Cllr Mike Bird is the Leader of Walsall Council.

The forthcoming May elections will be the first real test of electors’ views on the current Labour Leader and his stance on the many issues that are at the heart of good government.

Many voters cast their votes locally based on the performance of national politicians.

Here in Walsall we are aiming to capitalise on this issue to win seats that will take us to an overall majority, rather than a minority administration that is Conservative led.

We will be reminding the electorate of the mess that Labour made here in Walsall when they assumed control for a period of 10 months after winning a crucial by-election.

Our campaigning points include reminding all of the electorate that they have to be less dependent on the state.  However, we welcome the two percent increase allowed under Council Tax limits, ring-fenced for the care of our ever-rising elderly population.

Conservatives will be advising our voters of the true meaning of the Combined Authority and what the “Midlands Engine” will bring to the region by way of jobs and prosperity with the recently negotiated devolution deal , although the elected Mayor is still a thorny issue.

Our policy of tackling the many contaminated sites within the Borough will allow much needed quality housing to be built on these brownfield sites, while protecting our precious green belt.

The virtues of two brand new leisure centres to encourage exercise and well-being will become more evident when these two centres open in June of this year – delivered despite the measures of austerity.

New sources of income have been instituted by the Council funding a new Primark store and a Co-operative food store, both of which have signed long leases and have been the catalyst for new retail investment which will revitalise the Town Centre and make Walsall a shopping destination.

These measures were opposed by Labour because of their lack of vision.

We have made significant investment in our parks and open spaces, again encouraging healthy exercise at no cost and we are being congratulated for the quality of our parks as “green lungs” of the urban town.

I am proud to lead my Conservative Group and together we are fulfilling my wishes to make a difference when I was first elected in 1980.

Commitment comes at a cost and I thank my entire Group for the inordinate amount of time they have to sacrifice away from their families; without their support my job would be impossible and Labour’s record of decay would prevail.

Now is the time to stand firm on our Conservative principles and together we will win.

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