Blending Politics and Local Issues
On 24 March Wendover Labour Party members met in the Library Room with others in the community to exchange views on local and national issues, their impact on our everyday lives and how discussion might become action to influence local and national policies. Discussion focused on:
- Health & Social Care
- Education, Children’s & Youth Services and
It was good to have the contributions of young people, those still at school, some at university. A team member of those involved in the Wendover Neighbourhood Plan attended as well as three key members from the Aylesbury Labour Party.
Most of the time was spent in groups, attendees selecting one of the three topics outlined. All were led by someone with specialist knowledge or interest. Discussions were focused, determined and generally positive that local involvement could and should have influence. It was reassuring that despite differing views we have much in common in wanting to improve the lives of all in our community around the difficult issues that confront us. This article cannot detail all that transpired in a 1½hour meeting but the following is a condensation of subjects tackled, some of which involved personal experience or knowledge.
Health and Social Care:
The focus was on the centralising of provision and the problems caused in this area, one being inadequate transport provision. On funding cuts, those involved in the charity sector reported a growing demand for their expansion as support services were outsourced or cut. The cost effectiveness of an agency-led social care service was questioned and concern expressed relating to GP provision, with early retirement and poor recruitment reported. It was felt that changes/cuts in provision are poorly communicated, realised only when access is required. In a local ageing population, changes needed to be clear and an open, ‘big picture’ approach demonstrated. The idea of a cooperative model for funding health and social care was posed and was worth investigation.
Local Solutions: First, research /produce/publish an ‘awareness’ map of cuts/changes to local services. Second, explore possibilities of a ‘cooperative’ style of services provision.
Education, Children’s & Youth Services
The full range of services from child care to university to apprenticeships were discussed, including the purpose(s) of education and how the best is achieved. ‘Well-rounded’ was seen as a desirable requirement for young people leaving education and for the system itself. The selective process under a Labour administration was debated and concern expressed over the concept of an exam-driven provision. Young people present stressed the rising need for support for mental health issues and a clear route to pastoral care. As always, funding and class sizes were of concern. The inconsistencies in the quality of education across Buckinghamshire were noted and that LEAs, with their knowledge of the whole education provision, were best placed to manage national standards.
Local Solutions: Find opportunities to engage older people in local discussion with young people and to bring them into the public arena.
The basic need/the right to a home was recognised and all the issues of national debate raised: affordability, infrastructure, social housing. ‘Affordable’ was seen as unrealistic from a statistical viewpoint. The need for housing was obvious and locally much was under construction. Were the houses appropriate? Was there good infrastructure? Were developers being held to account? In the rental sector, tenants needed good access to landlords and satisfactory agreements.
Local Solutions: First, research other areas where new housing developments have ‘worked’. Second, grasp the opportunity of the Halton development to produce a ‘well-rounded’ plan for the site. Third, support funding for tenants’ associations.
We will be holding a meeting to report progress on some of the action points outlined and to hear views on other issues and concerns. We would very much welcome your contribution. If you would like to be kept informed, please email us on email@example.com.