In a radical new approach to local politics, Conservative candidate for Ladywell Ben Appleby has attempted to address a couple of relevant issues - promising to protect Lewisham libraries from closure.
As Lib Dem supporters have discovered, talk is cheap when you don't expect to achieve power, but nonetheless, it's a refreshing approach. Here's the release:
Ben Appleby, Conservative candidate in the Ladywell by-election, and the Conservative team are committed to retaining and improving libraries and other front line services. However, Labour want to close local libraries instead of taking the radical action needed to cut Town Hall waste. Crofton Park library has been earmarked for closure by Lewisham Mayor, Steve Bullock.
Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, after discussing the issue with Ben, said "I am disgusted that the first thing the Labour mayor plans to do is cut library services. No council should be cutting frontline services until it has cut its bureaucracy. I hope the people of Ladywell will get behind Ben Appleby's campaign and vote to keep libraries open“
These are difficult times for all of us, but Conservatives would have found the necessary savings elsewhere:
Efficient collection of council tax
Slashing the council’s marketing and PR budget
Immediate freeze on hiring new bureaucrats
Forensic audit and full transparency on spending
Freeze Mayor’s salary and Councillor allowances
Review all external training, junkets & expenses
Sell assets to repay debt and cut interest bills
Employ quality permanent staff directly
Lewisham Deptford Conservatives’ chairman Michael Rutherford said: “I am disgusted by the Labour mayor’s apparent prioritisation of his town hall empire at the expense of vital local services. I fully support Ben Appleby’s campaign to save the library which is well used by people for miles around.
“To support the 25% cuts to the council budget, Labour want to close 45% of Lewisham’s libraries. This means Mr. Bullock aims to make the council even more inefficient. We have proposed a package of savings that would not only save Crofton Park library, but also the four other threatened libraries.”