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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.

TIME FOR TAX CUTS TO HELP BEAT RECESSION

LIBERAL Democrats in Bury have called for a cut in income tax for people on low and middle incomes to help them beat the recession. 

“Inflation is at its highest for years,” said Vic D’Albert, Parliamentary spokesperson for Bury South. “Residents of Bury are struggling with rising fuel and housing costs. They need money in their pockets now. 

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a cut in income tax of 4p in the pound. It will be paid for by closing the loopholes used by the most wealthy to avoid paying tax. And we will increase the level of tax on the most polluting activities. 

“Too many people are faced with the appalling prospect of either eating properly or heating their homes. Action is needed now to help residents of Bury who are struggling with rising prices. 

“Many residents on low incomes are paying more in tax following the government’s decision to double the starting rate of income tax to 20p in the pound. Though the government was eventually forced to come forward with a package to compensate people for the tax increase, many are still worse off. 

“Cutting income tax will therefore give residents and our local economy a boost at a time when it is desperately needed.”

WELCOME FOR SMALL BUSINESS ACTION PLAN

LIBERAL Democrats in Bury have backed plans to help small businesses survive the looming recession. The plan by the party to boost businesses was launched by leader Nick Clegg and the party’s Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable. The plan includes: 

  • a substantial cut in interest rates to lower the cost of loans and investment;

  • immediately overhauling the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme to improve government support for business loans;

  • banks which receive government financial assistance adopting a new code of conduct on rearranging business credit and overdrafts;

  • developing with energy companies an assistance package for small businesses struggling with high energy bills

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy here in Bury,” said Vic D’Albert, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Bury South. “It is vital that we give them a fighting chance to get through the recession. 

“The government has given a massive bailout to the banks. But ministers must now look at the bigger economy. Small businesses here in Bury, and throughout the country generally, are suffering from the downturn. Profits are being squeezed and jobs are at risk. 

“A big cut in interest rates will be a big boost to many local businesses and could mean the difference between staying open or closing down.

“Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have taken the lead with their plan to help businesses and I am giving it my full backing.”

“As someone that has had experience of running a small business in Bury I know how hard it can be and how susceptible small businesses are to changes in economic fortunes. That’s why I would urge the Government to take on board our proposals and offer as much support to small businesses as possible. We cannot afford to do nothing, the Government must act.”

Lib Dems welcome Pay Review appeals climbdown

Intervention by Bury Liberal Democrats has led to concessions by Tory-run Bury Council, and the news that council staff set to lose money after job evaluation will be allowed to attend their appeals in person.
 
Prior to the meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 10th September, the Conservative-run Council had been clear that no personal hearings would be granted. However, following a question by Liberal Democrat Cllr Wilf Davison asking for this policy to be reconsidered, the Council’s Chief Executive today (17th September) sent a letter to all staff informing them that personal appeals would now be allowed.
 
The leader of Bury Liberal Democrats, Cllr Tim Pickstone, said “We are pleased that the Conservatives have finally seen sense. Staff should of course be allowed to attend these appeals, where massive chunks of their salary are at stake. We have always been clear that we want a transparent, open process, and we are glad to have convinced the Tories of this.”
 
Cllr Davison said “At the Council meeting, the Labour group chose to display their unhappiness at Job Evaluation by walking out of the meeting. Liberal Democrats stayed to oppose the Conservatives in a sensible way. I asked for the appeals process to be reconsidered, and now it has been. Liberal Democrats will continue to try to make this process as fair as possible, and challenge every instance of unfairness that we see.””

FREE POLICE FROM GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY

PLANS to free local police forces from the grip of central government bureaucracy and targets have been welcomed by Liberal Democrats in Bury.

The proposals have been launched by Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne and will be debated at the party’s conference in Bournemouth in September.

Vic D’Albert, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Bury South said that police officers would be freed to spend more time policing communities rather than chasing government targets. 

“The police have to be free to police our local communities,” said Vic D’Albert, “Constant interference and targets from Whitehall do little to catch criminals and deter crime. Bury police are far better placed than a government minister in Whitehall to decide what the local priorities are. 

The proposals also call for police authorities to be elected by local people, rather than appointed by ministers. That will mean policing priorities are under the control of local people.

Other proposals to be debated by the Liberal Democrats include appointing 10,000 extra police officers, paid for by scrapping the expensive and bureaucratic National Identity Card scheme. 

The spokesman’s paper from Chris Huhne MP, Cutting Crime: Catching Criminals With Better Policing, is available on the Liberal Democrat website: http://www.libdems.org.uk/media/documents/policies/Cutting%20Crime%20by%20Catching%20Criminals.pdf

TORY THINK TANK CALL AN INSULT TO BURY

LIBERAL Democrats in Bury have described a call by a Conservative-leaning think tank for people from towns and cities of the North to pack their bags and move to the South as appalling.

Policy Exchange, described as David Cameron’s favourite think tank in the media, claimed many towns and cities in the North were failing and regeneration would not save them. They suggested people should move to the South East instead. Policy Exchange was set up by Michael Gove, now a senior Conservative MP.

“The idea that people should abandon the North and move to the already crowded South East, where house prices and living costs are sky high, is an insult to people living here,” said Vic D’Albert, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Bury South.

“I am staggered that a think tank so close to the Conservatives is making such a call. I am appalled that they are saying that large swathes of the North can simply be abandoned. “It looks like the Conservatives are starting to show their true colours. So the battle at the next election in Bury South will be between the Liberal Democrats with a record of standing up for local people, the Conservatives who want you to move to Berkshire and a discredited Labour Government.

“What the Policy Exchange has done is to highlight the lack of understanding many Conservatives have of the North and to show that they are out of touch and can’t be taken seriously.”