Labour candidates in the 6th May 2021 local elections

Devizes Town Council Wiltshire Council
Vince McNamara Devizes North Ward: Vince McNamara Vince McNamara Devizes North Ward:Vince McNamara
Catherine Brown Devizes South Ward: Catherine Amelia Brown Catherine Brown Devizes South Ward:Catherine Brown
Daisy Bostanli Devizes East Ward: Daisy Bostanli Noel Woolrych Devizes East Ward:Noël Woolrych
Bill Westcott Devizes Roundway Ward: Bill Wescott Daisy Bostanli Devizes Rural West:Daisy Bostanli
  Wiltshire Council
George Cheese   Aldbourne & Ramsbury: George Cheese                            Katherine Davis    Marlborough East: Katherine Davis
 Ian Jones  Amesbury East and Bulford: Ian Jones    Marlborough West: Harvey Bishop
Bill Westcott  Bromham, Rowde and Roundway: Bill Wescott  David Wright  Tidworth East & Ludgershall South: David Wright
 Rachael Ross  Pewsey: Rachael Ross  Abe Allen  Tidworth North & West: Abe Allen
       The Lavingtons: Matthew Lee

Wiltshire Labour Party Election 2021 Manifesto

Vision For More Open Local Government

Our Vision for more open Local Government

Labour believes in open, transparent, accessible government.

We believe that councils work best and achieve better results when they engage with the communities that they represent. To be meaningful, this engagement must reach out to all residents and communities, regardless of background, not just those with the time and energy to make themselves heard. The summer of 2020 saw the Black Lives Matter movement’s expression of frustration in a number of protests and demonstrations. Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Councillors have a responsibility to reach out and listen to views from all of our residents, including minority voices.

Labour will:

·         Make Council business more transparent and minimise the amount of decision-making conducted behind closed doors.

·         Remove barriers to public participation in Council business.

·         Build social impact as well as financial impact into all decision-making

·         Improve the quality of public engagement and consultation, making it genuinely meaningful and inclusive.

·         Trial the use of Citizens’ Assemblies to improve the engagement of residents in the democratic process.

·         Encourage more participation in the democratic process, starting with school visits to promote better understanding of local democracy.

Wiltshire Labour is committed to making local government more open and inclusive, more ambitious and productive, and more innovative and forward looking. We believe that Wiltshire Council has a duty to play its part in bringing people together and creating a shared ambition for the future of Wiltshire.

How we can deliver more open government

Labour will make local government more transparent by:

  • Opening up more meetings to the public and minimising the amount of business conducted behind closed doors.
  • Encouraging public attendance and engagement at council meetings, and making public attendees feel welcomed.
  • Holding more meetings around the county, in town halls, community halls, schools or libraries.
  • Avoiding the use of formal language, acronyms or procedural red tape to make Council business more meaningful to local people.
  • Ensuring that Council meetings and material are accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Continuing with making Council meetings available online following the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
  • Allowing the public to propose agenda items for Council meetings.
  • Making sure that all decisions take account of social impact as well as financial impact. This means taking account of the impact of a decision on people, taking care to include the impact on women, BAME citizens, other minority groups and the most vulnerable members of our community.

 

Labour will make sure that Wiltshire Council improves the quality of real engagement and consultation to reach out to and genuinely work in partnership with residents from all backgrounds.

This will require both traditional and social media to engage in two-way dialogue with residents, and the involvement of communities in decisions and funding choices affecting their local area.

We will seek to involve people and organisations with expertise onto working parties.

We recognise that to have credibility, Wiltshire Council must ensure that consultation is genuinely meaningful. This means engagement needs to happen early and offers real choices. We will strive for best practice and seek to learn from other councils.

We will also trial the use of Citizens’ Assemblies in which members of the public are selected at random to take part directly in the democratic decision-making process.

A healthy democracy is dependent on electing councillors who represent the breadth of their communities. Many councillors are comfortably retired and don’t have enough understanding of the challenges faced by single parents, families just managing or by the most vulnerable in our communities. Very few are women, and still fewer are from ethnic or other minorities or have disabilities.

It is important that these voices are heard and properly represented. We believe that Wiltshire Council has a role to play in encouraging people to participate in the democratic process, at county, town and parish council levels. A starting point should be to undertake school visits to promote better understanding of local democracy with the next generation.

Culture and Leisure

Culture and Leisure

Britain’s creative industries are the envy of the world. Our writers, musicians, actors and athletes are a source of national pride and an important part of our national economy. Our libraries and museums enrich our lives with access to literature and local history. However, after ten years of Conservative cuts, our creative sector has now been devastated by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Labour will:

·         Keep all current public libraries open, including mobile library services.

·         Develop the wider use of public libraries as community facilities.

·         Continue funding of Wiltshire museums and support new projects.

·         Ensure that funding from new housing developments is used to improve the provision of sports facilities and playing fields throughout Wiltshire.

·         Ensure that every secondary school student is taught basic cookery skills, including how to prepare healthy, affordable meals at home.

·         Support our local music and arts venues, galleries and festivals through increased funding and promotion.

Labour in Wiltshire will do everything that we can to protect and develop culture and leisure in the county. Libraries, museums, theatres, sports facilities and music venues are not luxuries - they are at the heart of our community, vital to our physical and mental wellbeing.

Libraries and Museums

Almost 800 libraries have been lost nationwide since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. Sharp cuts to funding have left many libraries understaffed, with outdated facilities and reduced opening hours. The Labour Party understands the value of libraries: they are an important community asset and a vital lifeline for many people who may otherwise have few sources of social interaction. Labour will keep all of our public libraries open, including mobile services, and will seek to employ more library staff and extend opening hours where possible.

We will promote the use of libraries as wider facilities for our communities, following the successful Calne Community Hub model. The library hall and meeting room in Calne is available for bookings by community groups and used as a base for services such as Citizens Advice surgeries. Libraries should host coffee mornings, charity events, film nights - any kind of event that brings people together and helps foster a sense of community. We will help our libraries to organise promotional events such as readings by authors.

Library finances can be bolstered by hiring out space for meetings: Labour’s vision for Wiltshire relies not only on increased funding for our cultural facilities, but more intelligent use of the assets we currently have. Our campaign to promote library use will focus on building links with local schools, to promote library services with the younger generation.

We make a similar commitment to promoting Wiltshire’s museums. Museums are a vital tool in protecting our heritage and passing on our shared history to future generations. We will back imaginative initiatives that bring social history to life using new technologies, such as the recent St Mary Street QR Code Trail run by Chippenham Museum. Every town in the county could have more historical information visible on the streets. QR codes with links to historical information are a great way of engaging the public.

Sport and Physical Health

The Community Infrastructure Levy is a one-off payment by developers to support community infrastructure. Whenever new housing developments arise across Wiltshire, we will seek to use some of the money to improve the provision of sports facilities, equipment and playing fields.

We will support and promote sport in Wiltshire: from increased grants to sports clubs, to publicity campaigns encouraging participation; from giving children the chance to try new sports through to increasing the number of school visits from trained coaches.

We also recognise that small independent fitness centres have an important part to play in improving health and wellbeing. We see that Wiltshire Council has a role in helping these centres to establish and develop.

Physical and mental wellbeing relies on a balanced, healthy diet. A Labour council in Wiltshire will ensure that every secondary school age person is taught basic cookery skills, so that they can prepare nutritious, affordable meals at home for themselves and their family. We will work with secondary schools to make sure the curriculum includes more practical home economics information, such as how to plan and execute a balanced food shop.

Arts and Literature

Labour will help our creative sector recover from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. We will support music and arts venues, theatres, galleries, festivals and cultural events as we come out of lockdown. We will do this, not just through funding, but also through publicity and promotion.

We value the important role that Wiltshire plays in being the host to military bases and are committed to helping forces personnel and their families feel more integrated with local civilian communities. We recognise the part that local festivals and events play in making this happen and will seek to foster stronger links between local organisers and bases.

We understand that a thriving cultural scene stems from the classroom. We will work hard to ensure that the arts are well represented in Wiltshire schools. We will establish new Drama Clubs in schools that do not have one, and we will organise school visits from authors and poets, in conjunction with our campaign to improve local libraries.

We will campaign for school visits by trained music teachers, and the provision of musical facilities in primary schools, so that every child gets the opportunity to learn an instrument before the age of eleven. We will put creativity back at the heart of the curriculum, working with secondary school teachers to make sure the arts are not sidelined from secondary education.

We will launch a creative careers advice campaign in sixth form and colleges, to demonstrate the range of careers and opportunities available, and the skills required in the creative industries: not just music, drama and literature, but also the tech sector.

The Environment

Climate Emergency and the Environment

 

In February 2019, Wiltshire Council acknowledged the climate emergency and resolved to seek to make the county of Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030. It also committed to make the Council itself carbon neutral by 2030.

We fully support these objectives and will work hard to implement solutions to make these commitments a reality. This is not a political choice: this is a necessity. The scale and urgency of the problem, supported by extensive scientific evidence, requires decisive and consistent action by government, local authorities and other governmental agencies, utilities, businesses, communities and, indeed, us all as individuals.

Fortunately, many of the solutions will make our county a better place to live. Investment in the green economy will create jobs and provide new opportunities for people. Alternatives to fossil fuel-based transport will provide people with more choice and improve air quality, leading to better health. Energy conservation and green energy will help to lift people out of fuel poverty. Encouraging cycling and walking will improve the health of residents. Planting new woodlands will improve biodiversity and improve the amenity value of open spaces.

Labour will:

·         Provide the leadership and support that the county needs to reduce carbon emissions in the county to meet the 2030 target.

·         Actively support the development of renewable energy in the county.

·         Establish an accessible framework to support homeowners with improving the energy efficiency of their properties and with retrofitting green energy installations.

·         Require all new homes to be zero net carbon.

·         Develop public transport in Wiltshire so that it provides a real alternative to private car use.

·         Upgrade the Council’s transport fleet to electric vehicles and establish a county network of EV charging points.

·         Invest in developing the network of cycle routes within the county.

·         Set and achieve ambitious targets for waste recycling and landfill reduction.

·         Put in place a strategy to reduce food miles and support local producers.

·         Improve the biodiversity of Wiltshire.

 

Providing Leadership to Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council is uniquely placed to provide the leadership and support that the county needs to reduce carbon emissions in the county and meet the 2030 target.

By taking an evidence-led approach, based on clear data and a baseline assessment of carbon usage to assist in determining priorities, we will establish a dashboard of measures to track progress. We will also provide the support and tools to enable town and parish councils, schools, businesses and other organisations to audit their carbon emissions and develop carbon reduction strategies.

We’ll strive to raise knowledge and understanding of the Climate Emergency with councillors, officers, schools, employers and the public, and raise awareness of positive action that can be undertaken. We will engage with communities, young people, employers, farmers, technology companies and environmental organisations to harness their ideas and creativity.

Above all, we will provide leadership to stress the urgency and scale of the Climate Emergency in order to motivate and empower people to take action, and to act as a catalyst for change.

Towards renewable energy

Energy usage is estimated to account for over 50% of carbon emissions in Wiltshire. Reducing this through energy conservation and the development of renewable energy must form an important part of any carbon reduction strategy.

Labour will extend Wiltshire Council’s investment in renewable energy, implementing energy conservation and energy generation measures on public buildings and on council houses. We will also generate renewable energy on suitable council-owned sites.

Labour will ensure that Wiltshire Council establishes a planning framework that supports renewable energy developments and works with local communities and businesses to ensure that these are located in the right places.

We’ll also develop and implement a Community Energy Strategy for Wiltshire. This will provide expert advice and assistance to community groups, parish and town councils, who are seeking to develop Community Energy Initiatives. In addition to practical advice and support with grant-funding applications, this could potentially also include support with procurement, legal issues, financing and management of risk.

Making homes more energy-efficient

There is enormous potential to support homeowners in reducing their carbon emissions by improving the energy efficiency of their houses (through better insulation) and by retrofitting renewable energy installations (such as solar panels or ground source heat pumps).

Labour will establish and promote an accessible framework to support homeowners implementing these measures. This framework will include technical advice, support with accessing grant funding, and links to a trusted trader scheme.

We will support communities looking to establish Community Buying Schemes (such as the one run by Zero Chippenham), and offer discounts to private households for installing approved energy efficiency and renewable energy generation materials/devices.

Building better

In 2015, the Conservatives ditched legislation made in 2006 by the last Labour Government which would have required all new homes to be net zero carbon by 2016. This was shortsighted. Building better remains an important element of our commitment to address the Climate Emergency.

Labour will use planning controls to require all new developments to be net zero carbon. We’ll make sure that Local Plans include robust targets for sustainable development and biodiversity (such as tree-planting), with greater transparency in the planning process to ensure that every developer delivers the environmental benefits they promised.

Providing alternatives to car use

Transport is estimated to account for 40% of carbon emissions in Wiltshire. We will seek to extend and improve public transport in Wiltshire so that it offers a real alternative to car use. There are many challenges involved in making bus services economically viable in rural areas, but other councils have shown that, by taking innovative approaches in conjunction with local communities and commercial bus operators, and also by working with new technologies, these services can be made a success.

A Labour council will work closely with local communities through town and parish councils to understand demand for new or more frequent bus services. We will work with commercial bus operators to establish new routes to meet demand with both regular and demand-responsive services. We’ll provide a Wiltshire Council IT platform with a mobile phone App to allow residents a simple one-stop service for finding bus routes and getting real-time information on bus movements.

Commercial bus operators are already investing in using lower emission and lower pollution vehicles and electric buses now operate the Salisbury Park-and-Ride service. We will work with commercial bus and coach operators in Wiltshire to support the transition to electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Supporting the transition to electric vehicles

The transition to electric vehicles will be a key element of decarbonising transport. While the range of electric cars is increasing, and prices are starting to come down, take-up is hampered by a lack of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

We’ll establish a network of Electric Vehicle Charging points throughout the county, starting with town and village car parks, and then extending to on-street parking points. We will do this by securing funding from government sources, such as the Office of Low Emission Vehicles, and establishing a partnership with an electric infrastructure provider, either through an “Own and Operate” model or through a shared revenue model, whichever offers best value.

We’ll progressively upgrade the Council’s own transport fleet to electric vehicles through the routine replacement programme.

 

Promoting cycling and walking

Finding ways to encourage more active travel, such as cycling and walking has to be an important part of decarbonising transport.

Labour will work with town councils to ensure that all Wiltshire towns have a plan for developing pedestrian routes and safe cycle networks. We’ll also work with other partners, such as Sustrans, to develop the national cycle network within Wiltshire. Crucially, we’ll also focus on the development of an extensive county network of cycle routes, connecting villages with each other, and to the nearest towns.

We will increase investment in the development of this infrastructure through re-prioritisation within the overall highways budget, by accessing nationally available funds, and using planned highway maintenance programmes to build in improvements to road layouts to make cycling safer.

Towards zero waste

Wiltshire currently recycles 45% of its waste. Although improving, this is still a long way behind the leading local authorities, which are achieving up to 65%. Wiltshire still diverts 19,000 tonnes of waste to landfill each year, so clearly there is much more that can be done.

We will undertake a thorough review of Wiltshire Council’s strategy for waste reduction and recycling, and we will set robust targets, with an annual scorecard, backed up by strategies based on the hierarchy of: reduce, reuse, recycle, recover energy, and regard landfill as a last resort.

We anticipate that this strategy will include:

  • Working with local businesses to reduce packaging and utilise alternatives to plastics.
  • Promote re-use and up-cycling in conjunction with local charities.
  • Trial and then expand the collection of food waste.
  • Utilisation of new technologies working with local firms, such as Recycling Technologies of Swindon.
  • Putting more effort into raising public awareness of recycling options, including working with schools to educate and motivate future generations.

We will oppose plans for the development of a waste incinerator at Westbury. This would be a significant source of pollution and will further increase traffic congestion through Westbury and nearby villages.

 

Reducing Food Miles

We will put in place a strategy to reduce food miles and support local producers. This will include:

  • Local branding - working with partners and local enterprises to establish a “Wiltshire” brand that consumers can trust, based on product quality, environmental sustainability, animal welfare standards and responsible employment. This will also help promote and market Wiltshire produce and products.
  • Establishing a Local Food Network - bringing together food producers who want to work with each other to establish a Wiltshire Local Food Network. This will be a mutually owned co-operative - sharing the costs of marketing and distribution will bring much needed scale and support to producers.
  • Collaborating with town and parish councils to establish and promote more outlets for small producers, such as farmers markets.
  • Sourcing local suppliers for canteens and cafes run by Wiltshire Councils, and encouraging schools and other organisations in Wiltshire to do the same.

We recognise that there is also growing demand among people for allotments. Labour will work with town and parish councils to identify and establish more sites for allotments and community orchards.

Biodiversity

Local authorities have a legal duty towards conserving biodiversity. We aim to improve biodiversity in Wiltshire by:

  • Ensuring that all developments contribute towards enhancing biodiversity and habitat creation, and deliver a biodiversity net gain proportionate to their scale.
  • Putting in place biodiversity management plans for each of the Council’s main sites.
  • Promoting and supporting the implementation of biodiversity management plans with schools, parish and town councils, and other organisations.
  • Improving management of highway verges to support biodiversity.
  • Working in partnership with farmers to support their transition to more environmentally sustainable farming methods.
  • Making available land for tree planting, re-wilding and other conservation initiatives.
  • Supporting local environmental groups with grants and resources to deliver local improvements.

Social Care

Delivering Care

Before the Coronavirus pandemic took hold, the social care sector was in danger of being overlooked. It was the forgotten sector of the healthcare system, under-resourced and over-stretched. A decade of austerity has resulted in underpaid, under-valued and over-worked staff, the majority of whom are women.

The scale of the pandemic left the sector badly exposed and its staff faced an uphill battle to cope with the high levels of infection. What’s more, they were sent into the frontline with insufficient training and inadequate PPE. In the circumstances, the care, love, time and attention that care home staff provided was a credit to their unsung profession. But such a situation should never have been allowed to develop, and Labour locally and nationally will campaign for a better deal for care workers and for those in their care.

Labour will:

·         Pressure national government to properly fund adult social care in England.

·         Develop and implement a new Adult Social Care Strategy for Wiltshire to improve the provision of care for elderly and vulnerable people.

·         Review the current out-sourcing of social care in Wiltshire and pilot in-house provision.

·         Ensure that care services include key worker support to disabled people, enabling independent living choices.

·         Make Wiltshire Council an Ethical Care Council by signing up to Unison’s Ethical Care Charter, paying care workers the living wage and ending the use of zero hour contracts.

·         Ensure that all care workers are properly equipped with PPE and every care home has a robust system of infection control.

·         Raise the profile of care workers as “key workers” and raise the standards of training.

·         Fully acknowledge and improve the support provided to Wiltshire’s unpaid carers, including mental health and well-being support.

The Labour Party will work for a better way forward in providing a system that gives dignity and respect to our most vulnerable and will ensure that workers in our public services are properly rewarded. Wiltshire Council must rethink social care to develop a professional, skilled, properly paid quality care service to meet the needs of elderly and vulnerable people in Wiltshire.


Addressing the Crisis in Social Care

 

There is an adult social care funding crisis in England. Spending on adult social care has fallen in real terms since 2010 while, with an ageing population, demand has increased. Government spending on adult social care is just £324 per person per year in England, compared to £446 in Scotland and £424 in Wales. For years, the Conservative Government has been promising a Green Paper to set out a plan for properly funding social care, as recommended by the 2011 Dilnot Commission Report, but nothing has been forthcoming.

Labour will pressure the Government to address this to ensure that elderly and disabled people are given the support and care that they need. This solution must address the funding question, the eligibility criteria that are restricting access to support, and the question of social protection against catastrophic costs.

The recent Care Quality Commission Local System Review identified significant opportunities for improvement in the provision of adult social care services in Wiltshire.

We will undertake a full review of care services to deliver a new Social Care Strategy for Wiltshire. A significant part of this will include improving collaboration and integration within the health sector (including NHS Trusts, Clinical Commission Groups and GP surgeries) and the voluntary sector. The strategy will address how Wiltshire Council commissions services, look to improve skills, qualifications, working conditions and staff retention, provide support to Wiltshire’s unpaid carers and tackle the mental health issues associated with loneliness and isolation of our elderly population.

As part of this review, we will work towards improving the connectivity between hospitals and care homes to provide an efficient and sensitive system for managing elderly care. We will limit the number of people allocated to each care worker, ensure that visits are regular and include the provision of meals so that clients can build a long-lasting relationship with their carers.

We will work in partnership with the voluntary and not-for-profit sector to ensure that care services include recognition of key worker support to disabled people to enable independent living choices. An important part of this will involve supporting self-advocacy for clients to help them determine the support they need.

The last thirty years have seen a continuing process of out-sourcing social care services in the UK, placing enormous reliance on a private sector that is fragile, unresponsive, puts profit ahead of peoples’ needs and is dependent on poorly paid staff. Bringing services back in house gives us the opportunity to provide services that deliver better care, more flexible services, better integration with the health sector, improved staff training and retention, less bureaucracy and more accountability. We will reverse the process of privatisation with a review of current out-sourcing provision and pilot the development of in-house services.

We are strongly concerned about the way in which residential homes in Wiltshire have been, or are being closed, such as Fives Court Residential Care Home in Mere and Furlong Close in Rowde. These are not just facilities, but homes that are valued by their residents. We will ensure proper consultation takes place with all residential homes facing closure and will do everything we can to keep them open where that is the wish of residents and families.

Supporting Care Workers and Carers

Nationally, the adult social care sector employs 1.52 million people, the vast majority being women. During the Coronavirus pandemic, care workers displayed enormous commitment, dedication and courage in caring for people during challenging times. However, they still do not get the recognition that they deserve. The median hourly pay for care workers in the UK is just £8.50 an hour and 24% are on zero hours contracts. There is a huge issue with staff retention, with an annual turnover rate in the sector of 30.4% and approximately 112,000 vacancies at any one time.

Labour will take action to address this and will properly value and recognise the contribution to society of our care workers and carers. We’ll improve employment conditions and skills in the social care sector by signing up to Unison’s “Ethical care charter for the commissioning of homecare services” - joining other councils like Cornwall and Plymouth in becoming an Ethical Care Council. This will ensure that none of the care services commissioned by Wiltshire Council would be based on zero hour contracts, that they would all pay the Living Wage, and would also include adequate training and pay for the travel time of staff between visits. This will improve the experience of care-users by ensuring that time allocated for visits is appropriate for their needs, and that they see the same homecare worker where possible. It would also raise skills in the workforce and ensure that there is a clear, accountable procedure for following up staff concerns about their client’s wellbeing.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, it became evident that the sector struggled to cope with the level of infection due to lack of personal protection equipment (PPE) and systems of infection control. Despite the best efforts of staff, many people lost their lives in care homes during the pandemic. We will ensure that this will not happen again and will require all care workers to be properly equipped with sufficient PPE and that every care home has a robust system of infection control.

Raising the profile of care workers is also important. During the pandemic, we celebrated their enormous efforts and their role as key workers and we’ll continue this by ensuring that Wiltshire Council shares their stories, and publicly recognises and celebrates their contribution to society. We’ll work with care service providers to ensure that sufficient training is provided for all care workers leading to recognised qualifications; and we’ll work with the local further education sector to ensure that suitable courses are available to meet demand.

Much of the burden of care in Wiltshire is carried by unpaid carers: spouses, families, friends and neighbours. We’ll work with the voluntary sector to improve the support available to carers, including advice, training, access to financial support, respite care, day-care centres and support groups.

Caring for other people can place an enormous toll on people’s mental wellbeing. We will work to improve the mental health and well-being support available to carers and care workers in Wiltshire.

Economy

Creating a dynamic Local Economy 

Our local economy is built on the hard work of people across many different sectors, many of which have had a tough time in recent years and especially during the recent Coronavirus pandemic. We believe that Wiltshire Council needs to take a lead in helping our local economy recover.

We want an economy in Wiltshire that works for everyone. Whether it’s tourism, agriculture, manufacturing or services, we want it to be dynamic, green, co-operative and skilled.

  • Dynamic – with targeted investment in growth, jobs and tourism in every town across Wiltshire.
  • Green – growing the green economy and building a better environment.
  • Cooperative – making our enterprise agency work for all of us and bringing businesses together to do more.
  • Skilled – building training and supporting education providers to deliver the knowledge and skills that people need.

Labour will:

·         Invest in economic growth throughout Wiltshire, attracting inward investment and supporting businesses to provide good quality local employment.

·         Support the Green Economy to create jobs and meet our Climate Emergency commitments through renewable energy and energy conservation.

·         Deliver small-scale enterprise parks and business centres through local plans to support local employment.

·         Deliver the support local businesses need to thrive in a competitive environment.

·         Build Wiltshire’s reputation as a tourist destination, bringing investment into the area.

·         Help local communities to rejuvenate their high streets and retain vital local services.

·         Ensure that Wiltshire Council procures goods and services to support local businesses.

·         Invest in continuing education, training and skills to help local people get good secure jobs, including further and higher education.

·         Support the MoD and military families as major contributors to the Wiltshire economy.

·         Take a lead as a responsible employer, promoting jobs that provide good pay, secure conditions and training opportunities.

This chapter sets out our plans to help Wiltshire’s economy recover. We recognise that this is not just about building the economic infrastructure to support this, but also about building the social infrastructure to support working people in jobs such as childcare and public transport and help with the care of elderly or disabled relatives. Subsequent chapters develop these themes.

Investment in economic growth

Labour will establish a Wiltshire Investment Fund. This will be delivered through a local Enterprise Investment Bank, to provide capital investment and training, and to champion the growth of community businesses and cooperatives.

We want a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) that is more accountable, and we believe all our communities should benefit from the millions of pounds spent in our region, not just those areas chosen by unelected LEP committees.

Labour will complement the large LEP growth areas (currently concentrated on the transport corridors of the A4, A350 & A303) with mini growth zones in every town. As large companies already do in the current growth areas, small businesses throughout the county will be able to access advice, support and funding to grow and to employ more people.

Supporting the Green Economy

Labour will extend Wiltshire Council’s investment in renewable energy, and will implement energy conservation and energy generation measures on all public buildings and on council houses, as well as develop renewable energy projects on council-owned land.

We’ll ensure that the planning framework positively supports renewable energy developments. We will work with local communities and businesses so that these are in the right places to mitigate intrusion on the landscape. We’ll work with parish and town councils to set land aside in neighbourhood or town plans for green energy generation.

Wiltshire Council must play an active role in providing expert advice and assistance in accessing funds for community energy initiatives to community groups, parish and town councils. So we’ll establish a team to do just this. We’ll also ensure that Wiltshire Council provides an accessible framework to promote awareness of home energy efficiency grants and helps to link homeowners with local suppliers.

Planning for local employment

We will help provide the right planning framework to support the development of small-scale local enterprise parks and business centres, and work with partners, such as the Swindon & Wiltshire LEP, to help establish these to provide the necessary spaces to support local employment and economic development.

Labour will ensure that land set aside for such commercial or employment use is marketed thoroughly by Wiltshire Council and the LEP before it is given over to more housing.

Supporting local businesses

Ultra-fast broadband rollout for rural businesses is essential. No part of Wiltshire should be left behind.

Wiltshire has enormous potential to be marketed as a strong and recognisable brand. Labour will work with partners and local enterprises to establish a “Wiltshire” brand that consumers can trust, based on product quality, environmental sustainability, animal welfare standards and responsible employment. This will help promote and market Wiltshire produce and products (and reinforce the county’s image as a tourism destination).

We’ll bring together food producers who want to work with each other to establish a Wiltshire Local Food Network. This mutually owned co-operative, sharing the costs of marketing and distribution, will bring much needed scale and support to producers.

Tourism

Tourism is a significant part of our local economy but could potentially play a much bigger role. We’ll increase funding support to ‘Visit Wiltshire’ to promote tourism. In return, we’ll also expect them to support town and parish councils in promoting tourism at a local level.

Labour will ensure that Wiltshire Council plays its part in promoting Wiltshire as a strong brand through its websites, roadside signage and public buildings. We’ll also ensure that Wiltshire Council plays an active role in working with partners to identify and create new developments and attractions, and to support those developments through the planning process.

We’ll support museums, the arts and festivals through increasing direct grants and also support them in bidding for funding from other agencies. This will not only help promote Wiltshire as a destination for leisure tourism but will also benefit local residents and help rejuvenate our town centres.

We will develop, expand and promote the network of trails, footpaths and cycle routes within the county, and support the promotion of active leisure tourism.

We will work with partners to promote all of Wiltshire as an attractive tourist destination. We will offer a ‘Wiltshire Card’ to provide tourists with free bus travel and free (or discounted) admission to attractions and cycle-hire.

Supporting local communities

Town centres remain important as places where people shop, use services and socialise. Where successful, they attract investment and make people feel positive about where they live. Labour will ensure the regeneration of our town centres by supporting high streets, cultural, social and arts spaces.

To support our high streets, we’ll transfer ownership of Wiltshire owned retail units to town councils so they can implement local lettings strategies, and support pop-up shops and arts initiatives. We’ll support local Community assets such as pubs and shops through rate relief and planning protection and we’ll actively promote the community’s right to buy these assets if they are at risk.

Retaining investment in the local community

With an annual budget of £344M, Wiltshire Council is a major purchaser of goods and services within the County. A review of council spending for 2019/2020 showed that over 40% of that spend leaks out of the county and neighbouring areas. Much of this spending on goods and services could be provided within our local area, creating local demand and supporting local firms.

Following the example of Preston City Council, we’ll put in place an initiative so that Wiltshire Council buys more goods and services locally. This will support local businesses and suppliers and will help the Wiltshire economy to thrive. We’ll link up with other organisations in the county, such as Wiltshire Police and the Ministry of Defence, to encourage them to do the same.

Investing in continuing education, training and skills

Labour will champion further investment in Wiltshire College building on the recent improvements made to the Lackham, Salisbury, Trowbridge and Chippenham campuses. We’ll also work with the Further Education sector in Wiltshire and local employers and partners to ensure that the right vocational courses and apprenticeships are provided to support local growth sectors.

We will work with the Swindon & Wiltshire LEP to expand the availability of Higher Education in Wiltshire, through the further development of Wiltshire College’s offering and potentially through partnership with an existing university institution to establish a local campus.

We will support apprenticeships for young people and those seeking a change in career and we will work with schools and colleges to improve the links between themselves and future employers. We’ll use Wiltshire Council’s network of 30 county farms to provide opportunities for new entrants into the farming sector and to support the promotion of best farming practice.

Supporting the military

Labour recognises the significant role that the military plays in Wiltshire’s economy, both the Ministry of Defence (MoD), as a major employer and landowner, and forces personnel and their families.

We will work constructively with the MoD to ensure that the Army Rebasing Programme is completed successfully, in terms of infrastructure, but also in the integration of re-settled families into their local communities. We will support British Forces Resettlement Services events and reach out to the families of military personnel to help them establish themselves in the area and find employment.

We recognise the skills that ex-forces personnel have to offer and will implement a Guaranteed Interview Scheme, so that any veterans applying for a job at Wiltshire Council are guaranteed an interview for any job that they apply for.

Taking a lead as a responsible employer

We believe that Wiltshire Council should be an accredited Living Wage Employer, guaranteeing a Real Living Wage to all employees. We’ll progressively require the Council’s suppliers and contractors to become Living Wage Employers through its procurement policies. We will end Wiltshire Council’s use of zero hour contracts and pay the Real Living Wage, and we’ll similarly require the Council’s suppliers and contractors to do the same.

We will work to improve employment conditions and skills in the social care sector by signing up to Unison’s “Ethical care charter for the commissioning of homecare services”, joining other councils like Cornwall and Plymouth in becoming an Ethical Care Council.

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