Lib Dems plan to cut your tax bill further

DSC_0484

A Liberal Democrat government will make further cuts in Income Tax and reduce National Insurance for millions of workers under manifesto plans announced today.

The party plans to raise the personal allowance to at least £12,500 by the end of next Parliament.

This move would cut income tax for 30m workers and be worth £400 per year to a typical basic rate taxpayer.

Pensioners have not benefitted from the previous increases in the personal allowance, but the increase to £12,500 will benefit more than 6m pensioners.

And in a new proposal announced today, Liberal Democrats will seek to raise the amount people can earn before paying National Insurance once the personal income tax allowance has reached £12,500.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“Our tax system must be fair and help to make being in work pay.  That’s why cutting income tax for working people, particularly those on low and middle incomes, is a top Liberal Democrat priority.

“It was on the front page of the 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto and we have fought to keep it on the agenda at every Budget.  By April next year we will have delivered a tax cut to over 26 million people worth £800 a year to a typical basic rate taxpayer and taken over 3 million out of tax altogether.

“Now we want to go even further and lift the amount of money people can earn before paying income tax to £12,500.  This will take hundreds of thousands more low earners out of tax altogether and give millions of working people a further tax cut of £400.

“This move will also give a tax cut to over 6 million pensioners.  When we’ve reached £12,500 we will seek to raise the level that people start paying employee National Insurance.

“The Liberal Democrats are the only party in British politics with a long-term commitment to cutting taxes for the working people of Britain. We’ve delivered the largest programme of tax cuts for a generation over the last four years, despite all of the other financial pressures.

“These manifesto commitments will mean nothing less than a generational shift to a fairer tax system that rewards work and helps working people. That’s the way to build a stronger economy and a fairer society and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get on in life.”

Come and join us this week!

campaigning with willie

This Thursday (14 August 2014) we will out campaigning in the afternoon and evening. It would be fantastic if you were able to join us at any point.

In Holyrood ward, we will be leafleting from 1pm followed and after a short break we will be back out doorstep surveying at 3pm. We will then be surveying in Sedgley ward at 6pm. For more details and to RSVP please ring or text Victor on 07977240568.

 

Mental health research should be the next big breakthrough

key_Mental_Health

A Liberal Democrat government would establish a mental health research fund to support the development of new cutting-edge mental health treatments, Nick Clegg has announced.

Nick is calling for Britain to lead the world in understanding and treating mental illness, so that it is put on equal-footing with physical health.

In the plans outlined by Nick, Liberal Democrats would increase funding spent on mental health research by £50m, by 2020.

The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Research shows that one in four people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives. By tackling mental health as a same priority as physical health, we can build a fairer society.

Nick said:

Mental health issues have been treated as a sort of Cinderella service compared to physical health issues.

“I want people who are dealing with depression to be as effectively treated as if they had diabetes.

“That is why I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough in mental health research just as we have always been a country that is a world leader in research into physical health.

“We’ve led the world in research in physical health issues. We’re the country where penicillin was invented, where DNA was discovered, where IVF fertility treatment was developed, I see no reason why we can’t lead the world in mental health research and treatments as well.

“To that end, the Liberal Democrats will commit in our manifesto to a new research fund which, by the end of next Parliament, will be worth £50m per year.”

Liberal Democrats in government have prioritised mental healthcare. We have introduced a legal duty on the NHS to promote parity of esteem for mental health and are investing £400m to increase access to talking therapies.

By establishing a mental health research fund, we can go even further and pave the way for major breakthroughs in the way we understand and treat mental illness.

Paddy Ashdown dinner in Manchester

Paddy_Ashdown_3

Paddy Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG, KBE, PC ,is the Chair of the Liberal Democrats 2015 General Election Team.

He is coming to Manchester in November to raise money for John Leech MP’s re- election campaign.

After service as a Royal Marine and as an intelligence officer for the UK security services, Paddy was MP for Yeovil from 1983 to 2001, and leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 until August 1999. Later he was the International High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. from 2002 to 2006.

To book your place go to: http://bit.ly/1sQeEaU

Candidates 2015

Parliamentary Candidates
Closing date: Friday, 1 August at 6pm
The Local Party Executive of Bury Liberal Democrats invites applications for selection as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the constituencies of Bury North and Bury South.

Potential applicants should contact the Returning Officer, Andrew Garner, 34 Stockport Road, Romiley, Stockport, SK6 3AA
Phone 07788 580 242 – Email mail@andrewgarner.net for an application Pack.

Candidates must be on the Approved list of Parliamentary Candidates. Applications must be received by the Returning Officer by 18:00 on Friday 1st August 2014.

Local Election Candidates – Holyrood, St Mary’s and Sedgley Wards
Closing date: Friday, 1 August at 6pm
The Local Party Executive of Bury Liberal Democrats invites applications for selection as candidate in the Prestwich wards of Holyrood, St Mary’s and Sedgley for the May 2015 elections. Candidates should be an approved target local election candidate in Bury at the time of application. Application should be by email to the above returning officer mail@andrewgarner.net by 1 August.

Queries or an informal discussion on either Parliamentary or local election candidates pleae contact our council group leader Tim Pickstone 07976 831 686 tim@burylibdems.net

Dates for your Diary

Campaign Update: 3-weekly Bins

As people will have seen in the press Bury Council have agreed to go ahead with three-weekly collections of the main ‘grey’ bins from October 2014.

The decision was made by the Council’s ‘Cabinet’ – a group of six Labour councillors with no opposition members.

Immediately after the decision our ouw Cllr Tim Pickstone wrote and asked for the decision to be ‘called-in for Scrutiny’. This is where the decision of the Cabinet is reviewed by the Scrutiny Committee which is made up of ‘back-bench’ councillors.

Although this is an important step it is almost unheard of for Scrutiny to change a decision of the Cabinet, particularly because the balance on the Committee is more representative of the Council’s political makeup – so there are 9 Labour councillors, 3 Conservatives and for this particular committee no Lib Dems or Independents.

The Scrutiny Call-in Meeting happens on Wednesday 30 July 2014 at 7.00pm at the Town Hall – members of the public are welcome.

Lack of Public Consultation
We are extremely concerned about the way that this decision has been made. The Council could and should have consulted members of the public, to see what ideas people had about recycling and bin collections.

Instead the decision has been rushed through with only six days between the publication on the report and the final decision being made.

Over 3,500 people signed a petition on the Change.org website against the three weekly collection. Local Lib Dems undertook our own online survey of local residents and despite the short timescale over 800 people took part.

91% did not agree with the change to 3 weeks, 6% agreed.

 

bins graph

Good idea, but wrong way to do it!
Bury Council’s idea of ‘zero waste’ is a good principle to have.

Liberal Democrats have always been huge supporters of recycling. The world’s population is growing every day and we cannot continue to exploit and throw away the earth’s precious resources.

The Council estimates that it will save £800,000 a year in landfill charges. But, as many residents have pointed out, this assumes that we will all recycle MORE rubbish with a three-weekly bin collection than we do now. Many people are telling us that they already recycle everything that they can.

Every Household is Different
We’re all different and we all produce slightly different amounts of rubbish! There will be different ways that work for different households to reduce their waste. Many people have enthusiastically taken up the Council’s offer of having a smaller Grey Bin – which is a great way to reduce recycling if you can keep your rubbish down to this level. Now the Council is saying that it will replace smaller bins with bigger bins if people need to with the three-weekly collections (how much is that going to cost?).

Three weekly collections will be fine for some households. But many people with larger families, with babies, with pets and some people with medical conditions are very concerned about how they will cope with a collection every three weeks.

What can’t we recycle
There are many things that we CANNOT recycle in our bins at present. Most are ‘soft plastics’ such as yogurt pots, margarine tubs and crucially all that packaging we get from supermarkets such as plastic food trays. There are medium sized items that can be taken to a tip or a mini-recycling centre – but guess what? – the Council has closed our Tip, and all three mini-recycling centres in Prestwich have been closed (Tescos, Longfield, Upper Wilton Street). In Government the Lib Dems have introduced a small charge on plastic bags to help reduce plastic waste, encourage recycling and protect our environment. When a similar charge was introduced in Wales, the number of plastic bags used fell by nearly 80%.

Reducing our Rubbish
The best way to reduce the amount we send to landfill or incinerator and save money is to reduce the amount of rubbish in total. Thirty years ago a households’ rubbish fitted easily into ONE small bin (that the dustbin man/woman normally carried on their back!). What has changed is the amount we buy and throw away and crucially the amount of packaging that everything comes in. Some things will need to be done by Government, but there are many things that local councils can do – either on their own or working together (for example across Greater Manchester) to work with supermarkets to reduce their packaging, or help people reduce waste.

What happens now?
Unless something happens to change the Council’s mind, the changes will happen at the beginning of October 2014.

The Council has produced this list of FAQs for people.

 

 

 

 

Reporting Back – Full Council July 2014

Earlier in the month was the regular meeting of Bury’s Full Council – the opportunity five times a year when all Councillors meet together.

The meeting interestingly too place the night before the announcement in the press and on TV about the three-weekly bin collections. However no mention was made of this new policy at Full Council (TV interviews had clearly already been recorded). Papers for the Cabinet meeting which contained the proposal seemed to be handed out as people left the meeting.

This was my first Full Council meeting as the only Liberal Democrat councillor. Although it has its advantages ( for example it’s easy to decide how the Liberal Democrats will vote) it also has significant disadvantages. We can’t propose motions and any questions to the Leader get put at the very bottom of the list and then don’t get answered! (I understand this might be reviewed, as hopefully it fairly clear that this isn’t a fair way of doing things…)

Public Question Time
Two main issues were raised:
– the speed limit of the unrestricted section of Turton Road, which I understand will be reduced to 50mph, and the possibility of 40mph is being investigated.
– a second issue was the proposal for the withdrawal of the (commercially run) bus service which serves Affetside. Thankfully Transport for Greater Manchester have stepped in and a solution for a subsidised service has been found.

Questions to the Leader
I submitted two questions – which were only answered in writing.

Councillor Pickstone
Could the Leader say what proportion of staff who are currently employed by the Authority at levels below the ‘living wage’ are employed in schools? The Council is currently proposing to increase the pay of staff on the minimum wage to something a little higher, but still below the recommended ‘Living Wage’.If I had been given a supplementary question I would have asked about how the Council was addressing the issue of schools budgets that would have been affected by this.

A. There are 646 schools-based employees who currently earn an
hourly rate of pay that is below the Living Wage of £7.65 per hour.
This amounts to just under 56% of the total number of employees
who earn less than the Living Wage. This Labour administration is
very clear that it aspires to pay all staff at or above the Living Wage
and the simple reason that we cannot do this at the present time is
the sheer scale of the cuts imposed on us by the coalition
Government which Councillor Pickstone’s party plays a full role in.
However, despite this, the proposals on terms and conditions that
we have just begun to consult on provide for a move towards the
Living Wage for the lowest paid of our employees.

Councillor Pickstone
Will the Leader join me in welcoming the £245,000 extra money for potholes for Bury from the Government? How will the funding be split between townships?

A. As I said in an earlier answer, I am pleased that we have qualified
for this funding because it shows that the Government recognize that
Bury Council delivers best practice when it comes to highway
maintenance. However this money only goes a fraction of the way to
making up for the savage cuts that the Government has previously
made to our highways funding and so it is clear to everyone that the
blame for potholes on our roads lies firmly at their door.We intend to
spend the money in the areas of most need and so it is not possible to
provide a township split at this stage.

Motions
A Labour motion on a ‘Fair Deal for Bury’ proposed calling for all-parties to lobby Government for a review of the ‘funding formula’ which (for many years) has been viewed as unfairly underfunding Bury compared to other councils. There was a long debate, including an amendments from the Conservatives. I ended up supporting this motion.

A Conservative motion addressed the issue of Bury’s ‘Core Strategy’. The consideration of this issue has been suspended by the Planning Inspector, as there are issues around the supply of land for future housing. The Conservative motion also included opposition to all wind farms, which I don’t support.
In the end a Labour amendment was adopted which I was able to support.

Any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tim

Lifting the lid on the gender pay gap

Large companies will be legally required to publish the difference between what they pay men and women, under manifesto plans set out by Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrats would make it a legal requirement for companies employing more than 250 people to publish the average pay of their male and female workers.

key_equal_pay

This would create pressure from staff and customers to account for and close any pay gap that exists between men and women.

The plans were announced by Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, Minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Currently leading employers are encouraged to publish pay gap information on a voluntary basis, but Liberal Democrats want to go further.

Liberal Democrats are the first major party to commit to enforcing gender pay transparency by law.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said:

“Forty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed it is utterly unacceptable that women are not being equally rewarded in the workplace – with women paid, on average, 20% less than men.

“Real equality means fair pay. It’s time to accept that the voluntary approach does not go far or fast enough.

“We need to lift the lid on what big companies pay the men and women they employ, with that information there for every employee and customer to see.”

In 2013, the average woman earned 19.7% less than the average man and Liberal Democrats want to see equal pay for equal jobs.

Jo Swinson added:

“The Liberal Democrats have fought for shared parental leave, extra childcare, a new right to request flexible working, and we are determined to tackle the issue of gender pay.

“If women in the workplace are to have the same opportunities and choices as men, they must be properly rewarded for their talents and skills – it’s as simple as that.”

Liberal Democrats will work with businesses on what information companies should publish and how often they should do so.

Vince Cable said:

“We’re consulting with business to make sure we get the detail right, but ultimately this is a good step for our companies.

“We’ve already seen some of our biggest firms lead the way on publishing pay gap information. They know that their staff will appreciate real openness about the way men and women are paid and real effort to close any gap that exists.”

You can join the camapign today: http://www.libdems.org.uk/breaking_down_the_gender_pay_gap

key_equal_pay (1)

90% Say NO to 3-weekly Bin Collections

An online poll conducted over the five days since Bury Council announced it was proposing to introduce a three-weekly collection of the main ‘grey’ bins has shown that 90% of residents are opposed to the change.

Almost 800 people have taken part in the online survey so far, which asked people if they agreed with the proposals to change to a three-weekly collection:

Do you agree with Bury Council’s proposal to collect our grey bins once every three weeks?

Screenshot 2014-07-16 12.10.15

As Liberal Democrats we’re hugely committed to recycling, so we asked residents for ideas people felt worked best to enable Bury residents to recycle more:

What ideas would you support to increase the amount of recycling in Bury?

Screenshot 2014-07-16 12.10.22

 
The questions were:
Smaller Grey Bins (for everyone)
Smaller Grey Bins (optional)
Increased education and information about recycling
Fines or penalties for not recycling
Financial incentives to encourage recycling
Reducing packaging from local supermarkets
More garden composting
Other

If you’ve not taken part you still can here.

Your Views and Ideas
People submitted hundreds of other comments and ideas which we’ll be collating and analysing over the next few days.

Here are just a few of them:

“It is ridiculous to reduce collections of general waste before putting the correct recycling facilities in place. Bury do not accept many plastic items and these are bulky, so the grey bins are full in a fortnight.”

“This proposed policy penalises those with babies (we will have 2 in nappies for a short while), the sick/disabled and any others who may produce slightly more non-recycable waste but cannot get themselves to the tip. These people will possibly have stinking bins outside their back door for 3 weeks. If you miss a collection (unavoidably) you are in trouble! This policy has led to fly tipping elsewhere which will cost the council more money. This should be a last resort with all avenues pursued to help people recycle first.”

“We recycle most of our waste and still struggle with having a full grey bin within a week, let alone 2 weeks. If the service went 3 weekly we would not manage. I am not 100% up to speed as to what plastics are recyclable and which are not, so more help in this area would be welcome.”

“We are a family of five, our bin over flows now at two weeks we have to sometimes go to the tip with our extra bags of rubbish as it is, because we don’t want the cats/dogs /fox’s getting into out rubbish! I cannot believe this is even an option unbelievable!!!!!”

“There are two of us in our house and we downsized to the smaller Bin a few months ago which only takes 3 or 4 Black bags. We recycle all paper,cardboard,bottles and grass and our Bin is full every two weeks but so are the neighbours with bigger bins and four or five people living in the house. Sometimes lids are left ajar as they can’t fit it all in. Once every two weeks is bad enough. Some countries get collections 2 or three times a Week!!!!! Will Bury council now be reducing our council tax for this reduced service? How do they feel about the increase in the carbon footprints as most of us will have to go the Skip with our excess Rubbish. Really appalling decision. The Rats of Bury must be dancing and laughing in the sewers”

“Most supermarket packaging is not able to be recycled – this is where the real issue lies. Yoghurt pots, jelly pots, some fruit juices with plastic tops, ready meal trays, packaging for fruit, fish etc. This is the reason why the main grey bin is always full up so quickly and why it is impossible to go to a 3 week empty on this bin. As a family we recycle everything that we can but many items cannot be recycled and that’s the problem.”

“As a family of two adults and one child I struggle to see why the council feel three weeks is suitable. We recycle all bottles and cans, in fact our blue bin is 85/90% full every collection along with the cardboard bin being completely full each collection. We recycle far more than I thought was possible and I’m proud of that fact. My mindset has changed over the years from when everything went in the grey bin and that’s fantastic.

“As a family of two adults and one child I struggle to see why the council feel three weeks is suitable. We recycle all bottles and cans, in fact our blue bin is 85/90% full every collection along with the cardboard bin being completely full each collection. We recycle far more than I thought was possible and I’m proud of that fact. My mindset has changed over the years from when everything went in the grey bin and that’s fantastic. Having said that I feel two weeks is manageable for us as a 3 person family. It will be completely unmanageable with 3 week collections. That problem would be exacerbated should any more people live in this house. There will be an increase in fly tipping if this ludicrous idea is brought in. Reduction in packaging should be the first step rather than taking away a service that is just about adequate.”

“This is a dreadful idea. We recycle all the time and our bin is at full capacity at emptying time. I have two young children. The risk of rats and maggots is not to be underestimated”

“More bottle bins or recycle points near to supermarkets or place people visit often so it is easy recycle”

“We make full use of all 4 bins and try not to buy items with excessive packaging but with a growing family we only just manage with the grey bin emptied every 2 weeks.”
“I agree that we should re-cycle more and be encouraged to do so but as general waste needs to be decreased there should be mechanisms to enable more plastics to be accepted.”

“We are a family of 6 and cannot cope with the fortnightly collections. We have to use our elderly neighbours grey bin also we have use the local tip, I am very conscious about the environment and recycle everything we can.”

“I noticed that one of the key aims of this change is to promote recycling. I feel that it would also help the situation if a wider range of plastic recycling was included within the blue bin. For example plastic containers (such as yoghurt pots, margarine/ice cream tubs, fruit/vegetable punnets, cream/custard pots, plastic trays e.g meat/fish/cake trays, soup/sauce pots, plastic cups, empty plastic bags, carrier bags and film).”

“My bin is usually too full to close by collection day and I live ALONE. How are families supposed to deal with this? I recycle religiously and absolutely nothing goes in my grey bin that can be recycled, ever, but I do have 2 house cats. My bin smells enough as it is, can you imagine how bad it will be with 3 week old used cat litter in. Even with the litter in individual bags!!”

“Bury council should do more to inform citizens exactly what can and can’t be recycled. The information on the website does not have enough detail.There is a lot more the council could do first before asking it’s citizens to accept a reduced service, such as recycling absorbent hygiene products and recycling lower grade polymers. This would reduce the amount of grey bin waste significantly.”

“Supermarkets produce most of my grey bin contents with plastic packaging, but the inability of Bury Council to recycle PET/plastic cartons is another stumbling block.”
“Stuff is often put in grey / black bins because it is not acceptable to be put in the other bins due to that item not being acceptable by Bury Metro for recycling…
There should be less restriction on what can go in recycling bins. The current information is confusing and frustrating. EG I can put a clear plastic bottle in my blue bin but a clear plastic container which had contained fruit cannot. To the uninitiated this makes no sense at all. Therefore it is put in the black bin. Citizens are then accused of not recycling; enough! We are trying – so help us to recycle more by making more things acceptable for recycling.”

“I feel outraged about the council’s plans to only empty the grey bins every 3 weeks. It would only cause problems in practical ways and antagonism towards the council.”
“As a family of 5 with 2 extra children at weekends, the current waste facilities are far from adequate.
I’m sure that for single people and couples this will be fine bit not for us, and I suspect many others feel the same way. If this goes through I would like to know the council can justify it.”

“I do not agree with this proposal. We try to recycle as much as possible but there are many things that cannot be recycled. E.g. yoghurt pots, many plastic containers etc. despite our best efforts after 2 week our grey bin is full and particularly in the summer smells. To go to 3 weekly collections would make matters worse.”

“The idea to stretch it out another week is laughable. The quantity of materials accepted by the council is minimal and will be off putting to the majority. Increase the types of plastics allowed and recycling will increase naturally”
“Recycling should be encouraged however there needs to be a line between recycling and cleanliness. The grey bins fill extremely quickly and we recycle everything. However having a baby with nappies and also 2 dogs, getting the bins done every 3 weeks means the smell is going to be horrendous. I can honestly say we don’t use our small brown bin due to the smell!! It was very unhygienic, a terrible idea! And especially in summer when all the flys are drawn to it! Disgusting! I do agree with recycling but I also want a safe SMELL FREE home for my baby.”

“I disagree strongly about fining people for refuse mistakes, after all, making an unintentional mistake is not a crime. Clearer instructions is needed, and an extra bin for larger families should they bring in 3 weekly emptying.”

“I have 3 cats and my grey bin is not only full, but also stinks after 2 weeks, so I would not agree with the new proposals. I suspect mothers with babies and children experience the same problem. I also cannot see how increasing collection to 3 weeks will, in any way, increase recycling.”

“There is a disincentive to recycling paper and cardboard because the green bin gets too full too quickly and so the rest has to go in the grey bin. There are too many plastic products which cannot presently be recycled in Bury despite their having recycling logos on them. e.g. yoghurt cartons, plastic trays, etc.”

“How do you justify this proposal – surely it must contravene health & safety regulations? It must encourage vermin – rats mice foxes etc. Personally, I’d rather pay a little extra community charge and have my cardboard tin/glass recycling collected 3 weekly and my normal garbage collected weekly. I think this is a ridiculous proposal. I am strongly in favour of financial penalties for those who don’t recycle.”

“Composters should be made more readily available and be free to replace brown bin. More plastic recycling should be offered for plastic packaging/bags etc not just PTE bottles”
I live alone, but recycle everything possible. My principle content of the grey bin will be mostly soft plastic and containers that cannot be recycled with bottles etc. + a small amount of cooked items (mostly bones) that cannot be recycled but are securely wrapped in the soft plastic. My bin therefore never suffers smells and so a 3 week cycle won’t create a problem for me. If a 3 week cycle save the Council money, great and I’m up for it! More education please for non recyclers. They are costing us money!!”

“We are a family of 4 and we recycle 100%, in fact I’m obsessed with it. Each of our bins is filled to the top at bin collection time, If it goes to 3 weekly I will have excess grey bin rubbish. I think people may fly tip as Prestwich tip is no longer open and most won’t drive to Lumns Lane or Salford.”

“If brown bin was collected weekly and grey bin tri-weekly, the incentive to recycle ALL food waste is explicit. People hate smelly bins. Obviously green and blue bins don’t really smell. Most of the material that makes grey bins smelly is organic waste that should be on the brown bin anyway. So, small brown bin, small grey bin and one and three weeks collections respectively would, I feel, dramatically increase uptake and use of brown bin and thus recycling statistics.”

“If this means that the small brown food waste bins will only be collected every three weeks, there will be health risks. I was away during the last collection and two weeks later my small brown bin was full of maggots.”