CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council is currently controlled by the Conservatives with a clear 15-seat majority but, with every one of the 69 seats being contested on Thursday June 4, that could change next week. The present council is made up of 42 Conservative
CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council is currently controlled by the Conservatives with a clear 15-seat majority but, with every one of the 69 seats being contested on Thursday June 4, that could change next week.
The present council is made up of 42 Conservative councillors, 23 Liberal Democrat members and four Labour councillors.
The election will inevitably be influenced by voters' attitudes towards the MPs' expenses row and the way the parties have reacted to the series of revelations over the past few weeks.
To help electors make up their minds about who to support at county level, The Hunts Post put a selection of readers' questions affecting Huntingdonshire to the four parties fielding multiple candidates.
These are the responses from UKIP.
1. How do you propose to keep Council Tax levels below the increase in the Retail Prices Index (the rate of inflation used for pensions indexing) after the inflationary cycle resumes?
UKIP believes in heavily reducing the tax burden to Cambridgeshire residents.
We want a major audit of council expenses to see where taxpayers' money can be saved on unnecessary things such as employing people to carry out politically correct functions, of which there are many examples in local government.
Our party, in Government, would also take Britain out of the European Union and save £40million a day in membership fees. Much of this money could be ploughed back into local government and UK infrastructure where it can be used to help people in Britain, rather than in Eastern European countries.
Our tax policy is to introduce a simple flat tax with no tax or National Insurance payment for people earning below £10,000.
Leaving the European Union will also remove costs through removing up to 120,000 EU regulations and directives.
2. More public investment goes into Cambridge city than anywhere else in the county. How will you redress that balance equitably?
UKIP councillors will seek a balanced budget in which money is spent where it is most needed. UKIP is passionate about giving decision making back to local communities through making decisions more directly accountable, such as through the use of referenda on all major projects.
3. What would you do to improve tourism outside of the city of Cambridge?
Cambridgeshire has fantastic businesses in the tourism and leisure sector which, like other sectors, are bogged down with legislation. UKIP believes in supporting true entrepreneurism by reducing bureaucracy at every level.
4. Would you support a package of Government funded transport investment, as envisaged by the Transport Innovation Fund, that includes roundly £500million for public transport and other transport improvements along with a congestion charge in the morning peak in Cambridge city?
UKIP opposes local congestion charges. We need local people to make such decisions for themselves and hand more control of taxes and rates back to local councils. We support quality public transport, but not the restricted set of options enforced in this package by national government.
5. Will you support proposals for a "regional-scale settlement", initially of 20,000 homes, based on Huntingdon and Alconbury, as put forward in the review of the Regional Spatial Strategy?
UKIP is opposed to this. Unelected Regional bodies like EEDA (East of England Development Agency) and EERA (East of England Regional Assembly), who create 'regional spatial strategies' are unaccountable and undemocratic. They report to the EU - not to local people. We will scrap these bodies and return planning decisions to county and district authorities and to the local people.
6. What are your plans to stimulate Cambridgeshire's economy and create new jobs, and what support would you make available to people at risk of losing their homes because of the credit squeeze?
Leaving the EU would help given the huge amount of red tape it dumps upon businesses. UKIP will liberate the local economy from the 120,000 EU regulations and directives that destroy jobs and hold businesses back.
We will also make it more worthwhile for people to work by removing all income tax below £10,000. Lowering tax, including income tax, Council Tax and business rates is vital. Highly taxed economies cannot generate sufficient growth.
We will encourage lenders to take a long term view over people in difficulties due to the credit crunch. The Government is currently trying to introduce a scheme to help people struggling with mortgage interest payments. This has been held up for five months awaiting permission from the EU to introduce it. These initiatives are to be welcomed but we should not have to beg for permission from Brussels.
7. How would you get St Neots Community College out of "special measures" as quickly as possible to restore to the 1,000 students a reasonable prospect of achieving their educational potential?
In 'special measures cases' such as this one UKIP believes in franchising out schools and their assets to successful non-profit school trusts that can step in and manage a school quickly and raise standards fast.
8. Would you increase the highways maintenance budget sufficiently to rectify the winter frost damage to the county's roads?
Yes. The people of Cambridgeshire are being let down if the council cannot even manage to maintain our road infrastructure. The vast amounts of money being wasted on EU membership and wasteful regional government means that councils end up being strapped for cash as their grants from the Government get squeezed. Good road maintenance is essential and is cheaper in the long term than leaving roads to deteriorate and then carrying out major repairs later.
9. Will you invest more cash in recycling, including a renegotiation of the contract with the operators of the Buckden recycling centre to provide weekend public access?
Freed from penalising EU landfill fines (now set to rise to £48 per ton) we can invest more in genuine recycling.
UKIP supports recycling but there is no point collecting recyclable material if it simply ends up being stored in warehouses or shipped abroad for landfill at public expense, which is a travesty. When elected in June, UKIP councillors will conduct an audit to establish how much of the 'recyclable waste' collected in Cambridgeshire is genuinely recycled and will publish the results.