Now to more positive news. Naturally, I would like to welcome the new government as it starts work on its programme of change. The coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, with the Conservatives as the larger party, mirrors the progressive partnership we’ve had in Birmingham for the past six years. We’ve demonstrated locally that such an arrangement can be stable, successful and can be made to work for everyone’s benefit.
I thought it would be useful to pick out a few key policies that are particularly relevant to Quinton.
1. Council Tax will be frozen for at least one year, possibly longer. It won’t be difficult for us to meet this challenge locally as we’ve only had below-inflation rises since the current partnership entered office. The Council will also publish details of all spending above £500.
2. The local Council will be given new powers to make it much harder for people to build by ‘garden grabbing’. Unfortunately, we’ve seen quite a lot of this in Quinton and the Council has been powerless to act until now.
3. The local Police will be made more accountable and responsive to local needs through oversight by a directly elected person.
4. We will give the Council and the local Police powers to permanently close places that persistently sell alcohol to youngsters, and double the maximum fine for doing so. We will also ban the irresponsible sale of alcohol as a ‘loss leader’; that is, below cost price.
5. Communities, charities, parents and teachers will be able to set up their own local schools.
I look forward to working with the new government as it puts these policies into action.