I am hugely excited about the prospect of leading the city council for the next four years.
I am hugely excited about the prospect of leading the city council for the next four years. By working positively with partners in the community, voluntary, public and private sectors, and with the other councils in the Greater Brighton area, there is a great opportunity to help Brighton and Hove - its residents, businesses and visitors - to achieve their true potential.
I am proud of the fact that we have one of the youngest groups of new council candidates I can remember who are all keen to drive forward our agenda.
Working together nationally in parliament with Simon Kirby, who has been such an excellent hard-working Brighton Kemptown MP, Graham Cox with all his expertise as a former police chief in the city, and Clarence Mitchell, who has huge experience on the national and international stage, I can guarantee that we will provide the positive vision and dynamism needed to take this great city of ours forward over the next 4 years.
To do this we must build upon the economic success that this city has enjoyed in the last few years thanks to government support. Survey after survey has shown that Brighton and Hove is one of the best places in the country to set up a business. Unemployment is at record low levels.
And we will continue to support major projects that will drive further growth in the city and restore our vitally-important seafront, such as the redevelopment of Churchill Square and a new conference centre at Black Rock, New England House, and Preston Barracks. These will all be progressed as a priority.
The Greens quite rightly talk about the £100 million in outside investment that has been brought into the city in the last four years. But the vast majority of this has come from the government or government-funded agencies such as the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and this investment in our city has been possible only because the Conservative government nationally has taken the tough decisions to turn around the country’s ailing economy.
Now is not the time to put the economic recovery and jobs at risk. A Conservative government nationally will take us to the next stage in this recovery, which will enable, for example, the £480 million investment in the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
I firmly believe that it is only the Conservative Party that has the ideas and conviction to reform the city council and turn it into the efficient, modern, common-sense organisation that residents deserve. Our manifesto - which can be downloaded from www.brightonandhoveconservatives.com - sets out our proposals.
Our refuse and recycling operation is a classic example. We want to see Cityclean become employee-owned and led, like John Lewis; we want to see street-sweeping mechanised and co-ordinated with refuse collection; we will tackle fly-tipping, retain weekly refuse collections, and introduce a paid for garden waste recycling service.
And we want to put an end to the city’s unenviable reputation for ripping off the motorist. We will: freeze car parking charges; reduce the cost of residents’, traders’ and business parking permits by 10%; abolish the 15p "pay-by-phone" tax; and have summer parking charges that start in summer, not March.
School performance at secondary level could be so much better in Brighton and Hove and we will have a particular focus on eliminating the scandalous gap in performance between those children from more deprived backgrounds and those from better-off families.
One of the biggest headaches for young families wanting to live in Brighton and Hove is the lack of truly affordable housing. We will put rocket-boosters under the new affordable house building programme on council-owned land that was started under the previous Conservative administration in 2009 and which has faltered over the last few years.
This is our positive vision for the city with which we will restore civic pride and return to a beautiful Brighton and Hove.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald is the leader of the Conservative Group on the outgoing Brighton and Hove City Council; he is a candidate in Patcham.