Author Archives: Mark Valladares

I’m a veteran Party bureaucrat, having joined the old Liberal Party at university. And, perhaps not entirely surprisingly, I’ve held a range of positions since then - everything from Secretary-General of the Young Liberals to being a member of the ALDE Party‘s Financial Advisory Committee. Returning Officer, Presidential consort, committee secretary, you name it, I’ve probably done it. These days, I’m a parish councillor in a (very) small rural village in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley, and a member of the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee. Never let it be said that life is dull…

19 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • River Thames Tsar should be created to tackle sewage crisis
  • Menzies Scandal: Ethics adviser must investigate Conservative Chief Whip
  • Sick note speech: Sunak blaming British people for failures on NHS and economy
  • Lib Dems respond to SNP interview on ditched climate targets

River Thames Tsar should be created to tackle sewage crisis

  • Liberal Democrat Leader calls for new government appointed role to hold Thames Water to account for sewage pollution
  • New role could pave the way for wider reforms of water industry with increased environmental accountability and new representation on water company boards
  • Ed Davey will make the announcement during a local elections visit to the River Mole in Esher and Walton today

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a new River Thames Tsar to be appointed by the government, in a bid to hold the country’s biggest water firm to account.

Leader Ed Davey visits the River Mole in Esher and Walton, a marginal Surrey constituency, to announce the policy. The Esher and Walton constituency was in the top 100 worst for sewage dumping last year and saw a staggering 135% increase in spills.

This policy is part of the party’s plan for water industry reform, including transforming water companies into “Public Benefit Companies”, by ensuring environmental experts sit on water utility boards. The reforms aim to put an end to water companies putting profit before the environment. The Liberal Democrats have also called for Ofwat to be abolished, so a new tougher water regulator can be created.

The new River Thames Tsar proposed by the Liberal Democrats would have various roles, including:

  • Attending Thames Water board meetings
  • Hosting public meetings with river users and environmental groups
  • Ensuring the Environment Agency follows up on reports of sewage pollution into the Thames and its tributaries

The latest policy announcement follows the Government’s decision to appoint a River Wye Tsar last week, amid concerns of agricultural pollution. The Liberal Democrats are calling for the new River Thames Tsar to have a high public profile, with Feargal Sharkey and Steve Backshall suggested as possible candidates.

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18 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Police taking up to 17 and a half hours to respond to anti-social behaviour calls
  • Thames Water: This corporate clown show must end
  • “Flushed away”- Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh Government to support maintenance of public toilets
  • Scot Lib Dems respond to SNP and Greens ditching climate change targets
  • Khan manifesto launch
  • Cole-Hamilton speaks after more days of turmoil for Humza Yousaf

Police taking up to 17 and a half hours to respond to anti-social behaviour calls

Average police response times to anti-social behaviour incidents have increased by 37% since 2021, with some forces taking an average of 17 and a half hours to arrive at the scene, shocking new figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The figures were obtained through a series of Freedom of Information requests to all police forces in England. 27 forces provided full responses.

In 2023, it took an average of 3 hours and 40 minutes across police forces for an officer to turn up to the scene of anti-social behaviour incidents. This is an increase of 34% compared to average wait times across police forces in 2021, which stood at 2 hours and 44 minutes.

The figures revealed a disturbing postcode lottery, with huge differences in average response times between police forces.

Suffolk had the longest wait times in England last year, with police taking an average of 17 and a half hours to attend anti-social behaviour reports, followed closely behind by Norfolk where wait times were 17 hours and 29 minutes. Cambridgeshire also had extremely long wait times, which stood at 11 and a half hours.

Meanwhile, anti-social behaviour calls in Essex were attended to in less than 8 minutes on average.

In recent years, some forces also experienced huge deteriorations in wait times. In Surrey, where Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey will be making a campaigning visit today, wait times have increased by 281% since 2021, up to nearly 5 and a half hours.

London wait times have more than tripled in that same time period, up a staggering 353%.

The shocking figures come just months after the Crime Survey for England and Wales found that in the year ending September 2023, more than one third of people had experienced or witnessed some type of anti-social behaviour, with the police recording 1 million incidents.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for these figures, arguing that years of ineffective resourcing have left local police forces overstretched, under-resourced and unable to effectively respond to local crime. This includes taking more than 4,500 community officers (PCSOs) off the streets since 2015.

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17 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Lib Dem comment on Sadiq Khan’s latest pre-election pledge on women’s safety
  • McArthur welcomes assisted dying bill being assigned to health committee
  • “Cultural vandalism”- Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh government to save National Museum
  • Cole-Hamilton urges SNP Government to deliver transparency on Russian land ownership
  • “Families are being cut off” -Welsh Lib Dems urge Welsh Gov to lift immigration status barriers on school grants

Lib Dem comment on Sadiq Khan’s latest pre-election pledge on women’s safety

Commenting on Sadiq Khan’s promise to fund a free, independent legal advice pilot service for survivors of rape and serious sexual offences, if re-elected, Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate Rob Blackie said:

Under Sadiq Khan, the police are catching rapists and sexual offenders half as often as they did when he became Mayor in 2016. This is a scandal. But in last night’s debate the Mayor would not even say that he is sorry for this.

The Mayor’s plan does not promise to catch significantly more sexual offenders. It even includes policies that were promised last year.

McArthur welcomes assisted dying bill being assigned to health committee

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed the news that the Scottish Parliament’s health committee has been assigned as the lead committee for scrutinising his Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill.

The decision to assign a bill a lead committee is taken by the Scottish Parliament business bureau. The bill is also expected to be scrutinised by the Finance committee and Delegated Powers committee.

The committee will now decide how it wishes to proceed, which is likely to start with call for the submission of written evidence followed by oral evidence sessions with a wide range of witnesses and stakeholders, concluding with Mr McArthur, appearing before the committee.

The Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill was published on 28th March, alongside polling from Dignity in Dying showing strong support for assisted dying in every constituency and region of Scotland.

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17 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

Back after a few days on grandparent duty…

  • Inflation figures: Nobody will notice this in their pockets
  • Three in four of worst hit constituencies for sewage dumping held by Conservative MPs
  • Mark Menzies scandal: Sunak must suspend the Whip

Inflation figures: Nobody will notice this in their pockets

Responding to the latest inflation figures, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Nobody will notice this in their pockets, with mortgage bills still skyrocketing after Liz Truss crashed the economy, and prices still so much higher than last year. By patting themselves on the back for this record, Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt have proved just how out of touch they are.

Conservative Chancellors have presided over the worst cost of living crisis in living memory. The blame lies squarely with their gross economic incompetence.

Three in four of worst hit constituencies for sewage dumping held by Conservative MPs

  • 75 of the the top 100 constituencies for the worst number of sewage spills last year held by Conservative MPs
  • Rishi Sunak’s constituency was the 10th worst hit in England, with the duration of sewage dumping doubling to 42,000 hours in 2023
  • Theresa May’s seat of Maidenhead saw a staggering forty fold increase in duration of sewage dumping
  • Lib Dems warn of a “reckoning at the ballot box” from former Conservative voters furious about the sewage scandal

96% of Conservative held seats in England saw an increase in sewage dumping last year, with the worst constituency for sewage dumping facing 100,000 hours worth of spills, Liberal Democrat analysis of House of Commons Library research has shown.

Geoffrey Cox’s seat of Torridge and West Devon was the worst affected last year by sewage dumping, facing 97,000 hours worth of sewage being pumped into the area’s waterways, a 65% increase on 2022’s figure This was followed by Central Devon, Skipton and Ripon, Penrith and The Border, and Totnes, all of which experienced over 50,000 hours worth of dumps by water companies.

450 of the 508 seats in England saw a rise in the duration of sewage dumping and 456 saw a rise in the number of spills in 2023 compared to the previous year. In a staggering 96% of Conservative held seats in England there was an increase in sewage spills last year.

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12 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • GDP figures: Economy stuck in the slow lane
  • Defence: Only the Lib Dems are committed to reversing troop cuts
  • Energy Minister stands down: Drumbeat of Conservative resignations is becoming deafening
  • More than half of councils see rise in sewage dumps
  • Jardine Secures Commons Debate on Consular Assistance

GDP figures: Economy stuck in the slow lane

Responding to the latest GDP figures, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This sluggish growth shows the UK economy is stuck in the slow lane under the Conservatives.

This government has no plan to fix the damage they’ve done to people’s living standards.

Instead we have a prime minister and Chancellor totally out of touch with families feeling the pinch. The only way to get the economy moving again is to kick this economically illiterate Conservative government out of office.

Defence: Only the Lib Dems are committed to reversing troop cuts

Responding to Labour and the Conservatives announcements on defence policy today, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to reversing the Conservatives’ irresponsible cuts to Army troop numbers. With Putin waging war in Europe and Trump threatening the future of NATO, cutting the British Army by 10,000 troops is a major threat to our long-term national security.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives and Labour only offer meaningless talk about vague aspirations for some unspecified time in the future.

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11 April 2024 -today’s press releases

  • Sunak in “parallel universe” as NHS waiting lists grow by 330,000 since he pledged to cut them
  • Nick Fletcher endorses Lee Anderson: Sunak should kick him out of Conservative Party
  • Donelan libel costs: Donelan must pay this money back now
  • Lib Dems to create London Housing Company – Blackie: “I will get London building again”

Sunak in “parallel universe” as NHS waiting lists grow by 330,000 since he pledged to cut them

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has said Rishi Sunak is living in a “parallel universe,” after today’s figures reveal NHS targets are being missed while waiting lists have grown by 330,000 since the Prime Minister pledged to cut them.

NHS targets missed include:

  • NHS waiting lists: NHS waiting lists stood at 7.54 million outstanding treatments in February 2024, up from 7.21 million in January 2023 when Rishi Sunak pledged to cut them. This is an increase of 330,000 (NHS England).
  • 65 week waits: There were 75,000 65-weeks for treatment in February, despite a target to eliminate them by March 2024 (NHS England).
  • A&E: 71.3% of patients were seen within 4 hours in all A&E in February, against a target of 76% (NHS England).
  • Cancer: 63.9% of people treated began cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral in February 2024, against a target of 85% (NHS England).

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

This week we uncovered that over 150,000 people waited over 24 hours in A&E last year. Now we find that waiting lists have gone up by 330,000 after Rishi Sunak pledged to cut them.

To add insult to injury, the Conservatives have cut NHS spending while millions of patients are suffering in pain on endless waiting lists.

Rishi Sunak is living in a parallel universe if he thinks our National Health Service is recovering. The Conservative Party and the Prime Minister are out of touch, out of ideas and deserve to be kicked out of office.

Nick Fletcher endorses Lee Anderson: Sunak should kick him out of Conservative Party

Responding to Nick Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley, telling voters in Ashfield that Reform UK MP Lee Anderson is the area’s “greatest champion” and that he needs to be back in Westminster, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

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10 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims
  • Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook
  • Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring
  • SNP burn through ScotWind cash in record time
  • McArthur responds to opposition to assisted dying bill

Government amendment on “deeply damaging” non-disclosure agreements does not go far enough to protect victims

After tireless campaigning by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, the Government in the House of Lords has tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill that ensures non-disclosure agreements preventing victims from disclosing information to the police or other bodies (including confidential support services) cannot be legally enforced.

Responding to the tabling of this amendment, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The Liberal Democrats have long been campaigning to end the deeply damaging practice of non-disclosure agreements. This amendment is a welcome move that will help victims to access the support they need.

But while this is a step in the right direction, the Government is not going far enough in giving victims their voice back.

We need a complete ban of NDAs in cases of sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying to ensure that no victim is silenced.

Shoplifting: Govt continues to let organised gangs off the hook

Responding to the news that assaulting a shop worker will be made a separate criminal offence in England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

For too long, the Conservative Government have been sitting on their hands while hardworking shopkeepers are left to face the brunt of the shoplifting epidemic alone.

As the majority of shoplifting cases go unsolved, the Conservatives has repeatedly failed to get even the basics right of tackling this issue – something their new gimmicks won’t change.

It is now vital the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary invest in proper community policing and ensure all shoplifting thefts are investigated.

The government is currently letting organised criminal gangs off the hook and leaving shopkeepers hugely vulnerable.

Cole-Hamilton criticises state of sewage monitoring

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has called on the SNP and Greens to get tough with Scottish Water as it was revealed that in three local authorities there is no monitoring of sewage dumping at all and in ten more local authorities just one or two sites are monitored.

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9 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Hospital’s spend £3million on pest control as patients suffer from rats and insects
  • Cameron and Trump: European leaders’ summit needed to seize frozen Russian assets
  • Cole-Hamilton: SNP have failed to help A&E recover
  • Lib Dems launch London Transport Policy – Blackie: “No more bus cuts”

Hospital’s spend £3million on pest control as patients suffer from rats and insects

  • Staff report being bitten by bugs as rats roam maternity and emergency wards
  • Freedom of Information requests reveal NHS Hospitals coping with 18,000 pest incidents since 2021
  • Liberal Democrat Leader demands urgent repair fund for crumbling hospitals

Freedom of Information Requests by the Liberal Democrats have revealed the extent of pests roaming NHS Hospitals. As the NHS repair backlog reaches record levels, these new revelations show staff and patients subjected to poor conditions.

Since 2021, over 60 NHS Trusts have reported £3.7 million spent on pest control at their hospitals. Imperial College NHS Trust, which includes St.Mary’s Hospital London, spent a staggering £383,597 on pest control, including dealing with 748 pest incidents last year alone.

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust spent £119,199 to deal with mice in the kitchen, maggots in the mortuary and rat droppings in a corpse bag, amongst many other pests.

The most shocking incidents were reported by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust, which includes Colchester Hospital and Ipswich Hospital. Staff reported:

  • Black insects are biting the legs of staff
  • Ants and fly infestations
  • Rats in the ambulance area

At Ashford NHS Trust, dead headless pigeons and dead rabbits, as well as slug and ants were reported. Royal United Hospitals Bath reported pests in the children’s ward and breast clinic.

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5 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • NICs: Prime Minister is still peddling this deception
  • Chamberlains’s Carer’s Leave Bill to come into force
  • 91,000 people call 999 or turn to A&E after struggling to get GP appointment
  • Rennie: Fall in modern languages teachers jeopardises vision for Scotland
  • Blackie: ‘My top priority: fix the Met’

NICs: Prime Minister is still peddling this deception

Responding to the changes to National Insurance (NI) and freezing of income tax thresholds coming into force tomorrow, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP said:

The Prime Minister is still peddling this deception and voters will see straight through it.

Hammering the public with unfair stealth taxes and then claiming people will be taking home more in their pay packets is frankly offensive.

This is an out of touch Prime Minister leading a directionless Conservative government with his party more interested in clinging on to power than ensuring people are better off. They do not deserve to be in power for a moment longer.

Chamberlains’s Carer’s Leave Bill to come into force

The “landmark” Carer’s Leave Bill introduced by North East Fife MP and Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain will come into force on Saturday 6th April.

The Bill will give an estimated 2.4 million carers across the UK a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year. Carer’s UK have described this as a ‘landmark’ piece of legislation which would help carers to better balance work and care.

Wendy Chamberlain introduced the Carer’s Leave Bill in June 2022 after winning a place in the Private Member’s Bill lottery. The Bill enjoyed cross-party support and was passed on 19 May 2023. The legislation comes into effect on 6th April 2024

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4 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Police taking up to 28 hours to attend burglaries
  • Sharp decline in STEM teacher numbers
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to Loch Lomond Highland Games cancellation

Police taking up to 28 hours to attend burglaries

Average burglary response times have increased by a shocking 25% in just one year, with some forces taking an average of 28 hours for an officer to arrive at the scene, damning figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The figures were obtained through a series of Freedom of Information requests to all police forces in England. 26 forces provided responses.

Burglaries are often considered as Grade 2 priority incidents, which most police forces aim to respond to within one hour. The College of Policing defines these as “incidents where a witness or other evidence is likely to be lost”, and “a degree of urgency is still associated with immediate police action.”

But in the 2022/23 financial year, it took an average of 9 hours and 8 minutes across police forces for an officer to turn up to the scene when a burglary was reported. This is an increase of 25% from the previous year, when average wait times across police forces stood at 7 hours and 17 minutes. 20 of the 26 police forces reported longer wait times in 2022/23, compared to 2021/22.

When compared to figures from 2020/21, the deterioration in wait times was even more stark. 11 forces saw their burglary response times more than double in that time period. South Yorkshire experienced the largest deterioration in wait times, which increased by a shocking 443% – up from 2 hours and 21 minutes in 2020/21, to 12 hours and 47 minutes in 2022/23.

The figures also revealed a disturbing postcode lottery, with response times varying significantly depending on the police force. The worst performing force was Northamptonshire, with a staggering average response time of 28 hours and 2 minutes for burglary calls. They were followed closely behind by Durham, where victims were left waiting nearly 26 hours for an officer to arrive. Meanwhile, average response times in Bedfordshire were nearly 15 minutes, while Cumbria response times sat at just a little over one hour.

It comes just months after the latest Home Office statistics revealed that 3 in 4 burglaries went unsolved in the year ending September 2023.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for these figures, arguing that years of ineffective resourcing have left local police forces overstretched, under-resourced and unable to effectively respond to local crime. This includes taking more than 4,500 community officers (PCSOs) off the streets since 2015.

The party is calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible and trusted, with the time and resources to focus on tackling neighbourhood crime like burglaries.

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3 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Aid worker deaths: Davey calls on government to suspend arms sales to Israel
  • Royal Mail proposal to cut second class deliveries: Another slap in the face
  • London Lib Dems response to Khan economic announcement
  • Worst hit rivers for sewage dumps revealed as Lib Dems call for new Blue Flag status
  • Rennie responds to CalMac boss stepping down

Aid worker deaths: Davey calls on government to suspend arms sales to Israel

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to suspend arms sales to Israel, following the deaths of seven aid workers including three British nationals in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

The deaths of these British aid workers in Gaza is an absolute disgrace. These brave people were trying to help starving families in Gaza.

Clearly, the thought that British-made arms could have been used in strikes such as these is completely unacceptable.

The government must take swift action to suspend arms exports to Israel. We must redouble our efforts to secure an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

Royal Mail proposal to cut second class deliveries: Another slap in the face

Responding to the news that Royal Mail wants to reduce second class deliveries to three days a week, Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

These plans are a slap in the face for families being asked to pay more for less.

The cost of first and second class stamps has gone up sharply in recent years. It risks creating a cost of postage crisis, as people feel forced to pay for first class stamps because second class delivery days are being slashed.

People shouldn’t have to pay the price for Royal Mail’s failure, after executives missed their delivery targets and paid themselves eye-watering bonuses.

London Lib Dems response to Khan economic announcement

Responding to Sadiq Khan’s joint economic announcement with Rachel Reeves today (Weds), Rob Blackie, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, said:

Labour’s plan ignores London’s biggest economic problem – Brexit. Labour are too scared to say that Brexit has damaged London’s economy, making us poorer and costing us jobs.

For instance, technology companies now have to spend time and money complying with two data laws, one each from the EU and the UK. And too many European citizens in London are made to feel unwelcome.

As Liberal Democrat Mayor I will campaign to fix the damage done by Brexit, and bring in a London passport to protect London’s EU citizen rights.

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2 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Government childcare announcement: More Conservative chaos hurting families
  • Only 0.1% of police dedicated to rural crime teams

Government childcare announcement: More Conservative chaos hurting families

Responding to the Government’s childcare announcment, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

This latest Conservative chaos is hitting families hard. Parents are seriously worried about what the Government’s botched childcare expansion will mean for them.

Free hours are no good if parents can’t find a good nursery or childminder for their child – and thanks to Conservative underfunding, more than 3,000 providers have closed in the last year alone.

Instead of plunging families into even more chaos, the Government should take up the Liberal Democrats’ clear and properly-funded plan to ensure all parents can access childcare that is flexible, affordable and fair.

Only 0.1% of police dedicated to rural crime teams

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative government of “neglecting” rural communities as new data reveals that only 258 police officers and staff are dedicated to rural crime teams across England and Wales – just 0.1% of the overall workforce. It means fewer than one in 1,000 police officers around the country are dedicated to rural crime teams.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey will today call for Police and Crime Commissioners to be scrapped so the savings can be invested in frontline policing, including ensuring that every police force has a properly resourced rural crime team. It is estimated the move would save £150 million every four years.

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2 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Stealth taxes to drag 1.6 million pensioners into paying income tax
  • Sunak laughing on radio: Stop hunkering in offices and call an election
  • Cole-Hamilton: No one should have to wait 12 hours at A&E
  • More than 1,900 stuck in hospital

Stealth taxes to drag 1.6 million pensioners into paying income tax

1.6 million pensioners are set to be dragged into paying income tax due to the government’s stealth tax freeze by 2027/28, new research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The House of Commons Library analysis looks at the impact of the Chancellor’s decision to freeze the personal allowance at £12,570, the rate at which people start paying tax. Without the stealth tax freeze, the allowance would have risen to £15,220 in the coming financial year (2024/25) and up to £15,990 in 2027/28.

The analysis estimated that around 1.2 million pensioners will be dragged into paying income tax in 2024/25. By 2027/28, 1.6 million additional pensioners will be paying income tax compared to if the Personal Allowance had been increased in line with inflation.

The latest DWP figures show there are 12.7 million people receiving the state pension. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, well over 60 per cent of these pensioners now pay income tax, up from around 50% in 2010. The research found 8.5 million people over the age of 65 were now paying tax on their income, up from roughly 4.9 million in 2010.

Separate analysis from the Resolution Foundation has found that the freezing of income tax thresholds will leave the average taxpaying pensioner £1,000 worse off by 2027-28, or a collective hit of £8 billion.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

These stark figures reveal the stealth tax bombshell facing pensioners under this Conservative government.

Older people who have worked hard and contributed all their lives are now being clobbered with years of unfair tax hikes.

Jeremy Hunt’s pensioner-punishing Budget will not be forgotten come the next election. The Conservative Party faces a reckoning at the ballot from older voters sick of being taken for granted.

Sunak laughing on radio: Stop hunkering in offices and call an election

Responding to Rishi Sunak laughing at being asked when the next General Election will be on BBC Radio Tees, Liberal Democrat local government spokesperson Helen Morgan MP said:

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30-31 March 2024 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Revealed: 31,000 sewage discharges into bathing areas last year
  • Water firms committing “environmental cover up” as one in seven sewage monitors are faulty
  • Khan quietly ditches ‘Track My Crime’ victim tool

Revealed: 31,000 sewage discharges into bathing areas last year

  • Sewage dumped average of 86 times a day last year into bathing water sites, up 47% on previous year
  • Lib Dems warn families visiting seaside over Easter bank holiday will be “horrified” that popular beaches are being ruined by rise in sewage dumping
  • Allonby in Cumbria the worst hit bathing site with 4,500 hours of sewage dumped last year

The Liberal Democrats have accused water companies of committing “environmental vandalism” after the party’s analysis has revealed that there were 31,000 sewage discharges in bathing areas last year, an increase of 47% compared to 2022.

Shockingly this amounts to sewage being dumped an average of 86 times a day into bathing water areas last year, subjecting swimmers to potential serious health risks. The Liberal Democrats warned that families visiting the seaside over the Easter Bank holiday would be horrified that popular beaches are being ruined by sewage.

The analysis looks at the amount of sewage dumped into beaches officially classified as bathing waters, meaning they should be protected from pollution. In total sewage was discharged for 228,000 hours into bathing areas across England in 2023, an increase of 80% on the previous year.

The worst bathing area for sewage dumping last year was in Allonby where United Utilities dumped over 4,500 hours worth of sewage. This was followed by Haverigg where United Utilities dumped 3,600 hours of sewage into bathing spots, then Middleton-on-sea where 3,500 hours of sewage was dumped by Southern Water.

United Utilities were also the worst offending company overall with 10,467 sewage spills over 76,259 hours dumped into bathing sites. South West Water dumped the second largest amount of sewage into bathing sites last year with 8,500 spills over 59,000 hours. This was followed by Southern Water, Wessex Water, and Thames Water respectively who were all responsible for dumping over 11,000 hours worth of sewage into bathing spots last year.

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29 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Travel chaos: 237,000 rush hour trains cancelled since 2019
  • Blue light bill bombshell as emergency services face £144m fuel and insurance costs

Travel chaos: 237,000 rush hour trains cancelled since 2019

  • Average of 130 morning rush hour trains cancelled every day since 2019
  • Most cancelled train in Britain is the 6.40am from Cardiff to Nottingham
  • Lib Dems warn “passengers are having to roll the dice every day” as trains cancelled at short notice

A shocking 237,000 morning rush hour trains have faced cancellations since 2019, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

This is equivalent to an average of 130 morning service trains being cancelled per day. The data, obtained from Network Rail through a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats, shows the total number of trains between 6am and 9am that have been either been fully or partly cancelled since 2019.

2023 saw 55,829 morning rush hour train services either fully or partly cancelled, a 10% rise on the previous year and the worst of any year since 2019. The most cancelled service was the 06:40 train from Cardiff Central to Nottingham, with passengers facing a staggering 68 cancellations in 2023, more than once every five days. The train operator with the worst record was Northern Trains with 25,578 morning services cancelled since 2019.

It comes as passengers are hit with painful rail price hikes, with fares rising by 5% in 2024 and 5.9% in 2023. The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to tighten powers to sanction failing train operators, along with a freeze on rail fares.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport, Wera Hobhouse MP said:

The Conservative Government has hammered passengers with rail fare hikes and a train network that simply cannot be relied upon. Passengers are having to roll the dice every day, uncertain as to whether they will get to their final destinations on time, or even at all.

To add insult to injury, instead of sorting out the near unusable network, ministers have punished passengers with ever higher ticket prices.

This Conservative Government has let rail operators fail their customers without any fear of punishment. It’s time for the government to freeze rail fares for passengers, and sanction train companies who are running rail services into the ground.

Blue light bill bombshell as emergency services face £144m fuel and insurance costs

Emergency services are set to pay an “eye-watering” £24.6 million more in fuel and insurance costs compared to costs five years ago.

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28 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Lib Dems call on Government to block Thames Water bill rises
  • 40% increase in hours of sewage dumped by Dwr Cymru last year
  • Renters reform: Gove caves in to Conservative MPs as manifesto promise left in tatters

Lib Dems call on Government to block Thames Water bill rises

  • The party is calling for a Ministerial intervention to block the proposals which could see customer bills rise by at least 40%
  • The Liberal Democrats have also demanded the Chancellor hold an urgent Downing Street summit with Thames Water bosses

Following the news that Thames Water’s shareholders have refused to inject £500 million of funding into the company unless water bills rise by 40% or more, the Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to block these proposals and ensure customers are not on the hook for the firm’s financial negligence.

The calls come after reports revealed that Thames Water is pushing the water regulator, Ofwat, to allow them to introduce large increases to customer bills in an effort to stay afloat.

The Liberal Democrats have also demanded for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to hold an urgent Downing Street summit with Thames Water bosses to provide reassurance to taxpayers that they will not be liable should the company go bust.

This follows calls made by the party for the firm to be put into special administration and restructured into a public benefit company. This would ensure Thames Water becomes stable again and no longer be reliant on its failing board, forcing it to work in the interest of customers.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP said:

Thames Water are a polluting giant which has accrued billions in debt whilst pumping our rivers full of rotten sewage.

Ministers must intervene today and block any attempt by Thames Water to saddle customers with extortionate bill increases. Customers can’t be bailing them out of their own mess.

Jeremy Hunt should also call a Downing Street summit with Thames Water’s bosses to reassure taxpayers they will not be on the hook should the company go down.

Yet all this could still be avoided if Ministers put Thames Water into special administration immediately and reform it into a public benefit company. That’s the best way to ensure this polluting giant will begin working for its customers again.

40% increase in hours of sewage dumped by Dwr Cymru last year

New figures released by the Environment Agency have shown that Dwr Cymru discharged sewage into waterways for a staggering 23,354 hours last year, a 40% increase on 2022.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are now calling for tougher action against sewage dumping in Welsh waterways.

The party has also called for a halt on bonuses for water company bosses whose firms have dumped sewage into waterways.

Conservative MPs have consistently voted against measures which would have helped to tackle the crisis.

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28 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • GDP stats: Rishi’s recession confirmed
  • Thames Water: Broken firm needs to be taken into special administration
  • McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill published by Scottish Parliament
  • Blackie unveils plan to “Green” the Silvertown Tunnel

GDP stats: Rishi’s recession confirmed

Responding to this morning’s ONS figures confirming the UK economy did go into recession last year, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

These damning figures confirm the damage done to the UK economy by Rishi’s recession. This Conservative government has no plan for growth or to help families paying the price for years of economic chaos through soaring mortgages and rents.

The Liberal Democrats have a bold plan to get the economy growing again, fix our broken trading relationship with Europe and support small businesses on the brink. It’s clear the best thing for the economy would be a general election, so we can kick the Conservative Party out of power and offer the real change the country needs.

Thames Water: Broken firm needs to be taken into special administration

Responding to the news that Thames Water’s shareholders will not be injecting the first £500 million of funding that was agreed last summer, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson and MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney said:

Thames Water is a broken firm. It is teetering on the brink of collapse and it is clear that things cannot go on as they are.

Drastic action is needed to keep the taps running for millions of customers. Execs have pocketed sky-high bonuses, given billions to overseas investors whilst watching their infrastructure crumble. The board should hang their heads in shame.

No longer should this firm be allowed to mistreat customers and destroy our environment with their filthy sewage.

That is why ministers must use their powers to put Thames Water into special administration immediately, to then be reformed into a public benefit company. Only that way can we ensure this polluting giant will begin working for its customers again.

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27 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Ed Davey warns Sunak facing sewage local elections backlash on campaign visit to Dorset
  • Khan already failing on Met recruitment
  • Sewage spills rise: 21,660 “disgusting” sewage dumps in 2023
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to Housing Bill
  • Cole-Hamilton responds to hackers’ threat of publishing NHS stolen data
  • Rennie: Ministers’ fingerprints all over Tydeman sacking

Ed Davey warns Sunak facing sewage local elections backlash on campaign visit to Dorset

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey will today warn that Rishi Sunak is facing a “sewage backlash” at the ballot box in May’s local elections, on a visit to West Dorset as part of his campaign tour of the West Country.

Ed Davey will be meeting CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, Giles Bristow, and visiting West Bay beach, a popular tourist destination where pollution alerts were put in place after raw sewage was discharged last year.

The Liberal Democrats have led the campaign in Westminster to tackle the sewage scandal since 2021, and it’s been a key issue in their big victories in previous local election campaigns and four parliamentary by-election wins.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the water industry to be “ripped up from top to bottom” to ensure profit is no longer put above environmental goals, and the creation of a new tougher regulator to replace Ofwat. Since the Liberal Democrats were the first party to call for a ban on water firm executive bonuses over two years ago, a number of water CEOs have given theirs up.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Rishi Sunak and Conservative MPs are facing a sewage backlash after years of blocking tough measures to crack down on water firms. The water industry needs to be ripped up from top to bottom, to stop profits and shareholders’ dividends driving everything. It is time to start again.

Sunak may have bottled a General Election, but he cannot hide from voters in the local elections where communities will voice real anger at this environmental scandal.

From Dorset to Yorkshire, lifelong Conservative voters across the country are switching to the Liberal Democrats because they’re fed up with seeing their rivers and beaches ruined by sewage.

Under this Conservative government both sewage in our rivers and water company profits have increased hand in hand. Enough is enough: it is clear the only way to end this sewage scandal is to boot the Conservatives out of government.

Khan already failing on Met recruitment

Responding to Sadiq Khan’s announcement that a possible Labour Government would give London more resources to recruit police officers, Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate Rob Blackie said:

This smacks of another pre-election gimmick from the Mayor. Surely any future Government wouldn’t deny London the resources it needs if it decides to elect a different party into the Mayoralty?

In any case, the Mayor is already failing on police recruitment. Numbers are going backwards and he has had to hand money back to the Government for his lack of success. So Londoners will be sceptical. Sadiq Khan has made similar promises before and not delivered.

Under Sadiq Khan’s leadership, a police officer told the Casey enquiry into the Met police that detection rates for sexual offences and rape had fallen so low that ‘it may as well be legal’ in London.

Today the Metropolitan police are catching rapists half as often as when Sadiq Khan became Mayor in 2016. And 6,000 police are stuck in the back office instead of the frontline.

This is not a policing record to be proud of. The Liberal Democrats’ top priority will be to fix the Met.

Sewage spills rise: 21,660 “disgusting” sewage dumps in 2023

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today demanded that the SNP and Greens stop defending outdated sewage standards as new Scottish Water figures revealed a 10% increase in the number of sewage dumps in 2023.

Posted in London, News, Press releases and Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , and | 24 Comments

27 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • NHS satisfaction survey: Govt can’t be trusted with NHS
  • Sewage spills rise: Ed Davey calls for national environmental emergency to be declared
  • Lib Dem comment on E.coli in Thames
  • Scotland’s sewage crisis 40% worse than previously thought
  • Bus journeys plummet by 31%

NHS satisfaction survey: Govt can’t be trusted with NHS

Responding to the British Social Attitudes survey on NHS satisfaction, Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

This is a damning assessment of the Government’s management of the NHS. Years and years of neglect and incompetence has run our NHS into the ground.

NHS staff work around the clock to see thousands and thousands of patients but the public are understandably frustrated that they’re often waiting too long to see a GP, or to get a hospital appointments for diagnosis and treatment.

The public know this Conservative Government cannot be trusted with our NHS, and they will want to deliver their verdict at the next general election.

Sewage spills rise: Ed Davey calls for national environmental emergency to be declared

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on the government to declare a national environmental emergency after the number of sewage spills in 2023 increased by 54% on the previous year, putting ecosystems already at breaking point on the brink of collapse.

As part of this national environmental emergency, the Liberal Democrats are calling for an urgent meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to review the impact of sewage spills on human health – for river and sea swimmers in particular. Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage released a report last year showing almost 2,000 people reported getting sick last year after swimming in the sea or rivers.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

The Liberal Democrats have been warning this Conservative government for years that the sewage scandal is ruining the country’s rivers and beaches and pushing ecosystems to the brink of collapse.

Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party have failed to listen and as a result sewage spills are increasing, our precious countryside is being destroyed and swimmers are falling sick.

It is time for this Conservative government to finally deal with this disgraceful situation and declare a national environmental emergency. That must include convening an urgent SAGE meeting to look into the impact of sewage spills on people’s health.

Only by treating the sewage scandal with the urgency it demands can we save our rivers and beaches for future generations to enjoy.

Lib Dem comment on E.coli in Thames

Commenting on findings of high E.coli levels in the Thames by River Action today, Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Rob Blackie said:

This is the consequence of 72 billion litres of raw sewage pumped into the Thames in London since 2020.

It amounts to an environment catastrophe in the capital.

The Conservative government have let water companies get away with polluting for too long. It must crack down on Thames Water.

Instead of action, we have seen huge increases in sewage dumped into the river.

If elected I will work to stop sewage being dumped into our rivers and campaign to make water companies pay for the damage they’ve done.

Scotland’s sewage crisis 40% worse than previously thought

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today accused the Scottish Government of being “defenders of outdated sewage standards” as figures published by Scottish Water revealed that that there were an additional 5,668 sewage dumps in Scotland in 2022, on top of the initial 14,008 that were reported in March.

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26 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • No progress on A&E after a year of Humza Yousaf as FM
  • Rennie responds to David Tydeman sacking
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to housing figures

No progress on A&E after a year of Humza Yousaf as FM

Responding to new figures showing only 62.9% of people attending A&E were seen within the 4 hour target in the week ending 17th March, just as bad as when Humza Yousaf became First Minister, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

Waiting times in A&E are just as bad as they were a year ago when Humza Yousaf moved from being Health Secretary to First

Posted in News, Press releases and Scotland | Tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

25 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Cameron must address the Commons not just Tory MPs on 1922 Committee
  • Lib Dems welcome motion passed by UN Security Council
  • Rennie responds to former Scottish Government adviser dismantling independence claims

Cameron must address the Commons not just Tory MPs on 1922 Committee

Commenting on the reports that the only Conservative MPs on the 1922 Committee will be given the opportunity to question Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron this afternoon, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

When we’re facing such serious national security threats, it is outrageous that only Conservative backbenchers will hear from the Foreign Secretary and have the chance to question

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22 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Ed Davey statement regarding The Princess of Wales
  • “The system failed Kaylea, we cannot allow it to happen again”- Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds
  • Tory support in freefall – Rob offers London liberal choice
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to publication of Fair Fares Review

Ed Davey statement regarding The Princess of Wales

Responding to the Princess of Wales’ video statement, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

What sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with the Princess of Wales tonight.

Liberal Democrats join the whole country in wishing her a speedy recovery and hope the Royal Family will be given space and privacy at this difficult time.

“The system failed Kaylea, we cannot allow it to happen again”- Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds

This week in the Senedd, the Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds urged the Welsh Government to learn from the tragic case of Kaylea Titford and improve the child safeguarding system here in Wales.

The disabled 16-year-old passed away in 2020 after being found in conditions that were described as “unsuitable for an animal”.

Kalyea’s parents were both charged with manslaughter by gross negligence and are currently serving a combined total of 18 years behind bars.

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21 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Interest rates: Families are still facing a mortgage cliff edge
  • Khan ‘failing’ on Met Police reform – Lib Dems slam mayor’s record on first anniversary of Casey report
  • Cole-Hamilton challenges Yousaf on SNP Government’s climate record
  • Rennie responds to poverty statistics
  • Water Industry Commission for Scotland branded an embarrassment

Interest rates: Families are still facing a mortgage cliff edge

Responding to the Bank of England’s decision to keep interest rates at 5.25%, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This is cold comfort for millions of homeowners who still face massive hikes in their mortgage bills after Liz Truss crashed the economy. Many families still face a mortgage cliff edge despite this news.

Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget and the Conservative party’s economic vandalism has put intolerable pressure on people’s finances.

This Conservative government has no good story to tell on the economy.

The only way to break this cycle of stagnation and financial hardship is to kick this out of touch government out of office. Rishi Sunak needs to stop his desperate attempt to cling on to power and call an election.

Khan ‘failing’ on Met Police reform – Lib Dems slam mayor’s record on first anniversary of Casey report

A year on from the publication of Baroness Casey’s damning report on the Met police, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has made “no or only slow progress on key issues”, according to analysis by the Lib Dems.

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20 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Ed Davey launches local election campaign with hourglass stunt
  • SEPA log thousands of complaints about state of Scottish waterways
  • Welsh Lib Dems raise concerns over future of dentistry in Wales
  • “Communities must benefit from new grid developments” – Welsh Lib Dems

Ed Davey launches local election campaign with hourglass stunt

  • Lib Dem Leader unveils hourglass stunt in Blue Wall Hertfordshire, declaring “Time’s running out for Rishi Sunak”
  • Ed Davey focusses his party’s campaign on local health and social care services, sewage pollution in rivers and the cost of living crisis.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has launched his party’s English local elections campaign with an hourglass stunt, declaring “Time’s running out for Rishi Sunak”, and calling on the country to vote for change in May.

Ed Davey visited the Blue Wall battleground of Harpenden in Hertfordshire, which is set to be a marginal constituency at the next election. He will begin his local election tour this week, visiting every corner of the country as the party looks to make further gains on local councils.

The Liberal Democrats made major gains across Hertfordshire from the Conservative party in last year’s local elections. In 2023, the Liberal Democrats gained over 400 council seats across the country.

At today’s launch, Ed Davey unveiled a blue and gold hourglass in front of Liberal Democrat activists. After turning it upside down, the sand revealed the words ‘Time’s Running Out Rishi!’ He was joined by St.Albans MP and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Daisy Cooper, and Victoria Collins, the party’s parliamentary candidate for Harpenden and Berkhamsted.

The Liberal Democrats will focus their local elections campaign on local health and social care services, as well as the local environment and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Speaking after the stunt, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Time’s running out for Rishi Sunak. He might have bottled a May General Election.

He might hope the tide will turn, squatting in Downing Street for a few more months.

But even the Prime Minister can’t deny people across England the chance to have their say in local elections on the Second of May.

Rishi Sunak’s government is running out of road because people know it is time for change.

And people are voting for us because it is time for the Liberal Democrats.

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Tonight! Join online for the kick-off of the “Renew Europe Now” Platform campaign!

This evening, at 6 p.m., the ALDE Party and other members of the “Renew Europe Now” platform kick-off their European Campaign, and you can watch from the comfort of your own home…

  • Hear from inspiring Liberal leaders from around the EU like Prime Ministers Alexander De Croo, Kaja Kallas, European Commisioners Margrethe Vestager, Věra Jourová, Thierry Breton, Didier Reynders and Kadri Simson and other speakers.
  • Meet the Renew Europe Platform lead candidates from ALDE Party, Renaissance and EDP, and find out their plan for Europe.
  • Discover the next wave of Liberal leaders who will fight against the artisans of European

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

20 March 2024 – the overnight press releases

  • Chamberlain to lead debate on electoral fairness and calls out attempts to “rig the rules”
  • PAC report on Social Care: Too many vulnerable people struggling to get the care they need
  • McArthur sets out response to embargoed climate report
  • Rennie comments on new claims from Pregnant Then Screwed

Chamberlain to lead debate on electoral fairness and calls out attempts to “rig the rules”

Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain MP will lead a debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday about strengthening electoral fairness and preventing parties from “rigging the rules,” following recent moves by the Conservative Party to introduce certain changes ahead of the upcoming General Election.

The debate will take place in Westminster Hall tomorrow (Wednesday) and is expected to begin at 11am. Ms Chamberlain will pick up on a variety of changes recently introduced by the Conservatives, including compulsory Voter ID requirements and almost doubling the spending limit for UK elections to around £35 million.

In November, the UK election watchdog, the Electoral Commission, said it had “not seen evidence” to support changes to spending limits.

Ms Chamberlain’s debate comes just one week after her party called for the Conservatives to return donations from Frank Hester, a Tory party donor who reportedly said that the MP Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women.”

Speaking ahead of the debate, Ms Chamberlain said:

I am concerned that some of the latest moves by this Conservative Government represent a desperate and dirty attempt to rig the rules in their favour because they know they’ve lost the support of the public.

Last year, thousands of people were denied at a voice at the local elections because of the Voter ID rules ushered in by the Tories. Hundreds of thousands of people now risk being turned away at the next election at a cost to the taxpayer of £120,000,000 over the next decade.

Their unjustified doubling of the national spending limits points to the Conservatives Party’s eagerness to design the system and play it to their advantage. We also know from the Frank Hester scandal that they will excuse the inexcusable if it means bringing in big money and clinging onto power.

Liberal Democrats have been and continue to be long-standing advocates for fairness, transparency and electoral reform. I want to show that our politics should not be tilted towards those with the deepest pockets, and that we need constructive discussions about how to make the system better and work in the interests of all.

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19 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Almost 20,000 older people waited over four hours for an ambulance after falls last year
  • Half of places on secondary postgrad teaching courses unfilled
  • Almost a third of pupils missing school and decline in support for teachers and pupils

Almost 20,000 older people waited over four hours for an ambulance after falls last year

  • The Liberal Democrats launch their local election campaign unveiling shocking new figures of elderly patients waiting too long for an ambulance
  • Ed Davey to visit Hertfordshire where he will declare this May “the chance to send this out of touch Conservative government a message”
  • Number of older patients waiting over 4 hours for an ambulance after falling has almost doubled since 2019/20
  • One patient waited close to three days for an ambulance to arrive after a fall

Almost 20,000 older people in England waited more than four hours for an ambulance to arrive after having a fall last year, more than double the number in 2019/20, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey will visit the Blue Wall battleground of Hertfordshire to launch his party’s local election campaign. Ed Davey will focus his party’s campaign on local health services.

The new data was uncovered by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests to ambulance trusts in England. It shows there were 19,904 incidents in 2022/23 where someone aged over 65 had a fall and had to wait more than four hours for an ambulance to arrive, or an average of 54 people a day.

This is a stark 96.5% rise since before the pandemic in 2019/20 for the trusts that provided data across the full four years.

Even more shockingly, 1,411 older patients waited over 12 hours for an ambulance to arrive after falling last year, a more than tenfold increase compared to 2019/20. The East of England Ambulance Trust had the worst record with nearly 8,000 incidents that took longer than four hours and 769 that took longer than 12 hours to respond last year.

The West Midlands had an average response time for elderly falls of one hour 54 minutes and in that region a patient waited close to three days after experiencing a fall.

Posted in News, Press releases and Scotland | Tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

19 March 2024 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • London Lib Dem Launch – Blackie slams Khan record on crime
  • Cole-Hamilton: Patients deserve better than the SNP’s new normal
  • “Our Welsh workers are not collateral damage”-Welsh Lib Dems call for clarification on jobs following Tata Steel oven closure
  • Cole-Hamilton attacks SNP ministers as opioids continue to blight Scotland

London Lib Dem Launch – Blackie slams Khan record on crime

Mayoral Candidate, Rob Blackie, has launched the London Liberal Democrat today with a pledge to ‘fix the Met’.

The party launched its campaign at Pop Brixton, located in the neighbourhood Rob has spent much of the past 20 years raising his family.

Blackie told the media and a group of close supporters that Sadiq Khan does “not deserve” a third term due to his record on crime. He also dismissed the Conservative chances, accusing the party of giving up on London after selecting a Trump-backing candidate.

Blackie said Sadiq Khan’s failure on crime is the reason he is standing as mayor.

Seasoned campaigner, Blackie, 50, described how he became a victim of crime himself. His neck was broken in a vicious gang mugging in Vauxhall, and he now has a titanium neck.

Speaking to journalists in Brixton this morning (Tuesday), Blackie said:

My top priority is crime and policing.

Sadiq Khan’s failure on those issues is the main reason I am standing against him.

Violent crime has risen by 30 percent in London since Mr Khan has been in office.

Sexual offence clear-up rates have halved in the last eight years.

Let me just read one shocking sentence from Baroness Casey’s report on the Met Police, published last year – the account of a serving police officer, who said: ‘If you look at our performance around rape, serious sexual offences, the detection rate is so low you may as well say it’s legal in London.’

Just let that sink in… ‘You may as well say it’s legal in London.’

It is just shameful.

Sadiq Khan blames everyone else for this but himself. The buck stops with him and we will call him out in this campaign.

In his speech, Blackie described how he grew up in London playing on the street with neighbouring children from all over the world. He added:

I love living and working in the most cosmopolitan city on the planet.

That is the London I love, and the London we want to ‘get back’.

He also took a swipe at the London Conservatives, describing Susan Hall as “beyond the pale”. He said:

Far from embracing London, she attacks it. Liking tweets that call our city Londonistan and venerate Enoch Powell.

Does she even like London? She certainly doesn’t love our great city. When the Conservatives chose her as their candidate, they gave up on this election.

Cole-Hamilton: Patients deserve better than the SNP’s new normal

Responding to new figures showing only 65.2% of people attending A&E were seen within the 4 hour target in the week ending 10th March, while 2,943 people waited over 8 hours, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

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12 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Stuart’s failure to call out racist Hester comments “jaw-dropping”
  • 1,197 suspected drug deaths in 2023
  • Firefighters face risks as government fails to deliver RAAC register
  • Welsh Lib Dems call for more support for childcare sector in Wales
  • Care leavers shouldn’t be forced to “bear burden of proof” when it comes to accessing housing support
  • Blackie calls on Susan Hall to disown racist Frank Hester remarks

Stuart’s failure to call out racist Hester comments “jaw-dropping”

Responding to Graham Stuarts’ comments this morning on Times Radio where he refused to say Frank Hester’s alleged comments were racist and refused to say the money should be returned, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Graham Stuart’s refusal to call out these racist comments was simply jaw-dropping.

The Conservative Party has flat out refused to return these donations despite these comments being inexcusable. How low can you go?

Rishi Sunak can bunker down and hide in Downing Street as long as he wants but every day he doesn’t return this money is another damning blow to the Conservative Party’s credibility.

1,197 suspected drug deaths in 2023

Responding to new Police Scotland figures showing that there were 1,197 suspected drug deaths between January and December 2023, which is a 10% increase compared to 2022, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

When 100 people a month are dying in Scotland’s drugs deaths emergency, we need to be open to anything that will save them. Each represents a life cut short and a family torn apart by grief.

These numbers are already going in the wrong direction and with the SNP and Greens having pushed through a budget that delivers a real-terms cut to drug services, I am extremely concerned that problems will simply get worse.

Every tool at our disposal needs to be used to reduce harm and save lives. That includes protecting the drug and alcohol budget, integrated drug checking facilities and preparing now for a network of safe consumption rooms because help can’t just be limited to Glasgow.

Well-meaning words won’t stop people dying. Humza Yousaf and his government must deliver swift change and ensure they never take their eye off the ball again.

Firefighters face risks as government fails to deliver RAAC register

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today urged the Scottish Government to compile a complete list of buildings where the dangerous bubbly concrete known as RAAC is present, as a minister conceded that the presence of the material could present safety implications for firefighters responding to incidents.

In response to a parliamentary question from Mr Cole-Hamilton, community safety minister Siobhian Brown admitting that “Where the material is in poor condition there could be greater risk of weakness or collapse”.

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11 March 2024 – yesterday’s press releases (part 2)

  • McArthur looks to include cruises ships in visitor levy bill
  • Prison exec admits no plans to bring back rehabilitation services
  • Yousaf’s economic credibility is down the drain

McArthur looks to include cruises ships in visitor levy bill

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has lodged amendments to the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill to allow a debate on the inclusion of cruise ship visitors within the scope of the legislation.

In light of concerns raised by local tourism businesses in Orkney, as well as Orkney islands Council, Mr McArthur is seeking to ensure the bill is both more flexible and fairer in the way that any levy might be applied by local authorities.

Commenting ahead of the Local Government Committee meeting that will begin consideration of Stage 2 amendments on the bill on Tuesday, Mr McArthur said:

Providing local councils with the power to set a visitor levy is a reasonable step to take. As ever, though, the devil is in the detail.

At present, Ministers have come forward with a bill that would apply to some parts of the tourism sector but not others. People in Orkney will not be alone in wondering why visitors to our islands who stay in hotels, self-catering or B&Bs should be charged, but not the increasingly large numbers who visit Orkney on cruise ships or indeed in mobile homes. All place demands on the local infrastructure and services, and all should therefore contribute. Anything else would be unfair and undermine business and public confidence in the scheme.

I am concerned too at the lack of flexibility local councils will have in the way any levy will apply. Just because it works in Edinburgh or Glasgow doesn’t mean it will work in our islands. Councils should therefore have scope to apply any levy in ways that make sense in local circumstances, such as collection via airlines and ferry companies.”

I support the principle behind this legislation but getting the detail right will be crucial. Unfortunately, that has not been a strong suit of this SNP/Green Government over recent years.

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