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Political parties in Essex are on the campaign trail competing for residents’ votes ahead of the local elections on Thursday.
Basildon Borough Council will be electing a third of its members on May 5, across 14 of its 16 wards.
Big issues in the borough include the decision by the council to pull a blueprint for over 20,000 new houses, meaning it will have to start a brand new one from scratch.
The council is currently controlled by the Conservative Group, with Labour in opposition and the Independent Group as the third biggest party, and there are also smaller and independent parties who are hoping to win seats this year.
To help you consider your vote, we’ve asked all the groups standing in Basildon what are the main issues they are campaigning for this May.
Currently the largest party, the Conservative Group controls the council and oversaw the withdrawal of the local plan in February and March.
In its election literature, the party says the old plan sought to build too many houses in the green belt and tower blocks in the town centre.
A Conservative administration would continue its record, which has recently included freezing council tax at borough level and creating a team of Community Safety Wardens to crack down on crime.
The group is now promising to cut wasteful spending of taxpayer’s money at the Basildon Centre, giving the example of £150,000 being spent on an office for a previous council leader.
It is also opposing the building of an incinerator which has been proposed for Pitsea.
Labour opposed pulling the local plan earlier this year, arguing doing so leaves the borough vulnerable to speculative developments and will lead to more houses being built on the green belt.
According to its website, Labour is proposing to increase CCTV cameras and park wardens in the borough, and would also stop the current e-scooter trial.
Labour would reintroduce the crunch service, a mobile tip which offered free disposal of domestic waste, and would keep weekly bin collections, claiming this would tackle fly-tipping.
The party is promising investment in parks and youth services and would introduce free swimming sessions for children during school holidays if elected.
Labour says on its website it would challenge Essex County Council to invest more in local roads and to fix potholes.
The Independent Group told the LDRS it wants the local plan to be reinstated, saying it will protect areas like Dry Street, Nethermayne, from speculative development.
The independents would ensure council tax remains frozen and oppose fortnightly bin collections and “pay as you throw” refuse systems. They are also proposing to reinstate the crunch service.
Independents are arguing a fairer allocation of resources is needed across the borough, saying too much money is spent in Billericay.
With the authority poised to return to a cabinet system, the group wants to keep the committee system currently adopted by Basildon Council.
The Independent Group is additionally fighting to stop the Pitsea incinerator.
Standing three candidates this year, Wickford Independents say they want to ensure the town gets a “fair deal” from the main political parties.
In a statement, party leader David Harrison said the group would fight against any attempts to overdevelop Wickford in order to reduce housing numbers in Billericay when the new local plan is made.
The group opposes returning to a cabinet system if elected, saying the committee system has allowed parties to work together and contribute to decision making, and that Billericay councillors were overrepresented in previous cabinets.
Wickford Independent councillors would support lower council tax and an increase in police presence in the town.
The Lib Dems say the council has not been honest with voters about where houses in the new local plan will go and that there has not been enough consultation with residents.
When a new plan is drawn up, the party says affordable housing and infrastructure need to be prioritised to reduce pressure on schools, roads and health services.
Their manifesto says the group wants to see improved lighting in areas like Lake Meadows and are pushing for better maintenance of footpaths to encourage walking and cycling.
The Lib Dems are campaigning for investment in playgrounds and equipment such as Skate Parks, but claim the provision of these has not been equal across the borough. The group supports investment in services for young people.
Trade Union and Socialist Coalition
Dave Murray is standing as TUSC’s only Basildon candidate, in Laindon Park ward. He says local issues such as lack of social housing and poverty are rooted in national problems.
The thousands of build-to-rent flats planned for the town centre are an example of politicians prioritising the profit of wealthy investors over the needs of the people, according to the group.
TUSC is criticising Labour and the Conservatives for selling community assets like Gloucester Park and Pitsea swimming pool to property developers, and says there is “real suffering” as a result of cuts to social services at county council level.
Mr Murray said in a statement he considers there is little difference between the major parties.
Lee Chapel North candidate for Reform UK Norma Saggers said in a statement she would do more to make people aware and responsible for clearing up after their dogs.
She considers parking on paths anti-social behaviour and says it forces people on mobility scooters, people with prams and pushchairs and dog walkers into the road.
She would oppose littering, which is often caused by people putting rubbish sacks out too early, sometimes days before collection is due.
Ms Saggers says she would also promote the party’s national policies, which include pushing for low tax, high economic growth and campaigning for a referendum on national net zero carbon emissions targets.
British Democrats propose housing priority should be given to residents who have lived in the borough the longest, with the exception of veterans.
While not completely against new buildings, the British Democrats are opposing green belt developments and tower blocks being built in the town centre. They say pot holes must be repaired as soon as possible.
The party says homelessness in the borough needs addressing and social care for elderly residents is also a concern.
Candidate Chris Batemen said in a statement police levels should be maintained and stations kept open to combat crime.