Author Archives: Stephen Williams

A Tale of Two Speeches

I’ve listened to two speeches in the last 24 hours. One motivated me to redouble my efforts to support a cause I’ve long supported. The other left me depressed and worried about the future direction of our country. It was a rather dry lecture from a philosopher that gave me hope. It was the Prime Minister who gave me cause for worry. Prof AC Grayling told an audience in Bristol that Brexit was a national emergency to which we should respond with all forms of peaceful resistance. Theresa May set out her Brexit plan and …

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Stephen Williams writes … Energy efficient homes, house building and minority rights for Cornwall

Terraced housingAs we have now begun the summer recess, I wanted to write an update on the progress that has been made at the Department for Communities and Local Government in recent months. Despite differences in priority between our Conservative coalition partners we have made huge strides in key policy areas and I believe that we should be proud and confident highlighting these achievements on the door step.

One of the most crucial recent breakthroughs has been in regards to zero carbon homes. As I am sure you are aware, if we are to meet our carbon emissions targets then we have to make our housing stock more energy efficient by introducing strict new regulations. This, of course, is easier said than done and we have had to work extensively with developers, industry representatives and environmental groups in order to agree ambitious yet practical energy efficiency targets.  As a result of drawn out negotiations with the Conservatives, the government is now legislating, through the Infrastructure Bill, to introduce a list of ‘allowable solutions’. This is the final measure needed to enable house builders to construct all new homes to a zero-carbon standard from 2016. Zero carbon homes has been a key priority for me since becoming a minister and I am delighted that this incredibly important green policy is now being delivered.

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Stephen Williams MP writes… Giving councils more power over betting shops

fixed-odd-betting-machinesThe remit of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is huge. Ministers are responsible for housing, local economic development, planning policy, parking, local government finance, localism and community integration. Often these issues spark controversy. But all CLG ministers are in complete agreement that there is an urgent need to revitalise the Great British High Street, to bring back the bustling centres of retail and leisure which served their communities so well prior to the financial crash. We want high streets and town centres that encourage people to spend a …

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Stephen Williams writes: Social housing stock rises back above 4 million

Houses being builtWhen the Liberal Democrats entered government in 2010, it was clear we had inherited a housing crisis. House prices and private sector rents were becoming more and more unaffordable. House building had slowed to its lowest level since the 1920s and social housing waiting lists had soared to 1.7 million households. Added to that, successive governments had also let the social housing stock wither on the vine, with 1.5 million homes lost by Labour and Conservative governments alike since 1979.

I know that if we are to solve the housing crisis, we need to reverse the decline in social homes and build more. That is why I was delighted recently to see new statistics published by my department (DCLG) showing that the number of social homes has increased for the fifth year running, taking the overall stock back above the 4 million mark for the first time in a decade.

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Stephen Williams MP writes… Making self build accessible

Houses being builtI was honoured to be appointed as Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Minister in the recent reshuffle. As a former councillor and passionate advocate of localism, I am excited to take up my post in the Department for Communities and Local Government and hope to continue the good work of my predecessors Don Foster and Andrew Stunell.

At last month’s autumn conference in Glasgow, Don announced measures to open up the self build market to those on lower incomes.

 

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Stephen Williams writes: Stand up to Big Tobacco and help us win a vote in Parliament

1920s woman in silk kimono smoking using a cigarette holderCalling all Voting Reps – Vote for Emergency Motion 7 on Tobacco Plain Packaging

At this year’s autumn conference in Glasgow Lib Dem voting reps have the chance to change history, to go up against Big Tobacco and their secretive lobbyists, some of them at the heart of the Tory Party, and to help us win a vote in Parliament to protect young people from tobacco advertising. Nearly two thirds of smokers started before they were 18.

Currently tobacco companies can market …

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Stephen Williams MP writes… Making tax taxing again – 2013 is the Year of Tax Justice

“I do believe that as leaders, we all have a common interest in being able to tell our taxpayers who work hard and pay their fair share of taxes, that we will make sure others do the same…But to achieve this will require strong political leadership…I hope we can be ambitious.”
(David Cameron, Prime Minister’s Letter to G8 Leaders, 2 January 2013)

This year the UK holds the Presidency of the G8, with the world’s top leaders coming to Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June. This is a momentous and perfectly timed opportunity to turn public anger, evident around the …

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