Monday, October 19, 2009

LibDems Cave Into Tory Freeze The Tax Demand

Sutton’s Liberal Democrat administration has finally caved in to the Conservative Freeze The Tax Campaign in a shock announcement that Sutton Council will freeze the council tax for the first time in its history.

In a panic-stricken departure from its high-tax approach, Sutton’s LibDem town hall leadership has buckled under Conservative pressure to follow Boris Johnson’s example of freezing the tax burden in a time of economic hardship.

Now in a period of deflation, Conservative councillors are defying the Lib Dems’ finance boss to go one step further and to actually cut the council tax in Sutton to reflect the fact that the cost of living is going down nationwide.

Earlier this year in February, Conservative councillors launched their campaign for a tax freeze arguing that the Lib Dem Council should have made a real difference to hard-pressed local taxpayers worried about their jobs, mortgages, savings and rent.

We have welcomed the Lib Dem Council Leader’s U-turn following his comments in The Evening Standard, only a year ago, when he said that a council tax freeze was “a quick fix now with years of misery to follow” and that “this could only be achieved by cutting vital services”.

Councillor Tim Crowley, our Opposition Spokesman for Finance and Value for Money, said: “We welcome the fact that the LibDems have finally caught up with our thinking, namely that Sutton Council should move heaven and earth to ease the burden on household budgets via lower council tax.

“It is a shame that it takes a looming election for them to do so. I am delighted that the LibDem Council Leader has U-turned on his opposition to a freeze in council tax. Now if they’re really serious about easing the tax burden, they will go one step further and cut the council tax. We will campaign for a cut.”

Councillor Crowley concluded: “After sixteen years of relentless council tax increases, Sutton taxpayers will see straight through this announcement and not be taken for mugs by the ruling LibDems.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Musical Nudge

In our recent report, 'State of Sutton: A Borough of Contradictions' the Sutton Conservative group of councillors talk a lot about Nudge Theory, a concept designed by two American academics which helps change people's behaviour by small actions that are easy to take but not laid down by diktat. This is something that the Conservatives will look at more fully when finalising our manifesto for the next election. We are committed to the carrot not the stick.

I can't promise you musical stairs around Sutton but this video is a brilliant illustration how a bit of lateral thinking makes a massive difference.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sutton In The News

One recent piece of media coverage passed by the communications team who compile a weekly report of Sutton's coverage in the news. Reports that I had fasted for a day have reached further than Sutton. I was amazed to see this in a newspaper that I was unaware of - for reasons which become apparent when you see the picture. The fantastically named Daily Jang is an Urdu paper distributed in London, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. I have no idea whether that means my mugshot has gone out around Pakistan. I started this blog to make Carshalton Central. Sorry to have strayed off my main path!

Anyone read Urdu?

Friday, October 09, 2009

My Small Footnote In Manchester

No WiFi meant no blogging at our party conference in Manchester, although I tried to battle network congestion to keep people updated with what was happening on Twitter. Most of my time was spent at fringe meetings pertaining to local government and meeting as many council leaders as I could to grab some great examples of how Conservative local authorities are tackling the issues that we face here in Sutton.

However, I did manage to make a contribution on the main stage, asking Shadow Leader of the House, Sir George Young what measures he would put in place to increase direct democracy and what he thought about a mechanism to recall bad MPs. He cited the example of the open primary in Totnes where any voter in that constituency could help choose the Conservative candidate. He also covered several proposals for local government which I will cover in more detail in another post, but included changing planning to make it bottom-up rather than top-down, referenda on council tax and elected police commissioners. He was keen to explore a recall mechanism to add an extra safeguard in between the more extreme automatic disqualification in the rare cases of having a criminal conviction or being made bankrupt.

Interestingly, the media kept true to form in my title as shown in the picture below. The BBC had already called David Cameron Prime Minister, Liam Fox Defence Secretary and ITV had promoted George Osborne to Chancellor. No-one in the Party is in any doubt that there is a long way to go before the election and we have more to do to demonstrate that we will be best placed to address the vital issues that we face. This is also the case locally. So when I fleetingly became the Leader of Sutton Council I allowed myself a little smile before getting back to the real world and the hard work that is required to make it more permanent.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Manchester Beckons

I'm off to Manchester in a few minutes to join the tens of thousands of Conservatives descending on the city for the last conference before the General Election. The mood is buoyant whilst realising that there is still plenty of work to be done to inform members of the public exactly what we will do in Government. Expect plenty of policy this week, such as the home protection scheme which will end the desparate situation of elderly people having to sell their home to pay for care.

People know in Sutton and across the UK that we need change. I fully expect this week that the Conservatives will demonstrate that we are ready for change.