Three Rivers District Council: Free sandbags, more grammar schools and better bus services promised by candidates (From Watford Observer)
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Three Rivers District Council: Free sandbags, more grammar schools and better bus services promised by candidates
Free sandbags, more grammar schools and better bus services are just some of the pledges from Three Rivers candidates battling to gain control of the council.
Changes in the ward boundaries mean not only are all council seats up for grabs, but the number of places will be reduced from 48 to 39.
Three Rivers oversees a number of the district's services, such as refuse collection and parks. The council also manages major projects like the South Oxhey Initiative.
The Liberal Democrats currently control the council with an eight-seat majority. Following the re-drawing of the ward boundaries, their control could decrease, if not diminish completely after this election.
Ann Shaw, leader of the ruling party, cited secondary school places in Rickmansworth and improving the district’s roads by putting pressure on Hertfordshire County Council among their priorities.
Other pledges include maintaining the free short-term parking in the district and keeping the "excellent" refuse and recycling service.
The Liberal Democrats also promise to protect the environment from "inappropriate development" and maintain the council’s finances by "increasing efficiency and cutting costs while protecting services".
The second largest party on the council are the Conservatives, who assure residents they will provide free sandbags during times of erratic weather, install new play equipment at Rickmansworth Aquadrome and protect the district's historic buildings, such as Long Island Exchange hotel.
Other policies in the Conservatives manifesto include "better financial control" of the council's budget.
Ralph Sangster, Conservative group leader, said: "It's all about money. That's what it boils down to. We all know that the money we're going to get from central government is going to come down, so we've got to look at becoming more self-sufficient."
The Conservatives also pledge to change the election system in Three Rivers and hold elections every four years instead of every one in an effort to cut costs.
Three Rivers' Labour group said they would improve youth facilties in the district and ensure that, through their ‘Better Buses’ initiative, services will be increased and on time.
A top priority of the group is maintaining a "flexible refuse system", making collection times and recycling schedules less rigid.
Stephen Cox, leader of the district's group, said Labour is "totally committed" to supporting the South Oxhey Initiative and making it a success, adding: "We have never wavered in our support of the scheme."
The group also pledged to keep council tax at a "reasonable level", but were unable to specify whether they would increase it over time.
Currently, there are no UK Independence Party (UKIP) representatives sitting on the council.
Unlike the three larger political parties in the district, who have released local manifestos, UKIP is using the same document for all local authority elections across the country.
Among them include the introduction of local planning referendums on major decisions, such as major redevelopments and transport schemes, such as HS2.
Creating more grammar schools and supporting home schooling are also cited in the document.
Vesper Hunter, who will be standing for the party in Chorelywood North and Sarratt Ward, said she wants to make councils more transparent by improving the way local authorities communicate through technology.
This year sees one representative from the Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition Against Cuts standing in Leavesden.
Richard Shattock was unavailable to discuss his local manifesto for Three Rivers.
The party’s websites states that it opposes all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions.
The party also pledges to reject increases in council tax and vote against the privatisation of council jobs and services.
The count for the Three Rivers elections will begin at 9.30am on Friday, May 23 at Watersmeet.
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