My four-year plan - by new County Council leader

THE new Conservative leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Kay Cutts, has set out her priorities for the coming four years.

She spoke to Chad about her plans, which include scrapping some major projects and freezing Council Tax, after becoming the first Tory leader of the authority in 28 years following elections in June.

Coun Cutts said the Conservatives at County Hall would do things differently from the previous Labour administration.

And she defended a decision to review all capital projects and cut 40m from next year's budget.

"We have taken over an administration which has been in Labour Party hands for the last 28 years and we have run out of money," she said. "That is generally what happens when you have a socialist administration.

"We are having to take a step back and review everything. We are not stopping doing anything — what we are doing is making sure we can afford to spend that money on it. Those things that were signed and agreed before the election will go ahead."

The authority has already confirmed plans for Mansfield's new bus station will go ahead, as will a major transformation of the town's Westfield Folk House to create new facilities for young people.

But Coun Cutts says Labour's proposals for a 10.5m S-shaped visitor centre in Sherwood Forest will be changed and a new, cheaper design will be brought forward.

"Robin Hood is iconic in our county and we need to make much more of this than we have," she said.

"If we design something new, it will be something more in keeping with the forest and probably cost less money as well."

Coun Cutts also admitted plans to refurbish Mansfield Library would probably not go ahead in the current financial year, but the project is still under review.

She said one of the pledges for Conservatives was to freeze Council Tax for residents and is confident this can be achieved.

Coun Cutts, who has been a county councillor for 20 years, said: "It is the sort of bill you can't afford. You can't not pay your Council Tax so it is incumbent on any council to try to help people to live within their means. It is very much a hated tax.

"I am absolutely determined to protect front-line services but those things that councils can't do, we will let other people do them.

"We have got to do things differently. We have got to be more innovative and find ways of doing what we need to do without spending a fortune."

She said other priorities for the Conservatives were providing more facilities for young people and creating a pothole helpline.

Council departments are now exploring how they can make savings of up to 10 per cent on next year's budget, which she says could save 40m.