A personal message from Jane Livermore, our candidate for West Berkshire Council and Thatcham Town Council in the by-elections tomorrow (Thursday 19 April).
Out of 52 West Berkshire district councillors, 47 are in the same party. That means they can do pretty much what they like.
They awarded themselves a 16.5% pay rise within days of the last election, then started closing children’s centres and libraries – and putting up your council tax – to pay for it.
Party whips ensure no one steps out of line. Party comes before principle or the interests of local people. Council tax soars – we’ve just been hit with a whopping increase of nearly 6% – while public services are slashed. We pay more and get less.
It’s the same story at Thatcham Town Council. Out of 18 town councillors, 15 belong to the same party. There’s no effective opposition. That’s not just bad for democracy – it’s bad for Thatcham.
Our town has been the poor relation in West Berkshire for too long. Newbury get’s the lion’s share of investment. Thatcham gets over-developed because that’s where they put the housing when people in Newbury object. Newbury gets a new bridge over the railway. Thatcham gets stuck with an old level crossing that causes congestion, delays and air pollution.
You can help to change all this in the by-elections for Thatcham West on Thursday 19 April. One of the Conservative councillors has been thrown off West Berkshire Council for not attending meetings. Thatcham West deserves better.
What would be different if you choose a Green Party councillor this time? Greens get things done. We started and led West Berkshire Save Our Services, which successfully campaigned to save Thatcham Library and seven other libraries the Conservatives wanted to close.
Now we’re campaigning against the £50 green bin charge and permit scheme – a tax on recycling that will cost you even more money and damage our environment.
The council’s development plans are a mess. Just look at Lower Way. The Conservatives have completely ignored the wishes of local people and the thousands of people who visit the Nature Discovery Centre. The Green Party proposes to tear up the current development strategy and start again, to balance the need for affordable housing with the interests of local residents.
Talking of the Discovery Centre, the Wildlife Trust has announced it will not allow the government to slaughter badgers on its land. Good. Greens believe in animal welfare and this cruel, expensive and ineffective badger cull should stop right now and be replaced with a vaccination programme.
I’m not a professional politician. (You might think we already have enough of those.) I’m an ordinary person who cares about this area. I’ve lived in Thatcham for 22 years. My four children all attended local schools. My elderly parents live at home with me. I know just how vital it is to properly fund our local education, health and care services.
I am asking for your vote as someone who shares your values and concerns. Please vote for me, your local Green Party candidate, in Thatcham West on 19 April.
I promise I won’t let you down.
Promoted by David Marsh, 17 Valley Road, Newbury, RG14 6ET on behalf of West Berkshire Green Party.