Sutton Council has the longest continual Liberal Democrat administration in the UK, having been yellow for 24 years. In 1986 they were seen as fresh; now they are decidedly stale, forgetting why they sought election in the first place. Whereas Nick Clegg is scoring points by being the new boy in town, Sutton’s Liberal Democrat Council is definitely the Establishment.
Residents are being reminded about several reasons not to vote Liberal Democrat locally on Thursday May 6th. Namely, £5.5million frozen in Iceland; £8.5million sunk into a pet project, the controversial Sutton Life Centre; £3million wasted on repaving Sutton High Street; £800,000 thrown away on an aborted green garden waste charge; £200,000 blown on a café made of straw and £25,000 squandered on totem poles standing opposite the cash-strapped local hospital. These examples of waste translate into one of the highest Council Tax rates in London. Taxpayers in Sutton just can’t afford to support the Liberal Democrats
It is not enough to criticise without presenting a realistic positive alternative. From our manifesto of 100 pledges which emerged from three years of research, we have concentrated on 10 key pledges to present a positive change for Sutton:
- An aim to freeze Council Tax for four years.
- Zero-Tolerance Policing for safer streets
- Publishing all council spending over £500
- Reviewing licences of all nuisance pubs & clubs, starting within the first 100 days.
- Rewarding residents for recycling through financial incentives.
- Introducing a residents’ priority card, including discounts for local businesses.
- Giving a 50% Council Tax discount to members of the Armed Forces deployed on active service overseas.
- An aggressive marketing strategy to attract businesses and retailers to Sutton whilst making parking easier and more affordable in our smaller shopping centres.
- Using all existing powers and campaigning for more, to stop inappropriate garden-grabbing.
- Ballot residents to remove unpopular road humps when their road is resurfaced, using the money saved to resurface more roads.
The electoral dynamic is fascinating but makes the result difficult to predict with any accuracy. We have two target Parliamentary seats with Philippa Stroud and Ken Andrew looking to unseat two Liberal Democrat ‘Telegraph Saints’. Philippa’s positive campaign contrasts starkly with the negative mudslinging approach of the Liberal Democrats. ‘Vote Yellow, Get Brown’ is being clearly understood on the doorsteps.
The balance of power on the Council is 32 LDs, 20 Cs and two UKIP (one defector from each party). The Labour Party has a full slate of candidates but this is unlikely to translate into any seats. Many of the wards are tight with only 259 votes strategically placed around the Borough stopping the Conservatives winning power last time.
Two ‘game-changers’ hang over the Borough. Nick Clegg’s recent boost may bring his supporters and converts out, voting Liberal Democrats across the board. On the other hand an incinerator planned for Beddington after the Council had been in negotiations since last July, is concentrating people’s minds on the fact that although the Council is trying to get more people out on their bikes, it is then looking to poison them whilst they are out on the roads. Hard, positive campaigning is needed over the next couple of weeks to secure a Conservative clean sweep that is long overdue.