Norwich Labour launch manifesto for taking city council control

More homes, new jobs, and cleaner, safer neighbourhoods – Labour councillors yesterday unveiled the manifesto they hope will secure the party overall control of City Hall.

Leader councillor Brenda Arthur took to the doorstep yesterday to announce the blueprint with which the party wants to win over voters at the ballot box in next month's elections.

She was joined in Beverley Avenue in north Earlham by candidates, councillors and supporters to reveal the detail of a 'manifesto for everybody'.

She said: 'We decided to launch our manifesto in the community because that is where it has come from – from listening to what people have told us and responding to their concerns.

'Everyone has aspirations for their children and for their families to thrive, and we believe that our manifesto can deliver that.'

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Labour currently holds 18 of the authority's 39 seats, just three ahead of the Greens, and Ms Arthur said the party's aim was simple.

'Clearly we want to take overall control of the city council, and we are working hard across all wards. This is a manifesto for everybody.'

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Councillors want to build more homes, continuing the work that has seen 108 built in the past year, as well as upgrading existing council homes and bringing empty properties back into use.

Improved welfare and benefits information, a reduction in anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping in residential areas, and better resources for those seeking employment form the backbone of the manifesto. Ms Arthur said: 'We want to bring new jobs to the city, and we have led by example by offering apprenticeships at the city council, and we want to encourage others to do the same and work to help them.

'We are committed to working with people in their communities and helping to deliver cleaner, safer neighbourhoods.'

She also stressed that value for money would be a guiding principle throughout the manifesto and that all the proposed measures had been fully costed, recognising the 'huge constraints' imposed by central government.

'We've already cut �14.6m out of the budget without it initially affecting frontline services, after conducting the greatest consultation with people across the county for many years,' said Ms Arthur.

'We would like to do more – the number of homes to be build is lower than we would have wanted, for example – but we've shown that even in tough times we can still deliver what people want.'

Part of that value for money promise includes continuing to provide parks, free entertainment and heritage festivals which people can enjoy despite tight household finances.

Ms Arthur pointed to Labour's track record on environmental issues – including energy saving in car park lighting, changing the voltage at City Hall and putting solar panels on the roof to save half a million pounds – and said she was confident of at least matching the eco-credentials of Labour's opposition.

The party aims to drive up the rate of recycling, which is already the best in the east, and increasing the number of cycle lanes in the city.

Marion Maxwell, Labour's candidate for Mancroft ward, who is standing for re-election, said voters would recognise the difference Labour had made in the area, including campaigns against dangerous dogs and NHS reforms.

She added: 'We have fought against legal loan sharks last year, helping people to appreciate what the 4,000 per cent loans actually meant.

'We've canvassed on anti-social behaviour, because there's a big drug culture in the city centre, and we have done a lot of work on that.'

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