Cllr Andrew Snowden is a County Councillor for Hoghton with Wheelton and Lead Member for Highways and Transport on Lancashire County Council.
On May 5th this year a bubbling excitement in Lancashire Conservatives from a well-fought campaign burst into celebration when the Returning Officer read out the final result; Lancashire County Council was now in Conservative overall control for the first time in three decades.
A few weeks ago I wrote for Conservative Home, comparing the outcomes of the local and general elections of 2017 in a hope to draw attention to the strengths we displayed in the former and what we can learn from that. I finished that article thanking Theresa May for the extra 500 councillors we got elected – as I truly believe that this success will mean better services for taxpayers across the Country.
Here in Lancashire we have wasted no time in getting our manifesto from being ink on paper to buses on roads, books in libraries, and tarmac in potholes. We made a promise to the people of Lancashire that under a Conservative Administration there would be much more prudent management of the Council’s finances and resources, allowing for a greater investment in services, reversing the politically-motivated front-line service cuts Labour made.
As Lead Member for Highways and Transport I have opened a cross-party consultation on how we will invest an additional £1 million (33 per cent budget increase) in our public transport network; restoring lost links across rural communities, focussing on economic development and supporting the vulnerable. We are looking at new more common-sense approaches for the systematic repair of road defects and making sure that our public realm is clean, beautiful and safe.
My Conservative Group colleagues have already re-opened lots of the libraries that had been closed and are in talks with many others. We have pictures of Conservative Councillors up and down the County standing shoulder to shoulder with residents and community groups – delighted that we have taken control and kept our pledges to keep these vital community services open.
Cllr Geoff Driver, our Group Leader, has already tabled a budget amendment to Full Council to fund these policies and we are now on a journey of looking at how we make the Council more efficient and financially sustainable in the long term, taking the big strategic decisions the previous administration floundered on. In fact, the only ‘tough’ decisions they took were to cut services in predominantly Conservative areas.
Regardless of the way people voted, the residents of Lancashire, from Lancaster to Chorley, and Blackpool to Burnley, are now seeing the tangible benefits of a Conservative-run Council. After 30 years dominated by Labour, with just one spell of Conservative minority rule, we are showing them that we keep our promises, that we can deliver better services, and we will now go on to show them that we can run a more sustainable and prudent Council.