Stewart’s Fresh Start Priorities
“Our experience of Covid on top of the Climate Change Emergency calls for a complete refocus around the areas of transport, housing and economic development and adult education that the Mayor has responsibility for.
I will use my 20 years experience in local government to work with councillors and communities to develop ‘15 minute neighbourhoods‘ to revive our town, district and village centres to harness the potential of homeworking to rebalance economic growth in our region.
I will end public transport spending that allows private bus companies to increase their profits, whilst doing little to address unreliability and rising prices for passengers. Let’s get more investment in local bus routes, and safer walking and cycling in our neighbourhoods instead of the obsession with city centre prestige projects.
HS2 is an overpriced white elephant, and I will not accept that our region should wait for the delivery of HS2 before we can benefit from better local rail services. I will work to get more carriages and greater frequency on our routes, and deliver the transpennine connectivity we deserve through Northern Powerhouse Rail.
If we are to tackle the Climate Change Emergency, we need to grow green jobs for the future. The West Yorkshire rural economy has been overlooked for too long. Let’s get more of our food grown locally, help farmers generate more renewable energy, increase our tree cover, and develop local leisure tourism. Let’s get more zero carbon housing built by local building companies developing homes that people can afford. We need to encourage new jobs outside of city centre offices and warehouse parks. The care of our vulnerable and elderly cannot be left to big corporate players, and I hope to develop a quantum growth in small and micro enterprises in community care.
Adult education will be a key influence on our local economic performance emerging from a Covid recession exacerbated by Brexit. I will endeavour that local education providers are prepared for the retraining of adults without work, and that capacity is increased to deliver qualifications in the green growth economy areas such as arboriculture, renewable energy, and construction.
I will also work with Councils to develop a scheme to maximise the confidence of parents with under developed literacy and numeracy skills to enable them to best support their children’s education, and ultimately, their adult outcomes.
This relates directly to my priorities on Crime and Policing that also fall into the jurisdiction of the elected Mayor. My overriding priority will be forward looking; to try and insulate as many young people as possible from our region from being sucked into the criminal justice system in the first place. As mentioned above, I will work with local authorities to support young people to achieve at school, as children with more qualifications have more options. A supportive home environment must also be backed up by a safe community environment, and my oversight of West Yorkshire Police will concentrate on rebuilding the delivery of community policing, and tackling adult neighbourhood anti social behaviour effectively.
You will note that much of this is drawn in broad brush strokes. That is because the success of all of these schemes are dependent on finessing the detail to suit each community. I commit to working with partners to develop solutions that are bespoke and shaped by the communities they serve. That is my commitment as a Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate.”
Levelling Up The Election
Elections are expensive, and the bigger parties would love to make it harder for community focussed parties like ours to be drowned out by their propaganda machines funded by big business and the Unions.
Liberal Democrats community campaigns ensure our councillors get elected to hold Council regimes to account across West Yorkshire, and we can do even more with an elected Mayor. A fairer voting system for this contest means we can do it, too. However, the government’s election rules put expensive hurdles in our path. The candidate must pay a £5000 deposit to stand in the election. Mayoral election candidates are also expected to pay £4000 to appear in a taxpayer funded £650,000 booklet sent to every household in West Yorkshire. Every donation you send helps us take on the big party campaign machines. Can you help us raise £10,000?