PCS has contacted party leaders across the region and candidates in targeted councils on this year's pledges. View the 2012 election pledges.
Responses have been received for the following wards. Click on the link to view the responses.
As you will expect, Lib Dem candidates for the forthcoming Hastings Borough Council elections are working hard trying to talk to as many local voters as possible ahead of polling day.
As a result of this we have felt that it is better use of our time and yours to give a response that we all subscribe to and that you can use for all of us as you see fit.
You can find our names and the wards we are standing in here:
Lib Dems for 2012 website
We have given our position on each of the pledges that you have listed:
These are tough economic times, and it is never easy making decisions about public spending in this kind of environment. But we strongly support protecting local services - as have Liberal Democrats up and down the country. Indeed, in Lib Dem run councils we have worked hard to protect services like libraries and sure start children centres. We have a good track record in doing this (eg. Lib Dem Bristol, Portsmouth and Cardiff have opened new Libraries in the years when Conservative run Gloucestershire and Somerset have been closing them). Local Government does need to deliver services efficiently, and it has had to look at reducing the number of senior posts, and streamlining the tiers of managers in many Councils, for example.
Lib Dems have taken steps to help the low paid – moving the income tax threshold to £9,205 by next April - meaning real help for working people on low incomes. Thanks to Liberal Democrats, people working full time on the minimum wage, will have seen their income tax bill cut in half, and some low paid people will be taken out of having to pay income tax altogether.
And we were pleased to see that a survey carried out on behalf of the Local Government Chronicle this month has showed that Liberal Democrat councils also most likely to be giving the lowest-paid council workers a pay rise. Many Lib Dem Councils have sought to make an offer to lower paid staff and others have looked towards mving beyond minimum age to become living wage employers. We should also say that there is a link between pay and jobs, and if pay rises go above inflation, that will mean more job losses and service cuts.
We are not committed to the logic of 'private good, public bad' in the way some previous governments have been, but equally we don't believe in the converse of that statement either. Local Authorities have always been 'mixed economies' with a combination of bought in and directly provided services, and that as a purchaser we make a major contribution to local economies. In looking at ways of providing services our prime concern is value for money and quality of service, and that doesn't mean going for the cheapest price or contracting out for ideological reasons.
The nature of some council services is changing, and this means we have to look at how we provide some services, but some Lib Dem Councils have brought services back in house where this is the best option for local people.
Old Age Pensions were introduced by a Liberal Government, and we have restored the earnings link, and brought in the 'triple lock', which Labour failed to do in 13 years of Government. As to 'fair pensions' we should point out that we are committed to preserving the Local Government Pension Scheme, and maintaining the maximum participation in it by our workers. Currently, negotiations are taking place with the trade unions on a new LGPS. We support affordable and sustainable public sector pensions. As John Hutton's report has set out, pension contributions may need to rise in order to ensure that public sector pensions are affordable and sustainable in the future. However, I am concerned about the impact of this on staff while inflation is high and public sector wages frozen as this could lead to an increase in people opting out.
Liberal Democrat representatives on the Local Government Association are working to ensure that the debate about the future of public service pensions is conducted on a factual basis which recognises that most public sector workers are not highly-paid.
It should also be remembered that the basic state pension has, thanks to Lib Dem pressure within the Government, seen the largest ever cash increase. As of April 2012, the basic state pension will increase by £5.30 per week. They have restored the link between earnings and pensions. This did not occur under 13 years of New Labour.
I am delighted to confirm that, as a long-time member of PCS, I fully support the 4 pledges.
I took early retirement from DfT in December 2010 as part of the cull of public sector workers imposed by the government. This has had a drastic effect on Hastings where 40% of people worked in the
public sector. Our former Labour MP worked closer with PCS to keep jobs in Hastings; his Tory successor welcomed their abolition. The Labour council has worked hard to retain public sector jobs here and, if elected, I will join them in this. Public sector workers have been vilified by this government and forced to pay for the outrageous behaviour of bankers yet, whenever there is a crisis, it is the public sector workers that people turn to - nurses, doctors, fire-fighters, council staff, etc..
Overall, I am very happy to support your four pledges to the best of my ability and would do so within the council if elected.
1) I believe that the Councils should do as much as possible to maintain these jobs and support the most vulnerable in our society. If we do this properly that will in turn reduce crime and illness - and reduce the costs in addressing those.
2) I believe that every business should have the top salary capped at no higher than 10 times the pay of the lowest paid worker within the company or their employ. In this way, to improve their salary (including bonuses) the managers would have to first increase the wages of all their workers.
3) I believe that services cannot be run as a competitve business and still have the users welfare at heart. We should not only prevent any more services from being privatised, but look to taking back those that have been farmed out.
4) Delaying the age for paying pensions and not paying sufficient pensions will most likely put more young people on benefits as elderly people struggle to keep their jobs. A society cannot think of itself as civilised if it does not look after its citizens including the elderly and other vulnerable groups.