The Telford-Live Ten Point Manifesto

I’m not standing for election. I don’t belong to any party. I see things, and I comment on them. Generally, the party in power get the brunt of my comments because they are in power and calling the shots, not because they are left or right. Often, they can’t see this.

I thought I’d put together a 10 point plan, my manifesto for Telford for the next five years. It’s not costed, because I don’t have access to the Finance guys at the Council, but if they wanted to cost it, they are very welcome. I think it balances out, but happy to take comments, thoughts and more ideas.

1) Council Tax
I’d freeze Council Tax. There are government grants for freezing council tax so there would be no reduction in services as a direct result. Council Tax is high enough as it is.

2) Adult Social Care & Childrens Services.
This is a big one. There are about £8m of cuts announced for Adult Social Care in Telford, and £3.6m in Childrens Services. This pays for carers to visit vulnerable folks and full care packages for some in residential homes. Childrens services cover things like kids in care, social workers and stuff. These really are the most in need. Total spend in these two areas are £134m. That’s a lot of money.

I’d ring-fence the budget. I’d also look into the use of technology to help people live better in their own homes, for those who can use it.

For those who can’t, a case by case review starting with the most costly, to make sure we’re doing the best for them, and getting best value for you. That’s about £11.6m I’ve got to find.

3) Pride in the Community
Why are we spending £21,000 to refurbish the toilets of a Private Members Social Club in Dawley? There are some worthy grants in the Pride project, and some I’m amazed got the green light. I’d say no more funds for private enterprises, and save £6m of the £13.8 million earmarked for this, let businesses be businesses and move the £6m to the more vulnerable in our town.

4) Planning & House Building
We need more houses. We don’t want large developments on our doorstep that make it more unpleasant to live in. Let’s develop brownfield sites first. We can be brave and consider old industrial estates like Tweedale & Hadley Park Road, Heath Hill, and other old warehousing and units that stood on their own in the 1960’s & 70’s but are now leaky dinosaurs that are often surrounded by housing.  Time for some bold thinking.

Lightmoor has been let down badly by lack of stable broadband. There are sustainability tests when deciding to grant or decline planning applications.  The question of broadband and mobile phone coverage should be taken into account when deciding planning requests on future development to stop this happening again.

The planning process is expensive for the council. Officers time, public meetings, site visits – do the charges made to developers adequately cover this? Lets make sure they do and put the fees up.

While we’re at it, lets insist on planners building 2 car parking spaces for each house. You with me?

5) Employment
Lets face it, some organisations are abusing apprentices. Using £3 an hour to get a 19 year old to do some filing or man a fryer is no way to prepare the workforce of the future. Lets have a campaign to recognise the employers who pay a living wage. Lets have a register of employers that keep apprentices on after the 12 months. Give them a sticker for their door and a badge for their website.

While we’re at it, there are some young people in Telford who are drifting. Not in training or emplyoment, they are given a label, NEETS. Some were disruptive at school, some had personal problems, some just kinda lost their way. I’d start a boot camp for these unmotivated people. Engage some local business owners to share their experiences with them. Show them what it means to get a job. Coach them in working with colleagues, taking instruction, being nice to customers. Some of these young people think that it’s cool to rebel but lets show them a better way.

There is £1.3m already set aside to help. That’s plenty.

6) Self Employment
Telford is a hot spot for new businesses. Some young people are pushed into self-employment without even having had a job at all. A start-up loan, a talk from a business guru, and hey presto they are off Job Seekers Allowance for a little while. Let’s stop kidding ourselves that this is good for the town or for the poor ‘entrepreneurs’ who are spat out at the end disillusioned, embarrassed, and back looking for a job. Let’s take better care of these people by not putting them through this.

7) Reduce Waste
You know it. I know it. Big organisations waste money. With a total spend of about £250m a year, I think we could find £2.5m or 1% through lots of little changes.

Mobile Phones – We’ve all got one, often with stupid amounts of calls & texts, so let’s say if you need one for work, we’ll give you £10 a month to cover a proportion. Imagine the bill checking and admin that would save. It’s not going to be millions, but you get the idea.

Renting Rooms – The council rents rooms for meeting all over the borough. Let’s say we don’t rent any for one week in each month. 25% saving.

8) Property
Lets take a long hard look at some of the property we’ve got that is a pain in the ass. The Ski Slope might have been funky in 1974, but come on. When was the last time you used it? Lets call it a day, along with that avocado bathroom suite and CB Radio.

The Ice Rink is Telfords Biggest Youth Club. After a £4 million pound refit, it’s probably the world’s most expensive youth club. Why not lease it out and take a rent for it like we do with the Adventure Golf and Ropes Course in the Town Park? This will reduce direct employees, our energy costs and frees us from the ups and downs of running a business. If the company running it fails, we get it back and can find someone else to run it. We’ll still have an ice rink.

9) Highways
I’ve had enough. Lets have a 1 year moratorium on all non-essential repair work to our roads. Imagine that – hardly any roadworks. A year without more traffic lights on our islands and millions saved. This alone will cover the £6m needed for the Adult Social Care shortfall. Look after your nan properly or sit at more red temporary traffic lights. What’s it to be?

10) Princess Royal Hospital
We’ve got a hospital right on our doorstep. It’s handy. All politicians are insisting they want full, 24hr A&E cover to remain at our hospital. The Doctors who run local care say they can’t provide a good enough service at Telford AND Shrewsbury, so one major centre and a few satellite centres are what they are proposing.

We’d all like an A&E at the end of our road, but did you know that if you have a major road accident you’ll be carted off to Stoke because the outcomes are better at these specialist centres? I say, lets keep politics out of this. Let the Doctors decide on this one.

All in all, I’m for taking care of our vulnerable, I’m anti the council doing everything for us. I’m for a brighter future for Telford, and spending less of your money doing it.

What do you think?

12 thoughts on “The Telford-Live Ten Point Manifesto

  • April 12, 2015 at 8:49 pm
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    Lots of good sense here, couple of things I’d take issue with. Roads/roadworks – I think some of our highway engineers have got an obsession with ‘shared space’. In other words, take away all road signs, traffic lights, pavements and assume everyone will slow down and treat each other with great care. I know it works in some mainland European countries and in some areas here, but I think at the very least it needs to be explained to people (I know, the idea is to confuse them so they go more carefully); and not enough thought is given to the less mobile and especially those with poor or no sight. Also, in housing developments, it just seems to have been an excuse to remove pavements leaving narrower roads – and people with no parking space just park all over the place, obstructing other traffic and emergency vehicles.

    I don’t care what your lecturer at college said, laddie, stop and think!

    (I agree with 2 parking spaces per dwelling).

    In fact, stop removing parking space in the futile hope that people will get the bus or ride a bike. They won’t. They will just park everywhere they shouldn’t, as they do now in Wellington, If we drive a car, planners should know we do need to stop at some point.

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  • April 12, 2015 at 9:02 pm
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    Housing. It’s taken as read that we need more housing. It may well be true, but what is the evidence? Who do we need more housing for? Do we need big, small, flats, detached, what? Market rents like the houses T&W are about to build? Social rents? I’d like to ban the word ‘affordable’ as it now means up to 80% of market rents. Not affordable for many – and anyway, what developer would build unaffordable homes?

    Are all these new homes for local people currently sleeping in ditches? Or if it’s to attract new people to the town, more thought needs to be given about where they will work, the schools, hospital places, public transport etc. they will need (and flood risk). I’m not against building homes that are needed, I just wonder if we are getting a bit carried away – building too much, too fast, without enough thought.

    But as a first step, no more allowing developers to get planning permission as long as they build x% ‘affordable’ – then they get let off the hook because they say they won’t make a profit. No excuses, they keep to the agreement.

    What about all the empty properties we seem to have in T&W? Get something done with them, compulsory purchase if needed and do up, cheaper than building.

    Brownfield sounds fine, but it’s expensive. Developers don’t like it, because of the extensive treatment the land often needs. Planners would need to be very strict – brownfield only till it runs out. I’ve never believed that more building will bring down prices – developers are in business to make money, why would they increase supply in order to reduce selling price?

    I’d like a breather on new building while all this is thought through.

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  • April 12, 2015 at 9:08 pm
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    Oh, and I”d like to know what involvement exactly T&W have with the football club? what support is and has been given? Other sports clubs, like Telford Athletic Club, seem to be largely ignored, is this just boys indulging their love of football? It doesn’t seem to have done the team much good, they just got relegated!

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    • April 12, 2015 at 11:41 pm
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      I second that, if i not mistaken the council was giving a lending hand till the club got back on its feet, this will be a bottomless pit of help loke a buisness let it go

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    • April 13, 2015 at 3:52 pm
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      >Oh, and I”d like to know what involvement exactly T&W have with the football club? what support is and has been given?It doesn’t seem to have done the team much good, they just got relegated!

      A body blow to countless local people who give freely of their time and hard earned money to try and create something of value for the town, but you seem positively delighted.

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    • April 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm
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      >Oh, and I”d like to know what involvement exactly T&W have with the football club? what support is and has been given?

      If you’re talking financial involvement (and I presume you are, rather than the various community facilities, youth programmes and health initiatives delivered jointly by the club and the LA), then email the club and ask them to send you a set of accounts and you can see for yourself. It’s a co-operative society run on behalf of, and for the benefit of the people of Telford, not some sort of clandestine global mega-corp.

      >It doesn’t seem to have done the team much good, they just got relegated!

      A body blow to countless local people who give freely of their time and hard earned money to try and create something of value for the town, but you seem positively delighted.

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  • April 12, 2015 at 9:13 pm
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    I’d add in leaders who are capable of thinking for themselves and sometimes not just toeing the party line, I’d really like more independents.

    On jobs, we’ll meet the Living Wage profile this year and it’s not easy in the face of low margins, increased competition and higher prices, however, we need our workforce in the same way they need us so a little fairness can make a big difference. We also don’t age discriminate, if you’re doing the same job I’d ask a 20+/30+/40+/50+60+/70+ year old to do why shouldn’t I be paying you the same wages. Business leaders need to do more.

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  • April 12, 2015 at 10:29 pm
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    Bravo, some very good points, just throw in getting rid of bedroom tax and evicting pensioners from their home and this should be something to be worked towards.

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  • April 12, 2015 at 11:45 pm
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    I think you must have read the UKIP manifesto for Telford!!!!
    Difficult to disagree with much that you have said. Well done!

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  • April 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm
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    I agree with some of the above but I believe that you have missed a couple of key issues:

    1) There has been a lot of money wasted on the Southwater vanity project (over £40 million of council tax payers money) to attract foreign fast food restaurants and give then 2 months free rent/rates etc. These companies buy all their food/drinks from the central depots (ie Greene King buy all their beer from St Albans) and put very little into the Telford economy. At the same time our historic market towns are totally neglected and are rapidly deteriorating creating almost ghost towns. There needs to be a ‘serious’ attempt at proper regeneration to boost our market towns and not waste any more money on propping up the Telford shopping centre.
    2) Secondly Telford has a very poor reputation and image outside the town (ask anyone from Shrewsbury or Oswestry) as a cultural desert and this needs to be addressed.
    3) Thirdly lots of Telford council tax money is going on roads and nothing on public transport – its a disgrace a town like Telford has no bus services on Boxing Day or New Years Day – Totally against any long term sustainable transport policy. £11.8 million is being spent on the roads around the Telford shopping centre which is an amazing waste of money!

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  • April 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm
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    Any party who backs the following ideas will get my vote.

    1. Monorail and/or Underground Metro
    2. Cable Car UP the Wrekin
    3. Log Flume DOWN the Wrekin
    4. Daily Fireworks from a Disney-esque castle on the summit of the Wrekin
    5. A Large monument featuring a 2 fingered salute in the direction of our most hoity-toity neighbours (you know who you are!).

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  • April 25, 2015 at 2:02 pm
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    A very good, logical manifesto.
    It is thought provoking, it is a thought for political parties, that independent people can look, give personal reasoning for their ideas, and then we can make an informed choice, and vote accordingly.
    A situation happened at a Council meeting, some years ago, involving Parking charges, in district centres, a local Councillor had a public meeting, agreed with the residents, and would vote with them, but then voted the party line and introduced parking charges.
    The people protested and reversed the desission!!

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