Councillors spread Christmas cheer at Longfield Centre

Christmas Saturday Surgery at the Longfield

Local Councillors were out in force spreading Christmas cheer at the Longfield Centre on Saturday 18th December, as the regular Liberal Democrat Saturday Surgery took on a decidedly Christmassy flavour.

Councillors from all three Prestwich wards were on hand as usual on Saturday morning, but donned Santa hats and handed out free mince pies to shoppers and local people who came down to take part. Richard Baum, Liberal Democrat Councillor for St Mary’s ward, said “We have a surgery at the Longfield Centre every Saturday morning from 10.45 – 11.45 come rain or shine. The snow didn’t deter us on Saturday and we were in the festive spirit with our hats and pies. There was even some mulled wine to keep us warm.”

Richard continued “There’s a serious purpose to these Saturday Surgeries. We are here to listen to local people and try to help with any problems they’ve got. We’ve also got the “Scrap Prestwich Parking Charges” petition for people to sign, and over 2,000 people have done so far. We’re also asking people their priorities for Prestwich so that we can make sure we let the Council know what needs protecting when they make cuts to deal with the deficit and debt. But we’re also here to wish everyone in Prestwich a merry Christmas, and I was pleased that so many people went away smiling with a mince pie and our Christmas best wishes.”

The Saturday Surgery series will commence again in early January after a fortnight off for Christmas and New Year. In the meantime, Councillors are available by phone or email over the holidays.

Delivering a Fair Start for Every Child

Liberal Democrats believe that a quality education is the biggest opportunity to improve people’s lives. Nothing is more important than giving every child a fair start in life.

Today the coalition government published its white paper on schools – “The Importance of Teaching”. It sets out our ambitious reform programme to raise standards for all children while narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

It shows how the Government is delivering the fair start for every child that we promised in the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

The White Paper announced four key reforms –

– Delivering a Pupil Premium, on top of the budgets that schools already have, to go to every deprived child wherever they live, to allow schools to put extra resources into narrowing the gap in attainment between the richest and the poorest.

– Giving all schools more freedom to make the right choices for their pupils – slimming down the national curriculum, removing bureaucracy and red tape and reducing testing and league tables.

– Recognising that it is the quality of teaching that really makes a difference in the classroom – expanding graduate teacher programmes like Teach First, developing networks of “teaching schools” and supporting continuing professional development.

And, something important to Liberal Democrats, matching school freedoms with a strong strategic role for local authorities in ensuring fairness – in admissions policies, for children with special educational needs, and in championing educational excellence in all schools, including
Free Schools and Academies.

You can read more about the white paper – and you can watch the video below about the pupil premium.

As part of the consultation process, you can send your views on the white paper to: schoolswhitepaper.team@education.gov.uk. If you have friends or family working in education, please foward this email so they can get involved.

The Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government the fair start for children we promised.

Sarah Teather MP
Minister of State – Department for Education

We have done the right thing: Message from Danny Alexander MP

When we came into office, we inherited an economy that was on the brink. With the largest budget deficit in Europe and no plan for tackling it, Britain faced huge economic risks. These could only be dealt with by a clear plan to deal rapidly with the worst financial position this country has faced for generations.

On Wednesday, we set out that plan. And while the scale and pace of the action we need to take is unavoidable, we can choose how we do it. The Spending Review sets out those choices: to spread the burden fairly, to promote economic growth, and to invest in the life chances of our children. These are hard choices that affect millions of people, but they are the right choices to set our country back on the road to prosperity.

We have spread the burden fairly by protecting the key services that the most vulnerable in our society rely on. Social Care has been given a funding boost worth £2bn, the NHS and schools have been protected and our plans for social housing will deliver up to 150,000 new affordable homes.

We have promoted future fairness through a £7 billion ‘fairness premium’ that will support improving the life chances of our poorest children from their first pair of shoes to their first pay packet.

We have promoted future growth by giving the go ahead to key transport projects that will unlock economic potential in every part of the country. We have also delivered on a Green Investment Bank that will kick start green investment and generate jobs.

And we are pushing forward with radical reform. Our decentralisation agenda will reduce the number of central government grants from 90 to fewer than 10. With the exception of schools and public health, ring-fences on council spending will disappear, giving local authorities much greater flexibility. We will deliver welfare reforms that simplify the system and make work pay. And our criminal justice reforms will roll out the community justice programmes that were pioneered by Liberal Democrats in local government.

Yes, it’s going to be tough, and everyone will make a contribution, but those with the broadest shoulders will bear the biggest burden. That’s why we’ve reduced taxes for the low paid, and increased them for the richest. It’s why we introduced a banking levy – and we’ve made it our aim to extract the maximum sustainable tax revenues from the banks that got us into this mess.

The worst thing to do would be to burden future generations with the debts that Labour left us. We have made the tougher choice, no doubt, but we should be proud of the way we have taken responsibility and we have done the right thing.

Danny Alexander MP
Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Message from Nick Clegg on the Fairness Premium

Today is a defining moment for the Liberal Democrats. Today we show what can be achieved as a party in power – that we can deliver on a promise that we put on the very front page of our manifesto: giving a fair chance to every child.

The Liberal Democrat’s purpose in Government is to make Britain a better, fairer nation. And ahead of next week’s comprehensive spending review, today we set out our plans for a four-year, £7 billion investment in improving opportunities for the most disadvantaged kids in this country.

Every disadvantaged two year-old will be entitled to 15 hours free early education – in addition to the existing entitlements at the ages of three and four. Every poor school child will get additional help from a Pupil Premium paid to their school. Every young adult who wants to go to university will be able to do so, undeterred by financial barriers.

By the end of the spending review period, we will be investing £3 billion a year on this Fairness Premium – including £2.5 billion on the pupil premium alone, £300 million on the extra help for two year-olds and £150 million on the university fairness scheme. From next year, we will he helping poorer children from two to twenty: from a child’s first shoes to a young adult’s first suit.

Given that we are having to cut spending these are sizable new commitments. But even as we cut spending, we are determined to invest in fairness.

Whatever Labour say, we have no choice but to tackle the deficit. Ed Miliband thinks otherwise. He says he represents a ‘new generation’. But he seems happy to saddle the next generation with the debt that his Government racked up. I am not.

Every day we lose more in interest payments to the financial markets: the amount we pay in interest is enough to build a new primary school every hour. Let me be absolutely candid: we have a hard road to recovery ahead of us. But also let me assure you, that as Liberal Democrats we are determined to ensure that road leads to fairness, too.

For me, this is personal. A decade ago I argued in favour of a pupil premium to help children and close the educational gap. Under Labour this gap has been left to widen and for too long the achievements in life have been dictated by the circumstances of birth. I represent a constituency in Sheffield where, for all Labour’s promises, inequalities still scar the community.

All of us are having to work hard in order to make the spending review fair. We’re all having to accept difficult cuts in many areas of public spending that we would very much rather avoid. Both parties in Government are having to negotiate and compromise. We’re all having to change our positions on some issues when the arguments demand it.

But all of us in this government, including the Prime Minister and myself, are not willing to compromise on a better future for the poorest children.

None of this would have been possible without all the hard work done by members up and down the country at the last election and over the many years before that. We should all be proud that we are delivering in Government the changes for which we have campaigned for so long.

Liberal Democrat Party Conference Report

Six members of the Lib Dem team here in Bury have just returned from the Liberal Democrat Party conference in Liverpool.

What a busy week it’s been. It’s the first time (since the 1930s) where the Liberal Democrats have been a Party of Government, and as a result there was more media interest, and interest from “lobbyists” and pressure groups. As a result this was by far the largest Lib Dem (or Liberal) conference in living memory – apparently over 7000 delegates, guests, press, lobbyists and staff!

Conference is a busy mix of debates, speeches, training and “fringe” events. So there was no shortage of events to keep the six delegates from Bury busy throughout the week.

Conference kicked off on Saturday with a Conference “rally” with Nick Clegg MP launching the Liberal Democrat support for the “Fairer Votes” referendum next May (when voters decide whether to switch to the fairer Alternative Vote (AV) system of electing MPs). Some of the team went on to the 2010 Campaigner Awards organised by the Association of Lib Dem Councillors recognising Lib Dem campaign success in the last year.

Sunday saw Q&A with the Deputy Prime Minister, where ordinary Party members got an opportunity to ask Nick about his role in Government. (Listen to a podcast (recording) of the Q&A here.) Debates in the main conference hall included an important debate on International Development where Lib Dems re-affirmed our long standing commitment to richer countries donating 0.7% of their GDP to the developing world.

Monday was dominated by the Leader’s speech. Normally we have this at the end of Conference, but Nick Clegg had to go to address the United Nations! You can read the full text here, of the speech here where the Leader sets out how the Liberal Democrats are delivering on our manifesto commitments in Government. The main debate in the hall was on “Free” Schools but also a busy day for delegates training – everything from being a better councillor to communicating well with local people.

Tuesday’s main speech was from Deputy Leader Simon Hughes MP. Delegates passed a resolution calling for equality in the laws around marrage (for mixed-sex and same-sex couples). On Wednesday the main speech for the media was Vince Cable (read here), and delegates reaffirmed Party policy that the replacement of Trident missiles should be reconsidered.

Some in the media probably expected this first conference “in Government” to be a difficult one for the Liberal Democrats. Our experience was the exact opposite:

At long last Liberal Democrats are delivering on our promises for a fairer Britain, a fair start for children, sorting out the economy and cleaning up politics.

Thousands of new members have joined the Liberal Democrats this year. There was a real “buzz” that this is a Party which is up to the challenge of Government and clearing up the mess left by Labour.

And Liberal Democrats are succeeding in real elections. Since the General Election Liberal Democrats have been making gains in the many local council by-elections that happen every week – including seven gains from the Conservatives!

There is more information on Conference on the national Party website www.libdems.org.uk. You can read our very own Councillor Vic D’Albert’s take on the leader’s speech here and Councillor Richard Baum’s write up on changes to local government here.

Grants Cuts put Prestwich Festival at Risk

Prestwich Festival and many other important community projects may be at risk after an annoucement that Bury Council is to cut all Area Board Grants in the current financial year.

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The Conservative-led Council has announced that there will be no Area Partnership grants for Prestwich – or any other the other parts of Bury this year. This is a grant scheme which has been running by the local areas for the last ten years. In Prestwich the grants have funded projects throughout the community, with the support for Prestwich Festival being the most visible in recent years.

Local Liberal Democrat Vic D’Albert said “This is another decision to cut services taken by the Conservatives without any consultation whatsoever. It’s damaging and not what people want. Once again we think the Bury Conservatives have got it wrong. We all know that cuts are needed to pay off Labour’s debt, but yet again the Tories at the town hall are cutting without asking people what matters to them.

“The Prestwich Festival is something we’re really proud of. We will fight to keep it going, and the Council need to realise how much this means to local people. They have made their decision without asking anyone, and are making the people of Prestwich pay disproportionately for Labour’s debt mess.”

(Picture: Prestwich Carnival Parade this summer)

100 days – Message from Nick Clegg MP

Today, the coalition Government is 100 days old.

I want to take this moment to say thank you once again for all your support, all your hard work, all your generosity. Thank you for everything you did to help us win over a million more votes for the Liberal Democrats in the General Election. Thank you for getting Liberal Democrat ministers into government for the first time in generations.

Today I made a speech about how the Coalition government is building a fairer society in Britain. You can read it here.

Both David Cameron and I have always made it clear that we are governing Britain for the long term, not for tomorrow’s headlines.

One of our main long-term goals is to increase social mobility. A fair society is one where everyone has the chance to do well, regardless of their beginnings. A society where no-one is held back by the circumstances of their birth. Where what counts isn’t what school you went to, the job your parents did or the colour of your skin, but your ability and ambition.

Read the rest of this entry.

Members and Supporters Events – Summer / Autumn 2010

Saturday 31st July, from 6.30pm
PIZZA AND POLITICS
Hosted by Cllrs Vic and Mary D’Albert
17 Prestwich Park Road South, Prestwich, M25 9PF.
Come along for an informal evening of food and political chat.
Cllr Donal O’Hanlon will lead a discussion on “The Big Politics: getting people involved in
politics without talking politics!”
£3 per person (pay on the night)

Monday 2nd August, 7.30-9.30pm
EXECUTIVE MEETING
Elton Liberal Club, New George Street, Bury BL8 1NW.
All welcome to join this meeting of party business.

Sunday 29th August, from 4pm
SUMMER BBQ
Hosted by Cllr Ann Garner and the Executive
182 Glebelands Road, Prestwich, M25 1NJ.
£10 donation per adult.
All contributions towards the BBQ, bottles and raffle prizes much appreciated.
Please book in advance by contacting Ann (ann@burylibdems.net, 0161 798 0117)

Friday 10th September, 7 for 7.30pm
QUIZ NIGHT
Elton Liberal Club, New George Street, Bury, BL8 1NW.
Tickets in advance or on the night.
For more information and for tickets contact Robert Sloss.
£15 per team (maximum of 6 people).
If you don’t have a team, come along and we’ll put together teams on the night.

Tuesday 21st September , 7.30pm
SCHOOL GOVERNORS’ MEETING
82 Glebelands Road, Prestwich, M25 1NJ
This meeting will be led by Cllr Ann Garner and is for members who are school governors
or those interested in finding out more about being a governor. The meeting will discuss
changes to policy and procedure and budget challenges. For further details contact Ann
(ann@burylibdems.net, 0161 798 0117).

Message from Nick Clegg on the Queen’s Speech Debate

Yesterday I was proud to be at the Government Dispatch Box in the House of Commons moving a motion in support of a Queen’s Speech that committed to delivering long cherished Liberal Democrat policies.

Over the coming months we will bring forward legislation for much needed political reform and the restoration of our civil liberties. We will bring in a proportionally elected second chamber, strengthen the role of parliament, increase devolution to Scotland and Wales, regulate party funding and lobbysists, introduce the power of recall for corrupt MPs and give people a chance to vote to end First Past the Post elections for the House of Commons. All huge leaps forward in reforming our politics.

And we will introduce a Freedom Bill. Something I campaigned for vigorously with Chris Huhne, Lynne Featherstone and others in opposition – which we will now deliver in government. It will scrap ID cards, end fingerprinting of children in schools without their parent’s consent, regulate CCTV cameras, place significant restrictions on the DNA database and restore the right to protest.

I am sincerely committed to working together across party lines to help bring about this new and better politics. And I hope all parties will work together on these issues. However so far sadly the Labour party is unwilling to learn from is mistakes in government. It seems wedded to deeply illiberal policies such as intrusive and unjustifiable ID cards and a DNA database full of the data of innocent men and women. I hope that will change.

Yesterday the Liberal Democrat MPs you helped elect voted in Parliament for a program of real, liberal change. After 13 years of failure from Labour we are already making a real difference in government. With your on-going support we can keep making Liberal Democrat policies a reality.

CHANGE THAT WORKS FOR YOU

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT MANIFESTO

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This is a manifesto you can trust. We have stripped our priorities back to the essential, fundamental changes that Britain needs to make it fair:

  • Fair taxes that put money back in your pocket
  • A fair chance for every child
  • A fair future, creating jobs by making Britain greener
  • And a fair deal by cleaning up politics

These are deliverable, practical plans to make your life better, and they are right there on the front cover of our manifesto. Instead of rhetoric and razzmatazz, we are saying what we will do and how we will pay for it.

Elections should be a competition of ideas, not marketing budgets. They may have the bigger budgets but we have the bigger ideas.And you can trust us to deliver because unlike the other parties, we have spelt out, line by line in the manifesto how every single policy is paid for, and how we will reduce the deficit.

We have set out £15bn of details spending cuts and just £5bn a year of new spending, meaning £10bn for the deficit every year. We are the first party to put detailed spending plans into a manifesto.

Four key pledges

  1. Fair taxes: We will ensure no-one pays income tax on the first £10,000 they earn. Most taxpayers will get a tax cut of £700 a year. We’ll pay for it by closing loopholes that unfairly benefit the rich, a new tax on mansions worth over £2m, a crack down on tax avoidance and higher aviation duty.
  2. A fair start for all our children: We will get every child the individual attention they need by cutting class sizes. We will spend an extra £2.5bn on schools, targeted at children who need the most help. The average primary school could cut class sizes to 20. An average secondary school could see classes of just 16.
  3. A fair future: a rebalanced, green economy: We will break up the banks and rebalance the economy away from unsustainable financial speculation. We will be honest about where savings must be made in government spending to balance the books and protect our children’s future. And we will create new jobs with a £3.1bn green stimulus and job creation plan in our first year in office, fully funded by cut backs elsewhere.
  4. A fair deal from politicians: We will introduce a fair voting system. We will ensure corrupt MPs can be sacked by their constituents and stop non-doms from donating to parties or sitting in Parliament. We will take power from Westminster and give it to communities, with local power over police and the NHS, and introduce a freedom bill to protect and restore civil liberties.

We also have the following commitments:

  • Protect front line NHS services. We will help the NHS work better with the money it has and protect front line services by re-investing the savings we find back into healthcare
  • Recruit 3,000 more police officers to keep our streets safe and scrapping ID cards
  • Scrap student tuition fees to reduce the burden of student debt immediately and eliminate fee debt altogether over 6 years
  • A pay rise for our brave service men and women together with cut backs of bureaucrats and top brass officers in the Ministry of Defence
  • Uprate the basic state pension in line with earnings immediately so that pensioners do not fall further behind when the economy starts to grow again

YOU CAN READ NICK CLEGGS MANIFESTO LAUNCH SPEECH HERE

YOU CAN READ OR DOWNLOAD A COPY OF OUR MANIFESTO HERE: libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf

ALTERNATIVELY YOU CAN VIEW OUR MANIFESTO IN FULL OR SECTIONS ON OUR WEBSITE HERE