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Islington elections: Liberal Democrats pledge extra cops, more social housing and better repairs for council homes

PUBLISHED: 10:25 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:25 05 April 2018

Lib Dem campaigners on the doorstep in Islington. Picture: Islington Liberal Democrats

Lib Dem campaigners on the doorstep in Islington. Picture: Islington Liberal Democrats

Archant

Ahead of the local elections on May 3, the Gazette will be bringing you the manifesto pledges from each of the main parties: Labour, Green, Liberal Democrats and Conservative. After hearing from Labour last week, James Morris spoke to Nick Wakeling from the Lib Dems.

Islington Liberal Democrats have pledged to fund extra police officers if they take over the town hall.

Nick Wakeling, who wrote the party’s manifesto for the local election poll on May 3, claimed the Lib Dems can provide “a real positive alternative” to Labour – which wiped out every single Lib Dem councillor in the 2014 poll.

The manifesto is certainly more succinct than Labour’s, which was launched last week in a glossy 40-page booklet totalling 15,000 words. The Lib Dems, on the other hand, have a single 459-word page on the local party website.

But Mr Wakeling said its four main themes – housing, crime, air quality and Europe – reflect what people have been saying on the doorstep.

The Lib Dems have pledged to build 1,000 new social rent homes on disused sites: a pledge similar to Labour. But it has also promised to improve the council’s repairs programme, which has regularly come in for criticism in the Gazette’s pages.

There would also be “a clampdown on moped and knife crime” through increased police presence, though the manifesto contains no details on how this would be funded.

To promote better air quality, the party would start by installing air pollution monitors at primary schools.

It also pledged to reverse fees for EU citizenship applications, after it said the council recently imposed a 33 per cent hike.

Of Labour’s performance since 2014, Mr Wakeling said: “Having 47 out of 48 councillors isn’t healthy for local democracy. Even Labour supporters say this. People want to see an alternative voice acting as a check and balance.

“I’ve seen real waste and inefficiency. They’ve had fines for leaking data. And they spent £100,000 on consultants for Barnard Park when, in the end, nothing happened. That’s a huge amount of money.

“Reading their manifesto, I think they are committed to spending money they don’t have. They are running down the reserves. I worry about it stretching.

“I lost count of the amount of times they mentioned a Corbyn government coming to the rescue when the next election could be in four years. They did a similar thing in 1998, thinking New Labour would bail them out.”

The manifesto is at liberalislington.com/ourmanifesto

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