Tag Archives: manchester

Manchester: Your children are watching….

You certainly can’t accuse Lib Dems in Manchester of shirking in this election campaign.

The party hopes to build on its one councillor, former Withington MP John Leech, who has provided the sole opposition to Labour’s 95 councillors since his election in 2016.

They’ve produced a hard-hitting film highlighting the worst of Labour’s excesses and offering a better way forward for the city.

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What the Lib Dems offer Manchester

Manchester Liberal Democrats have launched their local elections manifesto. Details of their policies on subjects like homelessness,housiing,  refugees and schools follow.

The Liberal Democrats hope to make gains on the Labour-suffocated Council. Labour currently has 95/96 seats. The 96th is held by our own indefatigable John Leech, who was MP for Manchester Withington until 2015. There are all-up elections next Thursday.

John said of the manifesto:

Our campaign is about everyone and everything that makes Manchester the great city it is today; a strong local community, a celebration of diversity and non-conformity.

Liberal Democrats care passionately about our local communities because it’s where we live and it’s what we believe in. We will always put local people first and it’s about time our council did too.

On the 3rd May, we have a chance to elect a council that leads from the front; that cities around the world look up to; where we celebrate diversity, house the homeless, welcome the desperate and build a future for our children. But only a vote for the Liberal Democrats can break this one-party state and build that vision.

Key Pledges:
ON REFUGEES AND OUR MORAL DUTY:

  • Immediately develop plans to house 50 at-risk families from refugee camps. In the long-term, we will also investigate how best to house as many orphaned child refugees as possible.

ON EU CITIZENS:

  • Demand the Brexit secretary guarantee the rights of EU citizens and maintain our stance on a referendum on the Brexit deal.

ON TRANSPORT AND ROADS:

  • Use some of the estimated £50million Manchester Airport dividend to establish a SmartTransport Development Fund dedicated to offsetting heavy carbon transport.
  • Introduce for a young commuter’s price cap, so they never pay more than half the hourly living wage rate to commute to work.
  • Crackdown on lazy road re-surfacing.

ON HOUSING:

  • Demand all developments over 15 dwellings meet the 20% affordable quota, and where not economically viable, force the developer to contribute financially to the benefit of the local community.
  • Guarantee safe, affordable housing for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

ON HOMELESSNESS:

  • Launch an investigation into all emergency housing applications to make sure that no one slips through the net.
  • Use council-owned premises to house every rough sleeper in Manchester before approving any further city centre developments.
  • Provide an administration address to every homeless person so that they can take the first step in getting their life back on track – this means they can begin applying for jobs.
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Manchester Together – Liberal Democrats launch powerful campaign video

Manchester Liberal Democrats produced a campaign video for their Council election campaign. In 2016, former Lib Dem MP John Leech was elected as the only opposition councillor to Labour. That’s right, it was just him and 95 Labour councillors. He punched well above his weight, though, frequently exasperating the Council leadership by subjecting them to some serious scrutiny.

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John Leech slams Manchester Council on homelessness

Labour today have an opposition day debate on Universal Credit. They are rightly calling out the huge flaws in the system and the misery its botched implementation is causing.

What’s interesting is that they now accept that the principles behind Universal Credit – as an end to the poverty trap – were sound. It is the huge cuts post 2015 when the Tories were governing on their own, and the implementation which leaves people without money for six weeks as standard which must be stopped. They raise the issue of homelessness and evictions caused by Universal Credit, too.

Unfortunately, Labour’s council in …

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Should we move our government to Manchester?

Embed from Getty Images

Big Ben has been silenced. At some point in the next 6 years, MPs and Lords must leave the Palace of Westminster too, with renovation needed in the face of ‘impending crisis’. A lot has been written about where parliament might go temporarily, with some even suggesting a few years out of London. But we need to be more ambitious than a mere temporary move of parliamentarians.

We should permanently move both parliament and ‘Whitehall’ to Manchester. Undoubtedly, political parties, think tanks, charities, much of the printed and broadcast press, quangos, embassies and lobbyists would eventually follow, as well as other corporate offices: with further knock-on effects through the spending power of these 10s or even 100s of thousands of jobs.

Politicians talk a lot about ‘rebalancing’ the UK but this is one way – perhaps the only way – in which the state can actually do it at the stroke of a pen. For those currently working in or around parliament and central government – including journalists (and myself) – it would be painfully disruptive. But for most voters in the South East an easing of population pressure should be welcome. As Jeremy Cliffe at The Economist writes:

Moving government out of London would free up housing, transport and office capacity that the current capital badly needs. … Meanwhile that city would of course remain Britain’s economic centre and gateway to the world; a Barcelona to Manchester’s Madrid; a Glasgow to Manchester’s Edinburgh; a New York to Manchester’s Washington. The city on the Thames is surely dynamic enough to absorb the change without breaking a sweat.

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WATCH: John Leech’s story

See this fantastic video put together by John Leech’s team to celebrate the achievements of his career.

It showcases his tenacious support for a pardon for Alan Turing and other men convicted of homosexual acts and his audacious opposition to Manchester’s Labour council. It can’t be easy being the only opposition councillor in the room, but he gives them some grief and gets stuff done.

Enjoy!

In an email to supporters, John said:

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Manchester Labour don’t like Leech up them

Manchester’s Labour councillors are not used to opposition. They have had none (that’s no opposition councillors at all) for two years. All that changed on 5 May when former Liberal Democrat MP John Leech was elected for the Didsbury West ward.

At the first full Council meeting last week, John dared to ask a whole 8 questions of the Labour administration, and its leader was deeply unimpressed.

From the Manchester Gazette:

However, council leader Richard Leese, was quick to quieten down the opposition interrupting Councillor Leech’s supplementary question.

Leese sniped: “There is a right to ask a questions. Then there is a right to ask a supplementary question, not what appears to be half a dozen supplementary questions.”

Lease’s comment followed a series of questions from John Leech regarding services for recovering alcoholics. The Brian Hore Unit which supported people who had difficulties with alcohol, was recently closed.

Councillor Andrews – to whom Councillor Leech’s question was directed – could not answer, but he has promised to investigate and report back to the council when he knows more.

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Tim Farron launches John Leech’s campaign to take on Labour in Manchester

John Leech and Tim FarronOn Monday night, Tim Farron went to Manchester to launch former MP John Leech’s campaign to win the Didsbury West Council ward in Manchester. The Lib Dems missed out by just 162 votes last May. The Labour Council is desperately in need of opposition. At the moment, Labour holds all the seats which is not a healthy situation in any democracy.

John was MP for Manchester Withington from 2005-15.

He told the packed meeting:

Fear has won where liberalism, hope and hard work has been trampled on by politics wreaked by division, complacency and the attitude of ‘that’ll do’. Well it doesn’t. It’s not good enough for me. And it’s not good enough for Manchester.

Nothing keeps me and the Liberal Democrats fighting more than an unjust system. And as long as residents in Manchester aren’t getting the best deal I’ll be here fighting and challenging that every step of the way.

I promised not to give up on the residents of Manchester Withington, and I’m not going to. I will continue to fight for south Manchester as I always have done. I’m not going anywhere.

We will rebuild. We will start making a difference again. We offer a fresh and strong voice on an often complacent council.

Tim Farron said in support of his friend:

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Opinion: Why I signed up for Devo Manc and a mayor for Greater Manchester

On Monday morning I was very pleased to be able to sign up to Devo Manc. I was deputising for Stockport’s Lib Dem leader Sue Derbyshire, joined in Manchester Town Hall by the leaders of the other nine Greater Manchester authorities along with George Osborne.

The Greater Manchester devolution deal came out of months of negotiation with the government, and it gives the city region more devolved powers than anywhere else in England, London included. I was surprised at how much we got. To give one example, I was assured just weeks ago that a regulated bus network for Greater Manchester was quite impossible: the DfT would never allow it. Yet there it is, in the deal.

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The Independent View: What does the Spending Review mean for UK cities?

This week’s announcements were both a preview of the coalition’s spending plans for 2015/16 and a sign of the government’s direction of travel. For cities, the spending review was mixed. Despite the Government delivering the Single Local Growth Fund devolution was fairly limited, with an emphasis on central government control rather than local autonomy, and most of the policy announcements lacked a focus on ‘place’.

Wednesday’s announcement of the Single Local Growth Fund was an important move towards greater localism, but the allocation of £2bn a year for five years was paltry compared with the £49bn over four years Heseltine …

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Opinion: Is UKIP a threat to community cohesion?

ukip-poster-manchesterMuch has been made of the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party under Nigel Farage.  Watch any of Mr Farage’s rabble rousing appearances on Question Time and one might feel that here is a man who speaks common sense.  A man on your side – a party ready to change the three party system in this country.

Delve a bit deeper into UKIP and you’ll see a slightly sinister side more akin to the Far Right.  It was only 3 years ago that, at the invitation of Lord Pearson (then UKIP Leader), the Dutch Far Right politician Geert Wilders showed an anti-Islam film in the House of Lords.  Cheered on by the English Defence League, UKIP claimed that this was a victory for free speech and common sense.

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Manchester Labour’s “crazy” decision to spend £425k on pop concert

The decision of Manchester’s Labour-run Council to spend almost half a million pounds on a pop concert starring Alicia Keys has been branded “crazy” by Lib Dems in the city. Manchester City Council is currently in the process of making £296m of cuts to its budget over a two year period – cuts condemned as “ideological” by the Labour Council Leader Sir Richard Leese.

Here’s what the Lib Dem group leader on Manchester City Council, Simon Wheale, had to say about this use of scarce public money:

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Nick Clegg responds as more Labour councillors deride extra money for poor pupils

Following Manchester Labour’s extraordinary attack on the pupil premium – describing the policy as a “sham” – news reaches The Voice via Lib Dem councillor Steve Beasant that a Labour cabinet member on North East Lincolnshire Council has joined his Manchester colleagues in their criticism.

As Paul Walter reported earlier, Nick Clegg was asked about the comments of Manchester’s Labour councillors at Tuesday’s Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions by Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames. Here’s the full exchange:

Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD): Wiltshire schools have long felt short-changed by funding allocations for education, so they will welcome the doubling of pupil

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Extra £11million funding for disadvantaged pupils is a “sham”, says Manchester Labour Party

There’s rather bizarre news from Manchester, where the Council’s ruling Labour group has passed a motion declaring the pupil premium a “sham” and calling for the policy to be scrapped.

The pupil premium – which was a key Lib Dem policy at the last election – has meant a funding boost of almost £11million for Manchester’s schools this year (rising to £20million next year), with the money targeted specifically at pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

As Lib Dem councillor for Gorton North, Jackie Pearcey, says:

I know that in Gorton and Abbey Hey, this money is making a real difference to

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Opinion: surveying the wreckage

As a political organiser, I’ve seen the highs and now the lows that come with the territory. In Rochdale in 2005 and Manchester Withington in 2010 – the results made all the effort and long hours worth it.

In Manchester last week, I presided over losing every single seat. Yes, every single one!

It wasn’t through lack of effort. Take for example Simon Ashley, the former group leader. Simon has delivered close to 200,000 leaflets since May, good quality leaflets focusing on crucial issues like the closure of his local swimming baths (where his 2000 plus …

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Obama would have been blocked by Labour – what about the Lib Dems?

A former US grassroots campaigner, now working in Manchester, has claimed that Labour is an alienating force in our big cities and Obama would never have made it in the Labour Party.

Gregory Galluzo, the Guardian claimed on Saturday, trained Obama in grassroots politics over a decade ago.

Galluzo is quoted in the Guardian as saying:

In my experience the Labour party in your big cities like Manchester is one of the most alienating forces in Great Britain.

It is a very small group of people that controls the city council and they get voted in because they are Labour, not because of

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Empty homes policy launch

Details arrive at the Voice of a launch of our General Election housing policy:

The Liberal Democrats today set out plans to bring a quarter of a million empty homes back into use, making homes available for people who need them and creating 65,000 jobs.

There are over 760,000 empty properties across England which are no longer used as homes but can be brought back into use with some investment. People who own these homes will get a grant or a cheap loan to renovate them so they can be used: grants if the home is for social housing, loans for

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Where next for Lib Dem Bloggers’ Internetty Meetup Thing?

John Barrett MP at Lib Dem Bloggers' Unconference

Just two weekends ago, we helped run a moderately successful Bloggers’ Unconference in Edinburgh, the guests of the Scottish Liberal Democrats at their HQ in Clifton Terrace. The Scottish Lib Dems were generous with their facilities and their time, giving us a room for a day, feeding us, and making sure lots of interesting senior Scottish Lib Dems came to talk to us. In the end four English bloggers made the …

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Greater Manchester Lib Dem PPC defects to Labour

The Manchester Evening News has the story:

A Liberal Democrat candidate for the next General Election has defected to Labour. Paul Moss had already been selected as candidate for Denton and Reddish but has now quit the party.

Mr Moss said: “Nationally the Liberal Democrats are a complete joke. And I have seen how the Lib Dems in Stockport have completely ignored local people and have helped to seriously damage communities like Reddish through their uncaring policies.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “It’s a shame he feels this way. He certainly didn’t express these views when he was trying to become our

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