Revealed: the Green Party's 'wish list' for Worcester

Councillor Neil Laurenson, from the Green Party

Councillor Neil Laurenson, from the Green Party

First published in News
Last updated
Worcester News: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

THE Green Party's 'wish list' for Worcester City Council can today be revealed - with eight key demands for Labour and the Tories amid the power struggle.

As negotiations over who controls the city stretches into day seven, your Worcester News can reveal an explosive list of demands at the heart of lone Green Councillor Neil Laurenson's hard bargaining.

It includes:

- No worker should be earning less than one-eighth of managing director Duncan Sharkey's £106,882 salary.

That equates to just over £13,000 per year for the lowest paid staff, and your Worcester News understands the council meets that threshold already.

- All new property development in Worcester should have 40 per cent affordable housing - the council's planning guidelines already have this target when 12 homes or more are built.

- An audit trail should be undertaken of all empty city centre properties, and new incentives should be created for shops to convert upper floors into flats.

- Council meetings should be webcast, a series of roadshows should take place to reach out to the public, and the Guildhall should be opened up for debating societies

- A new "purchasing policy" be established where the council buys all its goods and services, from the food in the canteens to the stationery, from city-based suppliers based around an annual target.

- A new food waste pilot be launched, where some streets are picked out to trial a community-based scheme

- A new feasibility study be launched to assess the costs of giving all households free home insulation

- To "turn away" from outsourcing, resist privatisation of services unless it was an absolute final resort, and examine bringing services back into the council like the housing stock.

When services do get handed over to new providers, to allow for a period of 18 months first to see if it can be kept-in house by reducing costs or improving productivity.

Cllr Adrian Gregson, the city's Labour leader, said yesterday that talks on Tuesday night were "productive" but no deal had been agreed.

Cllr Simon Geraghty, Conservative group leader, has asked for time to consider the implications before negotiations resume.

Cllr Laurenson said: “I am pleased that all the other parties have taken the time to explore potential Green policies for Worcester.

“As I have said before, the two main parties have the option of sharing power if they want to, given that they have 33 out of 35 seats between them.

“If they decide not to, and if they still require my support, it would mean that more Green policies would be adopted by the council.

"Indeed, this is exactly why I wanted to become a councillor in the first place."  

It means control of the council is still up for grabs ahead of the full meeting set for this Tuesday, June 3.

HERE’S CLLR LAURENSON’S LIST IN FULL

• No one in the council should earn more than 8X that of the lowest paid.

• Preference to keep jobs and services in house. No further outsourcing to companies without the chance/time for Council to improve costs and productivity.

No outsourcing to companies that do not pay the living wage, that have zero hour contracts, are not investors in people and do not have sensible working hours and holidays.

• All new housing developments in Worcester will consist of a minimum of 40% affordable housing.

A feasibility study will be carried out to consider how city centre development could be prioritised by Council Tax and Business Rates incentives to encourage more flats and dwellings above city centre shops.

A further study will undertake an audit of empty properties will be carried out and consider how their owners chased up to bring them back into use via the existing council tax rules. The study would consider how a property that has not been occupied for more than 2 years for any good reason could be subject to an Empty Dwellings Management Order (Housing Act 2004).

Worcester City Council will carry out a feasibility study to provide every house in the city with loft insulation, where it is still needed, up to 8" thick free of charge.

This will be done with local contractors (and community volunteers to help move things stored in lofts).

It will be paid for by the monies collected by ECO scheme (we all pay on our fuel bills) and potentially a long term council loan as carried out on a cross party basis in Kirklees Yorkshire.

In addition the council will investigate the feasibility of setting-up of an Energy Efficiency Spend to Save pilot scheme where money is lent to home owners who then pay back the interest free loan from savings over a seven year period.

• The percentage of locally sourced good and services will be displayed in a transparent way within the city magazine "Worcester Life" and annual targets set by the cabinet. Significant purchasing decisions will use Local Multiplier 3 method as one of the criteria.

The council has a duty to get value for money on everything it buys. But price is not everything.

The New Economics Foundation promotes Local Multiplier 3 which measures the effect on the local economy as well as the actual contract price. Local sourcing keeps money circulating in the local economy and benefits local businesses.

• The council will establish a cross party working group to investigate why people do not vote in local elections and then make recommendations to improve voter turnout.

Possible solutions could be to work with local schools, colleges and the University to set up a debating society, groups to cover issues like LGBT, the environment, human rights etc.

To open up democracy, webcams will be considered to enable residents to watch and listen to council meetings.

• We will produce a voluntary pilot scheme where food waste is collected in a small part of Worcester city for use in anaerobic digestion. The profits created will be shared with the community taking part in the pilot scheme.

Recycling rates will be monitored in this pilot area and then gradually spread out to other areas of the city

* WHAT DO YOU THINK? Leave your comments below or email te@worcesternews.co.uk.

Comments (11)

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1:04pm Thu 29 May 14

MJI says...

So ONE person under instruction from a UNELECTED political party member controls Worcester City Council.

Hmmmmmmmmmm

Oh and food waste collection - waste of time, money and resources.
So ONE person under instruction from a UNELECTED political party member controls Worcester City Council. Hmmmmmmmmmm Oh and food waste collection - waste of time, money and resources. MJI
  • Score: 8

1:18pm Thu 29 May 14

Up the City says...

Please don't be held to ransom by this man. The Council should be created around what's best for Worcester, not by adopting unwanted policies for political power trips.
Please don't be held to ransom by this man. The Council should be created around what's best for Worcester, not by adopting unwanted policies for political power trips. Up the City
  • Score: 8

1:29pm Thu 29 May 14

Nortynorse says...

Too right MJI, most councils have abandoned food waste collections now and I really do think that this is a step backwards. Given that time and meetings it took to get wheeled bins off the ground not sure if the Green councillor would still be in politics by the time it was introduced.

I do like the idea of keeping jobs "in house" however I would like to see less involvement by the unions in this process (Consultation, meeting, Consultation) and nothing gets acheived.

Outsourcing is another "nasty", any of those who have been involved with either Balfour Beatty (Herefordshire) or AMEY (Gloucestershire) to name but two will know their attitude to Zero Hours contracts and poor pay rates.

I like his list , but to get the likes of either Gregson or Geraghty to agree will be a bit like "plaiting fog"
Too right MJI, most councils have abandoned food waste collections now and I really do think that this is a step backwards. Given that time and meetings it took to get wheeled bins off the ground not sure if the Green councillor would still be in politics by the time it was introduced. I do like the idea of keeping jobs "in house" however I would like to see less involvement by the unions in this process (Consultation, meeting, Consultation) and nothing gets acheived. Outsourcing is another "nasty", any of those who have been involved with either Balfour Beatty (Herefordshire) or AMEY (Gloucestershire) to name but two will know their attitude to Zero Hours contracts and poor pay rates. I like his list , but to get the likes of either Gregson or Geraghty to agree will be a bit like "plaiting fog" Nortynorse
  • Score: 7

1:43pm Thu 29 May 14

High Time says...

It will be interesting to see at what cost the Green Party's demands will be to the tax payers of Worcester. Cloud Cuckoo land comes to mind.
It will be interesting to see at what cost the Green Party's demands will be to the tax payers of Worcester. Cloud Cuckoo land comes to mind. High Time
  • Score: 8

1:47pm Thu 29 May 14

raggedrobin says...

As Neil points out, if Labour and Conservative wish to join together to work for what's best for the people of Worcester, his vote becomes irrelevant, so the Greens are hardly "holding anyone to ransom"! In many ways, it's a shame that Labour and Tory Councillors are unable to set aside party differences to concentrate on local issues and making life better for all of us.

Several of the policies requested are already at least partly in place, and so the list is to some extent a tidying up and reinforcement of them. That's true for the "affordable housing" requirement for developments, and the restraint on the pay inequality between least well paid and best paid Council employees, for example. Others are calls for "investigations" and "pilots" it would be foolish to decide in advance whether or not such things will turn out to be viable in the particular and unique context of Worcester.

A good list - and I hope that (if it proves necessary) Neil will be able to come to a workable agreement with one of the other parties on that basis,
As Neil points out, if Labour and Conservative wish to join together to work for what's best for the people of Worcester, his vote becomes irrelevant, so the Greens are hardly "holding anyone to ransom"! In many ways, it's a shame that Labour and Tory Councillors are unable to set aside party differences to concentrate on local issues and making life better for all of us. Several of the policies requested are already at least partly in place, and so the list is to some extent a tidying up and reinforcement of them. That's true for the "affordable housing" requirement for developments, and the restraint on the pay inequality between least well paid and best paid Council employees, for example. Others are calls for "investigations" and "pilots" it would be foolish to decide in advance whether or not such things will turn out to be viable in the particular and unique context of Worcester. A good list - and I hope that (if it proves necessary) Neil will be able to come to a workable agreement with one of the other parties on that basis, raggedrobin
  • Score: 10

1:49pm Thu 29 May 14

reflector says...

Unfortunately, the outcome of the election makes this type of thing inevitable, I suppose but it really isn't right that one or two individuals whose parties represent only a tiny proportion of the electorate can try to hold the others to ransom by insisting they adopt their policies. Instead, they need to look at the policies of the larger parties and decide which are nearest to their own and which they feel they can support.

Having said that, of those on Cllr Laurenson's wish list, most seem sufficiently vague for either Labour or the Conservatives to agree to except for the keeping of services in house which is something that the Tories are very much against. Privatisation is a key policy of theirs and of which their leader is a keen advocate as witnessed by what he and the Conservative majority is doing at County Hall. If they were to agree to that in the City it would be the biggest U turn ever.
Unfortunately, the outcome of the election makes this type of thing inevitable, I suppose but it really isn't right that one or two individuals whose parties represent only a tiny proportion of the electorate can try to hold the others to ransom by insisting they adopt their policies. Instead, they need to look at the policies of the larger parties and decide which are nearest to their own and which they feel they can support. Having said that, of those on Cllr Laurenson's wish list, most seem sufficiently vague for either Labour or the Conservatives to agree to except for the keeping of services in house which is something that the Tories are very much against. Privatisation is a key policy of theirs and of which their leader is a keen advocate as witnessed by what he and the Conservative majority is doing at County Hall. If they were to agree to that in the City it would be the biggest U turn ever. reflector
  • Score: 8

3:12pm Thu 29 May 14

Pomygranit says...

I am sure everyone here voted last week. In which case i think you are entitled to your views however considering how low turnout was Is it hardly surprising we end up in this situation.

UKIP & the Greens got their supporters out and voting. Those who did not vote can hardly complain at the outcome both locally and nationally. What Cllr Laurenson is doing Farage could be doing this time next year.
I am sure everyone here voted last week. In which case i think you are entitled to your views however considering how low turnout was Is it hardly surprising we end up in this situation. UKIP & the Greens got their supporters out and voting. Those who did not vote can hardly complain at the outcome both locally and nationally. What Cllr Laurenson is doing Farage could be doing this time next year. Pomygranit
  • Score: 8

5:00pm Thu 29 May 14

3thinker says...

Affordable Homes -Yes
Flats Over Shops - Good idea, but tried before and doesn't often work.
Webcasts & Public Debates - Certainly, but replacing party bickering with collaboration on areas of agreement would help!
Improving voter turnout - 38 degrees volunteers registered new voters in St John's which may be why there was a 50% turnout?
Local Purchasing/LM3 - Not compliant with UK & EU policy, but there are ways to make it more likely e.g. finditinworcestershi
re
Food Waste - probably not cost effective - try waste reduction and wormeries?
Insulation - Utilities and Green New Deal already doing this? If not a good idea. Also how about community owned solar, water and wind generation?
Outsourcing - may be the best solution for some services, but its good to look at in-house and not for profit solutions first.

Needs to be added.
Commitment to a major review with the County to consider low cost and no cost ways for reducing congestion and increasing non car use for shorter journeys. This should include planning policy to ensure new development is well connected to local facilities by sustainable means of transport.
Affordable Homes -Yes Flats Over Shops - Good idea, but tried before and doesn't often work. Webcasts & Public Debates - Certainly, but replacing party bickering with collaboration on areas of agreement would help! Improving voter turnout - 38 degrees volunteers registered new voters in St John's which may be why there was a 50% turnout? Local Purchasing/LM3 - Not compliant with UK & EU policy, but there are ways to make it more likely e.g. finditinworcestershi re Food Waste - probably not cost effective - try waste reduction and wormeries? Insulation - Utilities and Green New Deal already doing this? If not a good idea. Also how about community owned solar, water and wind generation? Outsourcing - may be the best solution for some services, but its good to look at in-house and not for profit solutions first. Needs to be added. Commitment to a major review with the County to consider low cost and no cost ways for reducing congestion and increasing non car use for shorter journeys. This should include planning policy to ensure new development is well connected to local facilities by sustainable means of transport. 3thinker
  • Score: 5

7:15pm Thu 29 May 14

Shropshirelad says...

And so now we have it, one lone Green, with totally unacceptable backing and support from an unelected member of his party at an official meeting - or should have been dictates what he wants. None of it costed I see but why worry, the Greens don't bother with cost or taxpayers money. Just imagine what a Green controlled council would have in store for us if just one with pie in the sky ideas can come up with this lot.
And so now we have it, one lone Green, with totally unacceptable backing and support from an unelected member of his party at an official meeting - or should have been dictates what he wants. None of it costed I see but why worry, the Greens don't bother with cost or taxpayers money. Just imagine what a Green controlled council would have in store for us if just one with pie in the sky ideas can come up with this lot. Shropshirelad
  • Score: 0

10:24pm Thu 29 May 14

3thinker says...

Shropshirelad wrote:
And so now we have it, one lone Green, with totally unacceptable backing and support from an unelected member of his party at an official meeting - or should have been dictates what he wants. None of it costed I see but why worry, the Greens don't bother with cost or taxpayers money. Just imagine what a Green controlled council would have in store for us if just one with pie in the sky ideas can come up with this lot.
Its just what any of the other political parties would do and a good reason why proportional representation may well be a better way than first past the post.
[quote][p][bold]Shropshirelad[/bold] wrote: And so now we have it, one lone Green, with totally unacceptable backing and support from an unelected member of his party at an official meeting - or should have been dictates what he wants. None of it costed I see but why worry, the Greens don't bother with cost or taxpayers money. Just imagine what a Green controlled council would have in store for us if just one with pie in the sky ideas can come up with this lot.[/p][/quote]Its just what any of the other political parties would do and a good reason why proportional representation may well be a better way than first past the post. 3thinker
  • Score: 1

9:38pm Sat 31 May 14

CHANDBRUSH says...

All items seem very reasonable why the outcry, and when some worry over the expense look at all the things present Council have wasted money on.
All items seem very reasonable why the outcry, and when some worry over the expense look at all the things present Council have wasted money on. CHANDBRUSH
  • Score: 2

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