Residents, communities, businesses and the environment are at the heart of decision-making in a manifesto for May’s local election.

‘Leading Wiltshire’s Recovery’ is the Liberal Democrats programme to put Wiltshire in front. Key points include plans to make Wiltshire net zero carbon by 2030, creating an enterprise culture across the county to attract businesses, and to prioritise providing level access to mental and physical health care.

The plan also outlines plans to re-boot local democracy and involve residents, businesses and local communities in key decisions using citizen’s assemblies to discuss future council budgets and development in the county.

“The manifesto was put through a series of policy workshops and conferences, indicative of the party’s plan to lead Wiltshire. Offering a message of hope and recovery, the party plans to shift the focus to the needs of residents across Wiltshire rather than the needs of Wiltshire Council,” said Cllr Ian Thorn, Lib Dem Group Leader.

The launch was on the same day the party criticised the Tory-led council for hiking council tax by the highest amount. The Lib Dems criticised the move for hitting residents and businesses the hardest at a time when they need support.

Cllr Thorn called for change.

“Time and time again Wiltshire Tories have shown they are not on the side of residents – the closure of Surestart and youth services, and the attempted closure of the outdoor education centres, special schools in Trowbridge and Chippenham, and the threatened closure of Furlong Close are all examples of this.

“Only the efforts of residents, backed by Lib Dems, put a stop to these Tory proposals.

“The Tories failed to recognise the climate emergency, a Lib Dem resolution, and opened up Wiltshire’s green field sites by failing to meet the required five-year land supply.

“We will put Wiltshire residents first in all of our decision-making and the needs of the council second.”

Cllr Gavin Grant, Shadow spokesperson on Council Finances and Economic Development added:

“Wiltshire needs a Council that listens and acts to meet the needs of Wiltshire residents, businesses and communities while acting to protect our environment.

“This is what our budget amendment does. It cuts the council tax increase without impacting services, while creating more help for struggling households and businesses. Our manifesto for Wiltshire’s recovery does the same. It puts local residents, businesses, communities and the environment at the heart – listening and responding to the needs of our communities.”

“Working with residents and businesses, we will lead the recovery from the pandemic, building and investing to create a successful and sustainable economy, working to protect our environment and communities, listening to and acting to meet the needs of our residents, while mobilising the full resources of our communities to help those that need it most.”

The rem-emerging party claims: ‘Under Lib Dem leadership Wiltshire will have a Council that will listen to, care about and act for everyone’.