All you need to know ahead of next weeks Worcester City Council elections - The Worcester Observer

All you need to know ahead of next weeks Worcester City Council elections

Worcester Editorial 26th Apr, 2024   0

THE RACE to the magic total of 18 seats is on as Worcester City Council holds its first-ever all-out election next week.

All 35 seats are up for grabs next Thursday, May 2.

Worcester’s political map has been redrawn, meaning the number of wards in the city will increase from 15 to 16.

Worcester is currently a hung-council with Labour as the largest party with 13 seats.

The Green Party currently occupy 11 seats, while there are seven Conservative councillors and four Liberal Democrats making up the remainder of the authority’s elected members.

People will also be able to cast their ballot to decide who becomes West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner.

Labour Party

LAUNCHING an e-bikes-for-hire scheme, tackling the floods and revitalising Worcester’s economy are high on the agenda for the city’s Labour Party.

Coun Lynn Denham, who is currently the council’s joint leader, said her party’s main priorities included supporting those in the Faithful City through the cost-of-living crisis and working with partners to help struggling families.

Active travel would also play a major role in a potential Labour administration, which would include promoting health and well-being in their parks and green spaces.

Plans to get business booming in the town include promoting Worcester’s cultural heritage and all the city has to offer to encourage more visitors.

Coun Denham said immediate challenges facing Worcester include dealing with the impact of the ‘chaos’ facing local government finance ‘ and public services nation-wide.

She added the council must immediately address the climate crisis and take action on flooding as well as creating more affordable homes and holding developers and rogue landlords to account.

Worcester is currently operated through a committee system as opposed to a leader and cabinet model.

Coun Denham said ‘no system was perfect’, as someone who has served in both.

But she added it was important to reach a consensus on the best way forward fairly quickly so there were no delays in making the decisions required for Worcester’s future.


The Green Party

WORCESTER’S Green Party will be pushing for more support to reduce the costs and damage of the increasingly frequent floods which are blighting the Faithful City at this year’s election.

Local Party chair Nick Weeks, who is standing in this year’s election for the Rainbow Hill ward, said the Greens would look to use more natural methods to address the floods so water could be retained upstream.

Social justice and preserving the environment for the future are also high on the agenda for the Greens.

However, the Greens will be looking to achieve a majority without their current city council joint leader Coun Marjory Bisset, who is not standing for re-election in St Stephen’s.

Mr Weeks said his party wanted to ensure everyone in Worcester had somewhere warm to live, enough to eat, and access to education, health and other services.

He added: “We must defend local services, which are disproportionately used by the lowest income households and need to tackle the shortage of decent affordable homes in the city.”

The Greens’ to-do list also includes taking action against landlords who fail to make sure their properties are properly maintained, and tackling traffic congestion and poor air quality through improving public transport and making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

And Mr Weeks confirmed, regardless of the election result, the Greens will be committed to the current ‘more democratic’ committee system.


Conservative Party

COLLABORATION is at the heart of the Conservatives’ election pledges as it looks into ways it can attract investment to make Worcester a more vibrant and successful place.

Tory leader Councillor James Stanley said he and his fellow members would work with Worcestershire County Council to attract businesses to invest in the Faithful City, which would help to quell the need for more better-paid jobs.

Coun Stanley added the Conservatives have a ‘deep commitment’ to introducing schemes to clean up the city and make it as presentable and attractive to visitors and investors as possible.

The Tory’s list of objectives also involves offering people easy access to as many ways to travel across the city as possible.

Flooding has been a plague to many city businesses and homes in recent months.

Coun Stanley said central government had already invested a ‘considerable amount’ into flood alleviation measures and hoped the resulting work would help to prevent future devastation.

He added that continued work between the government, county council chiefs and the city authority was needed to further tackle the issue.

Coun Stanley said he saw no evidence to suggest the council should move away from its current committee system.

He added: “Were we to enter into a serious constitutional conversation, something that isn’t a priority to voters, they would rightly say there were far more pressing issues for us to address in Worcester.”

Liberal Democrats

WORCESTER’S Liberal Democrats would look to improve the ‘inadequate’ buses in the city and ensure youngsters get a good education were they to gain the keys to the council next Thursday.

The Lib Dems currently have four seats on Worcester City Council, 14 short of a majority.

Were they to get it, the Lib Dems would focus on better addressing health and social care as well as helping people with the cost-of-living crisis, according to group leader Coun Mel Allcott.

Education and transport are also big points of concern for the Lib Dems, particularly helping those with special educational needs and disabilities.

Coun Allcott said the most immediate challenges facing the Faithful City include the lack of availability of NHS services, particularly GPs and dentists.

And the Lib Dems will look to encourage more community policing and address the need for housing in Worcester.

They would also look to restore a leader and cabinet system.

Coun Allcott claimed the current system of having joint-leader, roles occupied by Labour’s Coun Lynn Denham and the Green Party’s Coun Marjory Bisset, was a ‘nonsense’ and a real burden to the taxpayer.

She added the current system, which aims to give minority parties a louder voice, was heavy on council resource and administration and felt a cabinet and leader system would better serve the residents of Worcester.


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