Harvey Cllr Harvey Jennings is leader of the Conservative opposition on Derby City Council. They are working hard to identify savings should they form the administration next year.

The Derby Conservative Group has been growing in strength now for several years. Although national trends have helped, in Derby, the political wind is known to blow in unexpected ways it is therefore essential for the party to lead from the front on local issues.

The core values of the Conservative Party are strongly upheld by the Derby City Conservatives, but it is also a very progressive political group. We feel very strongly in the efficient running of local government. The group has already identified savings within the council that will not impact on front line services, while offering better value to the local taxpayer.

We strongly believe that local people support the group in its work to identify savings. For example, the group were able to force, by sensible cost-cutting measures, a much smaller increase in council tax during the 2009/10 Council budget compared to that proposed by Labour and the Lib Dems.

This work to make the council more efficient continues and will form a fundamental part of our 2010 – 12 manifestos which will include a pledge to freeze council tax under a Conservative government.

We believe this will offer the people of Derby a clear choice between keeping the tax and spend Labour and Lib Dems compared to fundamental change under the Conservatives.

While the Conservatives enjoy the largest vote share in the City this does not transfer to a proportional number of councillors. This imbalance is repeatedly highlighted by the Electoral Reform Society leading into local elections and requires the local party to work very hard to make progress.

However, even with this handicap, progress is being made by effective targeting and focused ward-by-ward campaigns. A large amount of work has been carried out to modernise the campaign methods used in recent
years and this has been, largely, a very positive and successful endeavour.

Derby City is currently under no overall control and politically divided, roughly three ways between the main parties. At present, the City Council is led by a minority Lib Dem administration but 2010 offers the Conservatives an opportunity to build on the steady progress made in recent years.

Key battle grounds for the 2010 elections are firmly identified and our activists, councillors, candidates and PPCs working hard to gain these key seats from both Labour and the Lib Dems. We are also confident of our ability to defend the seats that we hold in 2010.

At present we are the official opposition with 15 councillors. Naturally we aim is to take overall control of the City Council but are also ready to form a minority administration should that situation arise.

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