By Michael Prowse / Latest News / 0 Comments

The voters of Canterbury have once again created a political upset after last week’s local poll saw Labour increasing its representation on the city council by 150 per cent. Following on the 2017 success of Rosie Duffield in becoming the first Labour MP for the former Conservative stronghold, the party had its best night in Canterbury for nearly 25 years. Labour now has 10 councillors and will be “a real force to be reckoned with”, said Alan Baldock, the party’s leader on the council.

“The widespread support for our radical manifesto shows that the people of Canterbury are ready for change,” Mr Baldock added. “As the official opposition we will be scrutinising everything the Tories do and making sure that residents’ views are properly listened to.” On a night when the Tories lost both their leader, Simon Cook, and his heir apparent, Benjamin Fitter-Harding, Mr Baldock and Jean Butcher easily held their seats in the Northgate ward taking 56 per cent of the vote in a field that included Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Greens.

In Barton, Labour had a clean sweep with Connie Nolan, Pat Edwards and Dave Wilson taking all three seats up for grabs. The battle for Westgate ward saw Gill Gower winning one seat with the Lib Dem veteran Michael Dixey taking the other.  In St Stephens the multi-talented, saxophone-playing Mel Dawkins ousted one Conservative but the well-known local Tory Terry Westgate took the second seat, leaving him as the sole Conservative councillor in the city itself. “It seems his colleagues paid the price for their neglect of the city. Residents have been let down and ignored by the Tories for far too long,” Mr Baldock said.

Over in Whitstable the Labour trio of George Caffery, Chris Cornell and Val Kenny fought off a strong challenge from the Green Party to take all three seats.

By Michael Prowse / Latest News / 0 Comments

Alan Baldock, Northgate councillor and Labour Group leader, launched the party’s manifesto for the Canterbury City Council elections this afternoon saying “it’s time for a change”.

He told Labour candidates and ward organisers gathered at the Thanington Resource Centre, that the vision was to put local communities first. Labour was not ashamed to promote civic pride and recognise the value of local people’s voice in decision-making. “This is a manifesto that faces head on the appalling housing crisis in this Council that rips hope and security from the lives of too many local families, it offers them change and a better future,” he said. “It recognises the responsibility of leadership that we have to deliver a green and safe legacy for future generations.” He pledged that any Labour-controlled council would operate within a “financially sound administration”.

To applause he added: “Every one of the 39 seats contested has a Labour candidate standing and 19 are women. This simple fact makes Labour wiser, stronger and more inclusive.”

Supporting the manifesto, Paul Todd, standing in the Wincheap ward, said: “The Labour Party is truly part of the communities in which we serve, this manifesto sticks up for Thanington, a place which is special but largely forgotten by our council.” His fellow candidate in the ward, Zoila Santos, said  “I meet people who don’t want have to leave their home to find work. Our manifesto helps secure local work and pay people a decent wage.”

One of the cornerstones of Labours vision for our district is the establishment of a five-year innovation and regeneration plan to invest in the knowledge economy and turn our high streets into the best commercial and  cultural centres in Kent.

Mel Dawkins, candidate for St Stephens, said the current council was “doing nothing to protect us from air pollution”.  Drivers at Canterbury’s level crossings needed to turn their engines off when waiting for trains to pass. “Its a simple message – but strong”, she said. In power Labour would start real-time air quality monitoring and aim
to get the district carbon neutral by 2030. This would hugely improve
public health and save many people from an early death.

Dave Wilson urged candidates and canvassers to spread the message that this Tory-controlled council was a disgrace. “They are hiding behind austerity which is their fault in the first place. We have to get the message across – it’s time for change.

“We can make an absolutely massive change to our city; we can make it more welcoming, more accommodating, more positive. The Tories manifesto is full of things they have failed to achieve over the last 12 years, we have a sensible, considerate plan for tax payers money.” Mr Baldock finished by saying our candidates were “united by a passion for change.”

“Our incredible team brings a very diverse set of skills and talents, they are young, old and in between,  – I am proud of every one of them.  They are determined to ensure Labour’s values will be woven into everything a future Canterbury City Council does. It is time for change.”

Download a copy of our manifesto here