Local Government Financing

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 7:42 pm on 29th June 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Conservative, North West Leicestershire 7:42 pm, 29th June 2010

I think we needed to have a shake-up of the Conservative party in North West Leicestershire, which came in 2007. When the people of my constituency make their minds up, they make their minds up, and we had the biggest swing against Labour in those elections, as I pointed out.

Even in the year when it was thrown out of office, the Labour council increased council tax by 4.1%, and its performance was rated as weak and some way behind that of comparable councils. Three years later, the situation is somewhat better. The council is now rated adequate and is improving year on year. This has not been achieved by the Labour methods of tax and spend. As Winston Churchill said, for any society to believe that it can tax itself to prosperity is as ridiculous as a man standing in a bucket and believing he can lift himself up by pulling on the handle. The Conservative-controlled district council has introduced below-inflation increases of 2% in 2008 and 2009, and this year has introduced the sort of increase that Mr Brown would doubtless describe as "a 0% increase". Much to the relief of local residents, the council is improving services through prudent financial management and by trimming away the fat of previous administrations.

The east midlands and Leicestershire have fared little better under Labour on other essential public services. On policing, based on the 2009-10 budget and the 2008-09 crime survey, the east midlands region has the lowest grant relative to the number of crimes in the whole of the UK. The east midlands receives just £1,330 in grant for every crime whereas the north-east region receives an extra £800 per crime to deal with the offences in its region. Let us consider what happens with other essential services. The combined fire service of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland is the lowest funded per capita of any shire county fire service in England. Those and many other inequalities must be borne in mind when funding decisions are made.

I must reiterate that the fat, bloated local authorities are the ones that need to put their house in order when it comes to the inevitable cuts, which must be made this year, next year and for several years to come because of the awful financial legacy of the Labour Government. In conclusion, all I ask on local government financing is for a fair settlement for the east midlands, for Leicestershire and for my constituency of North West Leicestershire.

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