Huntingdonshire Liberal Democrats
HUNTINGDONSHIRE deserves a better electoral system, the district council s opposition says. The Liberal Democrats routinely poll 35 per cent of the popular vote, but the first-past-the-post system delivers only 20 per cent of the seats, party leader Peter
HUNTINGDONSHIRE deserves a better electoral system, the district council's opposition says.
The Liberal Democrats routinely poll 35 per cent of the popular vote, but the first-past-the-post system delivers only 20 per cent of the seats, party leader Peter Downes said yesterday (Tuesday).
The Lib Dems acknowledge that they have no statistical chance of wresting control of HDC from the Tories next month, but say an increased presence would enable them to exert greater influence in the council chamber.
"We have a strong team of candidates - probably the strongest for a number of years," he told The Hunts Post. "If the people of Huntingdonshire are wise enough to elect them, they will be getting good ward councillors and enhancing the overall quality of district council membership."
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The party will be campaigning achieving better services in a cost-effective way; increasing safety of communities and on roads, protecting and improving the environment, enhancing the quality of life for all citizens, especially the young and the elderly, providing homes for those who need them, and encouraging greater involvement in local democracy.
The Lib Dems point out that they have recently argued that the expenditure on re-building Pathfinder House is excessive, because the plan increases office space at a time when most councils are seeking to reduce their administrative space and costs.
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They questioned the need for councillors to be paid up to 54.4p per mile travelling allowance when the Inland Revenue's recommended maximum figure is 40p per mile.
They have recommended that, wherever possible, council administrative services should be shared with other local authorities to reduce back-room costs to protect front-line services.
They advocated a more urgent approach to climate change in the area - over 200 local councils signed the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change before Huntingdonshire got round to it, the party said yesterday. "Apart from a good record on recycling, plans for further action are coming forward only slowly."
They have been pressing for years for greater public access to democracy. They recommended that the public be allowed greater speaking access to council meetings and that, through 'State of the District' conferences, all local residents be given the chance to voice their opinions directly.
They also proposed the creation of the District Youth Forum to give young people a voice in the council process, and to encourage each parish council to set up a youth forum in its area.
Cllr Downes, who is seeking re-election in Brampton, also pointed to local issues in which the party had become involved, including several in St Neots where the Lib Dems control the town council.
In Huntingdon, they have questioned the wisdom of moving the regional college to Hinchingbrooke, away from its Oxmoor home, where they say it is more accessible to those who need training.
They opposed the closure of Buckden Recycling Centre, and supported the A141/Kings Ripton Road junction campaign.
"In St Ives we have clearly allied ourselves with the campaign to save the Corn Exchange, and in Ramsey we are working to try to protect car parks and save the town from over-development. Road safety in the Fen villages is another major theme," he said.