Last May’s local elections were good for the Tories – particularly in London. Many of the gains were made on the back of policies that didn’t exactly fit with David Cameron’s priorities, however. Tories swept to power in Ealing, for example, partly on the back of opposition to proposals for a major tram scheme although the Tory leadership had been unhelpfully extolling the value of trams during the campaign. The national leadership has been ultra-cautious on tax but Hammersmith & Fulham Tories achieved one of the best results in the country by promising to relieve the burden on their borough’s hard-pressed council taxpayers.
H&F Tories have made good on their promise by today announcing a 3% reduction in council tax – the first for ten years and likely to be the largest council tax reduction in the country.
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Hammersmith & Fulham Council leader, said in a press release (Download H&F press release.pdf):
“This is the first budget since the May 2006 election and we are combining lower tax with more cash for things that matter to residents. The council is pumping in £1.5million over two years to pay for round the clock beat policing in our town centres as well as spending more on schools and providing free homecare for our most vulnerable residents…
Delivering on our council tax promises means cutting waste and bureaucracy and looking to the market to see if services can be delivered more efficiently. We are not ideologically wedded to privatisation but surely it is prudent for in house services to be forced to compete with private contractors to see if the same, or even better, services can be delivered more efficiently.”
It must be hoped that Hammersmith and Fulham will join the elite Tory London councils of Westminster and Wandsworth. Russell King recently wrote about ‘the Wandsworth way’ on YourPlatform – Delivering lower taxes and world class public services.
Two of H&F’s star councillors have written for YourPlatform in the last year. Councillor Harry Phibbs drafted one of ConservativeHome’s best-ever Platform pieces last month. Read Harry’s ‘100 questions councillors should ask council officers’ here. Shortly after the Tories won the borough Greg Smith explained how they did it.
Also of note is how Conservative Future members have been integral to the renaissance in H&F.