Huntingdonshire's Conservatives

MORE of the same is the promise from Huntingdonshire s Conservatives if their candidates are elected on May 1. The outcome cannot remove the Tories 34-year dominance of Huntingdonshire District Council, offering little immediate incentive for electors to

MORE of the same is the promise from Huntingdonshire's Conservatives if their candidates are elected on May 1.

The outcome cannot remove the Tories' 34-year dominance of Huntingdonshire District Council, offering little immediate incentive for electors to cast their ballots.

But voters will still have the opportunity to express their support for sitting councillors in 14 of the 18 wards being contested or to try to remove them.

There are currently 39 Conservative councillors, 11 Liberal Democrats and two Independent members so, even if the Tories lost every seat they are contesting, they would comfortably retain control of the authority.


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Life becomes more interesting for electors - and Council Tax payers - in 2012, when HDC moves to an all-out-all-in system of voting every four years, replacing the current system where one-third of the seats are contested in each of three years of the four-year electoral cycle. County council elections take place in the fourth year.

The change will mean that, unless there are simultaneous General or European Elections, voters will be engaged in two of the four years, instead of all four.

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For 2008, however, the Conservative campaign will offer more of the-mixture-as-before, they said on Monday at their campaign launch.

HDC leader, Councillor Ian Bates, pointed out that Huntingdonshire has the 18th lowest district council precept (£110 for the benchmark Band D) of the 238 English district authorities. The average is £155 a year and the highest £290.

He acknowledged that, at least in terms of spending plans - though they disagree on how the money should be raised in the first place - there was little gulf between his party's policies and those of the Liberal Democrat opposition. But he refused to entertain the notion of sharing power.

"I can see no reason to do so, but it would be nice if some of the things we are doing were given due consideration, rather than everything being opposed and knocked," Cllr Bates said.

(This is actually a little unfair. The Lib Dems often acquiesce with the Conservatives' policy decisions, and sometimes actively welcome them.)

The Tories will also invite electors to back their achievements on the environment, recycling, leisure, affordable housing, the "growth agenda", community safety, market towns, and campaigns to protect services such as Hinchingbrooke Hospital and post offices.

Cllr Bates said the Tories would continue to lobby central government on upgrading the A428 between Caxton Gibbet and Black Cat and to pay up the grant it withheld every year to prop up inefficient councils in northern England.

TORY HOPEFULS: Some of the Conservative candidates hoping to be - or still be - members of HDC next month are pictured at their campaign launch on Monday morning: left to right, Jason Ablewhite (standing in St Ives East), Keith Stukins (Brampton), Julie Dew (St Ives West), Steve Criswell (Somersham), Jill Watkin-Tavener (Warboys and Bury), Alan Barber (Buckden), John Davies (St Ives South), Peter Godley (Godmanchester) and Ian Bates (The Hemingfords).

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