Tag Archives: Local government

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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WATCH: Kingston Lib Dem councillors supporting their community

Kingston’s Lib Dem councillors have put out a wonderful video showing what they are doing during lockdown to support local residents and to get through these very stressful times.

Enjoy.

It’s lovely to watch – emphasises the importance of staying at home, but has lots of suggestions for ways to get – and give – help.

And our councillors have some really, really cute animals.

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“Stop blaming local government for the housing crisis”

More than a million homes granted planning permission in the past decade have not yet been built, according to new analysis by the Local Government Association.

Latest figures show that 2,564,600 units have been granted planning permission by councils since 2009/10 while only 1,530,680 have been completed.

The number of planning permissions granted for new homes has almost doubled since 2012/13 with councils approving 9 in 10 applications.

While in some cases there will be a time lag between permission being granted and homes being built, new build completions have only increased by half as much in that time. Encouragingly, completions last …

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Conference Countdown: What local government needs from the Queen’s Speech

In last week’s spending review, we saw yet more smoke and mirrors.  Just half of the promised £3.7bn is new cash and £1.85bn will be coming from pockets of hard-pressed council tax and business rate taxpayers who are at breaking point. 

The money announced will help meet rising cost and demand pressures in 2020/21.  But not much more.

As I have said time and time again additional freedoms and flexibilities are all very well, but its new hard cash that local government needs.  This must be backed up a commitment that is not just for 12 months, but a sustainable three year plus funding settlement.  

You cannot keep kicking the “social care can” down the road, politicians have promised for more than 20 years and have still not delivered a way forward.

Equally so the crisis in children’s services keep being papered over and deferred to another day.  Local government needs the security and reassurance of a long-term settlement. 

There was some cash for homelessness – again, welcome – but no mention of investment to tackle its underlying causes.

Nothing for social housing, nor an end to the benefit freeze that is creating widespread housing insecurity.  With the loss of yet another DWP minister who knows what is going to happen.

Councils across the country are reporting to us an increase in people accessing their homeless services and are spending £1bn a year putting families in temporary accommodation enough is enough.

We heard about a youth investment fund to build and repair youth clubs, but no details.  I will put money on it that it will probably amount to a mere sticking plaster on the wounds inflicted by austerity on local youth services.

And as we all have an eye on a General Election; which just like Winter in Game of Thrones most certainly is coming; our own party’s manifesto needs to rise to these challenges as well!

Next year’s Spending Review must provide the long-term, sustainable settlement councils need in order to protect services into the next decade and beyond.  But it isn’t all about money.

As part of the Local Government Associations ongoing #CouncilsCan campaign, the LGA is also calling for the next Queen’s Speech to deliver a new localism settlement for England.  This settlement will need to reignite devolution, empowering councils to transform local areas.

With new powers, funding and long-term certainty, councils will continue to lead their local areas and improve the lives of their residents.  Giving councils the freedom and funding to make local decisions improves national outcomes. 

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ALDC’s by-election review – 7th March

A  quiet night of by-elections saw one by-election take place in Haddenham and Stone for Aylesbury Vale DC. The solitary election saw a big loss for the Conservatives to the Green’s who increased their vote share 34.6% to snatch the seat from the Tories. Jim Brown and the Aylesbury Vale Lib Dem team flew the flag well and took 333 votes increasing their vote share by 2.3% so a big thanks to Jim and the team.

Next week we have a busier week with 3 by-elections taking place with Lib Dem candidates standing in all. See below our list for next week and how you can help.

Croydon LB, Norbury & Pollards Hill
Labour Seat. Cause: Death
LD Candidate: Guy Burchett
Get in touch – https://www.croydonlibdems.org/contact_us

Durham UA, Wingate.
Lab Seat. Cause: Death.
LD Candidate: Edwin Simpson
Get in touch – https://durhamlibdems.mycouncillor.org.uk/get-involved/?purpose=get%20in%20touch#page-content 

Southampton UA, Coxford Ward.
Ind Seat. Cause: Resignation.
LD Candidate Candidate: Sam Chapman [email protected]

Contact (campaign manager): Colin McDougal [email protected]

Good luck to all our candidates standing next week!

If you have a spare hour you can find contact details of who to ring to help out on our website.

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£8 billion funding black hole by 2025 will swallow up popular council services

Communities may suffer the loss of leisure and cultural facilities, fewer bus services, unkempt parks and green spaces and see fly-tippers go unpunished without government investment in under-pressure council services.

On Friday the cross-party Local Government Association launched its campaign to influence the forthcoming government Spending Review by warning about the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils.

However, the LGA said that, with the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead their local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer.

Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost almost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services. 

Some councils are being pushed to the brink by this unprecedented loss of funding and an ongoing surge in demand for children’s services, adult social care services and homelessness support. This is on top of having to absorb other cost pressures, such as higher national insurance contributions, the apprenticeship levy and the National Living Wage.

More and more councils are struggling to balance their books, facing overspends and having to make in-year budget cuts.

Councils provide more than 800 services to residents in their local area – some of these are legal duties they have to provide whilst others are optional powers they can use depending on local priorities.

Money is increasingly having to be diverted from these optional services, which help build communities people want to live in, to plug growing funding gaps, while some councils have already been forced to cut their services back to the legal minimum “core offer”. 

With councils in England facing an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025, local government leaders fear many more will have to take similar action.

That could mean many cherished local – but discretionary – services such as the maintenance of parks, improving food hygiene and safety, certain bus services, cultural activities and council tax support for those in financial difficulty – face being drastically cut back by councils across the country.

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