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More money to fix potholes and prioritise education: Torfaen Conservative group’s local government election pledges

Huw Bevan, leader of the Torfaen Conservative Group

THE Conservative group in Torfaen has said it would spend more money on fixing potholes and prioritise education and social care ahead of next week’s election.

Four Conservative councillors were elected to Torfaen council in 2017, and the group is hopeful of retaining that number. There are 21 candidates standing for the party, one fewer than at the last local elections in 2017.

Huw Bevan, leader of the Torfaen Conservative group, said they are campaigning on a range of issues across the borough. Mr Bevan says more money needs to be spent on road maintenance, saying the current “patch and repair” policy for potholes is not working.

“There’s a £30 million backlog in essential maintenance and it’s just not being tackled,” he said.

“They have put £1 million aside but it’s not enough.”

The group is calling for more investment on infrastructure and capital projects, saying that spending in this area has seen a “steady decline”.

Mr Bevan also says the Conservative group would have frozen council tax this year due to the cost of living crisis.

“We feel it’s gone up so many times over the last 10 years,” he said.

“In previous years, it has gone up above the rate of inflation.”

He said the group could not freeze the rate for the five-year council term, but that it would have done so this year due to the pressures residents are facing from inflation.

Questions over the number of children in care in the borough, and action being taken to safely reduce the figure, have also been raised by the group.

The rate of ‘looked after’ children in Torfaen, per 10,000 of the child population, is the highest in England and Wales, according to government figures.

“That’s a big concern,” he said.

“Why have we got so many children in care? Why are we the highest in Wales?

“What more could be done around early intervention? Is there some sort of systemic issue in the borough?

“I do not know. I have asked questions but can’t get an answer as to why the number of children is so high in Torfaen.”

The group is also campaigning for “a greener agenda”, saying that while Labour says this is one of their priorities, they have not done enough while being in control of the council.

Improving education standards is also on the group’s agenda, and providing support for schools coming out of special measures.

Questions over the council’s bid for levelling-up funding have also been raised, with the Conservatives saying it will not create jobs and that it could be used more effectively to help town centres.

Mr Bevan says “a small number of people” have said they will not vote for the group because of controversy around parties at Downing Street, but he is “reasonably confident” of retaining the four seats on the council.

He added: “We have had a few people message us to say thank you for our support and the work we have done in the past and that they were not going to vote Conservative this time because of partygate, but it’s a small number who have contacted us about that.”

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More money to fix potholes and prioritise education: Torfaen Conservative group’s local government election pledges