Local Liberal Democrats have held a day of campaigning in Lewes urging Maria Caulfield to oppose the Government’s hard Brexit plans and to vote to give EU nationals living in the UK the right to stay, enshrining it in legislation.
Forty local campaigners spoke to dozens of local residents about the importance of remaining in the Single Market for the local economy, running a street stall in Lewes town centre and collecting more than 700 signatures for the rights of EU Nationals to be protected.Read more
Liberal Democrats in East Sussex overwhelmingly reject Grammar Schools, after East Sussex County Council moved to introduce the practice into the county and Theresa May, Prime Minister, announced cash for Grammar Schools in tomorrow's budget.
The Liberal Democrats, who are the official opposition to the Conservatives on East Sussex County Council, put forward an amendment to Conservative proposals to embrace selective education to declare it a damaging move that would hit educational attainment.Read more
Maria Caulfield MP, who represents Lewes Constituency, has turned her back on unaccompanied child refugees again, voting against a parliamentary motion to ensure the Government accepts 3,000 children seeking refuge instead of just 350.
The motion went to Parliament on Tuesday 7th March 2017, following outcry when Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, announced two weeks ago the scheme would only admit 350, not 3000 that had been campaigned for at the end of 2016.Read more
The Liberal Democrats have called on Maria Caulfield to ensure thousands EU nationals living in Lewes are guaranteed the right to remain in Britain, as figures have revealed the extent to which local NHS services rely on EU nationals.
The news comes after the government was defeated in a historic vote in the House of Lords this week, after peers voted for an amendment to guarantee the right of EU citizens to remain in the UK. The issue will now be voted on by MPs, as pressure mounts on the government to change position.Read more
Cllr Sarah Osborne, Leader of the Lib Dem group at Lewes District Council has secured cross party support at a recent Lewes District Council budget meeting to set up a local lottery to raise much needed funds for the voluntary sector and community groups in the area. Lewes District Council has agreed to fund the start-up costs and act as the custodian of a local lottery to provide funds that support local projects.
Cllr Sarah Osborne, (who is also prospective County Council Candidate for Ouse Valley West) said: "The voluntary and community sector plays a vital role in our district in these challenging times. The support given to individuals and groups is more important than ever yet funding for many local good causes has been drastically reduced by a combination of Government public sector cuts and a drop in donations over the last few years. I am so glad that councillors from all parties support me in my plans to give local projects the means to raise funds directly helping them to become more resilient."
It is anticipated that the local lottery will be online, with at least 60% of the proceeds going to good causes. Groups will be able to ‘sign-up’ to take part in the lottery and will be able to direct their share of the proceeds to their preferred good cause.
The loss of life among pensioners is being linked directly to government cuts to social care by the National Pensioners Convention, as East Sussex County Council announce stinging cuts to Adult Social Care locally.
The National Pensioners Convention refers to the study undertaken by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which claimed the only explanation for a huge rise in deaths, a 30,000 jump in 2015, was down to swingeing cuts to social care and the NHS.
At the same time as raising Council tax by 1.99% to apparently cover social care costs, East Sussex County Council are making $3.8 million pounds worth of cuts to Adult Social Care over 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor Carolyn Lambert condemned the cuts, saying;
“There are genuine concerns being raised by residents as well as by associations that the cuts to Adult Social Care in East Sussex are unsustainable.
“With an aging population in East Sussex, we must make sure we have the finances to supply the care that is needed.
“Short cuts in social care result in harm, suffering and even death, as indicated by the National Pensioners Convention.”
“The proposed cuts hit the most vulnerable in our community, those who cannot fight for themselves, these are the people who the Liberal Democrats are standing up for”.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes, condemned the cuts, saying;
“The Conservative government is starving our councils of the money desperately needed to support older people across East Sussex.
“We need investment in to our social care systems as a matter of urgency. Demand is already outstretching supply, and it will be the people who suffer.”
The Liberal Democrat Group, who are the official opposition to the Conservatives on East Sussex County Council, did submit an amendment to the budget which aimed to reduce the most damaging cuts in service to Adult Social Care and Children’s Services.
The amendment was defeated 25 votes to 16, due to UKIP Councillors backing the Conservatives in making the cuts.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, who used to be a trustee for Sheltered Housing UK supporting pensioners across the country, added;
“These cuts are going to hit the most vulnerable in our community, those who cannot fight for themselves.
“The Government is complicit in forcing these cuts on to our councils. We must stand up for the most vulnerable and see investment in social care, before lives are lost as a result.”
The National Health service is in crisis, with mounting debts and failing targets on waiting times. The Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust which both serve the district of Lewes are in special measures largely due to funding shortfalls that mean they cannot meet care needs across their areas.
The Public Accounts Committee echoed Liberal Democrat calls for cross-party working on preserving the future of the NHS to examine growing financial pressures on the NHS and ensure long term planning for the health service.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes is backing the call for cross party working, saying;
“Our health service is too important to be dragged through ideological changes with each new government.
“As well as the Victoria in Lewes, we have to rely on Eastbourne and Brighton for health needs and it is clear both hospitals and trusts are struggling.
“Without long term cross party working, we not only have meager services in Lewes, but could lose the services that are in our neighbouring towns and cities as well.”
Norman Lamb, MP for Norfolk who will be visiting Seaford in March with Kelly-Marie Blundell, commented;
“It is vital we have a cross party agreement to guarantee the NHS and social care the long-term funding it desperately needs.
“As many of us warned, the NHS is experiencing a really terrible winter crisis and the government must act.”
Liberal Democrats in Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford will be holding surgeries with local councillors and parliamentary candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell starting on Saturday 14th January 2016.
The move comes after incumbent Conservative MP Maria Caulfield was rated 421st by Parliamentary contact service 'Write to Them'.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, Liberal Democrat contender for the parliamentary seat to replace Ms Caulfield, commented;
“Many residents have been in touch to say they cannot get responses from our member of parliament, that surgeries are infrequent and unlike previous Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, they have little support from our MP.
“While I am already responding to residents' queries, I want to be accessible to all residents in the constituency and will be holding surgeries with local councillors in Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford on a monthly basis.
“We need a member of parliament who lives in the constituency and can respond to her constituents' concerns where possible. What is clear is that Ms Caulfield is not up to the job. The Liberal Democrats are.”
The first surgery will be held in Lewes at St Michael's Church hall from 10am – 12 noon on Saturday 14th January 2017. Appointments can be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, but drop in appointments will be available on the day.
Surgeries will be held in Lewes on the second Saturday of the month going forward.
Leader of Lib Dem District Council Group Sarah Osborne welcomed the proposal, commenting;
“Lewes deserves full representation from their elected representatives and candidates. While many of us serve a smaller area such as my own ward of Plumpton Green, access to councillors and parliamentarians should be readily available.”
Lib Dems say Southern Full Timetable Restored is a Farce
Much has been said about the ending of the strikes by rail union ASLEF which has led to Southern Rail declaring a full time table restored. However, local Liberal Democrats have denounced this claim, calling it a farce in light of more delays, cancellations and problems on the rail network.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes and resident in Seaford, has been without trains since 3rd December 2016. While trains to the coastal town have been reintroduced today, the UK Trains Performance Measure shows Govia Thameslink, who run Southern Rail as having the highest number of delays and cancellations out of all the train services.
The live reporting feature, which looks at rolling stock and trains for all networks across the UK, shows at 11:30am on Tuesday 24th January 2016 that Govia has had 83 cancellations and 339 delayed trains so far.
“This goes to highlight that the problems created by Unions striking was simply the tip of the iceberg for a service that is being poorly run, and it is passengers suffering as a result.”
says Kelly-Marie Blundell, who commutes into London.
“Over 30% of trains in the Govia network have been delayed today, when there is meant to be a full service. When will the Government stand up and recognise that this rail service is not being delivered?”
“The Government hold the contract with Govia, they should strip them of that contract and put the network into special measures, so we can have the trains running on time.”
Maria Caulfield has been accused of a "clear betrayal" of her constituents after voting in favour of triggering Article 50 this week without giving the public the final say on the Brexit deal.
Lewes constituency voted by a clear majority to remain in the EU referendum, and the Liberal Democrats have said it should be represented by someone who also opposes a damaging hard Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats tabled an amendment in Parliament this week to give the public the final say on the Government's Brexit deal, with the option of accepting it or remaining in the EU. However this was defeated after MPs including Ms Caulfield against it.
The Liberal Democrats have seen a huge surge in membership in the South East since the EU referendum, with many new members joining the party due to its strong stance against an economically damaging exit from the Single Market. This week figures by the respected Institute for Fiscal studies predicted the UK economy will be 3% smaller by 2030 as a result of hard Brexit, with years more austerity and tax increases expected.
Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell commented:
"Maria Caulfield has betrayed her constituents this week by voting through a hard Brexit without giving the people the final say on the deal.
"Our area deserves an MP that will stand up against a reckless exit from the Single Market that would mean higher taxes, less funding for public services and huge damage to our local economy.
"The Liberal Democrats have seen a huge surge of new members who are worried about the direction our country is going in and want to do something about it.
"Both the Conservatives and Labour are now holding hands towards a hard Brexit.
"We will be the rallying point for all those in the Lewes constituency who want to hold this government to account and keep Britain open, tolerant and united."