CAR parking charges in Worcester will be slashed - and council tax is set to be frozen in 2015 as part of the Conservatives' plan in power.

Your Worcester News can reveal the details behind what people across the city can expect from the new Tory administration, including:

- April's controversial car parking rises, which saw the old £1 after 7pm and 40p for half-an-hour rates scrapped, will be reversed

- Every single service will be reviewed to see if it needs to be kept in-house or could be handed to an outside organisation to run

- A plan to cut spending on play equipment by £10,000 will be halted, and the street sweeping budget, which was due to take an £80,000 hit, will no longer be slashed

- The council tax rate, which is next due to be looked at in February, is almost certain to be frozen Councillor Simon Geraghty, who has made history by being the first man to lead Worcester City Council twice, was back at his old desk at Orchard House yesterday one year after losing control.

He said he aims to "advocate and advance" the party's election manifesto now it is back in power.

"It's not so much of a celebration to us, we feel a sense of relief at getting back in before more damage could be done," he said.

"We've got work to do and I will seek to advocate and advance our manifesto for the benefit of the city.

"It's been a very quick handover and from our point of view we'll be taking a little time to reflect on the overall position of the council, to assess the financial situation and take it from there.

"The first thing we'll look to do is reverse the car parking prices as soon as possible, I think it's been particularly damaging to the city's reputation.

"It will need to go through full council but this is something we will certainly be doing, there is no question.

"The cuts to play areas and street cleaning, we don't think are right and as rapidly as possible we'll be stopping that.

"There's a lot to do and we'll be doing it in a calm, measured and rational way."

The next full council meeting is Wednesday, July 2, but if a report on cutting parking charges cannot be compete by then, the next one is Tuesday, September 30.

The 17-strong Conservative group could need the backing of Councillor Alan Amos to get it pushed through.


AN all-new Conservative cabinet has already started work at Worcester City Council - with its members vowing to "hit the ground running".

The revised top table includes four politicians with previous experience of being in the cabinet, and two new faces.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, a former deputy leader between 2012/13, is back in his old role as understudy to leader Councillor Simon Geraghty.

The Bedwardine Tory, an economist, was first elected to the city council for Labour but resigned in 2011 because of his opposition to the party using an all-women's shortlist to select a parliamentary candidate.

He has been a fierce critic of Labour in recent years, and says he aims to put Worcester "on the right track", taking up responsibility for economic development.

The key role of cabinet member for safer and stronger communities goes to Councillor David Wilkinson, a consultant railway engineer.

Cllr Wilkinson, 66 and originally from Derbyshire, spent his entire career in the railway industry and has freelanced for the last decade.

He is giving up his high-profile role as chairman of the city council's planning committee to take on the new job, which includes responsibility in key areas like housing and CCTV.

"It's a new challenge and one I'm looking forward to," he said.

"It is a disappointment to give up chairing the planning committee but you can't do everything, and there are issues with the new portfolio that I'm very familiar with."

Councillor Andy Roberts is the new cabinet member for cleaner and greener, a massive role including parks, street cleaning and bin collections.

The former firefighter, who is a former cabinet member for finance, said his work had already started by examining the condition of Worcester cemetery.

"I went to a funeral the other day and someone said what a sad state the cemetery was in," he said.

"There's a job to be put right there, I want it to be something we can all be proud of, not embarrassed about.

"That's nothing political at all, but there's work to be done - I want to hit the ground running."

Councillor Lucy Hodgson is cabinet member for customer services, resuming the role she did before the Tories lost control one year ago.

The Warndon villages councillor, who also sits on the county council, has responsibility for areas like the contact centre, website and HR.

The final cabinet seat goes to St Clement Councillor Chris Mitchell, who gets the all-important finance position.

Cllr Mitchell is a former army veteran for 20 years who travelled the world, including a stint as a commander in the Gulf war, and trained officers at Sandhurst.

He now works in Bristol in missile and firearms development for a sales company.