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Local Elections 2003We've asked every major local party to answer some questions about local issues.

Every major party has kindly responded to our questions on jobs, transport, policing and the council tax and we'd like to thank all those who responded for their help. We hope the questions we asked reflect most of the major local issues on which the council has an influence, so people can compare the different standpoints "at a glance".

Jump straight to questions about:
JobsTransport and the BypassPolicingCouncil TaxStreet Cleaning and RecyclingHousingArts Funding and ServicesSports (including Salt Ayre leisure centre)Final Comments from respondents and national manifesto links

Who we asked on 10 April 2003
: We contacted the following by e-mail: James Airey (Conservative - Roger Mace replied 28/4/03), Ian Barker (Labour - replied 15 and 22/4/03: thanks to Michael Gibson), John Gilbert (Liberal - replied 24/4/03), Emily Heath (Greens - replied 12/4/03) and Tricia Heath (Current Council leader and Independents - replied 21/4/03).
Note: The Independent group have released joint statements to local press on behalf of the Morecambe Bay Independents, Lancaster Independents and nine rural Independent candidates.

• For the results of the local elections, to be posted Friday 2 May, click here

JOBS: What further steps could the council introduce to help improve employment prospects in the area?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
We want to encourage the creation of employment opportunities for the long term. In our view, "job creation will encourage house building", but building houses is not the priority activity for generating the job opportunities in the area that durable economic success will require.

We believe that a re-addressing of the balance between industrial, commercial and domestic uses of land is necessary for ensuring conditions for the creation of adequate sustainable long-term jobs, and the reduction of unemployment in the area. This calls for an integrated strategy for housing, transport, road use and industrial and commercial development.

Punitive car parking charges should not be allowed to drive cars (and therefore business!) out of our urban areas. We shall campaign for an improvement in the "marketing" of our area to businesses, and the offering for sale of vacant business premises. We actively support the Morecambe Action Plan and the work of the Carnforth Market Towns Initiative.
Address the skills shortage in the area by supporting more opportunities for education and training. Green Councillors have been doing this in the Marsh area by raising funds for a new Community Centre there, which will be part of a network of learning centres (in partnership with Lancaster and Morecambe College).

Target economic development at sectors which would help to solve local problems as well as creating permanent jobs. For example, recycling industries (to create value out of Lancashire's waste mountain), renewable energy (to reduce pollution from fossil fuels and nuclear power), public transport (cut traffic and improve access for everyone), organic farming (reduce food miles and pesticide use) and energy efficiency (tackle fuel poverty and refurbish run down housing). The Green Party put together an outline bid for an 'Environmental Economic Development Zone' along these lines, but was told by the European funding body that it was "too innovative"!

Labour will:
• Make full use of the massive Government and European aid for Lancaster
• Promote new business parks and industrial sites concentrating on brownfield sites
• Work with business to improve promote Lancaster as a retail centre
• Redevelop the canal corridor with mixed human scale development not "retail boxes"

Increase resources in the Economic Development section in order to improve the marketing of the District.
Keep working on the Industrial Aid programme and support the Economic Development Zone.
Work with other partners both private and public to bring business to the area and increase commitment to the rural areas.
In the budget this year the Independents proposed investment in the planning service which would bring about a quicker, simplified, customer friendly response to planning applications.

We feel it is extremely important that any business making that first contact with the City Council should be treated to a 'can do' rather than the negative response they may have received in the past.

We should also be selling the district more, rather than waiting for business to come to us. This has already been tackled in part, but we realise we still have some way to go in a change of working practices.
JOBS: What one national change might improve local employment figures?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Cut taxes on small businesses, and increase taxation on high earners and activities that wreck the environment (e.g. aviation). Both of these things would help to support the local tourism industry too! Labour candidates welcome the introduction of the Minimum Wage, Working Families Tax Credits and Child Benefit increases, however we are concerned about the continuing decline in manufacturing within the district and will continue to support initiatives which create employment opportunities. Money raised from the Non Domestic Rate should be kept by the Local Council instead of currently going to Government and only a proportion given back on a population ratio. Less bureaucracy, more encouragement to take on apprentices.
TRANSPORT: Is your party in favour of the Western Bypass and why?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
We support the building of a Lancaster bypass. We will continue to look at all the possibilities, and in particular, we will continue to protect the line of the Northern bypass until such time as it is clear that the Western bypass is to be built. No. The Green Party is opposed to the Western Bypass because it would not solve traffic congestion problems (the vast majority of traffic in Lancaster is locally generated, not passing through), would be too damaging to landscape, wildlife and recreational amenity of the Lune Estuary, Canal and Freeman's Wood, and there is no evidence that it would lead to more jobs in Morecambe and Heysham (in fact it could suck business out of the area).

We believe that the best way to reduce traffic is to improve public transport, and provide a safe network of walking and cycling routes, so people have more choice about how to travel to work, school or shops. This would be a lot cheaper than road building, and the benefits would be long-lasting. Road building actually generates more traffic in the long run.

The problem of lorries could be minimised in the short term by making them access the M6 via J34 (avoiding Galgate, Scotforth and Lancaster City Centre), and in the longer term by Government investment in a decent rail freight system, and by setting up a local delivery system whereby goods destined for local businesses can be transferred from lorries/trains to smaller vans at distribution hubs located near motorway junctions and rail interchanges. We should also reduce long-distance transport of goods by adopting economic policies based on local production for local needs.

• Support a Heysham-M6 Link and be guided by the environmental impact survey on the choice of route.

Source: Local Labour Party Leaflet for Bulk and Skerton

• A Heysham-M6 link will get heavy traffic off our streets.

Source: Extracted from Abbott Bryning's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003

A Heysham-M6 link would not only create much needed employment in Morecambe and Heysham, it would also improve the urban environment for people who live on over-used and congested roads.

However, the bypass is not the only answer to congestion, we need to work with Stagecoach, the Strategic Rail Authority and train operators to improve the local public transport infrastructure.

No - we are in favour of the Northern Link to Heysham. It is less environmentally damaging, does a lot for the industrial sites both on Caton Road and at White Lund and Heysham and gives a good connection to the Port.
If that route had been chosen in 1993, the road would have been built by now as it would have been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate.
Most definitely. It is the one most important investment which would bring about regeneration, jobs etc to Morecambe and Heysham.
It would make the Luneside development and the University more accessible and therefore more viable for jobs. It would take traffic congestion away from local homes and therefore make life healthier for local residents. It would also help sustain Glasson Dock.
Read our feature on the Western Bypass. Is it a good idea? Let us know your views on our Community Forum!
TRANSPORT: Apart from the Bypass, what one step could the Council help introduce to ease car traffic problems in the area? How long would it take to introduce?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Conservatives have been active through the City's Transport Task Group to investigate ways of improving the flow of traffic through the centres of Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth, and along the A6 and the Morecambe Road.

We welcome the County's recent proposals to find ways of improving local traffic management, and will continue to lobby the County Council for urgent implementation of a range of schemes e.g.

1. to provide information to travellers, 2. to reduce the time taken to respond to disruptions to normal traffic flow, and 3. to prevent the development of gridlock conditions.
Work with every local school, college and big employer to develop Green Travel Plans - improving facilities and incentives for people to travel by bus, train, bike or foot, or to car-share. This could reduce peak-time traffic by as much as 20% over the next five years, and would be relatively inexpensive - with grants available from various sources. As well as reducing traffic it would help improve health and fitness levels, and reduce road casualties. Labour will:
• Extend bus lanes, cycle tracks and safe routes to schools
• Protect the urban environment with 20mph zones, traffic calming and residents parking

Source: Local Labour Party Leaflet for Bulk and Skerton

More bus lanes will help tackle congestion. However Labour will not penalise motorists who have no practical alternative. Labour plans more 20 mph zones, traffic calming and cycle routes to improve road safety.

Source: Extracted from Abbott Bryning's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003

Working with local government and other agencies Labour will invest, over the ten-year period of its
Transport Plan, a record £85 billion of public and private resources on local transport

Source: Labour Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF Format)

Traffic: the answer is twofold:
1) Make every effort to transfer goods from road to rail and individuals from cars to public transport. Encourage people to walk and cycle, provide a more efficient bus service and pursue the feasibility of light rail.
2) As lorries and cars are still essential, provide routes which minimise their environmental damage. Develop the link road between Bulk Road, St. Leonardgate and Edward Street that was kept in the Local Plan and build the northern route for the Heysham-M6 link.

Source: Extracted from Pat Quinton's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003
Alternative rail and bus services, but to be realistic people aren't going to leave their cars, even for short journeys, unless there is a vast investment into rail and bus. That would not help the movement of heavy goods vehicles through residential areas, and the Council have no or little say in what the private companies will do. We need the M6 western link.
TRANSPORT: Stagecoach has come in for a lot of criticism from bus users. What is you view on the current bus system in the area and what steps could the council take to make more people use it?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Improve co-ordination of timetables with main train arrivals and departures e.g. as Carnforth Connect. We welcome the recent improvements in bus services between Lancaster University and Morecambe - with accessible vehicles, and stops that now have shelters, seating and timetable information. However, fares are too expensive, and there are problems of overcrowding on some routes and under-use on other routes (particularly in rural areas).

The fact that passengers have to pay cash to the driver slows down the buses - bringing back conductors or introducing 'smart card' ticketing would reduce journey times. The Council could investigate the feasibility of abolishing Lancaster's one way system and turning the inside lane into a contraflow bus lane (at least at peak times) to stop the buses getting caught up in congestion.

Giving more road space and priority to buses has worked very successfully in Edinburgh and Leeds.
We welcome the Labour Government's commitment to improving public transport despite the continuing difficulty of persuading the major operator to provide the necessary frequency and fares to the benefit of local people and believe that the Quality Bus partnership can be greatly improved upon.

Source: Skerton Labour Party leaflet
Encourage Stagecoach to consult users before route and timing changes take place. Roll out the Quality Bus Partnership to more parts of the District. The local Council again have little say. Any discussions tend to take place through the County Council which has a duty to coordinate public transport.
POLICING: What are the major problems for the police in the area today?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Conservatives want to see improved measures to tackle vandalism and juvenile nuisance, linked to more leisure opportunities for young people. The principal problem is fear of crime, which has a more widespread and restrictive effect on people's activities and on the quality of life in the district than does the actual occurrence of crime. Lack of resources and excessive bureacracy - we need more police out on the streets, and responding quickly to incidents, instead of filling in forms.

The British Crime Survey shows that with Labour, all crime is down by 28 per cent, burglary is down by 41 per cent, vehicle thefts are down 34 per cent and violence is down 26 per cent. The chances of being a victim of crime are still the lowest in more than 20 years.

Source: Labour Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF Format)

Lancaster is already benefiting from increased resources to the local police and this has been used to target drug-related crimes. Labour welcomes the focus are now attaching to serious repeat offenders.
Drug and alcohol abuse and consequent violence, juvenile nuisance. Lack of resources to put police officers on the beat.
POLICING: CCTV and Community wardens are already in use in Lancaster. What more could the council do to help the police?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents

We support additional use of CCTV.

Help to prevent crime, juvenile nuisance and speeding by providing better community facilities, especially for teenagers, and making streets safer for pedestrians (with better lighting, more traffic calming, etc).

The more people walk around, the more they look out for each other - informal policing!
Labour is working to cut crime, reduce anti-social behaviour and make neighbourhoods safer. In government, we have delivered record ever levels of police on the beat – over 131,500 police officers
in England and Wales, up 4,300 in the last year alone. We have put in place the biggest ever expansion of CCTV and new laws have been introduced to tackle antisocial behaviour. Labour was the first
government in nearly half a century with crime lower at the end of its first term than when it took office. The chance of becoming a victim of crime remains at its lowest for 20 years – since the British
Crime Survey started.

Source: Labour Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF Format)

Labour will:
• Extend the CCTV network to cover “hotspots”
• Work with the Police to tackle vandalism and anti-social behaviour

Source: Local Labour Party Leaflet for Bulk and Skerton

Continue the work in the Community Safety Partnership where Probation, Health, Youth and Community, Police and City Council are working together.

We have liaison meetings with the police on a regular basis. We are currently discussing ways in which we can help each other. City council has provided CCTV in many areas, and is continuing to do so.
Neighbourhood wardens have also been introduced in two areas of Morecambe. The Independents would wish to see every ward covered with a similar scheme.
COUNCIL TAX, BUSINESS RATES & BENEFITS: Does your party think Council Tax is too high, and, if so, why?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
• The legacy of four years of an Independent-led administration has been:-

• a 48% increase in Council Tax and an official projection of a further 20% increase for 2004-5:

• over £500,000 spent on the District Auditor's report on the Crinkley Bottom Theme Park:

• fewer productive assets in City Council ownership:

• run down Council properties suffering from disrepair.

Council Tax increases over the period have clearly been excessive and Conservatives do not believe that taxpayers have been getting value for their money.
Yes (although Council Tax in the Lancaster District is not excessively high compared to other districts). This is mainly because local Councils are being given more and more to do by central government, but are not being given extra funding to fulfil all the government's targets. Also the cost of providing basic services is rising (e.g. more and more heavy traffic is doing more and more damage to roads so the Council cannot repair them fast enough). Of course, wasting 2.5 million on Blobbygate didn't help either (this scandal happened before the Greens were represented on the Council!).

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has stated that council tax should be about 6%.

Source: The Guardian 15/4/03.

Since 1997, funding for local government has increased by 25 per cent in real terms. This year, for the first time ever, every single authority in the country is receiving an above inflation grant increase.

Source: Labour Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF Format)

In Lancaster the Government provided an additional £2.5 million by way of three measures.
1. 8.2% increase in the revenue support grant.
2. Over £0.5 million to improve the housing benefits system.
3. Over £0.9 million to fund improvements in recycling.

However, what has not been published by the MBI administration are their plans for a 20% council tax increase in 2004/05 -- something we clearly would have to tackle and reduce. Labour is also backing plans to force councils to publish their future year's budget forecast.

Council Tax is too high for the less well off. This year we were told by Government that even to 'stand still' with the services council provides, council was expected to raise its tax level by approximately 6.2% (Some of this caused by the increase in National Insurance) Unlike many other authorities Lancaster managed to keep it down to that level.

County Council, who set and take a massive 80% of the local tax, raised it far higher.

Notes: For 2003/2004 Council Tax bills in the Lancaster District have risen by 9.7%, a weekly increase of approximately £1.98 per household for a typical D Band property. Source: http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/News.asp?id=SXC578-A77FB085
According to The Guardian (15/4/03) the average council tax increase in England is 12%.

COUNCIL TAX, BUSINESS RATES & BENEFITS: What could be done to reduce Council Tax?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Less bureaucracy imposed by Central Government, so leaving more resources for policy implementation and requiring fewer resources for endless policy drafting and re-drafting. Here are a few examples of things that Greens have been advocating to cut Council spending:
a.. Improve efficiency in the Council (e.g. improve working conditions to reduce sickness absence).
b.. Improve joined up service provision (e.g community wardens reporting/taking action on litter, dumping, vandalism, graffitti, lighting, potholes - instead of all these things being done by separate units).
c.. Stop wasting money on bureaucracy and Government inspections (unfortunately we don't have any choice about this at the moment).
d.. Apply for more external grant funding (e.g. Greens have been influential in attracting new money for recycling, safe walking & cycling routes, better play areas, etc).
e.. Concentrate on making the Lancaster District a nice place to live and visit - instead of claiming that it is in expensive advertisements!
f.. Refuse to allow Nuclear Power stations to defer rate payments.
g.. Do not employ barristers to oppose local residents at planning inquiries.
h.. Reduce the Council's fuel bills through efficiency measures.
i.. Cut civic nosh-ups, mayor's car, and subsidised parking for councillors.

Labour has provided local residents with an independent assessment of Council performance, through Comprehensive Performance Assessment. This enables local authorities to identify areas of strength and deal with the weaknesses to ensure that services for local residents continuously improve. And we have enabled Councils to modernise the way they work, through streamlined structures
and more accountable Cabinets.

Source: Labour Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF Format)

In the past four years the council has wasted huge amounts of money in paying off officers whose faces didn't fit. Over £0.8 million of additional pension liabilities were incurred in 2001/02 alone.

Labour will act to end the 'blame culture' under which officers work. This alone should enormously improve council efficiency.

Liberal Democrats believe that the system should be replaced by a local income tax, which would work in the same way as national income tax. People would pay according to what they could afford.

"We support regional assemblies as a way of devolving decision making to a more local level and promote a local income tax (to replace the unfair council tax)."

Source: Extracted from Pat Quinton's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003

The national Liberal plan is to try to cut bills by £100, before abolishing the council tax altogether within three years in favour of an income tax.

Source: Liberal Party 2003 Elections manifesto
Less bureaucracy from London - let local authorities manage their own budgets and give them less forms and tick boxes to fill in.
COUNCIL TAX, BUSINESS RATES & BENEFITS: How would reducing Council tax affect local services and which ones would be affected first?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Revisions to working practices should enable mandatory services to be supplied at less cost without sacrifice of quality though it will probably remain true that "You get what you pay for" and significant saving can only be made if there is a change in the system of central support for local government expenditure - or a reduction in the number or quality of services provided. Many savings, such as those listed above, could be done without affecting services. The Green Group budget always puts forward sensible ideas for savings, enabling us to propose the lowest Council Tax increases without cutting services. See above. The overall take under our system would be unchanged so there would be no effect on local services. We have a mandatory duty to provide services - therefore the only ones we could cut would be the discretionary like, Arts, Tourism, Museums. The Independents feel that services could be improved without a high tax bill if we were given the opportunity to bring more best business practise into the local authority. We have already made a start on this, but have been held back by party political infighting i.e. for political reasons some groups do not seem to want to make progress if someone else might get the credit. Sad but true.
STREET CLEANSING,WASTE COLLECTION, DISPOSAL & RECYCLING: Many local people are concerned about rubbish on the streets, from fast food stores to dog waste. What can be done to reduce these problems?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Conservatives want to see increased focus on the provision of traditional services such as cleaner streets and effective rubbish collection, in co-operation with stakeholders such as fast food stores and others. We need to reduce the sources of the rubbish through enforcement (more and bigger fines) and education (making people understand that litter and dog fouling is a major expense as well as a health hazard). We also want fast food stores and supermarkets to help tackle the problem by reducing the amount of unnecessary packaging they produce, and taking some of the responsibility for cleaning up after their customers. The introduction of wheelie bins in Carnforth and Silverdale has helped to reduce litter from ripped bin bags (as well as massively increasing recycling rates!).

Labour wants better street cleaning, more food inspections and an improved environmental health service to tackle noise nuisance and pollution.

Source: Extracted from Abbott Bryning's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003

Labour will:
• Speed up the introduction of wheely bin waste collections without reducing service where they cannot be used.
• Reverse the decline in recycling
• Improve parks and green spaces
• Improve street cleaning
• Increase food hygiene inspections

Source: Local Labour Party Leaflet for Bulk and Skerton

Dog waste will be helped by the appointment of an extra dog warden. Food wrapping litter comes from people who need to be educated not to drop waste, but otherwise enforcement is needed where the offender can be recognised. In the meantime, constant cleaning seems the only answer, but it costs money. Education to give people a pride in the area they live in. The introduction of more neighbourhood warden schemes to first of all warn offenders, then prosecute if necessary.

Our policy is zero tolerance on litter and dog fouling - we would clamp down quickly on offenders.
STREET CLEANSING,WASTE COLLECTION, DISPOSAL & RECYCLING: Are you in favour of the new recycling scheme?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
We are in favour of recycling wherever viable opportunities exist for recycling to take place. We support the introduction of the wheelie bin schemes and will endeavour to ensure that alternative arrangements are provided in cases of hardship, or where implementation of the standardised system of wheelie bins is impractical. Yes - it has been very successful, and should be extended across the district as soon as possible.

Labour will:
• Speed up the introduction of wheely bin waste collections without reducing service where they cannot be used.
• Reverse the decline in recycling

Source: Local Labour Party Leaflet for Bulk and Skerton

Labour introduced kerbside recycling to the district and is committed to extending this to every home.

Very much so; it is needed to achieve future government targets for recycling percentages. Yes, it has to be good both locally and nationally. Less waste and less use of resources.

It can be difficult whilst new schemes settle in, but once the initial settling in period is over it seems to be working well.
COUNCIL HOUSING: What steps if any would you want to take to improve social housing provision in the area?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents

Nationally, the Conservatives draw attention to the fact that fewer houses lie empty in Conservative-run boroughs, and that they champion the right of tennants to buy council houses.

Source: The Guardian 15/4/03
Increase the proportion of affordable housing (including Housing Associations) in new developments through strengthening planning policy, as the Green Councillors in Oxford have done. Encourage more diverse tenures such as housing co-operatives, community co-housing, and self-build schemes. We believe that housing should meet the needs of everyone's circumstances whether privately owned or publicly rented, but with the council continuing to be a major provider. We also believe that the government should introduce legislation to ensure Private Landlords have a responsibility in respect of their tennants actions and behaviour.

Source: Skerton Labour Party leaflet

Working with local government and other agencies Labour will fulfil our target to make all social
housing decent by 2010, and, as part of our commitment to achieve this, Labour will invest £2.8 billion in improving council housing over the next three years

Source: Labour Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF Format)
There needs to be some social housing in the rural areas to enable young people
to stay in the villages.

The Liberal Party 2003 local election manifesto indicates that Liberal Democrats will act to bring empty homes back into use in areas of high housing demand and we propose "empty home management orders", to enable empty homes to be compulsorily leased

Liberal Democrats will develop investment models for affordable housing, such as "golden shares" where councils keep control of housing built for local people.
We have a very good housing stock, and are continually investing in improvements to enhance it. There are a few exceptions, and we will deal with them as they arise.
COUNCIL HOUSING: Does the Council still have a role to play as a housing provider?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Everyone should have a place they can call home. Conservative councils work with the voluntary and private sector to make housing more accessible to buy and rent.
Conservative councils are also fighting John Prescott’s attempts to slash Right to Buy discounts and will protect the rights of long-standing tenants to have the opportunity to own their own home.

Source: Conservative Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF)

Yes. The Green Party belives that Council Housing stock should be retained either with the Council or in partnerships with Tenants' Groups. It should not be transferred to private developers through 'Private Finance Initiatives' or to other social landlords. Yes. Labour is committed to working in partnership with tenants and introduced tenants on to the housing committee when in power. We will not privatise council housing against tenants’ wishes. Instead we will work to make council housing a quality service capable of attracting additional funds.

Yes, particularly for sheltered and extra sheltered housing.

Yes, but to a lesser degree. In an area like ours many people are still able to afford to buy their own homes.
EVENTS & ATTRACTIONS: Some of the local events, such as the Street Theatre Festival, were cut this year. Do you support existing arts provision such as the Maritime Festival, the Dukes, Folly and the Literature Festival?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
We support the continuation of existing Events and Attractions which add to the quality of life in the district. We will continue to encourage all kinds of voluntary groups in the district, but we do not expect to spend money on activities which can be self-funded, or on activities which have no commercial or social justification. Yes.

The Council needs to support the arts to add to the quality of local life.

Source: Extracted from Abbott Bryning's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003

Labour will support voluntary groups in the arts and sport

Source: Skerton and Bulk Labour Party leaflet

Yes. The provison of leisure, sports and cultural services must be protected (for both residents and tourists).

Source: Extracted from Pat Quinton's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003
We strongly support the festivals, but it would be wrong to let them drift on - we need to continuously look at improving them and expanding them.

Other festivals took the place of any that were cut from the programme. In fact we are extending the programme.
EVENTS & ATTRACTIONS: Do you support the retention of the Musicians' Co-op in its current location and the council's policy for an Arts Quarter?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
We expect to consider all planning applications on their merits in accordance with accepted procedures. Yes. It was a Green Party motion that forced the Council to give the Musicians' Co-op a secure lease so they can improve their premises. The arts quarter idea must not be sidelined by developers who may have other priorities (maximising their own short-term profits rather than enhancing quality of life in Lancaster). Yes. It was Labour who introduced the idea of an Arts Quarter into the local plan and insisted that this should be part of any future redevelopment of the Canal Corridor. Yes The Independent group have been looking at extending the Storey Institute as a Creatuve Industries Centre. Talks have been taking place with the Musician's Co-op as to the best options for their future.

The 'Arts' in any form is important to the 'feel good' factor of any area, and we are supportive of them. However, we don't think this only applies to Lancaster City. From Glasson through to Silverdale and Hornby, all residents should be able to share the arts wealth.
EVENTS & ATTRACTIONS: Is there some arts-related event that you think the area lacks, such as a major music venue for Lancaster?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
We will work to provide more leisure opportunities for all residents, young and old.

Source: Extracted from James Airey's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003
A major music venue would be great. Now that the Musicians' Co-op have a secure lease, they are planning to provide a 300-seater performance venue.

We also believe there is a need for a more diverse nightlife in Lancaster - it is too dominated by pubs and clubs, and the culture of heavy drinking and violence is scaring people away and not meeting the social needs of the whole community. More activities focused on music, arts, theatre, food, games, debate, etc would help to achieve a better balance.
Labour believes that there is scope for using existing venues, from the University to The Platform, in a more co-ordinated way. We would want to work with all arts groups to promote a vibrant and varied arts scene. Yes. We also support the idea of a developing the Storey Institute into a Regional Arts Centre. The Independents support the Friends of the Winter Gardens in their attempts to re-open the venue as not only a stage school, but a theatre which could be used by local amateur groups, students and also for commercial theatre. We already have a fine building there, why not utilise it.
SPORTS AND RECREATION: Salt Ayre Leisure Centre has drawn much criticism. Many facilities such as saunas are not working on a day to day basis and basic maintenance doesn't seem to happen very quickly as far as its users are concerned. What is your party's view on the Leisure Centre?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
We are unconvinced that transfer to an NPDO [Trust] will solve the financial and other problems of Salt Ayre. We look to improvements in management to achieve greater percentage utilisation of the available time-slots for use of the various facilities, improved public transport from Morecambe and Lancaster to Salt Ayre, and greater use of the site for staging competitive events that bring in visitors to the district. We believe it was a mistake to close Kingsway (close to a huge residential area and a bus station) and build Salt Ayre on marshy land in a not-very accessible location. However, now that it is there, we need to ensure that it is well-run and maintained, and that residents can access and afford the services it provides.

The management of the Salt Ayre could certainly be improved and cabinet members, including Green councillor Gina Dowding are working very hard to achieve this. The centre needs more investment in ongoing maintenance - this was not thought through properly when it was first built.
Unlike the MBI, who have been responsible for mounting deficits, and the Liberals and Greens, Labour are opposed to privatising the Salt Ayre Leisure Centre. We need to continue to invest in it and improve its accessibility by providing public transport links to it. Salt Ayre is a wonderful facility for the area, but has suffered from management problems, which have now been largely resolved, so that maintenance should take place more efficiently. Since its opening no maintenance budget was put in place for Salt Ayre - this has caused many problems. The Independent group have now put a budget in place and repairs have already started. We are also talking with staff to ensure that the best possible use is made of the facility for local customers.

Because of past neglect it will take some time to complete repairs, but at least they've started now.
SPORTS AND RECREATION: Does your party support plans for skateboard parks for Lancaster and Morecambe?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Yes - though not to the exclusion of extending opportunities for other forms of leisure activity. Yes. We also think that it is important to involve young people in designing the kind of facilities that they want. Yes. Labour mayor Eileen Blamire made the skateboard park the centre of her fundraising efforts this year and we are pleased it will shortly be going ahead. Yes and they are also needed in the rural areas. We support plans for skateboard parks throughout the district, and have put money into this year's budget to pay for them.
• The Lancaster Skate Park will be built by the end of May 2003 on Green Ayre
Read our article by local skateboarder Matt Canty on what skaters want from any new venues
SPORTS AND RECREATION: What other sports provision if any should be built in the area and how should it be funded?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Our proposal for a covered tennis court failed to get support in the city's recent budget debate, and the project has probably been lost to the district as a result, but we shall continue to press for full advantage to be taken of grant moneys available for the expansion of leisure opportunities for young and old alike. We favour having lots of well-run community-based sports facilities across the district rather than expensive centralised facilities such as the proposed Indoor Tennis centre.

We need to protect and enhance the tennis courts, bowling greens, football pitches, swimming pools and play areas that we've already got, and provide more of these kinds of facilities in areas that lack them. Funding can be sought from external sources such as the Lottery, Sports Council, etc. The Greens raised 140k for the new Marsh Community Centre in this way.
The Council needs to support the sports and community organisations to add to the quality of local life.

Source: Extracted from Abbott Bryning's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003

We need top quality facilities for our young sportsmen and women but we also need local provision for informal kick-abouts. Labour councillors have supported the Ridge Multi-Games area now under construction.

Furthermore, the city council needs to build a relationship with leading sporting clubs such as Morecambe FC, Lancaster City FC and the Vale of Lune RUFC to encourage the use of facilities to the benefit of all.
We would support the proposal for a tennis centre and any other leisure activities if funding could be found outside the Council. The Independent Group have initiated talks with Morecambe Football Club and Morecambe High School through Poulton Neighbourhood Management to look at the possibility of creating a joint football training facility.

Investment through outside funding would upgrade the pitches at the school, including an all weather pitch, for joint use by Morecambe Football Club, the school and the local community.

We believe that partnerships like this which draw in outside funding are the way forward for the district. The Independents feel that sport, health and environment must play a large part in the way this district moves forward.
SPORTS AND RECREATION: There are few recreational facilities for young people aged 10 - 17 easily accessible from residential areas by non-drivers. Does your party see this as a problem? In addition to skateboard parks, do you think the council should provide any other leisure / recreational facilities for this age group? If so, what?
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
It is especially a problem for rural locations which are cut off from the recreational facilities available in urban areas. See answer above Yes, the lack of facilities for young people is a problem, and the council should address it by supporting youth cafes, community centres and leisure facilities, and insisting that developers provide such facilities as part of all major new developments (e.g. Lancaster's Canal Corridor). Yes. Labour have successfully supported the multi-games area on the Ridge and would like to see further developments of this sort. See above. We are currently looking at several ideas for youth facilities throughout the area. Skateboard, football, stage & music academy, etc.
Does your party have any other major policy for the local area not covered by the above questions? Please feel free to tell us what you would do to improve the local area and how it could be achieved.
Conservatives Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independents
Conservatives have been in the forefront of seeking consensus between local politicians over the past four years. We shall continue to promote our policies and discuss them with other groups to achieve our goals, but that does not stop us opposing proposals we believe to be wrong.

Further details from James Airey 015242 71731 or Roger Mace 01524 733801

Local web link:
Conservative Party Local Elections Manifesto 2003 (PDF)
The Green Party has a comprehensive local manifesto of policies and our recent achievements. The 20-page booklet can be purchased for 1 pound (from Emily tel: 380169 or email: ) or read it online:

Full Local Policy:
Manifesto for the Lancaster District, 2003-2007
Regrettably probity is now an issue on the council. With the District Auditor’s findings that the Council Leader gave 'false' and 'collusive' evidence to him.
Clearly this cannot be allowed to continue. Labour and we hope all other parties are committed to the highest standards in public life and we will support all measures to ensure this.

Labour Party Local Elections 2003 Manifesto (PDF Format)

• Hilton Dawson MP web site: Go

The quality of life of the District needs to be preserved and therefore a balance found between development of business and the economy without damaging the environment.

We would also like to see a feasibility study into the proposal for a light rail between Morecambe and Lancaster.

John Gilbert

Retail Development: This must be as near as possible to the centres of Lancaster and Morecambe. Out of town development can decimate town centre shops.

The rural economy: Local post poffices, shops, pubs and schools must be kept open. The closure of one affects all the others. More support is needed to encourage diversification amongst farming communities.

Source: Extracted from Pat Quinton's vision statement, the Lancaster Guardian 11 April 2003

• Liberal Democrat Party 2003 Local Elections manifesto: Go

There is one major difference between Independent Councillors and those from national political parties.
Independents stand as councillors because they have a passion for their district, and in particular their ward - we want to make a difference to local people. Political parties believe in the policies of their national party first and foremost and they try to bring those to bear upon local decisions.

If you want someone to represent your views, and not party politics then you need an Independent Councillor


Results of Election

List of Election Candidates

Where to Vote: Polling Station Information

• The point of contact within the City Council for election queries is Claire Wardle - telephone 582058 or email


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