A More Open Municipality - Local Election Manifesto 2012
What kind of a place is a green municipality?
The world takes shape in municipalities, and power in these belongs to us all. In local councils, governing bodies and boards important decisions are made that affect people’s everyday lives. Because of this, local elections are important.
In local elections what is at stake are, among other things, nurseries, schools, rental accommodation, workplaces, health centres, housing for the elderly, libraries, theatres, places of recreation, buses, cycle paths, parks, market squares and plots of land – in other words services and how they are provided as well as what kind of living environment we want to inhabit.
A green municipality is built according to the needs of people and our environment. A green municipality promotes an active lifestyle, alleviates inequality and is a pleasant place to live.
An environmentally responsible municipality that keeps the future in mind
In a green municipality the future is always taken into account. Nature and climate must be considered and protected at other times than just before elections. A clean environment and diversity in nature do not only benefit every single one of us but are also a precondition for the happiness and prosperity of future generations.
We will build balanced, ecological and easily accessible buildings and residential areas where services are near at hand, travelling by public transport is hassle-free and there are enough paths for pedestrians and cyclists.
As for already existing areas, we aim to develop these with the help of complementary build, energy renovation work and by investing in sustainable transport. The climate will feel the difference, as will your wallet, once a trip to the shop does not require a car journey.
In a green municipality, you can rely on public transport, with quick, cheap and comprehensive inter-municipal service also running smoothly. We seek to make car-free living possible, both inside and outside cities. We need more rail tracks and tram tracks as well as more frequent buses. We will help develop new forms of flexible carpooling, service transport and demand-responsive transport for sparsely populated areas.
We want to make driving less of a necessity and to cut the emissions it generates, while the Greens would stagger car taxation in a fairer way than is currently the case. Charges should be higher in those places where the damage done by driving is at its greatest and where real alternatives to using your own car are available. Correspondingly, driving should cost less in those places where traffic jams are not a concern and using your own car often cannot be avoided.
A green municipality conserves local nature and prevents the despoliation of bodies of water as well as restores polluted environments and spoiled nature areas to good health.
We protect forests and bogs. We care about the rights of animals. We want there to be pleasant and attractive surroundings with more parks, trails and areas left in their natural state; less noise and less concrete wasteland.
We are committed to ambitious goals concerning the prevention of waste generation as well as the recycling of waste: we will improve the recycling of waste by increasing the amount of waste types collected and by locating recycling collection points closer to an increasing number of residents of municipalities.
We will set our own emissions reduction goals for our municipalities and meet them. We will support renewable energy as an alternative to coal, peat and nuclear power. With the aid of decentralised energy production, we will create employment locally and help the whole of Finland prosper. We will promote utilising organic waste as biogas.
In a green municipality, procurement is carried out sustainably and transparently. Together, municipalities can develop their procurement knowhow as well as their ethical and ecological procurement criteria. The share of organic, local and vegetarian food as well as fair trade products will be increased.
A fair municipality with reliable services
When services are equally available to all, inequality and marginalisation are prevented. Most important is the quality and availability of services. A green municipality’s own production of services is safeguarded, with the private and third sector used to supplement and diversify it when required.
The finances of municipalities cannot be based upon indebtedness. In order to provide more efficient services, cooperation between divisions of administration, the ability to renew and improved effectiveness are needed. Taxes can be raised to ensure good services but not for the sake of propping up bureaucracy.
A green municipality is home to a diverse range of housing. We want to see a sufficient amount of cheap rental accommodation being offered and different types of housing located next to each other. We are supporters of community housing.
A green municipality provides open meeting places free of charge for people of all ages and makes municipality-owned facilities, such as schools, available for everyone to use. Accommodation and support services are arranged for the long-term homeless.
Quality, homely and safe day care and primary schools close to home create a solid foundation for an equal society and the children and young people residing within it. We will not allow differences in the quality of education to develop between schools. We will prevent the social exclusion of children and young people by supporting families with the help of different professionals and will also facilitate closer cooperation between primary schools’ social and health care services and special education, child welfare services, specialised youth workers and third-sector actors. Not a single young person should be left stranded outside the school system or without a job. We will ensure the youth guarantee is honoured through our work at the municipal level.
Prevention is the cornerstone of social and health services, and resources must be allocated for this. We want to guarantee that everyone has access to services that cater to their individual needs. Everybody should be able to seek help whenever it is needed regardless of wealth, education or where he or she happens to live. We want to provide good municipal services for the disabled and support for caregivers.
We want basic health care in which people can trust; health care that prevents health problems accumulating and worsening while reducing differences in health. We will ensure the availability of health-care professionals by paying special attention to welfare at work and working climate as well as by making flexibility in the workplace possible. We will make services mobile in those places where there is an insufficient number of residents to justify preserving certain services. We are willing to try out new ideas without prejudice in order to make services accessible to all. A municipality should not make savings through cutting services if, by doing so, this incurs greater costs in the future, such as those needed for the treatment of substance abuse, mental health care and school health care.
People’s health is enhanced by exercise and culture. In a green municipality, low-earning residents have the chance to benefit from these services. We will ensure that the elderly get to enjoy a dignified, active old age: in a green municipality, home care is a possibility and institutional care is shifted to more home-like sheltered housing. The welfare of children and families as a whole will be furthered through advisory services offered throughout Finland (i.e. the neuvola system).
We are looking to reform the funding and structure of social care and health care in such a way that everyone will have access to a good level of care regardless of their financial situation or place of residence. Moreover, allocating money for occasional expensive social care and health care measures should not devastate a municipality’s public finances. We will improve the coordination of basic health care and special medical treatment so that people receive the right type of service at the right time and in the right place.
A green municipality is a good employer. It takes good care of its employees, also in times of municipal reorganisation, and favours permanent contracts over short-term ones. This way, employees work better, cope better and are given a stake in their job and its future development. In particular, we place much emphasis on strengthening leadership knowhow. Here, employee welfare together with the organisation of services can be affected for the better. A green municipality takes an active role in creating employment, and those with reduced ability to work, in particular, are offered increased work opportunities. We will dismantle the bureaucratic obstacles to creating employment.
A green municipality inspires its residents to entrepreneurship and creativity. In such a place, you will find a business environment that is conducive to the creation of jobs. We will help give residents, organisations and companies the chance to organise their own activities.
We value and protect cultural environments. By supporting the arts, culture and recreation, new thoughts, experiences and dynamism are created.
An open and happy municipality shared by all
In a green municipality, everyone’s voice is heard. Before decisions are made, their effect on different people and the environment is judged. The viewpoints of children and young people are also taken into consideration. Everyone should have the same opportunity to participate, exercise, access services, work and take up positions of leadership. In a green municipality, no explanation is needed as to why gender equality exists.
A green municipality is an open municipality in which different types of people are welcomed. We will make use of the opportunities multiculturalism provides us with, support the integration of immigrants and find inspiration in subcultures. We will be on the side of minorities and will strive to ensure equality for all. We will offer municipal residents services and educational possibilities in their own language.
In a green municipality, decision-making does not become inaccessible to ordinary people and good ideas don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy. Already at the preparatory stage, residents of a municipality are able to affect the decision-making process. They are an asset in matters of planning, and a municipality actively utilises their knowledge of the area’s residential districts and services. A resident of a municipality knows who should be contacted concerning a residential area’s various issues. Decision-making is undertaken both openly and independently and stands up to scrutiny.
To safeguard services we need a nationwide reform of the municipal structure. Well-considered municipal mergers are needed, but these should only be undertaken with due respect for small municipalities’ local services. Incorporating remote municipalities into the main cities of counties will not change their location, and they already have well-established services with the wishes of residents borne in mind. Furthermore, health-care services and social services can, when needed, be provided by municipal bodies working in cooperation with each other.
In the metropolitan area, it makes sense for solutions to issues of land use, housing and transportation to be found at the regional level. For this we need a metropolitan administrative government and a metropolitan council that is chosen by direct election.
It also makes sense for city regions to construct entities in which, for example, the region’s common land use and social and health services can be planned and organised democratically and rationally.
We will not allow decision-making to stray too far. In a green municipality, direct democratic and local democratic forms of governance are developed so that residents get their voices best heard and can influence political decisions and their preparation.
We want to see, for instance, autonomous units within new municipalities put in place. These autonomous units’ democratically elected councils would make decisions about the provision of crucial local services and how to develop the local environment through the use of their budgetary power.
Where necessary, a green municipality also makes use of, for example, old people’s councils, youth councils or other channels of influence and gives them decision-making power and budgetary responsibility. In addition to representative organs, we also need large channels of influence that are connected up to form a part of the preparatory and decision-making process.
We will hold referendums when faced with important questions of principle. We will make all information in the public realm, as well as material relating to decisions taken, accessible and understandable already when an issue is at the preparatory stage. We will complement services for municipal residents with information communications technology. We will not centralise our various IT procurements in the hands of monopolies – rather we will also support open source codes and open standards. A green municipality is one part of an open green information society.