PUTTING YOU BACK IN CONTROL
Newport Independents Party Vision for Newport 2017
Our only contract is with YOU!
What do we mean by ‘independent’?
Free from any party whip, our candidates can truly represent your interests above those of any political party.
This is not true of some other political parties whose councillors and candidates are asked to enter contracts to support their parties. They may be bound by these contracts to put the interests of their parties first. We don’t have any such contracts, and that’s what we mean by ‘independent’.
We will listen to what matters to you
If neighbours present us with a petition signed by local people in the ward with more than 50 signatures, we will hold a public meeting and be guided by you in any decisions related thereafter.
We will be open and accountable
We will hold regular surgeries and ensure ward meetings are mandatory for our councillors.
We will answer to you
Other parties have signed contracts to support their parties. We will only support you and your family.
We will be honest with you
If we are wrong, we’ll admit it, listen and work together to find solutions.
We are dedicated to working collectively to improve our great city and its communities through innovation and ideas, and dedicated to making the council responsive and accountable. Above all, we are dedicated to making Newport City Council a truly democratic council.
It’s time to put YOU back in charge.
An accountable council
Before calling ourselves a ‘City of Democracy’ we should first become truly democratic.
We have the commitment to make this happen through a range of strategies, tactics and ambitions that include ensuring council meetings are held at least once a month and bringing to an end cancelled full council meetings.
Public questions will be allowed and encouraged at full council.
Open questions to cabinet will be allowed and we will keep questions ‘at any time’ where cabinet members and the leader can be asked a written question at anytime.
We will encourage the people of Newport to petition the council on the issues they care about. Petitions with more than 500 local signatures from Newport residents will be debated in full council.
We will set up a working group to explore the idea of an elected mayor for the city.
We will look at devolving more power and responsibility for parks, green spaces etc. to local community councils. The current council does not like the idea of giving you more control, but we do.
If a neighbourhood presents a petition of 10% of the local ward electorate, we will respect their desire to look at setting up community councils.
We will introduce a freeze for four years on recruitment of all senior staff on salaries over £90,000 a year.
It is our goal to reintroduce councillor neighbourhood allowances, initially at a level of £600 per year. We will explore the viability of allowances being used solely for ward projects related to infrastructure such as minor road repairs, street lighting, litter bins, canal and river banks, and children’s play and green areas.
We will also look to allow councillors to ‘roll over’ the allowance for up to three years thereby increasing the potential spend for projects to £1,800, and we will allow wards with multiple councillors to join their allowance together. This policy will allow councillors to have direct influence over projects in their wards. We will pay for this scheme with funds that currently sit in the StreetScene budget.
We will create an independent public scrutiny committee.
We would ensure full public consultation and participation regarding increases to Council Tax so all voices and views are heard. Our draft budget would be informed by you and drawn up by councillors and not council officers. We would encourage a cross party approach to budget setting via a ‘budget committee’ which would have representation from all political groups.
Supporting the local economy
For too long Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have failed to support the local business community that is the bedrock of our economy and the key to Newport’s future success. They have consistently put first the interests of multi-national businesses that give little and take much, and which are not always loyal to the city. It’s time to keep money in the local economy instead of sending it to the bank accounts of large multi-national corporations, and time to put local business first.
It should be all about careers, not jobs.
A more vibrant and successful local business environment will offer opportunities for real careers, not just zero hour minimum wage jobs with no career path or job security.
Support for new local business.
Newport has one of the lowest levels of business start-up growth in the UK*. We will work to make Newport more supportive and attractive as a place to start a business and will prioritise initiatives that support local business growth.
We will look to source funding to create an ‘Independent Retail Quarter’ around the indoor market area of the city.
Innovative parking solutions to support local business.
While we support free parking for council owned car parks we appreciate the economic realities.
We will put a freeze on car parking increases for four years. We will also look to develop a voucher scheme whereby if you present your parking ticket to an independent trader you will get the equivalent cost back. We will achieve this by working with NewportNow (the Business Improvement District) and local businesses, and by providing additional funding from revenues generated by car parking charges.
We will also introduce ‘Free After Three’ parking initiatives that will help to drive business to independent businesses. And we will also offer cheap parking for low income workers by introducing a scheme whereby spaces are made available at a cost of £10 per month per space and allocated on a ballot basis to local businesses.
Small business support.
We will introduce rent free introduction periods for the market by working with partners such as Newport Norse.
We will look to ensure the Newport City Summit is not politicised and is allowed to be a positive forum for ideas to improve the city, instead of being hijacked by Labour as a PR opportunity.
Better broadband coverage.
Only 51.3% of premises in Newport have access to ultrafast broadband (>100 Mbps) compared to 76.4% in Cardiff and 86.9% in Bristol*. This stifles Newport’s ability to compete online. We will make it a priority to investigate and address this issue.
*Source: The Centre for Cities: Cities Outlook report.
For too long your councillors have taken for granted the existing communities of Newport. The council has a focus on building new housing estates and attracting new people into the city, but at the cost of the people who already live here.
We do not want to become simply a ‘commuter town’ for the neighbouring cities of Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Swansea. Our infrastructure, roads, schools and doctors cannot take the strain.
We want more community involvement in planning, giving you more of a say in how our city develops and, where necessary, putting the breaks on new developments if they are unsustainable.
Volunteers do a great job and we want to encourage and support greater community effort. We will set up a volunteering fund from money saved on producing Newport Matters that groups can apply for to get ideas off the ground or to buy equipment. But while volunteering is to be applauded, it should not replace services you pay your council tax for. We will ensure synergy between activities to make sure they complement each other.
We will work to introduce a communities forum working with local charities/trusts/advice centres to create a cohesive group to deal with issues like discrimination and to promote education and welfare.
Our older residents.
We’d like every neighbour over 65 to have the right to access a community group at least once a month. We can achieve this by reallocating a council officer as a ‘wellbeing officer,’ who will coordinate existing groups with those wishing to join.
We want to work with religious groups, our community council and the voluntary sector to set up groups our elderly neighbours can access, and provide seed funding to get projects off the ground.
We are dedicated to improving the lives of people with mental health problems that affect 1 in 4 of us. For example, many homeless people on our streets have complex mental health issues, so we would reallocate a dedicated ‘Homeless Officer’ to work with partners to address the crisis on our streets and set the goal of becoming a city free of rough sleepers within five years.
We want Newport to became the first city in Wales to adopt the principles of Equality of Women and Men in local life. We’d establish a Newport Women’s Commission to be the mechanism by which our city can demonstrate its progress on meeting the goals of the Charter.
We are proud of our diverse community and believe we should celebrate and learn from all our cultures. Minority groups should not be ignored. Instead we will celebrate their difference and the ways in which they enrich our city.
Our young people
Newport has extremely high levels of young people claiming benefits. But our young people are the city’s future. We need to ensure they are properly supported and encouraged at all stages of their development, and are offered opportunities to build their own futures.
Local schools for local children.
We want to end the uncertainty parents feel when looking for Primary School places, so we will ensure ‘local schools for local children’. We will do this by changing catchment areas, giving mums, dads and carers the right to a place in their local community.
Ensure our schools are adequately resourced.
This is vital to ensure our young people get the support they need. Class sizes are getting bigger, yet teaching posts and subjects are being cut. We will fight against further cuts to the education budget.
Given the disturbing news that a school governor was convicted for possessing child pornography, we will tighten up the vetting of proposed governors, ensuring the best people are appointed, and that nobody is given a position on school boards simply because of their political support or membership of a political party.
Give our children their bus passes back.
We will give children living 2 miles or more free school transport. The current policy implemented by Labour adds to congestion and potentially puts children in harm’s way.
This initiative will be paid for by renegotiating contracts with transport suppliers. The current deal is a bad one. We will also allow parents to ‘top up’ travel passes to use on weekends and evenings.
Giving young people something to do.
We will work with local communities to bring back youth clubs run on a voluntary basis. This will help to reduce the problem of young people hanging around our streets with nothing to do.
Helping young people into employment.
We plan to create more apprenticeships, over and above the limited short-term placements currently offered by the council. If we create more apprenticeships for each council department this will multiply as we roll the idea out to business partners.
We will also look to set up enterprise hubs in council buildings. We want our city to become known for its young entrepreneurs creating the careers and wealth of the future.
We want to explore the idea of ring fencing course placements at the University of South Wales for those who don’t necessarily have top marks. It’s working in Bristol, so why not Newport?
Improving the city centre
Labour and the Conservatives have put all their eggs in the single basket of Friars Walk, but have turned their backs on the rest of the city centre. We need to make Newport a city that people want to visit and spend time in again.
Purple Flag status.
We will make it a target to achieve Purple Flag status for Newport city centre within 7 years. We raised this idea recently online and it was adopted by Labour. Purple Flag status is granted to town and city centres that can show excellence in management of the evening and night time economy, and which are recognised for providing a vibrant mix of entertainment, while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and local residents.
While it will take time to achieve, setting the target will help us push Newport city centre in the right direction. We will bring together the council, police, business community, business associations and NewportNow (the Business Improvement District) to work together on a strategy to deliver this ambition.
Let’s give people good reasons to come to Newport.
We will work towards a program of events, such as a new festival for Newport, and will call on passionate volunteers who want to deliver events that entertain and drive footfall into the city centre.
Improved management of the city centre.
The NewportNow Business Improvement District (BID) has not delivered to the degree it should have in the time it has been in place. We have an expert on BIDs in our team and we will work closely with the BID to help it get on track to deliver the support to the city centre trading environment and to deliver value to BID levy payers.
Illegal parking and anti-social behaviour.
These remain serious issues across Newport and especially in the city centre. It is time to take a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour and thuggery, as well as illegal parking, fly tipping and dog mess across the city.
We will work with Gwent Police to ensure a more adequate police presence within the city centre, especially in the evenings. The city centre should not be an intimidating place with people harassing people for ‘spare change’ at every cashpoint or intimidating others for fun. An increased police presence can help to alleviate this problem.
A blight on the city during the day, we will work with the NewportNow BID to monitor any episodes of bad practice from charity collectors which will then be reported to the Public Fundraising Association (PFRA) – the membership body for charities and agencies carrying out street and doorstep Direct Debit fundraising.
A greener and healthier city
It is a shameful failure of the council that of the 64 major towns and cities in the UK, Newport has the third highest level of CO2 Emissions per Capita (tons)*.
We also have the third highest rate of commuting by private vehicle*. Those two statistics are linked.
Newport Council is failing to ensure we have effective public transport that would allow people to leave their cars at home when they go to work. As a result we all have to suffer dirty air and the misery of increasing congestion across our city.
Better public transport.
We passionately believe in an integrated low cost public transport system that puts service ahead of profit. We will redraw bus routes in line with public consultation. We will use council influence as board member of our city’s bus service. What’s the point in owning a bus company if you can’t guide policies with a social dividend?
We will ensure the proposed metro system benefits Newport, and not just big business in Cardiff. We would do this by showing strong leadership and not excepting blind dictates from the Capital Region and Welsh Government.
We will also set up a task group to look at ways of making Newport more cycle friendly to allow more people to safely cycle to work with more dedicated cycle paths.
Encouraging a greener lifestyle.
We will work to provide electric car charging points in council car parks at zero cost by working with a supply partner.
Making the most of our natural assets.
We will set up an exploratory working group of business and community leaders to revisit ‘barrage’ technology. This investigation will be paid for from the council’s marketing budget.
A cleaner Newport.
We will look at recycling schemes in other areas with the view to adopting better examples in Newport. A new approach to recycling schemes and the introduction of a simpler, safer and cleaner system will help encourage people to recycle more and keep our streets cleaner and safer.
We will look at utilising waste ground for renewable energy.
This is a wasted opportunity and we should be creating jobs, income and cheaper energy for homes in Newport.
We will put in place the mechanism to demand greater levels of economic and environmental sustainability and green practices from service suppliers and developers. This happens in many progressive councils, but not in Newport.
We will look at adding more greenery to the city through working with suppliers of green technologies such as living walls and green roofs, with the ambition to push Newport towards a future where it leads on sustainability instead of lagging behind.
*Source: The Centre for Cities: Cities Outlook report 2016.
Building on a proud heritage
Despite the spin and soundbites put out by the establishment parties, the city continues to decline. It’s time to refocus and to deliver.
We will work with landlords on a policy of responsibility towards our wonderful and historic buildings. Too often we have seen historic landmarks destroyed for commercial gain. Working with landlords and building owners to incorporate buildings into their designs will help ensure pride in Newport’s heritage while protecting its character.
We will ensure commercial landlords do not profit from empty buildings by making sure there are no discounts for empty buildings.
We will work with commercial landlords to encourage business into the city centre. Newport has a vast amount of potential empty office space within the city centre, including three tower blocks that are underused. By working with companies and landlords to negotiate attractive introductory contracts while ensuring they stay for a minimum term after the introductory period, we will vastly increase footfall into the city centre, thus bringing more trade to current businesses while creating an incentive for more businesses to open in the city centre.
Newport is over 70% green space but this great asset has either been ignored by the Conservatives and Labour, or seen merely as a development opportunity. We will support our rural communities and promote and protect our green spaces by ensuring ‘Countryside Matters’ is on the agenda for relevant committee meetings.
We will insist on a quarterly ‘Countryside Matters’ report from the relevant cabinet member to be presented to full council, and will have a ‘rural open question time’ at least once a year at full council where members of the public can ask rural related questions.
Our countryside is a great and unique selling point for potential investors in Newport. We will promote this unique selling point through the existing marketing budget. We will reintroduce the ‘countryside walks’ initiative and promote these to our older people, families and schools.
A City of Sport.
Our members have campaigned for a statue to Newport’s ‘Rocky’ and we want to make Newport a real sporting city. We want to organise a ‘sporting summit’ bringing together clubs, organisers and supporters with the goal of agreeing a five-year plan to make Newport a sporting city we can all support and be proud of.
After destroying the Chartist Mural, the council made an empty promise to replace it. They hoped we would forget their disgraceful decision. We haven’t. However, we will deliver by providing seed funding and sourcing grants and lottery funding to recreate this important historic mural.