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Breckland residents face, on average, some of the lowest wages in the UK. People have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis, Tory austerity and Liz Truss’s disastrous inflation fuelling mini budget. A Labour led Breckland will focus on raising people’s living standards, welcoming new employers and new jobs to the district as well as providing greater support for existing businesses.
We have all seen the decline of our high street – locally and nationally. Labour recognises the value of these spaces both economically, culturally, and recreationally. We will invest in our town centres, making them places that people want to visit and spend money. We will support small businesses and local entrepreneurs and through our local procurement policy will always try to ‘buy local’. Under Labour, car parking in Breckland’s market towns will remain free. Breckland has been ignored TWICE by the Government for Levelling Up funding. We will get Breckland noticed and in receipt of the investment you deserve.
These traits have been sadly lacking from the Tory dominated Council over the past few years. Questions have been repeatedly raised about Barnham Broom Golf Club, purchased using YOUR money. The Tories have refused to disclose details, keeping information behind closed doors. They also spent £15,000 of public money to legally challenge a decision by the national Information Commissioners Office that confirmed more information should be published. The Tories on Breckland have used their large majority to weaken transparency and accountability, to your detriment with decisions going unchallenged. This will change under Labour.
Breckland’s Planning services have been outsourced for years to private company Capita. We support planning services delivered in-house, answerable to democratically elected councillors and you – the public. Breckland’s planning system is often described as developer led. We will change this. We want to see a greater emphasis on community infrastructure, affordable housing, and the environment. We’ve seen too much housing growth without enough infrastructure.
The Council has been selling off small plots of land across the district to the highest bidder. YOUR land, held on trust by the Council, gone for good. Many much-loved green spaces have been lost with more earmarked to go. The ‘profit’ for the Council is minimal, with communities losing green lungs and popular open spaces. A Labour-led Breckland will end this sell off.
If you or your relatives are disabled in Breckland, it’s likely that you will need adaptations to your home to make it fit for you to live in. Whether that be a stair lift or a wet room for example, it can make a tremendous difference. Breckland’s fund for disabled adaptations soon ran empty with hundreds of residents left to wait for vital changes. Breckland’s Tories recently voted against Labour’s efforts to allocate more to this vital budget. With Labour in charge, this will change. We must treat our elderly and disabled residents with dignity and respect.
Our existing residential communities have been left to become run down under the Tories. A shadow of their former selves, not always somewhere residents are proud to call “home”. Maintenance of our street furniture, open spaces, play areas and much more has become entirely reactive, not something done on a regular basis. We will take pride in our district, aiming to tidy up our communities, with your support. We will do more to tackle littering and fly tipping and push for an improved service from Serco.
Rents in Breckland are high and often unaffordable, particularly considering our low wage economy. No wonder thousands of people sit on the Breckland Housing Waiting List or are ‘sofa surfing’. Homelessness is a real problem, costing Breckland more than £1 million this financial year alone. We want to see more affordable homes built as well as empty homes brought back into use. We will work with our housing association providers to turn around vacant properties quicker, so they’re not sat idle.
Thanks to Norfolk’s Tories, your Council Tax has increased by more than £300 a year in the last four years but nobody feels like they’re receiving better services. Breckland has increased its share of your Council Tax by the maximum legally possible every year for the past four years. Labour recognises that Council Tax is a regressive tax, it is becoming increasingly difficult to afford for many and we want to keep it as low as possible. The Tory Government has reduced council funding to dangerously low levels, forcing your bills up. We will lobby the government for improved funding, maximise income opportunities and reduce costs to keep your bills low. The Tories cannot be trusted with the economy, or your Council Tax.
Labour Councillors led on Breckland Council declaring a climate emergency. We have driven forward initiatives to lower the Council’s carbon footprint, reduce waste and improve biodiversity. Over a third of all the waste that goes into our household waste bins currently is food. Food waste is bad for the environment and bad for our pockets too. Labour will do more to reduce food waste, running public information campaigns and events to get the message through.