April 26, 2022 1.45 pm

Local Elections 2022: Liberal Democrats pledge to clean up communities and fight cost of living crisis

“A strong voice for you, with community action at heart”

By Local Democracy Reporter

The Liberal Democrats say that they are ready to take Lincoln forward with ambitious plans after Labour has ‘run out of ideas’.

Voters in Lincoln will head to the polls on May 5 to pick their choice in the local elections where a third of seats are up for grabs – one in each ward.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the leaders of each of the main parties a series of questions and gave them a chance to have their say.

For an analysis of the key battlegrounds, including where Conservatives will be looking to make strong advances or where Labour will be keen to defend visit here.

A full list of candidates, along with those in North East Lincolnshire, can be found here.

For the latest election coverage, click here.

Here is what the Liberal Democrats had to say:

What is your party hoping to achieve? 

The Liberal Democrats are ambitious for Lincoln and hope to make historic gains again this May. Speaking with residents, many tell us they are fed up with absent Labour councillors and the poor decisions made at City Hall.

Lincoln is a fantastic city with a proud history and strong communities – but currently our local Labour council isn’t meeting residents’ expectations. In comparison, all over the country, there are hundreds of thousands of people living in areas where Liberal Democrats are running the council and are in charge of public money and budgets of more than £2bn. From Cumbria to Hinckley, from York to Eastbourne, to Bath to Bedford.

In York, Lib Dems have protected every library (they have 16!) and built a new £44m community stadium with a leisure centre and NHS facilities. In Sutton, alongside the local NHS, the Lib Dem-ran council has placed a mental health counsellor in almost every school in the borough, to give young people the emotional resilience they need early on. In Portsmouth, Lib Dems have made lateral flow test free for residents after the Government stopped the national scheme (30,000 kits are set to be provided).

We need to see similar innovative and ambitious ideas for Lincoln – it’s clear that after over a decade in control of our council, Lincoln Labour have run out of ideas for how to make our city an even better place to live. The LiberalDemocrats stand ready to take Lincoln forward.

What calibre of candidates do you have this time round? 

Every Lib Dem candidate is a community champion and each would make a proactive and visible ward councillor. From engineers to teachers and former firefighters, our candidates come from all walks of life and are representative of Lincoln.

Martin Christopher, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Abbey Ward, has built a strong record of action and dealt with hundreds of issues locally, from potholes to graffiti. Alongside Councillor Clare Smalley, Martin has led efforts to improve the Carlton Centre, securing new litter bins, organised litter picks and worked with the neighbourhood policing team to tackle anti-social behaviour locally. It is this active approach to supporting their community that typifies LiberalDemocrat candidates in Lincoln.

The cost of living crisis is a big issue, what will you do to tackle this? 

Inflation, energy bills, and food prices are going through the roof, forcing families in our communities to choose between eating and heating. In Lincoln, households have seen energy bills double this April, sky-rocketing by £629 on average. The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to step in and tackle the cost of living crisis with a one-off “Robin Hood tax” on the super-profits of big oil and gas firms, to fund extending the warm homes discount and winter fuel allowance.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are clobbering working people with an unfair tax hike and spreading the pain over the coming years. Nationally, the Liberal Democrats’ cost of living rescue plan would wipe up to £1,000 off the bills of 42,000 struggling families in Lincoln by scrapping April’s tax hike, offering support to the most vulnerable, and insulating homes to slash energy bills in the long term. Further support to residents from City of Lincoln Council would be welcome – such going further on providing greater relief on council tax for low-income households.

It’s not just residents facing financial strain, councils are too. How will you address the funding situation? 

Lincoln Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to keep their promises and back councils, like Lincoln, by providing a fair funding deal that will protect services and allow us to enable a sustainable long-term recovery and do our bit in levelling-up the country.

There is no doubt that like many councils, City of Lincoln Council faces financial challenges and these pressures only continue to grow. Years of cuts to local government are all too evident in Lincoln as services have declined.

The absolute priority should be protecting and investing in frontline services. Lincoln could be more innovative in generating income to pay for local services. Other areas of the country have gone further in investing to save, sharing back-office functions with neighbouring councils and slimming down senior staffing.

There’s a lack of faith in politicians lately, particularly when looking at the national picture. How will you build that trust with your communities? 

This country is built on the simple mantra that it doesn’t matter how high and mighty you are, the rules are the rules. If you break the rules, you get punished. Yet Boris Johnson and many Conservative MPs think the rules don’t apply to them. We need an independent, statutory public inquiry, with the powers and resources to get to the bottom of this Conservative sleaze scandal.

Polling in December 2021 showed that just 5% of the public believe politicians work for the good of the country. That is a tragedy for our democracy.

Trust in politics is vital, from City Hall to Westminster. With the Conservative sleaze scandal in Westminster, Lincoln’s ruling Labour Group have a poor track record on standards too. Just last October, a Lincoln Labour councillor was found after an investigation to have behaved in a manner which “constitutes bullying behaviour”. Yet Lincoln Labour have selected this same councillor to stand this May, for Boultham Ward. Lincoln residents deserve better than this.

What do the people on the doorstep care about? 

Liberal Democrats have been out speaking to residents to understand and act on what matters to them. Our community campaigners have been reporting potholes, poor pavements, taking note of damaged street signs – they have even been getting rid of graffiti themselves using removal wipes.

Many residents have raised the poor state of Lincoln’s bus shelters, the lack of youth provision and the lack of affordable and quality housing. In Abbey Ward, we’ve heard from council tenants that have waited months for basic repairs to be made to their homes – we need to see appropriate investment to make sure City of Lincoln Council starts to get the basics right.

However, a good council is more than collecting the rubbish, cutting the grass, or fixing the broken street signs. It’s about bringing jobs and prosperities to the area. It’s about creating exciting town centres that people want to visit. It’s about bringing people and organisations together to tackle the climate emergency.

Finally, tell us in ten words why readers should vote for you.

A strong voice for you, with community action at heart.