It looks like Greenwich Labour are breaking their promise to improve the level of support given to low income residents with Council Tax bills from this April.
A year ago Greenwich Conservatives put forward a fully costed proposal to lift up to 15,000 low-income residents out of Council Tax altogether, by increasing the support given to qualifying working-age residents in the Council Tax Support scheme to up to 100% of their bills, up from the current 85%.
Labour councillors voted this proposal down – as with most of our good ideas – and tride to claim they were intending to implement the change anyway, promising that it would come into effect in April 2019. I blogged on the dubious basis for this claim at the time here.
Either way, the promise was made. During that budget-setting meeting, then Council Leader Denise Hyland told me:
“The Fairness Commission has made a recommendation for that, and that is for an introduction in April 2019. So it’s already under way with the working party for social mobility – it’s already a recommendation that has been accepted.”
Like other councillors in Greenwich, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year knocking on doors. In fact, I’ve spent most of the seven years I’ve been involved in Greenwich politics doing this, pretty continuously and across the borough, in the course of six election campaigns in that time.
The results of last Thursday’s local election are in, and despite Labour’s plan to win all 51 seats on Greenwich Council this year, we held all nine Conservative seats at the Town Hall – actually winning one more seat than at the last full set of local elections four years ago.
Today Greenwich Conservatives have launched A strong, independent voice for you –our manifesto for the 2018 Greenwich Council elections. Most local election manifestos set out what a political party would do if it took over the running of the council after the election. This one doesn’t do that.
Tonight is the first Full Council meeting at the Town Hall since July – and it seems that Labour and Conservative councillors alike have missed the cut and thrust of the Council Chamber over the summer, with no less than six motions for debate on the agenda.
Followers of Greenwich politics (and there are a few) will know the score when it comes to these motions – some can be useful in airing an issue, some just occasionally manage to get something done, and some are utterly pointless.
There’s a mixture of all three varieties on display tonight!
I would like to say a huge thank you to the 18,832 people who voted for me to serve as Eltham’s Member of Parliament on Thursday – as well as the hundreds of volunteers who worked so tirelessly to help my campaign in this unique General Election.
Together we achieved 40.8% of the vote, the highest vote share for the Conservatives in Eltham in 25 years – but sadly, it was not enough. The full result can be found here.
I would like to congratulate Clive Efford on winning the election, and I wish him all the best as he embarks on his new term as Eltham’s MP.
Over these past seven weeks I have enjoyed meeting thousands of people across the constituency, talking about some of the challenges we face – such as improving our transport links, supporting the High Street and our smaller shopping parades, and crucially, making Brexit the success that we all need it to be. My team and I knocked on more than 17,000 doors in this election, and I am immensely grateful for all the support I received. Regardless of the result, I have had the best few weeks of my life.
As I said in my speech at the Count in the early hours of Friday morning, Conservatives here in Greenwich have been working for 20 years towards returning a Conservative MP again in our borough. It seems we may have to work for a few more years yet – but we will do it.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to continuing to get things done for people in Eltham, and across the borough, as Leader of our brilliant Conservative Group at the Town Hall. As always, we have a lot of work to do!
Last night I attended a Q&A event with around 30 local small business owners, after being invited to come along to answer questions and discuss some of the issues at stake in the election next Thursday.
We had a long and productive discussion on everything from Brexit to the Blackwall Tunnell, and everything in between. We had a useful discussion on the need to support our smaller shopping parades, in particular – something I and my fellow Conservative councillors have focused on in Coldharbour & New Eltham ward.
As with several of the High Street businesses that Boris Johnson and I visited earlier in the week, many business owners present last night told me they were backing my campaign because of the need to get the best possible Brexit deal. Like me, they know that we can only ensure our local economy continues to thrive by getting Brexit right – and the only way we can do that is sending Theresa May back to Number 10.
Yesterday I was delighted to bring the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, back to Eltham, to check up on his £2.8 million investment in our High Street when he was Mayor of London.
We spoke to shoppers and visited local businesses along the High Street – and it was particularly great to hear that so many business owners are supporting me in this election. Like Theresa May, they know that the only way our local economy here can continue to thrive is by getting the right Brexit deal.
It was also great to meet with Ibrahim Oruc, who runs the superb Mega Bite cafe on Westmount Road, to talk about the opportunities that getting Brexit right can bring to our economy – including small businesses like his.