Tag Archives: Local government

An “existential crisis” for English Councils

It has been many years since Councils have felt they had enough funding to provide the services that their residents need. For most of this century they have been cutting many non-essential and non-statutory services, such as youth clubs, and they have been outsourcing some essential services to cheaper and, in some cases, inexperienced and inadequate providers. And the cuts have happened year on year, so what seems unthinkable one year becomes a reality the next.

The core Council services are around housing and social care, for adults and children, plus a number of environmental services such as recycling and waste collection. Social care supports the most vulnerable, from essential care for the elderly and those with disabilities, to support for families in crisis and providing for looked after children. Most Councils also support an active volunteer sector with its increasing provision of food banks, as sure indicator that all is not well with society.

Throughout all this the Westminster government has been adding extra responsibilities to local government, but not the funding needed to meet them, all the while passing the blame onto Councils.

Councils get the bulk of their income from Council tax, business rates and central Government grants. The latter consists of the main revenue support grant, plus ring-fenced grants which simply pass through the Councils accounts and directly out to recipients, such as housing benefits and school funding. The formula for allocating the revenue support grant is shrouded in mystery, but seems to be based on historical assessments of need rather than current need.  It has also reduced on average by 50% in recent years, and some Councils get precisely zero in revenue support.

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We should be talking about Lib Dem Councils Building new homes 

One of the achievements of Lib Dem controlled  Councils  has been a focus on building social and affordable housing – but it’s not one the Party has made much of. Given that access to housing is one of the key issues in our society that seems a  pity.

In York for example the Lib Dem run council is focused  on increasing the number of  affordable homes  – 447 have been delivered in the last 3 years – and the numbers are increasing year or year. The Council is planning to have delivered  no less than 600 affordable  homes in it’s 4 years term and to have done so while protecting the local Green Belt.

Even better many of these are being delivered to ‘Passivhaus ‘ standards meaning that they are  much  better for the environment.

In Kingston we are doing something most Labour councils say is impossible – building new council  housing – and new housing build to the highest environment standards. .As the Portfolio Holder for Housing , Clr Emily  Davey says -“providing homes which meet our residents needs is a priority for us.”

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Lib Dem Eastleigh wins Council of the Year award

Eastleigh Council has won the prestigious “ Council of the Year” award from the  Association for Public Service Excellence,  recognising its excellent performance in delivering front line council services. The awards receive hundreds of submissions every year and only outstanding councils, that have met the stringent criteria of the expert judges, are shortlisted for Council of the Year.

There are 22 Categories of award and as well as Council of the year. Eastleigh’s  Direct Services team won the  award for Transport and Fleet Maintenance and  the Council was  shortlisted in 4 other categories.

Accepting the award  on behalf of the Council, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Policy, Councillor Tonia Craig said:

Being recognised as Council of the Year is a superb accolade and reflects the commitment of our staff to deliver truly excellent frontline services. I would like to pay tribute to all our teams who work so hard to support communities and improving lives in our Borough – and to thank APSE for this recognition.

Eastleigh is one of the Party’s flagship Councils with has 34 Lib Dem Councillors  out of 39 and we have been in control since 1995.

You can see the Eastleigh Team receiving the award here:

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17 August 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them
  • Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people
  • “Nasty party”: Kwarteng must clarify Truss’s shameful ‘graft’ comments
  • 75,000 A-Level grades set to be deflated under Government’s exam plans
  • Councillor Sykes welcomes change in law barring sex offenders from standing for or holding elected office

Inflation figures: People will never forgive this Government for abandoning them

Responding to inflation reaching 10.1% this morning, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

Britain is heading for the worst economic crisis in a generation, yet the Prime Minister has clocked off early whilst Sunak and Truss are too busy squabbling amongst themselves.

Families and pensioners will never forgive this Conservative Government for abandoning them in the middle of a cost of living catastrophe.

The answer is staring Conservative MPs in the face but they refuse to act. Energy bills must be frozen immediately or else millions of people will be plunged into financial devastation this winter.

Thames Water hosepipe ban: slap in the face for millions of people

Responding to the news that Thames Water will enforce a hosepipe ban, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

This is a slap in the face for millions of people when Thames Water is losing a quarter of all their water to leaks.

Their gross negligence to fix leaks is set to inflict hosepipe ban misery across the South. We wouldn’t be in this mess if Thames Water bothered to invest properly. Instead, water companies are choosing to pay themselves billions of pounds in profits and reward their CEOs with insulting bonuses. Thames Water is putting profit above the public and environment.

Ministers are to blame for letting profiteering water companies get away with it. Under this Government, our rivers have become polluted with sewage and water pipes rusting with leaks.

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“Democracy Made in England – Where next for English Local Government?”

In less frenetic times, this report would have grabbed headlines – but attention has already been cornered by outrageous events in Ukraine. Those distractions are, no doubt, mightily convenient for the current cabal who pretend to power in Whitehall.

The report should be required reading for all Liberal Democrat candidates for local Elections next May. There is only one name on the report’s cover – lead author, Michela Palese, Research and Policy Officer, Electoral Reform Society. At first glance you will see this is not the outpourings of some single tortured soul, but the collective views garnered from a cast of hundreds drawn from across the political spectrum.

Posted in Books and Local government | 10 Comments

We need to ensure our ‘Green Spaces’ are protected at all costs

I’ve recently read the agenda items that my local council have put on their website and I’m dismayed that the term ‘Open Spaces’ is being adopted instead of ‘Green Spaces.’

This for me is far more than simple semantics. I don’t doubt that our Borough does indeed have many Open Spaces, but the desire to treat these as synonymous with Green Spaces is an hugely cynical move. This I feel would make it far easier and clearly more palatable for residents when our cynical council sells off our Green Spaces and makes way for the latest housing development. When challenged, selling Open Spaces sounds far less damaging or controversial.

Of course I understand the need to balance the planning and housing needs of my area, but I’m hugely concerned that far too often our planning for houses and developments is pushed through to appease big business and make money, at the expense of the health and well-being of local residents. Opposition to such plans, even when 2,000 residents oppose something, is seemingly paid lip service.

Greater emphasis should be placed on social housing. Is 10% for each new development really sufficient? Why not 50%? If there really is a ‘housing crisis’, is this really going to be solved by making developers and builders richer? Our current model of planning is clearly unsustainable?

As part of our ongoing strategy and policy for building a fairer Britain we need to be much more radical in our approach and stricter on our commitment to plans that we have a negative impact on our long term health and well-being. Should building for sustainable homes therefore always be carbon neutral and therefore enshrined in law? The risk to these Green Spaces and therefore an ongoing legacy for our children/grandchildren is at stake.

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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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Real recovery starts with local government

I’m sure that some of you may see my name and the title of this article and think: “There he is, banging on about local government yet again”. Guilty as charged, Your Honour. The reason for my ‘banging on’ again has been prompted by an article in today’s Guardian by one of its leader writers, entitled ‘Local Politics is cutting a path for Labour’. Being the Guardian, the answer would of course be Labour. Wouldn’t it? However, the writer’s sudden discovery that there IS political life outside the Westminster bubble is welcome. However, some of us have been well ahead of him down the road to Damascus and, having served as councillors for many years – in my case thirty – we know most of the pitfalls.

What I have discovered is that you can succeed in local government by dint of your personality rather than the colour of the rosette you wear. If Labour is waking up to the potential of local government, why isn’t the party that turned community politics into an art form?

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New Lib Dem mayor of Truro: I’m working out how to use my platform to make others suffer less

Last week, Liberal Democrat Steven Webb became Mayor of Truro.

A Lib Dem since his teenage years, he was first elected to Truro City Council in 2017.

In 1991, he was paralysed in an accident.

The BBC has done a profile of Steven.

He talked about what he hopes to achieve as Mayor:

In a time where clinically vulnerable people have had to isolate for so long, I see it as an opportunity to make sure there are no groups left behind and we rebuild from the pandemic together.

There are so many people who have self-isolated and have hardly left their flats.

We’ve got to make sure everybody is included – that will help businesses, that will help Truro and that will reduce suffering.

It’s time we had a vision to keep the amazing heritage of cobbled streets and granite pavements but make it open to everybody.

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Lib Dem Amanda Hopgood to lead Durham County Council

Great news from Durham. Liberal Democrat Councillor Amanda Hopgood has taken over as Durham County Council leader after Labour lost their majority (and 21 seats) in May’s local elections. 

From the BBC:

The alliance, made up of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, independents and a Green councillor, officially took over at the council’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

Ms Hopgood, who leads the Liberal Democrat group, said she was “honoured and privileged” to have been elected leader.

She said: “County Durham is a fantastic place, not just for those of

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Building back neglected communities

Embed from Getty Images

Behind the future economic and political relationship between the UK and the EU, and the (mis)management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of how to revive the towns and cities of the north of England (and its other marginal communities) will loom in 2021 as one of the key issues in UK politics.  Resentment of industrial decline, followed by cuts in funding for local government, education and transport, fuelled support first for leaving the EU and then for deserting Labour.  Boris Johnson has pledged to invest in bringing prosperity back to former industrial communities.  Keir Starmer is feeling his way towards regaining their support, more by embracing their conservative values than promising massive spending.  But what do Liberal Democrats have to offer them?

This raises existential problems for all three parties.  Johnson’s promises imply a larger state, with higher taxes, engaging in rebuilding local and regional economies – anathema to the small-state libertarians who now crowd the Conservative backbenches.  Starmer is struggling to reconcile the metropolitan liberals who provide much of his activist base with the social nostalgia these communities cling to.  But we, too, are a party of university towns and graduates, liberals in the widest sense: we cannot follow Starmer in attempting to embrace rediscovered ‘working class values’, which in any case many of the younger generation in such communities do not share.

We do however have determined local activists in many of these neglected communities, with hopes of winning local elections in May or June.  So what should our platform be, consistent with our values?  Can we make the future of local democracy itself an issue that will appeal?  The Conservatives clearly despise local government: their preference for awarding contracts to multinational companies rather than partnering with local authorities to handle responses to the pandemic has been an expensive disaster. Bullying local government on school closures has been as bad.  Moving bits of central departments to ‘red wall’ seats while keeping power in London is a poor substitute for devolving power.  But we need to think carefully how best to present a case for stronger local government and less direction from London, if we want to win over discontented voters.

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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 registering to vote is good for your wealth and health

You will almost certainly be registered to vote if you are reading Liberal Democrat Voice, as you are a politically engaged individual. But are all your neighbours, friends and family also on the electoral roll?
Feel free to share this article with them, as adapted for your local Council.
If you are not registered to vote, you could be harming your chances of getting credit when you need it, and even your access to a home-delivered COVID-19 test.
You are not automatically registered to vote, (included on the electoral roll), even if you have lived here for many years. You should register to

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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

Posted in Local government and News | 7 Comments

An interview with Cllr Gareth Roberts

Gareth Roberts, Liberal Democrat Leader of the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames (LBRUT), tells York Membery about the challenges he’s faced in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, the specific Lib Dem approach he’s sought to pursue, and his misgivings about the Johnson government’s response to the pandemic…

How has the LBRUT coped with the fallout from the pandemic?

Reasonably well. Every local authority has been hit in one form or another but in terms of keeping infections down, limiting the number of deaths in the borough, keeping residents and businesses supported and, vitally, keeping residents informed we’ve performed well. And that’s not me being some Town Hall Trump; we conducted a poll of residents recently. 63% of respondents said Richmond was doing a good job in responding to the pandemic, whereas 61% thought the Tories at Westminster was doing poorly.

What are the biggest covid-linked challenges that the council has faced?

School closures was a biggie. I think people have largely forgotten how contentious that was. Some residents thought it was entirely wrong, some wanted us to move far more quickly and there was a real lack of direction from the Tory Government. More recently, the real challenge has been anti-social behaviour – before the pubs reopened people would meet friends in their local parks and green spaces and though most behaved themselves there was a hardcore of people who stayed far too late, were far too rowdy and used the parks (and even neighbouring front gardens) as toilets.

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2020 – The year the housing was hit by a maverick algorithm 

Alongside Planning for the Future White Paper (see previous article), ministers published without fanfare a second consultation on changes to the planning system. Council housing targets will be set centrally using a crude formula that distributes responsibility for the government’s ambition for 300,000 new homes a year round the country. But the formula will allocate more housing to higher priced areas such as the south and east, while reducing ambitions for the Northern Powerhouse. A ‘short-term’ waiver of S106 requirements for most small sites could cut affordable housing delivery by up to 20%. A quarter of affordable housing delivered will be for sale at a 25% discount at the expense of social and affordable rented homes. 

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2020 – The year government took planning away from the people 

2020 will be remembered for many things. The pandemic and flooding among them. It will also be remembered as the year they took planning away from the people. 

The government’s proposals in the white paper Planning for the Future and associated documents are bold. They will transfer many local planning powers from councils and communities to Whitehall and the planning inspectorate in Bristol. Ministers want planning by checklist instead of considered, albeit sometimes difficult, planning deliberations that lead to quality developments. 

There are sensible ideas in the government’s proposals but they are countered by its determination to take democracy and localism out of planning. 

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5-6 September 2020 – the weekend’s press release

Government must support local councils instead of imposing top down reorganisation

Ahead of the Government’s motion on the Local Government Boundary Commission tomorrow, Liberal Democrat Local Government spokesperson Tim Farron said:

The Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commissions looks like they’re going to have a lot on their plate. Just last week the Tories proposed abolishing nearly every council and replacing them with larger, less accountable, ‘super-councils.’

At a time when local authorities and the government are struggling to tackle the pandemic, it is not the time for a reorganisation of deckchairs on the titanic.

Liberal Democrats believe change should come from the

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Ed Davey uses first speech to highlight Lib Dem successes in local government

I did something today that I don’t think I’ve ever done before in the best part of a quarter of a century of membership – attended an ALDC AGM. The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners provides the heartbeat to which council candidates and their teams work. If you follow their advice, you are way more likely to win. The ALDC mindset is to be plugged into your local community and working hard for local people all year round.

They usually have their AGM at conference and it almost always clashes with something else I have to do, but I went this morning to see Baroness Ros Scott chairing and a lively discussion about how the Tory plans to rip the heart out of local government are a very bad idea.

The AGM was part of a three hour conference held on Zoom. It was very well attended and had some very fascinating sessions. I went to a panel discussion on the Green Recovery with Friends of the Earth and another about our distinctive voice in next year’s elections. I’ll write them up later.

But, first, this was new leader Ed Davey’s first speech since his election ten days ago. He talked about his visit to a Stockport Fish and Chip shop yesterday and his conversations with the owner and staff there.  The manager of 13 years standing, who had been written off at school, was about to take over the business as the owners were retiring. Another member of staff was a WASPI woman – hit by the injustice of women born in the 1950s having to wait an extra six years for their state pension.

Although he had had some hard words for the party in his acceptance speech about people thinking we weren’t on their side, he emphasised that this was not the case with our local campaigners who make it their mission to listen to what people are feeling.

He praised Lib Dem councils for their action on environmental matters. He mentioned York City Council’s “Don’t be a tosser” anti litter campaign., Chelmsford’s tree planting and Sutton’s low-energy secondary school.

His listening exercise (which is a much better term than the Orwellian sounding National Listening Project) extends to party members too – he said that he wanted feedback on what he was saying and doing and to hear from us about what we wanted the party to be saying. He emphasised how we needed to work as a team and listen to all voices.

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Paul Tyler writes…..Listening is just the start…

Once we have honed our listening skills we should surely seek to improve ways in which people are themselves empowered.  How can they make their voices and their votes more effective ?

Here are a few immediate and urgent opportunities:

Fair Votes 

Despite the Conservative manifesto promise to make sure “every vote counts the same – a cornerstone of democracy” the current inequality is outrageous.  It takes 33 times as many votes for Green Party supporters to elect an MP as for SNP supporters, with big differences for Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats in between. Voters are cheated by the First-Past-The-Post system.

Ed Davey has committed himself to the cross-party campaign.    But what should be the first priority?   Persuading the Labour leadership to wake up, and accept the strong support of their membership for reform of elections to the Commons?   Or concentrate on extending the STV success in local authority elections in Scotland – now to be repeated in Wales – to ensure voters in England do not miss out?  

If the electoral system is the bedrock of our democracy, then surely some consistency throughout the UK is essential ?

Who Votes?

Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for votes for all citizens when they reach 16.  We led national efforts to extend the franchise for the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and were only thwarted by combined Conservative and Labour Peers when we pressed then for 16-year-olds to be able to vote in the 2016 EU Referendum.   Again, Scotland and Wales are leading the way, and the case for UK consistency is now overwhelming.

UK citizens working or living abroad are often affected by political decisions taken here – most notoriously on Brexit – but their representation is inadequate.  We want them to vote in separate constituencies so that they have MPs who are committed to looking after their particular interests.

Similarly, EU residents working and resident in the UK make a substantial contribution, not least with various local taxes, and should continue to be allowed to vote in local elections.

Subsidiarity

The imminent Devolution White Paper, we are told, will force through the amalgamation of two-tier councils to create more unitary authorities, all with the compulsory addition of elected mayors.   This looks suspiciously like centralisation rather than decentralisation, and is certainly not devolution. Whitehall retains the financial stranglehold, treating elected local representatives as simply a delivery mechanism for national policy priorities.

We have long championed subsidiarity = bringing decisions as close as possible to those who will be affected by them.  The present Government is moving in the opposite direction. 

The example of the SNP Government is also salutary.  Concentrating power at that level, with little devolution to lower tiers of governance at community levels, is no way to spread empowerment.

Transparency

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An opinion piece

Both the Tories and Labour have a dominant elected represented presence across the UK on many different bodies. Because of their current dominance, people almost expect that they should be represented. Such prevalence has allowed some poor performance, by these parties, to be masked/accepted as the public find it difficult to see beyond, what has become, their own basic political norms.

The Lib Dems message is not being heard. We live in a liberal country that has liberal values, a liberal outlook on life and politics, and there is one real party that represents those values – the Liberal Democrats. We can’t get aligned with these dominate traits that the voters live by. You do have to ask the question why?

I am not going to go off on some socio-political anthropologically discussion, simply as I am not qualified to do so. But I do want to look at why we are not being heard or are more relevant across the country.

There are many reasons – not enough reach in the ethnic minority’s communities – yes OK, we have rightly supported more women candidates in the party for internal and external positions (although I would say where we have replaced white middle-class men, in most cases, with white middle-class women and not women who are care workers, single mothers, from working-class families etc.), we don’t have any traction in urban housing estates and so on.

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What is in a name? 

Lib Dem run Watford Borough Council this week voted unanimously to pass a motion in favour of reviewing our town’s street names with links to slave and colonial history.

The Black Lives Matter Campaign and others have rightly highlighted the harm slavery, indentured labour and exploitation inflicted on individuals and whole societies during the cruel period of slavery – the legacy of which continues to this day.

It is important to remember that sickness and destitution were rife amongst slaves, there was a significant need for acclimatisation for immigrants to any slave colony, however, many slave owners failed to do this and as a result thousands of slaves died within weeks of arrival.

Others eventually succumbed to the poor working conditions on plantations and within other slave roles. Slaves were literally worked to death.

As part of the slave trade whole families were imported from Hindu, Muslim, African and European cultures, living together in barracks in often squalid conditions with minimal privacy.

Many slaves committed suicide, with trade unions and strikes made illegal by the governments of the West Indies.

Even indentured slaves had to seek permission to leave their plantations, corporal punishments were enforced for crimes including insulting the plantation owner.

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Tory centralisation has failed us on Coronavirus. It’s time to consider the local alternatives.

We have seen how the government has acted too slow to implement a lockdown and not given councils enough resources to be able to help people locally.

Coronavirus has also shown us how the Tory government believes it is best to deal with the Coronavirus centrally rather than making more use of local government. As a Liberal Democrat I believe strongly in localism – one of the party’s founding principles.

In Ealing, despite the Council being run by the Labour party, the Liberal Democrats have managed to take a more active role than many opposition parties. Liberal Democrats in Ealing have been able to make decisions locally that affect the people we serve during the Coronavirus period.

To deal with Coronavirus effectively, we need money and support from the national government – not dictates. It is important there is trust in the local government partners. Yet this Tory government has done exactly the opposite of that.

Firstly, on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): if we had waited for the government’s supplies to arrive, our care homes would have run out very quickly. Instead we bought large supplies alongside other West London boroughs so that our care homes had regular supplies.

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Cllr Bridget Smith writes…..Lib Dems are the party of Business

It became apparent some weeks ago that South Cambridgeshire could not rely on the Mayor and the Combined Authority to lead on Business Recovery.  The reason being that South Cambridgeshire is a very rural district albeit wrapping completely around Cambridge City, with an extremely diverse business sector which includes not only the Cambridge Science Park and the world renown Bio Medical campus at Addenbrookes Hospital with the likes of Astra Zeneca but also the Wellcome and Sangar Institutes at Hinxton and the soon to be Huawei headquarters at Sawston. Every bit as important to us is farming, manufacturing, the service industries, tourism and the many thousands of SMEs, sole traders and home workers.  The role of the CA is obviously high level and strategically focused on the whole of the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire area and cannot be refined or nuanced enough to support the village based micro economies which ensures that the 103 villages and 1 new town are truly self-sufficient and sustainable.

When we took control of the council 2 years ago we immediately established Economic Development as one of our top 4 priorities and were in the process of recruiting a Business Support Team when CV struck – which has turned out to be fortuitous. Our original plan was to focus on inward investment, exploiting the potential of our enterprise zones and fulling the SME business support gap left when Business Link ceased to operate. This team will now obviously be focusing on business recovery.

I also recently established the role of Member Champion for Business which Cllr Peter McDonald has excelled at. Peter created a Business Recovery Strategy in the first couple of weeks of the crisis which has been critical for us as the situation has developed.

Economic growth has been more than healthy for the Greater Cambridge area (South Cambs and Cambridge City) and it is currently the government’s focus for their initial investment in the OxCam Arc with the recent announcement of the E-W rail link and the budget plans for 4 new DevCos in and just to the west of the district.

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Daily View 2×2: 7 May 2020

2 big stories

Who’d have thought it? The achievement of the testing target on 30 April is already looking deeply shady, with the inclusion of posted tests included in that figure, plus allegations that even those posted weren’t actually usable. And now, subsequent data shows that the numbers are going backwards, not upwards. The solution, a new target. The distraction from failure – some relaxations in terms of going out and about.

Meanwhile, the European Union is predicting that its economy will shrink by 7.4% this year, the worst performance since World War II, with the economies of Southern Europe worst …

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The journal of a new councillor (part 1)

Helen Burton was elected as a new councillor in Eastbourne last year. In this moni-series, she explains what led her to run in the first place…

I can’t believe it was a year ago I was elected as an Eastbourne Borough Councillor, the time has absolutely flown by. Who could have imagined a year ago that I would be writing this during lockdown in the middle of a pandemic, a crisis affecting local councils across the country?

My path to becoming a councillor in Eastbourne started with my volunteer role in the local community. I had already been a Parish councillor in …

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Daily View 2×2: 27 April 2020

I hope that you’ve all had a nice weekend, although I guess that, for some of you, each day is beginning to feel the same as the last. At Liberal Democrat Voice, our aim is to entertain, inform and engage, and so I’d better get on, hadn’t I?

2 big stories

Whilst the talk is of what happens next in the UK’s battle against Covid-19, elsewhere, the first steps towards normalisation have started;

In all four places officials caution that life is not going back to normal yet. For one thing, there can be no letting down their guard. The authorities have

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Covid-19 shows the benefits of Localism

As Charles Kennedy once said:

Liberal Democrats are the traditional exponents of localism. Localism is inextricably linked to our core values.

The belief in devolved power, strong local government, and a plurality of societal actors working together to enhance democratic accountability and maximising opportunity for innovation and experimentation lie at the heart of liberalism.

The population of not just the United Kingdom, but the whole world seem to be confined to a particular location. We are unable to take flights across the globe, or even visit friends and relatives in nearby towns. Families, businesses, institutions, and society are pulling together like never before. With this in mind, it seems like localism will never get a better workout than during the isolation phase of the covid-19 pandemic.  With this, there will be opportunities to observe how individuals, families, communities, businesses, and arms of government go about their day-to-day lives and jobs to make society function and altruistically help those in need.

We are already seeing networks of volunteers ready to help the vulnerable; MPs and local councillors working tirelessly answering questions from many of their constituents ranging from the Government’s furlough schemes to the importance of self-isolation. But it is noticeable that constituents are adjusting already and making choices that benefit not just themselves as individuals, but their families and society.

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