Tag Archives: Local government

How computer-driven cars are likely to transform planning in your town

 

It’s 2026 and you’re heading to your local town with the family. Not owning a car, you tap your phone and within a few minutes a self-driving taxi pulls up. You relax in comfort as it drives to your destination, then drops you off by the shops and heads off for its next fare.

Your neighbour is heading to the shops too. She prefers to own and drive her own car. Having got to her destination, she taps a button and her car drives itself off to park in in out-of-town car park, where it waits for her to call it back to meet her.

The technology to do all of this not only exists today, but is in use on public roads. Uber has been testing self-drive taxis on the streets of Pittsburgh for months and Tesla and Google have self-drive cars on the roads. Right now a driver has to sit at the wheel, ready to take over if something goes wrong. That won’t be the case for long. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Uber along with traditional car makers like Ford are investing billions to bring genuine self-drive cars to our roads.

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My first three months as a Liberal Democrat Councillor

On the day after I won my first election in May, while still elated and shattered in equal parts, my agent told me that is it typical for the first three months after election season to be relatively quiet and that I would have plenty of time to adjust to my new role. I can think of many words that might apply to these last three months in politics. ‘Typical’ and ‘quiet’ are not among them.

Nationally, as the EU referendum has triggered both a change of government and an opposition leadership election, the mood of our country is uncertain and fearful. Locally, in East Surrey, this is as true as anywhere. It was saddening but not surprising that our residents voted to leave the EU as many people took their opportunity to vote for something to change. Immediate worries for residents are about public services and infrastructure. Deep cuts to local authority budgets over recent years have meant reductions to just about every public service that people notice. Fewer bus services, shortened library opening hours, earlier closing times at the recycling centre and less regular grass cutting in public green areas are among the factors that all add up to make life less pleasant than it used to be. Meanwhile, a couple of decades of intense house building in my ward means that the population of our compact geography has more or less doubled while investment in infrastructure has failed to keep up. Roads are now overwhelmed and there aren’t enough school places and doctors’ appointments to service the community. On doorsteps people have been regularly asking how long before breaking point?

We found our breaking point in Caterham on the Hill on 7th June when we experienced the worst flash floods for 40 years. Local drains failed and properties were swamped with rain and sewer water, making too many families temporarily homeless. Given the political maelstrom, the media have not had a chance to give the consequences of our storm much attention. Not for our families the COBRA committees, armed forces response and additional funding that have been made available previously for other communities. Our Conservative MP did not even bother to make a statement. He was too busy in Westminster. This left a massive void of leadership with just us Councillors left to fill it.

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Last chance to book for a discounted place at top election training event

Today is your last chance to get a discounted place at the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaingers’ premier training event, Kickstart, which is taking place in Staffordshire from 2-4 September.

If you are thinking of standing for election next May, you will not find any better training available anywhere in the party. Over the course of a weekend, ALDC give you 30 hours of training, including individualised one to one training for your particular council area.

Here are some more details:

Kickstart is the highly regarded annual residential training weekend organised by ALDC that brings together some of the party’s most experienced and successful campaigners with campaign teams from across the country. The weekend offers training, mentoring, advice, networking and an opportunity to build and improve your campaign plans and knowledge to win more elections in the future.

WHAT’S INCLUDED
at least 30 hours of training with courses suitable for both new and experience campaigners
time to work as a team with an experienced mentor who can look at your plans and advise you from an independent perspective on how to make them even better
guest speaker along with a three course dinner on the Saturday night
drop-in sessions on more specialist campaign techniques and skills
in-depth strategy and review sessions on what worked for people in the 2016 elections
two-nights full board accommodation – including meals and refreshments – in a dedicated training centre with bar and leisure facilities.

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Progress in York – our report back after 12 months in joint administration

A little over twelve months ago, the Lib Dems in York entered into a joint administration on City of York Council. It wasn’t an easy decision to take, but we knew that having increased our representation by a third despite the disappointing national picture, we had a real opportunity to deliver on our manifesto commitments to the people of York.

I am very grateful to many colleagues in the city, including fellow Executive Members, Councillors, local party activists (and our very new members this week!) for their ongoing work.  A year on, we thought we’d let you know how we’re getting on.

Greenest City in the North

We promised to take steps towards York becoming the Greenest City in the North, including working with residents to reverse the decline in recycling rates and developing a plan to cut the Council’s carbon emissions. Additionally, we committed to reintroduce additional winter Green Bin collections and rule out cuts to the frequency of Grey Bin collections.

This was confirmed just two months after the election, as our Emergency Budget in July last year financed the reintroduction of 2 Winter Green Bin collections and scrapped Labour’s proposal for extra Green Bin charges. Our increased investment has funded a new recycling campaign and we have re-established a Green Jobs Task Group.

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Senior Hertfordshire Lib Dem councillors step down from leadership after 52 years of service

Two Hertfordshire Liberal Democrat council group leaders have stepped down from their leadership roles (although they remain councillors) which they have held for 30 and 22 years respectively.

In Three Rivers, Ann Shaw announced that she was stepping down after three decades in the top job as Leader of the Council, telling the Watford Observer:

It is 30 years since we took over the administration of Three Rivers District Council from the Conservatives, which is long enough for one person to be leader.

This does not mean any reduction in my commitment to TRDC and the community. In fact I need to be able to spend more time working to sort out some local problems and issues.

Ann is replaced by a familiar face, Sara Bedford.  I first knew Sara on the first Lib Dem online conferencing forum, Cix, way back in the day and I wish her well. In fact, I first heard of her when she was involved in NUS even before then. She has long experience as a councillor. She said of Ann:

Ann is going to be a difficult act to follow, but I will have my own ways of doing things. It’s a good time to become leader after the huge vote of support for the Lib Dems at the elections earlier this month.

I look forward to working with residents, local organisations, staff, and other councillors across the district, to keep Three Rivers as the top rated council in Hertfordshire, delivering quality services that are value for money.

In Watford, Iain Sharpe has stood down after 22 years as Group Leader. His successor is Peter Taylor, who I first knew when he worked for Alistair Carmichael. I am particularly grateful to him for his hard work in filthy weather at the Livingston by-election in 2005 when he came up to help. Peter told the Watford Observer:

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Tim Pickstone writes… 45 gains must only be the start

For the first time in quite a few years Lib Dems in many areas have spend the post-election weekend in a good mood. 45 net gains in the English council elections ain’t bad, the first time we’ve made gains in local elections since 2008. Coupled with some great results in Scottish constituencies, many Lib Dems have spent the weekend smiling.

The good news is far from universal. I know that colleagues in London and Wales will be devastated by the results and losses. Behind the gains in many areas are colleagues who lost seats or missed out on gains. Many places we didn’t win will have moved forwards as a springboard for future gains.

Thursday’s success is down to the hard work of Lib Dem activists up and down the country. Small teams working long and hard to win individual wards with an enormous amount of dedication, time and energy given freely to the party. Thank you to everybody who contributed to this success.

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Great election results for LDV team members

Two members of the LDV team were standing for election on Thursday.

Joe Otten has faced the electorate two years running. He was up for election at the end of his four year cycle last year and Sheffield had all-ups this year after new boundaries came in.

The result was impressive:

Joe Otten result

The three Liberal Democrats were 2000 votes ahead of their nearest Labour rivals. That’s a vote of confidence if ever there was one.

Joe wasn’t so lucky in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, but he put up a good, …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 25th Sep - 7:51am
    Steven Rose makes an important point that, although in theory all party members can attend conference and vote on policy, in practice many are unable...
  • User AvatarDave Orbison 25th Sep - 7:29am
    Simon Shaw and Malc - I think they have thrown everything they can at Corbyn. The idea they are holding back is, I think, fanciful....
  • User AvatarPeter Davies 25th Sep - 7:23am
    All our party members who turn up and register can now vote. That was about 2500 last year and more this year. The party website...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 25th Sep - 2:34am
    Thanks Little Jackie. Cameron got some a concession on free movement - there are ways to twist arms if we are imaginative. We could even...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 25th Sep - 1:33am
    @Dennis Loretta. Thanks for making that point. How many people out if the 75,000 members and 2.4 million voters were at the conference? 2,000 /...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 25th Sep - 1:12am
    Eddie Sammon - I think you are spot on right. But... 1 - The EU institutions can think and say what they want. There are...