Cllr Kevin Foster, the Deputy Leader, Coventry City Council and the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Coventry South, on how Conservative rule has seen the service ratings improve from poor to excellent, the Council Tax held down and investment attracted.
There is an old expression “as true as Coventry blue” that refers to Coventry’s history as the centre of the dye trade in the middle ages, yet today it could refer to a City Council that has been led by the Conservatives since 2004. In common with other many cities the Conservative Party was nearly wiped out in the mid 90’s, yet the fight back has been strong from a low point of only three Councillors (out of 54) in 1997, to being in control of the Council less than seven years later.
Since 2004 a lot has been achieved with major investment in highways maintenance, improving services, particularly in Social Care, and a journey from being a “poor”, zero star, Council under Labour to a four star “excellent” rating in our last CPA review. We were also successful in attracting Severn Trent to relocate its headquarters to Coventry and the new Severn Trent Centre is already making an impressive impact on our skyline. Yet we are clear we cannot rest on our laurels or rely on reminding the public about the Labour Party’s disastrous record between 1997 and 2004.
In 2008 we recognised the difficulty for many pensioners on fixed incomes of increases in Council Tax that was why we pledged to keep the percentage rise in Council Tax below that applied to state Pensions. We kept that pledge for 2007/08 and for 2008/09. This year we have already committed ourselves to a rise of 2.4% in 2010/11, the lowest since 1997 and a real contrast to the last four years of Labour control that saw three Council Tax rises over 4%. In readiness for the General Election we have also adopted a Medium Term Financial Strategy, based on a maximum 2.5% rise for the next three years, to ensure Coventry residents can benefit from the freeze in Council Tax a newly elected Conservative Government will deliver.
In 2010 we know that we must offer a vision for our city locally that matches the ambitious plan for change David Cameron is setting out nationally. Our goal is to deliver real change both in the Council, but also in the wider City. We have unveiled plans to radically transform our City Centre creating thousands of new jobs and recently we launched the ABC (A Better Council) project, driven by our new Chief Executive, to drive out efficiency savings and deliver radical change in how we serve our citizens. Coventry’s two Universities are expanding to meet the growing demands for high technology skills vital for our economy. Our goal is to retain more of the talent that graduates in Coventry each year by creating jobs they need and a city they will choose to live in.
The election battle in Coventry will be a fierce one with us defending 10 wards and Opinion Polls showing that two of Coventry’ Labour MPs are vulnerable, but we believe that when Coventrians compare our record with the growing disaster that is the current Labour Government, we will emerge victorious.