Continuing to Fight for Change in Newcastle

Continuing to Fight for Change in Newcastle

Newcastle’s only independent party has committed to continue to fight for change in 2012 as our city faces incredible challenges of rising unemployment, falling living standards and Labour’s cuts to local services.

Party leader Jason Smith said: “We pledged in our May 2011 manifesto to fight for more Jobs for Geordies, defend our green spaces and battle to create a new kind of council that puts local people first. We will continue to campaign on these issues in 2012.

“Newcastle’s revolving door turned again in 2011 bringing a Labour administration to replace the discredited Lib Dems but so far they have not made the council more accountable to the people who elected them. This year, Newcastle will be given a vote on whether it wants an Elected Mayor to run the city and we will campaign in favour of this proposal to make the leader of the council properly accountable to the voters of Newcastle for the first time.

“The Newcastle Community First Party has achieved a lot since it was launched in February 2011 and we intend to continue to shine a light on the failure of the parties running the city council to put people before party political interests.”

Full text of New Year Message

Newcastle faced a tough year in 2011 with rising unemployment, savage cuts in local services and many local people fearing for their jobs.

The North East lost 32,000 public sector jobs between June 2010 and June 2011 while the South East and London saw an increase of 32,000 jobs in the same period. As a result, cuts in public spending have hit businesses in the North of England harder than businesses in the South.

Labour won control of the council after highlighting a number of cuts in services and were calling on Lib Dems to rethink. Yet when they gained control of the council, they implemented them and now are implementing their own savage cuts.

We are proud of the achievements of the Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party since we were launched in February 2011.

As we highlighted in our review of 2011, Newcastle First has made a significant impact locally through our ward level and citywide campaigns and make the politician councillors sit up and take note.

We were delighted with our local election results, beating the Conservatives in two wards and also beating the Lib Dem candidate in a quarter of the wards we stood in. There were some wards where our activities during the election were limited by a lack of funds, yet we were not far from securing third place.

Newcastle faces significant continuing challenges in 2012: rising unemployment, falling living standards and Labour’s cuts in council services.

Newcastle First campaigners believe that Newcastle City Council should be doing all it can to bring economic growth to our city. We will continue our fight for the creation of more Jobs for Geordies and highlight decisions by the Labour controlled council that will result in job cuts.

Newcastle First will continue to campaign for a new kind of politics where local people are put before party political interests. We need to find ordinary people who are willing to fight for the change our city desperately needs. The referendum for an Elected Mayor will provide an opportunity to showcase a new system that has the potential to change our city for the better, although electing the right person as our city’s first Elected Mayor will bring the real change that we need.

Newcastle First will take a stand against the proposals in the Labour budget that will have a detrimental impact on local people, such as:

  • Cuts in library services, including the withdrawal of the mobile library and volunteers replacing paid employees in the Library Home Delivery Service;
  • Increasing by 20% the cost of the meals on wheels service, an essential lifeline for more than 87,000 residents of Newcastle;
  • Increasing charges for weddings, burials and cremations;
  • Increasing fees for paid nursery places;
  • Cuts and centralisation of graffiti removal services currently organised on a local level;
  • Closing a number of public toilets: Wesley Square Quayside, Watergate Quayside, Percy Street and Paddy Freeman’s Park;
  • Increasing charges for car parking in the city centre and to introduce parking charges at the East End Pool, the Newburn Riverside Country Park (the only local park for many Outer West residents), Centre for Sport and Gosforth Pool.

Newcastle First will also challenge the council over the One Core Strategy developed by the council since 2009 under both Labour and Lib Dem administrations. We believe the developers have had far too much say over this strategy and we will continue to fight for the interests of local people first. We urge every person who feels strongly about the One Core Strategy to respond to the consultation.

Like our city, the Newcastle Community First Party faces many challenges in 2012.

We need to:

  • Strengthen our fundraising capability to help us to compete with Labour’s union funds, the Tory big business donations and the subsidy Lib Dems receive by requiring councillors to donate to party funds from their councillor salary.
  • Recruit more members to help us in our aim of changing Newcastle for the better.
  • Identify more people to stand up for their community by becoming a Newcastle First local spokesperson and standing for election in the local elections.

We have been very grateful for the strong support we have received in 2011 from people attracted by our commitment to put the interests of Newcastle ahead of party dogma.

We hope you will join us this year to fight for a new kind of council that puts the people of Newcastle first.

Whatever plans you have for this year or resolutions you have made, we wish you and your family all the very best for 2012. It may be a challenge for Newcastle but we hope it will be a very good year for you.

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