Category Archives: Local government

See you in Milton Keynes?

Milton Keynes - SunriseLib Dem Local Government Conference 27-28 June

ALDC and the LGA Lib Dems’ annual Local Government Conference takes place on Saturday 28th June at the Jury’s Inn, Milton Keynes. The Conference will be a unique opportunity for hundreds of Liberal Democrats councillors, candidates and activists to meet, share experiences, and take advantage of specialist training designed specifically with the 2015 local elections in mind.

Speakers include:

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By-election update: Lib Dems take two seats from Tories in Canterbury and Ludlow

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)It has been a busy week for by-elections with ten in principal authorities and one parish council by-election reported to the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC).

The Liberal Democrats gained a seat from the Conservatives yesterday in Barnham Downs ward, Canterbury. Michael Sole was 52 votes ahead of his Conservative rival, taking 37.3%. It was a bad result for the Conservatives who lost 11.4% of the vote despite the Tory Council Leader living in the ward. UKIP took 18.15 to come third, Labour finished fourth with …

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BBC: Accused Weymouth councillor joins Lib Dem ‘coalition’

A pretty unbelievable story from Dorset, as reported by the BBC:

A new coalition has been formed by Liberal Democrat councillors to include a member suspended from the party while he faces child sex charges. Weymouth and Portland councillor Ryan Hope was forced to stand down from the party last month after the intervention of its leader Nick Clegg.

The local party set up the Coalition of Liberal Democrats and Allies to protect Mr Hope’s place on council committees. Mr Hope, who is due to stand trial in April, denies all the charges. Under council rules, seats on committees are

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By-election update: ALDC report, including sensational Lib Dem victory in Leicestershire

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)There were two principal by-elections yesterday, reports the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC).

In Birstall Wanlip ward of Charnwood Borough Council, Simon Sansome won a sensational victory for the Liberal Democrats coming from third place. On his second attempt Simon took 15% of the defending Conservative’s vote and achieved a 7% majority. The Labour vote remained stable at 27%.

The local team, pictured, put their victory down to running a campaign focused on local issues. They knocked on 2000 doors and put out 15,000 pieces of …

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A longer read for the weekend: Nick Harvey on how “the whole model of local Government funding is now fundamentally broken”

There was a mini-Lib Dem rebellion this week, when five MPs – Tim Farron, Nick Harvey, Andrew George, Stephen Gilbert and Adrian Sanders – all voted against this year’s funding settlement between the Treasury and local government.

As the New Statesman’s George Eaton points out here, “By the end of 2015-16, the budget of the Department for Communities and Local Government will have been reduced by a remarkable 60.6 per cent, with several years of austerity still ahead.” But Whitehall will have been emboldened by this recent ICM poll highlighted by the BBC showing 60% of the public …

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2014 Councillor Achievement Awards are now open for nominations

Do you know an inspirational councillor who has gone above and beyond expectations to serve their community?

The LGiU and CCLA are delighted to announce that the 2014 Annual Cllr Achievement Awards are now open for nominations. Back for a fifth year, the Cllr Awards are the only national awards ceremony to celebrate the outstanding work of councillors from across the political spectrum.

Councillors play a vital role in championing the interests of their communities, but all too often their contributions can be overlooked and undervalued. The C’llr Awards provides a brilliant opportunity to highlight the dedication and commitment …

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Lib Dems hold Aylesbury Oakfield and Taunton Halcon

There were three very good local election results for the Lib Dems last night.

Congratulations to Allison Harrison and Mark Willis who held Oakfield in Aylesbury for the Liberal Democrats. UKIP came in 80 or so votes behind, and took almost double the votes of the Tories who were in third place.

We also take our hat off to Roger Hurst who held Mickleham in the Mole Valley on an impressive 49% turnout.

AV Oakfield 1
AV Oakfield 2
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Mayor Dorothy announces she’ll go for fourth term in Watford

June 2011 Watford, UK Elected Mayor of Watford Dorothy ThornhillGood news in Watford, where Dorothy Thornhill, who in 2002 became the first directly-elected Lib Dem mayor in the country, has announced she will run for a fourth term of office:

I am really pleased to announce that I am going to stand again as the mayoral candidate for the Watford Liberal Democrats in the 2014 mayoral elections.

Last night we held our official party meeting at St Luke’s Church, at which I was unanimously reselected. The turnout was great,

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Liberal Democrat Voice Awards: The Shortlists (5) Liberal Democrat Councillor of the Year

The Liberal Democrat Voice Awards are but three days away. At 10 pm on Saturday 14 September, in Castle 2 of the Crowne Plaza, with cash bar on hand, and an imaginative dress code, the best in blogging, campaigning, social media and politics in general will be feted in a ceremony filled with razzmatazz, glitz and glamour.

Our Members’ Forum has now been e-mailed with the chance to vote for the majority of the awards so I can now start to reveal the shortlists in those categories. It’s high time we celebrated our councillors, so here is the shortlist for Councillor of …

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Lib Dem win in Wadebridge East by-election

There were a number of by-elections yesterday. Congratulations to Stephen Knightley won in Cornwall for the Lib Dems, though press attention is bound to be on the UKIP win in Boston on miserable turnout of less than 14%.

Cornwall Wadebridge East

Stephen Knightley (Lib Dem) was last night elected as the new Cornwall Councillor for Wadebridge East with 408 votes. It was a close fought race with Independent Tony Rush gaining just nine votes less. The by-election was called after Independent Colin Brewer stood down – he was the councillor that said that disabled children “should be put down.” The turnout was a healthy 40.47%.

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Opinion: Does the central and local government relationship need rewiring?

Wired Government smallerThe relationship between central and local government in the UK has always been strained. The UK is one of the most centralised democracies in Europe, and as we have no written constitution local government has no automatic right to exist or do anything. Everything is dependent on the decisions of ministers.

The new Government in 2010 did good things in reversing some of the things the last right-wing, authoritarian and centralising government had done. The huge inspection and reporting regime was abolished. Ring fencing of budgets was mainly done away with. The Localism Act was brought in that gave local government the power of local competence.

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Opinion: Liverpool City Region cabinet

In February 2012, Labour controlled Liverpool City Council voted to have an elected mayor without seeking the views of the residents of Liverpool via a referendum. In May 2012, a Labour Mayor was elected.

Now there is a proposal for the six local authorities in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, St. Helens, Wirral and Halton) to establish a combined city region cabinet to promote economic development, transport and employment and skills in the Liverpool City Region.

Whilst it is welcome for local authorities to co-operate, the mechanism of this proposal is hugely undemocratic and has completely bypassed locally elected councillors.

The …

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Know someone in local government who deserves an award?

The ALDE Group in the Committee of the Regions has launched the third edition of the awards for key liberal players at regional and local level. This year’s awards ceremony will be held on 4th of December in Brussels.

Both the national board of ALDE and EDP member parties as well as their local branches can submit nominations of persons that are considered to be suitable candidates for such an award, accompanied by a small motivation. Nominations need to reach the ALDE Secretariat by 30th September 2013.

There will be 2 categories of awards:

  • Local Leader of the Year
  • Regional Leader of the Year

Each …

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Mixed by-election results – joy in Maghull, commiserations in Kingston

So, who says the Liberal Democrats can’t take seats off Labour in the north?

Actually, we can. In Maghull, just north of Liverpool, two wards of the town council turned from red to gold and another came within 9 tantalising votes of doing the same.  Our vigorous campaign won a 20% swing from Labour.

And, it seems, those fabulous Liberal Youth people were on the case, too.

Well done …

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Got some spare time? Can you help out in Kingston today?

There’s a whole crop of by-elections today across the country. ALDC have the details here over three pages. Have a look for details of one near you and do what you can to help your local campaign.

However, there is only one Liberal Democrat defence, in Edward Davey’s Kingston constituency, so here at the Voice we are asking Liberal Democrat supporters reading this to concentrate their efforts there.

Lesley Heap is our candidate in Beverley ward. She’s a former NHS worker who’s now a swimming coach. She’s lived in the ward for 12 years.  And she needs you to ring her supporters …

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++++Breaking News: Liberal Democrats gain Abingdon & Broadland seats from the Tories

Good news from Oxfordshire tonight. Jeanette Halliday gains the Abingdon Fitzharris ward for the Liberal Democrats with a 3.3% swing from the Conservatives.

Could this be another example of the Midas touch of Liberal Youth, who spent Sunday campaigning in the ward?

Of course the strong Oxwab team and PPC Layla Moran have put many hours of work in to achieve a magnificent result, the 8th gain from the Tories in the past year. Congratulations all round.

Update: News of a second victory reaches my ears. Steve Riley won the Aylsham ward of Broadland District Council from the Conservatives with a majority of …

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What will happen to the Lib Dems in Thursday’s local elections?

Lib Dems winning hereThere are just three campaigning days left until this Thursday’s local elections taking place across much of England.*

It’ll be tough-going for the Lib Dems…

The last time these seats were fought, in 2009, was a high water-mark for the party: we polled a national equivalent vote-share of 25%. As I said in my morning-after-the-night-before round-up here, they “were, generally, pretty damn good for the Lib Dems”.

Since entering government, the party’s become used to taking a battering in local elections. As the national polls indicate, our vote share has roughly halved since the Coalition was formed. Because we poll higher in local than national elections, this means we’re likely to secure around 15-16% of the popular vote on Thursday. If that’s the case, our number of councillors will again decline.

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Former Lib Dem by-election candidate Elizabeth Shenton defects to Labour

Newcastle councillor Elizabeth Shenton, Lib Dem candidate in the 2008 Crew and Nantwich by-election, has left the party to join Labour. Local paper The Sentinel reports:

A senior Lib Dem councillor and former parliamentary candidate has defected to Labour. Elizabeth Shenton said she had left the Liberal Democrats due to the coalition Government’s ‘damaging policies’. She has now joined the ruling Labour group on Newcastle Borough Council. Mrs Shenton, below, who was the Lib Dem candidate in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election in 2008, had been member of the party for 10 years.

Mrs Shenton, who has also served

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Libby Local 15: Vile politics

Vile Tory propaganda was on my mind as I trudged up Crow Hill in a state of exhaustion. It was three on a Friday afternoon. Would I ever finish my last minute canvass for postal voters or would I collapse first?

The non-stop campaigning was just one reason I felt so tired. The vile propaganda in Tory leaflets was also getting to me.

The night before our core team met for an after-canvas drink in the Market Tavern.

The consensus was that the campaign was going well. @Demsburybess had taken charge of design, producing a clean, modern look to my Focus newsletters. It …

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Watford’s last Conservative Councillor moves to Liberal Democrats because of Conservatives’ “right wing drift”

From the Watford Observer:

Watford’s Conservative party has been extinguished at borough level after the last Tory councillor has defected to the ruling Liberal Democrat group.

Steve Johnson, who had been the leader of the Conservatives onWatford Borough Council until recently, announced this morning he was crossing the floor due to the national Tory party’s “right wing drift”.

In a statement the Leggatts representative said: “I have become increasingly disappointed by the right-wing drift of Conservative party rhetoric, particularly its attitude to welfare issues. I feel my views are more in tune with the Liberal Democrat part of the coalition, in

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Libby Local, Episode 13: “Brighton Secrets”

My arrival at Brighton was a something of a financial shock. A huge £3.90 for a coffee in the Metropole. You can buy a coffee and a pint of beer for less than four pounds in Demsbury. A good slug of Pinot Grigio is only a few pence more!

The Liberal Democrat Spring Conference was not at all as I expected. I’m an avid conference goer in my professional life, but this conference proved totally different. Okay. I have never encountered so many bad taste yellow ties before. But what struck me most was the diverse group of people, disabled, young, …

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Eastleigh shows why the Tories and Labour should now support PR in local elections

imageIf only, if only… Instead of holding out for a referendum on the Alternative Vote the Lib Dem negotiators had secured proportional representation for all local council elections instead.

Hindsight’s easy, I know. At the time of negotiating the Coalition Agreement, electoral reform at Westminster was the party’s deal-breaker. The Lib Dem vote had gone up by a million, our number of MPs down by five. The public were in favour, or so the polls said. It’s possible the party wouldn’t even have approved entering the Coalition if the Westminster voting system had been left untouched.

And yet, and yet… Proportional representation at a local council level would’ve been a far more transformational way of shifting the power dynamics in this country, of introducing genuine electoral competition into contests up and down the country. Eastleigh shows us how.

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Northern council cuts are Labour’s choice – it’s that straightforward!

Manchester City Hall - some rights reserved by nik_doofA New Year, same pain is the message coming from Labour Councils – mainly in the North. Looking at my old stomping ground of Levenshulme, Manchester – the cuts beggar belief. Labour’s slash and burn approach to Municipal Governance has come to the fore. Levenshulme has fought off attempts to close their swimming baths three times – now the campaigners are out in force as Labour tries again.

A letter written by the Labour Leaders of Liverpool, Sheffield and

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Eric Pickles’ 50 money-saving ideas show that he has no idea about local government

Wedenesday saw the announcement of the local government funding settlement for 2013-14. As expected, councils across England will be facing even more cuts in their already-stretched budgets, and wondering just how they continue to deliver services in the face of ever-widening budget gaps. (See here or here for examples of how a funding squeeze and rising costs are impacting councils)

Of course, local government should be glad that we have a Secretary of State who understands the issues affecting the sector and is prepared to fight its cause in Whitehall while puncturing some of the myths that are propagated …

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Danny, Don and Nick stand up for Local Government in a way that Pickles never has

The Autumn Statement has announced no further cuts to local government in the next financial year, with a 2% cut the following year.

We’re grateful to Danny Alexander, Don Foster and Nick Clegg for stepping in and saying “no” to further cuts to local services over the next year – in a way we just haven’t seen from the DCLG Secretary of State, Eric Pickles.

Liberal Democrat Ministers have stopped an across-the-board cut of 1% to local government next year. That means up to £240m extra that will be in council budgets every year which will help fund youth services, streets, parks, …

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Rather better day at Black Rock… and Vale of White Horse, Brentwood, Sutton…

We keep being told that, where we work, we can win. And it’s still true, no matter how gloomy the opinion polls are, as this week’s by-election results demonstrate.

The Liberal Democrats have gained two seats from the Conservatives in a stunning by-election win in Oxford West & Abingdon constituency. Elizabeth Miles and Val Shaw won on a 17% swing from the Tories in Sunningwell & Wootton ward, and their double victory reduced the Conservative majority on the Vale of White Horse District Council to just three.

Speaking after …

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Opinion: Tough Choices – Yes, but local politicians must grasp opportunities as well as challenges

Sheffield Town HallI doubt that there are many councillors who are unaware of the scale of the country’s financial difficulties. Yet whatever your prescription for resuscitating the British economy, politicians of all parties agree that reducing the deficit is a crucial piece in the puzzle.

Regardless of your views on the Government’s strategy, it is clear that reductions in council budgets are a reality. The challenge for councillors is to best adjust to the new climate and mitigate the impact on the services that people care about most.

I do not believe that the way forward is to abandon all council services, leaving local government as a sole provider of social care. Rather, local government should be taking the lead in innovative ways of thinking – taking bold steps to cut waste, not just services.

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Haringey Council shows how not to provide educational vision

Having a vision for an important public service is a good thing, whether you are the sort of person who laps up visions for breakfast or the sort of person who hankers for a golden pre-jargon age when vision meant something to do with your eyes. Either way, knowing what you actually are trying to achieve overall is what saves you from drowning in detail and being blown every which way by passing events.

So the concept of a local council drafting a vision statement for education in its area is fine. The problem with Haringey Council’s attempt is the content.

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Introducing Libby Local, Episode 1: “I wasn’t going to be a Lib Dem”

I’m Libby, I’m local – to Demsbury and Libbyshire at least – and I wasn’t going to be a Lib Dem. I guess I have to blame that on Melissa, a dyed in the wool Conservative who I occasionally drink a half-bucket of Pinot Grigio with.

I’ve always stuck my head above the parapet rather than lay low. In the last couple of years, friends have suggested I become politically active. I have been listening to local voices, voices that are mostly ignored – voices that I could help get heard. Of late, I find more

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Appalling failings at Haringey Mortuary

The Ham & High reports:

Auditors criticised the mortuary for its haywire record keeping, after a routine visit in May revealed oversights including not properly recording the locations of bodies.

The blunders were so serious the auditor immediately ordered Haringey Council – which runs the supposedly state-of-the-art facility, opened amid much fanfare in February 2009 – to make changes, including adding body storage locations to its database…

In March this year, Lyn Garner promised Haringey had reviewed its procedures and believed it had “as robust a set of arrangements in place as possible”.

But two months later auditors visiting the mortuary found:

  • personal effects

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