Election: The Cheltenham Conservatives release their manifesto
CREATING financial stability at the Municipal Offices, protecting the beauty of the town and creating new jobs – those are the three priorities for the Conservative opposition hoping to take control of Cheltenham Borough Council at the election.
The Tories have 12 councillors and need to make a gain of nine seats at the election to hold a majority.
Group leader Councillor Duncan Smith said: "A Conservative council will move quickly to create a budget that works.
"We need to undertake some significant pruning of costs to re-balance the budget.
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"If we do not, Cheltenham will be bankrupt by the end of the decade.
"This is the stark reality of Cheltenham in 2012."
He blamed the Liberal Democrats' spending plans for creating a £2 million hole over the next five years, a gap which the executive said would be filled by finding further savings through measures including back office link-ups with other councils.
Mr Smith described the Lib Dem approach as like a householder "paying a mortgage with Post Office savings".
He added: "We should not forget what makes our town great and the council is currently failing to take a lead.
"That means taking pride in the town by bringing back regular street cleaning in the residential areas, improving verge cutting, more tree planting and investing in key town gateways.
"Conservatives will change council priorities to focus on these key services and cut back on the non-essential spending."
He said that a Conservative administration would ditch the £36-per-year garden waste brown bin charges and introduce a free fortnightly collection instead.
He also accused the Liberal Democrats of being behind plans to build thousands of homes on the edge of the town.
Tories would also pledge to buy more goods and services from local companies, introduce free town centre car parking after 6pm and on the first Sunday of each month to boost trade, as well as "following-up" the recommendations of the much-publicised Mary Portas review.
Mr Smith added: "The Conservative candidates at the council elections will bring a wide range of business and professional experience to the role of councillor and will make a major impact on the way the council works.
"We never forget that it is the residents' money that the council spends and we will make sure that it is spent wisely and efficiently."
â For the People Against Bureaucracy's election manifesto, see tomorrow's Echo.