While the Conservatives manifesto for the General Election is launched today, the Hounslow Conservatives produced their manifesto for the Council elections yesterday. Under the leadership of Cllr Peter Thompson the Council Tax has been frozen not just for this year, when the policy has become rather trendy, but for the last four years.
The Band D Council Tax in Hounslow has remained stuck at £1,091. In 2006 that figure was higher than Lib Dem Sutton's £1,022 - but Sutton has since put it up to £1,141. It was also higher than Labour Waltham Forest's £1,076. But Waltham Forest now charge £1,152. In 2006 Labour Haringey charged just £4 more at £1,095. But Haringey now charges £1,184. Little by little, bit by bit, without boasting or making a noise Hounslow is becoming a relatively low tax borough.
That is not all. Graffiti is down by 50%, there are a thousand more trees. More has been done to fight crime. Schools, libraries, parks and playgrounds have all been improved.
The manifesto includes home ownership as a priority for a second term:
Owning your home gives you a greater stake in your community, a greater stake in your own future prosperity and more choice. We will make home ownership a viable option for more residents and we will do this through increasing development of low cost homeownership housing and by offering innovative low cost homeownership options to make owning your own home affordable for the many, not just the few.
It would embrace transparency and retain the Council Tax freeze.
In the General Election the borough consists of two Labour-held seats that are both Tory targets. I think that Hounslow Council's record or the past four years offers credibility to the case that a Conservative Government would be able to deliver better value for money. To achieve nationally what has already been achieved locally. So that is a positive aspect.
But there is also a particularly strong reason to vote Conservative to throw out the sitting MPs. In the two constituencies Feltham and Heston (Target 183) and Brentford and Isleworth (Target 64) – the incumbent MPs Alan and Ann Keen were known as Mr and Mrs Expenses even before the Telegraph investigation. The Standards Commissioner John Lyon has concluded they were responsible for a "serious", and involving "significant public funds" for claiming a derelict property as their main home.
Now we had our own Mr and Mrs Expenses – Andrew Mackay and Julie Kirkbride. But they have been forced to stand down. The failure of the Labour Party to deselect the Keens shows they are treating the voters with contempt. I wonder what the voters will make of it.