Local election 2021: Coventry Lib Dems want to break up ‘stale’ two-party politics

April 25, 2021 1:13 PM

Taken from the Coventry Telegraph on 16th April found here.

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"People are a little bit disillusioned of this idea that the only choice of vote you have is Labour or Conservative," said Nukey Proctor, from Coventry Liberal Democrats.

"Those are the only options, you have to pick your least worst favourite.

"It's actually about providing local people with an alternative and with an opportunity to say I do want something different and things done a different way."

Ms Proctor said she is fed-up with the 'stale two-party politics' in Coventry and wants to shake up Coventry City Council.

Labour currently have a massive majority on the council, holding 39 of the 54 seats - 40 but for a by-election - with the opposition Conservatives on 13.

She feels there is "definitely a desire for a different kind of politics", criticising what she believes has been "constant bickering" between the city's two biggest parties and "political games".

"We want people to have the opportunity to vote for something different and vote Lib Dem and have their voice be heard," she said.

The party is hoping they can gain their first city councillor since Russell Field lost his seat in Upper Stoke to Labour in 2012.

Candidates are being fielded in all 19 seats and key to their ethos is tackling local issues and championing community causes.

Candidate Stephen Richmond, who is standing in Earlsdon, said that means anything from action on potholes, a campaign to tackle car theft, and a bid to scrap fines for the homeless.

The council's pothole record has been called into question in recent years, with research from the RAC Foundation branding the council the slowest in Britain when it comes to fixing serious potholes - a title the council refuted.

He said: " Coventry has done particularly poorly on potholes compared to other councils nationally. If you talk to the council they will tell you budget cuts are a huge problem and that's a fair point.

"But it becomes much less of a fair point when you consider there are so many other councils in the country that have also faced those cuts and have done significantly better than Coventry."

Since 2017, the council has enforced a Public Space Protection Order which imposes fines of up to £100 on beggars for 'persistent', 'unreasonable' or 'detrimental' behaviour, stating it ensures a "welcoming environment" for visitors.

But the party believes the order itself is unreasonable and wants it gone.

Mr Richmond said: "Homeless people live very difficult lives and don't have any money.

"Trying to fine them up to £100 is frankly an absolute waste of police and council time, does nobody any good and is cruel.

"Manchester is another Labour council giving these £100 fines to the homeless. It's hard to believe the people who are voting Labour want that to happen and yet it's happening anyway. That's what happens when you have unchallenged government."

Lib Dems also want more action on improving air quality, with an estimated 168 deaths each year in Coventry linked to bad air according to Public Health England.

"It's a huge issue," Mr Richmond said.

"The other issue is recycling. Coventry performs badly in comparison to other councils, only 33.4 per cent of our rubbish gets recycled and that's comparatively low to other councils and we've seen no improvement."

Other policies include:

  • a new approach to housing by building more residential homes in the city centre, and less built on the green belt
  • safe cycling schemes and exploring free parking in the city centre
  • greater support for local businesses

Ms Proctor, who is standing in Sherbourne, said the party was 'proud' to offer a "full slate of Lib Dem candidates" - and they're hopeful they'll be a part of the Council Chamber come May.

"We would like to make significant progress across the city generally and hope to have more votes than we have had in a very long time," added Stephen.

"We are expecting to do slightly better in the south west of the city than other places and particularly in my ward and Nukey's ward we would like to make progress in. We would love to continue to do well with James Morshead in Wainbody too."