On May 22nd residents in Lewisham will choose their directly elected Mayor for the coming four years. The Conservative candidate Simon Nundy has promised that if he is elected there will be a five per cent reduction in Council Tax in 2015.
Mr Nundy says:
Less than 10 per cent of Council spending comes from residents. A five per cent cut in council tax requires only 0.5 per cent in savings. Hammersmith Council reduced council tax by 20 per cent in the last eight years and Wandsworth charge half as much as we do. If waste and financial mismanagement is brought under control this would not be the last council tax cut over the next four years.
Labour’s Sir Steve Bullock has been Mayor of 12 years. During that time Mr Nundy argues that the borough has fallen behind.
12 years and only one mayor later, Lewisham has made little progress. GCSE results have fallen ten per cent below the national average and we are now being outpaced by other inner London Boroughs. Lewisham has slipped from being ranked as the 57th most deprived Borough nationwide in 2004 to 31st in the last report. According to the Institute of Economics, 60% of Lewisham’s residents now live in some form of deprivation.
“In the face of widespread freezes across the country, we have seen council tax skyrocket by 55% in the last decade, £263 above inflation for a band D property. This, while Lewisham holds the third worst collection rate in London, with £35m slipping through the net. Stealth taxes, such as extortionate charges for parking, put further pressure on vulnerable residents, making them pay for the council’s failings.
“Crime too remains high, and has become all-but accepted as part of life in the Borough. With a murder rate double the national average, Lewisham was recently named the most unsafe place in the country by the Institute for Economics and Peace.”
Lewisham East used to be represented by the Conservative MP Colin Moynihan – while Lewisham West was held for the Conservatives by John Maples. As the borough has got relatively poorer Conservative prospects have waned. However as Mr Nundy points out the Conservative policies of promoting wealth creation through free enterprise – with lower tax and less bureaucracy – are needed more than ever.