Author Archives: Kirsten Johnson

Faith and Liberalism

Following on from previous discussion on this site around the interaction between faith and being a Liberal Democrat,  I thought I’d share my story and, hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I am writing in a personal capacity, but happen to be Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum.

I am only a Liberal Democrat because of my Christian faith.  I’d better unpack that.  My faith has been a journey, brought up in a protestant household, with my childhood and teenage years in the Assemblies of God, and then working as a musician

Posted in News | 20 Comments

The Party Disciplinary Review

There was a recent article on Lib Dem Voice by Lord MacDonald on the review that is taking place on the Party’s disciplinary procedure. I would like to encourage you to take part if you have not already done so – I confess I only just got around to filling it in myself yesterday!

Regarding complaints, I have experienced elements of both ends of this process – having something done to me which I made a complaint about; and sitting on a disciplinary panel to decide whether charges against a party member were held or not.

My insights into the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Lack of Services for Disabled Children – Parliamentary Campaign Launch

Yesterday, the Disabled Children’s Partnership campaign was launched in parliament. Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable came along to show his support, as well as many other MPs, peers, charities and family representatives. I was also pleased that former Care Minister Norman Lamb MP, was also able to come meet families. 

The Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) is an exciting new coalition of over 50 disability and children’s charities. I sit on their Public Policy Group as a member of the Fragile X

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Orange The World – 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Last Saturday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Orange The World is the 16-days of activism against gender-based violence led by the U.N. Secretary General’s initiative UNiTE to End Violence against Women. The theme of Orange The World this year is Leave No One Behind – End Violence Against Women and Girls.

This is Day 6 of Orange The World. Women and girls around the world are subject to the most dreadful human rights violations. Female Genital Mutilation; child-marriage; rape; molestation; harassment; domestic violence, death. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Notes from a new councillor: Why we need decent bus services

I attended my first Cabinet Meeting recently as Oxfordshire County Councillor. OCC is led by a coalition of Conservatives and Independents. The question I put was:

Many villages in Wheatley Division are suffering because of the cut in bus subsidies. Elderly and vulnerable people are isolated; younger people cannot get to college and apprenticeships; those who relied on buses for work are now using cars and increasing the traffic on our already congested roads. Does the member agree with me that saving up to £4 million pounds from cutting bus subsidy was a false economy, and will she work with me to find room in our forthcoming budget to reinstate bus subsidies?

Well the member did not agree with me, and proceeded to inform me about all the community transport initiatives underway throughout the county. I am already well versed in these grass-root efforts, having been along to a fair number of community transport meetings over the last two months.

My problem is that offering locals buses twice a week for shopping; or relying on volunteers to get people to hospital appointments; or telling village residents to cross a busy highway (A40) for the nearest bus; is not good enough.

Connecting Oxfordshire, Local Transport Plan 2015 – 2031 includes the vision behind providing local buses. Here are three of the key outcomes (p. 16):

1. To support the transition to a low-carbon future.

2. To support social inclusion and equality of opportunity.

3. To protect, and where possible enhance, Oxfordshire’s environment and improve quality of life.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 30 Comments

Notes from a new councillor: How to change things

I am frustrated about the bureaucracy I recently encountered as a County Councillor. Oxfordshire Mind, which provides many valuable mental health services throughout the county, has a new initiative to promote mental health awareness throughout Oxfordshire.

The question I submitted to the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health was:

Oxfordshire Mind is seeking £308K funding for Mental Health Awareness for children and young people. This investment in Public Health would potentially save the NHS and Social Care millions of pounds a year in Oxfordshire. Will the Cabinet Member meet with Mr Dan Knowles, CEO of Oxfordshire Mind, and me regarding funding this scheme of prevention, ensuring better mental health for young people in this county in years to come?

The written response was that the Cabinet Member cannot meet with us as that would be showing favouritism to one charity over another. She informed me there is bidding process to go through for funding.

Being a new County Councillor, I was unaware of this and so now I know better! But asking the question, and having it publicly documented, has already raised awareness. So it is not a wasted effort on my part.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Notes from a new councillor: opposing Conservative cuts to children’s centres

One of the key elements in my campaign for election as Oxfordshire County Councillor was the cut in funding many of the Children’s Centres throughout Oxfordshire.

The closure of the Maple Tree Children’s Centre, Wheatley, in my patch inflamed the local community. Many parents and carers relied on the services and support provided at the Children’s Centre for health advice, parenting support, breast-feeding counselling, and meeting other local parents/carers.

This has been a big local issue. Our new Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Layla Moran, secured a debate in Westminster Hall on Children’s Centres. She moved that, “That this House has considered the role of children’s centres in tackling social inequality.”  You can read the full debate here.

Of those children’s centres slated for closure, communities were given the opportunity to keep their centres open. Residents of Wheatley rallied and a group was set up. The hope is that they will re-open the Maple Tree Children’s Centre from September, albeit with more limited services.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments
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