Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 16:07 UK

Tory councils 'offer best value'

David Cameron
Mr Cameron adapted the slogan to include "and save money"

Conservative leader David Cameron has urged people to "vote blue, go green - and save money" at the launch of his English local election campaign.

He said Conservative councils kept council tax down and offered the best value for money.

And being green was "not just about the stratosphere" but about making the local environment a priority by cutting graffiti, flytipping and crime.

The Green Party accused him of taking credit for their councillors' actions.

The launch in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, comes ahead of the 1 May elections.

Mr Cameron said his party now controlled more councils in England than Labour and the Lib Dems combined.

Fighting crime

But he refused to be drawn on whether winning fewer than 100 extra seats would be a poor performance.

"I want us to gain seats and I want us to gain councils, and I am hopeful that we can do that," he said.

"But I don't make predictions."

The elections, on 1 May, are for the London Assembly and mayor, 137 English local authorities, and 22 unitary authorities in Wales.

Wasting public money is a slap in the face to people who live on tight budgets
David Cameron

Launching the campaign, Mr Cameron said green issues were "not just about the stratosphere, it's about the street corner" and Conservative councils made improving the local environment a priority.

He said Conservative-controlled councils had lower levels of graffiti, flyposting and flytipping and were "totally committed" to fighting crime and anti-social behaviour.

Looking after local green spaces was important to improving people's quality of life and making streets safer, he said.

'Hard-pressed taxpayer'

Conservatives were "on the side of the hard-pressed taxpayers," he said.

"Conservative councils offer better value for money, on average Conservative councils levy lower council tax than their Labour or Liberal Democrat counterparts. This really matters at a time, like now, of economic difficulty.

Tory authorities have a track record of cutting local services on which vulnerable people depend
Hazel Blears
Communities Secretary

"As people see their cost of living go up ... they want a council that keeps their costs down.

"There's nothing more depressing than paying a whacking great cheque to the council and then watch it being squandered on pointless schemes and vanity projects driven by councillors on an ego trip."

"Wasting public money is a slap in the face to people who live on tight budgets because council tax can swallow a significant part of their disposable income."

'No excuse'

The party, which controls the local council in Dewsbury, is hoping to make a breakthrough in northern English cities on 1 May.

Labour's local elections co-ordinator Hazel Blears said: "The reality is that it is Labour in local government that offers local taxpayers the best value for money.

"Tory authorities have a track record of cutting local services on which vulnerable people depend."

Kirklees is often recognised as one of the most green councils in the country, but this certainly isn't down to the Tories
Caroline Lucas
Green Party

She claimed households in Labour council areas paid 204 a year less than those in Tory areas and said the average council tax rise had been lower than Tory and Lib Dem areas.

Ms Blears said Labour believed there was "no excuse for excessive council tax rises" and had helped keep this year's rise down to the lowest in 14 years.

The Conservatives said her figures were "misleading" as she had not used the average Band D council tax figures to compare statistics.

Meanwhile the Greens have complained that Mr Cameron had taken credit for environmental policies on Kirklees Council in Dewsbury, that were actually the result of Green councillors' actions.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas said: "It's highly deceptive for David Cameron to come to Kirklees and start cheerleading the Conservative record on the environment and housing.

"Kirklees is often recognised as one of the most green councils in the country, but this certainly isn't down to the Tories."





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THE ELECTION RESULTS
COUNCIL RESULTS
  Councillors Councils
Party +/- Total +/- Total
CON 257 3155 12 65
LAB -334 2365 -9 18
LD 33 1804 1 12
PC 31 205 -1 0
OTH 10 898 0 0
NOC - - -3 64
159 of 159 councils declared.

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London Mayoral results
Overall results
Name Party Votes
Johnson CON 1,168,738
Livingstone LAB 1,028,966
Paddick LD 878,097
Berry GRN 409,101

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London Assembly Results
Overall results
Party Constit' Top-up Total seats
CON 8 3 11
LAB 6 2 8
LD 0 3 3
GRN 0 2 2
BNP 0 1 1

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