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Watford mayoral candidate, Jagtar Singh Dhindsa, outlines key pledges
Labour’s newly-selected Watford mayoral candidate has pledged to slash the office’s salary and save Farm Terrace Allotments if elected next year.
Jagtar Singh Dhindsa accused the current Liberal Democrat town hall regime of "becoming like a dictatorship" during their 11 years in power.
The longstanding Vicarage councillor fired the first salvos of the mayoral battle after being chosen as the party’s candidate last Thursday.
The 51-year-old said he had been prompted to stand this time round due to the way he felt the current three-term elected-mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, was treating residents and opposition politicians.
He said: "The reason I am standing is I believe Watford needs a mayor who will work on behalf of all the residents not just a few elite people. I would work with all the communities in Watford.
"I am strong believer in consulting people. I have not met a single person who is in favour what’s going on in the High Street.
"The ruling Lib Dem group is becoming like a dictatorship. They don’t consult people and they don’t take notice of opposition councillors in committees and meetings."
Councillor Dhindsa 'hasn't met a single person' in favour of the High Street works
Voters in Watford are set to go to the polls to decide their elected mayor in May.
The elected mayoralty is the most powerful job at Watford Borough Council and has been held by the Liberal Democrats since it was created in 2002.
Councillor Dhindsa, who was first elected to the council in 1994 and went on to be a cabinet member in the previous Labour administration, attacked the borough’s £4 million revamp of the High Street.
He said he would have revamped the pond but not engaged in the other regeneration aspects.
He added: "I looked into how much it would cost for the pond and it was around £170,000 to clear the water and do filtration. It does not need a bridge. I am against the bridge as it is not as if people cannot walk around it.
"I would have looked at a way we could have helped small businesses stay in the High Street and not gone for a really nice footpath."
The father-of-two stressed that one of the clear differences between the Liberal Democrats and Labour in Watford was the issue of the health campus.
He said that if elected he would find away to protect the Farm Terrace allotments, which are currently earmarked to be built on as part of the scheme to build 600 new homes and regenerate Watford General Hospital.
Councillor Dhindsa has said he will save Farm Terrace Allotments if elected next year
Councillor Dhindsa, who works for the prison service, added: "If I am elected the allotments will be saved. It is possible to achieve the hospital without losing the allotments. They are using the allotments to make extra money for the scheme."
He said he would support the current health campus developer-partnered LABV scheme if the allotments were protected.
If elected, Councillor Dhindsa promised to cut the £65,738 mayoral salary to £52,591, after his Labour group failed to pass a voluntary motion for all councillors to take a pay cut earlier this year.
He said: "We did a motion to reduce the mayor’s salary by 20 per cent and that of senior councillors and all other councillors by 10 per cent. It was voluntary. If it was just the Labour group, it would not have saved much money so we wanted it for everyone."
The Labour challenger also attacked the Liberal Democrats stewardship of the council’s revenue and benefits department after it emerged errors and delays were cost the borough around £1 million a year.
Councillor Dhindsa added: "I raised this at budget panel as it comes up again and again. We have spent so much money on agency staff and we are losing £1 million a year. The Liberal Democrats have failed in that department and there is a lot of taxpayers’ money being wasted."
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