What we inherited
Kingston’s schools were in crisis with harmful bulge classes being the norm when we needed to expand our schools. Our children’s services department was judged by Ofsted to be amongst the most inadequate in the country on two occasions, thereby failing to protect the children in its care.
Kingston’s roads and pavements had been neglected across the Borough with a long backlog of road repairs and potholes. Our parks had been neglected, our trees cut down and not replaced, making families turn away from areas which should have been places of joy.
The Lib Dems also failed to build new homes leading to a housing shortage preventing our young people from buying homes. Even when small numbers of homes were built there was no attempt to get the infrastructure to support these homes.
Our streets were filled with rubbish as they cut the street cleansing routines and recycling rates had stalled and fallen. To make it worse residents felt neglected and shut out of any decisions that were being made.
This was an old and tired Lib Dem administration that let residents down, and one which would do it all again if they were given the chance. It was time for change in 2014 and Kingston residents made that change.
What we have delivered since 2014
For our four years in office we made ten pledges (five during the 2014 elections and five in 2016). We have delivered them all.
We’ve supported local businesses and created new jobs, bringing a new multinational HQ to Kingston. We started 30 minutes free parking on local shopping parades to help support them and we successfully lobbied Government for the devolution of Business Rates is we keep what we earn.
We have started to address the problems of our borough’s infrastructure by investing in sustainable transport initiatives and working with the Government and Mayor to create better, cleaner transport links.
We have started to build more homes and address the Lib Dem created local housing crisis by regenerating our housing estates to create more Council houses and we have started a development company to build key-worker homes. We have safeguarded our green belt and pushed back against a London Mayor intent on destroying the suburbs by demolishing our post-war housing.
Our Children’s services have been upgraded from inadequate to good, and we are delivering on our pledge to create two more new schools and a new Children’s home. We became the first London Borough to sign up to taking vulnerable Syrian refugees.
We have dramatically improved the way we care for older people through closer working with the Health Service and introduced joined up records between the Council and healthcare providers. To address wellbeing we try to keep people in their homes for as long as possible. We have now also taken the decision to build a new high-needs, dementia care home.
We’ve set about improving our roads and pavements with large sums of investment whilst also installing new playground equipment and smartening our parks. Our recycling rates have also risen as we have embraced new ways of recycling and become the third best in London.
We know how important the history and culture of our Borough is. We are supporting a project to build a new museum, invested in a transformation of our libraries and helped set up “Creative Kingston” to have an artistic say in public art and cultural activities across the Borough.
We have communicated with residents and continued to ensure that residents have more of an input now than they ever did under the Lib Dems. We have reshaped our Council so we can start to see an improvement in the way it delivers services, engages with residents and responds to their needs when they contact us.
We have moved the Council to being an entirely independent Council, no longer receiving Government grant, so we have the flexibility to shape the Borough. We have removed costs from the Council of £54m so effectively reducing Council Tax in real terms by a whopping 60%. To ease the financial burden of rising bills on KIngston households we have frozen Council Tax this year, one of only two Councils in London not increasing bills by a minimum of 4%.
At these local elections, the choice is clear. We can either continue on the path to recovery with your local Conservatives, towards a Better, Brighter Borough, or we can return to the Lib Dem years of neglect and failure.