At this year’s Brighton and Hove Conservative Party AGM Mike Long stood down as Chairman after 7 years distinguished service. He successfully led the merger of the Hove and Portslade and Brighton Pavilion constituencies into one Association. We are now known as Brighton and Hove Conservatives.
I was honoured to be elected as Chairman of the new Association. An excellent team of officers was elected to support me including my deputies Robert Nemeth (Political), Linda Freedman (Fundraising), Sue Ellerton (Events) and Tony Janio (Campaigning).
At the moment the Conservative led Government is taking criticism from all sides but I am convinced we need to hold our nerve at this stage. We really did inherit a wrecked economy from Labour, and David Cameron and George Osborne are taking the difficult (and inevitably unpopular) measures to put the national finances back on a sound footing.
Within the restrictions of coalition, the Government is making reforms in schools which will ensure children from all backgrounds – especially the poorest – have the opportunity of a high quality and disciplined education. Likewise on welfare, Ian Duncan Smith is making the changes necessary to ensure that at last it will always pay to work, ending the welfare trap which has done so much damage to communities across the country. IDS is speaking at an important fund raising dinner at the AMEX on 22 June (see attached events sheet). Do invite friends to any of our social events.
Locally we are implementing the recommendations of the review conducted after losing control of the Council. We are seeing every day the damage that an extreme left wing Green Party is doing as it inflicts an ideological experiment on Brighton and Hove. The Green Party led City Council is actively obstructing new free schools, imposing sky high parking prices, reducing library opening hours and shutting public toilets whilst refusing to take the measures required to make the Council more efficient. We were able to prevent them raising Council tax, but have little doubt that they will try to do the same next year.
They also seem determined to make Brighton and Hove the ‘protest’ capital of the UK. Hardly a weekend goes by without a set of demonstrators (from the extremes on the right and left) marching through our streets. We have even had people occupying our public gardens to protest against the policies of the then Socialist Government in Spain. The Green Party’s welcome to illegal campers has seen access to our open spaces denied to local people, while they press on with plans to build a large static site for mobile homes (costing £1.5million) on the South Downs.
It is 3 years till the next election. It is essential we do everything we can to get Mike Weatherley re-elected as part of a majority Conservative Government, so we are able to implement Conservative policies (e.g. making punishment fit the crime, on Europe, lower taxes, reductions in bureaucracy and red tape).
As important is the need to effectively campaign locally so that we can regain control of the City Council. We cannot rely on the Green Party being unpopular, for Labour will undoubtedly fight us strongly in the wards (Portslade, Hangleton, Wish, etc.) we must regain.
Over the next year our priorities will be to re-establish our delivery networks so we can get our campaign leaflets out, recruit new members and volunteers, select new candidates for the target seats on the Council and raise funds to ensure we balance our books.
Our digital campaigning is being raised to a new level. The local party website Brighton & Hove Conservatives is updated daily, as is Mike’s Mike Weatherley MP . Mike and Geoffrey (Theobald) now send out every week an email detailing all the work being done by our MP and local Councillors. Please let us know if you do not currently receive these messages.
Many of us can also be followed on twitter e.g. @BHConservatives @robert_nemeth @lindi_lmf @mike-weatherley @AdamJLove @ShaunGunner . Shaun (who managed the successful Westbourne campaign) can even give you a quick lesson in how to use twitter if you need it!
One of the most encouraging new developments has been the establishment of a local policy forum (CPF). This is excellently chaired by Peter Lilley and meets every third Monday of the month at 7.30pm in the office. All members are welcome, and are encouraged to bring along anyone else who wants to discuss and contribute to policy development. The CPF will have a key role to play in drawing up our local manifesto, and the plan we will have to implement if (or should I say when) we regain control of the Council. If you want to have your say on what should happen, for example, to the King Alfred, how our schools should be improved, what we should do to care for the elderly population of the City, transport policy, cycle lanes, the local environment, planning policy, how to achieve growth etc. etc. then do come along and join in the debate.
Thank you for taking the trouble to read this.
Chairman, Brighton and Hove Conservatives