SOUTH Gloucestershire voters will decide the future political direction of the council when they go to the polls on Thursday, May 4.
The council’s ruling Conservatives are defending 33 seats – an overall majority of five – after holding on to power when the party lost control of many nearby councils at the last elections in 2019.
The Liberal Democrats, the biggest opposition group going into the elections with 17 seats, are the only other party contesting all 61 seats up for election on the unitary authority, which has responsibility for public services including waste and recycling, school provision, road maintenance, housing and planning.
The Tories have run the council since 2007 and held an overall majority since 2015, while the Lib Dems last had one in 2003, with other parties holding the balance of power at times when no one party is in overall control.
The third largest party going into the elections is Labour, which is standing 43 candidates and defending 11 seats, while the Greens, who currently have no councillors, are standing 16 candidates.
There are six independent candidates, two from Reform UK, and one from the National Housing Party.
Whoever wins this time there will be a new council leader, after Toby Savage, who has led the ruling Tory cabinet since 2018, announced shortly before nominations closed that he was stepping down as a councillor, having recently become a father for the second time.
Labour leader Pat Rooney is also stepping down, announcing her retirement after 30 years on South Gloucestershire Council and predecessor Kingswood borough.
The Voice asked the four biggest parties in the election to sum up their manifesto pledges for readers.
Their responses are printed in order of their strength in the council chamber going into the election.
THE Conservatives have a proven track record of delivering.
From record levels of investment in schools, multi-million pound road surfacing schemes, record breaking recycling rates and ensuring car parking remains free across South Glos, we have a proven record.
If re-elected, we will continue to prioritise the things that matter. We will ensure that new homes are built in the right places and that our precious environment is protected. We will continue to invest in our local road network to keep it in tip top condition and ensure attainment levels in schools remain high.
We will continue to support our high streets and businesses by ensuring it remains free to park and will push the West of England Combined Authority for better public transport links.
We will also expand the soft plastic recycling scheme to further improve a recycling rate which is already one of the best in the country.
WE face two huge challenges – the threat from Climate Change and the cost-of-living crisis.
Our priorities are :
Tackling the Climate and Ecological emergency. Helping people insulate their homes,
Cutting their carbon footprint and bills. Supporting innovation to build a greener economy.
Getting our area moving. We will work with communities and transport operators to deliver a joined-up transport system.
Helping residents with the cost-of-living crisis. We will offer support and advice to people and businesses, to help them cut their bills and grow the local economy.
Bringing back local decision making. Making sure your voices are heard and the issues that
matter to you are tackled.
We will run South Gloucestershire Council in a completely different way – listening to and working with local people, residents, voluntary groups, Town and Parish Councils and other public authorities.
We can create a South Gloucestershire that works with everyone, for everyone.
OUR community is brimming with potential, but years of Conservative control on South Gloucestershire Council are holding our people and places back.
Listening to residents, we will build a better South Gloucestershire together:
Housing: Enforcing planning laws so a third of all new housing developments are affordable. Working with landlords to make rental properties warmer and cheaper for tenants.
Transport: Increasing the Council’s financial contribution to bus services. Working with our Labour Metro Mayor to train more bus drivers.
NHS and social care: Campaigning for the promised Minor Injuries Unit at Cossham and community beds at Frenchay. Working with NHS partners on early mental health interventions.
Environment: Introducing a dedicated lead for Climate Change Action. Setting the highest standards for waste recovery and recycling. Ensuring major green spaces are accessible.
Childcare: Working with a future Labour government to build a modern childcare system that works for families and children.
On 4th May, help South Gloucestershire follow our neighbours in Bristol by electing Green Party Councillors to our Council.
Our key priorities are:
Housing – balancing the needs of all residents in our local communities; supporting fair and affordable housing; and addressing the challenges of houses with multiple occupants.
Transport – reversing cuts to bus services; pushing for a bus franchise model; and continuing to oppose the development of further mega-roundabouts on the ring road.
Local services – supporting local healthcare, schools, libraries and social care, and enhancing support to vulnerable communities.
Meaningful climate action – providing additional support for insulation for community buildings; enforcing the South Gloucestershire Council nature plan so that all developments protect biodiversity; and ensuring that the Council’s climate commitments are embedded throughout Council decision making.
Rivers – challenging water companies and Government to stop the dumping of raw sewage in our waterways.
Bitton and Oldland Common (two seats)
Kenton James Boon, Liberal Democrat
Sarah Jane Freeman, Green
Peter Hallett, Green
Paul Robert Hughes, Conservative
Darren Paul Langley, Labour
Stanley Raymond Perry, Liberal Democrat
Erica Lesley Williams, Conservative
Hanham (three seats)
Kelly Allen, Green
June Patricia Bamford, Conservative
April Begley, Labour
John Gawn, Liberal Democrat
William Huddy, Green
Daniel James Johnston, Green
Brenda Barbara Langley, Conservative
Margaret Ann Marshall, Liberal Democrat
Michael Newman, Labour
Matt Pitts, Conservative
Patrick John Eagar Thoyts, Liberal Democrat
Longwell Green (two seats)
Crispin Allard, Liberal Democrat
Edward Roger Allinson, Liberal Democrat
Kristopher David Murphy, Conservative
Christine Price, independent
Carol Ann Strange, Conservative
Parkwall and Warmley (two seats)
Elizabeth Bromiley, Conservative
Sam Bromiley, Conservative
Martin Philip Farmer, Labour
Philippa Emily Marsden, Liberal Democrat
Hossein Pirooz, Liberal Democrat
Kenneth David Rabone, Labour