Dartford’s story is a tale of two parts.
For those who have a well-paid job, own their own home, and live in a prosperous and pleasant part of Dartford, it is the best of times. Some sectors of the local economy are growing and unemployment is relatively low in some areas.
However, there is another story. House prices and rents are one the highest of any borough in Kent and equal to some parts of Greater London. Many of those who work in the borough do not earn enough to live here comfortably, or indeed at all.
Those who do manage to find somewhere to live in Dartford often find themselves at the mercy of letting-agents, insecure tenancies and extortionate rents.
For young people wanting to start a family in the borough, high living costs make it impossible. Dartford has recently suffered a big drop in real wages like many other authorities in the country.
Much of Temple Hill, Stone, Swanscombe and Princes, register among the most deprived areas in Kent. An ever growing number of people annually are forced to resort to using Dartford’s food banks.
The policies of the current Tory-Liberal Democrat government have exacerbated many of these problems, especially their cuts to welfare; the bedroom tax; and their huge cuts to council funding.
Because of this, complacency simply won’t do.
Although Dartford is in many ways a success story, it is not equally so for all.
Many feel that they are missing out on the opportunities and wealth that others take for granted.
Dartford Labour understands that many in this borough are facing huge challenges, and need the council to take a proactive role in sharing our prosperity more fairly.
We also believe that those who are successful in Dartford are concerned for the fate of all of the borough’s residents. They understand that the proper measure of the prosperity and civilisation of any community is the comfort and dignity of its poorest member.
Whilst the Tories have concentrated on extending aspects of the physical capital of the borough, important as that may be, prestige projects are no substitute for investment in its social capital.
This manifesto is an attempt to outline where we would pragmatically start to tackle these issues, how we would fund our programme in times of financial austerity, and what we would change.
We will not tolerate a two-tier Dartford – we want one Dartford, fair for all.
That’s why on May 7th we’ll be changing Dartford together.
Geoff Prout - Leader of the Labour Group, Dartford Labour Party
Read on for our plans to change Dartford...