Category Archives: Local government

Liverpool loses World Heritage Status accolade

The loss of World Heritage Status for our City, even though it was expected, is a huge blow to our international prestige and will, without a doubt, affect our tourism and inward investment.

When, under Lib Dem control, we received the status in 2004 it helped our work, alongside winning the European Capital of Culture, in changing round the national and global and view of our City. Until these two things happened, we were just Beatles and Football globally and a poor man’s version of Coronation Street within the UK. People shunned our City for visiting, living and investment and the people of Wirral demanded a CH post code and not an L one!

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Helping us protect biodiversity with the help of a Lord or two

We really should make use of the peers who have local government experience in the Lords more, so I decide to.

We have a site in Kingston where biodiversity is being destroyed. Seething Wells Filter Beds is a ‘Site of Importance for Nature Conservation’ and Metropolitan Open Land where nature had flourished after Thames Water left in the late 90s, but now the private owners are spraying pesticides, draining the standing water, cutting back grasslands and trees. They have even resorted to using goats to munch though all the vegetation on site! And as a council we are pretty powerless to stop them!

Sound familiar?

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The most important elections you have never heard of

Today, Liberal Democrat Councillors in England and Wales will be getting an e-mail to vote in the elections for a number of positions on the Liberal Democrat Group on the Local Government Association (LGA). These include the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group (also a Vice Chair of the LGA), Deputy Leader and a number of members of LGA Boards. A full list can be found here.

All of the positions receive an allowance, ranging from £36,769 for Group Leader to £2,919 for Board members.

The most interesting and important contests to my mind are those for Group Leader and Deputy Leader.

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Tales from a Small Parish – David vs Goliath…

Welcome back to Creeting St Peter, a small Parish in Suffolk’s Gipping Valley…

One of the more visible aspects of small parishes is the role of statutory consultee for any planning applications in, or affecting, the Parish. More often than not, councillors are asked to consider extensions, occasionally an outbuilding for a farm. They generally aren’t very controversial, and as planning controls have been relaxed in recent years, there are fewer of them it seems. And, as a councillor, you probably don’t need much in the way of technical skills to take a view on whether or not the Council should take a view.

There is training available if you’re lucky. In our case, the District Council offers the occasional half-day course, and the County Association of Local Councils also offers both support and seminars offering some basic awareness. But, for the most part, councillors in small parishes don’t take up the offer.

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How we championed a growing anti-discrimination campaign and made our council a more inclusive employer

In November’s Full Council, Hull City Council (HCC) unanimously passed a motion calling for a proactive, zero-tolerance anti-discrimination policy and backed a campaign for the law to be changed to make this mandatory for all organisations.

In the summer, the former president of Hull University Union founded a campaign called @MakeDiversityCount following her experience of racism in her role – and how the university was not equipped to deal with it. Her story and subsequent petition calling for all organisations to have a clear, robust and effective policy prompted me to investigate the situation at HCC, which she was pleased to support.

I did some research and discovered a number of potential failings at the council. Despite pockets of good practice, the evidence suggested many did not feel comfortable speaking up: lack of awareness of the reporting processes and the fear that they would not be taken seriously were among the suspected reasons for this. This simply wasn’t good enough.

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Why you should think of trying to become a Liberal Democrat Councillor

London Region have recently been running a series of Zoom calls for people who are thinking of running for their Council in the 2022 elections. I have taken part in a couple of these and it has made me think about what I enjoy being a Councillor and why I would recommend others think about doing so.

I have been a Councillor for the Dundonald Ward in Merton since May 2018 – the ward runs from Wimbledon to Raynes Park along the railway line and it is characterised by terraced houses occupied by middle class professional families many of whom are from the EU. It won’t be a surprise that it voted strongly for Remain.

It’s a great place to knock on doors and talk to people – particularly in the daytime (I am retired) when a surprising number of people even before the lockdown work from home and often have more time to chat. I have had fascinating conversations about PG Wodehouse, the merits of working for different French banks and the details of train operations on the District Line. People occasionally even want to talk about politics!

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Tales from a Small Parish: welcome to Dibley?…

For those of you who live in urban conurbations, your concept of a Parish Council is possibly associated with the TV series “The Vicar of Dibley”. Funny really, because the Vicar usually works with a Parochial Church Council, a very different animal indeed. But 30% of England’s population is covered by Parish Councils which, for the most part, operate under the radar of political activists…

I moved out of London more than a decade ago but hadn’t been here for very long before a vacancy arose on the Parish Council and, well, …

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My experiences of being a woman Councillor of colour

I am very proud to say that I was elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor in 2017 to serve the residents of Cyncoed and Lakeside at Cardiff County Council. Cardiff, capital city of Wales, is very cosmopolitan, a city that celebrates its diversity, but still fails to represent its population in the make-up of the council chamber and the workforce within the council.

I had stood in local elections before in a different area and did notice the ballot papers that came in with crosses next to my ward colleague names and not mine and still this time same occurred on some ballot papers, but luckily I secured just enough votes to become the third and last candidate to be elected. When you see such ballots, many questions and answers come to your mind, why did they not vote me? They don’t know me personally so is it my name, the origin of the name, my faith or the colour of my skin that they considered more than anything I had to offer?

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Over 100 East Midlands Councillors sign letter calling for halt to Unitary Council plans

Over 100 Liberal Democrat councillors from across the East Midlands have signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, calling for a halt to controversial Government plans to abolish Borough and District Councils across the region and replace them with larger Unitary authorities.

The letter, signed by 118 Councillors, was jointly authored by Lib Dem Hinckley and Bosworth Borough and Leicestershire County Councillor Michael Mullaney and Leader of Chesterfield Lib Dem Councillors Paul Holmes.

Michael Mullaney said;

Abolishing Borough and District Councils and creating huge unitary authorities would be disruptive at anytime. But to be considering this

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A letter from Caroline Pidgeon AM to the Mayor of London

Dear Sadiq,

Re: Concerns for London’s Charity Shops

As we know, many businesses and organisations are facing unprecedented challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to write to you about some specific concerns I have for charity shops, a staple of our high streets in London.

Charity shops provide essential revenue for charities in London and across the UK. They are important for all charities, but particularly important for those smaller charities who rely heavily on the income from their charity shops. Furthermore, charity chops provide an affordable place for many people to shop in London and are a lifeline for many in terms of purchasing goods they would otherwise be unable to afford.

An often-underrated benefit of charity shops is also that they are a greener and more environmentally sustainable way to shop – promoting the reuse of items, whilst providing a profit for good causes.

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15 May 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt urged to protect funding to house homeless
  • Lib Dems call for Coronavirus honours list
  • Davey: Govt must get a grip on care homes coronavirus crisis
  • Davey: Public would expect Brexit extension

Govt urged to protect funding to house homeless

Responding to reports that the Government will no longer fund local councils to house homeless people during the Covid-19 pandemic, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The Coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. It is leaving the most vulnerable in our communities at risk and it is our duty to look after them.

It would be irresponsible for the Government to pull emergency funding for local

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Lib Dems on the march in Ayrshire

The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald reports:

The Scottish Lib Dems say they have now relaunched the Ayrshire party with residents now volunteering to stand as candidates.

The Scottish Lib Dems say membership has trebled in Ayrshire with residents now volunteering stand as candidates and the party ‘on the march’.

At the constituency event, Scottish Convenor Sheila Ritchie said: “The Liberal Democrats are on a big upwards trajectory in Ayrshire. The local party membership has trebled in the last two years. We have realistic hopes for the Scottish elections next year and to get candidates volunteering for council seats in 2021 this early is a major boost.

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“Stop blaming local government for the housing crisis”

More than a million homes granted planning permission in the past decade have not yet been built, according to new analysis by the Local Government Association.

Latest figures show that 2,564,600 units have been granted planning permission by councils since 2009/10 while only 1,530,680 have been completed.

The number of planning permissions granted for new homes has almost doubled since 2012/13 with councils approving 9 in 10 applications.

While in some cases there will be a time lag between permission being granted and homes being built, new build completions have only increased by half as much in that time. Encouragingly, completions last …

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Good luck to Jonny Edge and team in Suffolk this Thursday



Jonny Edge (left) and his team in Newmarket and Red Lodge

There are two by-elections in Suffolk this Thursday, both caused by the resignations of a Conservative councillor who was elected as an MP in Aberconwy, North Wales.

Jonny Edge is our candidate in both the contest for the Newmarket North seat on West Suffolk District Council and also the battle for the Newmarket and Red Lodge seat on Suffolk County Council.

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – there are referendums galore this Thursday

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You probably thought that we have had our fill of referendums for the next several millennia.

But, in my researches for this Thursday’s by-elections, I stumbled upon several Neighbourhood planning referendums happening this Thursday, 30th January.

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+++Anton Georgiou wins big in Brent!


Many congratulations to Anton Georgiou and his team on a stunning by-election win in Alperton ward, Brent!

Anton achieved a stonking 29.5% swing to the Lib Dems, to grab the seat from Labour.

Siobhan Benita, our London Mayoral candidate, campaigned strongly with Anton – this is a great boost for her campaign for London.

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Good luck to our candidates and teams in by-elections tomorrow!


There are four seats on Brent Council, London, up for grabs in by-elections tomorrow. These contests have been caused by the resignations of four Labour councillors.

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Tim Pickstone named Mayor of Bury

Bury Town Hall
Many congratulations to Tim Pickstone on being named as the next Mayor of Bury, in Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Tim leads Bury Council’s four Lib Dem councillors. There are 29 Labour, 16 Conservative and two Independent councillors. So Tim’s election is a sign of the respect in which councillors of other parties hold him.

Bury Times reports:

HOLYROOD ward councillor Tim Pickstone has been named as the next Mayor of Bury.

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LibLink: Our new President/Co-leader on the surprising number of elections coming up in May

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Over on his blog, Mark Pack, our new party President and co-leader, gives us a timely warning about the magnitude of voting opportunities this May:

This year’s round of local council elections are only in England and are the smallest round of that cycle of elections. Which may make you think that it’s a small set of elections and one in which many or even most parts of the country will not be voting.

But…

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Lib Dem gain from Tories in Andrea Leadsom’s constituency


Well done to Mark Allen and team on a fantastic victory in Middleton Cheney. They won the South Northamptonshire seat from the Tories in yesterday’s by-election. This was despite local MP Andrea Leadsom campaigning hard for the Tory candidate (see above).

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An unusual piece of street furniture seen in Sheffield


Like most of us, I have spent an inordinate amount of time wandering around the streets of England and Wales. But last week in Sheffield was the first time I have seen one of these.

It is really remarkable.

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Conservatives do badly in last by-election before May 2nd – UPDATED

There was one council by-election yesterday, in the Belle Vue ward for Shropshire Council. This is a long-standing Labour-held ward.

The Liberal Democrats were represented by James McLeod:

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Ros Scott’s closing speech to ALDC Kickstart

The newly elected President of ALDC, Baroness Ros Scott, closed the ALDC Kickstart event yesterday afternoon. She has kindly made available the text of her speech…

I hope that you have all had a wonderful weekend.

These are the most difficult and unpredictable political times that I can ever remember. There’s no way of knowing what the backdrop to next May’s elections will be.

But some things never change.

When I joined in 1991, I was a community campaigner in my home town of Needham Market. The only political party who were really engaged with the community were the Lib Dems, and that’s …

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Upset in East Herts, solid hold in Cornwall…

Another Thursday, another unlikely result…

Yes, that’s a 51.7% swing, for the aficionados out there.

For the Conservatives, who had previously held all fifty seats on the council, they’ll just have to get used to having an opposition in the Council chamber. Well done to Sophie Cook, one of our younger members, and her team in a part of the county where success has been traditionally hard won.

Elsewhere, a solid defence in Bude, on Cornwall Council…

See, not all gammon is bad… Again, congratulations to David Parsons and the North Cornwall crew – a lovely bunch from my memory as Presidential consort.

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Social care is in crisis – the Tories must face up to it

In the last six months, more than one hundred home-based and residential care providers have ceased trading, affecting more than 5,300 people, as providers hand back contracts to more than sixty councils, affecting thousands of people. Social care faces a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025. Social care is in crisis and we have a government which is turning a blind eye to it.

Obsessed with Brexit, they have repeatedly ignored the challenge of social care and kicked it into the long grass. A long-delayed green paper on social care that was promised for June has yet again failed to materialise, along …

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Local Government is facing what could be an existential crisis. How can it be saved?

Some of you may think that the title of this piece is another example of hyperbole. You might be right as the local government has faced crises before. However, as someone with 30 years’ continuous service as a local councillor, I do think that what we have come to expect concerning local services could be something we will in future only read about in history books unless something is done to reverse the downward spiral.

Especially since WW2 governments of all political hues have over the years progressively emasculated local councils, not only by taking many of their responsibilities away from …

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A bit more about Parish Councils…

Last week, I wrote in these pages about becoming a Parish Councillor as, perhaps, a stepping stone to other things, although it can be, and often is, worthwhile in itself. I then went home to my Annual Parish Council Meeting and, rather unexpectedly, became Chair. That will teach me…

On explaining a bit about my particular Parish Council, a friend noted that it seemed to be one of the common models, an anarcho-syndicalist collective, whereby someone is notional in charge (a bit like the Constitutional Peasant scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail), as opposed to the Stalinist school of …

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Playing Games While Telling

I find telling at a polling station quite fun. The fun is trying to determine how residents are going to vote or how they have voted. In Wokingham, we targeted two Borough wards (which we won): both were gains. We are developing two other wards in Earley for next year. My ward is one of the development wards.

There are two polling stations in my ward, and on polling day I spent most of the day knocking people up, but I also spent some time at the polling stations. The polling station in the west of the ward was inside a library (the status of the library was a matter of some concern during the elections). When residents came in to vote I tried to guess who they would vote for:

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Supporting vision rehabilitation

All councils in England provide a service called vision rehabilitation which offers crucial training and advice to people living with sight loss. Evidence shows that many blind and partially sighted people are failing to receive vital vision rehabilitation support. RNIB’s current campaign, See, Plan and Provide, is calling for improved access to vision rehabilitation assessments and support.

Vision rehabilitation provides crucial training and advice to people experiencing sight loss. This includes support to help them live in their home safely and negotiate the many obstacles and risks in the external environment. It gives people the skills and confidence to maximise …

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A personal view on the successful Watford campaign

If we cast our mins back to Friday 6th May, one of the pieces of good news in our election results was in Watford. We won seven seats, wiping out the Tories on the council and gaining control.

Over on “Rambles of a Liberal“, Nassar Kessell has written a personal view of that campaign. For those of you not familiar with Nassar, he is one of our live wire activists. He has brought a remarkable mixture of passion and energy to campaigns.

Nassar identifies five headers in the Watford success story:

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Recent Comments

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