Tag Archives: Cumbria

Tim Farron on Cumbria’s rural housing crisis

Tourism is the lifeblood of many of our most spectacular rural communities. Nut there is a downside for the people who live there all year round. Second homes and holiday lets mean that it can be difficult for local people to find somewhere to live.

Tim Farron raised this in a debate in Parliament this week. Here is is opening speech.

It is a huge privilege to serve our communities in Cumbria—our towns, villages lakes and dales, among the rugged beauty of England’s finest landscapes—yet the people who live in our communities are even more precious than the places themselves. We welcome those who see Cumbria as a holiday destination: a place for leisure and relaxation, and a place of peaceful serenity and exhilarating extremes. It is our collective privilege to be the stewards of such a spectacular environment for the country, yet our full-time local communities face an existential threat unlike any other in the UK. I am immensely grateful to have secured this debate, because the housing crisis that has faced our communities in Cumbria and elsewhere in rural Britain for decades has rapidly become a catastrophe during the two years of the pandemic.

For the last few decades, we have seen an erosion in the number of properties in Cumbria that are available and affordable for local people to buy or rent. What little I know of geology tells me that although erosion usually takes place over huge passages of time, sometimes a whole rockface may collapse or a whole piece of a cliff might drop into the sea in a single instant. That is what has happened to our housing stock during the pandemic. In the space of less than two years, a bad situation has become utterly disastrous.

I have been calling for the Government to take action from the very beginning, so I confess to being frustrated and angry that Ministers have yet to do anything meaningful to tackle the problem. As a result, many of us living in rural communities feel ignored, abandoned and taken for granted by the Government, and we stand together today as rural communities to declare that we will not be taken for granted one moment longer.

In South Lakeland, the average house price is 11 times greater than the average household income. Families on low or middle incomes, and even those on reasonably good incomes, are completely excluded from the possibility of buying a home. Although the local council in South Lakeland has enabled the building of more than 1,000 new social rented properties, there are still more than 3,000 families languishing on the housing waiting list. Even before the pandemic, at least one in seven houses in my constituency was a second home—a bolthole or an investment for people whose main home is somewhere else.

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Could Rebecca Hanson be fighting a long game in Copeland?

It was great to see Cumbrian Councillor, health and education campaigner and erstwhile Liberal Democrat Voice contributor Rebecca Hanson selected as our candidate for the Copeland by-election.

Rebecca  has built a career as a teacher, lecturer and education advisor. She grew up in a deprived area of Newcastle and went on to study at Cambridge University. She is passionate about educational policy and ensuring no child is left behind.

Labour, for some reason, seems to be putting the word out that the by-election won’t take place until May 4th, the same day as the county elections.

I guess they think that Jeremy Corbyn has had such a fantastic week, they just want to let him bask in the admiration of the public for a while.

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Farron calls for flood protection for small businesses and much more in Commons speech

Tim Farron has rightly been preoccupied with helping his constituents with the aftermath of the terrible flooding which has hit his Cumbria constituency. His most recent initiative is to ask the Government to extend the Flood Re scheme, which will give insurance protection to home-owners in areas at risk from flooding, to small businesses from April next year.

He cites 125,000 businesses which have either been refused cover completely or quoted an unaffordable price for insurance.

Tim said:

As devastating as the floods have been for home owners here in Cumbria, it has been equally catastrophic for the small businesses which are the backbone of our local economy.

With the impact of climate change this isn’t going to be the last time communities are hit by flooding and it will become more and more difficult for small businesses to get affordable insurance.

The Government needs to get serious about the situation we are in and extend the Flood Re scheme to small businesses, before even more see their businesses devastated by the financial cost of flooding.

Tim won praise from the Federation of Small Businesses yesterday for making the point that Cumbria’s businesses were open and looking for custom:

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How Tim Farron and Willie Rennie are helping constituents cope with crisis

Willie Rennie and Tim Farron have seen the areas they represent in Parliament hit by catastrophe and challenging circumstances. In Cumbria, Storm Desmond and its aftermath has caused devastation that will take months to fully sort out. In Scotland, Willie Rennie’s constituents have been hit by the closure of the Forth Road Bridge and the loss of a route that takes 70,000 cars per day. It’s not expected to re-open until the New Year.

Both Willie and Tim do a phenomenal amount of work to stay in touch with the people they represent anyway, but I have been very impressed with the work that both of them are doing to help people affected by these events.

Willie’s Facebook page catalogues all the conversations and correspondence he’s had with the Transport Minister Derek Mackay. He wanted to make sure that he was properly reflecting people’s concerns and put together a survey so that they can tell him what’s going on.  Even before the end of the weekend, he had worked with the Minister to ensure that patients travelling from Fife for Chemo and Radiotherapy in Edinburgh were taken across the Bridge in ambulances rather than have to endure 11 mile tailbacks or take the huge risk of going on public transport, something that can be very dangerous if your immune system is compromised. He’s put a huge effort into keeping people informed. On a smaller scale, when he was MP, his Facebook page was the place here people looked to find out about school closures in that awful Winter of 2009. He is a hands-on representative who uses every method he can to find out what people need. You can see from his Facebook how he is working constructively with the Minister to get stuff done, putting forward his constituents’ suggestions and getting results.

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Tim Farron stranded amid flooding in Cumbria

The Lancashire Evening Post reports:

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron was among those stranded as Storm Desmond brought havoc to Cumbria.

Mr Farron was driving through his Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency with four children in the car when he got stuck on a heavily flooded back road.

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RIP Cllr Jo Stephenson, Lib Dem leader in Cumbria

jo stephensonJo Stephenson, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council and Lib Dem group leader, has died. The Westmoreland Gazette reports:

A LEADING Lake District politician who fell 30ft out of a window three weeks ago died in hospital last night, Cumbria County Council said today.

Liberal Democrat Coun Jo Stephenson suffered serious injuries including a broken pelvis, punctured lung and chest injuries following the incident in Windermere on July 4.

A statement released by Cumbria County Council this morning confirmed Coun Stephenson, who was the deputy leader of the authority, died in Royal Preston Hospital last night.

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In praise of Councillor Neil Hughes – 56 Up

If you missed it, it is worth watching the first episode of 56 Up on ITV Player. Aired last night, it is the latest in Michael Apted’s Seven Up series, which filmed a group of seven year olds in 1964 and has since caught up with them every seven years.

One of the group is Liberal Democrat Councillor Neil Hughes, who represents Shap ward on Eden District Council in Cumbria. Neil was previously one of our councillors in Hackney and is also a lay preacher. As you can see from last night’s film, the Seven Up series has …

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