Category Archives: News

‘Don’t let the SpArC go out’ campaign reaches another level

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Little did I know that the press release I put out on August 8th would hit national TV. The following day our funding crisis at SpArC – the Bishops Castle Leisure Centre in south west Shropshire –was front page of the Shropshire Star. Most of the County has been given a year’s reprieve to try to find revenue funding for their Leisure Centres. Not so for four centres in the South of the County. We face an extra 25% cut and a cut of £65,000 in education funding  for SpArC alone.

The community are rallying. We are fundraising to raise £50k to insulate the pool, the building and reduce energy costs and usage. We have raised over £36k already. The cuts for us this year were a kick in the teeth.

Last week I was minding my own business delivering leaflets (for our by-election) at the base of the Longmynd with my colleague Cllr Nigel Hartin from Clun (who had just been bitten by a farm dog) when my mobile rang – a novelty in itself with our poor mobile signal –  Channel 4 News wanted to come and film. Could I get parents and children there? Was this possible? It is August. Teme Leisure who run the Centre pulled out all the stops and parents and children poured in. We managed it together.

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Reminder: Wikipedia editing event at National Liberal Club tomorrow

Last week, Kat Bavage told us about an event at the National Liberal Club in London tomorrow. Liberals will gather to pore over the NLC’s vast array of historical resources and edit Wikipedia entries to make sure that the Liberal and Liberal Democrat contribution to history is properly recorded. Kat said:

The irony is however that although very many people read Wikipedia’s content (half a billion people a month or thereabouts) very few actually engage in creating it. In the UK there are perhaps only around 15,000 editors, and of these the majority only occasionally chip in to correct a typo

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What would you do if you were the Mayor of Calais?

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Inside the Jungle in Calais

I was part of a Local Government Association delegation last week to the ‘jungle’ in Calais.

The ‘camp’ is essentially a shanty town with tents and shacks (including ‘restaurants’) built from scrap materials. It is set in sand dunes next to an industrial estate and alongside one of the key roads heading towards the Channel Tunnel. Its occupants are mainly male and there are over 800 residents classed as children – including many teenagers. The bulk are Afghan, fleeing Taliban conscription and in places combat zones. There are some Syrians as well as Eritreans and Somalis.

The authorities are clearly hostile to the camp: residents feel that the inhabitants are responsible for nuisance and crime. The response to this in March was partial demolition –which meant that 127 children simply disappeared. Meanwhile the CRS (the riot police in other circumstances) harass the inhabitants – confiscating phones, destroying SIM cards – and using plastic bullets, which can cause life-changing injuries.

The camp does not officially exist. Nevertheless, provision has been made for some inhabitants to go into adjacent freight containers – adapted to provide a form of accommodation, aimed at women with younger children, because of the dangers posed by people traffickers in the main camp.

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ALDC’s by-election report, 19th August 2016

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Last night saw nine principal council by-elections take place across the country, with Lib Dem candidates standing across the board.

In Redcar & Cleveland Carole Morgan and the team comfortably held Ormesby ward following the resignation and sad passing of Ann Wilson, a tireless local campaigner and ward councillor since 2009.  Carole and the Lib Dem team ran a strong campaign on protecting local green spaces and opposing the Labour controlled council. Councillor Morgan was elected with an amazing 75.4% share of the vote – up 37.3% since 2015! UKIP struggled into second place with 10.6% (down 6.8%), and Labour came in third with 9.7% (down 9.4%).

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A Liberal Wikipedia event

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One of the enduring appeals about Wikipedia for me has always been not just its laudable status as a free-at-the-point of access and advert free educational resource, but the still exciting fact that it’s a community-written and maintained site. Yes, that can have drawbacks in the form of heated editing wars over punctuation or articles being targeted by online wags or trolls, much like the LDV comments section at times! Generally however its success is demonstrated by just how relied upon and ubiquitous it’s become – I’m pretty confident most reading this will have read a Wikipedia article recently too.

The irony is however that although very many people read Wikipedia’s content (half a billion people a month or thereabouts) very few actually engage in creating it. In the UK there are perhaps only around 15,000 editors, and of these the majority only occasionally chip in to correct a typo or add a link. Despite its breadth and reach (more than 5 million English language articles, articles in more than 120 languages, multiple linked projects to cover not just encyclopedic content but images, quotes, data sets, educational resources and news articles) it is still very much in its infancy with vast swathes of history, science, philosophy and art untouched or poorly covered.

This is the challenge that a little-known charity, and my other volunteering love beside the Lib Dems, is trying to meet. Wikimedia UK works with institutions and groups across the UK, trying to get people editing and contributing specialist knowledge. It’s probably at about this point in the article you might legitimately be questioning why this is of interest to Lib Dem Voice readers.

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Welcome news – police create online hate crime hub

 Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / wacker

 

The Guardian reports the Metropolitan police are creating an Online Hate Crime Hub.

The detectives staffing it – nicknamed “troll hunters” – will be specially trained to identify people using the cloak of online anonymity to commit hate crimes and similar offences.

In my view, this is a thoroughly positive step that recognises modern problems need modern solutions.  Liberal Democrats should enthusiastically welcome this initiative.

Hate crime is terrible for the people who suffer from …

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Nuclear weapons policy: Multilateralism remains the most viable route

Members of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group are presenting their personal views as part of a wider consultation process into the party’s future policy on nuclear weapons. The full consultation paper can be found at www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-conference-16-policypapers and the consultation window runs until 28 October. Party members are invited to attend the consultation session at party conference in Brighton, to be held on Saturday 17 September at 1pm in the Balmoral Room of the Hilton.

Last year, Conference agreed to review our nuclear weapons policies. As a party member committed to achieving a nuclear weapons free Britain in a nuclear weapons free world, I am honoured to serve on the working group established by the Federal Policy Committee.

The group has heard from a range of experts, and two things have been very clear to me. First, the case for replacing Trident with Trident hasn’t been made; many of the strategic and operational criticisms I laid out in Retiring Trident (March 2015) remain valid, and since it was published, the capital costs have increased by 25% and now total at least £41bn.

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