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