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PLAN TO BOOST AFFORDABLE HOMES IN BURY

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Bury South Liberal Democrats have welcomed plans to boost affordable housing and avoid home repossession. 

The plans, launched by the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable MP and Shadow Housing Minister Sarah Teather MP, include: 

  • providing refurbishment loans for owners of empty homes if the homes are leased to housing associations,

  • boosting the amount of private housing for rent including using empty commercial property temporarily as housing,
  • bringing in a new type of secure mortgage to help boost lending to house buyers,

  • letting councils and housing associations buy up unsold private houses and allowing them access to funds to bring their homes up to social housing standards,

  • making sure the courts allow repossession only as a last resort.

Parliamentary spokesperson for Bury South Lib Dems, Vic D’Albert said, “There are many people right across Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich who are struggling to get their own home or are facing repossession because of the recession. We must do all we can to help residents through these bad times. 

“Many homes built just before the recession started lie empty, often because the banks are not lending to people wanting to buy, yet there are many people needing a place to live. We want to unblock the system and our plans will help to do that. 

“Giving housing associations and councils the opportunity to buy up empty homes that builders cannot sell will mean hundreds of local families will be able to rent a place of their own.

Home energy plans mean cheaper bills in Bury

PLANS by the Liberal Democrats to massively increase the energy efficiency of all homes will lead to big savings in energy bills, say Bury Liberal Democrats.

In a message to local residents, Parliamentary spokesperson for Bury South, Vic D’Albert has backed the plans to raise the standard of home energy efficiency.

“The energy efficiency standards of 99 out of every 100 homes fall well below what they should be,” said Vic D’Albert. “Nearly every one of us is spending money on bills to heat the great outdoors as so much energy escapes from our homes.

“We want to bring home energy efficiency up to the highest level possible. In the past year, fuel bills have gone through the roof. But too often, our heat is escaping through the roof as well. Our plans will put an end to that.

”By cutting energy waste, we are also cutting the damage we do to the environment. It’s a win-win situation: lower fuel bills and fewer emissions that are leading to climate change that has given us extreme weather.”

The Liberal Democrats’ plans include requiring energy companies to use some of the £9 billion profit they have made from emissions trading to insulate the homes of the poorest residents.

They will also set up a National Green Loans scheme which will pay for a complete overhaul of the energy efficiency of people’s homes. Repayments will be added to energy bills with the loan paid off from the savings in energy use. Loan repayments will not be allowed to be more than the savings.

“This is a great idea for helping people to cut their energy bills and help us save the planet,” said Vic D’Albert.

Council graffiti response “woefully inadequate” say local Lib Dems

Council graffiti response “woefully inadequate” say local Lib Dems

Local Councillors have reacted with anger after another spate of graffiti in Prestwich, and are calling on the Council to take immediate action to clean up the mess.

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Cllr Vic D’Albert, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Holyrood ward and Chair of Prestwich Local Area Partnership said “I am disgusted that vandals continue to bring misery to local people by daubing our streets with graffiti. And I am equally angry with the Council’s woefully inadequate response. This has been going on for too long now, and it’s about time action was taken. The Local Area Partnership and the Police are already using very tight resources to try to manage this problem, but the Council need to take action now to help us and clean up the streets”

Liberal Democrats at Bury Town Hall have been campaigning for action for months. At a Council meeting in February they staged a demonstration displaying photographs of graffiti which has blighted Prestwich for months. The Council have offered graffiti kits for residents and businesses, but have so far directed no extra resource to clear up a problem which is getting worse.

Lib Dem spokesperson for Environmental Service Cllr Ann Garner said “The graffiti is on everything from streets signs to walls, and from utility buildings to business property. Graffiti kits are not a suitable solution except in limited circumstances. The Council have the power to insist that utility companies clean up graffiti on their property, and need to direct real efforts into cleaning it from their own property. I am proud of what Prestwich has to offer, and it is being ruined by graffiti which goes uncleaned for months.”

Cllr D’Albert concluded “We need to work together on this. Prestwich Councillors are doing their bit by leading the community fight. The Police did their bit by catching offenders, and we are supporting them to try to catch the latest offenders. But the Council are letting us down. They need to take action to clean up Prestwich now. “

Ends

Notes to Editor
Cllr Vic D’Albert is the Chair of Prestwich Area Partnership and is a Councillor for Holyrood Ward in Prestwich
Cllr Ann Garner is the Lib Dem Spokesperson on the Environment and is a Councillor for Sedgley Ward in Prestwich

Children in Bury will benefit from Schools Plan

PROPOSALS from the Liberal Democrats for big improvements to schools and teaching will see around £11 million of extra cash for schools in Bury to boost the education and life chances of thousands of children say local party members.

The plans were launched by Party Leader Nick Clegg and Shadow Secretary of State for Schools, David Laws MP. They call for raising standards in all local schools; closing the gap between children from rich and poor families and ending the era of Government meddling in education.

Speaking about the proposals to a meeting of members and residents, Councillor Tim Pickstone, who leads the Lib Dems in Bury said:

“There are a number of radical ideas to ensure all young people get the best start in life. The extra cash will make a real difference in our local schools.

“I am particularly pleased that funding is proposed to cut infant class sizes to private school levels of 15.

“We will also introduce a £2.5bn Pupil Premium, to ensure that extra funding goes to the pupils with the highest needs, whichever school they are in. And some of that extra money will pay for after school and Saturday classes, and extended school days.

“We will also get central government off the back of schools, teachers and pupils. The days of ministers in Whitehall stifling schools and interfering with everything that happens in the classroom must end.

“Schools here in Bury need to be freed to teach children rather than spend their time obeying ministerial orders and trying to achieve government targets.

“The schools proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrats will go a long way to ensuring that the many thousands of local children who go to local schools have at least as good a start in life as the small number who are educated privately.”

The proposals will be debated at the party’s spring conference in Harrogate in March.

Bury Lib Dems “Ashamed of Pay and Grading Calamity.”

Liberal Democrats on Bury Council are “ashamed” of the treatment of Council staff in the recent Pay and Grading review, according to Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Tim Pickstone.

Cllr Pickstone, speaking at the meeting of Bury Council on February 4th, said “In all honesty, I was ashamed of the review. I was ashamed that that staff were sent letters saying that their salary would drop – only to be sent new letters a couple of months later saying that the rates would fall even more, and ashamed that staff were sent dismissal letters giving over the Christmas holidays, and then saw them withdrawn because of a lack of consultation.”

The Liberal Democrats supported a motion of no confidence in the Conservative Leader of the Council, Cllr Bob Bibby. But Cllr Pickstone said “It is true that the Conservatives run the Council and must take much of the blame for this calamity, but there has been a breakdown in relations between the Council and its staff representatives, and in my view the Labour Party must also take their share of blame because they were in control of the Council when this started.

Liberal Democrat spokesman for Resource and Performance, Cllr Richard Baum said “The Council has not been at its best whilst the Conservatives have been running this process. The Tories made a mockery of the scrutiny process by bending the rules around how decisions are overseen by the Council, and have consistently refused offers of help from other parties to try and work this out.”

Green plans will boost jobs and homes in Bury

Liberal Democrats in Bury have given their backing to plans for investment in green schemes that will make homes warmer, cut energy bills and improve public transport.

The plans, called Green Road out of Recession, were announced on 18th December by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg MP. 

The plans will cost £12.5bn, which would be paid for by scrapping the recent VAT cut. The vast majority of that money will be spent immediately, making a real impact on the economy and people’s lives right away. 

Green Road out of the Recession proposals include:

  • A five-year programme to insulate every school and hospital, with 20% completed in the first year
  • Funding insulation and energy efficiency for a million homes, with a £1,000 subsidy for a million more

  • Building 40,000 extra zero-carbon social houses

  • Buying 700 new train carriages

  • Installing energy and money saving smart meters in every home within five years

“The plans proposed by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats will give an immediate boost to the economy here in Bury,” said Vic D’Albert, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Bury South“. And by insulating people’s homes, it will help thousands of residents whose heating bills have gone through the roof in the past year.

 “I would particularly welcome the widespread introduction of smart meters in homes which would prove a massive boost to the increasing numbers of residents suffering from fuel poverty across the area.” 

Richard Baum, Parliamentary spokesperson for Bury North also welcomed the proposals adding, “Whilst Labour and the Conservatives are quietly dropping serious interest in tackling climate change and damage to the environment, Liberal Democrats believe that moving forward with green action on homes and transport will create jobs, cut energy bills, put money back into people’s pockets and protect the environment. It’s right for Britain and it’s right for Bury”.

LIB DEMS – AHEAD OF THE GAME ON THE ECONOMY

The Liberal Democrats have consistently been ahead of the game on economic issues. Here is a list of ten things we called for first, and which have now either been implemented or taken on board by at least one of the other two main parties.

  • Northern Rock nationalisation – it was clear to us that this was unavoidable in November last year. It took the Government until February to act.

  • Independence of the Bank of England – longstanding Lib Dem policy. First Labour implemented it, over Tory opposition. Now even the Tories support it.

  • Recapitalisation of the banks – Vince Cable was the first politician to call for this. Three days later the Chancellor announced that this would be going ahead.

  • Tackling the bonus culture – in May we were the first party to put forward proposals for tackling the harmful bonus culture in the financial sector. By the autumn, ministers and the Tory leadership had realised the situation was indefensible and changed their tune..

  • Regulation of ‘sale and rent back’ agreements – this was part of our ‘7 point plan’ for dealing with personal debt, launched in September 2003. The Government announced on 22nd October this year that they were finally looking into this.

  • New court guidance to make repossession a ‘last resort’, obliging lenders to exhaust all alternatives first – another measure in the Government’s 22nd October announcement that the Lib Dems had been calling for for more than six months.

  • Changes to capital adequacy laws to require banks to hold more capital in periods of boom and less in recession – we called for this back in January 2003. Now the Conservatives back it too.

  • Ban on short selling of financial stocks – Vince Cable urged this on September 16th (having also raised the issue in July). The Government did not act until three days later, once the Americans had announced restrictions.

  • National network of financial advice centres – since 2003 we have been calling for a network of local and generic financial advice, particularly for those on lower incomes, funded by a levy on the financial services industry. Earlier this year the Tories announced their support for this too, using almost exactly the same language.

  • Curbs on irresponsible lending – a commonplace sentiment now, but we called for “the publication by the Government of strict measures for responsible lending, which lenders must be required to observe” back in September 2003.

Cllr Richard Baum Selected to Fight Bury North

Liberal Democrats in Bury have elected local Councillor Richard Baum as the party’s general election candidate for the Bury North constituency. He was unanimously elected at a special meeting of local party members in Elton on November 10th.

Richard, 27 and a mental health services manager is a life-long Bury resident and has been a Councillor for St Mary’s ward in the Borough since May 2007. Richard said “I am absolutely delighted to have been elected to stand for Parliament in my home town and for a party that I believe in. It really is an honour.”

Richards Selection
Bury Lib Dem’s new Chair Nissa Finney congratulating our new Parliamenary Candidate for Bury North Richard Baum

Richard is the Liberal Democrats’ Resource spokesman on Bury Council, and has been active in many local campaigns in recent years. As well as campaigning to save local post offices and schools, Richard has led the local anti-Congestion Charge campaign, and just last week secured unanimous Council backing after Lib Dem calls for Council action against the Credit Crunch. Richard continued “I look forward to working hard on behalf of the people of Bury North on the issues that affect us all, and where the Lib Dems offer real and sensible alternatives, like the economy, crime, education and the NHS. I know that I will be part of a strong Lib Dem team in Bury North, and I am very excited about the next election when we can take the fight to Labour and the Conservatives.”

Congestion Charge – 1 in 3 Bury Residents will Pay

With Greater Manchester’s transport referendum three weeks away, a new survey reveals one in three Bury households would pay the congestion charge regularly.

Details of the congestion charge element of the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) bid were explained to 500 Bury residents, they were then asked whether their household expected to pay regularly, 33% said yes.
The results directly challenge repeated advertising claims that nine out of ten people won’t pay the charge.

The survey was carried out for the Stop the Charge coalition of MPs, council leaders and 260 businesses by independent polling company Populus.
Bury Lib Dem Leader Councillor Tim Pickstone is a part of the Stop the Charge coalition”This survey makes it absolutely clear one in three households will be hit by the congestion charge. It is common sense that many will pay twice, if more than one person drives at peak times. One in 10 Greater Manchester residents will also pay the full charge of £1,200 a year.

“Hard working families will have to find up to £1,200 a year, that’s 8% of average take home pay for people in Great Manchester. Even paying £3 to cross the outer ring will be £700 a year, equating to 5% of the average salary – this would require a huge pay rise just to break even. This will also clearly have a strong knock on effect for our whole economy, leaving a lot less money in people’s pockets.

“Liberal Democrats in Bury are steadfastly committed to improvements to public transport and to tackling environmental damage. But this charge of working families is simply not a fair way to achive what needs to be done. I urge everyone to vote no in the referendum.”

Lib Dems call on Council to help with Credit Crunch

Liberal Democrats in Bury last week called on Council to help Bury residents through the credit crunch, suggesting new measures for local families and
businesses.

In a motion to the Council which was passed unanimously on November 5th, the Lib Dems noted the rise in local unemployment, the fall in local house prices and the threat to the survival of well-run and established businesses induced by the credit crunch and the economic slow down.

In response to rising fuel and food bills, the Lib Dems also called on the Council to do more for those on low and fixed incomes.

The Lib Dem motion called on the Council to boost help for local residents, in particular to work with the voluntary sector to boost the amount of help available to local people on debt and financial matters.

Lib Dem spokesman for Resource and Performance, Councillor Richard Baum, who proposed the motion, said “The Council should be working closer with agencies like the Citizens Advice Bureau. There are no branches in the town centre or the north of the Borough, and we call on the Council to fix that, whilst at the same time working hard to
improve and expand the services we already offer such as benefits advice, and providing more affordable housing.”

The motion also called for more help for businesses. Lib Dem group Leader Cllr Tim Pickstone said “Our motion called for a reduction in the time taken to pay invoices from small local businesses. I am glad that the Council have agreed to do this. But they need to do more. We need to give help with businesses struggling to pay their business rates, and invest more in improving the local environment to make it more attractive to shoppers and to boost trade.”

The Council agreed to adopt all of the Lib Dem proposals which will also see enhanced partnership working across the area to allow Bury residents better options and more help during the current financial difficulties.