District Matters

Strong services are key to solutions

June 2024

The Herald recently sought the views of local experts on what a future MP should take on board in order to deliver the best for their constituents. Their thoughts were relevant to some of the priorities for local government and where we need additional help from central government.

Strong public services are an essential part of our society. There has never been a more difficult time for local government, yet it is the key to solving some of our biggest national challenges. We work at the front line of people’s daily lives. We shape places, provide vital services, keep people safe, play a vital role in engaging with both communities and the private sector and create the conditions for prosperity and wellbeing. Local councils need the powers, resources and finance certainty with multi-year settlements to do this work.

Stratford District Council has recently strengthened its economic development team and published an Economic Strategy to support local economic growth, innovation and skills. We are an advocate of the need for a stable business environment, more certainty and investment in the skills of the future as well as in research and development. The small businesses and start-ups of the future need our support. Many of these will be working in zero carbon, environmental and medical technologies.

Local government does not just provide statutory services: it has a crucial place-shaping role. Our next Local Plan will need to look at both employment land and the affordable housing that will be needed to support young people. We are subject to Government rules on housing provision but can use our discretion to provide the right mix of housing.

The Council has a key role in strategic planning. We have to work with the County Council, but need to ensure that transport infrastructure is properly built into our planning decisions. We must support innovation and put pressure on Government for the necessary financing.

The provision of education is not part of the role of the district council but, as the planning authority, the council has to consider the provision of new school places, as well as GP surgeries and hospitals, when Government housebuilding targets have to be implemented. This provision has to be decided before building begins.

We have a role in keeping people healthy through our environmental health team and by ensuring that our leisure services are available for more of our residents. Our Active Communities Strategy is expanding services into areas away from our leisure centres to a wider range of residents.

The District Council plays a role in addressing climate change, environmental damage and biodiversity loss. The District Council is not the Lead Local Flooding Authority but works in partnership to ensure that flood prevention measures are implemented. We have a role to play in protecting the environment, raising awareness of river pollution, encouraging renewable energy and raising flood impact concerns.

Energy efficiency is a key component in cutting bills. Homes need to be warmer and cheaper to heat. We need more powers to ensure that new housing is energy efficient to keep bills down and built to a high quality.

It is time for equal partnership between local and national government. We have so much to offer. This must be a relationship where people are at the heart of everything we do.

Contact: The Communications team

Last updated on 03/10/2022