July 29 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Friday, April 25, 2014
Cleaner streets, safer neighbourhoods and better housing – election promises from 2010 sound very similar to those today.
Four years on from the last Redbridge Council elections, the concerns of residents in the borough remain much the same.
The pressure on primary school places and the need for another swimming pool in the borough are also hot topics.
Cllr Keith Prince, who has been the council leader for five years, thinks the current administration’s biggest achievement has been dealing with £40million of budget cuts.
His party, the Conservatives, mirrored the national government by going into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats when they failed to win a majority.
Together, they made an “emergency budget” controversially slashing funding for children’s music, public toilets, temporary accommodation and Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre.
Cllr Prince insisted the council had managed to protect “frontline services”.
He said: “We have invested millions of pounds to regenerate areas like Barkingside, Gants Hill and Ilford Lane and spent £90million on additional school places.”
Other policies he highlighted included a freeze on council tax, expanded anti-social behaviour teams and the provision of a rape crisis centre and night shelter.
Cllr Prince described being in a coalition as “interesting”.
He added: “It has made decision-making that bit slower but we have actually worked well together.”
Deputy leader Cllr Ian Bond, said his party, the Liberal Democrats, had ensured cuts were made “as fairly as possible”.
He added: “We have demonstrated that parties can work together in the interest of local residents – people often say they want politicians to stop arguing all the time.”
Cllr Bond listed the Lib Dems’ biggest achievements as lowering high street parking charges, protecting area committees,strengthening community policing teams and improving council transparency.
But Labour leader Cllr Jas Athwal argued that some changes made had been reversed because they were “clueless in the first place”.
Citing the U-turns on removing weekly street sweeps and cutting funding to children’s centre Glasbury House, he called for a “long-term vision” rather than short-term policies.
“This administration has failed to have a plan,” he said.