On Thursday 6 May Cheltenham people will have a vote that determines the future of our town. It’s a vote in a really important set of local elections - the biggest for years.
The town is working hard to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic and we have a lot of work to do. The good news is that the foundations are in place thanks to the work of the Liberal Democrat borough council, led by Rowena Hay and until recently by one of our local unsung heroes, Steve Jordan.
Cheltenham’s Liberal Democrats are dedicated to making our town a better, greener, more prosperous place to live in – not just for parts of the town, but for every neighbourhood and for everyone who lives and works here. We love Cheltenham. It’s unique, beautiful, full of life, a wonderful place to live – and we want to make it even better.
Our manifesto sets out how we’ll help Cheltenham recover in a way that provides new jobs, protects our environment, invests in young people, builds the affordable new homes we need and takes care of taxpayers’ money.
Our manifesto features our plans to invest £180 million in new homes to help local families. It demonstrates how we’ll tackle the climate emergency by making the Borough Council carbon neutral and via the new cross-town Cheltenham Zero Partnership with Vision 21. It sets out our support for the Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force, which we setup to chart a course out of Covid to prosperity. Our plan includes the Golden Valley development, which will bring thousands of jobs to West Cheltenham in a groundbreaking green development. We are working in partnership to deliver the Minster Innovation Exchange - a vital scheme to regenerate a key town centre location. The No Child Left Behind project will keep supporting schemes to back our young people.
This important work follows a period during which the Lib Dem council won praise nationally for dealing with the pandemic response - processing business grants speedily and flexing rules to enable outdoor hospitality. In previous years we massively expanded recycling, built a new art gallery and museum and achieved so much more besides. We also retained council tax support grants for those in most need - at a time when other councils of all political colours scrapped that vital support. And we did it all without making any cuts to frontline services.
This May will also see people vote for a new county council. A change in the political administration at Shire Hall away from the Conservatives could mean we see much better joined-up politics on matters like roads, education, planning and the environment. We badly need a can-do political leadership at the County, after years of the blues. The evidence is there for all to see in the cuts to youth work and libraries, the potholes in our roads and the damning reports on children and young people’s services. And that’s before we consider the disastrous government response to Covid, which has been characterised by deadly dithering, high death rates and brazen corruption.
On 6 May there’s only one party in Cheltenham with a track record of action and a plan for the future. That’s the Liberal Democrats. I’d urge you all to vote for it.