I wasn’t going to do any more election blogging, but when I saw Eric Pickles “5 Reasons to vote Conservative today” post on ConservativeHome, I just couldn’t help myself. Here are each of Eric’s points in turn, why he is wrong, and why you shouldn’t vote Conservative in the borough of Wokingham today.
1) Conservatives deliver better quality, better value local services… More Conservative councils have frozen council tax this year than Labour councils.
Yes, Wokingham have frozen council tax. But that freeze was made possible by a one-off grant from central government. This will almost certainly not be repeated next year, which means that council tax will have to go up by at least 2.5%- just for funding to stay at the same level.
And that’s even before we get to the massive stealth tax that the council introduced under the guise of a new rubbish scheme.
2) Conservative councils have been at the forefront of the transparency agenda, opening up their books and finances to public scrutiny.
Transparency my foot. Do you remember the budget? Do you remember how the council executive only released it the statutory week before the vote, whereas other authorities had released it months earlier for scrutiny by residents and opposition parties? And maybe you remember that it was simply voted through, with a minimum of debate, and no opportunity for proper examination.
Judging from this, the Conservatives were going all out to make sure there was no public scrutiny of how they were spending public money.
3) Councils account for a quarter of all public spending, and need to do their bit to help pay off Labour’s deficit.
This doesn’t play too well next to council leader Cllr David Lee’s near-constant bleatings about being the worst funded council in the country. If we’re supposed to be cutting back even harder, why does he always seem to be begging for more money? Also, the notion of there being no money left sits ill next to Eric Pickles’ slush funds for weekly bin collections and short-term tax giveaways- all of which seem calculated to give the Tories something to crow about at election time, having achieved nothing all year long.
Don’t believe the lies.
4) Conservative councils are cutting municipal non-jobs like town hall ‘pilgrims’ and waste like town hall pravadas.
I’m not sure who exactly Wokingham have been cutting, but they don’t seem to have been left with a particularly brilliant crop. The local government officers in charge of the bins, in particular, don’t seem to have covered themselves in glory of late.
And as for these “town hall pravadas” (I can only presume he means “pravda”, a reference to the newspaper of the Soviet Union), one of the biggest complaints about the new rubbish scheme was that nobody knew it was coming. People didn’t know there was a new scheme, and they didn’t know their collection day had changed.
I guess we can thank the Tories for that, then.
5) This Government is devolving significant new powers to local councils…Conservatives can be trusted to use these powers well.
You’ve got to be kidding me? Trust them? I don’t trust them with the powers they’ve got at the moment. So far, Wokingham Conservatives have:
- Introduced a completely unworkable bin scheme as a cover for a stealth tax.
- Launched a plan to sell off the libraries, without asking anyone.
- Closed all of the public toilets in the borough.
- Threatened to close and sell off care homes.
- Wasted £90,000 on a PR exercise, and God knows how much in the end on the regeneration of Wokingham Town Centre.
- Ignored the views of residents at every turn.
Would you trust them with more power. I wouldn’t.
Please, don’t vote Conservative today. Send a message that Wokingham deserves better, that it deserves a council that will listen to it, and act in its best interests.