Hertfordshire County Council election: Labour manifesto says it plans to protect jobs and services in the county

Manifesto outlines how Labour would run county council before May 6

Protecting jobs and services, building a stronger economy and protecting the environment are among the priorities being put forward by Labour candidates in Hertfordshire, in the run-up to the county council elections on May 6.

The priorities are include in the Party’s 28-page manifesto, which sets out a vision for a Labour-run Hertfordshire County Council.

According to the manifesto, a Labour administration would review all county council contracts with external organisations within the first year – making in-house service delivery the first choice.

Elections take place on May 6

It would work to ensure external contracts were awarded to local companies and insist those with council contracts pay a ‘real Living Wage’.

It would review pension fund investments to ensure they are ethical and that they, as far as possible, support the local economy.

And it would ensure economic growth is sustainable, green – and creates local jobs.

The election manifesto also focusses on community wealth building, equalities and diversity.

Currently Labour – who are fielding candidates in every one of the 78 divisions, including 10 county council seats in Dacorum – hold just nine of the seats on the county council.

But leader of the county council Labour group Cllr Judi Billing says that they hope their numbers will ‘considerably increase’ after May 6.

She says the Labour Party’s strength is in listening to residents, recognising concerns and acting on them – pointing to their response to the climate emergency.

She highlights the importance of education and the provision for children with SEN and of issues related to road-safety to residents across the county.

And she says 20 miles-per-hour speed limits should be the default limit across Hertfordshire – suggesting this is something Labour would implement quickly.

Also included in Labour’s wide-ranging manifesto is a commitment to oppose any plans for a single unitary authority and to seek a gender-balanced cabinet.

It vows that a Labour administration would reinstate youth services and exempt care leavers from paying council tax, until they are 25.

And it says a Labour administration would develop plans to maximise the building of social and affordable housing on council-owned land – as well as working with the voluntary sector to tackle food poverty.

It also commits to restoring all firefighting and rescue staff ‘lost’ since 2010 -and to campaign for crew sizes to return to five, rather than four.

Cllr Billing also points to the steps to protect the environment and to tackle climate change that are ‘peppered’ throughout the manifesto.

They include reinstatement of bus subsidies, installation of solar panels on council buildings with suitable roofs and improving public transport links to railways stations in Stevenage and Watford.

When it comes transport, Labour say they want more late night buses. They want to increase rail capacity around St Albans by using the loop on the Abbey Line. And they say they would push for Oyster Cards for towns close to London.

They also have plans to investigate whether changes during the pandemic have had an impact on the environment.

Cllr Billing says that despite having been the smallest of the three political groups on the county council, Labour has had a good track record.

“For the past four years we have been the smallest of the three groups,” she said.

“But we have punched above our weight when it comes to issues like the climate emergency and school spending – and we have made a far bigger difference than you would imagine from our numbers.”

She says the local Labour party has developed new ways of communicating with communities during the pandemic – stressing that, as a party, they are ‘in listening mode’ all of the time.

> Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green candidates are standing in every one of the county council seats within Dacorum – with a Reform candidate standing in Bridgewater and independent Jan Maddern in Hemel Hempstead South East.