Saturday, April 17, 2010

Conservative City Council Manifesto launched

Today City Conservatives launched our manifesto for the city council outside City Homes South on Cherry Hinton Road.

A Conservative vote in Cambridge is a vote to set a path towards:
  • Lower council tax, with a focus on better basic services
  • A planning system that protects Cambridge's heritage, and puts local residents in control
  • More frequent refuse and recycling collections
  • Promoting sport in the run up to the Olympics
  • Supporting better transport of all types, public and private
  • Open and accountable governance
We recognise that when asking people to make sacrifices during tough times politicians should lead by example, that is why we are proposing to cut councillor allowances by 10%, contributing £25k towards cutting council tax.


John Webb said...

Excellent work, very professional and impressive. Best of luck in the elections to all candidates on such an comprehensive reform agenda.

Equinox said...

Thank you for publishing the manifesto - as a Cherry Hinton Road resident it allows me to comment on it.

Part 1 of 2

We discussed this when Andrew and colleague turned up on my doorstep. Part of the problem is the resourcing of the planning department within the local council vis-a-vis the big developers. The problem as I mentioned with national Conservative policy is that the cumulative effect of allowing local areas to determine housing without some sort of central co-ordination could lead to an ever greater demand for housing in Cambridge unless there is a parallel policy to stifle demand that at the same time does not penalise first time buyers - e.g. taxing international property speculators/multiple home owners (domestic and international) and buy-to-let landlords.

congestion charge Personally I don't have a problem with that - why would I want my lungs clogged up with the pollution coming from car drivers driving in from out of town when there are reasonable park and ride alternatives? A congestion charge could be used at the same time as banning buses and coaches made before a certain date from entering the city - like a "Cambridge Low Emission Zone" that they have in London to help improve the atmosphere in the city and give relief to some members of my family who suffer from asthma.

- What steps are you and politicians of all other parties taking to educate the general public on how the planning system works? The number of times MPs ask ministers questions about specific planning applications is quite frankly depressing - they should know that ministers cannot comment on individual planning applications as they have a quasi-judicial function in this area meaning any comment that they may otherwise make could prejudice such an application. Personally I think local politicians should get together when they go into schools and highlight this issue as something being very local and very political and educate young people about how they can get involved and comment on what may be happening in their area. is one such link that may be of interest to people.

Clean streets
I think our street cleaners and city rangers are great. The problem is that mainstream politicians of all colours are tearing into public secctor workers because of the deficit. It wasn't their fault that the country is in this position. Why are public sector workers being undermined and what are you going to do to reverse all of the adverse publicity that is coming their way?

"tick box culture"
Are we talking about the Comprehensive Performance Assessment or Comprehensive Area Assessments? What do you think of Local Area Agreements? Are you aware of how much flexibility local authorities have in relation to the reporting arrangements? Are you aware of the reductions in reporting arrangements that have already been made? How can you balance all of this with the need for Central Government to intervene if things really do get bad? (a la Doncaster?) It's all very well calling for local scrutiny but we have some of the longest working hours and commuting times in the country (thinking of all those people who live locally but like me commute into London) so the amount of time that the general public have to scrutinise things is limited. Also, what steps are you and other politicians taking together to increase local voter turnout? Personally - Iain Dale stylee I think all local political parties should have hyperlinks to each others' websites and blogs).

Equinox said...

Part 2/2

Working together
Your PPC has got close contacts with Conservative Hierachy, will he be putting pressure on Westminster politicians to give us a rail link to Bedford and Oxford as being campaigned for by ? It would take a lot of pressure of roads leading out of Cambridge westwards, and ditto the A14.


You mentioned the "What do they know" website. The people behind that site are - I've met them. How about bringing them into the Councils (city and county) to make the websites more user-friendly and accountable? - though remember that if the contract is significant, it will need to go to competitive tender.

You've said you'll reintroduce the earnings link to the basic state pension. (Who broke that link in the first place and why?) Isn't that within the competency of the Department for Work and Pensions? If so, what impact can the council have? (Remember I'm commenting primarily on you manifesto for Cambridge).

Red tape
In my opinion this is always a red herring unless politicians (of whichever party) can identify examples of red tape that will be cut. Chances are the employees of the council already know what red tape can be removed...if only someone would ask them. We did something similar in my workplace and it has reaped huge dividends for all concerned and saved a huge amount of taxpayers money, while at the same time opening up contracts to the public, charitable and voluntary sectors.

That lump of wasteland by the station by the bike park
If no one's using it, can we have it for an expanded bike park until someone decides what they want to do with it?

Improving skills within both councils
What steps will you be taking to ensure that staff are properly trained on effective procurement, project and programme management, people management and risk management? Technocratic I know but I've seen what happens when stuff like this goes wrong: It's not pretty.

That's all for now - feel free to pick up on any points/respond/disagree (that goes to other people too!)

NickW said...

Good Luck.

Ideally you will knock as many lib dems out as possible although I appreciate any extra seat is welcome.