Cllr Philip Atkins is the Leader of Staffordshire County Council.

Staffordshire Conservatives have been working hard over the past eight years to wake the sleeping giant at the heart of our country following 28 years of Labour neglect and decline. We are now well placed with record levels of employment along with higher wages, for people to enjoy a good quality of life in safe and strong communities and a great place to live, work and invest in. It’s nothing like the slumbering council we inherited from Labour in 2009.

However, with this satisfaction at what has been achieved in eight years comes a recognition that there is even more that a Conservative county council can do to support its residents to help themselves and their community. It starts with low taxation and even after the current budget round and the necessary costs of increasing social care for both adults and looked after children, Staffordshire enjoys the third lowest Council Tax of any of the county councils, while a record amount of £300 million a year is now spent on help, support, advice and looking after the most vulnerable.

Staffordshire’s strong community spirit represented by our families, communities and towns is the thing that make us strong. And it is the job of local government to encourage and nurture these relationships and institutions where it can and to correct injustice and unfairness.

Here are some of our campaigning themes for the local elections on May 4th. First of all the referendum vote — while Staffordshire overwhelmingly voted to Leave, the way Conservatives see it, this wasn’t just about withdrawal from the EU but a vote for change in the way our country works. Staffordshire is now better placed in 2017 to take any opportunity this provides, with bright hopes for the future with its history of natural resourcefulness, innovation and ingenuity. In our election manifesto we have a clear vision of an even better future together—one where everyone has the opportunity to prosper, to be healthy and to enjoy life to the full.

Fundamental to this vision is the strength of the Staffordshire economy—in eight years Staffordshire has been transformed from one of the lowest performing regions to the fastest growing across all sectors. Our manifesto makes clear the county council’s ambition to continue the growth of better paid jobs and apprenticeships for all ages – leading to an ever improving quality of life for local people through major investment programmes, securing future growth leading to new higher skilled jobs. And under the Conservatives the county council will play a big part through changes in the way the council bureaucracy operates.

Personal responsibility is at the heart of everything we do, enabling us to concentrate on supporting those who really need our help. We aim to see every child in Staffordshire attending a good or outstanding school, providing the opportunity to gain the skills needed to land a high quality job and every family encouraged to live healthy, happy and productive lives.

We also want to see older people enjoy extended healthy years of life but there is recognition that this can only be achieved through working across health, local authorities, the voluntary sector, and the public at large.

Only Staffordshire Conservatives will help secure Staffordshire’s people’s brighter future together, enabling the county council to concentrate on those who unfortunately really need our help.