Progress made on past pledges

The Liberal Democrats have described themselves as ‘Safe Hands for Challenging Times’ in their manifesto ahead of the county council elections.

In the past weeks, we have reported on the campaign promises from the Conservative and Labour groups in the run-up to the vote in May and this week, the Lib Dems have set out their stall.

The party’s vision is ‘to lay the foundations for a world-class economy based on the skills and work ethic of Northumbrians.

‘Northumberland’s strengths are our people, land, heritage and untapped potential.

‘We can and should occupy a special place in the world’s perception – the wider world barely knows we exist, yet, because of our assets, we can build a strong, self-reliant economy, food production capacity and renewable energy generation base to be the envy of the world – even in these difficult times – one county, one family’.

The manifesto is set out as a type of balance sheet, by which they measure themselves against the pledges they made ahead of their formation of a minority administration in County Hall in 2008.

On services that work for the people, they say they have protected front-line services without raising council tax, but want to continue to strengthen key services while making the required cuts from central government.

They also pledge to protect adult social care from any further budget reductions.

On the promise to strengthen communities and local democracies, the Lib Dems point to the setting-up of parish and town councils where there were none.

But they want to rebuild trust between the electorate and elected representatives as well as devolving neighbourhood budgets to allow local people to have more of a say on how money is spent.

In terms of other achievements during their first four years in power, the Lib Dems also point to significant investment ranging from libraries and town centres to broadband and flood schemes.

They also highlight their record of developing new ways of working involving a number of different partnerships and improving communityprotection and safety, pointing to a 19 per cent reduction in crime and disorder backed by the LMAPS (Local Multi-Agency Problem Solving) system.

Moving forward, they promise to create a transport system that meets the needs of communities by integrating commercial, voluntary, community and patient transport services, supporting renewable energy and continuing to break barriers between social care and health services.