Tag Archives: london

Caroline Pidgeon writes…Brexit demands greater devolution – a new deal for our regions

Back in 2013 I wrote an article for Lib Dem Voice setting out the case for London and other cities to have more financial control.

The vote to leave the EU makes the case for devolution and fiscal devolution more urgent. Whatever Leave voters felt they were voting for, it was not ‘business as usual’. It was not an endorsement of centralised power, simply removing it from Brussels to Whitehall and job done.

The referendum result not only affects the country as a whole but also within our nations, regions and cities.  The uncertainties from Brexit may well be better managed at a local level, with local and regional government able to respond more effectively.

At present, virtually all taxation in the UK is determined by central government. Only council tax (and in England from April 2013, a proportion of business rates) can be seen as local taxation – and even this is subject to cumbersome controls, including referendum rules set by central Government.  When you compare this internationally you realise what control Whitehall holds.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Impressive free public access to our Supreme Court

The main courtroom at the Supreme Court, from the perspective of the Presiding Judge.
This week I wanted to visit a court in London, to get a feel for the proceedings. I didn’t fancy the Old Bailey – its case list is a series of stabbings basically. Not nice. I was about to make the journey to the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand when I remembered the more recently opened Supreme Court.

The United Kingdom Supreme Court resides just opposite Parliament in an impressive building previously occupied by Middlesex County Council and the Middlesex Courts.

When I visited, there were only a few people milling around inside. The staff were very friendly and helpful. I was whisked through the security scanner and then the receptionist explained what I could do in the building. The public are able to wonder around the three court rooms (when there are no cases ongoing) and take photographs. Then there is an interesting exhibition area about the history of the building, the Supreme Court, the Magna Carta and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. That latter entity is the final court of judgment for a number of territories overseas.

Posted in London and Op-eds | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Boris Johnson’s foolishness and arrogance in purchasing water cannon

This week Sadiq Khan revealed that three redundant water cannon, bought controversially by his predecessor, are to be put up for sale, with the proceeds going towards helping to tackle gang crime.

It is a decision I totally endorse and welcome.

Back in 2014 Boris Johnson decided to purchase three second hand water cannon from Germany.  We now discover that £322,834 of taxpayers’ money has been spent by the Met Police on purchasing these 25 year old vehicles, and then transporting, fitting out and repairing the machines.

The scale of the foolishness, and quite frankly arrogance, in purchasing these water cannon is hard to underestimate.

For a start these water cannon were purchased before authorisation was given for their use by the Home Secretary.  After they had been purchased consideration of permitting authorisation of their use was undertaken by the then Home Secretary.  It was firmly refused.  On this issue Theresa May showed immense thoroughness in carefully examining the merits for and against the adoption of water cannon.  Her statement to the House of Commons on the 15th July 2015 is an example of a Home Secretary acting in a truly professional way.  The Hansard record is well worth a read.

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On Sadiq Khan’s Hopper bus ticket: an idea you may have heard of before

One hour bus ticket 2009So, Sadiq Khan has made his first big transport announcement, one hour Hopper bus ticket.

Now, even though I live 400 miles away, I know fine that this is not be an original idea from the new London Mayor. Someone has been campaigning for this since 2009. Who could that possibly be?

Step forward Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon. The photo was taken in 2009 in tandem with this article in the Standard and the policy was in the 2012 Lib Dem London manifesto.

Boris blithely dismissed it in the same way Cameron dismissed the raising of the tax threshold policy, saying it was too complicated and costly.

His successor saw the sense in it and used Caroline’s idea in his manifesto. 

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London needs a liberal narrative

Last week’s elections in England overall were rather encouraging, with a modest but heartening rise in the number of councillors and the gain of Watford Council. But one relative black spot, in which the Liberal Democrat decline of recent years continued unabated, was London, where Mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon polled less than five per cent in first preferences – a third of the average vote in the country.

That is no reflection on the quality of Caroline as a candidate. No-one could have worked harder and many non-LibDems said they thought she performed the best among all candidates at hustings. After eight years on the London Assembly, she really knew her stuff, and she had some attractive specific policies, such as a one-hour bus ticket and continuing the Olympics precept but channelling it towards the building of affordable homes. Nonetheless, Caroline is now the sole LibDem member of the Assembly (out of 25). Once we had five.

This is all the more disappointing when one considers that London did particularly well out of the post-May 2015 surge in members and that London Liberal Democrats fielded the most diverse and talented list of Assembly candidates ever. They really looked like our multicultural city and most of them worked their socks off. So what went wrong?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 32 Comments

How Caroline Pidgeon would change London for the better

Caroline Pidgeon is spending the last day of campaigning for the Mayoral Election out in Putney with Nick Clegg

LBC has a list of ten ways London would change if she were Mayor.

1) £20 from your council tax will be used to build new houses
The Olympic precept will be maintained, but the money turned to building 50,000 council homes to rent and 150,000 for sale.

2) Tube fares before 7.30am will be half-price
The Lib Dems promise to “introduce half price fares for Tube, Overground rail and DLR travellers before 7.30am – to reduce the cost of travel for thousands of hard-working Londoners and ease peak congestion.”

3) All London’s buses and taxis will become fully electric
A Lib Dem plan is to switch London’s buses and taxis to be fully electric as well as helping to switch commercial vans too.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Can you help the London Liberal Democrats beat UKIP and win a third Assembly seat?

London Liberal Democrats are making a push for funds to help them run the best possible final flourish to the campaign and get out the vote operation.

A You Gov poll indicated that if we can just get one more percentage point, we could beat UKIP and get Merlene Emerson elected as our third assembly member.

Caroline Pidgeon says on the London Liberal Democrats’ website:

Polls show that a handful of votes could separate UKIP and the Lib Dems on 5th May.

Those votes will either elect Merlene Emerson to join me on the Assembly, a British-Chinese liberal, or a prejudiced UKIP voice.

For every additional £500 we can contact 93,000 people with Facebook advertising to run alongside our targeted literature and canvassing. We’re aiming to raise £10,000 in the next few days so we can contact our target voters three times each on Facebook to maximise our chances of getting our vote out.

Four years ago we pushed the BNP off the London Assembly. And, by just a few votes, kept out UKIP as well. Help me make sure we do it again.

Thanks again for your support!

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments
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