Same Old Labour

Milibands defeatOn Thursday I had the honour of being elected Leader of Suffolk County Council and I know it will be a really challenging job as we seek to protect services, invest in the county’s infrastructure and work with partners to make sure that public services in Suffolk are the best they can possibly be, at the same time as having to find new ways of doing things to cope with the necessary re-balancing of the nation’s economy and us playing our part by having less money with which to do all the things we need and want to do, so no small task then for the Council, its staff and our Conservative group.

Over the past few days leading up to the Council AGM, from Journalists to opposition politicians all have been keen to try to get an insight into the internal workings of the Conservative Group, is it split?, who was in or out of the cabinet?, and would other would-be leaders supporters vote for or against. One journalist likened it to a soap opera, unfortunately or is that fortunately, probably depends on your point of view!, the reality is far less interesting, 37 Conservatives and 31 opposition Councillors at the Council meeting and the result was 37 for with 31 against.

The Conservative group on the County Council is a broad church of views on most subjects and one of the things I am doing is making sure we have the time and space as a group to debate the big issues before us. But there is one truly galvanizing force that drives us and the thing in which our sense of common purpose is palpable, we have to make sure Labour never re-take control of the County Council.

After the election result and my what is termed ‘Executive Statement’, the opposition group leaders get to make in essence rebuttal speeches. First up was the official Leader of the Opposition Councillor Sandy Martin , leader of the Labour group, in which he rattled off a list of what Labour would do if they were in charge and it would be same old Labour, always spending. The use of reserves was unrepentant, the propping up rather than reforming services was unrepentant, the ‘only the public sector’ can provide mantra was unrepentant, and the refusal to accept the need for the country, and thus us, to reduce its spending was unrepentant. Watching his group as he gave his speech, from their body language, I just began to wonder if some of them are all together comfortable with such an unreformed socialist at their head, particularly since nationally three weeks ago that position was effectively soundly rejected by the nation. The national Labour party is about to search its sole with the coming Leadership debate to address why its is so out of touch nationally, maybe some of them are thinking about doing the same locally?.

As the dust settles

conservativesThursday was a 27 hour day for many Conservatives, in Suffolk it started before dawn with many of us arriving in Ipswich for Ben Gummer’s ‘dawn raid’, much, much later with the final ‘knock up’ to see if people had voted in my patch completed, it was into the cars and over the Parliamentary count at Newmarket Leisure Centre and to watch the national events unfold on TV. The exit poll was a real shock and I don’t think anyone of us, let alone Paddy Ashdown believed it. As the night turned into dawn, Matthew Hancock’s majority increased and it became clear that the opinion polls had got it spectacularly wrong and across the country people made a clear choice.

I suppose I did have an inkling of it in that as I campaigned this year across East Anglia and in my own village the mood seems very different to the opinion polls, something I struggled to reconcile in my own mind, almost everywhere I have been knocking on doors people have said I’m voting conservative because… and there have been many reasons but underpinning them all was…as one famous America Presidential candidate once said ‘it’s the economy stupid’. Clearly whether you like this or that policy, what matters most is a strong economy from which all other things we like, things we would want to see happen for us, our families and our communities stems from the strength of our economy.

Locally both Louise, my running mate and I were elected to serve of Forest Heath District Council the results were:

Pam Brown (Labour)221
Cowboy Gathercole (UKIP) 634
Michael Hutchings (Labour) 219
Louise Marston (Conservative) 979
Myself (Conservative) 839
Tracy Whitehand (UKIP) 495

The number of Ballot papers issued was 1993, which generated 3986 votes but surprisingly 567 people did not use their second vote. The block vote is usually how people vote and you would occasionally get people voting for one person or different people from different parties but usually in local elections that would be relatively few. A number of people told me that the advice was not clear that you had two votes and they thought it was like the other ballot paper where you had one vote for MP. I am going to raise this point of clearer information with the returning officer.

Firstly my thanks to those who voted for me. I consider it an honour and privilege to serve my community where I am born and bred, once, twice and always a Lakenheath Boy.

As I campaigned in the village with Louise Marston we picked up lots of issues residents had not brought forward before, as well as some things still not sorted out; alongside their aspirations for our community going forward. Louise and I will be working on a list of action points to get stuck into.

Whether you voted for us or not we are here to represent and help you and please do not hesitate to contact either Louise or myself.

Looking wider we Conservatives retained Forest Heath with a slightly lower majority of 21 out of 27 whereas we were 23. We lost some great Councillors, and as your own vote is being countered you think about not getting elected and not being a Councillor and I know how that feels, not nice. So my heart goes out to them including the two opposition Councillors who were voted out. Sad to see them all go but great to welcome some really great hard working Conservative Candidates as Councillors next week.

Nationally there is lots to do and indeed equally the same locally in the next 4 year term and that starts Monday evening when the Leader James Waters has called a new group meeting to get moving.

A nation decides and so does Lakenheath

2015_05_03 Campaign 2015 Team LakenheathThis week the country has a big decision to make, a Conservative Government or a Labour one, held to ransom by the SNP.

It is ironic that if people vote UKIP, they will get Ed Miliband in No.10 propped up by the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon who over the last few weeks have made it perfectly clear she will use the power to advance Scottish interests and by that I think we all know that means, demand that money be diverted from spending in England to spending in Scotland. Equally ironic is that Ed Miliband is on record he would have no referendum so the very thing UKIP want, would be denied them, yet if UKIP minded people vote Conservative, David Cameron will hold that referendum in 2017 having renegotiated the terms of our membership. Seems to me whether you’re in favour of being in Europe or out of it, this country need to make its mind up one way or the other.

Locally people have a choice too. Continue with Conservatives in charge of Forest Heath District Council where we are delivered quality services, have reorganised its back office and halved its staff numbers and thus been able to deliver 5 years of 0% Council Tax rises. Our carefully worked out plan is proposing a 4 year freeze for the next term. Alongside investment in our area such as a new public services hub in Mildenhall to include new state of the art sports facilities. Or elect a strange mix of independent candidates and/or UKIP both it seems from their election leaflets or lack of, don’t seem to have an actual plan.

This Conservative 9 year freezing of council tax is born of a simple premise, its your hard earned money and you are best place to spend it wisely for yourself and your family.

Even more locally in my village you can see the attitude of our opponents who over the past two years, with their controlling group has blocked every attempt to get the parish council to lower its costs and find new ways of working, and has increased the Parish Precept by over a third, making Lakenheath the most expensive place in Forest Heath to actually live and pay your per band council tax in – absolutely ridiculous!

I’m running with Louise Marston who owns a number of great local businesses, and has been a Parish Councillor and has increasingly frustratingly, tried with her minority group, to seek change on the Parish Council. She is a School Governor at the village primary school. Together we would play an active part in the District Council, continue to play an active part in our community, we would turn up and are determined to be a strong positive voice for our village, Lakenheath.

So nationally we have a clear choice, locally we have a clear choice and on both ballot papers please Vote Conservative.

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