June 4 elections: Cameron urges Council Tax cut
Lots of coverage from the local election campaign launch yesterday with David Cameron in Tynemouth. The Times speculates on what the results may be. They suggest Labour may be without a single county council for the first time since 1977. Of the four they hold at present Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire are more vulnerable than Derbyshire which would require a 12% swing. But they point out that the last time the County Council elections took place, coinciding with the 2005 General Election, Labour were on 36% to the Conservatives 33%. While at last year's local elections the Conservatives were on 43% to Labour's 24%. The paper also suggest the Lib Dems could lose "one or two" out of their three Councils - Somerset, Devon and Cornwall - but they don't say which two.
Several reports, including The Daily Telegraph, note that while praising Conservative Councils, Cameron also urged them to try harder to reduce the Council Tax. The full speech is here. In it Cameron says:
In the weeks to come, as I travel up and down the country, meeting our candidates and talking to Conservative groups on local councils, my message will be simple:
Whether you're re-elected or new to the job, if you win next June, go through the books, page by page, line by line, see what savings you can make, and do everything you can to get council tax down and help people in Labour's Debt Crisis.
But as well doing everything we can to get council tax down today, we're going to do everything we can to keep it down in the future. That's why the next Conservative Government will freeze council tax for two years by cutting the government advertising budget.
We will give local people the power to stop massive council tax rises with referendums.
We will scrap all those regulations, inspections and red tape which do so much to force councils to increase taxes.
And with our 'Right to Know' plan, we will make sure every item of local spending is published online. There'll be no hiding place for wasteful spending. It will be out there in the open for residents to see and councils to be judged. And it's a vital part of changing the culture of local government so it asks for less from the wallets of families and individuals.