Tory chairman tours region to launch party election campaign
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps aimed to set out the differences between the two Coalition parties during a tour of the Westcountry.
Mr Shapps underlined the 2015 election messages during a two-day visit to the region to launch the campaign of three Cornish candidates and one in North Devon and the party's local election manifestos.
He spoke during a tour of the St Austell Brewery depot in St Columb, which he visited to launch the campaign of Newquay and St Austell candidate Steve Double.
Earlier in the day, he visited North Devon District Hospital to meet senior managers and discuss healthcare in the region before launching the party's county and general election campaigns at the Barnstaple Hotel.
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In a packed schedule, he then visited an affordable housing project in Wadebridge to launch the campaign of North Cornwall candidate Scott Mann and then later launched the Conservative's local election campaign manifesto at Fraddon in Mid Cornwall.
This morning he was due to visit St Ives for a business breakfast with candidate Derek Thomas and later will head to Torquay to witness the work being done to revitalise the town's centre.
Mr Shapps visit was made in the wake of one by Nick Clegg to the Eden Project earlier this week, in which the deputy prime minister trashed the record of the Conservatives in local government.
The Welwyn Hatfield politician said there was an identifiable difference between the what the two parties stood for including immigration and Europe.
He said: "Of course we have to stand on the same record but looking at what we want is almost entirely different. With the Liberal Democrats you are not going to get a referendum on Europe.
"We want to answer the needs of people in Cornwall. We have just heard from Steve [Double] that he wants to be the next MP for this area, and he is a perfect example [of what we need].
"He's what St Austell needs, someone who is local and knows what's going on in the area. I have no doubt that we have got the right candidates to represent this area."
Mr Double, who is a former Cornwall Council Cabinet member for shared services, said one of his main focuses was to the boost the local economy, support local business and create jobs.
The Conservative local election manifesto for Cornwall highlighted the party's record in cabinet, including freezing council tax from 2010 to 2014.
Group leader Fiona Ferguson said: "We have turned around failing services and kept council tax down on a budget that has reduced by about £60 million a year.
"Our main priority going forward is health, especially with an increasing elderly population; working closely with the health bodies in Cornwall including the voluntary sector to improve outcomes and spend well the money we have. And anything we can sensibly do to create jobs."
Speaking at the election launch, Mr Shapps said: "We have 123 candidates which is more than any other political party. This is a real achievement. More people have got the option of voting for our party than any other.
"We have taken £170 million out of the local authority spend without people feeling that they have been losing anything. the council tax has been kept to a zero increase, this is the same as 9% in people's budgets."
On his visit to North Devon earlier in the day the Conservative chairman took the chance to endorse the party's newly appointed candidate Peter Heaton-Jones.
"He's somebody who's out there to look after the best interests of the community," he said. "When he's elected North Devon will be getting an amazing advocate."
In the Devon county elections the Conservatives pledged to give value for money, reduce the county debt, dispose of surplus assets, maintain the county highways campaign and to improve rail networks. They highlighted that in the last three years there has been no increase in council tax and councillors' allowances have been frozen.
Local elections in Devon and Cornwall will be held on May 2.