And so we have jumped through the digital hoops required to access the Colchester Conservative manifesto for the CBC local elections in May.
Colchester Conservatives launch their Manifesto for Colchester's Future – download it here: https://t.co/UdpVbdxrVi
— Colchester Tories (@ColTories) March 30, 2016
It required handing over an email address for verification. We hope that they aren’t going to harvest our info for some Tory HQ central database. That’s the last thing that we need right now…
But hey – at least the Colchester Conservatives have a manifesto ahead of the local elections that are taking place in 35 days time.
What say you, LibDem luvvies and the Comrades of the Colchester Labour party?
— Tim Young (@Tim4Labour) March 31, 2016
It’s all very well getting in that SEXY selfie of the candidate nominations being delivered, but what are we actually voting for?
The Tory manifesto hits the first punch with the first sentence:
“With an expanding population, unrivalled heritage and strategic business location, Colchester should be thriving.”
Take away the should, and you pretty much get the localgov buzzword bingo that is played out at every bloody Cabinet meeting.
Should be thriving.
SHOULD be thriving.
Is Sunny Colch thriving?
The electorate will decide on May 5th…
Key to the Conservative manifesto is:
“Restoring intelligent and imaginative leadership to our Town Hall.”
Yes, yes – but leaders have to make some tough decisions, especially so when it comes to the local workforce…
Enterprise is everything for the local Tories. The verdict on the past eight years of the LibLabIndie coalition isn’t exactly flattering:
“It strangles enterprise and job creation with red tape and expands its bloated bureaucracy at the expense of private sector job creation.”
Which is a little harsh on the [much delayed] Creative Business Centre along Queen Street.
Falling tourist numbers, stalled town centre development and yep, Tollgate are all referenced.
Town centre development does take place – just look at Willie Gee, private led, natch.
And then look at Tollgate and how this whole farce was tied up with the corporate muscle of Willie Gee putting a gun to the head of the LibLabIndie lot.
The Conservative case is strengthened when you look in vain for Vineyard Gate and the Cultural Quarter. This all out election would be a done deal if either of these promised schemes were actually in place by now.
“This May is the last opportunity residents will have until 2018 to end this embarrassing period in our town’s history.”
Steady the buffers.
No one likes shitting on your own doorstep.
And so that is the diagnosis, what of the cure? [probably best not to use a medical metaphor when talking about the Tories…]
“Stimulate, create and boost” seem to be the buzzwords.
We are warming to the Nu SEXY Tories.
And then we come to the means in which will all of this will be achieved: The Conservative Commissioning Council.
“We will move to a commissioning model of providing major services where third party providers can provide them more effectively and economically – subject to strict performance targets and financial claw-back clauses if those targets are not met.”
And this pretty much comes down to what the choice is for the electorate in May: A Coalition of Careerists and a more paternalistic public sector, or a market driven Conservative Council that is keen to get value for money out of the private sector.
And this commercial model will be fed down, right to the bottom rung of the Sunny Colch political food chain:
“We will encourage town councils, parish councils and other groups to bid to provide better services in their own areas if they can do better than the Colchester Borough Council.”
Which may – or may not – get the seal of approval from some folk over in the People’s Republic of Wivenhoe…
A series of pledges then follow. We don’t think that the local Tories have the funds for an Ed Stone style monument to be propped up in Castle Park.
But the promises include improve shopping and tourism in the town, making Vineyard Gate happen – and good luck with that one, £50k for a Town Centre Manager, helping start ups fill empty shop units and surprisingly closing the High Street to traffic on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Car parking will also be free in the town at these times.
Anti-social behaviour is also a strong theme. The powers of any local authority in containing this are limited. You can’t legislate for idiots.
A ‘Nipper bus’ will operate between the two train stations and the bus station (that’s not really a bus station). This will be a popular move for residents that struggle with mobility.
Grand claims are made about revising the Local Plan to put a hold on the continued housing growth.
We wonder what that nice Mr Cameron would have to say about this?
Meanwhile wheelie bins look like heading for a referendum.
A nice political dig is elbowed in with the referencing of Abbots, Abbeygate and Joyce Brooks House.
Heritage is another key theme. Fans of LED lighting will be pleased. We quite liked the promise of licensed street entertainers as well.
A big BLIMEY moment is the reduction of Cabinet members from eight to six. The LibDems could just get rid of their two Nu Labour Comrades and the pledge would be matched.
‘Forensics’ are mentioned when it comes to finance. It seems that the Conservatives are expecting something of a botch up to be found in the budget books, should they get their hands on them come the morning of May 6th.
Why this information isn’t already out there is beyond us. Leisure World would certainly be a good place to start sniffing around.
And then we come to the cost – never the strong point of The Chronic.
This didn’t stop Cllr Tim Young wading in late last night.
Appears to be a £850k black hole in local Tory spending plans. Obviously copying their parliamentary colleagues. #toriescantbetrusted
— Tim Young (@Tim4Labour) March 30, 2016
Basically £850,000 of savings need to be found. We hope that these won’t be achieved by the ‘streamlining’ required to become a Commissioning Council.
A decision on increasing Council Tax won’t be made until the financial ‘forensics’ have been completed – which will of course be after the election.
Which is convenient…
Overall the Tory manifesto is accessible, if not always agreeable. It is easy to read, something that we often struggle with in some of the localgov talk spouted out by the LibLabIndie lot.
Will the electorate be won over?
We’d need to see what else is on offer.
In the absence of any LibDem, Labour or Highwoods manifestos at the moment, the electorate can’t make the comparison.