Canterbury district Conservatives have officially placed themselves on a war footing ahead of future elections.
Leader Simon Cook this morning announced a three-pronged strategy designed to retain control of Canterbury City Council and regain the constituency seat it lost to Labour’s Rosie Duffield – one of the shocks of last year’s general election.
He said fighting for a new district hospital with A&E and maternity services would be central to the campaign.
The Conservatives have also outlined three key objectives in their new manifesto. They are boosting the local economy with an emphasis on housing, improving the environment and balancing the city council’s books.
Writing on the Conservative Home website, Cllr Cook said: “Our pledge to campaign for a new hospital is firmly rooted, as local Conservatives played a vital role in defending the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in 2005 when the last Labour government wanted to close it down. Now we want to build on that – and build a new one!
“Over the coming months we will show how the other themes of our manifesto, such as boosting our local economy, will serve as a platform for detailed policies on issues like tackling homelessness and helping local people get the housing they need.”
Cllr Cook admitted that Ms Duffield’s victory over Conservative Sir Julian Brazier on June 8 last year had dented local party morale.
But he insisted that members had been lifted by results at the round of local elections which took place elsewhere in the country in May.
The next council election takes place on May 2, 2019 and the next general election before 2022.
Cllr Cook said community and grassroots activism would inform the campaign.
He went on: “We are building our local activist base, with record numbers turning up to help us on the doorstep. We hold big action days on the first Saturday of every month, so get in touch if you’d like to come along.
“Where we need to, we are also challenging some voters’ perception of the Conservative Party.
“For example, Canterbury Pride is the biggest Pride in Kent and local Conservatives have always played a vital role in organising and supporting it – but in the past, we have allowed Labour to hijack the event.
“This year, local Conservatives are a proud official sponsor of Canterbury Pride.”
Cllr Cook added that the Conservatives would also be working on their infrastructure and wanted “to put Labour on notice that we are up for a marathon effort”.
Labour and the Lib Dems have been asked for their thoughts on the Conservative manifesto.