Below is my speech from tonight’s budget meeting at Bolton Council. You can watch it in the latest episode of The Vlog, or read it in full below (or both, if you are so inclined).
What the Conservatives have proposed tonight is a budget that works for everyone. It’s a budget that rewards the hard-working taxpayers of Bolton, of Westhoughton, of Farnworth and of Horwich – our four key towns, which all play a vital part in the borough’s success. It treats each person in our borough equally, and it treats each person fairly. It is a budget that everyone can benefit from.
What Labour have proposed is a budget for the few, not the many. It is a budget of desperation, by a group that know their reign in this town is coming to an end. It is a last-ditch attempt to cling to power for a short while longer, by trying to buy support with the public purse.
Labour have thrown £4 million into a pot for “town centre investment” and the moment this was announced, we saw a Labour councillor demanding the overwhelming majority of that pot be given to Farnworth. That’s £4 million on top of the £12 million that was pulled from the £100 million we had already been told was allocated to Bolton town centre back in January, by the way – and the majority of that £12 million also went to Farnworth.
Why is so much money going to Farnworth, Madam Mayor? To understand this sudden interest in an area Labour have ignored for so long, you only have to look to the three new Councillors sitting on the opposition benches. The Farnworth and Kearsley First party has absolutely terrified Labour; and now Labour are desperate to win back favour by throwing millions upon millions of pounds at Farnworth; at the expense of the rest of the towns Labour have failed.
They have form on this too, Madam Mayor. We all remember the £2 million Labour threw at Westhoughton Town Hall a couple of years ago. I’m still waiting for that to actually be spent, by the way. At the time we were told it was to repair the town hall roof but here we are two years on and I’ve seen report after report saying none of the money has been spent. At this rate, one could be forgiven for thinking the plan is to let the roof disintegrate before it’s replaced; unless it really didn’t need all that money and the £2 million was simply a stunt so Labour could grab some headlines.
So let’s face facts, Madam Mayor. On the one side, we have the Conservatives with a fair budget that benefits everyone. We have presented a budget that meets the actual needs of our communities, and which will see our towns regenerated; our roads repaired and our residents taken care of. On the other side you have the party of Asons, making wild and extravagant pronouncements and throwing around money in a desperate attempt to look like they are caring about the people they have taken for granted for too long. Which side do you actually trust to be fiscally responsible? Which side has a track record that doesn’t include ridiculous and indefensible uses of public money under scandalous circumstances?
There really is only one choice tonight, Madam Mayor, and that choice is to back the Conservatives. It is the Conservatives that will transform Bolton, Westhoughton, Farnworth and the rest of our Borough. It is the Conservatives that have the right plan; a plan that works for everyone, no matter where you live in this borough. I will be supporting the Conservatives’ budget, and I urge all Members to back the Conservatives as well.
So I will end my speech with what I feel is the most apt of quotes. It is a quote from Oliver Cromwell, when he addressed the Long Parliament, and I use it now against the Labour benches; who have run this borough into the ground for far too many years: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”