Cllr Peter Fox is the Leader of Monmouthshire Council.

The 2012 local government elections were tough in Monmouthshire – seeing us lose seven seats, which left us three short of a majority. As a result, we formed a partnership arrangement with three Lib Dems. Albeit we were disappointed to lose full Conservative control, we have led and run the council in line with our Conservative manifesto.

The campaign for our forthcoming elections started in the Autumn last year. We have a full house of candidates, 11 of which have been designated target seats. In those target seats, candidates have been collecting huge amounts of data via ‘ Knock, Drop and Collect’ surveys.  We are seeing 50 per cent returns to these surveys and they are proving to be a very effective campaigning tool.

The surveys have been followed up with ‘My Plan’ leaflets and an array of other literatures. We hold action days every Saturday morning focusing on target seats and are having positive feedback.  We have noted many traditional Labour voters feeling quite disillusioned. We are determined to make Monmouthshire a fully Conservative controlled council once again. Having said that, we are not complacent and do not underestimate the local Labour Party. Although nationally their party is broken there is still local strength and a will to fight. Likewise Liberals are fielding candidates with confidence buoyed up with their Brexit messages. The most annoying element by far though are the growing number of Independents who purport to be independent-minded but actually operate as a party but with no accountability.

Conservatives in Monmouthshire have delivered strongly in recent years on education, social care, enterprise and job creation and protecting locally accessible services.

In the course of the past four years, funding from Wales Government has decreased dramatically.  We have stripped £18 million from the costs of running the Council by operating more efficiently and driving innovative changes throughout the Council. Working in new innovative and commercially minded ways is not difficult for us as we are not constrained by traditional local government mindsets.

Our 2017 campaign pledges to continue to prioritise those services which have the greatest impact on the wellbeing of our residents; education, care of the vulnerable, the retention of local services and economic development in the County encouraging more well paid jobs.

Our manifesto focuses on:

Education & Skills:

Delivery of four new secondary schools (two currently being built). Raising standards, driving continuous improvement with a greater emphasis on STEM subjects.

Social Care & Health:

We will continue to enable the vulnerable elderly to stay in their homes and communities for longer. Working in an integrated way with Health and other agencies.

Social Justice:

We are committed to a fair and equal society, respecting and upholding diversity within our communities. Continually working to address child poverty and worklessness.

Enterprise & Job creation:

We will capitalising on the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, and the reducing Severn Crossing bridge tolls – unlocking opportunity in the county and driving economic growth.

The Rural Community:

Supporting our rural communities, combating rural deprivation and access to services will remain important to us. We remain totally committed to promoting Agriculture and tourism and improving access to fast Broadband.

Maintaining Locally Accessible Services:

We will maintain our Libraries, Museums, Theatres, and cultural offer; enhance our leisure centres; and commit to building a new Swimming Pool in Monmouthshire.