Tag Archives: Local government

Liberal Democrats celebrate top Councillors and Council Groups

Baroness Sal Brinton, Lib Dem President presented the Lib Dem Council Group of the Year Awards at the Local Government Conference in Manchester in June, with awards for Lib Dem Council Groups across the Country who are leading the Lib Dem fightback from the grass roots, these included: 

City of York Liberal Democrat Group – Council Group of the Year Award

–       This group bucked the national trend to win 4 seats

–       They came back after losing seats in the 2011 elections. Key campaigns included:

o   Keeping a recycling depot open, including a 2,700 strong petition, press work and council motion

o   Got the Local Plan revised to deliver housing but …

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Opinion: Can Local Government really cope with outsourcing?

 

Council Officers have a strong public service ethos and some are excellent managers. But does their experience give them enough insight to negotiate outsourcing contracts? They have, after all, chosen a career pathway other than that of private sector business. They inevitably lack a deep understanding of the very different attitudes, styles and pressures of work and management in the private sector.

During the procurement process, these rather sheltered public servants are faced with slick teams of well-resourced professionals adept at putting on a good show and armed with as much carefully selected evidence as they need to demonstrate their company’s capability and good standing.

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Opinion: Lib Dems take power in York

York swimming pool successThe last few weeks have been an intense time for all Liberal Democrats not least here in York.

After a gruelling campaign and against the national trend, we made gains in the city’s ‘all up’ local elections increasing our seats from the 8 won in 2011 to 12 this time.

These results were down to the hard work and dedication of our candidates and volunteers, such as Local Party Chair Stephen (now Councillor) Fenton, Print Room Supremo Richard Hill, Citywide Agent Derek Wann, along with countless others.

It was also down to a local party which (as I wrote on this website back in June 2013) was forced into a “period of serious self-reflection” following disappointing losses in the 2011 local elections.

What eventually sprung from this was a very localised campaign. Street-based issues filled our Focus, glossy leaflets and target letters with ‘Stronger Economy, Fairer Society’ perhaps getting less of a mention.

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Why Lib Dem Councillor Zoe stood down and what we should learn about our expectations of councillors

Liberal Democrat councillor Zoe Franklin is clearly a talented, caring and committed local servant. Her blog tells us that she’s someone who cares deeply about child poverty, the cost of childcare, and she likes to keep residents informed about what’s happening.  It’s a great shame, then, that she’s standing down as councillor for the Stoke ward in Guildford.

She’s written on the Guildford Dragon about why she’s made the decision not to run again for election. The toll the job takes both personally and financially just got too much. Her story of how she became involved sounds very familiar:

I

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ALDC’s by-election report – 5 March 2015

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Four principal council by-elections were contested last Thursday. UKIP slumped to third place in Bocking ward in Essex (CC) in their attempt to defend the seat as the Conservatives polled 34.3% to win the seat back having lost it by 20 votes two years ago. In addition, UKIP suffered a 5.3% drop in their vote share from 2013 as they finished 119 votes adrift of Labour to finish third.

Elsewhere Labour polled over 70% in holding seats in St Pancras & Somers town and Selhurst wards in the London boroughs of Camden and Croydon.

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Labour apologises for making false claims about Tory candidate in Brent Council by-election

Labour Party logoVoters in Kenton ward in Brent go to the polls tomorrow in a by-election. In May last year, the Conservatives took all three seats with Labour being some 14% behind them.

The Times (£) reports that Labour have been forced to withdraw a leaflet which claimed that the Conservative candidate wasn’t even voting Tory any more. The leaflet contained an image of a feedback form to a Labour leaflet from someone with the same name as the Tory candidate who said they had voted Tory in 2010 and wouldn’t be doing so this time because he didn’t like the Tory policy on immigration.

The original leaflet, which Mr Maurice claimed was sent out at the same time as postal votes, said:

“Even the Conservative candidate for the Kenton by-election has said he will not be voting Conservative.”

The Tory candidate deployed a handwriting expert to prove that the form had not been written by him and has threatened to sue the Labour party. He also alerted the police and his team warned that a close loss in Thursday’s council by-election could lead to a re-election.

In a statement, the Labour candidate Vincent Lo said he was “deeply sorry to Mr Maurice for any harm he has suffered as a result of our mistake”.

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Police surround Lib Dem Councillor using sledgehammer

Never let it be said that Liberal Democrat councillors avoid hard work. When a skateboard park in his ward was damaged, Aberystwyth’s Councillor Ceredig Davies (also our group leader on Ceredigion County Council) arranged to get down there and fix it.

Some local people didn’t see it that way. What they saw was a random man taking a sledgehammer to a local facility, as the Cambrian News tells us:

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Lord Tim Clement-Jones writes…A record number of councils are calling for a clampdown on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – the Government must act

I’m now eight weeks into my New Year’s resolution to spend my Fridays campaigning with some of our fantastic target seat candidates across the country. One thing that has struck me on the doorsteps is that it is not the high politics of opinion polls, votes in Parliament and endless speculation on personalities that matter to people. What actually matters is local issues – from their kid’s school to the shops on their local high street.

With that in mind, I recently lead a debate in the Lords on concerns expressed by 93 councils in England and Wales over the growth of high street betting machines. Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) offer high speed, high stakes gambling – with punters able to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds. To offer some comparison, other high street locations have a limit of £2 a stake and even casinos limit machine stakes to £5. Effectively, these machines have turned high street bookmakers into casinos, offering astonishingly hard forms of gambling right on people’s doorsteps.

I am not anti-gambling – but I’m concerned about the spiralling number of these machines for two reasons. Firstly, they are fuelling the proliferation of betting shops in poorer areas. It is now a common sight to see two or three betting shops on one high street. Indeed, on one street in Newham, there is an astonishing 18 betting shops and that equates to 72 FOBT machines. It’s still a tough climate for high streets; but the solution certainly isn’t betting shops sucking money out of local communities and causing huge social problems.

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ALDC’s by-election report – 12 February 2015

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Three principal council by-election were held yesterday. In Cambridgeshire (CC), the Conservatives comfortably held their seat in Bar Hill ward, polling 46% of the vote to finish 536 votes ahead of the UKIP candidate. Fiona Whelan finished a close third with 13.9%, an improvement on the party’s vote share in the ward’s previous election in 2013 of 5.4%.

The contest in Oswestry East ward in Shropshire (UA) once again saw the Conservatives secure an easy hold, with their candidate finish 411 votes ahead of second place Labour with 47.5% of the vote. Lib Dem candidate Amanda Woof registered 16.5% to finish fourth, with the party not fielding a candidate in the ward’s 2013 election.

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ALDC by-election report, 11 December 2014 – a trio of Liberal Democrat wins

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Eleven principal council by-elections were held across Britain yesterday. The two contests in Aylesbury Vale resulted in two Liberal Democrat wins. Peter Agoro was victorious in Southcourt ward, polling 42.3% to secure a comfortable majority of 317 votes as UKIP finished second. Labour, who were defending the seat, saw their vote share drop by 12.2% in finishing third. There was more good news as Anders Christensen held for the Liberal Democrats in Gatehouse, winning with a slender majority of 28 ahead of the UKIP candidate.  These two victories see the party’s representation on Aylesbury Vale DC increase to 17 councillors.

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Opinion: Localism is dead – what hope for Local Government ?

Sheffield Town HallThe Localism Act was introduced in November 2011 on a promise of new freedoms and flexibilities for local government, new rights and powers for communities and individuals, and a guarantee to make the planning system more democratic so as to ensure decisions about housing reflect local community wishes. Even the most ardent supporters of this coalition government will be hard pushed to provide evidence that localism has done anything of the sort.

Instead, what we have witnessed in the past four years is a constant reduction of local government budgets …

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Is this the most bizarre election leaflet of all time?

There’s a by-election in the Aberdeenshire ward of Troup at the moment. Ann Bell is the Liberal Democrat candidate.

One of her six opponents, an Independent, put out this leaflet yesterday.

Troup Ward

You can read the rather, shall we say, strange content in full here on electionleaflets.org, that invaluable Unlock Democracy resource. It’s certainly a fascinating collection of conspiracy theories.

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ALDC by-election report, 13th November: Two wins, but too many failures to stand

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Seven principal by-elections were held yesterday. In Cambridge, Liberal Democrat candidate Viki Sanders gained a seat from Labour in Queen Edith’s to add to the party’s victory in the ward in May’s local elections. Viki polled 36.5% of the vote to finish 143 votes clear of the Labour candidate. When summarising the win, Cambridgeshire County Councillor Amanda Taylor, who had been assisting with Viki’s campaign said, “Helpfully assisted by a vacuous Labour campaign, the victory was essentially based upon a routine of all-year-round ALDC-style activity and the delivery of regular leaflets and surveys, …

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ALDC by-election report: 6th November 2014

There were just two principal council by-elections yesterday. In the Cornwall UA contest in Mevagissey, the Conservatives increased their vote share in the ward by 8.2% to gain the seat from Labour in a closely thought election. The Conservative candidate polled 32% to win with a majority of 67 ahead of UKIP in second.  The Liberal Democrats were the only other party to see an increase in their vote share from the previous contest in the ward during the 2013 local elections, as UKIP, Labour and the Green Party all saw a vote share drop. A 4.3% increase saw Christopher Maynard poll 18% as he finished just 7 votes adrift of the Labour candidate to finish in fourth. The election sees Labour reduced to just 7 representatives on Cornwall council whilst the Conservatives have increased their representation to 31 although they remain third in terms of council representation behind Independents and the Liberal Democrats.

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ALDC’s By-Election Report: A dearth of Liberal Democrat candidates

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Five principal council by-elections were contested yesterday in England, Scotland and Wales. In Telford & Wrekin (UA), by-elections were held in Ironbridge Gorge and Newport West. The former contest resulted in a Labour hold although they saw a decrease of 8.9% in their vote from the ward’s 2011 election, after UKIP had polled 18.5% despite not fielding a candidate in 2011. In Newport West an Independent candidate gained a seat from the Conservatives to become the second Independent representative on Telford & Wrekin council. The Conservatives saw a 37% decrease in their vote finishing 85 votes adrift in second place.

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ALDC’s by-election report: 16 October 2014

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)Last week saw ten principal by-elections contested across the country with the Liberal Democrats recording two victories. In York, former city council leader Andrew Waller was re-elected following a resounding Lib Dem victory in Westfield Ward, defeating the Labour Party candidate by 1,216 votes in second place. Andrew who had lost his seat in the 2011 local elections, polled 60.2% and was able to capitalize on a fall of 28.3% for Labour’s vote share from 2011 to give the party their ninth councilor in York.

The Liberal Democrats were also victorious in Rutland with Sam Asplin narrowly winning in Whissendine by 13 votes (51.8%) ahead of the Conservatives. Sam now joins Gale Waller as the party’s second representative on Rutland Council. Turnout was at 34.7% which is the highest of the known turnouts for this week’s by-elections. Prior to the by-election, the ward had an Independent councillor which led to Sam’s team attempting to market itself as a source of opposition to the Conservative run council. Whissendine is a compact village with an electorate of around 1,100 voters which allowed the local Liberal Democrats to run a strong, largely leaflet based campaign. Sam’s Agent John Hughes said, ‘We saw it as being better to give all voters several leaflets than to see maybe half of them once on the doorstep’. The Lib Dem team also stated that they managed to take advantage of apparent complacency on the part of their Conservative opponents, who had expected an unopposed victory.

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Liberal Democrats have coalition “wobble”

highlands tmThat got your attention, didn’t it?

The Liberal Democrats nearly walked out of the coalition this week.

That would be the Coalition that runs Highland Council, where we are currently have 13 Councillors and share  power in a rainbow coalition with 31 SNP and 8 Labour members. This week, there was a possibility for a while that we would walk away from that Coalition and form a new one with the independents, with whom we had been in power before the previous council election.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader David Alston explained to the Inverness Courier what it was all about:

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Opinion: Getting serious about localism

Local growth deals are a good thing. Of course they are. How could they not be? Now what are they again?

The mechanics of government finance never cease to amaze or bore. But we do need to care because when it comes to devolution, it’s a question of ‘follow the money’.

There are in fact, according to a Local Government Association report last week, 124 funding streams for local growth and regeneration. These are spread across 20 Government departments and agencies and account for a total of £22 billion, all to be spent in your local area on your local things.

So when the Government announces it is devolving £2 billion on LGFs, context becomes rather significant. As does the essentially pointless complexity, worthy of an abbey full of medieval theologians.

Those in the know are fully on top of the difference between the Custom Build fund, the Community Right to Build fund, the Beds in Sheds fund, the New Homes Bonus and the Decent Homes fund. And the difference between the Linking Places fund, the Local Pinch Point fund, the Local Sustainable Transport fund and the Better Bus Areas fund. I could go on. But I promise I won’t.

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Cardiff Council under Lib Dems: Clear leadership, effective financial management. Cardiff Council under Labour: Fragmented leadership, weak performance

One of the most heartbreaking things about the last four years has been seeing really good, outstanding Liberal Democrat Councillors lose their seats and Liberal Democrat councils losing office through no fault of their own.

This stuff matters because, frankly, if the quality of services a Council provides deteriorates, people suffer.

Compare and contrast the Wales Audit Office reports of 2011, when the Liberal Democrats were in power, and 2014 when Labour were two years into their term of office.

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Labour kicked out in Calderdale: The inside story

Calderdale CouncilThis week the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council came to the decision to vote out the minority Labour administration, and vote in a minority coalition of the Conservatives and Independent Councillor. Allow me to explain why.

From 2010 we had worked in a fairly successful Coalition with the Labour party. We didn’t shut a single sure start centre or library, we opened up cabinet meetings with a public question time, and we had the highest recycling rate in West Yorkshire.

As that coalition went on it became increasingly apparent Labour wanted to control the Council alone, and to ignore the wishes of the other parties. It was harder and harder to work with them as continued to propose political motions that did little for local people, but did a lot of party point scoring. Finally last year they managed to secure the support of the Conservatives who abstained at the right votes in return for some scrutiny chairs, and Labour got their wish of a minority administration.

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Ed Miliband’s “People Powered Public Services”: some interesting ideas lurk beyond the bland

I read Ed Miliband’s Hugo Young lecture on the train home last night to save you the trouble. No need to thank me. Actually there are some good parts to it, which I’ll come onto. And if you want to share my pleasure the full text is available here.

However, I’d suggest skipping the first 1,685 words which can be summarised as, “Life can be unfair. I, Ed Miliband, have noticed this and so have lots of other people, like Obama and the Pope.” Along the way he name-checks Margaret Thatcher (a conviction politician, y’see… except for all the …

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ALDC’s by-election round-up: Midlands win and a bad month for Tories and SNP

ALDC christmas pressieThose lovely people at ALDC have done us a by-election round-up for last week. 

Last Thursday saw the Liberal Democrats gain Chadsmead ward on Lichfield DC. Councillor Marion Bland took 36% of the vote and returned Liberal Democrats to Lichfield Council for the first time since 2011. The Lib Dems first gained a seat in the two member ward in 2007 but the Tories took both in 2011.

The by-election saw the Conservatives drop 22% of their vote and slump into last place after their councillor was disqualified for not attending …

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This week’s by-elections: A town council gain but a big loss in Bucks for the Liberal Democrats

There’s not much to take joy from for the Liberal Democrats in this week’s crop of by-elections.

In South Buckinghamshire, we took a bit of a pasting in Iver Village and Richings Park where we were defending the seat. The result was as follows:

Conservative 422 46.9% (-6%)

UKIP 377  41.9% (+41.9%)

Liberal Democrats (Peter Chapman) 101 11.2% (-35.9)

The Tories nearly lost it too.

The last time this ward was fought was in 2011. The turnout then was nearly double at 38.93%. On Thursday it was only 20.4%.

In 2011, it was a straight fight between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The 3 Tory …

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This week’s by-elections: a Lib Dem hold and a near miss

Amongst the crop of this week’s by-elections are a convincing hold in Todmorden Town Council’s Stoodley ward:

LD Zaheer Abbas 203 (39.9)
Lab 123 (24.2)
Ind 71 (13.9)
National Front 59 (11.6)
Ind 53 (10.4)
Majority 80
Turnout 19.12%

In Cardiff’s Splott, we came within 102 votes, and raised our vote by 3.5%, of taking a seat from Labour.

 Lab 706 (39.1; -8.7)
LD Jamie Matthews 604 (33.5; +3.5)
UKIP 209 (11.6; +11.6)
Ind 94 (5.2; +5.2)
Con 86 (4.8; +0.5)
TUSC 80 (6.1; +3.2)

Majority 102

Glasgow Shettleston has never been our strongest area, but I can report a 0.6% rise in our vote in the ward for our candidate Jamie Spiers. 53 local residents …

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Nick Clegg attacks Labour council over Don Valley stadium closure

Sheffield’s Labour council have been criticised by Nick Clegg over their decision to close the Don Valley Stadium where Olympic heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill trained.

From the Sheffield Star:

I’m hugely disappointed that Labour councillors have decided Don Valley Stadium is not an asset of community value.

This short-sighted decision has denied the Save Don Valley Stadium group access to central Government grants, which would have helped them develop a business plan and move closer to their vision of running the venue at no cost to the public.

Instead of working with the community to protect facilities, we have a council determined to

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Opinion: Shropshire is slipping into black hole democracy

Shropshire Logo in Black Hole

I am lucky enough to live in Shropshire, in Ludlow – one of the most treasured places in my known universe.

I am so unlucky to live in Shropshire, in Ludlow – one of the most trashed places in my known universe.

Yesterday, we lost our dream hospital. This was not for any real reason; it just fell through the widening cracks in the national health system.

We have also lost our local tip and recycling centre in Ludlow. It’s not official. It’s just that the staff have been told they have no jobs any more.

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Opinion: Real localism – it could surprise us all

Everyone’s talking about Localism now – we’ve even got a Government Act. Yet when that very Act gives the Secretary of State 126 new powers over local government, you have to wonder if we all mean the same thing.

Liberal Democrats have been advocating devolution, double devolution and subsidiarity for many years. But central government continues to tighten its throttlehold over local authorities with little trust in local politicians and local communities and their ability to do what’s best for local people. London boroughs receive 74% of their income through central government grants, compared to 31% for New York, 18% for …

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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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By-Election Results – good hold in Windermere Bowness North

Tim Farron and Colin JonesGood news from the heart of Tim Farron country – a solid win in Thursday’s Windermere Bowness North ward on South Lakeland District Council for Colin Jones. He’s pictured here with local MP and Party President Tim Farron.

The result was:

Liberal Democrat Colin Jones: 431

Conservative:                                   248

Labour:                                                  29

60.8% of …

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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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