16-17 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 1)

Liberal Democrats demand a Clean Air Act

The Liberal Democrats have today demanded the Conservative Government bring forward a Clean Air Act enshrining the legal right to unpolluted air.

The proposals, set out at the Liberal Democrat conference in York, are based on World Health Organisation guidelines and would be enforced by a new Air Quality Agency.

If successful, the Clean Air Act would also demand air pollution testing took place more widely and frequently, with warning signs displayed in pollution hotspots and sensitive areas, such as near schools.

Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The Tories are just not taking air pollution seriously, despite current levels contributing to diabetes, dementia and heart disease – well as impacting children in the womb and the lungs of children at school.

It is an absolutely disgraceful dereliction of duty. However, the way things are today are not the way they have to be. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.

That is why we are calling for real action backed by the ambitious legislation we need to clean up our air and tackle this growing public health crisis.

Liberal Democrats demand better for town centres

The Liberal Democrats will today debate how to end the crisis in the country’s town centres.

The debate will focus on the party’s motion to Spring Conference – Town Centres fit for the future. The motion sets out bold measures to ensure town centres flourish in an increasingly digital economy

Measures include: boosting support for local entrepreneurs; reforming local planning laws; developing local asset registers; and creating a new industry-led body to help brick-and-mortar retailers adapt to the digital economy.

The motion also reiterates the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to replacing business rates with a land value tax, thereby boosting investment, rebalancing the economy and cutting the average tax bill in over 90% of local authorities.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

The crisis we are witnessing in our town centres is clear to us all. Whilst Brexit is partly responsible, at the root of the issue is our broken business rates system.

It is only right we welcome the benefits of the 21st century economy, but we cannot ignore the plight of our high streets and all those affected. As more and more individuals switch to online retail, businesses are struggling and thousands of jobs are being lost.

Business rates should be replaced with a land value tax that encourages businesses to invest, whilst we must also empower local areas by reforming planning and supporting entrepreneurs. It is not to late to save our town centres and these measures would do just that.

Lib Dems: Eradicate Race Inequality

This morning, Liberal Democrats at their conference in York passed a motion calling on the Government to urgently take serious steps to tackling race inequality within the UK.

The conference has overwhelmingly passed measures celebrating the racial and cultural diversity of the UK. But also recognised that we have a long way to go in terms of tackling institutional racism within systems such as criminal justice and mental health.

The Liberal Democrats believe that if race inequality is to be properly addressed (be it in education, employment, health, housing or in the justice system) then we need to hold power and public institutions to account through values of fairness, transparency and accountability whilst giving individuals the skills and information that they need to make the best decisions that they can.

We would like to see the diversity that exists within the UK positively represented and celebrated. Investing in projects that will promote ethnic minority role models in all walks of life. Using teaching on citizenship as part of the ‘curriculum for life’ in schools to promote understanding about the experience of ethnic minority people around the UK.

Liberal Democrats would also introduce a national day to celebrate the positive impact of ethnic minority people on the UK over the centuries and placing plaques, statues and memorials to celebrate the historical impact of ethnic minority people around the UK.

We call upon the Government to set ‘targets with teeth’ for businesses and to take real action to change to see a shift in culture across our society.

Commenting on the passing of this motion, and the commitment from the Liberal Democrats to tackle racial discrimination and inequality in the UK, Liberal Democrat Equalities spokesperson Meral Hussein-Ece said:

At a time of divisions in our society , and in the wake of the terrible Islampophobic terrorist attack in New Zealand, we need leadership to bring communities close together and work to eradicate racial inequalities and the language that inspires racial hatred. Politicians and the media all have a role to play, and must take responsibility.

The Liberal Democrats want to see the diversity of the UK celebrated and cultivated. That is why we are calling on the Government to demand better from businesses and organisations and tackle the institutional racism that still exists.

A national day to appreciate what the richness of our culture has brought us by way of ethnic minority role models and contribution to our culture and society would be a sign of respect that should be paid, and that the Liberal Democrats would introduce.

There is so much more that we can do, but today we have taken positive steps to improving those that are currently victims of racial inequality, we call on the Government to do the same.

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