Coventry Conservatives have unveiled five key pledges ahead of this year’s local elections. Their ‘Plan for Coventry’ sets out how they’ll keep council tax down, improve services, make the city greener, provide help with the cost of living and improve transparency at the City Council. They’ve based the pledges on the feedback they’ve had from residents. And they believe people in the city are ready for change at this year’s elections on Thursday 4th May.
During Labour’s time in power, council tax has rocketed by more than 40%, while taxpayer’s money has been squandered on risky investments and bailouts for failing organisations. Despite hoarding vast reserves of more than £200m, the money used to finance these schemes is usually borrowed. And the city’s debt currently stands at more than £300m, costing £17m to service in interest payments, which adds around 10% to council tax every year. Conservatives would focus on reducing these debts instead, which would result in lower interest payments freeing up funding for services.
They have other ideas for generating extra cash too, including the introduction of a ‘Community Infrastructure levy’ to be paid by developers in the city. Taken together with savings already identified in the group’s ‘alternative budget’ these resources would enable a Conservative administration to keep council tax down and direct resources towards front line services.
They would use some of these savings to invest in highways, road safety and tackling graffiti. And they would also look at innovative ways of maintaining roads, such as through sponsorship opportunities. Other measures to improve services include making the city’s tip more accessible, reviewing access to sporting facilities and providing group activities for older people to tackle loneliness and improve fitness and wellbeing. They’ve also promised to work with partners to improve bereavement services for faith communities in the city.
As part of their pledge to make the city greener, the Conservatives have unveiled a range of ambitious policies. They’d introduce a dedicated Cabinet Member for Climate Change and declare a climate emergency. They would consult the public on the introduction of a plastic-bottle recycling scheme and halt plans to sell council land at Coundon Wedge for development.
They also plan to make Coventry a ‘bee-friendly city’ by rewilding and planting more blossom trees in the city centre. Conservatives would encourage children to take an interest in the environment through improved education programmes and a free packet of wildflower seeds.
There are a range of measures to help residents facing the cost of living too. Such as free late-night parking in the city centre and a review of school bus charges. They would also block a workplace parking levy dubbed a ‘commuters’ tax’.
During the last year, Labour has faced criticism for a lack of transparency. Conservatives point to a meeting of Full Council in December where the Leader of the Council refused to provide details of secret talks held with Wasps RFC about a taxpayer funded bail out. In the same meeting, the Labour Lord Mayor acted against legal advice to block a debate on the subject.
A few months earlier, they tried to lend Tom White Waste more than £20m in secret, but the figures were leaked. Coventry Conservatives believe people are sick and tired of this approach and have promised to bring in a new age of transparency by taking more decisions in public.
Other notable pledges include:
- Plans to increase litter fines to £150, the maximum allowed by law
- Plans to honour the legacy of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
- Finding a permanent home for the Coventry Police Museum
- Seeking a city-wide injunction to disperse illegal traveller encampments
- Reduce the cost of the councillors’ wage bill
Commenting on the launch of the Plan for Coventry, Cllr Gary Ridley the Leader of the Conservative Group at the Council said: “Labour’s legacy in power is higher taxes, more debt and poorer services. They’ve squandered millions on failed schemes like Coombe Abbey Hotel and loans to the hopeless City of Culture Trust. This can and must change. Under our leadership we will improve services, keep council tax down, protect the greenbelt and provide help with the cost of living. We will not take one penny more from taxpayers than is needed and we will restore transparency by taking more decisions in public. We will put the people of Coventry first and restore this once great city.”
The Conservatives are fielding candidates in all 18 wards across the city making them the only serious alternative to Labour on Thursday 4th May.
Residents can find out more about candidates in their ward by visiting: https://www.coventry.gov.uk/elections-voting/coventry-city-council-elections-4-may-2023/5