It is 100 days since the Conservatives won the General Election, giving them 5 years of running the country without the shackles of the Lib Dems. The Prime Minister has written an article and I have seen a number of pieces by others, reviewing what has so far been achieved in a relatively short period of time. These are promising times and it is great to see the Conservatives tackling the issues that really matter; cutting benefits, reducing taxes, working to deliver a 7 day NHS and more more.
It is also 100 days since we regained control of Brentwood Council after the previous disastrous 12 months under the Lib Dem leadership.
Locally, our 100 days have been very busy and we have set about delivering on our pre-election pledges, whilst also clearing up the mess that we inherited and moving forward with some key plans for Brentwood. Here’s a summary of some of the main points:
1. We promise to deliver a revised budget – Just one month after the election, we did just that and we have set a budget that not only adds up and is balanced for this year, addressing the huge gap left by the Lib Dem-led Council but one which also invests where it really matters.
2. Local Development Plan – We have set out a clear timeframe for completion of the LDP, that will identify sites for building both developments for housing and employment over the next 15 years. This is the first time that has been done and clearly shows the commitment to get this done.
3. Hutton Community Centre – We have overturned the decision of the former Administration to commence detailed negotiations with a third party based in Chelmsford. We have always said that we believe the Centre should be in the hands of local people, run by them and for them. The formal process for tendering for the lease has been approved and will begin shortly, with a final decision expected in the autumn.
4. Old House – We have overturned the ridiculous plans for the Council to convert the building in to flats, which were going to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and blow even the previous Administration’s own budget for the project! Instead, we have approved the sale of this building that is surplus to requirement for the Council and will be using the money to reinvest in other areas that need funding, such as additional parking facilities in Shenfield to tackle Crossrail parking.
5. Town Hall – We discovered the commissioning of a secret £10k report, which the Lib Dem Leader claims to have known nothing about (if that is the case, then you have to ask why he didn’t know, he was the Leader of the Council after all!) The contents make pretty stark reading and confirm that current plans simply don’t make sense and don’t add up, with an extra £3m needed to fund the refurb. We have therefore, committed to look at an alternative and will be exploring the idea of sharing the building with other public sector bodies; ECC, the Library service, the Police, NHS and Job Centre Plus. Talks have begun and we expect to know more in the Autumn on whether sharing the space is feasible.
6. Warley Training Centre – We have overturned the decision to retain some flats that would seriously have cost the taxpayer in terms of receipt for the site and instead, we are selling it in its entirety for development. This means an increased capital receipt, helping to reduce interest payments on borrowing costs. We have also secured an extra £100k for investment in to community facilities in the Borough.
7. Hallsford Bridge – It has been agreed to sell this land and offers are currently being reviewed. This will put to bed a year long wrangling under the previous Administration who kept deliberating on whether to build houses on the site or not, despite professional advice that it was not suitable.
8.Retention of weekly rubbish collections – we have made clear that these are here to stay.
9. Delivering the Brentwood Apprenticeship Scheme – this has been approved and funding has been made available. The final approval is due to come to committee in September for delivery of the project to start.
10. Protecting 30 minutes free parking – this has indeed been retained. We know how beneficial and popular this is, which is why we introduced the free period back in April 2014.
11. Addressing the issue of the displacement of parked cars from Shenfield to Hutton Poplars – We have succeeded where the previous Administration failed and have negotiated the use of the old Fire Authority site in Rayleigh Road for season ticket holders, whilst the works are taking place. This will ease the impact on local residents and is due to be introduced in October.
12. Introduction of the Street Inspector scheme – Interviews have been held and decisions have been made. The scheme will start in September.
The above is just a sample of some of the key items that we are delivering on. There is much more which is going on which will come forward in due course. I am proud of the way we have hit the ground running and are delivering from day one in office, for the benefit of Brentwood residents.