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Cameron: Vote blue, Go green

"Over the past month I've been supporting the local election campaigns of our councillors and candidates all over the country.

Harrogate… Leeds… Coventry… Crawley… Hastings… Birmingham… West Lindsey …Bassetlaw… Hillingdon…. Hammersmith and Fulham… Worcester.

In this Party, we believe in localism. So our local election campaign is being fought exactly where it should be: locally.

And our local campaigns have been driven by the needs of local people.

Everywhere I've been in this local election campaign, three things have stood out.

By voting Conservative on May 4th:

• You'll save money because Conservative councils charge lower council taxes.

• You'll get better services because Conservatives are committed to efficiency and excellence.

• And you'll keep local decisions in local hands because only the Conservatives are campaigning to stop Labour taking power away from local people and handing it to unelected regional officials.

On council tax, the evidence is clear.

This year Conservative councils charge £81 a year less on Band D bills than Labour councils, and £88 a year less than Liberal Democrat councils in England.

The contrasts can be huge. The lowest council tax in the country at Band D is in Conservative-controlled Wandsworth - £648.

The highest is in Labour-controlled Sedgefield - Tony Blair's own constituency - at a staggering £1,490.

The lesson is simple - your best bet for keeping council tax bills down is to vote Conservative on May 4th.

It's also important to make sure that the tax you do pay isn't wasted. Here again, Conservatives have the best record.

Figures show that Conservative councils have the cleanest streets, the highest levels of recycling and composting, and lower levels of alcohol-related and vehicle crime.

We also believe in local services being run locally - by councils that are accountable to local people.

Under Labour, control of transport, planning, housing, health authorities, fire services and ambulance trusts are all being regionalised and moved further away from local people.

Labour's latest idea is to merge local police forces into vast regionalised units with little feel for the needs of communities on the ground.

In pressing ahead, the Home Secretary is blatantly ignoring public opinion.

We need policing that's closer to people, not further away, and I'm proud of the vigorous campaign for local democracy that we've been fighting in these local elections.

But as we now reach the final phase of this local election campaign, we've chosen to focus on an issue that's arousing real passion in communities all over Britain.

It's an issue that I've put at the top of the political agenda over the past few months…

…one that I care deeply about…

…and where we have the opportunity to take a lead and make a difference.

That issue is the environment.

It's an issue that has to be dealt with in the round.

From climate change to cleaner streets…

…from cutting waste to cutting noise… pollution…

…environmental issues are all about improving our quality of life.

And these issues are connected by a simple instinct - to protect and enhance the world around us…

…an instinct that has been at the heart of Conservatism for generations.

We understand that the decisions we make as individuals, as communities and as a nation have enormous consequences, both locally and globally.

It's also vital that we approach this issue with a long term view.

The decisions we make today will have a huge impact on all our lives for generations to come.

So we have a shared responsibility to act: we're all in this together.

And we have to understand the connections between what we do locally and what happens globally.

We have to think global, act local.

That's how we're approaching this final phase of our campaign.

This morning, I saw the fantastic progress that Conservative-run Brentwood council is making on recycling.

The council's kerbside green waste collection scheme has increased the rate of recycling and composting to almost 30 per cent in the last year.

Tomorrow, we'll be focusing on what we've called the 'crime and grime' agenda - the connections between litter, graffiti, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

And I will be travelling to the Arctic with WWF, to see for myself the impact that climate change is having on our planet…

…and to outline a new Conservative approach to climate change.

Solutions to big global problems are often to be found at the local level.

That's why I'll also be looking, with our Norwegian sister party, at radical ideas on the environment developed by local authorities in Norway.

Local government is in the front line of the fight for a better quality of life.

Our councils can do so much to improve the environment - if they make it a priority.

I'm proud of the fact that Conservative councils are leading the way.

From Shropshire to Surrey.

From Hyndburn to Hillingdon.

From Dorset to Daventry.

Bromley Council is pioneering a project to collect used cooking oils from local restaurants and turn it into biodiesel, to drive council and hospital vehicles.

Enfield Council's Environmental Crime Unit has clamped down on flytipping, graffiti and abandoned vehicles.

And Runnymede Council runs a School bus scheme with local business to cut rush hour congestion and reduce emissions.

So where people have voted blue, their councils have gone green.

If Conservatives are successful on May the 4th they'll help to make a change with tough targets and real action:

In Barnet, a Conservative council will set a new target for waste recycling - up from 32 per cent today to 40 per cent by 2011.

In Camden, Conservatives have promised to give incentives to residents who swap their petrol-driven car for an electric one.

And if they win in Lambeth, a Conservative council will plant more than 1,000 new trees.

Our councillors are transforming the policies of local government.

We're making transport greener.

We're encouraging recycling.

We're tackling litter.

We're lowering carbon emissions.

We're cleaning up our parks.

We're fighting noise pollution.

Look at all the examples in the document we're handing out.

It's happening - now - on the ground.

In the final phase of this local election campaign, we'll be focusing on these local, national and global environmental issues.

We'll be showing why it's so important that Conservatives take the lead in the environmental debate…

…so we can put forward our vision of greener growth that combines economic and social progress with a better quality of life.

I want to see many more Conservatives elected on the 4th of May so we can build a new green revolution that reaches into every corner of the land.

If you want your local area to have more recycling, greener parks and public spaces, cleaner streets and better transport, vote Conservative on the 4th of May.

So the message is clear - Vote blue, Go green."

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