Top Tory up for fight to retain Redditch

By Ian Dipple 06/04 Updated: 11/04 15:30

Buy photos » Baroness Warsi tours Winyates with Council leader Carole Gandy and Coun Brandon Clayton. Picture by Marcus Mingins. 1412050MMR3.

THE CHAIR of the Conservative Party has admitted losing control of Redditch Borough Council would be a big blow for them but she remained confident people would see the Government was doing everything it could to create jobs and allow small businesses to thrive.

Baroness Warsi visited Redditch yesterday (Thursday) and toured Winyates, Church Hill and the town's skatepark to see improvement projects the ruling Conservative group on the borough council has carried out, in the run up to next month's local elections.

In an exclusive interview with the Standard the cabinet minister said the Conservatives had a strong record locally but would need to fight for every vote.

"The skatepark is a classic example of what Labour talked about for years and actually it took the Conservatives the oomph to deliver," she said.

"It's all about what you deliver for local communities and if you base it on that, including the Council Tax freeze, then the Conservatives will stand on that record and fight for every vote but we are a party in government, and when you are in government it isn't easy to win elections, especially when you are in difficult times taking some tough decisions.

"The message Labour is putting out is they are just opposing for the sake of opposing with no plan to make it any better and I think people will see through that, accept these are tough times and recognise we are doing the right things and trying to get the economy back on its feet."

She added they weren't just cutting spending and were encouraging growth by giving an extra £1.8million to Worcestershire LEP to invest in infrastructure, removing red tape, reforming planning and putting money into apprenticeships and helping business start-ups.

"I come from a strong working class family. When I was born dad was working in the mills and one of the things that changed our lives was the opportunity of a decent education and second was dad setting up a small business when he lost his job, working all the hours and growing it over a period of time and making it successful.

"Britain has been a nation of shopkeepers and small businesses and we can be again. I don't think Britain ever envisaged itself as a kind of socialist state where most people are employed by the state, it sees itself as a nation of small entrepreneurs and that's what we are encouraging."

She also rejected claims made by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls on a visit to Redditch last week the Tories were a party for millionaires and not the millions in reference to the cut in the 50p tax rate for people earning more than £150,000.

"We need to set tax at a rate where we get more from the rich not less and the 50p tax rate was not bringing in what Labour predicted it would bring in and the 45p we think will bring in more.

"There is a huge amount of energy and resource going into ensuring those who earn the most pay the most."

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