Wokingham Times

The new government promised change, and is beginning to deliver it. We are promised a scheme to freeze Council Tax next year, which will offer some welcome relief for family budgets. The Chancellor is offering bigger increases in the tax free allowance for Income Tax which will also help many.

Meanwhile over at the Department of Transport they have announced an end to funding more Speed cameras. These have proved very contentious, with many people seeing them as cash cows. Certainly the decline in deaths and serious accidents has been much slower than before the camera era. Studies show that Vehicle Automated Signs are cheaper and more effective. We need better designed junctions and better enforcement of provisions against dangerous driving to accelerate the reduction in accidents we all want to see. Excessive speed is not the cause of most accidents.

Our planning and local government Ministers have been in overdrive to demolish the much unloved regional housing targets and regional plans,and to offer greater freedom to local authorities to choose their own planning policies. I look forward to Wokingham Borough sparing the back gardens and more of the greenfields under the new dispensation.

There has been much written about how tough public spending is going to be. The good news is the proportion to be cut from public sector budgets is going to be much less than the proportions many in private sector industry and business had to slice off in the recession. The only visible casualty of my 10% off my Parliamentary costs in each of the last two years was ending the three times a year glossy news sheet I used to send out. I keep constituents up to date if they are interested through www.johnredwood.com instead – cheaper and easier.

I do hope all the Chief Executives in local quangos and Councils will approach the need to control costs in a positive and sensible spirit. We do not want or need lists of valued services which they plan to cut. We want a sensible squeeze on consultants, glossy brochures, regulations, temporary labour, conferences and seminars, and foreign trips. We need to stop nice to have or why do we need that projects, and concentrate on delivering the best possible quality service where it really matters. We do need any more aggressive kerbs or chicanes, humps and bumps on the roads. We do not need any more public sector spin doctors, communications advisers and partnerships between different parts of the public sector who could ring each other up if they have an issue to sort out.

It is also a time for people in the public sector to come up with new and better ways of doing things. There are opportunities for public employees to buy out or franchise out parts of their service, and for charities, not for profits and companies to come up with better solutions to government problems. We need innovation and a wind of change to sweep through our public sector.