CONSERVATIVE MANIFESTO FOR THE SEVENOAKS DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2019
‘Working and Caring for our Community’
This is our manifesto for the Sevenoaks District and all its residents:
We are all residents, we use the same services, we enjoy the same parks and green spaces, we put out and recycle our rubbish, use the same shops and restaurants and visit the same GP and health centres. That’s how we know that the decisions made by the Council have a direct impact on all our lives. We never take this responsibility lightly, remembering every pound spent has been earned, and making sure that we provide value for money for all residents.
This is why over the last four years we have built a Seriously Different Council. This has meant going beyond the traditional remit of a district council by putting the wellbeing of our residents and businesses at the heart of everything we do, while still providing high quality services at a price people can afford.
The Council’s work has been built on excellence, innovation and value for money.
We know that a great deal of what we already do as a District Council makes a significant contribution to our residents’ quality of life and sense of wellbeing. But as Conservatives we are ambitious for our communities and we want to do more.
At the heart of this manifesto is the wellbeing of the district and all its residents. Wellbeing isn’t just about access to health services, it’s also about doing all we can to provide suitable homes for people to live in, a safe, healthy and protected environment and a strong local economy that provides the jobs and services we need. It’s about our lifestyle choices and opportunities to plan our future and the provision of services that keep people living independently for longer. We also understand that even small changes can result in a significant impact and that we can play our part in supporting, promoting and delivering these.
This manifesto sets out how we will make this happen using five themes: the environment, our economy, community safety, housing and health. We will build these on the foundations that support everything we do: excellent services, innovation and quality always making sure we deliver the very best value for money.
Over the last four years your Conservative led Sevenoaks District Council has delivered a lot. It is the first council in the country to become self-sufficient of central government funding, fulfilling a promise we made to residents.
We have gone from receiving a Government grant of over £5 million just a few years ago to no grant funding at all in 2018.
We have made big savings in bureaucracy and reduced our costs. We have increased income to make up the shortfall by investing in property, such as the new hotel in Sevenoaks and petrol station in Swanley, alongside projects that the whole District benefits from. Through innovation and tough choices we have protected our services for all residents.
The District remains one of the safest places in the country. Over the last four years working with our partners we have taken action on fly-tipping, domestic violence and abuse, on speeding, illegal encampments, burglary, vehicle crime and on cyber-bullying and internet safety, to keep our children and residents safe.
These achievements have been widely recognised by our colleagues in local government and beyond.
Although we are proud of our achievements and how we have met the challenges of the past four years, we know there are more challenges to come.
Sevenoaks District Council Conservatives have always been ambitious for the communities we serve. We will continue to make sure the Council delivers excellent services, of the highest quality, always ensuring the very best value. Wellbeing will be the focus of everything we do.
This means that we want our residents to lead long, happy and healthy lives, and our businesses to thrive and prosper.
It means working to ensure our communities have suitable homes to live in, within a safe, healthy and protected environment, and supporting a strong local economy that provides the jobs and services we need.
A Pleasant Environment
We are proud of our District’s high quality natural environment. We know that it plays a vital role in the wellbeing of all our residents and our focus is on protecting the very special environment of the District for future generations. We believe that keeping the District clean and tidy is one of the most important services the Council provides. Which is why we will continue to pick up the District’s rubbish and recycling every week and have kept these services in house.
- We will protect our high quality natural habitat, including the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, by having a robust local plan that provides planning policies and development that respects and protects the District’s unique character.
- We will deliver the highest quality services, by maintaining our weekly rubbish and recycling collection and keeping these services in house.
- We will improve the District’s environment, focusing on tackling air quality, by continuing our work with our partners to look at all forms of transport and connectivity across the District.
A Thriving Economy
The District’s economy will always be hugely influenced by our proximity to London. As the economy changes new jobs will be created and skills required. We will support businesses and residents through the transition ahead, with our tailored support for businesses and a focus on making sure our towns and rural economies are ready for these new opportunities. Both digital and mobile connectivity will be a priority, making sure the District can fully benefit from future opportunities.
- We will lead the regeneration of our market towns and enhance both the visitor and rural economies, by using our land and working with others to unlock the District’s potential.
- We will support new and existing businesses by taking a whole Council approach to help them reach their full potential.
- We will work to deliver better mobile and internet connectivity for homes and businesses across the District by working with providers, land owners and communities to find new solutions.
A Place to Live
We know that for many residents the availability of affordable housing of the right size is a big challenge, whether they are young people looking to put their first foot on the housing ladder, or families needing more space, or older residents looking to downsize. This is one of the biggest issues facing the District. With the link between housing and health well known we need to make sure we provide the right homes to meet the needs of our residents and secure the future of our District. To help achieve this the District Council will start to build new homes for the first time in 30 years.
- We will deliver a range of homes to meet the needs of residents including affordable housing and homes for older people, by continuing to implement our housing strategy.
- We will continue to improve the quality and use of existing houses by helping people be more energy efficient and tackling fuel poverty; encouraging people to down-size and continuing to turn around long term empty homes back into use.
- We will support vulnerable and older people to live independently at home or to move to the most suitable accommodation.
Living and Ageing Well
We aim to make Sevenoaks District the healthiest place possible to live and work. We will achieve this by continuing to link our leisure facilities, housing, open spaces, planning and environmental health work together to create an environment that promotes wellbeing for us all.
As the population of the District ages we will provide first class services to support older people to live fulfilled, independent lives for as long as possible. We will focus on their wellbeing; including falls prevention, isolation and loneliness (in health terms this is the equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day) and improved services for those living with dementia and their families. Dementia-friendly towns and villages are also safer for our children and vulnerable people - so it will make Sevenoaks even easier to get around and enjoy.
- We will prevent delays for residents leaving hospital, by adapting homes quickly so people can be supported to return to independent living as soon as they are ready.
- We will deliver first class preventative health and wellbeing services, by linking residents directly to our core services such as leisure and housing.
- We will reduce hospital admissions and GP appointments, by the use of falls prevention classes and home adaptations, while tackling other underlying causes of ill health such as conditions caused by isolation loneliness.
Strong, Safe and Caring Communities
Sevenoaks and Swanley are already among the safest places to live in the Country with a strong sense of community, but we want our District to be an even safer place to live, work and visit. We will achieve this by continuing to work hard with our partners to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and to build strong, safe and caring communities.
Working with our outstanding voluntary and community groups to support our most isolated and vulnerable residents will remain our priority.
The way we live, work and relate to each other is changing as we move towards a more digital age. We recognise this and have worked hard to create stronger, more caring communities where our residents feel supported and connected.
- We will build strong, caring and connected communities where residents feel safe, proud of where they live and have a sense of belonging. We will introduce a range of community activities specifically aimed at combating isolation and loneliness.
- We will promote, support and value the District’s voluntary and community organisations in their valuable work to reach vulnerable and isolated residents by linking residents directly to these services and by supporting the voluntary sector.
- We will protect our residents by making sure all our policies, partnerships and teams, alongside local businesses, schools and communities are working together to safeguard residents, communities and children, especially on-line.