ELECTIONS: ‘Non-effective’ opposition criticised as Tories ask voters to trust track record

Adur District Council leader Neil Parkin
Adur District Council leader Neil Parkin

Adur residents will go to the polls on May 3 to elect their latest batch of district councillors. The Herald has spoken to figures from every party fielding candidates to get their thoughts and priorities ahead of next month’s election. A new interview will be added every day – and today (Thursday, April 19), by virtue of a random draw, the Conservatives have their say.

See our interview with Labour here and a piece from the Liberal Democrats here.

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UKIP and Labour have been ‘totally non-effective’ in opposition and voters should trust the Conservatives’ track record in delivering local services.

That is the view of Conservative leader Neil Parkin, whose party is aiming to retain its overall majority – and perhaps even increase it in next month’s elections.

Mr Parkin, who viewed UKIP as ‘totally busted flush’, believes Labour will offer the sternest challenge to his party’s candidates.

But asked how tough a task opposition parties had posed in recent times, he said: “They have been totally non-effective. Both UKIP and Labour. They haven’t even been a minor annoyance.

“I am not being big headed. If Labour was in control of Adur and I was in opposition they would dread every council meeting.”

Mr Parkin pointed to the annual budget debate in February where Tory spending plans were unanimously approved, with no amendments tabled.

In contrast, meetings over the Adur Local Plan – guiding development in the district until 2032 – have often been heated.

Objections to major developments, including plans for 600 homes and an IKEA at New Monks Farm, Lancing, have stoked the opposition.

One of the challenges for local Tories has been explaining the pressures to build more housing, Mr Parkin admitted, but he claimed the local plan had seldom been mentioned on the doorstep.

Attempting to convince residents to vote Conservative, he said: “I think we have got a proven track record and proven competence in office. Look around Adur. We have no graffiti, there is minimal vandalism and your rubbish is collected weekly – unlike next door in Labour-controlled Brighton.

“It isn’t about Theresa May. She doesn’t realistically know Adur exists!”

Labour is currently the third-largest party on the council but the party will hope to take over UKIP.

Asked how the Tories would counter a Labour surge when canvassing, Mr Parkin said: “It is the Corbyn effect. He has motivated lots of youngsters – but I’m not sure how many are interested about bin collections and council tax.

“We are focusing on our record. We are putting out the positive things we have done and we are doing.”