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Tories ramp-up city election battle with assault on ‘insane’ Labour policies

Tories ramp-up city election battle with assault on ‘insane’ Labour policies

🕔18.Apr 2016

The Conservative party manifesto for the May 5 Birmingham council elections contains 23 pages of verbal assault launched directly at the city’s ruling Labour group.

That much is to be expected, but it is the language and tone of the attack that is rather surprising.

Labour’s incompetence, it is claimed, has left Birmingham “drowning in a toxic cocktail of rubbish”, while the council’s policy of burning rather than recycling wood is “insane”, and proposals to build new houses on under-utilised parkland is “crazy”.

Birmingham is being “run into the ground” by Labour and the city has become “a laughing stock”.

The document amounts to the most comprehensive policy package produced by the Birmingham Tories in recent years.

When the Conservatives ran the council in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats not so long ago they often didn’t even bother to publish an election manifesto.

Significantly, this time, the Liberal Democrats, don’t rate a single mention.

To be fair, the chances of the Tories regaining control of the council in May are so remote as to be almost impossible. They would have to win every seat they are contesting and Labour would have to lose every seat.

But a far bigger prize looms in 2018 when the council will move to all-out elections, with every seat being contested. The Conservatives think they have a chance of victory then and this year’s manifesto appears to be a sign of a tougher approach under their young leader Robert Alden.

The Conservatives have called their manifesto ‘The City of Aspiration – Building a Better Birmingham’ and say they are determined to turn Birmingham around “after four years of failure by Labour that has seen three independent commissioners and an improvement panel overseeing the council for more than a year”.

There are eight city-wide pledges the Conservatives say they would deliver if they ran the council:

  • Scrap the so-called ‘Garden Tax’, the annual charge to have green waste collected. Charges for bulky waste collection would also be scrapped.
  • The first four hours of parking at all car parks outside of the city centre would be free to help support local high streets and shopping parades.
  • A £100,000 Community Chest fund to be spent on local projects would be given to each ward.
  • A dog and litter warden team would be provided for every local area of Birmingham
  • Plans to make Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) pay the council for administrative costs would be scrapped.
  • Each neighbourhood would get a ‘Pride in Birmingham’ clean-up crew to lead an assault on litter.
  • Plans to build houses on eight acres of parkland a year would be scrapped.
  • The council’s dog cruelty investigation team would be re-introduced.

In addition, people wishing to get on the housing waiting list would have to show they had lived in Birmingham for five years, plans to close local swimming pools would be reversed, some of the European and equalities officers working at the council sacked, the Midland Metro tram system expanded, family-size homes would be built on the wholesale markets site and, finally, people who cannot move or store wheelie bins would not be forced to have one by a “domineering and controlling city council”.

Tory group leader Cllr Robert Alden insisted every pledge in the manifesto has been costed, is deliverable, and would help “deliver the vision of making Birmingham a global city of aspiration”.Cllr Alden, said:

 Our manifesto will deliver our one city vision which provides aspiration, opportunity and security for all residents, no matter where they are born; through the delivery of world class, cost-effective public services for all residents.

Our one city should enable everyone to have the security and comfort of a job and their own home, and help everyone to reach their full potential.

People should view our city as one where no ladder of opportunity is pulled up behind you, and where no glass ceiling can hold you back, a city which helps grow the greatness in every one of us.

Cllr Alden added:

We are asking residents to consider what Birmingham was like four years ago when Labour took control of the City Council. Is Birmingham cleaner now than it was then? Is it safer and is it greener?

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