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Election: The Cheltenham Conservatives release their manifesto

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: April 10, 2012

MANIFESTO:  Councillor Duncan Smith

MANIFESTO: Councillor Duncan Smith

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CREATING financial stability at the Municipal Offices, protecting the beauty of the town and creating new jobs – those are the three priorities for the Conservative opposition hoping to take control of Cheltenham Borough Council at the election.

The Tories have 12 councillors and need to make a gain of nine seats at the election to hold a majority.

Group leader Councillor Duncan Smith said: "A Conservative council will move quickly to create a budget that works.

"We need to undertake some significant pruning of costs to re-balance the budget.

"If we do not, Cheltenham will be bankrupt by the end of the decade.

"This is the stark reality of Cheltenham in 2012."

He blamed the Liberal Democrats' spending plans for creating a £2 million hole over the next five years, a gap which the executive said would be filled by finding further savings through measures including back office link-ups with other councils.

Mr Smith described the Lib Dem approach as like a householder "paying a mortgage with Post Office savings".

He added: "We should not forget what makes our town great and the council is currently failing to take a lead.

"That means taking pride in the town by bringing back regular street cleaning in the residential areas, improving verge cutting, more tree planting and investing in key town gateways.

"Conservatives will change council priorities to focus on these key services and cut back on the non-essential spending."

He said that a Conservative administration would ditch the £36-per-year garden waste brown bin charges and introduce a free fortnightly collection instead.

He also accused the Liberal Democrats of being behind plans to build thousands of homes on the edge of the town.

Tories would also pledge to buy more goods and services from local companies, introduce free town centre car parking after 6pm and on the first Sunday of each month to boost trade, as well as "following-up" the recommendations of the much-publicised Mary Portas review.

Mr Smith added: "The Conservative candidates at the council elections will bring a wide range of business and professional experience to the role of councillor and will make a major impact on the way the council works.

"We never forget that it is the residents' money that the council spends and we will make sure that it is spent wisely and efficiently."

■ For the People Against Bureaucracy's election manifesto, see tomorrow's Echo.

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  • VoterTHX1138  |  April 12 2012, 10:39PM

    There is no way that the Conservatives will achieve a majority in the Cheltenham Borough Council elections this year - they might "only" need to gain nine seats out of the 20 being contested, but if you look at how many of the contested ones they currently hold, they'd have to win around 17 of the 20 on offer to actually achieve that nine-seat gain (nine gains, ~eight holds). The best chance that the Conservatives have in this election is if the Libs lose enough councillors to either Labour or the Greens to leave the council in "No Overall Control", whereby they might end up in a coalition running the council. Can't see it happening, though - the Libs may be nationally unpopular right now, but are people really going to turn back to Labour? Or believe that their Green vote isn't wasted?

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  • Bonkim2003  |  April 10 2012, 8:37PM

    "He said that a Conservative administration would ditch the £36-per-year garden waste brown bin charges and introduce a free fortnightly collection instead." stop this and the food waste collection altogether and in the process not only save the cost of an inefficient collection system but combined with savings of the high cost in-vessel composting (paid for by the county but a tax on all residents) which increases the carbon footprint rather than reduce, and also costs more than the landfill tax saved. Spending wisely will have enough left over towards priority areas that benefit all residents despite the cuts from central government and freeze on council tax. Conservatives are supposed to be good business managers - but sign of that in this county. Anyone can cut expenditure - the credit will be when the council gets more for less - rather than simply cutting down expenditure but not sharpening the business end of high cost services such as waste collection and treatment.

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  • MimiGallagher  |  April 10 2012, 8:24PM

    Dear OldGrumbler, the party responsible for street parking charges is the Conservatives who run the County Council. Mr Smith is a Conservative County Councillor perhaps he should start by persuading his friends running the County Council to make changes to their on parking charges stealth tax regime. As for the Lib Dems being behind plans to build thousands of homes - is this the Joint Core Strategy he is talking about? This is the plan produced on behalf of 3 councils, 2 of which are Tory run. Does Mr Smith not ever talk to his Conservative friends on other councils.

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  • whiteangeluk  |  April 10 2012, 8:20PM

    We so need another political party to stand, as did i not read the Lib Dems were stating most of this article only a few days ago. I feel whom ever is in the council will do just as they please any way. It may be fun though placing some other party in power at the council just to stir the pot. Things can't get any worse. Who knows that way things may improve as there is always hope.

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  • tomholland333  |  April 10 2012, 7:21PM

    This 'protecting the beauty of the town and creating new jobs' – and accused the Liberal Democrats of being behind plans to build thousands of homes on the edge of the town. Does my recent memory delude me, wasn't it the Tories who have scrapped their election promises of protecting planning on green fields by giving locals the decision on building yet through Pickles is allowing 'their' money friends to build and make millions by swamping our 'Green and Pleasant Land' with building where it should not. Oh I didn't forget the jobs this would / will create, but will they be local jobs, I doubt it and say to all electors of Cheltenham don't vote for those who don't keep their promises

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  • DG9999  |  April 10 2012, 5:35PM

    "He said that a Conservative administration would ditch the £36-per-year garden waste brown bin charges and introduce a free fortnightly collection instead." Did he also say where the money would come from for this? What cuts elsewhere would be made to cover it -and make up for the shortfall of the free parking? And what exactly is this "non-essential spending" that would be cut back-and in whose opinion is it non-essential? Given the Conservatives appalling performance nationally, fully aided and abetted by the Lib Dems I would not vote for either party if it was compulsory!

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  • Reportage  |  April 10 2012, 3:45PM

    Bla bla manifesto, bla bla promises promises, bla bla polititians bla bla councillors, bla bla we care policies bla bla we will put the community / cheltenham/ heritage/ first bla bla we will ignore you for the rest of the year, bla bla nothign will change by way of service from CBC anyway bla bla - so whast the point in a new election??? anyone??

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  • Steve_Thomas  |  April 10 2012, 12:47PM

    Actually, I'm not sure it is systemically closing down the shops. Admittedly the charges in the town centre are a bit steep, and the minimum period is too long - people might only want to pop to the bank, barber, betting shop, cafe etc. and have to pay for full hour. Maybe this is something the next council can look into. The new on-street parking has certainly started to work in Montpellier, where previously people would park up all day leaving no spaces for the shoppers. One thing I think is wrong is to continue charging for parking up to 8pm. This has badly hit the people who attend voluntary and spiritual organisations, but I guess the borough council didn't want the on-street parking to compete unfairly with their own car parks, which already charge until 8pm. Again, perhaps the next council can look into making both on- and off-street parking free after 6pm. There is little need for visitors' parking after 6pm anyway, and the cost of enforcement must surely outweigh the revenue from a few users, mostly residents, worshippers and volunteers, for these two hours? Just my two penn'orth.

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  • OldGrumbler  |  April 10 2012, 12:21PM

    Before voting I would like to know which party or individuals are responsible for the ridiculous street parking regime in Cheltenham which is systemically closing down the shops due to lack of patronage from would be motorists

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