The Conservative Party says it will reduce Nottingham City Council’s debt and work to freeze council tax, if it wins local elections next month.
Launching their manifesto, the party also said it would roll back parts of selective licencing – a controversial scheme for landlords which they say is ‘disproportionate’.
It comes after Labour launched its own manifesto, pledging to restore Nottingham’s status as a great shopping city, set up two new council-owned companies, make Nottingham the cleanest city in the UK, and build 4,000 new homes, alongside 200 other commitments.
Now, the Conservatives have also pledged to make improvements for shoppers, saying they would: “facilitate a massive increase in footfall in all our shopping areas across the city by reviewing traffic restrictions and opening up the city centre, making it more accessible to shoppers and visitors from outside Nottingham City.”
The party said Labour had run a ‘crusade against cars’, with more restrictions and increased parking charges.
They would invest all income generated from the workplace parking levy in highways improvements, introduce free parking after 4pm, and would undertake a full review of the tram network.
The Conservatives would also set up an independent business forum to address what they call a lack of engagement with small enterprise.
On education, the party has pledged to depoliticise schooling, and said the Conservative Government’s reforms meant all children in the city go to a good or outstanding school, despite the council ‘fighting against every positive educational initiative in the last 20 years.’
The party’s manifesto is also highly critical of the council’s approach to finance.
It says: “Under Labour, council tax in Nottingham is the third highest in the country. Since 2010 council tax has increased regardless of whether Conservatives or Labour have been in national government.
“Labour blame reductions in government funding for this. They say that the council has had £125 million cut from its budget since 2015. Yet in this year alone central government has made direct grants available to the city totalling in excess of £180 million and similar grants have been made available in previous years.
“The truth is this Labour council is wedded to increasing council tax seeing the hard working Nottingham public as their bank of first resort. This is why Nottingham has the third highest council tax in the country.”
Launching the manifesto, the leader of the Conservative group Andrew Rule said: “I am proud of our city but I want to take the council in a direction where it genuinely places the people of Nottingham on a level playing field with it, genuinely taking account of them and acting on their local knowledge.
“I want to lead a council that champions and nurtures the fantastic work done by the volunteers in our communities and supports and collaborates with them, rather than rigidly dictates to them what their objectives should be, focussing instead on what is best for the areas they serve.
“A Conservative-controlled council will ensure every area of the city is treated equally according to need ensuring that funding is allocated towards neighbourhood priorities.
“We will spend council tax payers’ money fairly and not pursue political pet projects, at our core remembering that we are here to represent the residents in our wards who expect us to fight for our local areas and the services provided to them.
“Nottingham Labour have controlled this city for nearly thirty years. A former Labour MP in Nottingham recently said, “Labour thinks it owns this city,” – it does not – Nottingham is not a Labour city, the city is made up of tens of thousands of people who have diverse political beliefs.”
Going into the election, the Conservatives have three councillors and Labour have 52.
The elections will be held between 7am and 10pm on Thursday, May 2, with a result expected in the wee hours of Friday morning.