Poole People was created in order to give residents of Poole a voice and to get things done. We believe in working together, building consensus around policies and projects that would be good for Poole, and then making them happen.
Keeping down council tax
In February 2013 Poole People and Lib Dem councillors defeated the Conservatives' proposed 1.95% council tax increase. Poole's council tax (excluding the police/fire levy) therefore stayed at the 2012 level. Given the governments' continued cutting of grants to local authorities there may come a time when Council Tax needs to be increased but we could not justify increasing the tax burden on residents at this point when we still see opportunities for savings, especially when the government was offering a grant in compensation.
Pushing for consensus governance
Following Cllr Sally Carpenter's move to Poole People in November 2012, the Conservatives are now running a minority administration but continue to fill the Leader's and all Cabinet positions. Although we proposed a cross-party administration, with such positions being filled by the councillors best suited to take on such roles (irrespective of their party affiliations) this was rejected by the Conservatives. We still remain committed, however, to government by consensus.
Our approach has resulted in much higher standards of behaviour from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors. When Mark Howell, the first Poole People councillor was elected in December 2010, many councillors behaved aggressively in Council, being rude and abusive to members of other parties. Our refusal to engage in adversarial politics has moderated such behaviour.
Place-shaping - Improving Poole's urban environment
Place-shaping is planning terminology for making urban environments pleasant places for people to go about their business. When done well it is a win-win result as slower moving but more constant traffic flows result in less congestion and increased safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
Poole People has been making the case within the Council for a place-shaping agenda which would include the removal of the gyratory system, the updating of bus facilities, and the closure of Kingland Road to through traffic. Councillors and officers are increasingly being persuaded of the virtues of place-shaping and we hope to see the results in amendments to the Council's policies soon.
Delivering for local residents
As well as working at a strategic level, Poole People is committed to making the Council more responsive to individuals and communities. For example, Poole People councillor Mark Howell and local resident Valerie Old pushed for a pedestrian crossing in Mount Pleasant Road to help older residents in Seldown access Poole Park (now installed). We have also fought hard for the removal of speed bumps in Sterte Road as vibrations have been causing damage to houses as lorries cross them. We are pleased to say that these works have now been carried out. We have also been campaigning for safety measures within the Twin Sails gyratory system, some of which have now been approved.
Poole Harbour Marine Centre
We are pleased to say that Poole Harbour Commissioners have rejected the Hamworthy option and have decided instead to seek an expansion of Poole Quay Boat Haven. While Conservative councillors objected to both locations, we met with the Commissioners and urged them to choose Poole Quay. We did this because we feel that the Quay option will help revitalise the High Street, and the Hamworthy option would have been damaging to Hamworthy Park and the harbour.
The Commissioners have been carrying out extensive consultation and their current plans look very exciting and include a walkway giving views to Brownsea (which we first proposed), a harbour educational centre and an historic ship for tourists to view. They plan to build a 400 bay car park at the port with access to the marina by shuttle ferry so there will be minimal additional traffic on the Quay. We will continue to engage with them to help ensure that the interests of residents are respected.
Efficiency and effectiveness
We are committed to making the Council more efficient and therefore take our scrutiny responsibilities very seriously. For example, we have pressed the Council to reveal the extent of the problems with the lifting mechanism on the Twin Sails bridge. Earlier this year Poole People Cllr. Mark Howell put forward a question in Council which revealed that there are nearly 100 outstanding issues with the bridge. The Council must be open and honest about the issues it faces as the drip-drip of bad news has been damaging to the town's reputation. The number of failed lifts has reduced recently so we hope no serious issues remain.