Ben Bellamy, Labour Candidate for North Ward
Maurice Neville, Labour Candidate for Central Ward.
We welcome Nailed Belper’s very positive initiative in inviting all the candidates in the Belper North and Central Ward 2016 elections to say something about what we consider important and what we offer as candidates for office as Borough Councillors. We have decided to make a joint statement because we are part of a Labour team and in full agreement about what we want to achieve as representatives for Belper North and Central.
Our priorities include:
- Removing the danger of uncontrolled and unwanted housing by achieving a new Core Strategy. Something the Conservatives have failed to do twice, wasting £1million in the process. This would only allow sustainable development that protects Belper’s unique character and the Green Belt.
- Strongly supporting the formation of the Belper Neighbourhood Plan, which can also defend us against unsuitable housing development
- Meeting the funding gap to build new River Garden Tea Rooms with the proceeds of selling the useless land off Field Lane; on which Conservatives wasted another £1.6 million
- Making sure we have the good and sufficient toilet facilities needed by a thriving market and tourist town, instead of failing to keep them open
Quality of Life
- Tackling anti- social behaviour, such as blocking pavements, not dealing with dog waste, graffiti, rubbish and all the things which spoil our enjoyment of the town
- Improving facilities for the elderly and isolated, young people and other local groups with the help of more community grants and partnerships
- Making Belper accessible for all
If elected we will:
- deal promptly with residents’ individual concerns
- work with business, voluntary groups and residents to understand the problems and opportunities for improvement in the two wards
- make sure that the council takes account of residents’ views and that they are aware of all council decisions which affect them
- work with the other Borough Councillors, the Town and County Councils and other partners to get the best results for the wards and Belper as a whole
- where necessary lead local campaigns on residents’ behalf.
Why Choose Ben and Maurice?
Labour has a good chance of winning the whole election for the Borough Council. But even if it does not we believe that the skills and experience we can offer as Belper Labour Councillors would ensure a strong voice for these two wards on the council. Maurice has successfully managed a large Derbyshire County Council department under Labour and the Conservatives and worked closely with staff, councillors of all parties, employers and the voluntary sector to get results. Ben has extensive experience of working with employers and their employees to achieve the best possible working environment in diverse industries and companies such as BT, with archaeologists, air traffic controllers, museum professionals, government scientists and even Premiership referees! Both of us also have extensive experience of campaigning and voluntary work for all ages in our neighbourhoods, in Belper and elsewhere.
Knowing what matters in Belper
Both of us live in Belper and have brought up children here – Ben in North Ward, Maurice on the edge of Central Ward. As candidates who have not been councillors before, we have both been working our way around the two wards since being selected to stand, speaking to as many residents as possible. Others have phoned, emailed or written to us to share their views. We often found that this was the first time residents had encountered a council candidate, let alone a councillor. It is typically less than half the electorate who participate in local elections when it is not a general election year. Some residents told us that they thought voting does not make any difference or that there is nothing relevant to their lives in the activities of the council. Often a conversation with one of us about what AVBC is responsible for, or what the council has or has not been doing, helped people to understand how the council affects their lives in important ways and why voting matters.
We would be very committed, active and visible councillors, making sure that residents of our wards know how to contact us, know that we listen and know what we are doing on their behalf.
Why it is important to vote Labour in this election
As budgets are squeezed by central government, all councils have to deal with extremely difficult circumstances, which will only get more challenging in the next few years. When public funds are increasingly under pressure sound decision making is vital. It is partly the very poor decision making by the Conservatives which motivated us both to stand. Leaving an ugly wreck in the River Gardens for decades and spending £I.6 million on a car park off Field Lane for a leisure centre with no realistic prospect of ever being built are the clearest possible examples of poor decision making in both Central and North wards. The Conservatives have a long record of failure and excuses on these and other issues, like the £1 million wasted on failed housing plans, the long standing and dangerous decay of North Mill and the lack of adequate toilet facilities in town. The tired and transparent election gimmick of trying to buy votes by cutting Borough Council Tax by a just few pence a year was the idea of the Conservative leader and North Ward Councillor Alan Cox.
The Green Party are putting out a strange leaflet in North Ward only, with obviously doctored voting statistics, but nothing about what the Green candidate knows or would actually do. UKIP candidates and the ex-Conservative, ex UKIP candidate David Fisher are fixated on the EU referendum in June rather than what needs doing in Belper. The Liberals have suddenly put up a candidate in North Ward, after picking up very few votes in 2011 and not bothering last year. None of these minority parties have any realistic chance of being elected. But, unfortunately, voting for one of them could very well put the failing Conservatives back in control again and leave Belper without a strong voice for change.
We Labour candidates have the energy, the experience and the ideas to do much better.