As we head towards the local elections on May 4, I thank all councillors for their service and applaud all individuals who put themselves up for election.

Being a local councillor takes courage, it is hard work, there are ups and downs, but it is also incredibly rewarding.

East Cambridgeshire District Council has worked hard to freeze its share of council tax bills for 10 years, importantly though, always putting the delivery of high quality services first.

We continue with our promise of free parking in the council-owned town and city centre car parks. We know how important this policy is to residents and businesses and for the health of our high streets.

We have invested in many significant community driven projects, most recently the Soham to Wicken cycleway, improvements to the footbridge at Burwell Lode, an apprenticeship hub at Viva’s Spencer Mill in Soham, a new cemetery and biodiversity project in Bottisham, a new Hub and GP Consulting rooms in Stretham and upgrades to a number of village halls and sports buildings.

We will continue our support for the many existing and new Community Land Trusts across our district, giving communities the opportunity to own and manage truly affordable housing that is reserved for people with the strongest ties to their community.

A big topic on the doorstep at these elections though, is the proposal by the Greater Cambridge Partnership for a Cambridge Congestion Charge.

No elected politician in Cambridgeshire stood on a manifesto for these plans; there is no democratic mandate. It is unconscionable to make such profound changes to the functioning of our county without the permission of the people.

Whilst Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors and candidates are silent on the subject in their leaflets, Conservatives across Cambridgeshire are united in our efforts to STOP the Charge!

If the county council refuses to give the decision to the people of Cambridgeshire through a referendum, then the only opportunity for voters to send a message to local politicians before decisions on the Congestion Charge are made this summer will be the elections in May.