Everyone should have access to freely available public spaces, for leisure, work, and education.
We will ensure community venues such as leisure centres, youth centres, community halls, and libraries have the funding they need to be fully staffed and well equipped. These spaces are vital for creating a sense of community and fighting social isolation, and access to them should not be reliant on charity or the work of volunteers.
Any venues receiving public funding will be required to provide their staff with high pay and stable working hours, so that our communities will have the best support possible. Venues that are open to children will be required to maintain high standards of safeguarding and will be provided with the resources they need to achieve this.
We will fully fund libraries by reversing the cuts to their budgets made under austerity, and increase library coverage to areas that have had their libraries closed. We will also bring libraries back into council or community not-for-profit ownership, and ensure they are fully staffed by professional librarians. A public service as vital as our libraries should not be treated as a luxury and left to run on the goodwill of overworked volunteers.
As the North recovers from the impact of the pandemic, support for pubs and music venues is a must. We will ensure that these venues will be protected from speculation by private developers and malicious noise complaints.
Many of our towns and villages have marketplaces that are vital centres for local businesses and communities. We will invest in their continued use with improved facilities, such as heated seating areas, so that they can be enjoyed year-round.
We will ban all forms of hostile architecture such as anti-homeless spikes and sloped seating: the solution to homelessness is not found in making our public spaces uncomfortable and inconvenient for everyone.
We will introduce a tourist levy in our seaside towns and historic cities to fund public services such as litter collection and the provision of public toilets, as these services are negatively affected by high numbers of tourists.
We will create a public register of property owners, to improve transparency and hold landlords accountable for leaving high street premises empty or charging unreasonable rents. No one’s livelihood or access to services should be reliant on a landlord they’ve never met.
We will use Community Land Trusts to allow towns and villages to collectively own High Street properties. They will be able to set rents and service standards in accordance with local need, and this will give communities a direct say in what is on their high streets.
We will fund the purchase of commercial properties by councils or community groups, with priority given to large units that can be subdivided and serve many purposes for the community (such as former department stores). This will prevent socially useful properties falling into the private market and becoming yet more luxury apartments or hotels.
We will institute business rate reform so that large online retailers such as Amazon pay their fair share. It is wrong that local businesses shoulder the heaviest burden. We will also combat property speculation and lower business rents by increasing rates on long-term vacant premises.
We will prioritise the redevelopment of our town and city centres by pausing the creation of out-of-town retail space, including supermarkets. These developments have hollowed out our once vibrant high streets in favour of bland retail parks that are inaccessible without a car.
Holiday Let Regulation
We will expand regulation of holiday lets and require all owners to obtain a licence from their local authority before letting out a property. Unregulated holiday lets are pricing families out of their own communities by pushing up rents, and are a frequent source of noise and anti-social behaviour; this cannot go on.
We will improve air quality by reducing traffic. We will achieve this through improved public transport, better pedestrian access to city and town centres, and increased cycling infrastructure.
Our councillors will push for more bins to be placed in and around urban green spaces as well as local beauty spots, and also ensure that they are regularly emptied so that our natural heritage is not ruined by litter every sunny day.
Councils have significantly reduced the number of public toilets available. Use of a toilet is a basic right, and something which everyone needs when out and about. Lack of public toilets directly contributes to unsanitary and unpleasant conditions by forcing antisocial behaviour. We will build more public facilities, and ensure that they are open all hours and accessible to those with disabilities.