Tag Archives: Local government

Tories require senior Lib Dems to stand down from Council Executive pending investigation

There’s trouble in the Council administration in York as the Conservative leader of the Council required two senior Liberal Democrat coalition members to stand down temporarily pending an investigation on which there is precious little detail. The rest of the Lib Dem group boycotted a meeting of the Executive in protest on Thursday night.

From The Press:

Cllr Andrew Waller, a one time council leader who is now executive member for the environment, tweeted: “Lack of meaningful response to questions today following the actions of Cllr Carr&snr officers mean that I will not be at Executive tonight.”

A statement from the Lib Dem group confirmed that Cllr Waller and the party’s other remaining member on the ruling executive had sent their apologies.

“Councillors Waller and Runciman sent their apologies to this evening’s Executive Meeting. Councillor Runciman briefly attended the meeting to speak to one item relating to her portfolio,” the statement said.

It said that following the day’s events, Liberal Democrat Councillors were “pressing for assurances as to how the joint administration will continue to function in the best interests of the city.”

“The Liberal Democrat Group will now meet to decide the best way forward and we will continue to work hard representing our residents,” the statement added.

Watch this space for further developments. It certainly seems odd that no details of the alleged issues under investigation have been made public.

The Liberal Democrats have clearly been doing a lot of good work in York, Keith Aspden, one of the suspended councillors, wrote here last month about efforts to tackle homelessness, not notably a priority of the Conservatives.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Not all hanging together

Back in the late 1990s, the various local government associations for county councils, district councils and metropolitan authorities decided that it would be best to work together rather than in separate silos: so the Local Government Association was born.

The principle is obvious: local government, unprotected by a written constitution and loathed by much of the press, needs to make its case with central government, which can legislate away its powers and much of its money at the drop of a hat, regardless of the consequences on services or communities. MPs know best, after all, and Whitehall knows even better than MPs.

Conservative-controlled Surrey County Council seems keen on tearing up this approach. Like all shire counties it is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to social care: government grants have been cut, as part of never-ending austerity, while the demand for services rises annually as we all live longer.

The proposal for a 15% increase in the council tax precept drew intakes of (sometimes admiring) breath from around the country but we all suspected that the referendum necessary to approve such a large increase would be lost. It must, we thought, be principally a political move to put pressure on Tory ministers with seats in Surrey.

Amazingly, this cynicism proved to be close to the mark. Accidentally leaked texts showed the Surrey Tory Leader negotiating some sort of deal on behalf of his council (good for his council but bad for other councils who don’t have this sort of access to government). Ministerial denials followed as news got out: and the Government pretended that the contacts were just routine – not specific deals for Surrey.

Sadly the accident-prone Tory Leader of Surrey has been caught out again (see Guardian) because someone secretly recorded the Tory group meeting on 7 February.

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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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Who dares wins: we dared in Sheffield and won

Gail Smith Mosborough‘Who Dares, Wins’ was our catchphrase used by my campaign manager and Leader of the Sheffield Lib Dems Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed to motivate the many members and supporters who came to Mosborough to support my campaign to be elected as Councillor for the Mosborough Ward on Sheffield City Council. It was a stunning victory that saw us go from 4th place to 1st, increasing our vote share by a whopping 32%.

I have lived locally in Mosborough for 25 years, I’ve brought my children up here and feel passionately about the community. I have been fortunate enough to represent this area once before from 2008-2012. People remembered the hard work I put in during my time as a Councillor previously and appreciated that I knew the area. Labour, on the other hand, selected a candidate who lived 20 miles away on the opposite side of the city.

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How computer-driven cars are likely to transform planning in your town

 

It’s 2026 and you’re heading to your local town with the family. Not owning a car, you tap your phone and within a few minutes a self-driving taxi pulls up. You relax in comfort as it drives to your destination, then drops you off by the shops and heads off for its next fare.

Your neighbour is heading to the shops too. She prefers to own and drive her own car. Having got to her destination, she taps a button and her car drives itself off to park in in out-of-town car park, where it waits for her to call it back to meet her.

The technology to do all of this not only exists today, but is in use on public roads. Uber has been testing self-drive taxis on the streets of Pittsburgh for months and Tesla and Google have self-drive cars on the roads. Right now a driver has to sit at the wheel, ready to take over if something goes wrong. That won’t be the case for long. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Uber along with traditional car makers like Ford are investing billions to bring genuine self-drive cars to our roads.

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My first three months as a Liberal Democrat Councillor

On the day after I won my first election in May, while still elated and shattered in equal parts, my agent told me that is it typical for the first three months after election season to be relatively quiet and that I would have plenty of time to adjust to my new role. I can think of many words that might apply to these last three months in politics. ‘Typical’ and ‘quiet’ are not among them.

Nationally, as the EU referendum has triggered both a change of government and an opposition leadership election, the mood of our country is uncertain and fearful. Locally, in East Surrey, this is as true as anywhere. It was saddening but not surprising that our residents voted to leave the EU as many people took their opportunity to vote for something to change. Immediate worries for residents are about public services and infrastructure. Deep cuts to local authority budgets over recent years have meant reductions to just about every public service that people notice. Fewer bus services, shortened library opening hours, earlier closing times at the recycling centre and less regular grass cutting in public green areas are among the factors that all add up to make life less pleasant than it used to be. Meanwhile, a couple of decades of intense house building in my ward means that the population of our compact geography has more or less doubled while investment in infrastructure has failed to keep up. Roads are now overwhelmed and there aren’t enough school places and doctors’ appointments to service the community. On doorsteps people have been regularly asking how long before breaking point?

We found our breaking point in Caterham on the Hill on 7th June when we experienced the worst flash floods for 40 years. Local drains failed and properties were swamped with rain and sewer water, making too many families temporarily homeless. Given the political maelstrom, the media have not had a chance to give the consequences of our storm much attention. Not for our families the COBRA committees, armed forces response and additional funding that have been made available previously for other communities. Our Conservative MP did not even bother to make a statement. He was too busy in Westminster. This left a massive void of leadership with just us Councillors left to fill it.

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Last chance to book for a discounted place at top election training event

Today is your last chance to get a discounted place at the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaingers’ premier training event, Kickstart, which is taking place in Staffordshire from 2-4 September.

If you are thinking of standing for election next May, you will not find any better training available anywhere in the party. Over the course of a weekend, ALDC give you 30 hours of training, including individualised one to one training for your particular council area.

Here are some more details:

Kickstart is the highly regarded annual residential training weekend organised by ALDC that brings together some of the party’s most experienced and successful campaigners with campaign teams from across the country. The weekend offers training, mentoring, advice, networking and an opportunity to build and improve your campaign plans and knowledge to win more elections in the future.

WHAT’S INCLUDED
at least 30 hours of training with courses suitable for both new and experience campaigners
time to work as a team with an experienced mentor who can look at your plans and advise you from an independent perspective on how to make them even better
guest speaker along with a three course dinner on the Saturday night
drop-in sessions on more specialist campaign techniques and skills
in-depth strategy and review sessions on what worked for people in the 2016 elections
two-nights full board accommodation – including meals and refreshments – in a dedicated training centre with bar and leisure facilities.

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