Oxfordshire County Council

CONSERVATIVE GROUP

County Hall, Oxford  OX1 1ND

 

 

 

Response to Liberal Election Manifesto

 

LOOK HERE - Is this the worst election leaflet ever?

To borrow and modify Benjamin Disraeli’s aphorism ”There are lies, damned lies and statistics”, it rather looks as if there are ”lies, damned lies and Liberal manifestos”!  This publication is a long and wholly un-costed wish list of nice, woolly Liberal platitudes, sprinkled with a selection of statements that are very far from the truth.  If this wish list were translated into budgetary provision, it would add significantly to the Council Tax burden of every taxpayer in the county.  Below are some specific comments to correct the untruths.

   The Liberals have said:

“We will increase the support for children, young people and families at risk and in need”

The truth:

v    In the County Council budget debate on 10th February 2009, the Liberal budget cut out the Conservatives’ funding for additional social workers of £160,000 in 2009/10 rising to £320,000 for 2010/11 onwards. 

The Liberals have said:

“We will work with schools to provide better choices for the 14-19 age group.”

    The truth:

v    The Liberals are a little late!  Conservatives have:

Ø    Eliminated the anomaly that had existed in Oxfordshire throughout the old hung council and introduced post-16 education at all of our special schools;

Ø    Worked with our schools to developed Diplomas in line with government policy.

Ø    Provided for a new sixth form to meet parental wishes at Cooper School, Bicester

Ø    Supported development of a Learning Park – an innovative new approach to modern vocational learning – at Milton Park, Didcot.

The Liberals have said:

“We will improve educational attainment in schools”

The truth:

v    The frank and unvarnished truth is that the Liberals showed little interest in school attainment throughout the years of the hung council.  They were very much part of the complacency that gripped Oxfordshire for so long.

v    Abingdon secondary schools have not had a good record on attainment although there is some improvement with the arrival of a new head at John Mason.  Interestingly, Ofsted criticised the Governors here for not challenging low attainment and, subsequently, the Chairman of governors (Councillor Tony de Vere, Liberal Leader of the Vale of White Horse DC), resigned!

v    A*-C grades have improved significantly, moving our ranking against all local authorities from 110th (when we took office) to 53rd and, in relation to the (“family”) group of shire counties from 25th to 16th.

The Liberals have said:

 “We will provide more apprenticeships in the County Council to help young people starting work”.

The truth:

v    In the County Council budget debate on 10th February 2009, the Liberal proposed budget cut out the Conservatives’ funding for apprentices of £200,000 in 2009/10 and again in 2010/11.  Thankfully, the Liberal budget was defeated.

The Liberals have said:

 “Conservatives spend money on a new spin doctor instead of funding crucial services”

The truth:

v    Oxfordshire County Council is spending less per head on communications than the Liberals in the Vale of White Horse District Council.   1% for the County council compared with 2.6% for the Vale of White Horse.  Liberal-run Liverpool spends £7.5 million pa on communications.

v    The County Council appointment is paid for out of existing funds: no new spend is required.

v    A specific part of the Head of Communications role is to rationalise the number of publications produced by the county council to reduce the quantity of paper received by parish and town councils and others and to secure a budget saving,

The Liberals have said:

“Conservatives voted against increase in elderly care”

The truth:

v    Conservatives have included £35m of NEW MONEY in their budget over the next four years to be invested in improving services for the elderly. 

The Liberals have said:

“Conservatives didn’t support proposals for increased Youth Funding”

The truth:

v    Conservatives increased core funding for the Youth Service by £150,000 per annum – this is the first increase the Youth Service has seen in a decade.

v    Conservatives have invested £600,000 in Youth Services through Chill Out Fund over the last four years.

v    Conservatives have introduced evening and weekend opening of youth clubs – when young people most want them – with £150,000 extra in the budget.

The Liberals have said:

“We’ll slash student Debt”

The Truth:

v    This is a Central Government issue and completely out of the control of the County Council.

           The Liberals have said:

“Many parents will not get their first preference schools”

The Truth:

v    Oxfordshire is one of the best performing authorities in the country for parents achieving their first choice school for their children.

   The Liberals have said:

“Transform Oxford would split the City in two”

 

The truth:

v    This is pure political spin. Ignore it!  The County's plan for Oxford City Centre will create a new, exciting space to be enjoyed by all citizens of Oxford –

Ø  better access

Ø  better shopping

Ø  better facilities

          a thriving centre serving the needs of residents, visitors, and all who work in it.

v    In a recent Oxford Times on-line poll, 91% of those responding supported Conservative plans to Transform Oxford.

   The Liberals have said:

“Liberals would increase funding in highway maintenance.”

The Truth:

v    The Liberals would fund this by re-imposition of on-street parking charges in Oxford City on Sunday and evenings - something which they do not mention in their Manifesto.

The Liberals have said:

“We will reintroduce a budget for weed control, preventing further costly damage to our roads and pavements”

The Truth:

v    Look at the Conservative budget for 2009/10.  It contains a provision for £375,000 per annum for street scene management.  Wake up Liberals!  We have already made provision for weed control.

The Liberals have said:

“We would not have imposed controlled (residents’) parking zones (CPZs) without the support of the local community.  We will review them.”

The truth:

v    This is pure Liberal hypocrisy.  The CPZs were introduced during the last hung council (2001-2005) and the Liberals supported them.

v    Residents have been crying out for CPZs to help with congested streets.  Their objection is to paying a modest charge for enforcement.

v    If the Liberals were to review the CPZ charges and remove them, they would need budgetary provision for meeting the cost of enforcement without charges.  They made no budgetary provision in their draft Budget to the February Council.  Their promise of a “review” is shallow political opportunism.

The Liberals have said:

“We are concerned about the 1,500 home Abingdon development”

The truth:

v    It is the Liberal-controlled Vale of White Horse District Council that will decide on this development. This is not a County Council issue.

The Liberals have said:

“The Conservatives have rejected the measure to put sprinklers into some new school buildings”

 

The truth:

v    The County Council has specifically intervened in the design of the new Academy replacing Peers School where the government specification for the building would have excluded sprinklers and insisted they are provided.

v    Risk assessments are undertaken and the policy is, when there is extensive renovation and new build in a vulnerable area and the risk assessment supports their provision, sprinklers will be fitted - and they are!  (The risk assessments are undertaken by the Fire Service!).

 

Dated:             6 May 2009