Category Archives: Local government

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:

Also posted in Humour and Op-eds | 2 Comments

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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Elaine Bagshaw launches Tower Hamlets mayoral bid

Elaine BagshawElaine Bagshaw launched her campaign for Mayor of Tower Hamlets on Saturday, saying that the borough is in need of a clean-up and a resilient, bold, Liberal Democrat voice in our Tower Hall. The position of mayor is vacant following the conviction of Lutfur Rahman for breaches of election law.

Elaine lives and works in the borough and is offering new ideas and a fresh vision including:

  • Making sure that there are affordable homes for working families, by ensuring that all new developments in the borough include an allocation of social housing
  • Delivering

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See you in Milton Keynes?

Milton Keynes - SunriseLib Dem Local Government Conference 27-28 June

ALDC and the LGA Lib Dems’ annual Local Government Conference takes place on Saturday 28th June at the Jury’s Inn, Milton Keynes. The Conference will be a unique opportunity for hundreds of Liberal Democrats councillors, candidates and activists to meet, share experiences, and take advantage of specialist training designed specifically with the 2015 local elections in mind.

Speakers include:

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By-election update: Lib Dems take two seats from Tories in Canterbury and Ludlow

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)It has been a busy week for by-elections with ten in principal authorities and one parish council by-election reported to the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC).

The Liberal Democrats gained a seat from the Conservatives yesterday in Barnham Downs ward, Canterbury. Michael Sole was 52 votes ahead of his Conservative rival, taking 37.3%. It was a bad result for the Conservatives who lost 11.4% of the vote despite the Tory Council Leader living in the ward. UKIP took 18.15 to come third, Labour finished fourth with …

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BBC: Accused Weymouth councillor joins Lib Dem ‘coalition’

A pretty unbelievable story from Dorset, as reported by the BBC:

A new coalition has been formed by Liberal Democrat councillors to include a member suspended from the party while he faces child sex charges. Weymouth and Portland councillor Ryan Hope was forced to stand down from the party last month after the intervention of its leader Nick Clegg.

The local party set up the Coalition of Liberal Democrats and Allies to protect Mr Hope’s place on council committees. Mr Hope, who is due to stand trial in April, denies all the charges. Under council rules, seats on committees are

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By-election update: ALDC report, including sensational Lib Dem victory in Leicestershire

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)There were two principal by-elections yesterday, reports the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC).

In Birstall Wanlip ward of Charnwood Borough Council, Simon Sansome won a sensational victory for the Liberal Democrats coming from third place. On his second attempt Simon took 15% of the defending Conservative’s vote and achieved a 7% majority. The Labour vote remained stable at 27%.

The local team, pictured, put their victory down to running a campaign focused on local issues. They knocked on 2000 doors and put out 15,000 pieces of …

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A longer read for the weekend: Nick Harvey on how “the whole model of local Government funding is now fundamentally broken”

There was a mini-Lib Dem rebellion this week, when five MPs – Tim Farron, Nick Harvey, Andrew George, Stephen Gilbert and Adrian Sanders – all voted against this year’s funding settlement between the Treasury and local government.

As the New Statesman’s George Eaton points out here, “By the end of 2015-16, the budget of the Department for Communities and Local Government will have been reduced by a remarkable 60.6 per cent, with several years of austerity still ahead.” But Whitehall will have been emboldened by this recent ICM poll highlighted by the BBC showing 60% of the public …

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2014 Councillor Achievement Awards are now open for nominations

Do you know an inspirational councillor who has gone above and beyond expectations to serve their community?

The LGiU and CCLA are delighted to announce that the 2014 Annual Cllr Achievement Awards are now open for nominations. Back for a fifth year, the Cllr Awards are the only national awards ceremony to celebrate the outstanding work of councillors from across the political spectrum.

Councillors play a vital role in championing the interests of their communities, but all too often their contributions can be overlooked and undervalued. The C’llr Awards provides a brilliant opportunity to highlight the dedication and commitment …

Also posted in The Independent View | Tagged | 3 Comments

Lib Dems hold Aylesbury Oakfield and Taunton Halcon

There were three very good local election results for the Lib Dems last night.

Congratulations to Allison Harrison and Mark Willis who held Oakfield in Aylesbury for the Liberal Democrats. UKIP came in 80 or so votes behind, and took almost double the votes of the Tories who were in third place.

We also take our hat off to Roger Hurst who held Mickleham in the Mole Valley on an impressive 49% turnout.

AV Oakfield 1
AV Oakfield 2
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Mayor Dorothy announces she’ll go for fourth term in Watford

June 2011 Watford, UK Elected Mayor of Watford Dorothy ThornhillGood news in Watford, where Dorothy Thornhill, who in 2002 became the first directly-elected Lib Dem mayor in the country, has announced she will run for a fourth term of office:

I am really pleased to announce that I am going to stand again as the mayoral candidate for the Watford Liberal Democrats in the 2014 mayoral elections.

Last night we held our official party meeting at St Luke’s Church, at which I was unanimously reselected. The turnout was great,

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Liberal Democrat Voice Awards: The Shortlists (5) Liberal Democrat Councillor of the Year

The Liberal Democrat Voice Awards are but three days away. At 10 pm on Saturday 14 September, in Castle 2 of the Crowne Plaza, with cash bar on hand, and an imaginative dress code, the best in blogging, campaigning, social media and politics in general will be feted in a ceremony filled with razzmatazz, glitz and glamour.

Our Members’ Forum has now been e-mailed with the chance to vote for the majority of the awards so I can now start to reveal the shortlists in those categories. It’s high time we celebrated our councillors, so here is the shortlist for Councillor of …

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Lib Dem win in Wadebridge East by-election

There were a number of by-elections yesterday. Congratulations to Stephen Knightley won in Cornwall for the Lib Dems, though press attention is bound to be on the UKIP win in Boston on miserable turnout of less than 14%.

Cornwall Wadebridge East

Stephen Knightley (Lib Dem) was last night elected as the new Cornwall Councillor for Wadebridge East with 408 votes. It was a close fought race with Independent Tony Rush gaining just nine votes less. The by-election was called after Independent Colin Brewer stood down – he was the councillor that said that disabled children “should be put down.” The turnout was a healthy 40.47%.

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Opinion: Does the central and local government relationship need rewiring?

Wired Government smallerThe relationship between central and local government in the UK has always been strained. The UK is one of the most centralised democracies in Europe, and as we have no written constitution local government has no automatic right to exist or do anything. Everything is dependent on the decisions of ministers.

The new Government in 2010 did good things in reversing some of the things the last right-wing, authoritarian and centralising government had done. The huge inspection and reporting regime was abolished. Ring fencing of budgets was mainly done away with. The Localism Act was brought in that gave local government the power of local competence.

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Opinion: Liverpool City Region cabinet

In February 2012, Labour controlled Liverpool City Council voted to have an elected mayor without seeking the views of the residents of Liverpool via a referendum. In May 2012, a Labour Mayor was elected.

Now there is a proposal for the six local authorities in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, St. Helens, Wirral and Halton) to establish a combined city region cabinet to promote economic development, transport and employment and skills in the Liverpool City Region.

Whilst it is welcome for local authorities to co-operate, the mechanism of this proposal is hugely undemocratic and has completely bypassed locally elected councillors.

The …

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Know someone in local government who deserves an award?

The ALDE Group in the Committee of the Regions has launched the third edition of the awards for key liberal players at regional and local level. This year’s awards ceremony will be held on 4th of December in Brussels.

Both the national board of ALDE and EDP member parties as well as their local branches can submit nominations of persons that are considered to be suitable candidates for such an award, accompanied by a small motivation. Nominations need to reach the ALDE Secretariat by 30th September 2013.

There will be 2 categories of awards:

  • Local Leader of the Year
  • Regional Leader of the Year

Each …

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Mixed by-election results – joy in Maghull, commiserations in Kingston

So, who says the Liberal Democrats can’t take seats off Labour in the north?

Actually, we can. In Maghull, just north of Liverpool, two wards of the town council turned from red to gold and another came within 9 tantalising votes of doing the same.  Our vigorous campaign won a 20% swing from Labour.

And, it seems, those fabulous Liberal Youth people were on the case, too.

Well done …

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Got some spare time? Can you help out in Kingston today?

There’s a whole crop of by-elections today across the country. ALDC have the details here over three pages. Have a look for details of one near you and do what you can to help your local campaign.

However, there is only one Liberal Democrat defence, in Edward Davey’s Kingston constituency, so here at the Voice we are asking Liberal Democrat supporters reading this to concentrate their efforts there.

Lesley Heap is our candidate in Beverley ward. She’s a former NHS worker who’s now a swimming coach. She’s lived in the ward for 12 years.  And she needs you to ring her supporters …

Also posted in London and News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

++++Breaking News: Liberal Democrats gain Abingdon & Broadland seats from the Tories

Good news from Oxfordshire tonight. Jeanette Halliday gains the Abingdon Fitzharris ward for the Liberal Democrats with a 3.3% swing from the Conservatives.

Could this be another example of the Midas touch of Liberal Youth, who spent Sunday campaigning in the ward?

Of course the strong Oxwab team and PPC Layla Moran have put many hours of work in to achieve a magnificent result, the 8th gain from the Tories in the past year. Congratulations all round.

Update: News of a second victory reaches my ears. Steve Riley won the Aylsham ward of Broadland District Council from the Conservatives with a majority of …

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What will happen to the Lib Dems in Thursday’s local elections?

Lib Dems winning hereThere are just three campaigning days left until this Thursday’s local elections taking place across much of England.*

It’ll be tough-going for the Lib Dems…

The last time these seats were fought, in 2009, was a high water-mark for the party: we polled a national equivalent vote-share of 25%. As I said in my morning-after-the-night-before round-up here, they “were, generally, pretty damn good for the Lib Dems”.

Since entering government, the party’s become used to taking a battering in local elections. As the national polls indicate, our vote share has roughly halved since the Coalition was formed. Because we poll higher in local than national elections, this means we’re likely to secure around 15-16% of the popular vote on Thursday. If that’s the case, our number of councillors will again decline.

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Former Lib Dem by-election candidate Elizabeth Shenton defects to Labour

Newcastle councillor Elizabeth Shenton, Lib Dem candidate in the 2008 Crew and Nantwich by-election, has left the party to join Labour. Local paper The Sentinel reports:

A senior Lib Dem councillor and former parliamentary candidate has defected to Labour. Elizabeth Shenton said she had left the Liberal Democrats due to the coalition Government’s ‘damaging policies’. She has now joined the ruling Labour group on Newcastle Borough Council. Mrs Shenton, below, who was the Lib Dem candidate in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election in 2008, had been member of the party for 10 years.

Mrs Shenton, who has also served

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Libby Local 15: Vile politics

Vile Tory propaganda was on my mind as I trudged up Crow Hill in a state of exhaustion. It was three on a Friday afternoon. Would I ever finish my last minute canvass for postal voters or would I collapse first?

The non-stop campaigning was just one reason I felt so tired. The vile propaganda in Tory leaflets was also getting to me.

The night before our core team met for an after-canvas drink in the Market Tavern.

The consensus was that the campaign was going well. @Demsburybess had taken charge of design, producing a clean, modern look to my Focus newsletters. It …

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Watford’s last Conservative Councillor moves to Liberal Democrats because of Conservatives’ “right wing drift”

From the Watford Observer:

Watford’s Conservative party has been extinguished at borough level after the last Tory councillor has defected to the ruling Liberal Democrat group.

Steve Johnson, who had been the leader of the Conservatives onWatford Borough Council until recently, announced this morning he was crossing the floor due to the national Tory party’s “right wing drift”.

In a statement the Leggatts representative said: “I have become increasingly disappointed by the right-wing drift of Conservative party rhetoric, particularly its attitude to welfare issues. I feel my views are more in tune with the Liberal Democrat part of the coalition, in

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Libby Local, Episode 13: “Brighton Secrets”

My arrival at Brighton was a something of a financial shock. A huge £3.90 for a coffee in the Metropole. You can buy a coffee and a pint of beer for less than four pounds in Demsbury. A good slug of Pinot Grigio is only a few pence more!

The Liberal Democrat Spring Conference was not at all as I expected. I’m an avid conference goer in my professional life, but this conference proved totally different. Okay. I have never encountered so many bad taste yellow ties before. But what struck me most was the diverse group of people, disabled, young, …

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Eastleigh shows why the Tories and Labour should now support PR in local elections

imageIf only, if only… Instead of holding out for a referendum on the Alternative Vote the Lib Dem negotiators had secured proportional representation for all local council elections instead.

Hindsight’s easy, I know. At the time of negotiating the Coalition Agreement, electoral reform at Westminster was the party’s deal-breaker. The Lib Dem vote had gone up by a million, our number of MPs down by five. The public were in favour, or so the polls said. It’s possible the party wouldn’t even have approved entering the Coalition if the Westminster voting system had been left untouched.

And yet, and yet… Proportional representation at a local council level would’ve been a far more transformational way of shifting the power dynamics in this country, of introducing genuine electoral competition into contests up and down the country. Eastleigh shows us how.

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