The Liberal Democrat Plan for Powys 2022
An Open and Accountable Council
A Green County
Strong & Prosperous communities
Powys needs an open, accessible, and accountable Council which puts community and the environment at the heart of everything it does.
Our County is one of the greenest in Britain. It delivers quality jobs in farming, manufacturing, tourism and sustainable living.
Our town and village communities, with their distinctive culture and heritage, are special places. Young people should be able to grow up in them, meet their full potential and find the jobs and homes they need if they wish to stay. Older and vulnerable people should be properly supported to live at home as valued members of the community they love.
The Liberal Democrats have always been the party of community and environment, and our plan for Powys reflects that.
We have 6 key priorities
- Tackling the Housing Emergency
- Tackling the Climate Emergency
- Supporting Young people
- Building Strong and Prosperous Communities
- Supporting Vulnerable People
- Running an Open and Democratic Council
Tackling the Housing emergency
Prices to rent and buy are rising beyond the means of many young people who want to remain in Powys. Nobody should be forced to move away because they cannot afford to live here.
- We will raise the Council Tax charge on second homes to double the normal charge and press the Welsh Labour government to end the business loophole.
- We will take every opportunity to build new council and social housing over the next 5 years.
- We will use the review of the Local Development Plan to promote low carbon housing in rural areas to help house local people, give a boost to the local economy and alleviate the crisis in affordable housing caused by second homes and holiday lets.
Tackling the Climate Emergency
Welsh Liberal Democrat councillors persuaded Powys council to declare a climate emergency. The council must now lead by example to encourage everyone to cut their carbon footprint. Our further call to declare an ecological emergency was voted down by the Conservative/Independent administration despite the support of the local wildlife trusts.
The pandemic has shown what can be done to cut unnecessary travel. In addition to the huge saving in carbon emissions, Powys Council has saved £1 million since the start of the pandemic by staff and councillors working from home.
- We will ensure that council staff and councillors have the resources to work from home and do so wherever possible, cutting the time spent on travel and reducing vehicle emissions.
- We will promote sustainable public transport.
- We will ensure that Powys Council’s landholdings are managed sustainably, with tree planting where appropriate, to promote biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
- Our major rivers are in decline due to pollution. We will press for government action to stop untreated sewage contaminating our rivers and ensure proper regulation of agricultural and industrial waste.
- We will seek to ensure that the cumulative impact of any particular form of development on the environment can be a consideration in determining a particular planning application.
- Powys can be a leader in sustainable tourism. We will promote the county of Powys as the place to visit and enjoy a holiday while doing no damage to the environment.
- We will adopt a five year programme to move all council vehicles to electric.
Supporting Young People
Powys faces a demographic drift of young people moving away. We need to ensure that young people can find the jobs, education and training they need to stay and that young families know that rural schools are secure.
- We will halt the botched Conservative school closure programme and establish a new model of primary and secondary school organisation which protects the future of small rural schools within area school structures.
- School staff and pupils are more important than school buildings. We will carry out a cost/benefit analysis to ensure that the enormous cost of all new buildings can be fully justified. By their mismanagement of new building projects, The Conservatives have created an enormous debt to be repaid by the council tax-payer for decades to come.
- Too many young people leave our county for their post-16 education. We will optimise the use of new technology in partnership with the Higher Education sector to ensure opportunities for post 16 education and training are available without the need to travel outside the county.
- The Youth Service in Powys has been decimated by Tory cuts. Young people need places where they can meet in safety. We will seek to re-invest in the County Youth service when we have the opportunity and provide additional support and signposting to young people with mental health needs.
Strong and prosperous communities
Local and national government cannot do everything. Strong and prosperous communities are essential to ensure that those in need are properly supported by families, neighbours, and volunteers. Locally owned and run small businesses are at the heart of thriving towns and villages and key to providing the services our communities need.
- We will support and encourage town councils to produce Place Plans to secure a long term vision for the future for their communities.
- We will campaign for an end to businesses rates, which discriminate against the high street retailer.
- We recognise the new challenges facing farmers right now and will ensure they have a local voice for agriculture and its environment.
- We will improve the way Powys Council works with town and community councils. We will ensure that every community Council can meet online with a member of Powys Council’s cabinet at least once a year to share issues and concerns.
- Where community councils want to, we will explore the devolution of services to ensure that they are more responsive to local needs.
- We will review our parking policies and explore with Town and Community Councils and local trade forums ideas to revitalise our town centres.
- Volunteer networks that emerged during the Covid pandemic showed the power of volunteer action in a time of crisis. The Council must learn from the experience to support and strengthen community resilience.
Supporting vulnerable people
Effective Social Services must operate seamlessly with the health, police and other services. People who work in social care are underpaid and under-valued.
- We will establish a child poverty taskforce, to tackle the growing crisis of child poverty.
- We will extend the Health Hub concept, currently being developed in Newtown, to bring together GP surgeries, other health services and social care in one place in each major town in Powys.
- Drug abuse damages health and increases fear and insecurity in local communities. Addicts need our support, not our condemnation. We will provide more resources to the Council’s drug and alcohol abuse service. We will work with the police and other agencies to target the illegal dealers who bring so much misery to peoples’ lives for profit.
- We will press for action from the Welsh Government and Powys teaching Health Board to ensure that every town has adequate provision of NHS dental services.
A Democratic & Open Council
Powys Council suffers from a culture of secrecy, tokenistic consultation and avoidance of accountability. Too often, such as over the school closure plans, council leaders avoid direct engagement with local people. Ward councillors and community councils are kept out of the loop on plans being developed for their areas, leading to decision making which is poorly informed by local knowledge.
The Council has a poor record of managing major development projects, such as Y Gaer in Brecon and schools in Welshpool, leading to massive overspends
Broken promises, such as the Conservative promise not to increase the Council Tax above inflation, leads to cynicism and distrust of local government.
A Liberal Democrats administration will:
- Seek to keep any Council Tax increases to a minimum. We recognise that Welsh and UK government decisions on council funding have a major impact on the level of council tax.
- Ensure that the council more fairly represents the electorate by introducing the Single Transferable Vote for future council elections.
- Establish a protocol for engagement with ward councillors and town councils.
- Promote on-line public participation in council meetings
- Introduce an online public question time for cabinet members.
- Ensure proper public scrutiny of the council partnership arrangements with other bodies, such as the Growing Mid Wales partnership with Ceredigion Council.
Powys Council needs new leadership. It needs innovation and new ideas. Conservatives have the wrong vision for our County and Independents have no vision. With their infighting and division in both the Independent and Conservative groups, they have failed to give strong leadership to the Council, failed to listen, and kept people out of decision making as much as they possibly can.
Powys Liberal Democrats, who have now overtaken the Conservatives in number of councillors, are the only party who can offer a new start with new leadership. With your support that is what we intend to do in May 2022.