Cllr Louise McKinlay is the Leader of Brentwood Borough Council
The results of both the general and local elections here in Brentwood gave a clear mandate on which to govern and provide a strong platform for Conservatives to deliver.
Nationally, I believe the good work already started by the former coalition government will be accelerated now the Conservatives have an outright majority as they continue to finish the job of turning the country, our economy and public services round.
Here in Brentwood, May 7th was about a straight fight for control of the Council. For the last 12 months, the borough has been run by a coalition of anti-Conservative parties. Lib Dems, Labour, independents and the now defunct Brentwood First all joined together to make up an Administration of 19 seats, against the Conservatives’ total of 18. The future of the Council hinged on just one seat.
Our campaign dove-tailed that of the General Election but our Council candidates, very much fought on a local agenda. Reducing councillor allowances and the number of special responsibility roles, which had been inflated to provide enough jobs for every single member of the outgoing Administration, protecting weekly black bag collections, which were under threat from a “review” and improving the cleanliness of our streets, which has been the subject of many resident complaints were all cornerstones of our campaign.
Investing in Brentwood by introducing policies to provide apprenticeships for young people, establishing a trading company to generate income for the Council and addressing local parking woes related to the impending arrival of Crossrail were strong Conservative policies that were supported locally. All of this was underpinned by a firm commitment to address the millions of pounds of new debt that the local former coalition had signed the Council up to. Sound economic management, support for our community where it matters and delivering good fundamental Council services were essentially what we offered.
The result is the Conservatives are now running the Council, with a majority of nine. Just one Lib Dem seat was retained across the entire borough by the popular outgoing Mayor, as we not only held on to our existing seats but also took an extra five – including some in wards which are not naturally Conservative.
Obviously delighted with the results, the outcome was certainly helped by the high calibre of candidates that we fielded and sheer hard work and determination to build up reputations for delivering for local people. The focus for us now as the new Administration is to see in to place the pledges that we made to Brentwood residents during the campaign. We have already hit the ground running in this regard and on June 10th we will bring forward a revised emergency budget to Full Council to address the state of the Borough’s finances, balance spending with resources, reduce the debt that the former Lib Dem led Council signed up to and set in motion the delivery of our priorities.
All of this is happening at a time when we are looking for a new Head of Paid Service, as our current Chief Exec is moving on so we are actively and readily recruiting. Big challenges and some great opportunities lie ahead.