Conference: Morgan calls on Lib Dems to stand up for rural communities

One of the Lib Dems’ newest MPs, Helen Morgan has put forward a motion on supporting rural communities to Conference in September. The wide ranging motion, which will be summated by Richard Foord, calls on delegates to agree that rural areas should no longer be taken for granted and that the Liberal Democrats are best placed to help them. It says the government should introduce a price cap on heating oil and other off-grid fuels and expand the rural fuel duty relief scheme to be doubled and to cover more areas. It also calls for ministers to protect rural childcare providers with a package of support and provide emergency funding available to ambulance trusts to reverse or cancel closures of community ambulance stations.

Speaking exclusively to Lib Dem Voice, Helen Morgan said:

Those of us who live in rural areas like Shropshire are all well aware of the poor state of our services – from health to transport to broadband and policing.

The Conservatives have taken us for granted for far too long. My election was proof that people have had enough and want to be represented by a party with their interests at heart.

The UK cannot properly be levelled up without its rural areas being included.

The full motion is below.

F19. Standing Up For Rural Communities

Mover: Helen Morgan MP (Spokesperson for Housing, Communities and Local Government). Summation: Richard Foord MP.

Conference notes that:

A. According to recent polling, half of rural voters think the Conservatives are taking them for granted.

B. Petrol and diesel across the country have risen significantly in the past year, with many rural areas seeing significantly higher prices than urban areas.

C. Heating oil, which many homes in rural areas use as their primary source of heating, has more than doubled in price and is not protected by a price cap.

D. The APPG on Rural Health and Care has concluded that health outcomes are worse for those in rural areas than they are in urban areas.

E. The Government has made no assessment of the potential impact that closures of community ambulance stations have in rural areas.

F. Government data has demonstrated that childcare providers in rural areas are closing at a staggering rate compared with those in urban areas.

G.. Farmers’ livelihoods are being placed at risk by the Conservatives, who have demonstrated with the Australia trade deal that they are happy to sign trade deals which undermine British standards.

H. Many people in rural areas see very little visible policing – they experience long delays when they call 999 to report a crime, leaving them feeling unsafe in their own communities.

Conference believes that:

i) Those in rural areas should no longer be taken for granted – the Liberal Democrats are best placed to help them, as shown by our victories in North Shropshire and Tiverton and Honiton and our successes in taking control of Somerset and Westmorland & Furness councils.

ii) Rural areas are often the last places to benefit from upgraded internet or mobile phone infrastructure.

iii) People in rural areas should be able to easily access local health services.

iv) Everyone should be confident that, no matter where they live, if they ring 999 they will get the emergency treatment they need, when they need it.

v) . Farmers are at the very heart of many of our rural communities and must be supported to protect and enhance our countryside.

Conference reaffirms pledges to:

a) Set up a £2 billion Rural Services Fund to enable the co-location of services, such as doctors surgeries and schools, in local hubs around existing local infrastructure.

b) Prioritise a programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK – with a particular focus on connecting rural areas.

c) Guarantee that all future trade deals will meet UK standards for animal welfare and ensure that Parliament signs off negotiating mandates and completed trade deals.

d) Support farmers properly in restoring our peat bogs, creating new natural flood protections and managing land to encourage species recovery, while producing the food for our tables.

e) Restore proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and focused on preventing and solving crimes.

Conference calls on the Government to:

1. Introduce a price cap on heating oil and other off-grid fuels, while ensuring that small suppliers are not left out of pocket to protect competition in the market.

2. Expand the rural fuel duty relief scheme to cover more areas and double the relief to 10p, while also expanding electric vehicle charging points in rural areas.

3. Protect the rural workforce by protecting rural childcare providers with a package of support.

4. Make emergency funding available to ambulance trusts to reverse or cancel closures of community ambulance stations, where desirable.

5. Prioritise the hard-to-reach areas when upgrading mobile phone or broadband infrastructure.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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14 Comments

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Aug '22 - 10:02am

    “The Lib Dems’ newest MP, Helen Morgan”
    Newest? Not any more…….

  • Andy Boddington 4th Aug '22 - 10:13am

    My error. Corrected.

  • Andy Boddington 4th Aug '22 - 4:02pm

    Support for heat pumps is needed but not suitable for all rural properties. Most important is that relief is needed now. Installation of heat pumps will take years.

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Aug '22 - 4:09pm

    @Brad Barrows
    Or insulating their homes better so as to need less energy – whatever form – for heating

  • Brad Barrows 4th Aug '22 - 4:11pm

    “..a price cap on heating oil..”
    Surely this is the wrong approach when faced with a climate emergency? Why not advocate more generous help to enable householders to avoid high cost of heating oil by changing to heat source pumps?

  • Tristan Ward 4th Aug '22 - 5:44pm

    I am not comfortable with all this emphasis on reducing taxation on hydrocarbon fuel. There must be better ways

    Insulation/heat pumps as discussed
    Reduce/eliminate taxation (including VAT for example) on renewable/nuclear produced energy only
    Increase incentives for change over to electric cars/vehicles subsidise electric car chatge points
    Obviously as rapid move to renewable energy as possible (Swansea tidal lagoons anyone?)

    Can a VAT cut on renewable produced energy make a meaningful and useful difference?

  • Farmers’ livelihoods are being placed at risk by the Conservatives, who have demonstrated with the Australia trade deal that they are happy to sign trade deals which undermine British standards.

    It’s hard to see how “farmer’s livelihoods are being placed at risk” by imports from unsubsidised Australian farmers when we import nine times more beef tariff-free from heavily subsidised EU farmers. What British standards do they think are being ’undermined’? Here’s what the then Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, stated in evidence to the International Trade Committee…

    ‘International Trade Committee: Oral evidence: UK trade negotiations, HC 127: Wednesday 7 July 2021’:
    https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2526/html/

    What we have also done in the Australia deal is agree strong animal welfare provisions and a non-regression clause, which is a first in a trade agreement on animal welfare. We have also agreed to work together internationally to raise animal welfare standards. Australia does achieve five out of five on the international animal welfare listing. […]

    First, it is very important to note that we are not lowering our food import standards. We have SPS standards in place, for example, the ban on hormone beef. It is important that we are not changing at all in any trade deal what is allowed to be shipped into Britain. We have protected that in our trade deal with Australia so there will be no hormone-injected beef allowed into the UK.

  • Heat pumps are not the holy Grail in today’s energy climate crisis where thousands are facing fuel poverty

    For example

    I currently use £1000 a year in oil to heat my home.
    If I was to switch to an air source heat pump at my current electricity tariff,
    It would cost me £1,400 a year extra in Electricity to run the air source heat pump

    That is before the October cap increases and the further increases anticipated in January.

    In other words that is not financially viable for me, or I would imagine many other households who are going to be struggling with rising fuel costs.

    Air Source heat pumps in today’s climate do not make sense unless they run aside solar panels.

    The latest government Green Home Initiative is poorly targeted as it is not going to encourage a lot of vulnerable households to switch to air source heat pumps, only for them to find that they can not afford to runt he system due to high electricity costs

  • Peter Watson 4th Aug '22 - 6:40pm

    I agree entirely with the importance of reducing energy usage, and in normal times we might be calling for an increase in taxation to incentivise this.
    But even then, I wonder how best to address the situation of renters who might be paying the bills but have no control over structural things like insulation, heat pumps, etc. Matt’s figures for heat pumps make me fear that there is even the risk of subsidising landlords to install measures that would see a cost increase for their tenants!

  • If the energy price cap increases by 70% in October as some are forecasting
    That will put electricity up 0.48 Kwh An air source heat pump on average needs 4000 Kw a year to run effectively meaning electricity costs of £1900 a year alone JUST to run the air source heat pump.

    The Government has been targeting disabled and low-income households with their latest green initiative with £10,000 Grants to install heat pumps

    I almost fell foul to this myself and was encouraged and pressured to sign on the dotted line. I kept asking for a cost analysis of how much this system would cost to run and all I kept being told was my EPC rating will for from an E to C therefore I should save money. When I challenged the scheme manager on this and said EPC is based on carbon footprint not on energy costs he became even more evasive.
    finally, he admitted that I would be using 4000 KW to run the system effectively and I managed to do the sums and told them to stick their grant where the sun does not shine.

  • Now I worry about how many other disabled and low-income families have been wrongly advised by this scheme, rushed to get the heat pumps installed ( Free) only to find that it is going to put them deeper into fuel poverty.

    Yet again another poorly thought out scheme that is going to become another scandal. This should only have been offered to low-income families if the Government ran it alongside solar panels to offset the added costs of running an air source heat pump

  • @matt – when the big announcement was made about the grants to replace gas boilers with heat pumps, I also did some research and couldn’t get the sums to add up favourably, particularly when you factor in the enhanced insulation (and thus ventilation enhancements), radiator upgrades etc. not covered by the grant ie. it wasn’t a straight-forward boiler replacement, even though the government were trying to sell it as such… It seemed the rationale was that electricity was cheap, plentiful and green (at point of consumption) – thus good, whereas gas, a carbon-based fuel with emissions at point of consumption was naturally bad.

    The laugh about electricity is, as parts of London are starting to discover, the grid infrastructure is reaching its maximum capacity: want to build more homes or new business estates warehouses etc. a major upgrade will be required causing massive disruption for several years as miles of new higher capacity grid connections – from outside of Greater London, are laid along roads, railways etc. into London.

  • Tristan Ward 6th Aug '22 - 12:31pm

    The slap in the face for British farmers is that our farmers face trade barriers to move produce into the single market, while EU farmers can move their produce here with no barriers (until our Government implements these aspects of the EU withdrawal deal.

    OF course, implementing uK border controls on food imports will push food prices here up even more but those are the joys of Brexit freedom. I hope it doesn’t happen.

    Brexit was always going to result in farmers and fishermen being thrown to the wolves, and is a typical example of Tory spite/betrayal.

  • Neil James Sandison 7th Aug '22 - 11:32am

    The biggest problem we have is waste , be it organic or dry a mixed circular economy that fully utilizes that waste will aid rural and urban economies and importantly put compostable materials back into the soil . Why do we make a special case for green belt but undervalue open countryside with too many economic projects out weighing food security making us dependent on imports . Liberal Democrats need to dig in to the waste mountain to ensure victory in rural areas .

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