Foreword by Leader of Leeds City Council, James Lewis
We have faced an incredibly difficult two years. The pandemic has been tough on all of us, but has also shown the best of Leeds where we’ve all come together to support one another.
At these local elections we want to build on the work we have done with people right across our city, and get councillors elected who are rooted in the hearts of their communities.
Since the Conservative and Lib Dem Coalition in 2010, Leeds City Council has had £2.3 billion cut from us. The scale and effect of these cuts cannot be overestimated.
And throughout the pandemic, while the Conservative government held parties in Downing Street, they broke their promise to Leeds to support us through Covid and left us with costs of over £200 million, on top of all the cuts that have gone before.
In spite of this, Leeds under Labour is fighting back and gaining a great reputation for putting our people first.
We have introduced the real living wage, kept work in house, brought new jobs and not closed a single children’s centre.
We are committed to making our district safer and greener. We have made household bulky waste collections by the council free and alongside Labour Mayor Tracy Brabin’s extra police officer pledge we invest millions of pounds into work to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
Just think where our city could be now without the Conservative government holding us back.
So we say, enough of cuts. On Thursday 5th May all of us will have the chance to send an unmistakable message to this Conservative government by supporting our candidates and voting Labour.
Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council
Action on the Climate Emergency
In 2019 Leeds City councillors declared a Climate Emergency. Sadly, Conservative Councillors refused to vote on the motion, but it was passed without them.
Under Labour, we have an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Already we have set to work decarbonising public buildings, children’s centres and schools, not only slashing the city’s carbon emissions by 4000 tonnes but also creating plenty of green jobs in the process.
Currently around a quarter of the city’s carbon footprint comes from the energy used to heat and power our homes. We are committed to investing £100m on energy efficiency upgrades to social housing by 2025. 630 more properties will benefit, with free solar panels and insulation so far delivered to around 1200 low-income private homes.
Under Labour we have also been improving air quality, by working with bus companies to move to low emission buses and working with taxi and private hire operators to move to electric and hybrid vehicles.
We also have changed our own fleet of vehicles and now have the largest fleet of electric vehicles in the UK.
We know that consistent exposure to air pollution can cause breathing difficulties and other long-term lung and heart conditions, so cleaning the air in this way doesn’t just help with our carbon emissions, but also saves lives.
New bottle banks have been installed throughout the city and have increased glass recycling by 37%.
New proposals to help residents dispose of their household waste responsibly and for free have been introduced too, by removing the household bulky waste collection charge, as well as creating an additional 20% capacity for collections.
We also have an ambitious plan to dramatically increase the number of trees in Leeds.
By voting Labour on Thursday 5th May 2022, you will be voting to plant 5.8 million trees across the whole Leeds area over the next 25 years.
Conservatives slash core funding to Leeds by 90%
12 years ago, the Liberal Democrats and Conservative party formed a coalition government and they both began slashing funding to Leeds.
The money we receive in Leeds has now been reduced by 90%, meaning as a city we have £2.3 billion less than we otherwise should have – around £3,000 per person taken from us.
That’s money that could have been spent on anti-social behaviour, potholes, adult social care, our parks, tackling the climate emergency, reducing poverty and more.
During Covid we saw billions go to friends of Conservative Party MPs and Conservative Party donors.
There have been huge tax cuts for the wealthiest and in the most recent budget the Chancellor Rishi Sunak again cut taxes for bankers.
The Conservatives wasted £2.6 million of public money on a room being used as a Downing Street home cinema – the exact same room where the Prime Minister’s staff joked about their Christmas Parties in Downing Street while the rest of us were in lockdown.
Some councils around the country have gone bankrupt from these cuts, while here in Leeds a huge effort has gone into protecting the most vulnerable from these enormous and ideologically right wing Conservative and Lib Dem cuts, but this cannot continue. We need a change of government now.
What are these elections about?
The local elections on Thursday 5th May 2022 will decide not just who your local councillor is, but also who runs Leeds City Council.
Leeds City Council has been run by the Labour Party since 2010, and in that time successive Conservative and Liberal Democrat governments have cut around £2.3 billion from our city – Leeds’ core funding from the government has been reduced by 90%.
That’s money that could have been spent on tackling anti-social behaviour, potholes in the roads, adult social care, our parks, tackling the climate emergency, reducing poverty, new school buildings, emptying bins and more.
Your Labour Councillors have worked hard to protect the most vulnerable from these Conservative cuts, and also worked to protect frontline services.
Leeds City Council is made up of 99 Councillors and the Labour Party just over half.
The last time the Labour Party had fewer than half of the Councillors on Leeds City Council a multi-party Coalition of the Conservatives, Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and independents ran the council.
The Labour Party returned to power in 2010, after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats attempted to end an equal pay dispute by reducing the pay of men, rather than increasing the pay of women.
This led to weeks of bin strikes and rubbish piled high in the street. We must keep Labour running the council to prevent this from happening again.
When the coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats ran the council, they ran our children’s services into the ground and were found to be “inadequate” by Ofsted.
Only by voting Labour can we stop the Conservatives from taking control.
Growing up in Leeds
Our ambition is for Leeds to be the best city for all our children and young people to grow up in a Child Friendly City.
Under a Labour-run council, we have seen the number of children in Leeds in care safely reduced through investment in early help, working with families and a council-wide commitment to children and young people.
Along with Amsterdam, Leeds is the only other city in Europe to have actually reduced childhood obesity through long term and dedicated work.
Across the UK, the Conservatives have forced the closure of over 1300 children’s centres. These are vital to tackling inequalities from an early age, supporting parents so children can grow up to their full potential.
In Leeds we have fought back against the Conservatives and not closed a single one, despite them cutting over £2.3 billion from our city.
We have also created 11,000 new primary school places and are building new secondary schools too.
All of this hard work and investment paid off for children and young people across the city. When Leeds’ children services was last inspected by Ofsted in 2018, they found us to be “Outstanding”.
Labour will not close a single children’s centre, despite Tory cuts of over £2.3 billion to Leeds.
While Leeds has been hit hard by the pandemic, we are a resilient city and we are rebuilding.
As a Council, we have paid the Living Wage Foundation real living wage rate to our employees since 2015,
we will work to encourage more organisations in the city to pay it too. 40% of Universal Credit claimants already have a job but aren’t paid enough to live on, this is wrong.
We want fewer people to be claiming benefits because they’re paid a decent salary by their employer.
If people are paid proper wages, then that is more money into our local economy.
We are working with locally rooted organisations such as the universities, hospitals and big businesses – to embed good practice, workers’ rights and great jobs.
A Labour-run Council will continue to pay the full real living wage, and encourage more employers to do so too.
Homes for Leeds
We desperately need more council houses. Until recently, the government has blocked us from building more, and hasn’t replaced those which have been bought through right-to-buy.
A vote for Labour on Thursday May 5th, is a vote to build 1500 new council homes between now and 2025.
All our new homes will be energy efficient and built to a high standard, designed to meet the needs of people in the 21st century.
These new homes are desperately needed as waiting lists for council properties continue to grow.
This will be the biggest council house building programme Leeds City Council has seen since the early 1980s.
We also guarantee a bed for the night for anyone in the city sleeping rough and work to connect those who are homeless to whatever additional support they need.
Labour will build 1500 new council houses.
Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour
Since 2010, the Conservatives have cut 20,000 frontline police officers nationally. Leeds Labour is committed to keeping people safe in Leeds. We are working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police through ‘Safer Leeds’ and community policing, targeting criminal activity such as knife crime and domestic violence.
We are working to put to end to male violence against women and girls, through initiatives such as the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign, where bars and other venues can quickly help anyone get out of a situation with an abuser.
Labour Mayor Tracy Brabin is delivering 338 new police officers and staff this year, and an additional 566 PCSOs across West Yorkshire by the end of her term in office, to be deployed where they are needed most.
Our Labour Mayor for West Yorkshire will recruit 338 new police officers and staff, and 566 new PCSOs, to make up for the huge Conservative cuts to community policing.
Getting around Leeds
It was disappointing to see the Conservative government cut millions of pounds from transport for Yorkshire, with their priority continuing to be funding for London and the South but we won’t let them prevent us from improving our own city.
At the moment buses in Leeds and the cost of a ticket are controlled by private bus companies, leading to a monthly bus pass increasing from £56 to £75 in just a few years!
We want to work with the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, to bring buses back under public control.
Having buses under our control would also mean that the cutting of bus routes could be prevented.
We will also improve the city for pedestrians and cyclists while also increasing spend on highways maintenance work to £13 million a year to repair our roads. We want Leeds to be a city where you don’t need a car.
We will work with the Mayor to bring buses under public control, to stop any further cutting of bus routes and invest more money in repairing our roads.
Our NHS, health and growing old in Leeds
Throughout the pandemic we stood on our doorsteps and clapped for our frontline workers, our NHS and carers. It’s now time to give them the pay that they deserve. The Conservatives refuse, and object to paying our NHS staff properly, but a Labour council will increase our carer’s pay.
When Labour were last in government, NHS waiting times were at a record low. Even before the pandemic, NHS waiting times had reached a record high, with nearly 1 in 10 people in England on an NHS waiting list.
The NHS is not safe in Conservative hands.
Labour created the NHS, and only Labour can protect it.
Over 60% of the council’s budget is now spent on adult and children’s social care. While this has significantly impacted on other areas of funding it demonstrates our commitment to protecting our most vulnerable.
As a city we must focus on mental health alongside physical health. Even before the pandemic too many people in our city suffered from loneliness and isolation. Leeds Labour will invest in mental health.
Leeds Labour is committed to helping people with dementia. We launched the complex needs services to offer valuable support to family carers and helping people remain at home for as long as possible.
We are delivering the biggest increase in Extra Care facilities for older people Leeds has ever seen. 63 units have now been completed, 124 are in construction, and a further 255 planned.
Labour will increase commissioned homecare provider’s pay up to a minimum of the Real Living Wage and deliver 442 new extra care units for older people.
How we run your council
With Labour running the city, we work to ensure that we have a strong economy, decent jobs, and with compassion, socialism and community at the heart of everything we do.
The council remains the largest employer in Leeds, largely through the volume of services we have kept in-house and not outsourced to other companies trying to make a profit from the taxpayer. We are proud to have more in-house jobs that any other council in the UK.
We will continue to look to where we can bring further services in-house.
We are also proud that there have been no compulsory redundancies in the council, despite the Conservatives cutting our city by over £2.3 billion. This gives job security to our workers and a stability of service to residents.
By treating workers right, we ensure that the work the council does is of a high standard, benefitting all residents of Leeds.
No mass compulsory redundancies across Leeds City Council.