THE gloves came off today in Selby's local election campaign as the Labour and Conservative Parties launched their manifestos.

The district council's Labour group vowed to tackle anti-social behaviour, while the Tories pledged to crack down on council red tape and rent arrears.

Labour group leader Coun Dean Howson said they had worked with police to introduce community beat officers in Selby from this month, and they now had a budget of £100,000 to help parish councils fight crime.

He said it was also important to provide activities for young people and the council was about to start building new skate parks across the district.

Second on Labour's priority list was the creation of jobs to replace the 2,000 that would be lost when the Selby pit complex closes.

Coun Howson said the Selby economy had remained strong under Labour, with the local unemployment rate now under two per cent.

They were also fully behind the renaissance market towns initiative, which would revitalise Selby, Sherburn and Tadcaster.

Labour's other pledges included expanding the council's recycling scheme and providing low-cost social housing.

Conservative group leader Coun Mark Crane said they would not allow houses to be built on flood plains and would continue with a weekly refuse bin collection.

He said the council's "best value" strategy was costing £200,000 a year and had become a "bureaucratic nightmare". They would slash this spending by £100,000 a year, money that would be used to improve front-line services.

Council house tenants with rent arrears would be "vigorously targeted".

Coun Crane also promised a clampdown on litter, abandoned cars and graffiti. A dedicated phone line would enable residents to lodge complaints, which would be dealt with within 48 hours.

To improve communication with residents, they would appoint the council's first-ever media officer and produce two newsletters a year, paid for by advertisements.

Updated: 10:55 Wednesday, April 16, 2003