Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interview – Elaine Norman

This is the third of a series of interviews with the Leaders/Spokesmen of five local political parties published in the order that they were received. UKIP did not respond to the invitation.

Elaine Norman is the Leader of Redbridge Labour Party.

What are the main priorities for Redbridge over the next 4 years?

The main priorities must be:
Providing sufficient local school places for primary aged children. It is not acceptably that infant children have to travel long distances for a school place. A local school place must be a priority.
Providing affordable Social Care for all who need it. Elderly or disabled people must not be denied care because of cost. The Council must look to more imaginative means of providing this if no nationally funded service is implemented.
Adequate and affordable housing. Redbridge is failing to meet its own assessed targets for affordable housing. There are too many families in temporary housing. This must be a priority. Also achieving the required standard in housing inspections to access the £39 million to bring Council Homes up to the Decent Homes Standards.
Cleaner and Greener Streets and Roads. This is important to residents and has a major impact on their quality of life.
The Council must consult more with its residents and look to delegate decision making as close as possible to peoples localities. It must work with residents to improve their neighbourhoods and support all measures to improve their sense of safety.

What do you see as the most difficult challenges facing the new administration?

The major challenge will be to continue to provide excellent front line services in a period of uncertain, possibly shrinking local government budgets. The Council will need to look strategically at how it delivers its services. It will need to review its Partnership arrangements and it must create a local culture of genuine public participation.

Also the Council faces a significant challenge in relation to the requirements of its Capital Budget. It must find ways of generating sufficient capital receipts to improve existing Leisure facilities and provide new ones such as a new swimming pool and leisure facility in the south of the Borough.
It also faces a backlog of highways maintenance, which it will need the Capital receipts to fund.

How important is co-operation and consensus between all parties in running a Council?

Where there are shared priorities, co-operation leads to more efficient decision-making and improved provision of services. An example would be the successful Scrutiny Working Groups. However. Local Councillors must represent the views of their residents and if that means consensus is not possible, so be it. The sale of allotment sites is a case in point where Labour kept the issue on the Political Agenda and eventually persuaded the administration that selling allotment sites was wrong.

Assuming you are in opposition, on what single issue would you most like to influence the Council, and why?

Whether in Power or Opposition, Labour’s priorities will be the same. All issues stated in the first question are where we would aim to influence the Council.

What do you consider to be realistically achievable over the next 4 years?

Noticeable improvement in front line services through greater efficiency and Partnerships. Taking a co-operative approach to the delivery of Council Services, which should enable the Council to protect jobs and services.

Which environmental/community issues are of most concern and how would you deal with them?

Crime and Grime are major concerns to residents. Labour would aim to protect Safer Neighbourhood Teams from any policing cuts. We would regularly liaise with these teams and ward panels and ensure the Council uses all its powers to control anti social behaviour.
Protect cleansing and street scene services and enhance provision if possible.
We support Area Committees as a means of giving communities a voice and would like to increase their decision-making powers.
Labour would use the sustainable Communities Act to address community concerns such as fast food outlets and public houses.

Which business/economic issues are of most concern and how would you deal with them?

The effect of the recession on people’s livelihoods. Labour would promote the regeneration of Ilford Town Centre and secondary shopping centres,
It would encourage the development of business improvement districts to help create and sustain jobs.
Labour would create employment opportunities for young people in the public sector through the creation of apprenticeships and traineeships.
It would award Council Contracts to local businesses where it is possible to do so.

What one thing could central Government do to make the job of running a local authority easier?

It could trust them to deliver for their local communities, by devolving more powers to local authorities and providing finance which is not ring fenced.
It could deliver on its promise of localism and insist that local authorities devolve power to people and communities wherever possible.

If elected what would you wish to be judged on after 4 years?

Progress on our major priorities as stated above.
Whether we have delivered a more efficient Council and managed the public finance in such a way as to make general improvements to services and keep tax at an acceptable level.
I would hope to have protected and improved people’s quality of life and delivered, Redbridge, a better place to live.

1 comment:

  1. 2 stars for the housing service has already been achieved