The Borough of Poole needs Councillors with vision who can show leadership. Poole People seeks to move the Borough forward by building a consensus around the following key policies.
Policy 1: Restoring and investing in Poole's distinctive identity
Poole is a great place to live but how much is that to do with the natural assets surrounding it as opposed to the infrastructure of the Borough? Poole Tourism dropped the "Poole. It's a beautiful place" tagline a few years ago, an action which is representative of the Borough's struggle to maintain a distinctive identity.
Our town has enormous potential and we can again be proud of it. Poole Council needs to invest in its core assets if it is to regain its distinctiveness. The Borough is blessed with a wonderful natural harbour and a long history. It also has an artisan tradition, most notably in boat building and pottery. The Council has sought to attract financial institutions and large chain stores to Poole, but neglected to develop the "sense of place" which is essential to attract forward thinking companies and high-performing employees.
We need to make Poole Old Town, the High Street and the area around the Dolphin Centre places that once again attract tourists and residents of Poole. The Council needs to develop a coherent plan that refocuses the area on its historic attributes, creates more family-orientated tourist and community activities and encourages specialist, independent retailers to invest. We are already working hard to bring local businesses and residents together behind this shared vision. More widely in the Borough, we need to encourage local distinctiveness and return our local centres to thriving communities.
The Borough also needs to raise its profile at a regional and national level to attract tourists and investment. We feel that Poole should establish a nationally-known festival that the whole Borough can get behind, celebrating Poole's connection with the sea and Poole's heritage, perhaps based around pirates as we already have some of the building blocks in place with Poole Pirates' Harry Paye Day.
Policy 2: Fast forward the Borough
Poole Council's relaxed planning policies have encouraged developers to submit planning applications for dense, high rise developments, on sites like West Quay, that threaten to overwhelm Poole's historic infrastructure. Dolphin Quays sits there, its commercial units half empty. Development is piecemeal with no overall coherency. All across the Borough streets with real character have been damaged by excessive infill, demolition and development. What is the logic?
We are not against development. On the contrary, we see it as essential for Poole's future prosperity. New developments must, however, respect the Borough's identity and be in context with our built heritage. There is a real need for housing, but for affordable housing for local, young people and families, not for retirement flats or second homes.
Meanwhile, the Council's out of date transport policies are still resulting in the introduction of 1980's style, car-dominated traffic systems. If the Borough is not to grind to a halt in the future we must encourage more walking, cycling and use of public transport. Hand-in-hand with the Council must improve the Borough's public realm, creating pleasant and enjoyable environments for the public to enjoy.
We will seek amendment of the Borough's planning policies to encourage responsible development and discourage opportunist developers. We will also ensure that the Borough's planning team develops a plan for Poole that offers real direction to developers and helps us to reinforce communities and revitalise the town centre.
Policy 3: Protect the Borough's open spaces and improve Poole's environmental record
The Borough of Poole is a wonderful place to live and one of the main reasons for this is its proximity to the harbour, heathlands and the Isle of Purbeck. Within the town, however, successive administrations have chipped away at valuable open space and approved developments with insufficient play areas and open space.
The Borough is hemmed in by the sea, Bournemouth and green belt, and is a popular place to live. As a result, there is an ever-present pressure to develop open spaces within the Borough. We believe our open spaces and harbour views should be treasured. Once gone, they will never be replaced and our descendants' lives will be poorer for that. We are determined to protect Poole's precious open spaces and will seek to restrict development within urban areas of Poole to brownfield sites.
Our lobbying of Poole Harbour Commissioners was instrumental in persuading them to abandon what would have been a hugely damaging marina off Hamworthy Park and instead expand the Poole Quay marina which, if it goes ahead, will also help revitalize Poole Quay and the High Street.
We also believe that Poole should have a stronger commitment to carbon reduction given that much of the town is threatened by increases in sea levels.
Policy 4: Invest in young people
Young people have been marginalised in Poole for too long. Teachers need to be empowered to innovate and to ensure that the next generation contains free thinkers and citizens with the drive to keep Poole special. Outside school we must create opportunities for young people to socialise in a way that integrates them into society, helping them bridge the gap between youth and adulthood. Youth clubs have closed across Poole and there is a lack of safe places for young people to commune and develop.
We propose the construction of a centre promoting the values of civic society called "Harbour Ambition". This would offer young people their own place, providing them with opportunities to socialise, and encouraging them to contribute to wider society by volunteering. It would be a centre of inspiration and aspiration, for the expansion of horizons and taking of opportunities.
Policy 5: Reform Poole Council
We believe that Poole Council needs reform. In particular we will seek to increase communication and responsiveness of the Council to the people of the Borough.
The organisation is top heavy with too many layers of management. Council employees need to be released from the stranglehold of line management and inspired to deliver more efficient and effective public services. This requires both a return to a culture of public service, and the employment of more people with commercial experience, but above all inspirational and empowering leadership.
More specifically, the Council's consultation and accountability processes need reform. We believe that transparency and honesty drives positivity and generates respect from the public.
Policy 6: Build more affordable housing
We are all aware of the national housing shortage and the cost of housing in Poole. These factors hold back economic development by reducing the disposable income of residents of Poole and deterring younger, talented people from moving to the area.
We need to build more housing suitable for young people and families. This is a real challenge for a Borough with such limited land resources. There are, however, opportunities for substantial, mixed, commercial/affordable housing developments in the town centre and we will be encouraging the Council and Poole Housing Partnership to make the most of these opportunities.
Policy 7: Create a culture of wellbeing
We live in a wonderful part of the world with easy access to beautiful countryside and the sea and, for most of us, this makes it a great place to live. However, the Borough also has a higher proportion of older and disabled people with care needs living within its boundaries than most other authorities in the country, and many of these people have a significantly reduced quality of life. Many other residents are pursuing activities which are damaging their health and not taking enough exercise.
Demand for adult social care services increases every year due to the rising number of older people requiring care. As the population ages, we have a choice
Policy 8: Establish a vibrant business environment
Consecutive administrations have sought, and failed, to persuade multi-national companies to move operations to Poole. However, successful companies want to attract high quality employees, and those employees seek vibrant and attractive environments in which to work and live.
We must invest in our town centre to achieve this, allowing the area around the Dolphin Centre, and Poole Old Town, to develop their own distinctive characters and play to their strengths. We propose moving the bus station adjacent to the train station and closing Kingland Road in order to create an impressive public space between the Lighthouse and redeveloped shopping centre.
We will work to re-establish Poole as a tourist destination, particularly seeking to attract day visitors to new family-orientated attractions and events in the Quay/Regeneration Area, and work to revitalize Poole's historic High Street.
The port and Poole Quay are key to Poole's identity and we will support development of the port's activities. We will also seek to develop the creative industries, harnessing talent that currently just passes through Poole's two universities.
Policy 9: Invest in community and develop local distinctiveness
Although revitalising the town centre is key to regaining a sense of direction for the Borough, it is also crucial that we invest in our local communities. Local centres such as Ashley Road and Hamworthy need to be respected, and their infrastructure enhanced, while areas with less-developed centres like Oakdale need investment to develop and strengthen their sense of community.
We believe in delivering facilities close to people's doorsteps. Current council policies limit investment in local centres in order to encourage development of the town centre. However, with rising fuel prices, increased (if unwanted) housing densities and more people with disabilities in our society, this is a mistake. The town centre should be a destination for longer shopping trips, entertainment and tourism. In contrast local centres should offer everyday items and foster a community spirit.
Policy 10: Invest in culture and learning
We live in a fast-changing world. Partly as a result of the internet, populations of developing countries are breaking free from the regimes that have constrained them and are keen to learn and work in order to improve their lives.
If we are to maintain any competitive advantage, we must innovate. This means investing in new ideas, but also developing a culture of continuous learning in our own society. Libraries must be protected but we must also continue the ongoing process of modernisation. They should extend their roles as centres of learning, and we will encourage the development of closer relationships with learning providers.
We need to develop a stronger cultural offering in Poole, to encourage innovation and attract tourists, but one that respects Poole's identity. Poole is a working port town with a strong tradition of craftsmanship, most notably in pottery, and its people respect honesty and down-to-earth approaches. We will therefore encourage creative activities that are inclusive and seek to involve the wider community.