Cllr Henry Smith, the Conservative leader of West Sussex County Council, with his priorities for the next four years. See the full manifesto here.
While I am proud of the £80 million of efficiency savings and increased local, democratic decision making processes the current Conservative administration has achieved to date, I would like this opportunity to look forward to what a future Conservative term would offer for West Sussex.
Our headline pledges are:
- To keep council tax low, service quality high and seek further efficiency.
- To improve the safety on our roads and significantly invest in additional highways maintenance.
- To care for our elderly, families and children.
- To protect our environment, including the green disposal of waste.
- To work to restore local government through greater democratic influence
Stealth taxation has increased hugely over the past decade and the extra burden has often been shifted on to council tax. The system needs to change. West Sussex County Council will take full advantage of the council tax freeze policy announced last year by George Osborne which would see 0% increases for at least two years at least.
The County Council provides the majority of local services but the one just about everyone uses is our highways. In recent years the government has cut around £2 million a year from the highways budget but local Conservatives are pledging to bridge this gap and indeed invest an additional £1 million more in highways maintenance each year for the next four years at least.
We will make provision to support those in need, and their carers so that vulnerable people will have more choice about the services they receive. We will continue our programme of Supporting People so that vulnerable people can maintain their independence and find their own solutions.
For our children Conservatives will continue to invest in new school facilities, quality staff, and higher standards in the classroom and bring services together more for the benefit of local communities. We will invest more still to help safeguard those children who are most vulnerable.
West Sussex has a unique environment that deserves protecting. For example, over the next four years we will increase our recycling rate beyond the current 40% being achieved and reduce waste being land-filled by at least 80%.
Officials in Whitehall make too many decisions that affect local communities. During the past 12 years of Labour Government, our country has increasingly become one of the most centralised nations in the democratic world. Local Conservatives will continue to seek the abolition of all undemocratic, unnecessary and irrelevant bodies. Our aim over the next four years will be to work to restore local government so that those who make decisions are fully accountable.
Finally, and perhaps most acutely, during this worst recession since the Second World War we must recognise the coming period will be tough. A Conservative West Sussex will continue to do what it can to help mitigate the worst effects. We will continue the investment we have already made to support both the Citizens Advice Bureaux and Business Link to help advise both individuals and local firms respectively through these though times.
We look to the future with realism but optimism.