Author Archives: Tim Pickstone

Is austerity ending?

Cllr Tim Pickstone, Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners (ALDC) Chief Executive, provides the local government perspective.

For the Prime Minister, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to announce, as they both have in recent weeks, that austerity is ending is an insult to everyone involved in local government.

As all ALDC members will be too painfully aware, funding for local government has been cut by almost 60% since 2010 and there’s further reductions to come too (and let us not forget that local government cuts were happening pre-2010 too).

The reality of this squeeze on local services is …

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Power for people and communities

I am very pleased to be presenting the policy paper Power for People and Communities at Conference, having chaired the group that developed the paper.

The proposals set out a strong agenda for devolution and localism within England. We are arguing for greater financial autonomy for local authorities, STV in local elections, making it easier to establish Town or Community Councils in urban areas, strengthening the powers of local government over issues from education to health to planning, and also reforming the Social Value Act to encourage the use of public or not-for-profit providers when commissioning local services.

Judging by the amendments submitted, a focus of the debate will be on devolution within England. The paper develops and strengthens existing policy on this since the last major policy debate in 2014. We set out a clear ambition to achieve a comprehensive devolved tier within England, while recognising that the appetite for devolution is different in different areas and we need to take people with us.

Our approach is to enact permissive legislation to empower groups of local authorities to come together to establish devolved governance in their areas. We will proceed by consensus as far as possible, but will not allow one local authority to veto a coherent proposal.

The geographical makeup of the devolved authorities should reflect local opinion. The decision should reflect local views, traditional boundaries and community identification as well as economic units, current council boundaries and travel-to-work areas. In some areas this could be city regions, in others sub-regions or a whole region as one unit. 

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Mayor Dave Hodgson elected as Chair of the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

Dave Hodgson at Polling Station in Bedford 15 Oct 2009wNominations have closed for members to serve on the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) Management Committee, 2016-2018.

Mayor Dave Hodgson has been elected as the next Chair of ALDC.

Dave Hodgson has been the Liberal Democrat Elected Mayor of Bedford Borough since 2009. Dave was previously a Councillor on Bedford Borough Council, having first been elected in 2002, and was leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the Council prior to his election as Mayor.

Dave has previously run his own business in the North East, and worked as an IT lecturer at universities in London and the North-East. Dave serves as the Liberal Democrat lead on the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board. He has held a number of posts in the Liberal Democrats, including Regional Campaigns Officer and Regional Chair, and worked as the party’s Membership Development Officer for England. He has also worked as a full time agent.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Tim Pickstone writes… 45 gains must only be the start

For the first time in quite a few years Lib Dems in many areas have spend the post-election weekend in a good mood. 45 net gains in the English council elections ain’t bad, the first time we’ve made gains in local elections since 2008. Coupled with some great results in Scottish constituencies, many Lib Dems have spent the weekend smiling.

The good news is far from universal. I know that colleagues in London and Wales will be devastated by the results and losses. Behind the gains in many areas are colleagues who lost seats or missed out on gains. Many places we didn’t win will have moved forwards as a springboard for future gains.

Thursday’s success is down to the hard work of Lib Dem activists up and down the country. Small teams working long and hard to win individual wards with an enormous amount of dedication, time and energy given freely to the party. Thank you to everybody who contributed to this success.

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Tim Pickstone writes…Help make the difference next Thursday

Farron  in EdinburghAll Liberal Democrats will remember what it felt like on Friday 8th May last year, the morning after the terrible 2015 General Election results .

This Thursday is our first big chance to build a more positive story about the progress we’ve made since, with voters going to the polls in one or more elections right across the UK.

A lot has been said about the Lib Dem ‘fightback’, but in politics it is elections that matter and our opportunity to ensure the Party makes a massive step forwards from 2015.

How well we perform next week will largely be up to us: Lib Dem members, activists and helpers.  We will make the difference between Lib Dems getting elected, or the opposition winning.

Thousands of people – candidates, activists, helpers, party staff have already been working hard for months.  But to get across the finish line we need everyone to help. 

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And we’re off…..

Tim PickstoneNominations have just closed for the elections on 5th May. Every part of the UK has at least one election: parliamentary, assembly, mayoral, police commissioner and local.

Can I start by saying a big thank you to everyone who is a Liberal Democrat candidate this year, at every level. Thanks to you tens of millions of people with have an opportunity to vote Liberal Democrat and in many places up and down the country the chance of getting a Lib Dem elected.

We mustn’t forget the teams behind the candidates: volunteer activists, paid organisers, agents, deliverers and ‘foot soldiers’. I know how hard people are working and will be working until 10pm on the 5th May and it is really appreciated.

Posted in Campaign Corner and News | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Tim Farron kickstarts local election campaign with 48 hour tour of key battlegrounds

Tim Farron is today kick starting the party’s local election campaign, with a two day tour of key battlegrounds. He will be campaigning with activists in Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle, Southport and Liverpool over the next 48 hours.

In just five weeks’ time Liberal Democrat campaigners will be defending 351 council seats across much of England, and campaigning for gains in many areas.

Local elections are, of course, about local issues. What matters to local people and what we campaign on can be different from ward to ward, never mind in different parts of the country.

But there are some key themes that will resonate across all of us:

Public Services

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#TeamLibDem – 3 months to Go…


At 10pm, three months from today on 5th May 2016, it will all be over bar the counting.

In this May’s election as many people will have the chance to vote as in last year’s General Election. Well over 300 Lib Dem elected representatives are defending their seats.

The Liberal Democrat results in these elections will be largely up to us – Lib Dem activists and volunteers on the ground. Many thousands of us give our time and energy campaigning for our local communities and standing up for the important issues that make us Liberal Democrats.

In my job at ALDC – Liberal Democrat Campaigners and Councillors, I’m lucky enough to hear about the great work that activists are doing every day of the year. Highlights for me in January include:

  • Our first local by-election win in 2016 in Launceston Central where Gemma Massey was elected with an impressive 63% of the vote
  • In Edinburgh, Scottish Parliament Candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton is launching a five point plan to tackle poor air quality and severe pollution caused by traffic congestion in Edinburgh Western
  • There’s a great team, and a great deal of activity, building up around the hard work of John Leech in the Didsbury West ward in their brilliant campaign to stop Manchester being a one-party state
  • In Wales, our Leader Kirsty Williams AM is campaigning on safe staffing levels for nurses, with the Bill now at its final stage in the Assembly
  • In London’s City and East constituency the team have got campaigning off the ground by working hard to get members involved with action days, fundraising and putting effort into training activists and assigning ‘buddies’ for new campaigners
  • In Portsmouth the team are campaigning to save their local fire services with a Tory proposal to cut the number of fire engines and fire fighters. The team got well over 2,000 signatures to get the issue debated in the council chamber
  • Many Lib Dem councillors in the north of England and elsewhere gave up much of their Christmas break to support their local communities who were devastated by floods from Boxing Day onwards.
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Opinion: Love food, hate waste

Food-WasteI cannot be the only Liberal Democrat who was appalled by the scale of the food waste which had been calculated earlier this week by our largest food supplier, Tesco.

According to Tesco’s research something like 40% of apples, or half of bagged salad, or half of bakery items end up in the bin, either put there by the stores themselves (because they’ve decided it’s not fit to sell), or put there by us the consumer (because we’ve decided it’s not fit to eat).

Similarly I cannot be the only Lib Dem councillor …

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Opinion: Councillors Commission report – why it shouldn’t be ignored

The launch of the report of the Councillors Commission earlier this month was largely knocked out of the media by larger news stories, but the report deserves more than to be relegated to a gather dust on a Whitehall shelf.

Before I saw the report it was described to me as “one third brilliant, one third bizarre and one third barmy” – and I wasn’t disappointed. There are some strange ideas in the report – such as the suggestion that Parties should nominate “reserve councillors” to take the place of those elected should a Councillor resign or die in office …

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