Make your votes count in the borough elections

Hertsmere voters get the chance to choose which councillors represent them on the borough council in next week's elections.

Thirteen of the borough council's 39 seats are up for grabs in the June 10 election, in which residents can also vote for the political party they wish to represent them in the European Parliament.

There will be elections in 13 of the 15 wards including the Borehamwood wards of Hillside, Brookmeadow and Cowley Hill, Shenley, Aldenham East and Aldenham West.

A total of 39 candidates have put themselves forward for election across the borough; 13 Conservative, 13 Labour, 12 Liberal Democrat and one Socialist Labour.

The contested seats were last up for election in 2000, and the winners will occupy them for four years, until 2008.

Currently the Conservative Party has a majority with 25 Hertsmere Borough Councillors. There are eight Labour and six Liberal Democrat councillors.

Across Borehamwood, Radlett, Shenley, Aldenham and Letchmore Heath, 32 polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm, and residents should have received polling cards advising them where to go.

The turn-out for last year's elections was around 30 per cent.

Once the polls are closed, the votes will be counted at Allum Lane Community Centre in Elstree.

Overall results will be announced at around 2am due to the late opening of polling stations, but individual ward results are likely to be available by midnight.

*** Labour leader Len Silverstone: This is probably one of the most important Elections for many years. So it is essential that the issues are considered very carefully.

Hertsmere Conservatives have tried to tell us that the Borough doesn't have any money. Wrong, it is one of the richest boroughs in the country, which is why we proposed a lower council tax.

Why is it sitting on this money, which belongs to the council taxpayers, Pensioners, have had the cost, of their concessionary Bus passes increased, and community groups have been left unsupported.

As a Borough the Tories record on the things that matter to the residents including the environment and housing has resulted in a mediocre score from the Government Inspectors.

The Labour party cares for the environment; it is up to us, as politicians to take the lead and plan for the future, unlike the failed current Tory administration that has one of the worst records in environment in the County.

The Labour party will immediately re-examine this policy and bring in incentives to double the recycling figure.

It was the Labour Party, in power that saved Elstree Studios, which has had a major effect on regeneration within the Borough, and has created substantial employment opportunities. We will not allow the Tories to throw this away.

Lack of housing and poor housing has a major effect on health, opportunity and child development. This is such a critical area which is why we would immediately call for the appointment of a cabinet post with sole responsibility for housing instead of just an add on to a list of responsibilities.

The Labour Party is the only party to be able to offer a strong and effective opposition, making sure that, Hertsmere residents benefited from national Labour government policies, such as eradication of poverty, more police and more, visibility than ever. Make sure that you have a say by voting on June the 10th for your Local Labour Candidate.

*** Liberal Democrat leader Michael Colne: Despite "hype" from the Tory administration the majority of our local roads are seldom cleaned and are in a deplorable condition.

Some areas fare much better than the rest of the borough. Why is this? We all pay the same Council Tax. Hertsmere is also the worst district in the county for recycling.

Compared to other nearby areas our senior citizens are treated deplorably.

Our efforts to achieve a fairly priced and more usable bus pass have been frustrated at every attempt. We will work for more support for our elderly residents, especially the over 75s.

The Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have been welcomed by all residents. Local police managers must understand that people want PCSOs to provide a high visibility presence.

They are not substitute police officers. We will work for better co-operation with the police and better use of these officers.

Liberal Democrat policy is to replace the present unfair Council Tax with a Local Income Tax, which is based on the householders ability to pay.

Local government would become more accountable and closer to the public.

Liberal Democrats will work to bring this about. The defence of our open green spaces is vitally important in the face of increasing pressure from developers and central government.

We are totally committed to this and opposed to over development.

House prices in Hertsmere are so high that those on lower incomes have little chance of ownership themselves.

At the same time we desperately need homes for police officers, nurses etc.

To help fund "affordable" housing there is a levy on large private developments. Liberal Democrats will work for more affordable housing as part of ALL developments in the borough.

The Conservative majority abuses your democratic choice by hogging all appointments and insisting on controlling even the scrutiny committees.

They even refuse to share the non-executive role of mayor. Liberal Democrats believe in open government and proper accountability.

We want to work with all parties to establish local committees in all areas, formed on a proportional basis.

*** Socialist Labour Party candidate Jim Dry: The difference between the three main political parties is the difference between some burger companies you know you are going to get junk.

To add to our woes we have a Prime Minister who espouses Christian values but appears to have a problem between the word of God and the voice on the other end of the transatlantic hotline.

This Government started by holding down Income Tax levels at the absurdly low levels plumbed by the Tories.

There is no control on rents and dividends. Ministers shamelessly grovel like their predecessors to the very rich in the mistaken belief that their riches are evidence of social achievement.

The result has been an increase in the gap between the very rich and the rest. Privatisation has been characterised by declining standards of service, poor safety, shambolic administration, huge reductions of workforce and bulging pockets of directors.

If we sat down and thought: "How can we make our industries into a shambles," we wouldn't be able to match the ice cold reality that now exists.

We have listened with, I think, great patience whilst ministers for a quarter of a century have reeled off dodgy statistics about how splendidly Government are treating pensioners. They don't stand up to scrutiny.

Our main objectives for this local election are as follows: *Improve youth facilities, which are either non-existent or totally neglected. *An increase in police on the beat. *Drop in centres for our senior citizens. *Fighting the cancer called racism wherever the British National Party have stood there is an increase in racist attacks. *Ending discrimination of those with disabilities. *Council Tax payments based on the ability to pay.

As it is evident we can afford to fight a war in Iraq, we can afford decent pensions, a comprehensive education system, an NHS free of its parasitical PFI, and to start to rebuild our badly fractured manufacturing industry.

Tory spending cuts of £18billion announced recently by Oliver Letwin would lead to local council spending being cut in half, at a time when Hertsmere is already cutting it to the bone.

*** Neil Payne, Conservative leader: It is a great privilege to be Leader of the Conservative Group and Leader of the Council in Hertsmere. I am proud of what the council is achieving by working in partnership with residents across Elstree and Borehamwood.

In the past year, we introduced Police Community Support Officers to help our streets feel safer and bring down the fear of crime. The constabulary welcomed Hertsmere into the "policing family" and described this administration as having: "vibrancy, dynamism and commitment" in the fight against crime. We have introduced Hertsmere's first ever alcohol-free zone in Borehamwood a ban enforced by police and the PCSOs. These efforts have been recognised nationally.

Following Government inspection through the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, Hertsmere was rated an "A" the highest grade possible for our work in crime and disorder reduction.

Overall, the CPA agreed that Hertsmere is a fair council, "well placed to achieve further improvement". It acknowledged our "priorities are supported by residents who are satisfied with a number of services" especially "parks, community safety and leisure," which were branded "good".

It is encouraging that this Conservative administration has received such positive and non-political comments about the work we do for our communities.

It is easy to sit in opposition and snipe. But how does that help anyone? I am pleased though that opposition parties support many of our policies from PCSOs to our budget this year, which saw just a 4.9 per cent rise in Council Tax with NO CUTS in services.

I am unhappy that Labour and the Liberal Democrats refused to vote with us to condemn the Government for plans of over-development in Hertsmere. Punitive housing levels would see a town, twice the size of Radlett and Shenley combined, horse-shoed into our borough. There's only one place it could go. On Green Belt land such as Woodcock Hill. We will fight this, with or without the support of opposition parties.

On 10 June, please help us to continue working together for the future of our communities.

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