Tag Archives: Wales

5 December 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems Slam Unacceptable Delay in Support for Off-Grid Homes
  • Gordon Brown Review Shows a Lack of Ambition for Wales
  • Michelle Mone: Lib Dems demand publication of PPE contract

Lib Dems Slam Unacceptable Delay in Support for Off-Grid Homes

Government delays support for off-grid homes until 2023

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have slammed delays by the UK Government in rolling out a scheme designed to support people living in off-grid homes.

The Conservative minister responsible for energy bill support has announced that off-grid households will not receive any help with their spiraling bills until at least 2023, despite MPs from all parties calling for urgent action throughout 2022.

The UK Government is also yet to establish the full details of how hard-hit residents will be able to access the help they need due to taking months to develop what has been described as an “over-complicated and under-generous” scheme.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a price cap on heating oil and LPG to ease the pressure on the many families in rural Wales living off the national gas grid.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS represents Mid & West Wales which contains areas such as Ceredigion where 74% of properties are estimated to not be connected to the gas grid. In Powys the figure is 55% while in Pembrokeshire it is 41%.

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Sewage dumped on Wales’ Blue Flag beaches 579 times, lasting 6,757 hours

A new analysis of Environment Agency data by the Welsh Liberal Democrats have revealed that Welsh Water has dumped sewage onto our Blue Flag beaches 579 times, lasting an astonishing 6,757 hours

The worst incident was on Poppit Sands Beach near Cardigan with sewage dumped 79 times lasting 1,518 hours. South Beach in Aberystwyth had the highest number of incidents at 142.

Preseli Pembrokeshire ranks as the constituency with the highest number of sewage dumps in the whole of England and Wales with 6754 dumps in 2021 (79,501 hours). Carmarthen East and Dinefwr and Dwyfor Meirionnydd come a close second and third.

The …

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23 November 2022 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line
  • Raab bullying inquiry: Sunak must sack him if allegations upheld
  • Debate on Nurses Pay – Liberal Democrats Back Calls for Higher Nurses Pay Offer
  • Conservative MPs break manifesto pledge by voting against business rates review

Senedd Member Calls for Action on the Cambrian Line

Concerns have been raised today in the Senedd over the rail service on the Cambrian Line which runs through Mid Wales.

Speaking in the Senedd, Welsh Liberal Democrat Member for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds raised delays in the much anticipated hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, stating that the delays were just another sign of Mid Wales being forgotten about by the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay.

An hourly service between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury was announced in 2014, but has faced repeated delays since, with the latest delaying the introduction from 2022 to 2024.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that an hourly service stopping at all stations along the Cambrian Line is essential to encourage more passengers to use the railway instead of cars and for businesses given it will also play an important role in making connections from Shrewsbury easier.

The Party has called on the Welsh Government to prioritise the introduction of the service and tackle delays head-on.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

We really need the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay to prioritise this route, it is essential for businesses and the public in Mid Wales.

The fact it has been continuously delayed for almost a decade shows that once again Mid Wales is being forgotten about by Labour.

With Transport for Wales now fully nationalized and owned by the Welsh Government, there is no excuse.

If Labour wants to put a ban on all new roadbuilding the least they can do is ensure we have well-functioning public transport networks.

I am calling for the Welsh Government to prioritise the rollout of this service and put an end to repeated delays once and for all.

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23 November 2022 – today’s press releases (part 1)

  • Full Inquiry Needed into Gwent Police
  • Supreme Court decision: First year law student could have predicted this
  • Gambling: Conservative Inaction Leaving More People Vulnerable
  • Braverman is out of her depth

Full Inquiry Needed into Gwent Police

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for a full inquiry into misconduct in Gwent Police stating that the evidence that has come to light warrants a full independent investigation if trust in the Force is to be restored.

The Party has also questioned whether Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert, should still be in place.

Calls for a full inquiry come following an investigation by the Times that revealed a culture of misogyny, corruption, abuse and racism in the force.

Wiltshire Police Force is currently set to investigate the claims.

The latest scandal comes after three officers were dismissed from the Force over summer due to inappropriate behaviour. The Welsh Liberal Democrats had previously criticised how long this process took.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and the only female party leader in Wales, Jane Dodds MS said:

Trust in the Force has clearly been undermined to a point where a full independent inquiry is required.

The failure to tackle this appalling behaviour on the part of some officers is failing the public and the majority of brave police who put their lives at risk to keep us all safe.

What has been revealed over the course of the last few weeks is deeply disturbing.

It has also not yet been made clear whether Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert was aware of any of these allegations before the story broke in the Times. If not, how was he able to oversee a Force with such serious problems without being aware?

It is difficult to see how he should remain in post.

With allegations of serious misconduct in a multitude of police forces, including the Met, I do not believe an investigation by another police force is sufficient.

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21 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Mortgage ticking time bomb: Homeowners facing biggest interest payment hike on record
  • Jane Dodds Responds to FIFA’s Decision to Force Team Wales not to wear LGBT+ One Love armbands

Mortgage ticking time bomb: Homeowners facing biggest interest payment hike on record

  • True cost of the mortgage ticking time bomb revealed by Liberal Democrat analysis of OBR figures
  • Homeowners are paying the price for the Conservative Government crashing the economy

British mortgage owners will face the biggest hike in interest payments on record, the Liberal Democrats can reveal.

Buried in the OBR Budget documents is the stark forecast detailing that mortgage interest payments will double over …

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17 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour
  • Budget: Everyone being forced to pay the price for Conservative chaos
  • Cancer Treatment Waiting Times Intolerable
  • Conservative giveaway to big banks set to cost taxpayers £18 billion
  • 5 Hidden Horrors in the Autumn Statement

Wales Ambulance Waiting Times – Emergency Lights Should be Flashing for Labour

Responding to the news that Welsh ambulance response times have hit their slowest on record ever for red calls Jane Dodds MS said:

When someone is in a moment of crisis and chooses to call 999, they want to know that there will be someone at the other

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15 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • ONS earnings figures: Economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever
  • Vaughan Gething Qatar Press Briefing – More Soundbites Rather than Real Solidarity
  • Liberal Democrats Raise Concerns Over the Impact of Australian and New Zealand Trade Deals on Wales
  • Conservatives failing to count cost of windfall tax loophole

ONS earnings figures: Economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever

Responding to the latest ONS labour market and earnings figures which show pay falling in real terms, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This Government’s economic mismanagement is leaving pay packets stretched further than ever before just as bills spiral out of control.

This is the worst cost of living crisis in a generation and Thursday is judgement day for the latest Conservative Chancellor in post. He cannot make the same mistakes as his predecessors who crashed the economy and left families to pick up the bill.

Thanks to the Conservative party’s botched budget and reckless mismanagement of the economy, homeowners are being forced to pay hundreds of pounds more a month on their mortgage whilst their take home pay is eaten away by inflation. The public will never forgive Conservative MPs for this.

Vaughan Gething Qatar Press Briefing – More Soundbites Rather than Real Solidarity

Responding to Vaughan Gething’s press conference where he continued to defend the Welsh Labour Government sending a delegation to Qatar during the World Cup, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

I am not convinced by the arguments set out today by Vaughan Gething nor previous arguments from the Welsh Labour Government seeking to justify this morally unjustifiable trip.

The Welsh Government should be upfront about its intentions going to Qatar, it is not to ‘support Team Wales’ but is to seek investment.

These tainted investment opportunities are going to come at the cost of providing diplomatic legitimacy to Qatar’s hosting of this tournament despite the country’s atrocious human rights record that has left over 6,500 migrant workers dead, punishes being gay with execution or imprisonment and treats women as lesser human beings.

Vaughan Gething has stated that the Welsh Government will “proactively use Wales’ place in the World Cup in Qatar to promote our strong Welsh values”, yet today has again not provided any evidence on how the Government will do this.

The last time I checked, unless the three ministers have been promote to Team Cymru itself and are going to be on that pitch, their presence isn’t going to affect how our national team performs and our national team are already upholding our values.

If Labour actually wanted to show solidarity with those living under Qatar‘s poor human rights record, or the families of the victims that have died during the construction of World Cup stadiums, they would cancel their unjustifiable trip immediately and instead join the vast majority of fans who will be watching the games from home, and to show some consistency on “saving them air miles” that was used to justify the Welsh Government not attending COP27 last week.

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4-6 November 2022 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Philp’s refusal to apologise shows contempt for the public
  • Lib Dems call for legal right to see a GP within 7 days as millions of patients face delays
  • Philp’s Manston comments show “shocking and callous complacency”
  • Liberal Democrats to Back Bill to Protect Powers of the Senedd
  • PM must sack Williamson

Philp’s refusal to apologise shows contempt for the public

Responding to Chris Philp’s refusal to apologise for his role in the mini-budget this morning, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

Chris Philp has shown huge arrogance by refusing to recognise his role in crashing the economy while second in command at the treasury. His legacy will be higher taxes and cuts to public services for years to come.

The British public deserve an apology for the pain he and his colleagues put them through. That he refuses to give one shows the contempt with which he holds us all.

Lib Dems call for legal right to see a GP within 7 days as millions of patients face delays

  • Ed Davey announces plans to give patients a legal right to see their GP within a week, or within 24 hours if in urgent need.
  • New figures reveal a stark postcode lottery with one in four people in some areas waiting over two weeks for a GP appointment
  • Lib Dem Leader says the Govt must increase recruitment and retention of GPs, introduce a 24/7 booking line and cut bureaucracy to free up appointments

The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to give patients a legal right to see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if in urgent need.

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3 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country
  • Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary
  • Elin Jones Wrong to Defend Mark Drakeford’s Qatar Trip Say Lib Dems
  • Number of GPs and GP Practices in Wales Fall
  • Interest rates: Chancellor must address the country with a plan to save homeowners
  • Davey: Recession warning a “badge of shame” for Rishi Sunak and Conservative government

Bank of England rate rise: Chancellor must address the country

Commenting ahead of today’s interest rate decision from the Bank of England, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

The Chancellor must address the country immediately after the rate rise decision to spell out a plan to save homeowners on the brink. He should either come to Parliament or hold a press conference to announce support for families facing mortgage bill rises worth hundreds of pounds a month.

Hardworking families are being left to pay the price for weeks of Conservative chaos. People are desperately worried about how they are going to pay these frightening mortgage payments after tomorrow.

The Government cannot hide away, especially after their long list of economic failures.

Asylum seekers abandoned – Braverman failing in her duty as Home Secretary

The Liberal Democrats have warned that Home Secretary Suella Braverman is “failing in her duty” as Home Secretary, after reports asylum seekers have been left stranded in central London by the Home Office.

It comes after Robert Jenrick emphasised last night on ITV’s Peston that the Home Secretary has a duty not to release asylum seekers into destitution.

Suella Braverman also assured Parliament on Monday that she had refused to release people into local communities “without having anywhere for them to stay”.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

Asylum seekers being abandoned with no place to stay in central London is the most blatant sign that the system is completely broken.

Suella Braverman is failing in her basic duty as Home Secretary. She needs to urgently explain how this has been allowed to happen, despite the assurances given to Parliament earlier this week.

It’s intolerable that vulnerable people are being left without help because of the endless chaos and incompetence of this government.

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2 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak at COP27: PM embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance
  • Welsh Government Must Do More to Combat Fuel Poverty
  • Matt Hancock should resign and trigger by-election
  • Welsh Conservatives Dysfunctional, Divided and Ineffective
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats – Welsh Government Must Change Their Mind on COVID Inquiry

Sunak at COP27: PM embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance

Responding to the news that Rishi Sunak will now be attending COP, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

This whole debacle has shown the environment is simply not a priority for Rishi Sunak. He’s only going after being embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance.

We need action rather than just attendance from the Prime Minister. Building more renewables, the cheapest and most popular form of energy, and insulating our cold and draughty homes will accelerate progress towards net-zero, cut energy bills and increase the UK’s energy security.

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26 October 2022 – today’s press releases

Apologies for the lateness of the hour – I was trawling through my ballot paper for the Party’s internal elections…

  • Braverman appointment: Lib Dems call for Cabinet Office inquiry
  • Cancer diagnosis postcode lottery revealed as over 60,000 wait more than two weeks in August alone
  • Fiscal plan delay leaves families in a cloud of uncertainty
  • Concerns Over Welsh Government Housing Targets
  • PMQs: PM refuses to commit to 40 new hospitals
  • Scrapping triple lock would be a betrayal of pensioners

Braverman appointment: Lib Dems call for Cabinet Office inquiry

The Liberal Democrats have called for a Cabinet Office inquiry into the appointment of Suella Braverman to Home Secretary after she was sacked for breaching the ministerial code.

Liberal Democrats Home Affairs Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael MP said:

Suella Braverman’s appointment makes a mockery of Rishi Sunak’s claims to be bringing integrity to Number 10.

There must be a full independent inquiry by the Cabinet Office into her appointment, including any promises Sunak made to her behind closed doors.

If it is confirmed that Suella Braverman repeatedly broke the ministerial code and threatened national security, she must be sacked.

A Home Secretary who broke the rules is not fit for a Home Office which keeps the rules.

Cancer diagnosis postcode lottery revealed as over 60,000 wait more than two weeks in August alone

  • 108 NHS trusts miss the two week cancer referral target (72% of all trusts).
  • Top 10 worst places for cancer referrals revealed.
  • Lib Dems call on the Government to bring forward an urgent plan to improve cancer care after NHS targets missed.

New analysis of the latest NHS data by the Liberal Democrats has revealed the worst places in the country to see a cancer specialist within two weeks after being referred by a GP.

A staggering 62,360 people had to wait more than two weeks to see a cancer specialist after a GP referral in August alone.

Despite the Government setting a target of 93% of patients seeing a cancer specialist after a referral, just 30 NHS trusts met the target. Some trusts only managed to see one third of people in time, as a post-code lottery is revealed.

The Liberal Democrats have revealed the top 10 worst places for cancer referrals in the country. Norfolk and Norwich NHS Trust is the worst, where only 34% of people were seen within two weeks of a referral.

Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

This grim postcode lottery is a national scandal. The evidence tells us how critical a speedy cancer diagnosis is yet thousands of people are left waiting far too long. The sheer number of people anxiously waiting is completely unacceptable.

Our health services cannot be ignored any longer. The Government must prioritise resources to clear record backlogs, slash dangerously long ambulance waiting times, and solve the healthcare postcode lottery.

All we’ve had from this Government is broken promise after broken promise. It is time for real action.

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20 October 2022 – today’s press releases

You don’t expect press releases to become obsolete quite so quickly but the past forty-eight hours have been historic (or hysterical, depending upon your perspective), so these, published in chronological order, perhaps sum up the events of the day…

  • Trevelyan refuses to back Truss: Conservatives way past their sell by date
  • NHS waiting list in Wales hits three-quarters of a million as health service “brought to its knees”
  • Truss resigns: Conservatives must do patriotic duty and back election
  • Welsh Lib Dems – Conservatives must do patriotic duty and back election
  • Conservative MPs must block Boris Johnson’s return
  • Deny Truss the £115k a year taxpayer dividend offered to ex-PMs, say Lib Dems

Trevelyan refuses to back Truss: Conservatives way past their sell by date

Responding to the latest Conservative chaos, with Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan failing to to answer whether Liz Truss will lead the Conservatives into the next election, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain said:

Liz Truss and the Conservatives are way past their sell by date. This is a government that can’t govern, led by a prime minister whose authority has been totally shredded.

People worried sick about how to pay the bills are looking on aghast at this never ending chaos and incompetence. The Conservatives must stop clinging to power and give the country the general election it needs.

NHS waiting list in Wales hits three-quarters of a million as health service “brought to its knees”

Responding to the news that the NHS Wales backlog has now hit 750,000 Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:

Behind these figures are countless human tragedies. In every corner of the country people are frightened, suffering and waiting in pain because our NHS can no longer cope.

Labour is letting the NHS fall to its knees and patients are paying the price. Wales routinely has the worse health figures in Britain despite all nations facing similar challenges. This cannot go on.

The Government must come forward with a proper plan to bring down waiting times and recruit and retain more NHS staff. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to call for greater investment in primary healthcare facilities, GPs and social care.

We must prevent people from getting so ill they require either treatment in A&E or complex treatment paths if we are to reduce pressures on the system, this starts at ensuring people can access their GP easily. We also need to ensure patients can be discharged safely once their treatment is finished.

Truss resigns: Conservatives must do patriotic duty and back election

Responding to Liz Truss resigning as Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

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19 October 2022 – today’s press releases (part 2)

And here are the rest (at the time of writing)…

  • Liberal Democrats Press Conservatives on HS2 Funding for Wales
  • Braverman departure: a “carousel of Conservative chaos”
  • Fracking vote: The Conservatives will not be forgiven
  • This Conservative soap opera needs to end now
  • Conservatives Cannot be Trusted to Maintain Fracking Ban if they Came to Power in Wales

Liberal Democrats Press Conservatives on HS2 Funding for Wales

During today’s Wales Office questions in Westminster, the Liberal Democrats continued to press the UK Conservative Government to release the £5 billion of consequential funding owed to Wales from HS2.

The HS2 rail line is currently classed by the UK Government as an “England and Wales project” despite not a single metre of the track being located in Wales and economic impact assessments showing that the rail line will result in a slight net loss to the Welsh economy. As a result, the UK Government is avoiding paying out over £5 billion in consequential funding to the Welsh Government, which could be spent on rail transport in Wales itself.

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19 October 2022 – today’s press releases (part 1)

It’s been an “interesting” day, to say the least, and there have been so many press releases coming out of HQ that, rather than try to get them into one post, it’s probably easier to do it in two. Think of it as a display of governance and organisation…

  • Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes
  • PMQs: Truss refuses to increase support for carers
  • Fracking vote: Conservative MPs must “show some backbone”
  • Triple lock: Truss dragged kicking and screaming into protecting pensioners

Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today

In response to the announcement of an inflation rise of 10.1%, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

In the midst of this cost of living catastrophe, pensioners and those relying on benefits cannot be undercut and left to struggle further.

Liz Truss must act today to reassure the public and confirm in Parliament that pensions and benefits will rise to match inflation.

Not one penny can be lost, to do so would be gross negligence and failure of our most vulnerable members of society.

Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes

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18 October 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Triple lock: Truss looks set to betray struggling pensioners in the middle of a cost of living crisis
  • Lib Dem Amendment Put to Vote to End Sleaze in Parliament
  • Anti-sleaze amendment passed to stop MPs “marking their own homework”
  • Calls for Action as Drug-Related Deaths in Wales Rise to Highest Level Ever
  • Welsh Government Must Act to Stop the Brain Drain of Doctors in Wales

Triple lock: Truss looks set to betray struggling pensioners in the middle of a cost of living crisis

Responding to the Prime Minister’s spokesperson refusing to say the Government is committed to the triple lock pension, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Work and Pensions Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

Liz Truss has trashed the economy and now looks set to betray struggling pensioners in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

This Conservative Government’s botched budget has already sent mortgage bills spiralling. It would be a kick in the teeth for millions of people if Truss now backtracks on her triple lock promise. The British public will never forgive the Conservative party if they break this promise.

This chaotic Government has to go. Britain needs a general election before Liz Truss and her Conservative Ministers do anymore damage.

Lib Dem Amendment Put to Vote to End Sleaze in Parliament

The Liberal Democrats have today led a cross-party Parliamentary effort to finally end the practice by which MPs are allowed to vote on motions regarding their own misconduct.

The Lib Dem Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain is today putting an amendment to a vote on the Government’s motion on standards, which the Government has tabled to implement recommendations from the Standards Committee, later this afternoon.

This practice was notoriously brought to attention by the Owen Paterson scandal, when he voted against his own suspension from the House of Commons in 2021 – a saga which ultimately resulted in a Liberal Democrat victory in the North Shropshire by-election.

The amendments, which have support from Conservatives (David Mundell, Alicia Kearns), Labour (Kim Leadbeater, Cat Smith) and the Green Party (Caroline Lucas), would prohibit members from voting on anything concerning their own conduct.

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Jane Dodds: Cost-Of-Living, the NHS and Housing Should Be This Senedd’s Priorities

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS has today outlined her key priorities for the Senedd to address during its new term. These priorities are:

  • Addressing the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Tackling backlogs in the NHS and NHS dentistry.
  • Fixing problems in the Welsh housing sector.

Jane Dodds warned that the Welsh Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay was failing to tackle these key issues and emphasised that strong action needed to be taken immediately.

Despite an announcement of an energy price freeze by UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, energy bills are still expected to be double that of last winter for most families and businesses in …

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5 September 2022 – today’s other press releases

  • Truss must block Chris Chope from joining partygate inquiry
  • Action needed now to address cladding concerns

Truss must block Chris Chope from joining Partygate inquiry

The Liberal Democrats have called on Liz Truss to block Conservative MP Christopher Chope from being appointed to the privileges committee leading the Partygate inquiry, after reports he is being nominated by Boris Johnson’s government.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who brought in the Private Members’ Bill to ban upskirting which Chris Chope initially blocked, said:

Chris Chope’s lack of respect for MPs trying to protect women from upskirting shows the contempt he has for Parliament. There is

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Welsh Lib Dems call for free train travel as cost of living crisis bites

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh government to take a leaf out of Spain’s book on public transport. The party is calling for the Welsh Labour government to consider introducing a scheme similar to the one introduced this month in Spain which will see free train journeys for commuter and medium-distance trains between 1 September and 31 December.

The Spanish policy aims to cushion the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on citizens, particularly those who rely on using public transport to get to work. The policy will also see a 30% discount on all other forms of public transport, including metros, buses and trams.

With inflation set to hit as high as 12% in the UK, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are asking the Welsh Government to consider implementing free rail tickets on Transport for Wales services for a limited period.

Besides helping working families cope with the cost-of-living crisis, the Welsh Lib Dems argue it could help reduce pollution and congestion and encourage some people to make the longer-term switch to public transport, especially given high fuel prices

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Scots and Welsh Lib Dems call for action after drug deaths rise

Figures from the Office for National Statistics released this week revealed that the number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales rose for a ninth successive year in 2021, by 6.2% to a record 4,859. The highest rate of deaths was seen in those aged 45-49. While more than 45% of drug deaths involved opiates, the biggest increase over the last decade has been in cocaine-related deaths, up from 112 in 2011 to 840 in 2021.

Jane Dodds in Wales called for a much more holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, treating offenses as a public health issue rather than a criminal one, learning from best international practice. Earlier, Scottish Lib Dems called for radical action to help those most at risk, including ending the destructive use of imprisonment for people misusing drugs and instead diverting them to treatment.

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Welsh Lib Dems launch Regeneration Plan for Mid Wales at Royal Welsh Show

The Welsh Liberal Democrats today used the first day of the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, Powys to outline their proposals for a Regeneration Plan for Mid Wales. The party argues that Mid Wales is all too often the forgotten region of Wales, and neglect by both the Conservatives in Westminster and Labour in the Senedd has contributed to a cycle of decline over the last few decades.

The proposals by the party focus on transforming the economy of the region to take advantage of the changing patterns of employment and economic models following COVID-19.

The plan has six main points:

  • Drastically improving connectivity, in both digital and physical infrastructure.
  • Expanding the Rural Fuel Duty cut to Mid Wales and doubling the discount.
  • Protecting access to physical banking, applying pressure on large banks to invest in bank hubs for rural communities.
  • Improving healthcare access in Mid Wales, advocating for more health services to be returned to local communities.
  • Introducing measures to help businesses in the region grow, including a town rejuvenation fund.
  • Tackling the housing crisis in Mid Wales.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Senedd Member for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds said:

Mid Wales deserves to be an economic force in its own right, connecting North and South Wales, as well as Wales to the Midland, rather than the forgotten territory it has been allowed to have become by the Tories and Labour.

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Senedd backs Lib Dem call to extend basic income pilot to heavy industry

The Senedd yesterday voted to back calls for the Welsh Government’s Basic Income (BI) pilot to be extended to workers employed in heavy industries who will be impacted by the transition of Wales to a net zero carbon economy.

The vote on the debate, which was introduced by Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds, was not binding but means the Welsh Government should now look at the feasibility of extending the pilot.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats argued that in extending the basic income scheme to communities dependent on jobs in heavy industry the sector could avoid seeing the destruction inflicted by Thatcher repeated as industry and the economy changes to meet net-zero commitments.

The leader of the Lib Dems in the Senedd, Jane Dodds said:

It is fantastic to see the Senedd support this idea. I would like to thank the cross-party support we have received and UBI Lab Wales for their support also.

The global economy is undergoing the most significant transformation seen in decades. As we confront the threat of climate breakdown, industry is having to change faster than before in order to meet our climate goals.

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Jane Dodds: Conservatives betray Welsh farmers in Australia/New Zealand trade deal

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of allowing themselves to be “trampled over” during trade negotiations with New Zealand and Australia when it comes to agricultural interests.

The Welsh Lib Dems have argued that despite Australia having an economy less than 40 per cent the size of the UK’s and New Zealand’s economy being 30 times smaller than the UK, the Conservatives have capitulated to their demands for agricultural access to the UK market, placing Welsh farmers at significant risk.

The Farmer’s Union for Wales (FUW) reported that the increase in New Zealand’s import quota for sheep meat in year one of new trade agreements signed by the UK and EU is more than 40 times higher per head of population in the UK compared with the European Union. The Union has stated this “demonstrates a failure of the UK Government to protect UK agriculture in trade negotiations.”

The warning comes after it has been reported that Australian food imports to the UK will not be required to meet UK food production standards as part of the trade deal. The move has caused some to accuse the Conservatives of merely offshoring pesticide use that UK farmers are prevented from using.

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds said:

The more we hear about these trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, the more evident it becomes that the UK Conservative Government has been walked over by both countries.

The Australian trade deal is set to provide only a 0.08% boost to our economy, yet due to incompetence by Conservative Ministers it could have a devastating effect on Welsh farming communities and in turn, the Welsh language.

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Welsh Government seriously out of step with the rest of the UK on building safety scandal

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Welsh Government of being “seriously out of step” with the rest of the UK when it comes to addressing the building safety scandal. The accusation comes after the Scottish Government announced that some of the country’s largest housing developers have agreed to work with the Scottish Government towards the remediation of buildings affected by cladding and fire safety issues.

The announcement follows one by the UK Government last month that major developers will contribute towards remediation costs in England. This leaves Wales as the only GB nation where major developers have not …

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Election results open thread – Lib Dems biggest winners in England

As Andy has already said, it’s been a good night for the Liberal Democrats so far, regaining control of Hull after 11 years and gaining from the Conservatives in places like Colchester and West Oxfordshire.

ALDC has done a great job in getting many of its staff members elected. Its Chief Exec Tim Pickstone has left Bury and won a seat on the new Cumberland Council. Frankie Singleton, Chris Twells, Alex Warren and Tim Verboven are among others who have won.

Today we wait for results from Scotland and Wales, English councils and the rest of London.  And we are off to a healthy start:

The Tories are expected to suffer substantial casualties in Scotland. They won many of their seats under STV on the first count last time. They might struggle to pick up a lot of transfers if their vote falls. If it falls by as much as it did in Tweeddale West in the Borders, 16%, they are in trouble.

Lib Dems held that seat with a new Councillor, Dr Drummond Begg.

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Dodds: St David’s Day Should Be a Public Holiday

This St David’s Day, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have reiterated their calls for the day to become a public holiday in Wales.

St David’s Day is currently only a patron saint day and does not have any legal standing. Meanwhile, in Scotland and Ireland St Andrew’s Day and St Patrick’s Day respectively are already public holidays.

Almost every country on earth has a national holiday, why not Wales? We already know the UK only has one of the lowest numbers of public holidays in the developed world at eight, compared to 13 in Germany and Spain, 15 in Sweden and 16 in Japan.

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Powys Lib Dems call for pause in school transformation process

The 21st Century Schools Programme in Powys is a £200 million project to transform schools across the county. Powys County Council’s cabinet considered a report by Estyn on progress which rated the programme amber/green.

The Lib Dem Group, currently the largest party group on the council, is concerned that the consultation process on the transformation strategy was undertaken prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and may be based on outdated assumptions about how closely individual schools are working together within a cluster.

The group is now calling for the transformation process to be reviewed.

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Jane Dodds: Welsh Government must act on cladding scandal

A protest was held this Saturday in front of the Senedd steps in Cardiff Bay to demand action by the Welsh Government on the cladding scandal. The meeting was organised by the Welsh Liberal Democrats and is the first hosted by a political party in Wales.

Groups attending included: the Welsh Cladiators, Ripped Off by Redrow and Cymru Cladding Crisis.

Victims of Cardiff’s cladding scandal, unveiled during the wake of the Grenfell disaster are facing bills up to £60,000 each for safety work to fix their unsellable, fire defective homes.

Although the Welsh Government have agreed to fund the recladding of social housing, many private leaseholders are still facing both the costs of recladding and interim safety costs themselves.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh Government to introduce a Welsh Building Safety Fund to deal with all fire safety defects as quickly as possible and ensure no tenant or leaseholder is left out of pocket.

Jane Dodds said:

“It is utterly appalling that over four years on from Grenfell we still have people being trapped in unsafe buildings and let down by those in power. People should absolutely not be forced to front the cost for the serious mistakes of property developers.

“The Welsh Government needs to urgently step in and provide funds to fix all fire safety defects as soon as possible. It should then be up to the Government to pursue property developers to claim the money back. We cannot have people living in limbo and unsafe buildings while they try and chase property developers for funds.

“The stories we have heard at this protest are really harrowing and the Government urgently needs to engage with those affected and step up to the situation.”

Lib Dem Councillor Rhys Taylor said:

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Welsh Lib Dems secure £20 million to support most vulnerable children

The mark of a civilised society is how it treats its most vulnerable people. Ours could do a lot better.

Jane Dodds, as leader of the Welsh LIb Dems and the party’s only Member of the Senedd, announced this week that she had secured an extra £20 million for care leavers, who are often just dropped and left to get on with it when they turn 16.

Jane outlined what this extra money would mean in practical terms:

The pandemic has been difficult for young people the length and breadth of Wales. That is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats used our influence in the Senedd to champion children and young people.

“As a result of Welsh Liberal Democrat influence in the Senedd, we will see the establishment of a £20 million fund to be used over the course of this Senedd term to reform services for looked after children and care leavers making sure that children and young people in care have the best start in life.

“We will also see an increase in funding for mental health services over the coming years, which was a key priority for my Party during the election.

“I am also glad to see £20 million extra will be put into the Pupil Development Grant, expanding the programme that was a key part of former Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Secretary Kirsty William’s previous agreement with Welsh Labour.”

“It can only be a good thing when politicians work together to find areas of common ground. That is when we can deliver tangible change to people’s lives.

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Jane Dodds: Welsh Farmers feel sold down the river by the Conservatives

Jane Dodds has said that the Welsh Council elections in May offer an opportunity for voters who feel let down by the Conservatives to send them a message by electing hard-working Liberal Democrats, just like they did in North Shropshire.

Writing in the County Times, she highlighted the failure of the Conservative Government to meet the needs of farmers and highlights growing support for the Liberal Democrats.

Time and time again on the doorstep we heard the sheer anger of voters, many of whom had voted Conservative for decades, that the Government simply doesn’t care about rural areas.

In contrast to the Government’s ‘levelling up’ mantra, many of these communities feel they are being levelled down.

This feeling was particularly strong among North Shropshire’s farming community and their concerns echo that I’ve heard across Powys.

Whether it’s on their failure to engage with the industry over concerns over the Australian and New Zealand trade deals, a failure to solve problems on the UK-EU veterinary agreement or a failure to help address labour shortages, the Conservatives are repeatedly failing to address the problems faced by our farmers.

Many feel as if they have been sold down the river for quick trade deals designed to benefit big bankers in the City with little regard for rural communities.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats have a lot to offer the rural communities they have always understood and served:

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Lib Dems overtake Conservatives in Powys as Tories descend into chaos

Powys Liberal Democrats have accused the Powys Conservative council group of descending into chaos over its school closure programme. The accusation comes after the Conservative group lost both cabinet member and councillor Iain McIntosh; and Cllr (also MS) James Evans in shock resignations over the Administration’s rural school closures. The events have left the Conservative group on 13 councillors, meaning the Welsh Liberal Democrats are now the largest political party in the council with 14 councillors.

The Powys Conservative Group has now lost four members in the last year, with Cllr Gwilym Williams and Cllr Les Skilton defecting over the council tax rise supported by the party earlier this year. The group also lost Cllr Claire Mills in May 2020 when she defected to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party and lost a by-election in Llandrindod North to the Liberal Democrats in 2019.

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    Fully support this article....
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    A few major issues here: Trying to elect such large numbers in the first election would be incredibly unwieldy under STV anyone who's attempted to vote in fe...