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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 10:22 GMT
Tories' OAP council tax promise
By Adrian Browne
BBC Wales political reporter

Pensioner
Tories traditionally win support from among older voters
Welsh Conservatives will offer annual cash payments for pensioners to offset increases in council tax, if they form part of the next assembly government.

Assembly Tory group leader Nick Bourne said 100 discounts would be given to every pensioner household in Wales, at an estimated annual cost of 31m.

The announcement came ahead of the Welsh party conference in Cardiff.

Mr Bourne said his party would use this weekend's conference to highlight the "positive difference" it could make.

The party's council tax promise mirrors a one-off 100 payment made as a consequence of the 2005 assembly budget negotiations.

That money was paid to pensioners whose homes had increased by more than one band in the Wales-wide revaluation process.

Nick Bourne
We are looking forward to a bright future for Wales, not painting a dark, inaccurate picture of the past as Labour has done
Nick Bourne AM, Welsh Conservative leader

Welsh Conservatives have long criticised the way council bills have risen under Labour.

'Out of control'

Labour regularly points out that it was Conservative Prime Minister John Major who introduced the property tax to replace the unpopular community charge, or poll tax, as it was widely known.

But the Tories claim Labour has allowed council tax bills to spiral out of control. There is a precedent for cutting the tax for pensioners.

In 2005 budget negotiations in Cardiff Bay, the opposition parties won a concession that the tax bills would be cut by 100 in pensioner households where homes had risen by more than one council tax band due to revaluation.

Mr Bourne has promised to use the conference to highlight the positive difference his party could make to Wales.

It follows last week's Welsh Labour conference claims that voter apathy could lead to a Tory-led "nightmare alliance" running the country.

He said: "Welsh Conservatives will fight the election on our strengths, our record, our policies and our vision for Wales.

"We are looking forward to a bright future for Wales, not painting a dark, inaccurate picture of the past as Labour has done."


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