Cllr Roy Perry is the Leader of Hampshire County Council.
Hampshire Conservatives go into the May County Council elections in a positive spirit, with a proud record to defend and positive promises for the future.
Since the last elections we have welcomed councillors joining us from the UKIP and Lib Dem Groups. UKIP has gone down from 10 to just seven members. Labour is so small it could hardly lose anyone. In recent by-elections Conservatives have had increased majorities.
All county services are rated as “Good” and council tax is the second lowest of any county in the country.
Hampshire is nationally recognised as one of the highest achieving counties. For instance the OFSTED inspection graded Children’s Services as “Good” with “outstanding leadership”. Few other councils have gained such a high rating. There are similar ratings for other services.
Despite the pressures being faced across the local government sector, finances are sound. We have a massive £500m capital investment programme over the next 3 years, not just building schools and extra-care homes, but also enhancing roads.
This year Hampshire Council adopted a 4.99 per cent tax increase enabling the maximum three per cent rise allowed to go into Adult Social Care as our way of helping the pressures being faced by the NHS. Even so, the County precept is the second lowest of any county in the country and in real terms measured against inflation is over £100 less than six years ago.
The Council maintains a school improvement service and is proud that some 90 per cent of schools in Hampshire are rated as Good or Outstanding. Our aim of course is to make that 100 per cent. 93 per cent of children get into their first choice of school and achievement is significantly above the national average.
Our innovative Adult Care service works hard to keep people in their own homes. Whilst we have our own care homes, an increasing number of extra-care homes are helping people keep their independence and we are national leaders in use of new technology to assist independent living and combat social isolation.
Our Museums and Galleries have been transferred to a charitable trust to ensure them an independent future able to attract external funding. Libraries are flourishing and becoming community hubs. The mobile libraries have been superceded by a home book delivery service staffed by volunteers. Our six amazing country parks are all being developed to be self financing. They are receiving over £6m in capital investment to upgrade their facilities – such as the “Bistro on the Beach” at Lepe Beach on the Solent – making them even more attractive.
Hardly any domestic waste goes to landfill. Our waste to energy plants generate electricity to power 50,000 homes. We have already met 35 per cent against our 40 per cent target of reduced carbon output from council building. We aim to be 100 per cent carbon neutral and we are already installing car electricity charging points.
Hampshire has a thriving economy. Conservatives want to help it grow and have, for instance, joined Rushmoor BC and the LEP by investing in the permanent Conference and Exhibition Centre at Farnborough Air Show. We have also invested in skills centres at Whitehill and Borden in East Hampshire and at the Daedalus Enterprise Zone in Fareham.
Over £12m of council taxpayers’ money has been put alongside Government money to get better superfast broadband coverage from BT Openreach. We are now almost at 96 per cent superfast broadband coverage and will not be satisfied until it is 100 per cent.
As a rural county we keep a County Farm estate to help new entrants into farming while at the same time protecting sensitive rural gaps.
Hampshire Conservatives will continue working for a prosperous and thriving county in a great environment.