Our PoliciesPolicies that work and fake news that doesn't
OUR CITY - COMMUNITY WEALTH, ENGAGEMENT AND CULTURE
As a co-operative council we will act ethically in all our decision making and actions, whilst adhering to and actively promoting co-operative values.
To achieve this, we will work towards three key themes:
Developing Community Wealth
The aim is to reorganise and control the local economy by using progressive procurement/ commissioning and social value legislation so that wealth is not extracted but broadly held and generative, with local roots, so that income is recirculated, communities are put first and people are provided with opportunity, dignity and well-being.
We will actively seek to maximise the benefits of economic activity for local communities by:
- working with anchor institutions such as health partners, the University and College, Gentoo, Nissan and others to consider how procurement activity can be better used to support local economic activity, and;
- helping local enterprises (SMEs) to supply goods and services to these anchor institutions – keeping money within local communities
- further developing the co-operative and mutual sector within Sunderland by creating a co-operative development fund to ensure a greater share of wealth is distributed in our communities
- use social value legislation to ensure we get the most out of commissioning
- arrangements and that contractors actively recruit locally and employees are paid a fair wage.
Developing Community Engagement
We will look to devolve some decision making and scrutiny of services to allow for residents working together on projects and ideas that make their neighbourhoods more exciting and enjoyable places to work, rest and play.
We intend to look at delegating more powers and responsibilities to Area Committees to run more services as part of a programme of devolving responsibilities away from the city centre.
We will also look at how residents can be more involved in the council planning for the city through use of social media and other forms of community engagement.
Developing Our Community Culture
Where the city continues to expand its cultural offer to residents and visitors alike, so that Sunderland is an acknowledged venue where people want to come and be part of that offer.
With partners we will continue to develop the city’s cultural offer across the MAC Quarter, new city centre, Washington, Houghton and Hetton.
OUR CITY - A STRONG LOCAL ECONOMY
We want to maximise the value of every pound spent in Sunderland by the council, its partners and you, the public.
We want to make sure that income is recirculated in Sunderland with our community being put first and local people are provided with opportunities for better employment and higher wages.
We want to make sure as much of the money that is spent stays in Sunderland for the benefit of our community.
We want to make sure that people who live in Sunderland benefit from a stronger local economy and a great city centre.
- We will promote Sunderland as a great place to do business as well as a great city to live
- We will make our city and our city centre as productive and attractive as possible to increase the number of jobs and businesses operating in the city
- We will ensure our city is digitally connected
- We will ensure the council maximises local spend in the city and we will encourage all key partners and businesses to spend locally
- We will follow social value principles to get the most for Sunderland to support local people and encourage more co-operative models of business in Sunderland.
OUR CITY - A CLEAN GREEN CITY
We all use public spaces every time we leave home. These include the footpaths and streets we walk or drive along each day, the parks where our children play and the outdoor areas we exercise or relax in. Our lives can be influenced by our perceptions of the quality and cleanliness of the public areas we encounter. We all need to work together to deliver improvements to our streets, open spaces and our environment.
We want a clean city where our streets and public spaces are free from litter, fly-tipping, graffiti, fly posting, dog fouling, vandalised or damaged street furniture and signs.
We want a green city that has good quality beaches, attractive and tidy green and open spaces, well-kept parks and cemeteries, and policies which promote sustainability and ensure the protection and management of the natural environment.
With the help of individuals, communities, voluntary groups, local businesses, and landowners:
- We will provide the best possible local clean and green services within available resources
- We will champion local clean and green activities, supporting the combined efforts of partners and communities
- We will support residents and communities in caring for their local environment and neighbourhoods.
OUR CITY - A SAFE CITY
We work with partners in the city (including the police, fire, probation services and health) to prevent and reduce crime and disorder and improve community cohesion and maintain high levels of safety.
We work together for the benefit of everyone who lives, works, visits, studies and socialises in Sunderland and protect and support our most vulnerable people and places from harm.
Together through continued partnerships and collaboration:
- We will tackle violent crime and domestic abuse
- We will use both city wide and local area problem-solving approaches in response to crime, community safety and cohesion issues
- We will tackle threats and harmful behaviour that impact particularly on our most vulnerable people – such as modern- day slavery, sexual exploitation, fraud and financial crime, serious organised crime, cyber-enabled crimes and preventing violent extremism and radicalisation.
OUR CITY - BETTER HOUSING
Everybody should have the right to live in a decent home in a neighbourhood that they are proud to live in. We will therefore do our utmost to ensure the city has sufficient good quality housing of the right types, particularly affordable housing for low-income households. On this basis, there is much that still needs to be done to improve the city’s housing stock and to ensure that there is the right mix and offer throughout the city.
We want to:
- Increase the number of new homes
- Provide early and proactive support to individuals and households to reduce the harmful impacts of welfare reforms
- Improve housing and management standards in the private rented sector including Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
- Reduce the number of empty homes in the city
- Encourage the building of more and better housing in the city
- Help to reduce fuel poverty.
OUR PEOPLE - ACCESS TO EDUCATION AND SKILLS
Education and skills are essential parts of our economic prosperity for local people in Sunderland.
Education and skills are of economic value to individuals as workers, to the businesses that employ them and to the wider economy through greater productivity and competitiveness.
It is crucial for our residents (especially our young people) to obtain the necessary educational achievement and skills required to ensure that local people have the competitive edge to succeed in the modern world and not be left behind, and to ensure they can benefit from jobs created in Sunderland.
- Work with education providers, families and young people to improve education attainment levels across the city
- Prioritise the improvement of educational attainment and closing achievement gaps for the most vulnerable children and young people
- Encourage greater collaboration between schools and other education providers and businesses
- Support businesses and individuals in improving skills to boost competitiveness and aid career progression and help support more residents into higher education
- We will promote the benefits of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to match job availability and encourage further business investment and job creation
- We will support adult learning opportunities in the city including digital skills.
OUR PEOPLE - HEALTHIER LIVES
So many factors contribute to our health and wellbeing, meaning our challenge is to reflect the breadth of the agenda whilst being specific about the areas we need to focus on to make the biggest difference.
Sunderland Labour is fully committed to improving the health and wellbeing of residents to help them live healthier and longer lives. We also want to help people live as independently as they can with us there to help when needed – especially supporting those most vulnerable.
We will work with residents, communities and partners to:
- Reduce health inequalities and improve the health of the poorest the fastest
- Support healthy, physically active lifestyles for all ages
- Support self-care, with more people successfully managing their own health conditions
- Enable people with care and support needs to have choice and control
- Supporting employee wellness programmes to promote good health and wellbeing.
OUR PEOPLE - A STRONG CULTURAL AND EVENTS OFFER
We have fantastic assets and an outstanding offer in Sunderland – our beaches, green spaces, heritage, culture, parks, sporting activities and events such as the Air Show and the Illuminations.
We will continue to expand our cultural offer, so that Sunderland is an acknowledged destination of choice where people want to come and be part of that offer and Sunderland is seen as an all age-friendly city.
We also want to make sure that the economic benefits for the city of our cultural and events offer are fully realised by its residents.
- Make it as easy as possible for local people to access local opportunities
- Expand the city’s cultural offer across the Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter in the city centre, as well as continuing to improve the offer at the seafront, Washington, Houghton and Hetton
- Improve how we market Sunderland to a wider audience to gain more economic benefit
- Encourage growth of the creative industries in the city.
OUR COUNCIL - HIGH QUALITY AND ACCESSIBLE SERVICES
We are committed to providing the best quality services to Sunderland residents – in partnership with residents and local organisations wherever possible.
We want to make it easy for people to access the right set of services when they really need them – especially when unexpected events happen that affect residents’ lives.
We will prioritise support, interventions and resources where they are most needed:
- Our adult social care services and supporting people to help them remain independent
- Our children’s social care services and supporting vulnerable children and young people in our city
- And those most vulnerable in society including those impacted on by debt, by poor health, by the impacts of unemployment and disadvantage.
OUR COUNCIL - STRONG, LOCAL AND EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP
We want Sunderland to be a welcoming city for all, where people get on with each other and feel they are part of their local community. To achieve this, we will provide effective local leadership, to increase community cohesion, raise aspirations and create better access to social and economic opportunities.
Increasing community engagement and participation will reduce dependency on public services, building thriving, more resilient communities across the city that make the best use of their strengths and assets to overcome challenges.
We want to bring people together to make a difference and help them to do more for themselves and others so that their communities can thrive, making sure that:
- Residents, communities, businesses and organisations are equal partners
- Local people are engaged to achieve things that we cannot achieve alone and we add value to their activities
- The city’s strategic priorities are aligned to communities’ needs and aspirations to deliver joint action
- Support mechanisms are in place so local people can take action and we share information, skills and resources
- Make it easier for people to get involved in decision making and scrutiny of services and delivery of local projects and ideas
- Make it easier for people to share their views including through social media and consultation activities
- Ensure that there are local mechanisms in place to address neighbourhood issues and ensure community engagement.
"Councillors are tucking into extravagant buffet lunches every day!" Is this true?
No. The only meetings that a meal is provided is after Full Council. This takes place five times a year. Full Council is attended by all 75 City Councillors – Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Independent.
This meal is provided because Full Council starts at 6pm and a lot of councillors come straight from work to attend the meeting making it difficult for those councillors to eat before the meeting starts. It is not unusual for these meetings to finish after 9pm.
Providing this meal after Full Council is also cheaper for the council, as no councillor is allowed to claim a meal allowance because a meal is provided.
The days of free buffet lunches after every meeting are a thing of the past. Labour put an end to that practice almost 10 years ago.
Our pledge: Every penny spent on council meals is accounted for in public documents.
I heard Labour councillors receive huge allowances and expenses – is that the case?
All elected members are entitled to claim reasonable expenses – this is true across the political spectrum in every council across the country.
Many Labour councillors choose not to claim any expenses, and this is a matter for each individual.
One falsehood we often read or hear from residents is that councillor allowances have been increased year on year. This is not the case.
Councillor allowances have not increased for eight years, meaning there has actually been a drop in the ‘real wages’ when you take into account inflation.
No councillor comes into local politics ‘to make money’, they come into it because they have a passion for their area and the city.
We are aware of the public feeling around expenses and allowances, especially in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal of a decade ago. All councillor allowances are open to scrutiny – they are published each year on the council’s website.
Our pledge: The council is not, never has been, and never will be a gravy train for false or excessive expenses claims.
I heard Labour councillors set their own allowances. Is that true?
No. All councillor allowances and expenses are set by an Independent Remuneration Panel.
Our pledge: Labour will never get into the business of setting councillor allowances. We think this is best handled by the Independent Remuneration Panel.
Is it true that a Labour-led council sanctioned the payment of gagging orders, amounting to millions of pounds?
Firstly, to be clear, the council cannot and does not issue Gagging Orders. That is the remit of a judge.
Since 2010, the council has been forced to reduce its workforce by more than 5,000 people due to the Government’s austerity purge, something we have done by voluntary means, rather than making compulsory redundancies.
At all levels of the business, people have moved on, and in each case, we have sought to reach an agreement that recognises their loyalty, commitment and overall contribution to the organisation.
It has been the right of every member of the council team to apply for voluntary redundancy, and clearly, for those who have taken severance, this has involved an enhanced payment, over and above statutory redundancy levels, for most employees.
Though settlement agreements include an element of confidentiality in respect of the terms of individual payments, they are categorically not gagging orders, and there is nothing in those agreements prohibiting staff from speaking about their work at the council or indeed stifling discussion or debate about the council itself.
Not all local authorities have used settlement agreements as part their voluntary severance arrangements, which accounts for the difference in the figures presented by local authorities such as Newcastle when compared with Sunderland.
Our pledge: We have not and nor will we seek to stifle discussion or debate about the council among former employees.
I have read on social media that the Labour Party in Sunderland is corrupt. Is that true?
We are aware that there are a small number of individuals who continue to make unfounded and scurrilous accusations about our party and its councillors and MPs.
These claims are without foundation, and we have invited those perpetuating these allegations to come with us to local police stations and discuss them in person. These offers have never been taken up.
Labour in Sunderland is a progressive party, made up of people who – like you – want the very best for this city. Our councillors and candidates have entered politics to make a positive difference to Sunderland, and not for personal gain. It’s disappointing that we continue to face often very personal attacks, based on lies and hearsay, and we refute them when we can, but there are far too many other important and pressing issues affecting our city to deal with than to spend our time online shouting down every false claim and unfounded allegation.
Our pledge: We will continue to fight for a fairer, better city – for the many, not the few.
Are parking zones just about making money?
Resident parking zones in the city have been introduced in response to a large number of resident complaints about people parking outside of their homes, which can be a real nuisance, particularly in heavily congested areas, or streets that are close to busy workplaces.
Resident parking zones are only every implemented when they have clear support from a majority of residents in the area.
Our pledge: We will ensure safe and protected parking streets for Sunderland residents.
Why are Labour councillors on the board of Siglion? Isn’t that a conflict of interests?
The Siglion delivery model is common practice and the set-up of the board is actually about ensuring that the voice of the city is represented.
Councillors sit on the board in their capacity as elected members of the majority party in the city, and therefore, with a mandate as the overall voice of Sunderland residents.
Our pledge: All Labour councillors declare an interest should there ever be a risk of conflict of interest.