Archive for the 'elections' Category

Brighton & Hove Conservatives Manifesto Launch

Yesterday we launched our manifesto for the local elections on May 5th. To read our proposals for the next  4 years, plus a comparison with what the other parties are offering, click here.

Major new investment in Brighton & Hove council homes

I was delighted to be able to announce at last week’s Cabinet meeting that Brighton & Hove City Council and Brighton & Hove Seaside Community Homes (BHSCH) have agreed a funding facility of £30 million from Santander to invest in the council’s housing.

BHSCH, a registered charity, will use the money to bring 499 council homes up to 21st century standards.  We are transferring the homes to BHSCH on a long lease so are not giving up the freehold and are hoping that work will start on the homes in the late spring.  Homes in disrepair and long-term empty homes and flats, which have not received investment, will be prioritised.  Larger houses used as temporary accommodation will be converted into modern flats and all of the homes will be let at affordable rents to families and others in housing need in the city.

This is something which I have been personally driving forward for some time now and I am delighted that the deadline which I set for the end of the financial year 2010/11 has been met. When we took over the Administration of the Council in 2007 we were left with, frankly, a mess by the previous Labour Administration. Their push for stock transfer had been resoundingly rejected by the tenants and there was no Plan B in place to plug the funding gap to meet the Decent Homes Standard.

Since then, we have worked long and hard, in close partnership with the tenants and leaseholders, to bridge that investment gap. Firstly,we let a  new long-term maintenance contract which will save approximately £150 million over 30 years and now we have successfully established BHSCH to deliver further investment.

I believe that housing has been one of the major success stories of the last 4 years and the investment is starting to make a real difference to tenants’ lives. If the Conservatives are re-elected in May it will continue to be one of my top priorities.

Labour must be honest with residents over spending plans

So Labour Group Leader Cllr. Gill Mitchell thinks families will be £1,500 worse off next year due to reductions in Government spending.

This does rather beg the question then of why at Budget Council her Group voted against our proposed council tax and resident parking permit reductions which would have put money back in to local people’s pockets!

But to be quite honest, Labour do not have a leg to stand on when it comes to criticising the actions of the Coalition Government. Who was it who left the country with the worst structural budget deficit in the developed world? Who was it who doubled our national debt during their years in power? And who was it in Brighton & Hove who presided over a 124% increase in council tax (that’s £743 for a band D home) during their 10 years in control of the council? Yes, the Labour Party.

Their tactic now seems to be denying that the Labour Government had anything to do with all this – blaming it all on those nasty bankers. Well firstly, as I have argued before, the public finances were way out of control even before the banking crisis hit. And secondly, if the bankers did act recklessly and irresponsibly (as some of them undoubtedly did), then why didn’t the Government do anything about it during the 13 years when they could have regulated to stop it?

Labour’s pre-budget announcement today shows that they still aren’t being honest with people about how they would deal with the deficit – and they are still racking up new spending commitments by the week. Yes, things are going to be tough for the next couple of years but I firmly believe that the bedrock of economic growth in the future has to be getting the nation’s finances back in order as soon as possible.

Bizarre behaviour in House of Lords over AV vote!

The recent antics of Labour peers in the House of Lords over the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill have been bizarre to say the least! I thought that all-night sessions in Parliament to deliberately try and wreck legislation were a thing of the past but apparently not!

So what was all the fuss about? The commitment to hold a referendum on changing the voting system to AV was part of the Coalition agreement with the Lib Dems and the Labour Party supported AV in their manifesto. What they seem to be getting hot under the collar about is the proposal, tied in with AV, to equalise the size of Parliamentary constituencies. Under the current arrangements, there is an in-built bias in the system against the Conservatives which is largely due to the fact that ‘Labour’ constituencies are smaller than ‘Conservative’ ones. So, at the last General Election it took on average 33,000 votes to elect a Labour MP compared to 35,000 votes to elect a Conservative MP. (of course it takes even more on average to elect a Lib Dem MP but that is another story!). It would, therefore, seem to be fair to try and remedy this but Labour would lose out so they are doing their best to derail it.

The unfortunate side effect of this is that any significant delay would mean that the AV referendum could not be held on the same day as the Council elections – May 5th. In purely practical terms this means significantly greater costs – costs which will unfortunately fall on the council taxpayer.

Incidentally, my view is that holding the AV vote at the same time will not have a huge impact on the council result. Personally I am a strong supporter of our current first-past-the-post system for Parliamentary elections and so shall be pushing for a ‘no’ vote. Do we really want an electoral system where the candidate who comes in third place in the poll ends up as your MP?

Free bus passes are safe with the Conservatives

I would like to reassure residents that, contrary to the completely misleading literature being pedalled by the Labour Party locally, the Conservatives would not scrap free bus passes for pensioners should they form the next Government after May 6th. This has been made perfectly clear, and put on public record, by David Cameron in his ‘Pensioner Pledge’ which can be found on the party website. And I was delighted that he took Gordon Brown to task over this during last Thursday’s Leaders’ Debate. This sort of scaremongering is grossly irresponsible and does absolutely nothing for the reputation of politics at a time when it can ill-afford to lose any more credibility.

Their claims become even more ridiculous, coming in the week we learn that more than three million older people will now be forced to wait up to five years longer for their free bus pass after the Government changed the rules in order to comply with new EU regulations. Talk about hypocrisy! I bet this hasn’t been included in their leaflets.

And as if this wasn’t enough, we learn that they are now sending alarmist leaflets about Conservative health policy to cancer sufferers. How low can the Labour Party sink in their general election campaigning tactics? If this is all that they now have to offer the British people then quite clearly it is time for a change.

Welcome to Charlotte Vere!

Last week I met the Conservative’s new prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion – Charlotte Vere. I think that Charlotte is an excellent choice and, if elected next year, I am certain she would serve the residents of that part of the City admirably. However, she is going to be in for a tough fight as both the Greens and Labour are pouring resources into this highly marginal constituency. The Greens particularly, seem to think that they already have it in the bag. I’m not so sure –  the more I see of her, the more I think that Charlotte will be equal to the challenge. It is worth remembering that she came through a very tough ‘open’ selection process which involved a public hustings with non-party members. This will stand her in good stead, as will her background as a highly successful social entrepreneur and businesswoman.

Alongside Mike Weatherley in Hove and Simon Kirby in Brighton Kemptown we have three excellent candidates and I am confident that whenever Gordon Brown choses to call the election, the political landscape in the city will become decidedly blue in 2010!


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