DAVID Cameron chose Kirklees to launch his party’s bid for Town Hall success.
He was in both Huddersfield and Dewsbury yesterday to launch his party’s manifesto for council elections across England.
And speaking exclusively to the Examiner afterwards, Mr Cameron said he hoped to pick up seats in Huddersfield in the May 1 poll.
The Conservatives have 20 of the 69 seats on Kirklees Council – but only one of the 21 in Huddersfield.
Mr Cameron said: “There’s room for progress in Huddersfield.
“We’re fighting a very active campaign based on our record of governing Kirklees – keeping the council tax down and cutting heating bills for people.”
Mr Cameron also explained his decision to hold the manifesto launch in Dewsbury.
He said: “I’m here because Kirklees is a really high-performing Conservative council. The more voters who back our party’s programme here, the more we will be able to do.”
Mr Cameron was introduced to an audience of around 80 party activists at Dewsbury Town Hall by Kirklees Council leader Clr Robert Light.
Mr Cameron told them that green issues would be central to the party’s campaign.
He said: “Environmental change is not just about the stratosphere, it’s also about the street corner.
“Our councils make it a priority to improve the local environment and protect green spaces in our towns and villages. That’s why they have lower levels of graffiti, fly-posting and fly-tipping.”
Mr Cameron added that Conservatives would focus on keeping council tax rises down.
He said: “On average, Conservative councils levy lower council taxes than their Labour or Lib Dem counterparts. That really matters, especially at a time of economic difficulty.
“As people see the cost of their groceries going up, they want a council that keeps costs down.
“There is nothing more depressing than paying a whacking great cheque to the council and then watching it being squandered on pointless schemes and vanity projects driven by councillors on an ego trip.
“Wasting public money is a slap in the face to people who live on tight budgets so I’m delighted that Conservative councillors here in Kirklees are setting a good example by proposing lower tax increases for pensioners.”
Mr Cameron was asked about the Moorside estate in Dewsbury, which has been at the centre of media attention since nine-year-old Shannon Matthews disappeared in February.
He said: “The most important thing is that Shannon Matthews was found safe. The police put in an enormous amount of effort to find her.
“There are obviously some very tough problems on that estate. I think Kirklees has got a very good record in that area.”
Mr Cameron was also asked about the British National Party (BNP), which won 5,000 votes in Dewsbury in the 2005 general election.
He said: “We shouldn’t give any oxygen to extremists. They have no place in British politics.
“When BNP councillors do get elected they do a miserable job and people realise what a sick bunch of thugs they are and vote them out of office.”
Several Labour activists protested outside Dewsbury Town Hall as Mr Cameron arrived.
Dewsbury’s Labour MP Shahid Malik criticised the visit.
He said: “The stench of hypocrisy is all over this cheap attempt to appear green. This is chameleon Cameron at his most opportunist.”
Mr Cameron also visited Emley and had breakfast with a local family.