Adur residents will go to the polls on May 3 to elect their latest batch of district councillors. The Herald has spoken to figures from every party fielding candidates to get their thoughts and priorities ahead of next month’s election. A new interview will be added every day – and today (Tuesday, April 17), by virtue of a random draw, Labour kicks off our coverage.
A positive response on the doorstep has prompted Labour to target twice the seats on Adur District Council than originally planned.
Labour’s Les Alden said his party had initially targeted five of the 14 seats up for grabs on May 3 – but it was now ‘putting resources’ into ten.
Mr Alden said the council’s system of electing half its councillors every two years meant a sudden turnaround was unlikely, with the party instead hoping for a ‘strong majority’ in 2020.
Even a surprise ten victories would not be enough to hand Labour an overall majority, although it would be more than sufficient to see the ruling Conservatives lose their slim majority.
“It is not party policy to enter coalitions,” he said.
“However we are prepared to form a minority administration if there is no overall majority.”
Labour, currently the third-largest party with four councillors, wants ‘more residents to have a voice’ and advocates removing the leader and cabinet decision-making framework.
Mr Alden added: “There are many aspects of current council services that can be reviewed without spending more. We will not be afraid to review such issues as the level of housing repairs satisfaction or ways to increase air quality.
“Like many local people, we are concerned about the effect of current development proposals on traffic, schools and health facilities.
“The community reaction to the local plan, with packed public meetings, shows that local people did not feel involved. This must not happen again.”
The latest Tory budget was passed unanimously in February with no amendments offered up by opposition councillors.
Mr Alden, who has led the party since his election in 2016, said it had decided against opposing a council tax rise despite the increase exceeding budget requirements.
He said Labour had proposed ‘many initiatives’ over the last two years but were voted down.
Explaining how Labour’s opposition differed to UKIP’s, he said: “UKIP was founded as a one-issue national party and when considering local issues was not coherent. Labour has a large group of local members behind it and has been able to identify the issues most important to local people. We offer sound alternatives.”