Lister Cllr Edward Lister, the leader of Wandsworth Council, gives his election report

Wandsworth has always been fascinating territory for election watchers.

A Conservative Council since 1978 yet at times a full roster of Labour MPs.

The Wandsworth factor, which most people would take to mean top quality services backed by consistently low taxes, has meant that even in times of Labour ascendancy nationally, local people have put their faith in a pragmatic Conservative Council that puts their interests first.

This time of course we're fighting two campaigns at the same time – one for the Town Hall and the other for the borough's three parliamentary seats.

Only one of our MPs currently, Putney's Justine Greening, is Conservative. We're aiming to change all that with gains in Battersea and – for the first time ever – Tooting.

On the doorstep the local issues range from potholes to school places. Here Michael Gove's free school campaign is attracting real interest from parents. It's easily the most powerful symbol of our commitment to localism.

One of the Council's big strengths locally has been its vigorous stance on the environment. Voters are delighted by our successful onslaught on the Government's controversial plans for a third Heathrow runway while across the borough there's a real enthusiasm for our drive to cut back on household waste and recycle more.

This has become a key part of our message because taking care with what we throw out can lead to big savings in disposal costs and, ultimately, Council Tax bills.

And while affordable taxes and fine services are the basis of the Wandsworth offer, they are not an end in themselves. What they really give us is a platform of competence from which we can respond effectively to people's concerns in ways that protect and enhance their quality of life.

It also means that when we say we want to take on something new – setting business rates for example – people know we can deliver.

But one message comes out loud and clear again and again. People don't want their Council – or their government – to run their lives.

They want to do their bit for the community. They'll respond to initiatives aimed at encouraging self-help and volunteering – our garden partner scheme for example for people who can't dig their vegetable patch any more – but they don't want the Council to do it for them.

This is the essence of localism Wandsworth-style. We'll listen, find out how we can help then step back. Whether it's a big idea like parents setting up their own school or more simply a group of neighbours sharing a woodchipper, it's the kind of engagement that Councils are going to have to become good at in the future.

The local elections are as always a test of our performance as Councillors. But with Conservatives out of government nationally for 13 years our local record could finally prove a decisive asset in the parliamentary contests.

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