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'They do not deserve to be in power and it is time for change'

West Berkshire Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the forthcoming local council elections in May saying they are ‘eager, hungry and ready for control’.

They have announced a full slate of candidates for 2023 – challenging all 43 seats on the council and say they will herald ‘a new tone of politics for West Berkshire’.

They have pledged a ‘big six to fix’ to bring football back to Faraday Road and cancel the Monks Lane Sports Hub; change the Local Plan, which they say is flawed; drop the green bin tax; fix dangerous potholes in the district’s roads within 72 hours; keep to carbon neutral plans for 2030 and improve earlier care packages.

“The Tories have had 18 years in control,” Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) told the packed event at Newbury’s Chequers Hotel on Sunday.

“They are worn out. They do not deserve to be in power and it is time for change.”

The manifesto is split in to four categories:

  • A fair deal for residents
  • Protecting the environment
  • Competence, accountability and transparency
  • Building for the future.

It was announced by Lib De leader Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) with a determined ‘when not if’ agenda.

“This manifesto puts forward a positive vision of what West Berkshire could be like under a Liberal Democrat administration,” he said.

“For too long the Conservatives have taken West Berkshire for granted.

"Some time ago they stopped listening to residents’ concerns, believing they knew best.

"Our services have been cut, our roads and pavements are in a terrible state and we are struggling to keep our commitments to the environment. Our aim is to rebuild for the future.

Under the ‘fair deal for residents’ section, the Lib Dems say they will re establish funding for ReadiBus, prioritise funding to reduce wait times in children’s mental health services and conduct a review of SEND provision.

They also commit to delivering 1,000 affordable new homes by 2030.

In the protecting the environment pledge, they will adopt a '20 is plenty’ speed limit for villages which request it and introduce an idle free 20mph speed zones outside schools. They will also conduct a full review of kerbside recycling.

They also say they will bring Thames Water to book about sewage discharges in to the districts rivers, blocked sewers and leaks.

And in building for the future they say Faraday Road will immediately be returned for bookable football space and work with the Newbury Community Football Group to progress plans for a stadium and facilities.

They also support building a bridge over the railway line at Thatcham.

Mr Dillon thanked district councillors for a ‘tough four years’ and paid tribute to those not standing again including Nassar Hunt, Andy Moore, Keith Woodhams and Royce Longton, who has served 30 years on the council.

The full slate of candidates will see seats previously not fully contested be challenged, and the party is confident of wins in both the district and town councils of Newbury and Thatcham.

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