Welcome to our new Organisers

Last week we welcomed our new Organisers for Bury Liberal Democrats: Ellie Hudspith and Michael Powell.
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Ellie and Michael will each be working for Bury Lib Dems for one day a week each, as part of an internship programme organised through the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC).
Victor Chamberlain, who has been our organiser through the internship programme since January has now left for a job with the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party in Westminster.
You can get in touch with both Ellie and Michael at organiser@burylibdems.net

Lib Dems Choose Team for 2015

Liberal Democrats in Bury have announced their team for the General and local elections in 2015.

Party members across Bury have met to adopt Parliamentary Candidates for Bury North and Bury South constituencies, and key local election candidates have been selected.

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Bury South and Bury North PPCs Paul Ankers and Richard Baum

 

Richard Baum will once again be fighting Bury North constituency. 33 year old Richard, who was brought up and lived most of his life in Bury, fought Bury North for the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

Richard works for the NHS and is married to with two young daughters.

Paul Ankers has been chosen to represent the Party in the Bury South constituency. Experienced campaigner Paul has previously been a Manchester Councillor and Parliamentary candidate, and now works for British Gas as a Data Analyst.

Paul is 38 and lives with his wife. He is due to become a father for the third time just after Christmas.

In the local elections that happen in the same day the Lib Dems have chosen former councillor Mary D’Albert to fight in Holyrood Ward, where she hopes to join Councillor Tim Pickstone who won the ward this year. Mary is well known in the ward as her husband Vic represented Holyrood for 23 years. Former councillors Donal O’Hanlon and Steve Wright will once again contest St Mary’s and Sedgley wards.
More information: Tim Pickstone 07976 831 686

Message from Ann and Andrew Garner

Ann and Andrew Garner have asked us to pass on their thanks, now that they have moved near to Marple in Hazel Grove Constituency, for your Lib Dem support and for the many friendships that they have made.  Ann & Andrew have been Bury Activists, Bury Exec Members, Prestwich Councillors on Bury Council and School Governors.  Their two grown-up children have ‘flown the nest’ leaving them free to downsize to a small country cottage in Charlsworth, just outside Marple. They hope that Bury Members can help as much as they can in order to ensure that voters appreciate that Lib Dems continue to lobby and campaign for a fair society where everybody gets the opportunity to get on in life and fulfil their potential.

Lib Dems re-affirm their opposition to a Snooper’s Charter

Responding to the speech by Home Secretary Theresa May, Liberal Democrats have again re-iterated their opposition to any kind of Snooper’s Charter.

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A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:

“We utterly reject the allegation that the blocking of the Communications Data Bill has put lives at risk.

“Police already have the ability to obtain data in urgent cases where lives are in danger.

“The real problem is the availability of IP address data, where we have always accepted there is a need for action, and indeed publicly committed to legislation last year.

“Frankly, it is woeful inaction on the part of the Home Office that solutions have not been identified to deal with this issue.

“If failure to act on the IP matching problem has put lives at risk, the Home Secretary must explain why her department has not acted.

“Theresa May is peddling misinformation in a vain attempt to get the so-called ‘Snooper’s Charter’ back on the table.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose the Tories’ obsessive intrusion into people’s lives.”

Unemployment falls again

The latest unemployment figures from the ONS have been released showing a fall by 146,000, lowering the total unemployment count to 2.02 million.

The figures released today show that unemployment has fallen to 6.2%, the lowest rate in six years.

Business Secretary Vince Cable called today’s positive labour market figures “no accident” and said that the Liberal Democrats in Government were delivering the recovery fairly.

Creating jobs is central to the Liberal Democrat plans to build a stronger economy and a fairer society and we have worked to create over 1 million jobs for people across the UK.

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Vince Cable commented:

“The Liberal Democrats have taken steps to ensure our labour market is fair and flexible – delivering opportunities for everyone and preventing exploitation of the most vulnerable.

“The employment growth that we are now witnessing is one of this Government’s key achievements.”

The Office for National Statistics figures also showed that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in August fell by 37,200 to 966,500.

And average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, in the May to July period, rose by 0.7% from a year earlier.

Vince added:

“Today we’ve had another remarkable set of labour market figures, which show that the recovery in the labour market has been broad based.

“In the past twelve months alone, employment has increased by 774,000, with private sector employment rising by 794,000 on the year.

“This has led to an almost record share of the UK working age population being in work.

“The fall in unemployment is the largest in over 25 years with the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance below one million for the first time since the recession.”

The Lib Dem difference in Stockport

Liberal Democrats in Stockport are investing in their area: building and investing while protecting the environment – and giving residents a say, writes Councillor Iain Roberts, Deputy Leader of Stockport Council.

England, 2014. All of the urban North is under Labour control except for one town of indomitable Lib Dems that still hold out against the socialists. Stockport is now the only Liberal Democrat-led urban council in the North.

One of the ten Greater Manchester metropolitan councils, its population as big as Newcastle. It’s a diverse borough: average life expectancy in deprived Brinnington is 14 years lower than in leafy Bramhall just four miles away. Two of its four MPs are Lib Dems (Mark Hunter and Andrew Stunell).

So what’s the Lib Dem difference?

First, the Lib Dems are investing in Stockport. The Council’s capital programme has grown to over £700 million pounds – bigger than ever before. In tough times when our revenue budget is being squeezed, Council Leader Sue Derbyshire and her team are investing in the borough.

We’re spending £100 million to resurface every poor road and pavement: working hard to fix the issue our residents say concerns them most.  We’re investing more than ever in cycling: millions constructing a network of cycle routes to allow people to make entire journeys avoiding busy roads.

We’re building. A new cinema, two multi-storey car parks, retail units, grade A office space, transport interchange, new public realm, a new hotel and housing.

We’re constructing a much-needed relief road in the south of the borough: planned since the 1930s!

All that investment is prudent. Unlike a certain previous government, we’re not in the business of ransoming our children’s future for short-term gains.

Second, Stockport is open for business. Industrial space is being snapped up and we’re working hard to keep supply up with demand. The Lib Dems believe in councils shopping locally. Over 60% of Stockport Council spending goes to locally-based companies – nearly double the national average.

Third, Stockport is an environmentally friendly borough. Our residents recycle over 60% of their waste, putting us in the top five authorities in the country.

We spent £9 million installing solar panels on public buildings and social housing. We’ve installed biomass boilers and external wall insulation in tower blocks. We’ve got one of the few economically sustainable hydro schemes (set up by a Lib Dem councillor) and we’re working on a heat exchange network in the town centre.

Fourth, we work to empower residents and devolve responsibility. Far more planning decisions are taken by local councillors in their communities than by the central Planning committee. We’ve run “You say, we pay” events for several years, with funding allocated by local residents voting on which community organisations should receive it. Recently we ran “You say, we pay for businesses” – over sixty local businesspeople allocated money to start-ups after Dragons’ Den style presentations.

When the “bedroom tax” came in, we were concerned about the implementation. Whilst many Labour councils chose to punish their residents to score political points, Stockport has made it work. If a Stockport Homes tenant is willing to move, we wipe out any arrears they build up due to the bedroom tax. Over 170 households have already chosen to downsize, freeing up larger properties for those who need them. Not a single Stockport Homes tenant has been evicted due to bedroom-tax related arrears. Naturally, Labour opposed our scheme.

Since 2010 Labour have defeated a sitting Lib Dem councillor just three times. One defeated Lib Dem councillor re-gained his seat at the next opportunity and one of the three Labour victors has since joined the Lib Dems. At next years elections we’re aiming to hold our two parliamentary seats and make council gains from both Labour and Tories, and to keep Stockport Lib Dem.

Reporting Back – Full Council 10 September 2014

Last Wednesday was the regular meeting of Bury’s ‘Full Council’, the main meeting of the Council for all 51 councillors.

There was a few changes to the seating arrangements, as two Labour councillors are no longer Labour councillors and are sitting as independents – more information on Cllr Matt Bailey’s blog here.

Residents Petition – Three-Weekly Bin Collections
Well over the 2,500 signatures required from local residents to trigger a special debate in Council had been made on a petition against three-weekly bin collections.

I had been expecting a lively debate on this important issue that is clearly of huge interest to local people. Amazingly, because the member of the public who was down to open the debate wasn’y there at the start of the debate the debate didn’t happen and we just moved on.

Obviously it would be wrong to question the decision of the Mayor on this issue (in Full Council meetings the Mayor is always right….), but it does seem strange to me that this is the procedure – bit of a democratic ‘fail’ given how many people signed the petition.

Changes to Rules
Yet again at this Council meeting I was not allowed to ask a question to the Leader of the Council under the ‘written questions’ section of the agenda. (Because I’m the only Liberal Democrat councillor my questions are put to the bottom of the list, and invariably we run out of time before we get to them.)

The Council did agree a rule change, so three out of every four questions asked to the (Labour) Council Leader will be from other Labour councillors, and only one in four from the main opposition Conservatives. (Lib Dems and independents remain at the end of the list.) I am not sure this is the best form of democratic scrutiny which we need in all forms of local government, whichever party is in charge. Apparently the rules for ‘single’ members like me will be reviewed soon, but very soon we will be half way through the current council year, so I’m not sure what is taking so long!

I did ask two questions in writing (which didn’t get answered verbally), and I’ll be able to report on these when the written answers make it to the Council website – more next week.

Verbal Questions
I did get to ask a verbal question, which I asked about the proposed closure of most Children’s Centres, including one in the heart of Holyrood Ward which I represent (Toodle Hill).

I asked how a ‘targetted service’ using outreach was somehow going to be MORE benficial for less better off families, than having an open access Children’s Centre on their doorsteps. There was a long answer – the Council clearly think it does – but a lot more to find out on this issue and to say during the consultation process.

Motions
Two motions, one from Labour about the underfunding of NHS Bury. I fully support the need for Bury to be fairly funded and we have always consistently agreed to take part in all-party approaches to Government (this Government and the last Labour Government) on underfunding of Bury services.

I wasn’t however prepared to accept the typical ‘Labour’ words about NHS funding. Labour called for more money to be invested in the NHS – fine sentiments,  yet their own Party won’t commit to even preserving NHS funding at the current level should they be elected in 2015 (Lib Dems ARE committed to increasing NHS funding by inflation for the whole of the next Parliament).

A second motion from the Conservatives raised the issue of looking for alternative models to deliver Council services. Given the current pressures I was happy to support looking at other models, as all Parties are.

Hope that is helpful, full papers are here: http://councildecisions.bury.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=1650&Ver=4

Cllr Tim Pickstone

 

Five new laws for a greener Britain

The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include plans for five new laws to protect the environment, it has been announced.

The manifesto plans include include legal targets for clean air and water, an end to dirty coal power stations and an ambitious decarbonisation target for the electricity sector.

Liberal Democrats in government have worked hard to keep the environment at the top of the agenda. The party wants to go further and build on their achievements in Government in areas including Britain’s rise in renewable energy, the Green Investment Bank and record investment in our railways.

The plans include new rights to access green space, new marine and coastal reserves, the roll out of an electric vehicle charging point network, ambitious waste reduction plans and new regulations to boost energy efficiency and renewable heat to cut energy bills.

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The five green laws are:

  1. A Nature Bill: key measures include legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, extending the Right to Roam and establishing new marine and coastal reserves.
  2. A Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill: key measures include building on the Green Deal with a national programme to raise the energy efficiency standards for all Britain’s households.  We will legislate to boost renewable and district heating programmes and heat saving standards.
  3. A Zero Waste Britain Bill: key measures include establishing a “Stern Report” on resource use, with binding targets and a clear action plan to reduce waste and end biodegradable landfill.
  4. A Zero Carbon Britain Bill: key measures include introducing a decarbonisation target for electricity generation, expanding the powers of the Green Investment Bank and banning electricity generated from unabated coal.
  5. A Green Transport Bill: key measures include establishing a full network of charging points for electric cars, only allowing low emission vehicles on the roads from 2040 and reforming planning law to ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Daveysaid:

“The environment has always been a top priority for the Liberal Democrats and while we have achieved a huge amount on our green agenda in the Coalition, it’s hardly a secret that this has been one of the biggest areas of tension.

“Liberal Democrats see our duty to protect our environment for future generations as a central political and moral challenge. This is not something we can, or should, try and sidestep. In this Parliament, we’ve made a big step forward particularly on green energy, but other areas have not seen such progress. So we want to use the next Parliament to make a major leap forward on the environmental agenda across the board.

“Our five green laws will focus on a range of environmental issues that people really care about – air quality for health, access to green space and tree planting. And we want to make it as easy as possible to go green and by introducing higher new standards, industries from construction through to waste, heating and transport will have to help us all become more sustainable – as many leading, innovating firms are already doing.

“Between now and next May, the Liberal Democrats will be putting forward these new green ideas and asking people for their views so we can finalise them for our General Election manifesto.

“While everyone knows the Tories have been an obstacle to our greener vision, people have forgotten that Labour simply failed to deliver on these important areas when they were in government.

“So the choice is clear: if you care about the environment and want to see a greener, cleaner Britain then only the Liberal Democrats can deliver this in Government for you.”​

Lib Dems win vote to reform the bedroom tax

The Liberal Democrats have taken the first step in reforming the bedroom tax by winning a crucial vote in Parliament.

Under the proposals, which were passed in the House of Commons, existing tenants will not be penalised when they cannot move into smaller accommodation because this is not available or where there is a serious medical reason for an additional room.

Our plans mean that any financial penalty would go to the housing provider rather than the individual claimant. The new system would incentivise social landlords to reduce the number of tenants under-occupying their homes, freeing up bigger properties for larger families.

To find out more about the reforms, click here.

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These proposed changes to the policy have been supported by a number of organisations including Shelter, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Crisis, Oxfam and the Disability Benefits Consortium

However, Conservatives have stated publicly that they oppose reforms to bedroom tax and although Labour support the removal of the spare room subsidy, they have not indicated that they would also change the rules for the private sector.

Under-21s to get bus pass discount

All 16-21 year olds in England will get a 66% discount on bus travel under plans unveiled by the Liberal Democrats.

The proposal, which forms part of the pre-manifesto launched today, would see all 16-21 year olds would be given a Young Person’s Bus Pass. It would help young people with the cost of travel by offering a minimum two thirds discount on bus travel in England. Bus companies would then be able to add their own discounts on top of that.

Liberal Democrats plan to pay for it by abolishing TV licenses and Winter Fuel Payments to pensioners who qualify as higher rate taxpayers.

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Commenting on the new policy, Nick Clegg said:

“Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling people to get on in life, which is why we are introducing a Young Person’s Bus Pass which will cover at least two thirds of travel for all young people aged 16-21.

“We do not believe it is fair that some young people are hit in the pocket while others have a free ride. That is why we want to level the playing field so that all young men and women can get where they need to go

“The Young Person’s Bus Pass will ensure that young people looking to access education or training can do so in an affordable way, and I hope that bus companies will top up that discount to something even more generous.

“Young people are required to stay in school until they are 18, but we haven’t done enough to give them the support that they need to do that – literally to help them get from A to B

“I know there are people who say you mustn’t touch so-called universal pensioner benefits because politically it’s too risky. We don’t agree: what are effectively benefits for the rich and retired cannot be justified when there are so many young people struggling to get on their feet.”