Monday, April 14, 2008

Campaign Pledges

All Coleridge residents should have received a copy of my first campaign newsletter - if you are a Coleridge resident who hasn't received it, be in touch and I'll dig out a spare.

As is tradition with these things, I have some campaign pledges. The Conservatives aren't about to take control of Cambridge City Council (we don't have any Councillors at all at the moment!), so it is difficult to promise how things will change, but these pledges describe what I think the key issues are in this election, and how having a Conservative Councillor will be able to make a difference.

1. Putting the council tax payer first
I will stand up for the Council Tax payer, continually question why our tax bills are so high and suggest cost savings where possible.
2. Planning for the future
I will fight plans that overdevelop sites around Coleridge, such as the airport and campaign to ensure all new developments are high quality and include significant transport improvements.
3. Tackling antisocial behaviour
I will work with the Council, police and management at trouble spots like the Leisure Park, looking for solutions that will reduce anti-social behaviour and make those who cause problems responsible for their actions.
4. Oppose plans for Congestion Charging in Cambridge
Labour is trying to blackmail Cambridge into agreeing to a congestion charge. I will oppose these plans.
5. Working harder for Coleridge Ward
I will fight tirelessly for local residents on ward issues. I will hold regular surgeries, and keep in touch regularly through newsletters and the internet.

I've already blogged on some of these issues, including Council Tax, Congestion Charging and Anti-social behaviour.

Planning is a huge topic - but some of the most important changes to Cambridge for centuries will be made over the next decade, with mind-boggling levels of new housing planned. Don't be mislead (particularly if you have been a keen student of some of Labour's literature in this election campaign!) - this housing is coming as a result of the Labour government attempting to force thousands of houses onto us by central dictat - the County Council was obliged to put together a structure plan that including vast levels of new housing, and the Lib Dems running the City Council (who really don't seem to care at all for Coleridge) insisted that the airport site should be chosen for thousands of high density houses. Government planning rules try to dictate in great detail how sites are developed, and as Councils demand the right to determine who lives in as many of the houses as possible, at vast cost paid for by some of those who can least afford it. The result is poor quality housing, failures to meet best environmental standards, lacking distinctive design, lacking facilities, lacking parking lacking decent transport and causing transport chaos for existing residents. Local objections to these grand plans appear to count for absolutely nothing, so we are in the crazy situation when many people desperately need housing in the area, yet every potential development is fought tooth and nail because people know it is going to be so horrible. It is hard to know what one Councillor can do, but I would like to argue the case for high quality new development, that local people will welcome, and we can be proud to look back on in a generation's time and say Cambridge is the better for it.

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