Personal reflection on the local election results
28/05/2014 16:16:00......Posted by Michael Neal
First of all, I would like to thank all the Conservative supporters who voted for Maria, Jason and I last Thursday.
It is an honour and a priviledge to serve my constituents again for a 4th term having been elected in 2002.
Today, I am reflecting on the fact that the Conservatives have lost control of Croydon in a crucial time of our political cycle.
I have lost many good friends who were Cllrs; they have worked so hard for their Constituents Politics can be brutal!!
Among many officers of the Council this will be a time of possible change with the new Labour Administration looking at opportunities to restructure some departments. I wish my own area of Housing well and hope any transition is as smooth as possible
Many Conservative-minded constituents across Croydon will be comtemplating how we lost control at a time when the Conservative administration in Croydon has strived over the last 8 years to create financial stability, keep taxes low and saying to investors “we are open for business”
For the Conservatives we have operated in a time when the Coalition Government austerity packages for local government is biting hard, yet we have kept financial stability, created business opportunities and have decreased council tax (4.5% in real terms) since 2006
We have achieved extra funding for our Schools; brought crime down by 10% across the borough and managed to increase the amount of Police officers in Croydon
We have the new Bernard Weatherill House, Saffron Square and the major Westfield and Hemmerson £1 billion investment deal in the town centre which will create new jobs, new homes and a brand new shopping complex over the next 5 years
In fact, when you look across the town, a huge amount of private investment is coming to Croydon. We could not have achieved this without the Council taking positive steps in financial control, planning and environment.
The Council through the GLA has also invested £3million in South End creating a café style culture in our restaurant quarter through the enhancement of shop fronts and new paved areas.
Queens Garden will also be enhanced with private and affordable homes being built alongside a new café or shops.
On recycling, we have progressed from 16% in 2006 to over 50% this year, a remarkable turnaround in which we should be proud.
With the grant from Government shrinking year on year, we have managed to keep the council tax down, ensure all essential services are prioritised and have quite rightly given back £25 to families who pay Council tax when other bills remain high. We have also assisted tenants with a £220 rebate in their rent, knowing that every little helps while we are all going through a time of financial austerity. The good news for Croydon and the Country as a whole is that we now appear to comimg out of recession.
With such positive outcomes over the last 8 years the Conservative group will reflect on our losses in wards such as Waddon, Ashburton and New Addington. We had a good campaign but there is little doubt that the increase vote share of UKIP and the demise of the Liberal Democrats caused the Labour surge.
Our slogan “Vote UKIP get Labour” turned out to be correct.
I fully respect those who voted UKIP in the local elections, but I do wonder whether they realised the impact this would have on the overall results.
The question on all our minds is what will the new Labour administration change? Will they jeopardise the investment in the town centre by assisting on the maximum 40% affordable housing which developers may not be able to implement.
Will they put at risk the investment in our roads? (We were the pot hole borough under Labour)
Will they bring the Council to the brink of Bankruptcy once again? The Labour Group has a track record of financial incompetence, with record-high Council tax, taking our reserves down to £250.000 (instead of around £12 million as advised by the Audit Commission)
Will the Conservatives once again have to put the finances back in order when the electorate hopefully return the Conservatives in 2018?
It will be interesting to see whether the new Labour administration have learned lessons from the past.
On behalf of all residents of Croydon the Conservative group will monitor the progess of the Labour Administration on all aspects of Council business and ensure that residents receive a fair deal throughout.
I along with Maria and Jason will continue to work hard in Croham for the benefit of all residents and look forward to the battles ahead to ensure we are re-elected in 2018 with a Conservative majority.