In the first of a series of columns from York’s four main political parties, Cllr Stuart Rawlings, Conservative group deputy leader, shares the group’s plans ahead of the local elections on May 2.

Four years ago, the Conservatives, with your support, took the leadership of the City of York Council and we promised that we would do our best for its residents, wherever you live in the city.

We promised to prioritise the services that matter the most to you in your everyday life, whilst also focussing on the bigger picture and on the key developments that will keep the city of York prosperous in the future.

So, since those May 2015 elections the Conservative-led council has increased the amount of waste that we recycle, replaced all the litter bins and added 100 more, committed £35m to ease ring road congestion, extended park and ride services, removed A-boards from pavements and worked with neighbouring authorities to crack down on fly tipping. In 2018 alone, we spent more than £1.5m filling 3,670 potholes. These are exactly the kind of initiatives that you have told us you expect from your council tax.

Our city is successful, and everyone should have the opportunity to benefit from this success. That’s why your Conservative-led council has begun the transformation of the York Central site which will add £1.6 billion to the local economy, create more than 6,000 high value jobs and bring much needed housing. That’s why we are committed to the new look York Station entrance and to the Castle Gateway project. To make sure you had an opportunity to be part of these exciting new developments, we carried out innovative consultation exercises to involve as many of you as possible.

Your Conservative-led administration has also invested in bringing older peoples’ accommodation up to 21st century standards and begun work on the new Centre of Excellence which, when completed, will be the focal point of our support for disabled young people, not just from York but from the surrounding areas.

By working with you the administration has passed a realistic Local Plan, which will protect York’s heritage and green belt areas whilst providing much needed housing for the city.

Moving forward our priority as a Conservative administration will be to freeze council tax. We are proud of our record of keeping your council tax rise to one of the lowest in our region, but we can do more. We believe it is possible to freeze council taxes and still maintain investment in vital services and protect those most in need.

York’s success as a world-famous visitor destination gives us one of the lowest unemployment levels in the north. However, the shortage of high-quality office space is a challenge. Developing York Central alongside our exciting plans to renovate the Guildhall and making the most of Channel 4’s move to Yorkshire will help us deliver high quality jobs to the city.

Quality of life is important to us all. That’s why we will clean up our city, introduce more pocket parks, improve access and open up our river with a new walkway.

Finally, we will focus on providing more housing - making sure that we build the right homes in the right places to suit the needs of local people. Under the Conservative-led administration the council has launched the largest housebuilding programme since the 1970s. We will ensure that council-owned land is developed to provide houses which can be purchased in a number of innovative ways, making these houses truly ‘affordable’.

We all know that York is a great place to live and work. We are proud of what we have achieved so far, but there is a great deal more to do to bring in investment, create jobs, provide homes and the services that you are entitled to expect. A Conservative-led Council can deliver this for you and we very much hope you will give us your support.