Political parties make their final appeal for votes in the battle for Milton Keynes

With just hours to go before the polling stations open at 7am on Thursday, May 2, in the Milton Keynes Council elections, political parties have made their final appeals for votes.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 7:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 7:13 pm
Political parties battling for votes to run Milton Keynes Council

The borough council has 57 elected councillors, each of whom serve for four years, but because they are elected at different times, only 19 of the seats are up for grabs tomorrow.

The council, currently with no one party in overall control, is currently run by Labour, under an “enhanced partnership” with the Lib Dems.

Three of the parties – Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems, have a mathematical – although highly unlikely – possibility of reaching or surpassing the 29-seat winning line for an overall majority, if they simultaneously hold on to all their own seats, and take all the others.

But even if no party wins overall control, the parties are battling for every vote, to be the largest party and to win the democratic argument with largest number of votes.

Labour leader, Pete Marland, said that voting makes a real difference ” to you, your family and your community”.

He says the party has 30 “clear and deliverable pledges to build stronger communities and a thriving MK.”

These include “investing in tackling crime and community safety, improving children’s services, getting the basics right or making MK the greenest city in the world, electing Labour councillors makes a difference.”

Cllr Marland says Labour’s plan is about being “honest with people and delivering what we say.

“We have a vision for Milton Keynes that will protect our unique city, not just empty slogans like the Tories. We are clear what we want, not just what we are against. We’re positive about what we will do, not just saying what we oppose.”

Cllr Alex Walker, the Conservative leader, says this election is a “battle of visions”, focused on how the city should grow.

He says: “This is a huge election for Milton Keynes’ future. Our sustainable Conservative plan for future growth that protects our grid roads and green spaces, or Labour’s reckless plan to double the size of our population in just 30 years that would put huge strain on our roads, GP surgeries and hospital.

“MK is a fantastic and unique place to live, let’s not let the Labour council ruin it.”

Lib Dem leader, Cllr Douglas McCall, is hoping to capitalise on people who are disillusioned with Labour and the Tories.

He said: “Residents are telling us on the doorstep that they are fed up with the big two parties, but really appreciate the work the Lib Dems do locally. They see that we work hard all year round and don’t just turn up at election time.

“We are hopeful we’ll make gains from the feedback we are getting on the doorstep. We look forward to get to work to tackle child poverty in MK and protect the most vulnerable from Tory government cuts.”

The Green Party, standing in all 19 wards, is also hoping to capitalise on people being disillusioned with Labour and the Conservatives, and by being a party that wants to stay in the European Union and is calling for a People’s Vote on the national issue of Brexit.

The Greens’ Alan Francis says he wants to break a “cosy consensus” in the city by having Green councillors with a “fresh perspective on Milton Keynes.”

They want improvements to public transport and facilities for pedestrian and cycle travel with a “much needed” review of the redways. They support green spaces, local businesses and promoting the “vibrant arts scene within our city.”

With a particular focus on taking action on climate change they will be “urgently seeking ways that MK Council can reduce its carbon footprint, and enable citizens and local businesses to do the same.”

With a directly opposed view on Brexit, UKIP’s six candidates are hoping to capitalise on the government’s failure to leave the European Union.

UKIP’s Jeff Wyatt said he hopes that voters will show their “anger with the utter betrayal that the British establishment have shown to the clear democratic decision of the people to leave the EU.”

Mr Wyatt adds: “Even the majority of remainers I talk to are aware this has now become an issue of the very meaning of democracy, it’s now not just about Brexit.

“Vote UKIP, the only party on the ballot paper that clearly upholds the will of the people.”

There is also one candidate standing for the Women’s Equality Party. Jane Whild is calling for the council to take action to increase the number female councillors.

She want to see gender balance on key committees “so that the perspectives of the female 50 per cent of the Milton Keynes population are properly represented.”

She also wants to see action on achieving gender equality and to put “effective equality impact assessment at the heart of the council’s committee decision-making practice, so that thinking about equality becomes the norm, and not a tick box exercise.”

The Women’s Equality Party also wants to see councils “attract, develop, support and retain the diverse local councillors we need for the future.”