Monmouth Assembly Member Nick Ramsay sets out the case for a Conservative vote at the local government elections on May 4th.
As we head into the final few days of the 2017 local elections, UK polls are consistently showing a double-digit Conservative lead over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. While polls have been wrong before, the trend is undeniably consistent. While I feel much of the polling evidence echoes what I, and others, are hearing on the doorstep, I fear that some Conservative voters could become complacent and think that perhaps there is some inevitability in the result – there is not.
It is too easy to think a collapse in the Labour Party’s support, will automatically result in Conservative gains. In this local election, Welsh Conservatives must go out and make the case and fight for every vote. We can do this, not by making promises to a sceptical public, but by pointing to what Conservatives in local government have delivered.
The only Conservative-led Council in Wales, Monmouthshire, sets a high bar in protecting quality public services, delivering value for money and investing in the county’s future. Conservative-run Monmouthshire was the first council in Wales to deliver the foundation living wage for some of its poorest paid workers. Monmouthshire is delivering major investment in new school buildings, both primary and secondary and has acted to secure valued local services like libraries. Several of these were protected by making them into community hubs – a one-stop shop for council services. Monmouthshire has also tried to support families by keeping council tax low and opposing demands for further increases by Labour and Independent councils.
Conservative-run councils are more efficient, more effective and deliver better value for money for hard-pressed taxpayers. Monmouthshire County Council has a proud record of delivering more for less. For instance, Monmouthshire has one of the highest recycling rates in Wales, yet has the lowest cost per tonne of recycling.
Candidates across my constituency are knocking doors with a message about the Conservative plan for Monmouthshire – six key pledges to deliver a Monmouthshire that works for everyone – pledging further investment in school buildings, continuing to work with other councils to exploit the potential of the Cardiff Capital Region’s City Deal and supporting older people.
While candidates are taking these messages and others to doorsteps across Wales, it is apparent that the forthcoming general election will dominate the news agenda and will inevitably affect the narrative in this campaign. While I recognise why Theresa May had to call a general election, I do hope that important messages from local candidates about delivering for their community cuts through to the public consciousness. Turnout in local elections can be poor, but everyone in a political party has a responsibility to engage with voters and encourage them to make their voice heard.
A local election against the backdrop of an impending general election makes for a fascinating contest for control of many councils across Wales. Theresa May has set out a plan for Britain, delivering the result of the referendum and fighting for the best possible deal from Brussels. The forthcoming general election will also give voters the chance to endorse the Prime Minister and back her approach and the prospect of two election campaigns overlapping makes the likely outcome of the local elections quite unpredictable and I’m sure we will see some unexpected and quite surprising results.
As I knock doors in Monmouthshire and in other parts of Wales, I am getting some residents who want to discuss the implications of Brexit, but many others are fully engaged in the debate about what councils can do to secure a community that works for everyone.
I have a clear message for voters in this election. If you want a party that believes in keeping council tax low, believes in protecting valuable local services in our communities and delivering major investment in schools and our economy, you should vote for the Welsh Conservatives.