Geoff Driver, Leader of Lancashire County Council, was the keynote speaker at Ribble Valley Conservatives annual general meeting.
With fresh county council elections looming on May 2nd, he used the occasion to highlight the Conservatives’ four years of success in running the county since deposing Labour in 2009.
He told the Ribble Valley AGM: “The Conservative-controlled Lancashire County Council has frozen the council tax for three years and this year reduced it by a further 2%, putting £100m. in the pockets of Lancashire families to spend in the local economy, amounting to £520 per household.
“We have been able to do this facing the same 30% reduction in central government grants as other councils, without any compulsory redundancies, without closing libraries. We bucked the trend, cutting £215m. from the large management administration budget, which included bringing together the elected councillors who make up the cabinet into one building, ending the plush offices culture we inherited and sharing secretaries. Economies of scale were achieved over a three-year period, we did not try to do it all in one year. We are a not a business, but we are businesslike.”
County Coun. Driver added: “The Conservatives have been accused by our opponents as irresponsible in reducing the council tax, but we have seen the current financial pressures on Lancashire’s people and are doing our part to help. After four years in control we face the electorate with the finances of the County in a much better state than we found them, which includes doubling the county reserve to £40m.”
Going on to outline the authority’s county-wide achievements over the past four years, Coun. Driver also focussed on what had been done locally.
“In the Ribble Valley we have invested in Clitheroe Library, Clitheroe Recycling Centre and £55,000 in the Longridge Youth Centre, one of many throughout the county. Irrespective of what is happening nationally with the Coalition government, the public in Lancashire have to decide who is most suitable to run their local authority, and only Labour or Conservatives can win.
“Do they want the plofligate mismanagement of the past Labour administrations, or a Conservative administration whose record speaks for itself. We cost you less and give you more.”