Preston City Council local elections 2024: Candidates set out their priorities

Posted on - 21st April, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
Preston Town Hall in Lancaster Road Pic: Blog Preston
Preston Town Hall in Lancaster Road Pic: Blog Preston

Residents living in the Preston City Council area have the chance to elect one of their local representatives on 2 May.

A third of the authority’s 48 council seats are being contested – one in each of the city’s 16 wards.

The majority of Preston’s election battles this year will be three-way tussles between candidates representing the trio of parties currently represented at the Town Hall – the ruling Labour group, the Conservative opposition and the Liberal Democrats.

Read more: Ashton Park redevelopment plans finally before planning committee but new Sports England hurdle surfaces 

However, independent candidates are also standing in two wards, while the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is fielding hopefuls in two others.

With postal voting packs starting to arrive at the homes of those who have requested them, we offered each of the parties and independents the chance to make their pitch to the people of Preston by setting out a mini-manifesto. This is what they had to say:

Labour (contesting all wards)

“As we approach the end of an out-of-touch Tory government consistently placing their own interests first, Labour is enthusiastic to continue delivering real change in Preston.

“We realised some time ago that relying on Tory and Lib Dem austerity imposed on diverse working-class communities like ours – or on extractive corporate developers – will never work.

“We are also the only mainstream party to produce a detailed manifesto with policies to make life better in the local elections.

“If re-elected, we will deliver the following for Prestonians:

***finish the once-in-a-generation £120m regeneration of our city centre, including the ‘Animate’ cinema and leisure scheme and the Harris Museum, creating hundreds of local jobs;

***address the cost of living by delivering new affordable homes, real living wage jobs, community food provision and energy efficiency measures for more residents;

***work with the next Labour government to deliver new council homes and a new publicly-owned bus company;

***launch Preston Digital Cooperative to expand digital access, including free Wi-Fi for residents in some areas;

***expand our events programme and reopen the Guild Hall Foyer as the first step to bring the venue back into use.

***new transformative levels of investment in Preston’s parks, a new Tram Bridge, new sports facilities and support for Preston Youth Zone;

***expand our social economy with more opportunities to take back control.

“Preston is doing it for ourselves with Labour. We ask you to support our candidates on Thursday, May 2nd to continue this work.”

Conservatives (contesting all wards)

“We work hard in our local community to help our residents. We listen and we care.

“I know that people are disillusioned with the current government, but the opportunity to vote nationally will come later this year. I ask you to think locally and to think about the hard-working local Conservative councillors who always fight for the best for Preston residents.

“We will strive to make Preston an accessible city for all, and support initiatives such as making our city dementia and autism friendly.

“We are a strong voice for our rural areas. We will develop a transport strategy that connects the city to our rural areas to support the development of jobs and businesses in our rural economy.

“We continue to work closely with the police and the police and crime commissioner to tackle anti-social behaviour that affects all areas of our city.

“Preston is fortunate to have award-winning parks and green spaces which we want to nurture and protect for future generations, as our environment is important to us. We would wish to see all parks and green spaces being supported and sympathetically enhanced so everyone can enjoy them – and the creation of new parks where new homes are being built.

“We understand first-hand the problems many business owners, traders and their employees face day-to-day. We want our city to be welcoming and open for business. We will encourage new and independent businesses to locate in the Preston area and will help them to secure funding and support”.

Liberal Democrats (contesting all wards)

“From parks, potholes and Palestine, there are lots of issues in and outside of Preston that may be on the minds of voters when they fill out their ballot papers for this year’s local elections.

“With a general election around the corner, the economy in trouble and the world feeling a very dangerous place, it’s easy for all of us to give in to gloom and apathy.

“But better is always possible – and 2024 is a chance for Preston and the UK to press the reset button.

“We shouldn’t have to accept the appalling current state of our Conservative-controlled roads and pavements. We shouldn’t have to accept that Labour-run Preston Council will waste your money and charge you more.

“There is an alternative – and it’s your local hard-working Liberal Democrats. We have candidates in every ward and are the true voice of opposition. Our candidates are all stepping up to fight for the residents of Preston.

“We are proud of our record of being right on the big issues:

***the only party to pledge £4.5m extra a year to fix potholes;

***voted to scrap Labour’s 14 percent brown bin charge hike;

***proposed more funding for youth workers;

***led the campaign for the new schools we were promised.

***called for more traffic enforcement to keep our streets safe.

***put forward plans for more trees in every ward in the city.

***called for a study into the future of the Guild Hall.

“If you like the sound of the above, vote for change in Preston. Vote Liberal Democrat.”

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (contesting the Deepdale and Plungington wards only)

“Vote TUSC in Deepdale and Plungington on 2nd May.

“TUSC are standing candidates in the Preston City Council elections, after over a decade of Tory austerity, a historic strike wave and the horrifying loss of life in Gaza.

“With Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party looking likely to form the next government, councils should be preparing to demand the money they need to restore public services.

“Instead, Rachel Reeves and Starmer have repeatedly promised to respect Tory spending rules; this must be met by a mass campaign to demand the funding we need. Ultimately we need a workers’ party, ready to fight for our interests rather than that of the bosses.

“Our candidates are standing for TUSC to fight for a future for young people, for decent jobs and free education – and for everyone to have a genuinely affordable, secure place to live. They are calling for council control over greedy landlords, with rent controls and powers to enforce repairs.

“They also recognise that our communities face a cost-of-living crisis with rents and bills to pay. But the food and energy companies are raking in their profits and there’s always plenty of money for war.

“TUSC is providing a voice for working-class people. We will stand up for the billions, not the billionaires”.

Ann Cowell (Independent) (contesting Lea and Larches ward only)

“I’m Preston born and raised and an Ashton resident for most of my life.

“My 30+ year working career was within both the public and private sectors and from the ground up.

“My career was predominantly within the sphere of finance and what became my final role, due to family obligations, was within Preston City Council’s finance department as ‘Team Leader for External Funding’ – a role which included overseeing the scrutiny of council-funded projects.

“I have accrued many transferable skills that I can bring to the role of Lea and Larches councillor and, given the opportunity, would like to use those skills to improve communication between the local people and the council.

“I believe it is in all our best interests that the people’s voices be heard, especially those who feel left out or ignored by the council. Many people in the ward feel unengaged with the political process except to pay for it by way of the council tax.

“I would like to see more independent thought and more independent councillors rather than just the broken two-party political system that we currently have in place.

“What matters to me? Improving those things that matter to people of Lea, Larches and Savick – keeping our green spaces whilst trying to create a holistic approach to leisure, sport and recreational activities in the ward; preserving our local wildlife, flora and fauna; improving public transport links for residents; and police and community support officer representation.”

Paul Balshaw (independent) (contesting Cadley ward only)

“I have lived in Cadley ward for over 40 years and worked at BAE Systems for 46 years, taking early retirement after working all over the world on aircraft as a senior mechanical engineer/project manager.

“So why am I standing as an independent? Well, not one of the current councillors, as far as I understand, lives within the ward. I do.

“I went to school at St Anthony’s and Blessed Cuthbert Mayne, which is now Our Lady’s High School – so I am well aware of local issues.

“It’s a mature ward and one of the main issues is traffic. Too many people on the road, causing rat runs around Cadley, especially at school times

“I am very concerned about Tulketh High School as this redundant building is not the right place to entertain a new school to support Cottam.

“I would like to see more trees planted around this area. I would also support Trampower to get some better infrastructure into Preston, as I note Labour do not seem to be interested.

“So I am willing to stand up for my area, which is a great area. I don’t promise all the things the other parties do – I will just try my utmost to ensure Cadley gets the share of monies to keep our ward current and to stop the Labour council wasting our monies.”

Can’t make it to polling stations?

The deadline for applying for a postal vote has passed. However, proxy votes can also be obtained in some circumstances – meaning someone else can vote on your behalf if you cannot make it to a polling station for a limited number of reasons. Applications for a proxy vote can be made online and must be received by 24th April.

Current Preston City Council make-up

Labour – 31

Conservative – 10

Liberal Democrats – 7

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