Tag Archives: rural communities

6 February 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak interview: Most people worry when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill, the PM does not even register it
  • PopCon: Tory MPs at launch pocketed £85,000 in severance payments
  • Dental plan “too little too late” for people desperately queuing in Bristol
  • “No child deserves to go hungry”- Welsh Lib Dems
  • Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds urges for more support for rural GP’s
  • “Simply papering over the cracks in our services”- Welsh Lib Dems

Sunak interview: Most people worry when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill, the PM does not even register it

Responding to the Prime Minister’s interview this morning, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

Rishi Sunak either does not care or does not get it. As the Prime Minister buries his head in the sand and pretends everything is fine, people across the country are suffering.

Most people when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill worry about how they are going to make their next mortgage payments or put food on the table for their children.

Instead, the Prime Minister does not even register the significance of that amount of money. Out of touch does not even begin to describe Sunak.

The Prime Minister’s cold soundbites that everything is working simply do not survive contact with reality.

PopCon: Tory MPs at launch pocketed £85,000 in severance payments

The Conservative MPs at today’s Popular Conservatism launch pocketed almost £85,000 in taxpayer-funded pay-outs, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The Liberal Democrats said, “This is not popular Conservatism, it’s economic vandalism.”

Liz Truss pocketed a £18,660 taxpayer payout despite previously criticising “handouts” to help with the cost of living, while Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed £16,800 despite attacking the size of the state. Other Conservative MPs who attended the event, including former Chief Whip Wendy Morton, former Home Secretary Priti Patel and ex-education minister Andrea Jenkyns, all took severance payments worth thousands of pounds. In total Conservative MPs at the event pocketed £84,955 in taxpayer-funded payouts.

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Revealed: Long GP waits in rural areas three times worse than urban ones

  • New research reveals four week waits for GPs three times higher in rural areas than urban ones
  • Lib Dems to adopt pre-manifesto with right to see a GP within a week at its heart
  • Ed Davey calls for strategy to close urban rural divide in access to GPs

The proportion of people waiting four weeks or more for a GP appointment is three times higher in rural parts of England than in London, stark new figures published by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

It comes as Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey calls on the government to launch a new strategy to improve access to GPs in rural areas. The Liberal Democrats are also set to put their proposals to give everyone the right to see a GP within a week at the heart of their pre-manifesto being adopted today.

The House of Commons Library research, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, shows that on average people in rural areas are facing significantly longer waits for GP appointments than those in urban ones.

One in five (20.6%) patients living in rural areas waited two weeks or more for a GP appointment between April and June of this year, compared to 16.9% of those in urban areas.

The divide for waits of four weeks or more for a GP appointment was even more stark. 6% of patients in rural areas faced waits of 28 days or more for a GP appointment, around a third higher than the 4.6% of those facing four-week waits in urban ones.

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7 September 2022 – today’s (other) press release

Rural families in fuel poverty risk becoming “forgotten victims” as they face £450 bigger hit from energy price rise

Families living in fuel poverty in rural areas are set to be left £450 poorer than urban ones by October’s energy price rise, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The analysis by the House of Commons Library shows that the average “fuel poverty gap,” the additional income that would be needed to bring a household to the point of not being fuel poor, is set to rise to a staggering £1,050 in rural areas in October. This compares to a projected fuel poverty gap of £600 in urban areas. It means fuel poor homes in rural areas will need around twice as much support to bring them out of fuel poverty than those in urban areas.

Meanwhile, rural households with the poorest insulation rating (energy efficiency rating of F or G) are expected to see a shocking average fuel poverty gap of £3,350.

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30 November 2021 – today’s press releases

  • Storm Arwen: Govt “abandoning” rural communities hit by power cuts
  • Zahawi breaks yet another promise as school absences soar by 80,000
  • Bring back work from home to help save Christmas

Storm Arwen: Govt “abandoning” rural communities hit by power cuts

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Government provide emergency support to rural communities who have been left without power for days after Storm Arwen.

In a letter to ministers from Liberal Democrat Communities Spokesperson Tim Farron MP, Welsh Party Leader Jane Dodds MS and local North Shropshire candidate Helen Morgan, the party warns that rural communities in areas like North Shropshire are being taken for granted and “abandoned by the Government in their time of need.”

Tim Farron also raised the issue in Parliament yesterday and criticised the Government for failing to make an official ministerial statement on the issue.

The letter calls for ministers to step in and provide food, emergency accommodation and other essential supplies to vulnerable people on the ground impacted by the storm. It also urges the armed forces to be brought in to provide emergency electricity generators to communities until power is restored, and for the Government to provide additional support to engineers working hard to bring back power as soon as possible.

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World Suicide Prevention Day: A councillor view from the hill farm

It is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Tracey and Richard Huffer farm high on a hill in south west Shropshire. Tracey is also a health professional. Along with myself and four others, we are Lib Dem councillors in a very rural area. Sometimes it feels we can’t sit down for a chat without mentioning the “s” word. Someone else has taken their life. And it is mostly younger people, mostly men. This article reflects how on the growing problem of suicide in rural areas and the struggles councillors have to get help in tackling the problem.

Richard was at the livestock market selling sheep recently.

I was leaning against the railings at the sheep pens. An elderly farmer, a stranger, joined me and started pouring out about his son who had shot himself at the age of 30. I was probably one of the few people he had seen for a while, perhaps the only one for days.

I wish I could say this was a one off. Sadly not.

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22 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds is the first candidate in Wales to sign the Rural Powerhouse Pledge
  • Lib Dems condemn Farage refugee comment
  • Jo Swinson stands out as strongest voice of Remain

Jane Dodds is the first candidate in Wales to sign the Rural Powerhouse Pledge

Jane Dodds has become the first Parliamentary candidate in Wales to sign the Country Land and Business Association’s new Rural Powerhouse Pledge.

The CLA’s new campaign will see it write to every Parliamentary candidate in every constituency in England and Wales asking them to pledge support for the Rural Powerhouse.

The Rural Powerhouse pledge consists of five key themes: a fully connected countryside, …

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16 October 2019 – today’s press release

MP launches “Save Our Rural Banks” Campaign

Jane Dodds MP has launched a new campaign aimed at protecting existing rural banking services and restoring banking services to communities across Brecon & Radnorshire.

Over the past few years, many communities across Brecon and Radnorshire have seen bank branches in their towns close. Recent announcements by Barclays also reveal plans to reduce banking services available through the Post Office.

At present towns like Knighton, Crickhowell and Hay-on-Wye both do not have any bank branches in the towns, while towns like Ystradgynlais are reliant upon a single branch.

Jane Dodds, Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, …

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30 July 2019 – today’s press releases

Boris’ no-deal spells disaster for farmers

Commenting on Boris Johnson’s visit to Wales today, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

It would appear that Conservative aides have finally dusted off a map, given Boris Johnson the nametag for their candidate and pointed him to Brecon and Radnorshire.

This last minute quickdash visit is symbolic of just how much the Conservatives have taken local people for granted.

People deserve better than the Tories’ half baked plan to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal and thereby lumping farmers with an eye watering 40% tariff on Welsh lamb.

By voting Liberal Democrat on

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The rest of us can learn from what the Welsh are doing with education….

Two recent press releases have caught my eye. As PPC for North Devon, a rural economy where, on average, schools get £300 less per pupil than in the rest of England, I am keen on education reform. Key to that is ensuring good teaching and supporting our teachers.

So I was pleased to see that Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced the single biggest investment in Wales’ teachers since devolution. This is through a groundbreaking £24m package to help teachers deliver Wales’ new curriculum. Kirsty says,

This major investment shows how highly we value teachers’ professional learning. It is an investment in excellence and we are aiming for nothing less than a wholesale reform of how teachers learn; a process that starts from the moment they begin initial teacher education and goes right the way through their career.

The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL) will focus on flexible ways of learning that don’t disrupt the school day. A much more accessible blend of learning will be available through Wales’ regions and universities. This will encompass learning outside the classroom, online learning, classroom learning and coaching.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented,

This announcement is yet another example of the transformational reforms the Welsh Lib Dems are implementing in our national mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are committed to creating a Wales where every child has the opportunity to achieve their potential and determine their own destiny. This funding will help us realise this vision.

Not only are the Welsh investing in teachers, but they are also protecting rural schools.  Kirsty Williams introduced a new, stronger code last week which includes a presumption against the closure of rural schools. This is part of a wider Rural Education Plan which also includes a Small and Rural Schools Grant.

Posted in Op-eds and Wales | Also tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

North Devon Council passes motion calling for Brexit symposium

There is increasing worry about the impact of Brexit on our local economies and the recognition that it is important to make plans for all eventualities.

Last night, the Lib Dems in Opposition on North Devon (District) Council put forward a motion to examine exactly that:

The impact of Brexit (hard or soft) will affect all North Devon residents. This Council believes that with Brexit fast approaching, it is both sensible and realistic that the potential risks and impact of Brexit on North Devon – good and bad, short term and long term – are fully understood as far as is possible and aired in public together with detailed discussion on how these impacts can be mitigated. To achieve this, this Council undertakes to organize and co-ordinate a public conference/symposium before Christmas in which North Devon’s experts and leaders in business, farming, tourism, education, health and social services and other areas are invited to participate, together with elected representatives at all levels. This council is uniquely placed to lead this initiative by immediately setting up a Cross Party Working Group. The findings and conclusions of the symposium would be presented as a report to full Council and other authorities. Furthermore we request that consideration be given to how this Council can assist businesses etc. before and during the transition period.

I am pleased to say that the motion passed, with support from some Conservatives and Independents who recognised the need for such a symposium.

Cllr David Worden, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on North Devon Council, spoke passionately for the motion:

Whenever we turn on the news or read the newspapers it appears that the headlines are all about Brexit. I don’t want to go into the pros and cons of whether we should or should not leave the EU but I am extremely concerned about the impact of Brexit on the economy of North Devon. We live in one of the most deprived areas of the South West. There are hardly any services which have not been hit by austerity cuts. We simply cannot sit back and let the disastrous No Deal scenario, which seems ever likely, to be upon us, unprepared.

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A Minister for Youth Affairs is needed to stop young people being driven out of rural life

Jane Dodds BridgeIn our part of the world, rural Powys, driving is often the only practical way to get around, especially for young people. The proposals this week to improve young driver safety could have a severe impact on the job prospects and lifestyles of young people in rural areas like ours.

Montgomeryshire in mid-Wales is the least densely populated county in England and Wales; 59.3% of us live in isolated, rural hamlets and isolated dwellings. Getting access to health, education, housing and jobs is a challenge for anyone living in a rural community like this. Add on to that the challenge of being a young person and the barriers mount up.

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Opinion: the importance of the rural bus

I recently visited Ivy in Ashmore Green. A woman in her eighties, Ivy is still bright and lively. When I met her, she had recently given up driving and was still reeling from discovering that her local bus service, the 76, that connects Ashmore Green to the rest of the world, runs once a week.

Now, all credit to Jacs Minicoaches for running this service, but a bus that runs just once a week is not something around which you can build a life. A thriving community depends on more than just driving-age adults.

  • How are youngsters supposed to get to school

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LibLink…Tavish Scott: Community councils empower the people

One of the big themes in Scottish politics in recent years has been the Labour and SNP impulse to centralise anything that stands still for long enough. The SNP Government, against all good advice and much opinion, recently merged Scotland’s 8 police forces into one.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats under Willie Rennie’s leadership have been emphasising giving power to local communities. Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland writes in the Scotsman about how giving more power to community councils could help deliver the sorts of services communities need, including schools.He cites the example of a plan to close a secondary school …

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