As Lichfield and Burntwood voters prepare to go to the ballot box for the local elections on May 5, The Lichfield Blog has offered each of the candidates the chance to have their say.
We’ve sent out questionaires to all District Council candidates and will publish their responses on the site to help you decide where to put your cross on election day. If your local candidates haven’t responded yet, why not chase them?
Name: Russell Heath
Ward: Boney Hay
What has made you decide to stand for election?
Because Burntwood needs strong, experienced voices to speak up on behalf of the town.
Your Labour candidates act as a team and will continue to do so, if elected, so that Burntwood gets its fair share of resources and the broken promises of the Conservative Councils at Lichfield and Stafford are challenged. We were promised an arts/community venue which has not been honoured.
Conservatives at the Town Council went along with Lichfield District and axed our much-valued Community Wardens service. The town was consulted on health facilities and were promised two new health centres: now, there’s only one new health centre planned and even the budget for this is being squeezed. Meanwhile, Greenwood House which was to be a health and social care centre still lies empty – with a decision to be made after the elections.
They tried to close our waste recycling centre but had to bow to public pressure, led from the front by Labour members, but it is only safe until 2013. Instead, they tried to dump a waste transfer station on the town, with the associated nuisance of heavy traffic, smell and noise. Again, public pressure supported by Labour made them withdraw the plans that had been in the pipeline for 12 months, but we must be vigilant so that it does not return here.
At a time when cuts have to be made, your Labour team will speak out to ensure that Burntwood is not treated unfairly as it has been in the past.
What are the key issues for you in your ward?
The main issues for residents in my ward are those for the town as a whole. The main one is to secure a proper town centre development, with extra shopping facilities. This will bring much-needed jobs and prosperity. Secondly, we need to fight for the levels of policing and community safety initiatives that we need in the face of massive cuts in police budgets.
We also want to make the whole town a cleaner, greener and tidier place to live and promote leisure opportunities for residents – particularly children and young people – which have been denied to us by the Conservatives. Labour invested heavily here – with the long-awaited by-pass opening up job opportunities for local residents, with the Health and Wellbeing Walk-In Centre near the Leisure Centre, with new facilities at our schools such as Sure Start and state of the art buildings as well as a new police station. We must ensure that these are safeguarded and that Burntwood continues to receive its fair share of investment.
If you are elected how do you plan to keep your constituents informed of what you are doing to represent them?
Only Labour councillors have held monthly advice surgeries to enable residents to call in and raise issues of interest and concern directly with them. We will continue to do this. We also have a Burntwood Labour Councillors website which we hope will have more names added to it after May 5!
We pledge to be visible and active in our wards, delivering local newsletters, issuing news releases to organisations like The Lichfield Blog (as newspapers cannot afford to send reporters to council meetings anymore). Some of our team are also on Twitter and Facebook while, in contrast, Conservative councillors in a number of local wards have been all but invisible.
How do you feel you will be able to make a difference to your constituents?
With the cuts that are coming in too far and too fast residents need a strong team to ensure Burntwood’s case is made in the Council Chambers were spending decisions are made. By working as a team, we will make sure that the voices of Burntwood residents are heard. Your concerns are our concerns and we will use every opportunity to make a real difference for this town.
Anything else you would like to add?
I have always argued for Boney Hay getting its fair share of the district council resources just as I did arguing for Boney Hay getting its own Christmas tree from the Town Council – which I successfully did last year. I would ask for voters support to continue that work.
Also standing in the Boney Hay ward (once they have responded, these will link to the response):
- Trish Edwards (UKIP)
- Diane Evans (Labour)
- Pamela Stokes (Conservatives)
- Sonia Wilcox (Conservatives)