Cllr John Williams is the Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council
What a stunning success was achieved, with a near-4,000 Lib Dem majority overturned and replaced with a 15,000 Conservative majority in the Parliamentary constituency. Equally, our Borough Council elections moving from the “minority” position of one to 36 to 20. This was an excellent result achieved through great teamwork across all arms of the Party, Association, parliamentary campaign and Borough Council Conservative Group.
We all knew that the coincidence of parliamentary and Borough Council elections would have an impact on the voting numbers, particularly for the council, but it was difficult to accurately gauge the final outcome. As it turned out I have never seen ballot boxes stuffed so full, with a turnout of nearly 70 per cent.
It soon became evident that the overwhelming majority were cast for the Conservatives, in both elections. It was a long, arduous campaign but one that was totally focussed on turning this part of Somerset blue at every level, which we achieved with resounding success. We were committed to working as a team, with the constituency boundary coterminous with that of the borough. We were clearly focussed on getting the Conservative message out..
It obviously worked, as in the parliamentary elections we achieved a 16.8 per cent swing from Lib Dems to Conservatives. We also ensured that we had as near our full contingent of candidates as possible – we finally fielded 54 out of the 56 possible, which strengthened our vote tremendously. This ensured we had Conservative representation in all wards.
The uncertainty of the election has now passed and I am delighted but humbled that the community we serve have delivered such a positive and resounding vote of confidence in our administration. We have always been positive, setting out the work and development we have achieved over the last four years, coupled with the planning and investment for the future.
It is an exciting programme to take us forward but guiding us will be the overriding aim to maintain the front line services which are so valued by our community.
However, in doing so it is important to ensure more efficient delivery as we continue doing more for less. We all know that reductions in grant funding have to continue to assist with the national debt.
Thanks to our community, we now have a clear mandate to deliver what is best for Taunton Deane – but in having that mandate we must ensure we listen to all and deliver what is possible within the resources available. Our top priority must be ensuring economic development continues so we have the resources to deliver the roads, schools and infrastructure needed to support the housing growth required.
Despite the huge national deficit, we have been successful in securing an allocation of funds for major investment in our roads – the A358, which is the busiest road in Somerset after the M5, and the upgrade of junction 25 of the M5 motorway – as well as the very important revamp of Taunton railway station. We must now ensure central government delivers the funding for these vital projects.
I have a great team around me and we are all truly committed to ensuring we deliver.
Following the election campaign we are conscious that our infrastructure must keep pace with our housing growth. This was the message on the doorstep we received recently, loud and clear.