Greenwich Labour set to break their promise on Council Tax Support

B9491AE6-4EC3-40A8-BFDC-079176C87584It 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.”

Cabinet instead recommending no change

But fast forward a year, and at their Cabinet meeting tonight, Labour councillors are set to make a recommendation to next week’s Full Council meeting that no change is made to Council Tax Support for the coming year. Continue reading Greenwich Labour set to break their promise on Council Tax Support

Greenwich needs a new drive against loneliness

Loneliness heatmapLike 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.

During each of those campaigns – and through my casework and at our weekly surgeries – I have often been struck by how many people I speak to who are either clearly experiencing loneliness, or indeed tell me they are. Continue reading Greenwich needs a new drive against loneliness

Greenwich needs an Opposition – and it seems the voters agree

Our final pitch to voters in the council elections
Our final pitch to voters in the Greenwich Council elections last Thursday

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.

In a borough where Conservative grassroots members are outnumbered by Labour members by more than 10 to 1, this trend-bucking result represents a significant setback for Greenwich Labour – and could contribute to big changes in Greenwich politics in the years ahead. Continue reading Greenwich needs an Opposition – and it seems the voters agree

Our manifesto for a strong Opposition in Greenwich

Manifesto-Twitter-0-MainGraphicToday 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.

Instead, we are asking for residents to support us in these local elections to ensure our borough continues to have a strong Opposition Group at the Town Hall. Continue reading Our manifesto for a strong Opposition in Greenwich

Our proposal to lift 15,000 low income residents out of Council Tax – and why Labour councillors should accept it

Budget Twitter graphicAt last night’s Greenwich Council meeting, Labour councillors voted against a Conservative proposal to increase Council Tax Support for working age residents from 85% to 100% of bills.

The change would effectively lift more than 15,000 Greenwich residents on the lowest incomes out of Council Tax altogether – at a cost of £800,000 a year, which could be paid for by scrapping just some of the £1.6 million of council waste we have identified. Continue reading Our proposal to lift 15,000 low income residents out of Council Tax – and why Labour councillors should accept it

Tonight’s October Greenwich Council meeting – how to watch and what to expect

chamberTonight 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!

Here is a potted guide to tonight’s meeting, and what to expect, from the entirely biased and subjective perspective of the Leader of the Opposition’s seat… Continue reading Tonight’s October Greenwich Council meeting – how to watch and what to expect

A thank you to everyone who backed my campaign

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!


Matt Hartley Boris Johnson and team

Why I need your vote on Thursday

After knocking on more than 17,000 doors across the constituency, my team and I are approaching the final stage of the election campaign.  Here’s why I need your vote on Thursday!

Attending Q&A event with local small business owners

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.

Matt Hartley small business event


Bringing Boris back to Eltham

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.

Boris was a force of nature, and was mobbed for selfies along the way, as ITV London’s video feed shows!

Here’s a few words from us both on why the election result here in Eltham is so crucial – and why I’m asking for your support next Thursday.

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.

Boris Johnson and Matt Hartley visit Mega Bite cafe on Westmount Road