We asked each of the parties to say what they would do for St Albans. Below, Cllr Malachy Pakenham writes for Labour.

Does St Albans District Council have a good record of delivering services? Certainly the planning and housing departments are under strain, both of those are key departments of the council and staff there work under constant pressure. Since I, as first elected to the council in the mid-1990s, staffing levels have dropped by around 200 staff which means more work for less staff, couple that with poor salary rates and St Albans being close to London authorities which pay more, it’s no wonder that certain sections of the council struggle to deliver the services the public want. That said the Labour group of councillors are very aware that staff work really hard on behalf of the public and we salute their efforts, despite the Tory councillors’ budget cuts as a result of their own government’s lack of funding for local government which has hit St Albans hard.

The council’s efforts on re-cycling have been good, although I think councillor’s and the public have had a key role here at pushing the boundaries as far as rec-cycling locally does, people are more aware/keen to re-cycle and that has been reflected in the council’s attitude on this subject. As always no council whoever runs it should be complacent and Labour will support reform and efficiency measures if they deliver results for local people.

Labour is standing candidates in all 18 wards and the town council by-election in Harpenden and as such we are campaigning for every single vote right across the district. Labour currently has sitting councillor’s in Ashley, Batchwood, London Colney and Sopwell wards and expects, without taking the electorate for granted, that those candidates will be re-elected due to the hard work and local profiles of our candidates in those wards.

The whole district faces a chronic shortage of public and private sector housing, as evidenced by letters to your paper and residents who turn up looking for help at Labour Councillor's ward surgeries. This is in part due to national government inactivity over a period of time but also down to the fact of complete inactivity by the Lib Dems when they ran the Council in updating our local plan which now dates back to 1995, and the fact that the Conservative Council failure to make sure a proper assessment of local housing need took place and to make sure we started the process of adopting a new local plan much earlier than we did. It was the Labour Group supported by other opposition parties that forced through a vote on the issue that finally started the ball rolling, a new local plan will cover every aspect of planning in the district and not just the number of houses that need to be built which always seem to catch the headlines in local papers, it's about how we build and preserve our district for its residents over the next twenty plus years.

National politics does impact on local elections and over a cycle this benefits and disadvantages political parties depending on what is occurring nationally. This is a pity because local elections should be about local issues, it's the one time of the year that people get to discuss what the issues are in their areas with local candidates. It has often been the way that hard working local councillors of all parties having often been rejected by the electorate, not because of their local track record, but because of national events. That said the electorate are entitled to reach whatever conclusion they do, Labour would say that regardless of your view of local politicians, it's important to vote, whoever you end up voting for.