Cheltenham town hall. Photo: David Stowell/CC
Cheltenham town hall. Photo: David Stowell/CC

Joe Waters, Gloucestershire Socialist Party

Cheltenham is a supposedly well-off town, with a higher median salary and lower unemployment than the national average. The town’s economy is worth over £3 billion, with skilled jobs in cyber-security and tech. The Lib Dem council recently approved spending up to £95 million developing a business park, hoping to further the town’s reputation as a high-tech hub.

However, investment doesn’t flow so freely into working-class neighbourhoods. Basic services are left to crumble, and there are few good jobs.

While local politicians spend millions to draw in private sector investment, they can’t find any economic justification for providing local residents just down the road with regular access to a library, or even a halfway reliable bus service so they can get to work.

Cheltenham is home to prestigious private schools, where the wealthy can have their children groomed to follow in their footsteps. However, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates are standing in wards where there’s child poverty, and the social problems it creates.

The town and surrounding countryside is full of shockingly opulent homes for the rich. But for many people, even the most outdated and degraded housing options are increasingly unaffordable.

Landlords cram in more and more people to make easy profit. In student areas, parking is a constant issue. But across town, properties might have multiple luxury cars parked up behind tall, heavy gates.

Most working-class people are well aware of these disparities, and of how little of a priority their needs are to the local authorities. Lots of people have long ago lost interest in voting, as they see no real change on offer.

When we’ve spoken to people in these communities about TUSC, we find real enthusiasm for the idea of standing up for working people, and spending what is needed.

Without TUSC standing, the best that could be hoped for at the local elections would be apologies or excuses. We hope to inspire as many as possible to join us in fighting back.

Joe is the TUSC candidate in Hesters Way