DEVON CONSERVATIVE GROUP MANIFESTO
Keep Council Tax down; cut the County’s debt and freeze
are deeply concerned about the rising costs of Council Tax which has become a
very aggressive tax under three Labour Governments.
So many people are now finding it difficult to pay this tax, especially
those affected by falling interest rates, raids on pension funds,
and poor returns on stocks
and shares. Some of our Conservative
controlled District Councils, like East Devon, have set a zero increase this
year, but it is a pity that in spite of a good settlement from National
Government this year, the Liberal Democrat administration in Devon have set an
increase of almost 2.8%.
are also proposing a spending bonanza in which they would prefer to spend
reserves rather than reduce Council Tax. In
recent years they imprudently
borrowed more than they needed on the grounds that they could borrow at 4% but
invest at a much higher rate.
However, in the current economic situation this debt scheduling has come
to an end and they are faced with either paying back at a higher rate than they
can borrow or spending the money on capital schemes.
, they have chosen to do the latter on the grounds that this will stimulate the
local economy and the frightening thing is that they are threatening to borrow
even more money in the future.
Devon County Council has an Executive of 8 members.
However, these Executive members have another 7 members to support them
at not much less than the salaries of the Executive Members themselves.
At Executive meetings it is rare for the support members to stay for the
whole meeting and some fail to put in an appearance at all.
The Independent Salary Review
Panel has expressed concern about the amount of
money that Devon CC is paying in Special Responsibility Allowances to
members of the administration. The
Conservative County Team would freeze councillor’s allowances, reduce the
number of councillors receiving Special
Responsibility Allowances and
continue to avoid agreeing to councillor’s becoming part of the pension
Campaign for better funding for our schools
lies near the bottom of the Cinderella ladder for Dedicated Schools
Funding. Compared to the national average we get £349 less per pupil per
annum, but compared to
we get £659 less per pupil. Can
this be fair? In spite of this,
standards in Devon are quite high but how much higher could they be if our
children received proper funding? It
is our brighter children who are losing out, and again this seems unfair.
When John Hart was the Executive member for Schools he campaigned hard
against this anomaly and took an army of parents, governors, teachers and
10 Downing Street
to complain about the unfairness of this situation. Since
then not much has happened but the situation continues in spite of Tony
Blair’s promises. The
Liberal Democrats in County Hall have not continued this campaign with the
vigour which was required and a new Conservative administration will not rest
until it has resolved this anomaly.
Provide better care for elderly people
has an increasing number of elderly people and this situation will continue.
Mindful of the costs of residential and nursing care the present
government is supporting a strategy of independent living.
Many elderly or disabled people would welcome the opportunity to live an
independent life, as opposed to a life in an institutionalised setting.
However, this is not always too easy and can be a very expensive call on
local resources. In the future the
Conservatives will support extra care living in sheltered situations.
We will also support those voluntary organisations who offer an excellent
support service to vulnerable people, providing day care, drop in centres, etc.
the Rainbow administration from 2001-2005 it was recognised that Devon needed to
provide better capacity for residential care to fit the current
regulations, especially in the area of elderly mentally infirm.
However, four years on, after considerable cost, the present
administration have failed to resolve this situation and an
early resolution is required. It may
be that current providers can offer greater capacity or it maybe that we need to
attract a bid from a large national
housing trust to forward this modernisation plan, but what the Conservatives
realise is that the situation cannot continue as it is today—it needs to
also realise the value of carers. A
good number of older people are looked after by their spouse or partner.
Sometimes these carers are as old, or even older than the people they
care for. As such, they are often
equally vulnerable. If they become
ill we not only end up caring for their cared one but for the carer as well.
Consequently, we need to provide carers with as much support as we can
possibly manage. Sometimes carers
are young children and as such this provides another area of cconcern, to ensure
that they have sufficient school time, opportunities and are not bullied as a
consequence of their supportive role.
Support local businesses to protect local jobs
We need to develop skills in our areas to protect local jobs.
In some cases this may mean suitable apprenticeships, acquired through
our local Further Education colleges, local
schools or local business. The
Conservatives realise that what is most important is that schools and colleges
lay on courses that relate to the jobs which are relative to their area.
We also recognise the importance
of quality career’s advice in our local schools and the need for pupils to
make themselves available for the workplace.
Create new jobs by attracting new businesses and providing
We will develop Skypark and the new
. This will attract new business and
provide extra opportunities in the job market.
Some of these jobs will require new training skills and we will work with
, the new
for engineers and Further Education
Colleges. We will also encourage new
business to locate in
and work with the
and Torbay Unitary authorities to stimulate their economy and develop
Tackle crime and anti-social behaviour
Compared to the national average
is a low crime area but many residents have a fear of crime.
We will work with the
to reduce cold-calling, promote
Neighbourhood Watch and support the new
community liaison groups. We will
also provide youth services which harness the energies of young people and
discourage anti-social behaviour. Under
the Conservatives the Trading Standards Department will
be encouraged to become a vibrant force which will tackle fraud and
monitor fair trading. We will
also work with Drug and Alcohol
Support groups to reduce addiction and the effects of anti-social behaviour
displayed by some addicts. The Conservatives will support the work to reduce
Improve our roads and pavements
Sixteen years of underfunding and this year’s severe
winter have played havoc with
’s roads and footways. Huge
potholes, some the size of moon craters, have appeared in our roads causing a
danger to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
In March, this year the number of potholes was nearly
three times greater than in normal years. The roads in rural areas
are showing marked deterioration and require urgent attention.
Recent criticism from the Conservatives has goaded the Liberal Democrats
into finding more money to repair the roads and footways and empty gullies but
this is a mere drop in a ocean much
larger sums are needed to rectify all the years of neglect.
The Conservatives are committed to prioritising
highway maintenance in
Support and promote tourism in
is both a beautiful and interesting county and tourism is one of our most
important industries. We will
promote green tourism such as
walking, cycling, sailing and farm stays. We
will also support our wonderful coastal towns to create a year-round industry
built around the arts, festivals and special interest
holidays. We also have some
wonderful restaurants and eating places which promote our excellent local food.
is a busy little airport but the Conservatives believe that we should be
encouraging more visitors to come to
’s residents to holidays abroad. We
also believe that we need to improve our rail and bus services in
to encourage visitors to visit
public transport. We will
continue to lobby for the long overdue dualing of the A303. The Conservatives
will market the delights of
vigorously to promote the tourist industry.
Work to provide more affordable housing for local people
In spite of
a low wage economy house prices in
are very high and there is a great need for more affordable housing.
The Conservatives will work in partnership with the District authorities
to find suitable sites and appropriate funding to provide more housing at
affordable prices, either for rent or mixed equity.
In this way we believe we can reduce the lists of local residents who are
desperately waiting to be housed.
will also work with the District Councils to find suitable sites and funding to
build extra-care housing to provide independent living for the learning
disabled, the mentally ill and older vulnerable people who need to be close to
Reduce waste to landfill
has a good record for recycling but we need to improve our record for reducing
waste to landfill, which is not only environmentally undesirable but expensive
when we are required to pay Landfill
Tax. The Conservatives believe
that it is important to develop more biological facilities to dispose of food
and biologically disposable waste. District
Councils would then be encouraged to make separate collections of this kind of
waste to feed these plants and to create renewable energy.
are also concerned about the disposal of recycled goods and the costs of
recycling. In the present market the income for recycled goods has dropped and
sometimes recycled goods are travelling long distances away from
to be disposed of. The
Conservatives will consult with other authorities responsible for waste disposal
to see where there is good practice which they may be able to copy.
Promoted by L Baker on behalf of Devon
Conservatives both of 9c Mill Park, White Cross Road, Woodbury Salterton EX5