Chris Hale’s Election Letter

Here is Councillor Chris Hale‘s “Last Five Days” election letter, which will be delivered to constituents in Wollaston and Stourbridge Town over the bank holiday weekend. Please share online too! 

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Dear Constituent,

I am writing a personal letter to you ahead of the local elections polling day on Thursday 5th May 2016.

As a current ward councillor for Wollaston and Stourbridge Town, I have embraced the challenge of representing our ward at Dudley Council. I have also chaired the Health Scrutiny Committee on Dudley Council for the past two years representing all Dudley constituents, holding various health bodies to account, and working with colleagues to tackle the number one health issue in our borough: obesity. I have also helped many individuals in and around Wollaston and tackled many ward issues over the last four years; I hope that you will cast your vote for Labour on Thursday 5th May.

I have lived in Stourbridge all my life and now enjoy bringing up my own children in our town. I work for a trade union, representing my members across the Midlands to address their issues within their workplaces.

This year’s local elections are more important than ever when placed within the context of a projected cut to Dudley Council’s budget of 50% by 2020 of what it was in 2010. In these challenging times, it is important in my view to retain a Labour controlled council to resist these cuts and protect those people who are the most vulnerable across the borough. Wollaston is key in this regard – if Labour win in Wollaston it is more likely that Labour will remain in control of the council.

In spite of the Tories’ unnecessary and purely ideological cuts to our council’s budget, it is important that you have a positive reason to vote. As a Labour council, we would (amongst others):

  • Continue to support and challenge all schools, enabling them to achieve the very best for every child in Dudley, regardless of their status as an academy or maintained school
  • Using Community hubs, work with others to provide joined up services close to the communities that receive them
  • Use all of the 2% increase in Council tax to support older people and vulnerable adults, where possible, in their homes
  • Continue to take action to raise life expectancy in our poorer areas
  • Engage in a major consultation exercise involving tenants, owners, providers, and developers to develop a plan for housing that meets the needs of current and future generations

Finally, before polling day on Thursday 5th May please consider –

  • If you have not voted previously or will be a new voter – it is very important for you to vote; there were more people who did not vote in the General Election 2015 than actually voted for a Tory Government – only 25% of the whole electorate voted for the Tories!
  • Whatever your opinions for the European referendum, please remember to vote on local issues in the local election 5th May
  • If you are undecided about who to vote for, please consider our pledges as detailed above before casting your vote
  • If you are likely to vote Labour – please remember to vote on Thursday 5th May!

Yours sincerely,

Chris Hale

Election Newsletter from Carol Dean

Dear comrades,

We are now only 15 days away from polling day. As you may know, to provide additional support and continuity, Judy Foster (Deputy Leader) is overseeing the short campaign, and on Monday, she, Tim and I met again to review our progress. Details of this and important additional information is given below.

Communications

I reported last week that there is a problem with the global emails and some members are reporting not receiving any correspondence. The contact details that I use are those on membersnet.  Only members themselves or CLP secretaries can amend these details so please take the time to update them.

It has also been suggested that we make use of text messaging in the campaign and I will establish this week how this might be achieved.

Manifesto Commitments

You should by now have received details of the manifesto commitments we are including in materials from Tim. If you need any more information or advice on how to use them, please contact me.

Election Materials

Together we have successfully produced both the election addresses and postal vote letters.  The postal vote letters have now been sent out and should have reached postal voters between Friday and Monday.

We can also support you with producing a last minute direct mail letter to identified Labour supporters.  There may be a specific issue it would be useful to raise in your ward, so please contact me to discuss.

Last week I attached copies of various GOTV cards which you may wish to consider using. I shall be submitting an order shortly so please contact me if you would like a supply as soon as possible. Please note that the funding of GOTV cards will be down to individual branches/candidates/CLPs.

Campaign Diary

I am currently pulling together a borough-wide campaign diary, which I hope to issue by mid-week. Therefore, I would appreciate it if you could send me details of any events/sessions you have planned ASAP. This could include election materials delivery, telephone banks, doorstep voter ID and party social events.

Financial Support to candidates

All wards are entitled to some support as follows;

Target and winnable wards – Pre-election A3, Election Address, Postal vote letter (postage only)

Wards we are unlikely to win – Pedmore, Norton, Hayley Green, Halesowen South, Sedgley, Kingswinford South – Election address and Postal Vote letter (postage).

As well as the funding agreed by the Labour group and CLPs, contributions are also being made by Trade unions. If you are an individual member of a trade union, you may be entitled to financial support so don’t forget to contact your union for details.

Election Expenditure

Agents need to monitor spending on an ongoing basis so that we do not exceed legal limits. If you incur any expenditure independently, please submit details to Tim Crumpton ASAP, for accounting purposes, but also so that you can be reimbursed (in accordance with financial support agreed) Candidates and agents will now have received the details of the latest position on spend committed centrally on the campaign.

Volunteer Support

We have been identifying additional support outside Dudley to assist with campaigning. If you consider you would benefit from any additional help, let me know.

This coming Saturday is Super Saturday Campaign Day and all members are encouraged to help out in our target seats. Look out for the campaign diary that I will be producing, but in the meantime also monitor communications from candidates and CLP secretaries who are co-ordinating activities locally.

Final week of campaign, polling day and the count

I am liaising with CLPs about the final week’s activity, including the polling day operation, details of which will be issued next week

My availability

My number one priority will continue to be to ensure Labour retains control of the Council in Dudley on May 5th, so please make good use of me!

When I produce the Dudley-wide diary, I shall also include in it details of my availability but in any event you can call me on my mobile*.

Best wishes,

Carol Dean (Temp Organiser, Dudley Labour Party Local Election Campaign)

 

* Please send us a private message on our Facebook page if you would like Carol’s mobile number or any other contact info.

Interview: Jonathan Dean (Pedmore & Stourbridge East)

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^ Jon Dean (far-left!) campaigning with members and supporters.

Were you brought up in the area, and do you live in the area now? 

I’m afraid to say that I am actually Halesowen born and bred rather than Stourbridge, although I did go to school at Haybridge just down the road and I currently live in Hayley Green, which is a 5 minute drive away.

Outside of politics, what are your main interests and hobbies? 

I do love football and I manage to find the time to support the Albion.  I also like music (90s Britpop) and watching films.  As a family, we enjoy going on holidays in our caravan and like nothing more than getting out and about exploring National Trusts and other family attractions.

What is your key local priority?

With my background as a teacher and a parent, I think it is safe to say that my priorities and areas of interest are Education and doing the best we can for young people and their families.  I appreciate that none of these areas should be seen in isolation when trying to solve some of the inequalities that exist within our borough.  We need libraries, parks and museums as much as we need schools and hospitals. All of these are part of the solution to raise well-being and reduce inequalities in the borough.

Which issues do you hear most on the doorstep? 

The big issues that I hear about on the doorstep are those of car parking and congestion.

Do you think Labour’s message is resonating with the general public?

I think there are enough people in the area who share our concerns for the future provision of vital public services.  I think people are concerned about how we are going to care for the elderly and provide decent social housing at a time of cuts to local government budgets.

What have been the best and worst moments of the campaign so far? 

This week I was out collecting litter with a wonderful group of volunteers from Tidy Stourbridge (www.tidystourbridge.wordpress.com), other Labour candidates and Labour supporters. I strongly believe that any Councillor or Prospective Councillor needs to be prepared to join in and support the actions of groups like Tidy Stourbridge.   To play my small part and get involved in this kind of community action was a real privilege.

There have been no bad moments so far!

How would you go about protecting local libraries? 

When answering a question like this the standard political response is to perhaps over exaggerate how often you use the local library, but it is true that we use our local library nearly every Saturday.  My boys are perhaps more interested in the free craft making sessions than reading books or researching for school projects right now but they already love the library.  We use the same library that I used as a boy.

I think libraries are vital community resources.  Perhaps if they are to continue to be at heart of our communities, libraries need to continue to diversify and adapt to changing demands, serving as community hubs for health and education.

What would be the best ways to improve education locally? 

All the talk from both sides of the argument at the moment is about Academies and Ownership.  Frankly, I think we need to be talking about safety, enjoyment, happiness, inspiration and skills while promoting a lifelong education rather than drowning in data, targets and paperwork  And that is coming from someone who has been a teacher for 10 years…

In challenging times, what do you think have been the key successes of Dudley’s Labour council? 

Dudley and the Black Country is still recovering following the decline of the manufacturing industry, and we now have a central government imposing cuts and divisive policies that serve only to further compound these difficulties.  In my opinion, we should be thankful to Dudley’s Labour Councillors for the work they have done so far in trying to protect the most vulnerable in our society and continuing to try and limit the impact of the cuts on our local services.  All this while keeping Council Tax low.

Everyone in the Dudley Labour Group understands that there is work to be done in tackling the challenges facing Children’s Services.  To have someone with my experience in this area as an elected representative on the council would support my Labour colleagues in making the improvements we all know are needed.

What are your feelings about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party so far?  

Personally, I think Jeremy Corbyn has been like a breath of fresh air for the party.  I think he has really focused the party on why we are Labour, and on who the Labour party should be fighting to protect.  I do think that it is a perfectly legitimate question to ask if Jeremy has all the personal qualities needed to be a future Prime minister and whether enough voters can be persuaded to vote Labour in the next General election. However, as far as I am concerned, if you don’t agree with the majority of his principals then you are perhaps in the wrong party.

What would be your strategic advice to the Labour leadership between now and 2020? 

We need to stay strong and stick with where we are going.  We need to educate the electorate and raise awareness of the fundamental differences between ourselves and the Tories.

We need to show the public that there is an alternative way to run an economy and that we are not the same as the others.

When in power, we need to re-build trust – trust in the individuals that we will hopefully elect, but also trust in the party’s competence to govern effectively.

However, we need to be united as a party of opposition before any of this can happen.  I am concerned about the different sub-groups and divisions within the party.  We need to spend less time fighting among ourselves and focus squarely on the actions of this current government.

Do you think there was there anything more that could have been done to save Dudley museum? 

I really don’t know if there was more that could be done.  I went to Dudley Museum for the first time just a couple of weeks ago.  What I would say is this: as parents we are fortunate that we can afford to pay the entrance fees of places like the Black Country Living Museum. What Dudley Museum offered the families of Dudley is the opportunity to access history, knowledge and culture no matter what your family budget or circumstance.  We must surely consider the many residents and families who are struggling financially when we decide to close or reduce the capacity of our free museums, libraries or other local facilities.

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— Jonathan Dean is a teacher and NASUWT representative. He is a first-time candidate for the Council, standing in the Pedmore & Stourbridge East ward.

Interview: Julie Baines (Amblecote)

Were y10417542_1462759583966972_3093238839716605529_nou brought up in the area, and do you live in the area now?

I have been adopted by Stourbridge having chosen to live here rather than Andalusia!

Outside of politics, what are your main interests and hobbies?

Reading: I host the Socialist Ladies book club. We read and discuss uplifting literature. You don’t have to be a Lady but you do have to be a woman to join!

I enjoy walking my dog, although he is losing out to campaigning at the moment. He has behaved badly when I’ve taken him leafleting. (I think he might be a Tory).

I volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau once a week.

What are your key local priorities?

Unfortunately, national decisions have a huge impact on local issues. This Government’s austerity program affects every area of local policy. I hate that we now have the concept of the deserving poor versus the scroungers (at least we are all under achieving together!)

The Welfare system is broken, with anyone involved in the benefits system being under scrutiny. It appears that entitlement in the top 1% is acceptable but an entitlement to a safety net into which you have contributed will be questioned and often refused.

Health care is a concern. I worked in the NHS for 30yrs, and I’ve seen the money men move in and prioritise finance over clinical need. I worry that the health service is now so far down the road to privatisation that we may never get it back.

National education  policy is now led by ideology, competition and endless testing this divides society and will put us back years.

I’m afraid that Parks and Libraries, which are community assets, will be casualties of austerity. However, I hope that volunteers and skeleton staff may well save them until Labour are back in government.

Which issues do you hear most on the doorstep?

Immigration and Gordon Brown are responsible for most things that have gone wrong, apparently!

What have been the best and worst moments of the campaign so far?

Best: when someone recognised me from my leaflet… yay!

The worst is always when a woman tells me she doesn’t vote.

How would you go about protecting local libraries?

We have to prioritise, so no choice but to ask for help from the community.

In challenging times, what do you think have been the key successes of Dudley’s Labour council? 

Difficult decisions have been taken while trying to maintain services, particularly to the vulnerable. Dudley council plus do a great job. The overall management during the EDL protests was impressive .

Where do you see yourself on Labour’s political spectrum, and what are your feelings about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party so far?

I am of the Left so agree with Jeremy Corbyn on most issues. He has been consistent throughout his political career and he’s a socialist. What’s not to like? I also think John McDonnell is doing a great job as Shadow Chancellor.

What would be your strategic advice to the Labour leadership between now and 2020?

We are greatly disadvantaged by an almost totally right-wing press, so we need to get the message out on social media. I think we are getting better at this but the Daily Mail is a formidable opponent!

The parliamentary party need to get behind the leadership and stop briefing against JC. It’s divisive and he is our choice – get over it!

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^ Julie and her Amblecote team tidying up in the community with local volunteers, 12th April 2016.

Julie Baines is the litter-pickin’ Labour Party candidate for Amblecote.

Interview: Gaye Partridge (Cradley & Wollescote)

 

To kick-off our series of interviews with Stourbridge Labour candidates in the run-up to the local elections, we spoke with Councillor Gaye Partridge who is standing in her ward of Cradley and Wollescote.

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Were you brought up in the area, and do you live in the area now?

I was born in the ward that I currently represent, and I feel that living locally is a vital part of the democratic process.

Outside of politics, what are your main interests and hobbies?

Family, friends, the dog, walking, making things, the allotment, travelling, story-telling and reading.

Why are you standing as a councillor?

I am standing for the council because I believe that we can, and should, improve on what we do. I believe that community is a key driver to success. Everyone deserves a fair go.

What are your key local priorities?

My key local priorities include building capable communities that are engaged, empowered, respected, communicated with and better informed, and well served by the council. Housing is an important part of this – promoting quality, secure tenancies and affordable housing helps to build a platform for living a good life.

Great communities also produce great culture. This includes parks, recreational activities, libraries, and so on. Human beings in strong communities are at their best – co-operative, sharing, considerate, creative and generous.

Health is vitally important.  The NHS is brilliant and something to be proud of. It is great value for money and the best health service in the world. The NHS is a fundamental and civilising aspect of being British.

I am dedicated to building life-long, enabling education which creates confidence and teaches reasonableness and tolerance. The technology for real change in education is already here.

Transport, sustainability and the environment are also important priorities. We need to put into practice what we already know.  The way we think about these issues will help to bring about profound and enduring change. My own view is that this will happen during the course of the next 15 to 20 years – around how we grow food, how we consume, how we travel, the way we work, economic organisation and so on.

Which issues do you hear most on the doorstep?

The European Union and migration.

What have been the best and worst moments of the campaign so far?

The best moments are when people state that they have always supported Labour and are glad to have done so. The worst is the fact that so many people just don’t trust politicians and feel they are all the same.

How would you go about protecting local libraries?

Locally we have great libraries and more options than other areas.  The level of cuts, demanded by the Government, means that we have to deliver services differently. We have just approved a proposal for library provision in the Borough which has crucial staff and trade union support. This will secure library services – though not at current levels.   One of the main alternatives to local authority provision is through the use of the voluntary sector or non-profit organisations. This has implications – the danger is that it is a short-term solution and more about driving down costs than sustainable delivery in the long-term. Dudley’s proposal is to create a mutual – this is a good way forward and one we need to get behind.

In challenging times, what do you think have been the key successes of Dudley’s Labour council? What do you think the council could do better going forward?

Over the last four years, Labour in Dudley has delivered fundamental and wide ranging organisational and structural change. This has resulted in a new type of leadership – it means the council is ready for the challenges associated with reduced funding and the changes that accompany a Government with an agenda that is primarily about reduced state involvement.  This is happening at a time of great economic change on a global scale. Senior managers have been appointed knowing the “challenges” they face.

This year, the Place Scrutiny Committee identified £7.5m in savings by eliminating unnecessary expenditure.  This was done by listening to the contributions made by “none professionals” and applying common sense. It is an example that should be followed.

Dudley council needs to scrutinise better. This is in everyone’s interest and will protect and improve services.  If we are to do this effectively then there will need to be a massive cultural change.

What are your feelings about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party so far?

Jeremy Corbyn’s election was a defining moment and it is to be welcomed. It demands that we reconsider the recent political past and understand the political present. The free market can’t work for the good of the whole. At best, it only works for the top 1% – and even that is debatable.

What would be your strategic advice to the Labour leadership between now and 2020?

I would say carry on – lead us.  Corbyn has a strong mandate. He is principled and I trust he will continue to do his best.