The Council elections in May are important for everyone who lives in Fife. They will decide the direction that Fife takes for the next five years and the type and quality of services we all receive from the Council.
These will be a difficult five years, a time of financial constraint and cuts in funding from central government at Holyrood and Westminster. However Fife Council has real choices about how it uses its money and about how it delivers its services. It has never been more important that Fife has an Administration which will stand up for the electorate, and ensure that our communities receive a fair deal from central government.
The SNP/Lib Dem Administration, who have run Fife Council for the last five years, would have you believe there is no alternative to cutting service provision, jobs and increasing charges for vital services.
Fife Labour believes there is a choice. A real choice, between a SNP/Lib Dem Administration, or Fife Labour who will stand up for Fife’s communities, defend and improve services, cut waste and bureaucracy, and make sure the Council puts people first.
A clear choice between an SNP/Lib Dem Administration which is obsessed with saving money at all costs, no matter what impact this has on service users and Fife Labour who will put people first and find ways to maintain the vital services they need
A clear choice between an SNP/Lib Dem Administration that tells people what is good for them and ignores their views and Fife Labour who will listen to local people, undertake real
consultation and take decisions based on what local people think, not just what council officials tell them.
A clear choice between an SNP/Lib Dem Administration which uses the phrase ‘we must provide services to the most vulnerable’ as shorthand for cutting services to everyone else and Fife Labour who will provide quality services to everyone in Fife dependent on their needs.
A clear choice between an SNP/Lib Dem Administration presently closing local facilities, selling off assets and reducing access to services and Fife Labour who will ensure local facilities
are located where local people need them and open at times when local people need to use them.
A clear choice between an SNP/Lib Dem Administration that is centralising its services and becoming more remote and more difficult to contact, and Fife Labour that wants to devolve services and decisions to local level across Fife.
A clear choice between an SNP/Lib Dem Administration that would rather divert attention away to national issues and won’t take responsibility for the local decisions they have taken, and Fife Labour who will focus on what the Council is doing itself instead of blaming others for its own actions
Putting pupils first
Put an additional £20 million direct to the schools
Increase the budget for books and equipment
Create schools/college apprenticeship links as an option for pupils
Increase the levels of sport and fitness in our schools
Bring about a massive improvement in numeracy and literacy
Empower parents in all aspects of education through new Parent Forums
Continue with the school building renewal programme
Review the size and condition of the school estate to establish priorities for investment.
Continue with a review of all catchment areas in the context of projected rolls, existing capacity and the outcome of the school
In the Council of 2007/12 we opposed the cutting of Maths and English teachers in our secondary schools. The policy of class sizes of 20 for S1 and S2 Maths and English was abandoned by the SNP and Liberal Democrats and as a result they cut the teachers. Labour will restore this for we now know that these cuts have had a detrimental impact on attainment for too many of our young people.
The link between multiple deprivation and educational attainment in Fife schools remains stubbornly strong. We will look at targeting more resources to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and schools that serve deprived areas, where pupils with the greatest risk of leaving school with no qualifications are concentrated.
We will invest more in early years pre-school as these are the key years in a child’sdevelopment.
Specifically we will;
Increase the numberof hours available for Fife nursery school pupils from 12.5 hours to 15 hours a week
Develop a network of family centres in all parts of Fife
Develop and support flexible childcare projects that can offer childcare provision wrapped around nursery school provision
In Fife there are over 11,000 people on the council housing waiting lists with many more thousands living in poor housing and housing that is not suitable to meet their needs. Put simply there are not enough houses for the people who need them and for many the option of ownership is simply not an option whilst the cost of private let is beyond many people’s ability to pay.
Fife Labour will address this crisis by ;
In partnership achieve a further 2,700 homes for rent in Fife over the next 5 years, double the number provided in the last 5 years.
Continue to invest in Council housing stock ensuring it is safe, secure and warm and of the highest standard
Give tenants more say and choice on how local housing community budgets are prioritised and spent
Reduce waiting times for wet floor showers where a need has been identified.
Review and increase the levels of affordable housing being linked through planning agreements to new housing developments
Examine options for supporting first time buyers with mortgage deposits Establish a Housing Forum that brings together house builders, planners, housing associations, housing groups such as Shelter and tenants to refocus Fife’s energies on tackling the housing crisis we have.
Introduce repairs by appointment and reduce the response time for repairs for council tenants
A tougher approach to ensure all private landlords and tenants live up to their responsibilities
The proposals put forward for housing are ambitious but ecessary given the growing housing crisis within Fife. The SNP government has cut the amount of money for building new homes in Fife from £26m in 2007 to £13m in 2011. Fife Labour will continue to push for more funding from the Scottish government whilst developing new approaches and partnerships locally to tackle this crisis head on.
Sport and Leisure
Sport and leisure has a key role to play in improving health and well being in every community across Fife. The majority of sport and leisure activity in Fife is done through local sport and leisure clubs that are run by local people on a voluntary basis. For little amounts of money and support these local groups can do much more and should be at the heart of any sports strategy for Fife. Fife Labour will;
Provide practical support and access to local budgets for local sports groups
Guaranteed swimming lessons for primary school pupils
Work with sports clubs and local sports councils to improve access and facilities and to get more people into sport
£5m capital investment fund for local sports and leisure facilities
Increase the level of sport available in our schools
Open up access to facilities at times that suit local people
In Fife substantial amounts of money are spent on programmes and facilities and Labour wants to bring transparency to how much is spent, the target groups and outcomes in order that a well informed community discussion can take place on how best to spend these large sums.
The level of unemployment in Fife is not acceptable and direct action needs to be taken and coordinated to ensure we are able to develop and attract new jobs to the area whilst giving all the support we can to local companies experiencing difficulties as a result of the national and global economic downturn.
Local government does not control all the levers or have the financial resources to tackle this problem but there are practical actions we can take to assist people and businesses. Fife Council under Labour will take steps to intervene directly including;
Fund a new scheme by £5 million over the next three years whereby employers of all sizes will be supported to offer training and apprenticeship places
Review all current training schemes within the council with a view to increasing apprenticeships and workplace learning and engaging more employers in the council programmes
Set up a rapid response unit to assist Fife employers experiencing difficulties in the current economic climate
Establish a single point of contact for small businesses
Review all current procurement policy to examine what is legally acceptable in supporting Fife companies to access Fife council contracts. This will include local labour agreements, community benefit clauses, local purchasing agreements, local training agreements and support for Fife companies to win contracts and business in all sectors protecting Fife
Move away from the current eight planning committees and make sure Fife as a planning authority has the resources and focus to keep Fife open for business
Develop Community Energy Companies in Fife based on the best examples from across Scotland and elsewhere.
Labour will focus on the key sectors influencing the Fife economy and review all activities with a view to maximising the support available to drive these sectors. Our initial attention will focus on the following areas;
Renewables and Green Technologies
Retail and Service Sector
Development and Growth of Small Business
Arts and Creative Industries
We will review the current framework of economic partnerships and cooperation between all sectors in Fife with a view to build on what works well. We will also look at how best to support the development of social and co-operative enterprises in Fife.
Fife Labours manifesto can be found at www.fifelabourparty.org