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Westminster Column

In my first column since the local elections, I would like to take the opportunity to welcome and congratulate our newest addition to the Sutton Coldfield team, Councillor Lyn Collin for Vesey Ward and to congratulate Councillors David Barrie, Maureen Cornish and David Pears on their re-election to office.

Sutton’s Conservative Councillors are dedicated to improving the things that matter most to people living in Sutton Coldfield and were deservedly rewarded at the polls. While Labour’s vote since this time last year declined in all four wards, the Conservative party increased its share of the vote by 6.3 per cent.

Serving our community is the foundation of everything which your elected team does and we never take the good support we enjoy for granted. Above all we serve everyone - regardless of their party political beliefs - and do our very best to look after Sutton Coldfield.

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One year ago last week, two parties came together in the national interest to form a strong, stable coalition government. We published a Coalition Agreement to clean up the mess left by thirteen years of Labour. And as a five year government, we pledged to focus on the long-term issues that had held Britain back for generations.

One year on, we have now completed a quarter of the commitments made in the Coalition Agreement and we are well on the way to completing two-thirds of the total.

Our first priority was strengthening the economy – to put in place new spending plans to deal with the unprecedented deficit we inherited. Through last year’s Spending Review and two Budgets, we are cutting the deficit, supporting growth and restoring confidence.

We are also helping families struggling with the cost of living by cutting income tax for millions of people, freezing Council Tax, and reducing fuel duty.

But this government has always been about more than sound public finances and better spending. We are also well on the way to becoming a strong reforming government, modernising our public services, reversing a century of centralisation and stopping the perverted practice whereby the people who did the wrong thing got rewarded, and those that did the right thing – worked hard, paid their taxes, played by the rules – got punished.

We have undertaken the most radical and bold shake-up of our benefits system since Beveridge. We’ve capped housing benefit, and our Universal Credit will ensure that work always pays. We’ve created more Academy schools in one year than the previous government did in their entire time in office; introduced the Pupil Premium to help schools support disadvantaged pupils; and we are restoring rigour to the curriculum and discipline to the classroom.

We promised nurses, doctors and police officers that we would get off their backs – so we’ve scrapped many of those top-down targets that distorted priorities and sapped confidence. We’ve restored the earnings link for the basic state pension; controlled immigration; scrapped Labour’s job tax; protected spending on the NHS; ditched ID cards; and introduced a referendum lock to ensure politicians in Whitehall will never again be able to hand over more power to bureaucrats in Brussels without asking the British people first.

We’ve made a strong start and there is still a great deal of work to do but in the four years ahead, the Coalition is more determined than ever to be a different kind of government: more transparent, more open and more willing to listen as it seeks to rebalance Britain’s economy, repair Britain’s society and rebuild trust and accountability in Britain’s politics.

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