§ 2. Mr. Jim Marshall
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next plans to visit Leicestershire to meet representatives of the county council to discuss the provision of local services.
§ The Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities (Mr. John Redwood)
I have no present plans to do so.
§ Mr. Marshall
I am disappointed by the Minister's response. Is he aware that at the recent local elections, Tory candidates did badly in Leicestershire, as in all the shire counties, but especially in my constituency where they received only 17 per cent. of the vote? Is he further aware that that derisory vote is a condemnation not only of national Government policy but of local Tory policies, especially the setting of a recent county council budget which condemned to closure the Beale Street nursery, the Goldhill adventure playground and the Highfield adventure playground, all in my constituency? If the new county council takes steps to reverse that decision, will the Minister guarantee that neither he nor his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State will intervene?
§ Mr. Redwood
It is, of course, up to each county council to make its own decisions on budgets and taxation, within the normal annual cycle and within the law. I hope that the county councillors in Leicestershire, and elsewhere, decide to get good value for money and to pursue the right policies, with common sense. That would be easier if there were more Conservatives on the authority, but I hope that the Labour councillors will take on board some of the messages from my hon. Friends and from Conservative county councillors around the country about how to get proper value for money and how to live easily within the budget limits set.