Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish our blog readers a very happy new year – hope you have all had a relaxing Christmas break and are ready for the challenges of the year ahead – I fear that for many people 2009 will be the most challenging for a long while.

After a Conservative win at an election in Coleridge last year for the first time since 1987, 2008 was a busy year, chasing up many local issues and trying to bring a much needed Conservative viewpoint to the City Council. Looking forward to 2009, here are my political objectives:

My first priority is to continue to work hard for local residents, to ensure we get the best from our local Councils and to justify the trust placed in me at the elections last May. We aim to speak to as many residents as possible to find out your views, and will continue to keep in touch regularly.

For Cambridge, I would like to see better cycle facilities, better sports facilities, and congestion charging ruled out permanently. We can’t take the future success of Cambridge for granted, it is vital it remains a great place to live and work.

On the City Council, there are a number of key challenges that I would like to focus on.

Firstly, the budget setting process, and how exactly the City Council is going to make ends meet this year and in future years (on a preliminary reading of the budget papers – we aren’t…). I want to see some genuine efforts to reduce costs permanently, more innovation to deliver services more efficiently, and for the Council to spend less time worrying about government targets, strategies and gimmicks, and more time efficiently delivering the key services all residents rely on like refuse and recycling and keeping the streets clean.

Related to this, I want to see improvements to scrutiny at the City Council, where policies and decisions are approved without any serious thought by most back bench members of the ruling group, that allows fiascos like £9m at risk in Iceland to happen.

The other major issue the Council is dealing with is still planning and the growth agenda – Labour’s desire to force thousands of houses on us locally (along with unpopular congestion charging for the City) continues unabated despite the credit crunch. Top down targets and ignoring local opinion has failed time and time again to deliver the types and quantity of housing people want or need, yet the Government response has just been to increase the targets. A new Conservative government would abolish much of the top down planning targets, but meanwhile we will continue to campaign for a planning system that works with the consent of existing residents, as the best way to deliver the right mix of housing types and tenures, of high quality, with the right transport infrastructure, and with the types of facilities that really build communities.

At the local elections in June, Cambridge City would be well served by some Conservative County Councillors – I will be working to ensure our excellent candidate in Coleridge is elected.

Finally, if there is anything one individual can do, I will be campaigning against the increasingly authoritarian and bullying way the government continues to act. The state should serve the people, not the other way round. Just say no to ID cards, the national identity register, DNA databases of innocent people, lengthy detention without trial, restrictions on right to protest, arresting MPs for holding the government to account, CCTV monitoring of our every move, tracking all our phone calls and emails, institutionalised spin and deceit, constant nannying on so many issues like diet, alcohol consumption, how to look after tiddles and expansion of the role of the state way beyond its competence. I hope 2009 is the year when we begin to trust people again to behave responsibly, and make sure they are personally responsible if they don’t. It is the power of people not government that will be key to solving most of our current problems.

And just to mention a personal resolution – if I'm foolish enough to run another marathon this year, I want to make sure the clock at the finish starts with a 2...

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Hi Chris,
Happy New Year to you too!