a safer environment
• Improve poor street lighting, and badly maintained footpaths to make people feel safer. • To complement Envirocall, we will provide one phone number for sending text messages or photos about graffiti and broken street lights. • Improve and promote the use of community mediation and restorative justice programmes and mentoring for young people. • Bring all Council enforcement services together under one new department to make more efficient use of resources. • Be more proactive prosecuting the illegal sale of fireworks, knives, alcohol and tobacco. • Work to ensure that all new housing developments are designed to a high standard that seeks to prevent crime through intelligent design. • We would introduce ‘cumulative impact’ licensing policies.

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Environment The Liberal Democrats promise practical and workable solutions to put the environment at the heart of council policy-making.

We will ensure your local environment is improved and protected, and that our local economy is fair and sustainable.

A cleaner, greener borough
• We aim to become a zero-waste council. • We want to double Lewisham’s recycling figures within four years, beginning with immediate action to reduce drastically the amount of Lewisham recycling that is being rejected due to contamination, by: 1. ensuring residents can recycle all types of plastic and Tetra cartons within the first year 2. ensuring residents in flats can fully recycle 3. building local bio-mass waste facilities, introducing a kitchen and garden waste collection service. • We will devolve funding to local bodies in order to: 1. carry out major cleaning blitzes annually in each local area 2. ensure street drains are regularly cleaned, and encourage residents to report blocked drains 3. improve smaller local parks and play equipment. • Acquire a bubble gum removal machine and remove bubble gum from town centre pavements. • We will plant 1000 new trees in the first year, and properly maintain existing trees. • Work with independent housing providers and Lewisham Homes to provide allotments on housing estates and provide funding and training to local groups to help set them up and run them. • Provide more help and support to develop and expand our nature reserves to promote biodiversity and to protect sites of special interest. • We will work to set up community land trusts to manage and enhance spare parcels of land for local people.

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Town centres
• Use the planning system to support local shopping parades that meet local peoples’ needs. • Actively fight any further closure of post offices in Lewisham. • Encourage greater use of the council’s power to acquire underused properties to revive local housing and to help improve run-down areas. • Provide more ‘shopping time’ parking spaces and disabled parking spaces in or near local high streets.

Buildings
• Seek an energy company partner to install free home insulation to all Lewisham residents. • We will reform local planning policies to make it easier for residents to build micro-energy generation schemes, and to make sure that all new housing schemes obtain at least a third of their energy from renewable sources and reuse ‘grey’ water. • We will make best use of new building and renovation projects to try to provide apprenticeship schemes were appropriate. • We will engage with local people when developing planning policy. • Provide extra resources for better planning enforcement. • We will reward good development by establishing a prize for the most innovative, creative and sustainable developments in the borough.

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Transport
• Campaign to improve bus and train services across the borough. • Develop and promote accessible and safe pedestrian routes to encourage more walking. • We will make the parking system simpler to use, and investigate the use of pre-pay cards similar to Oyster cards for parking meters. • We will review parking across Lewisham, ensuring that residents parking schemes are more flexible, that shopping parades are not strangled by parking regulations, and we will introduce incentives for low-emission vehicles. • Undertake a ‘full conditions’ survey of Lewisham’s roads and pavements and use the results to develop an action plan to tackle the poor conditions which currently exist. • Promote pedestrian safety over car use. We will aim to slow traffic by widening pavements, instead of using excessive numbers of speed humps. • Provide more mobile traffic enforcement cameras to address persistent motoring offences. • When replacing council vehicles, we will purchase cheaper, greener alternatives and install electric car charging points for public use. • Investigate 20-mph zones for non-main roads to help reduce accidents. • Work with Transport for London immediately to provide road safety improvements at known accident blackspots. • Improve cycle paths in the borough and introduce more secure cycle parking. • Promote healthy living by promoting car-free days.

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Leisure facilities
• Provide a Youth Opportunity Card to all young people under 16, widening access to all council leisure and cultural facilities. • Do more to ensure that Lewisham residents benefit from and contribute to the 2012 Olympic Games. • Work to ensure the borough has a cinema. • Work to bring improved leisure facilities into the borough and to ensure they are accessible to all. • Provide more support to grassroots sporting clubs and societies working with our young people. We will ensure that these facilities are accessible to all and that they are free or affordable to all.

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Our community We will engage and support the many community activities that take place around the borough.

Lewisham has many strong local communities with a rich and diverse heritage. We will support existing activities, such as festivals, cultural events, adult education classes and social networks, and will seek to strengthen them wherever we can. We are particularly concerned to see the rights and contribution of older people and people with disabilities properly recognised.

Building strong community groups
• Recognise the diverse festivals and activities around the borough, and engage and support them. • Work towards setting up a local history museum in the borough. • Extend and promote a year-round cultural calendar. • Work with the community to create and host a Lewisham Heritage and History website. • Recognise the importance of adult education that enriches people’s lives, not just for the sake of qualifications. • Free up council buildings for greater use by adult education groups. • Promote better access for disabled people in all spheres of life. • Work towards greater equality in access to all council services and against discrimination in all its forms. • Develop better social, cultural and educational opportunities for elderly people. • Provide a higher standard of service to those who need support in their home, and to provide as much help as possible to carers.

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Helping the elderly live dignified lives
• Strengthen citizen befriending and inspection services for care homes. • Help ensure all elderly people are safeguarded from abuse and neglect. • Establish a Mayor’s Commission on dementia care and long-term care for the elderly. • Create a multi-agency Safeguarding Adults Partnership. • Continue to give priority to supporting carers.

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Children and young people We will do our best to give Lewisham children a fair start in life by directing resources at those children who need most support.

Children prosper when they grow up in a comfortable and secure environment, free from fear of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many children in our borough. We will work hard to break inter-generational cycles of poverty, neglect and abuse. We will ensure everyone in Lewisham has access to a good education and all sections of the community are given equal educational opportunities. Our ambition is to make education in Lewisham better than any comparable area in London. Poor planning by the existing Labour administration means we face a crisis in primary school places. On current projections an extra 500 places (or 15 classes) will be needed across the borough by 2012-13. The government has refused to give the council any extra money to meet the need for places. We shall address this need by opening new schools and expanding existing ones where possible. We shall work to increase and improve pre-school provision in the borough.

Education
• Liberal Democrats’ national policy is to enable smaller class sizes by introducing a pupil premium so that resources are directed to where the need is greatest. • We will do whatever we can to ensure complete fairness in school admissions’ policies. The strengths of Lewisham schools will be actively promoted to all parents to ensure they attract a balanced comprehensive intake of children. • We will upgrade the support provided to supplementary schools and recognise the valuable contribution they make to education in the borough. • We will make reading a priority and support parents to read to their children. • We will encourage restorative justice and mentoring in all schools. • Our aim will be to enable more use of programmes to encourage learning outside of the classroom. • Primary schools will be encouraged to set up allotments.

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• The important issues of guns, knives and gang culture will addressed as a high priority in all our schools as part of a borough-wide initiative to tackle the rise of violent crime. • We recognise that some pupils prefer vocational to academic routes to achievement; all are valuable and should be recognised and supported. • We will continue the Building Schools for the Future programme, where possible, but put greater emphasis on good design and quality project management.

Families and the community
• Greater support will be provided to parents who need it most by providing better access to a range of specialist services and advice. • We will improve existing play parks and facilities and explore extra grant funding to create new ones. • We will work to ensure more schools can and do open out of hours so that their facilities can be used by local communities.

Child health
• We will work to address Lewisham’s issue of childhood obesity by promoting healthy eating projects in the community, providing healthy school meals, and promoting competitive sport in schools and the wider community. In addition, the council’s planning process will be used to restrict the opening of new fast food outlets near schools. • Childhood diseases such as measles and chicken pox will be addressed by working to achieve better rates of immunisation in our area. Currently rates are well below the national average. • We shall work to raise awareness of sexual health issues.

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Protecting children
• Safeguarding children and young people is a a priority. We all share responsibility for it. Lewisham has had a number of recent Serious Case Reviews resulting from failures in practice – we will ensure that all the recommendations are implemented. • We will take every opportunity to listen to children in care and children leaving care so that we can learn from their views and experiences. • We will give more individual support to looked-after children who need it to help them achieve to their full potential. • We will aim to secure the lowest possible turnover of placements for our looked-after children by recruiting a pool of foster carers and improving training for them.

Engaging young people
• We will give a Youth Opportunity card to all young people under 16, to widen their access to leisure and cultural facilities. • We will launch a programme of consultation with young people, to produce a strategy for young people between the ages of 16 and 25. • We will work to provide more jobs and apprenticeships for young people. • Lewisham has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country. We will work on finding effective solutions to this issue.

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Open, efficient and accountable local government We will create fair and efficient public services for all.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to fair, open, responsive and transparent local government. Good service is about inclusion, efficiency and attention to detail. All Lewisham staff will deal with the public respectfully and efficiently, so that issues are dealt with effectively first time. [

Openness and accountability
• A Liberal Democrat Mayor will be more accountable and accessible. We believe the public should be more involved in Lewisham’s decision-making processes and will establish regular opportunities for the public to scrutinise Council decisions. • We will promote openness through a user-friendly and useful council website, webcasting council meetings and providing access to reports and information, including councillors’ expenses. • We will ensure the council promotes an open style of participation and management, and fully complies with to the Freedom of Information Act. • Liberal Democrat councillors and the mayor will keep in touch with residents through a regular newsletter. • We will promote participation in decision-making processes, rather than meaningless consultations. • We will transform the Local Assembly system, giving residents real control over services in their area. • We will promote equality of representation and involvement in council decision-making for all, including young people, elderly people and people with disabilities.

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Value for money
• We will freeze Council Tax for at least two years. • The overall cost of council senior management posts will be cut by freezing the highest salaries and reviewing each post. • We will reduce the dependency on agency staff and expensive consultants. • We will investigate innovative ways of using council tax to tackle deprivation. • We will find new ways to use council land and assets to unlock regeneration and help kickstart the local economy. • We will reduce Labour waste by cutting out duplication of services and excessive communication spending within council departments. • We will investigate ways of attracting more income and commercial sponsorship. • We will make it easier for residents to access and comment on planning and licensing applications. • We will support and promote community asset transfers for some council-owned buildings, such as Louise House in Forest Hill.

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Beating the recesssion We will do all we can to keep Council Tax low, protect front-line services and help those most in need.

The recession has had a devastating effect on Lewisham. Due to the crisis in public finances, the next administration is likely to be forced to make sweeping cuts to council services. These could total as much as 14% of all services over the next four years.

Managing the budget
• We will always remember that it is your money we are spending. • We will look for ways of rationalising council services to save money. • Any new projects we undertake will be assessed for value for money in the long term.

Creating jobs
• The council will work to provide more jobs and apprenticeships for our young people in particular. • We will devise a scheme to re-introduce Council mortgages for first time buyers and seek support for the scheme from central government. • We will work to create a ‘green’ economy and create local jobs in providing home insulation, planting trees and other environmental and community improvements, such as providing 600 new affordable homes, and business support to the voluntary sector. • Assist residents and businesses by providing more support for business advice.

Supporting vulnerable people
• We will make sure everyone who is claiming benefit gets what they are entitled to • We will provide a £20 council tax reduction for pensioners on means-tested state pension credit and investigate other ways to make this regressive tax fairer.

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