TOMMOROW, voters in Fife will go to the polls to elect councillors to sit in Fife House in Glenrothes. The local elections present an opportunity for people to give their verdict on the quality of schools, social care and everyday services like roads and bin collections in the region.

For many people across Fife, there is a real frustration and desire for local government to deliver better value for money. Council tax is set to increase by 3% across the board with higher hikes planned for properties in band’s E and above, as a result of a decision made by the SNP in Edinburgh.

No-one likes tax increases or getting bad value for money. The Conservatives in Fife are clear. If tax is to rise, then local services must also improve. Pot-holes plague roads across the region, schools are not delivering enough for pupils, and businesses are being treated as a cash-cow without receiving anything in return. If this is to change then we need to be bold.

We want councillors in Fife to have greater control over business rates and the ability to incentivise those who are creating jobs in the region. In the past couple of months I have spoken to countless businesses whose rates are rising but receive precious little in return. Small businesses must have our support or the number of empty high street shops will only continue to get worse.

On education, we want head teachers to have greater financial control and influence over their schools. A good education is all about flexibility. Giving interested parents a more active role in their child’s education can deliver substantial results. Empowering teachers and parents is key if we are to unlock the potential of youngsters across Fife.

We also want schools to stay open longer and later, with facilities available to the whole community. If done right, schools can become the focal point of a cohesive and active community. In Fife, the Conservative group are also exploring the current charging regime for sporting facilities. For too long youngsters have been priced out of using swimming pools, tennis courts and astro-turf football pitches. Let’s remove the barriers to fitness and get Fifers active.

However, as much as we might like, this election isn’t just about bin collections, pot-holes and schools. It’s also about independence. Or rather whether we want another independence referendum. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have set out their stall for a re-run in 2019 or 2020. We are set against this and believe that the last thing people across Fife need is a return to the constitutional politics and division of 2014. Local services certainly won’t improve if we continue to debate independence. On this we are clear and there is no wavering. Only a vote for your local Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate can ensure that we don’t re-open the wounds of 2014."