There has been a lot of discussions recently about the need for change in Guildford at May’s borough council elections, but a genuine difference will only come about if we elect more Labour Party councillors.
The Liberal Democrats have shown, locally and nationally, that they are happy to go along with the Conservatives, nodding through severe cuts to public services and failing to object to their vanity projects.
The new “Independents” group are just rebranded Tories and Lib Dems, clearly motivated by personal animosity towards the current council leader and his deputy, not focused on the day-to-day issues which matter to the people of Guildford.
Over the past few years, the number of Labour members and voters has increased by over 400% while Lib Dem’s support has plummeted. Labour is now the only viable alternative to the Tories. There is no doubt, if all those who support Labour values cast their votes for the party in May, Labour will have significantly more borough councillors. But tactical voting will only lead to more of the same.
Guildford Labour candidates are representative of our population as a whole. Our candidates include those who work for the University of Surrey, the NHS, in the charity sector and in our cultural and tech industries.
As a result, we understand the challenges facing most of the local population. Too many of us struggle to make ends meet, even when working full-time. We need genuinely affordable housing to be at the heart of any future housing developments.
The next generation should not be forced to live in houses of multiple occupation, and those in their 20s and 30s should not be stuck at home with their parents because they cannot afford their own home. Most seriously, we must address the rising number of people sleeping rough in Guildford.
Rather than frittering money on wasteful schemes such as “The Village” or the proposed extravagant replacement for the Walnut Bridge, Labour councillors would press for more investment in public transport. It is Labour Party policy to grant free bus travel to under 25s; we would look to go further and tackle congestion and improve air quality.
We need radical action to reverse climate change and the people of Guildford need proper alternatives to using their cars. Voters say they want a refurbished bus station and more frequent and reliable services. We will aim to deliver these.
We have also been listening to voters on the future of the High Street. No-one can have failed to notice the ever-increasing number of empty shops. We must be realistic about the future of retail and develop imaginative and radical ideas to enhance the appeal of the town centre.
Our current Guildford Labour councillors Angela Gunning and James Walsh have shown what our progressive agenda can bring to the town, but we can do more. Vote for change, vote for Labour in May.