Parsons Cllr David Parsons CBE, the Leader of Leicestershire County Council, is asking for a mandate for zero Council Tax increases.

Since 2001 under Conservative control, Leicestershire has become one of the country’s top performing councils. We have been recognised as “The Council of the Year 2009” – the first ever County Council to win this prestigious award. For the fourth year running, the Audit Commission has rated us as an excellent four star council- and we are strongly improving. 2009 sees us asking for another mandate to carry on this good work and deliver our aim of zero council tax increases.

This is the level of performance people in Leicestershire demand, and it is a challenge Conservatives everywhere must strive to achieve. Despite low levels of government grant, Leicestershire delivers high values of performance and we are rightly one of the UK’s top value for money councils.

Council Tax and the Recession

Conservatives this year delivered a council tax increase of just 2.9%. This is a remarkable achievement as these elections will be fought against the bleakest economic outlook for a generation. Leicestershire Conservatives are determined to deliver zero increases in council tax and help for individuals and local businesses during the recession. It is common knowledge the Labour government penalises good performance and discriminates against county councils when it comes to the level of formula grant we receive- we are one of the lowest funded local authorities in the country.

Despite this harsh treatment from the Labour government we have:

  • Delivered over £28 million in efficiency savings without affecting performance. We do more, with fewer resources and is how we maintain our reputation for sound fiscal management. We did not invest a single penny in the Icelandic Bank.
  • Doubled the amount of grant to Citizens Advice Bureaux to concentrate on debt counselling.
  • Set aside £2 million for local communities, the voluntary sector organisations and an economic development company to help deliver service co-ordination and deliver economic regeneration projects.

Policing and Community Safety

Leicestershire has pioneered the Youth IMPACT Project- a £300,000 scheme comprising 18 teams of 15 youth workers from the Youth Offending Service who can be despatched at short notice to areas experiencing problems with anti-social behaviour.

IMPACT aims to change attitudes towards young people and issues of anti-social behaviour.

  • Encourages community engagement by working with young people, not against them in seeking solutions to local problems.
  • Has contributed to a 35% reduction in the number of young people entering the criminal justice system.
  • Reduced the number of calls to the police about anti-social behaviour by 60% in the areas where it has operated.
  • £500,000 pa funding for 50 PCSOs.
  • £200,000 pa funding for a Rapid Reaction Task Force to remove unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments from the County more quickly.

Children, Young People and Adult Social Care & Health Services

Leicestershire holds the maximum possible 3 star rating for both of these key services. We delivered an extra £4.2 million for ASC this year despite being one of the lowest funded local authorities, receiving less than a 30% subsidy against a national average of 44%. This is truly scandalous and is the true face of Labour- penalise the vulnerable and leave it to the Conservatives to protect vulnerable people in their time of need.

Whilst Labour and the Liberal Democrats whinge and whine in Leicestershire, Conservatives have delivered:

  • £45 million schools re-organisation in Melton and the Vale of Belvoir, respecting parental choice in this and other areas. Will bid for £80 million to transform education in Loughborough in order to provide the schools people really want.
  • 24 Children’s Centres across the county with ambitious plans for 15 more as part of a £16 million scheme.
  • The best ever GCSE results improving by three times the national average and continuous improvement across all key-stages in education.
  • Extra CCTV and more inspectors on school transport to stamp out misbehaviour on buses and reduce further the levels of bullying in our schools.

With regard to Adult Social Care:

  • Direct payments have been increased by 148% and increased the number of people supported to live in their own homes by 26%.
  • Conservatives will introduce companion transport passes for disabled
    people and their carers.
  • Invest significantly in extra-care housing, providing high quality, local accommodation for vulnerable people.
  • Deliver dignity and respect in everything we do.
  • Have reduced the rises in home care and community meals charges to below the level of inflation and 60% of service users receive a subsidised or free service.
  • Will give people the power to choose and design their own care packages they receive.

Building a Better, Safer and Greener Community

Conservatives want to see Leicestershire at the forefront of new “green collar” businesses. We are investing £137 million in exploring new technologies to further increase our recycling rates (currently over 50%) and reducing our landfill tax liabilities and we aim to reduce our carbon footprint by 30% by 2013.

Locally, we oppose Labour’s imposed plans for massive house building. Leicestershire has been told to find space for over half a million new homes by 2020; aided by their Liberal Democrat allies in their plans to concrete over our green open spaces.

We recently pulled the plug on County co-operation with the Labour government over its plans for a 15,000 home “eco-town” in the south of the county. Conservatives want to see powers returned to local people to have the final say on large development projects.

Leicestershire has been rated as the top performing authority for highways and transportation services in the country. Accidents have been reduced by 66%, speeding by 12%, 72 new Speedwatch schemes and over 230 Speed Activated Signs have been installed. We continue to alleviate congestion through investment in new park and ride schemes, SMART ticketing (Oyster Cards) on travel services and plans for new bypasses for Melton, Sharnford and Kegworth. Developing personalised travel plans will be a key priority.

Conservatives will not be afraid to engage in community cohesion and integration initiatives. We have been working with different community groups to assess their needs, and we will support initiatives to protect local amenities and community facilities, especially in the rural areas.

June 4th 2009 is the opportunity for all Conservatives to rally behind zero council tax increases, sound fiscal management, strong leadership locally, measures to beat the recession and maintain first-rate, excellent value for money services.

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