Conservatives in Cornwall launched their manifesto today offering their alternative to the Lib Dem administration at the county council. In the spirit of Stanley Baldwin, it has the sober title: Now is the time for wise heads and safe hands. The stakes are particularly high as it is now a unitary authority. Ironically the Conservatives will have to try and make a success out of change they were not seeking. Their manifesto says:
"This is a change that many people throughout the County did not want. Consultations were ignored by the previous Liberal Democrat administrations and Labour Ministers. Conservatives have always said that the changes were unnecessary, badly timed and that other less expensive and disruptive solutions were available. Conservatives believe the change to a unitary authority must be managed professionally, with a businesslike approach and with consideration for the local communities across the county. The potential for wasting resources and creating expensive transition projects is great."
The manifesto gives clear priority to better value for money with the aim to reduce the Council Tax. It says:
Priorities must be set and strict budgets drawn up. Difficult decisions will have to be made so that the huge County administration can operate within its means – this Council will be responsible for over £1 billion of YOUR MONEY
Taxpayers in Cornwall do not want to see Councillors, County Officers and administrators paid salaries and expenses disproportionate to those received by others in the County. Cornwall’s economy cannot afford extravagant Local Government.
Other pledges include a greater role for voluntary groups, in housing more shared ownership schemes and in education defending small village schools and a reduction of bureaucracy to allow school governing bodies more freedom to set priorities.