Govt must include all violence against women and girls in Domestic Abuse Bill

Responding to a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee into domestic abuse, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill is urgently needed, but the Liberal Democrats agree with the Committee that it should go beyond domestic abuse to cover all violence against women and girls. The Government must ensure that all victims are listened to and supported throughout the criminal justice system.
“But changing the law will make little difference without the resources to actually help victims of violence and abuse. We need more funding for refuges and rape crisis centres, as well as a new national rape crisis helpline. And we need to reverse Conservative cuts to the community policing that helps to keep us all safe.”

Layla Moran to move amendment to deliver votes at 16

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran will today move an amendment to the Overseas Electors Bill to lower the voting age to 16 for UK citizens living abroad.

The Overseas Electors Bill, which proposes extending the right of UK citizens living abroad to vote in UK elections, will be debated at the Public Bill Committee today [17/10/2018].

Ms Moran is moving her amendment in the wake of the Welsh Assembly supporting plans last week to introduce votes at 16.

Ms Moran said:

"If we are happy to allow a 16 year old to pay tax, be a parent or serve in the army then we should not deny them the right to vote. That is why Liberal Democrats have long supported votes for 16 and 17 year olds.

"With 16 and 17-year-olds playing an active role in elections in Scotland and now the Welsh Assembly backing plans too, the genie is out of the bottle.

"The Overseas Electors Bill gives us a chance to give 16 and 17 year olds living abroad the chance to vote in Parliamentary elections, and in the process urge the Government to do the right thing and extend votes at 16 for all elections in every part of the UK.

"Given Brexit poses so many threats to the lives of young people, they deserve their voice to be heard. It is time to demand better from the UK Government. It is time Ministers ensured every 16 and 17 year old across the UK, and those British citizens living overseas, have the same right to vote."

Tim Farron presents Bill to make it easier to sack failing rail companies

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron yesterday presented a Bill to the House of Commons which would make it significantly easier for the Government to strip failing rail companies of their franchises.
Mr Farron has repeatedly made the case for failing rail operators to be stripped of their franchise after a summer of chaos on the railways. In Mr Farron’s own constituency, every single train on the Lakes Line was cancelled during the month of June. 
The Bill comes less than a month after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) warned "no-one took charge" during the timetable chaos and blamed a lack of "responsibility and accountability".
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said: 
“The Office of Rail and Road’s recent report found the main reason behind the summer of chaos on our railways was a lack of accountability. Liberal Democrats demand better.
“This Bill would mean that the Transport Secretary would no longer be able to shy away from being ultimately responsible for making sure people have a decent train service.
“It would also mean that there will actually be consequences for those companies like Northern and Thameslink who continue to provide diabolical services and treat their customers as nothing more than cattle.”

Helping Newhaven regenerate

LibDem Newhaven town councillor Dave Twaits, has opened a new guitar shop in the town centre.




"Councillor Dave Twaits is determined to see Newhaven back on the up again.


"His new shop, Guitar Central, sells, buys and repairs guitars.


"Mr Twaits was previously a band member of the Reform Club, founded by former Lewes MP Norman Baker."


Dubs refugees case shows Home Office beyond repair

Responding to today’s Court of Appeal ruling against the Government, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has called for refugee policy to be moved out of the Home Office and into the Department for International Development.

The court ruled that child refugees refused entry to the UK had been given “patently inadequate” reasons for their refusals.

Ed Davey said:

“Are there no depths to which the Home Office will not stoop under this Conservative Government? Now we learn that they’ve been turning away vulnerable child refugees without giving them reasons, and preventing them from appealing.

“The Home Office’s rotten culture is clearly beyond repair. Wrong decisions and unlawful policies are ruinous for people’s lives and very costly for taxpayers.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we will take responsibility for refugee policy away from the Home Office and give it to the Department for International Development.

“And it’s why the Government must properly implement the Dubs Amendment, to honour our commitment to provide sanctuary to unaccompanied children who’ve been forced to flee their homes.”

Cable: PM dancing on the head of a pin


Image courtesy of paulbr75

Responding to Theresa May's address to Tory party conference, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

“As somebody who takes dancing seriously, I was delighted to see Theresa May show that she is developing her new hobby. But she was dancing on the head of a pin, confronted by an audience full of people plotting to oust her.

“She said the Conservatives must be a ‘party for the whole country’, yet she has overseen widening divisions in our society. Trapped by the rabid ideologues of the Conservative right-wing, Mrs May has been driven to illiberal extremes on Brexit, welfare and immigration, to name but three.

“We are pleased to see her finally lift the borrowing cap on councils so they can build houses, a policy I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues have pushed for in coalition. The Conservatives’ long-held resistance to this sensible, pragmatic policy has only deepened the housing crisis.”

Lib Dem proposal will release £8 million for County services over 5 years

East Sussex County Council’s Audit Committee on 20 September agreed a proposal first made in Lib Dem budget amendments in February 2018, but voted down at the time.
The Lib Dem proposal to use a technical accounting amendment* to save millions from the revenue budget was rejected by the Tory-controlled Council in February. But now the proposal has been taken up by the Audit Committee and endorsed. If adopted by Council, this proposal will free up about £8 million over the next 5 years. Not much compared with County needs and government cuts, but still a big sum.
Lib Dem Opposition Finance Lead, Cllr Philip Daniel (Ringmer and Lewes Bridge, pictured opposite) said: “This change is both principled and pragmatic. Services should not be sacrificed to out-dated accounting rules. I’m delighted that a cross-party Committee has taken this forward.
Lib Dem Opposition Leader, Cllr David Tutt (Eastbourne St Anthony’s) said: “When I proposed Lib Dem budget amendments in February we received no Conservative support. Lib Dem ideas, once again, have proved sensible and practical, commanding wide recognition.”
Each year, the Council agrees how much current revenue will be set aside to meet future payments of debt principal. This “set-aside” is called the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP), That money comes over and above any interest that the Council pays. How the council does this affects money available for services, and for reserves to protect against risks.
Up to now, the Council has not taken account of interest that might be earned on money set aside for debt principal. Thus residents now pay more than they need. Lib Dems proposed that only the necessary principal should be set aside. 

Lib Dems offer to work with Labour to secure final say, while WTO reveals true scale of no-deal crisis

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has written to Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer, offering to work with his party to secure a final say on Brexit.
The intervention comes as the Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary yesterday confirmed that Labour was keeping the option of a final say on Brexit “on the table.” John McDonnell, Labour Shadow Chancellor, has today backed Mr Starmer’s position.
Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:
“Just last week we had a Labour MP using the spectre of social unrest to dismiss the idea of granting the public a say on the deal, but now there appears to be a change of heart from some at Labour’s top table.
“If that is the case, the Labour party should come out and say it. They should be straight with the public and use their upcoming conference to back a final say on Brexit. But will Jeremy Corbyn allow it?  
“Brexit will be a disaster for jobs, the NHS and our environment. That is why Liberal Democrats across the country are fighting for an Exit from Brexit. That is why we are offering to work with Labour, and any other party, to secure a final say on the deal.”
WTO warning
Responding to warnings from the Director General of the World Trade Organisation that it is “not realistic” to believe the UK can start trading under WTO rules the day after Brexit in March, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:
“The damage for businesses and families unveiled in the Conservative Government’s no-deal Brexit papers are clear to see.
“But the Government’s assertions were based on falling back on WTO rules and now even the WTO have warned there is no certainty the UK can follow these immediately.
“Without WTO rules, just imagine the true scale of the crisis facing the country now because of Theresa May’s incompetent Government.
“No matter what the deal, Brexit will be a disaster. Now, more than ever, the people deserve a final say on the deal and an opportunity to remain in the EU.”

Places for refugee children in East Sussex

Lewes Liberal Democrats are lending their support to a petition designed to see unaccompanied child refugees settled in East Sussex.

2018 marks 80 years since British communities took in 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe. Today, a new group of refugee children in Europe and beyond are in desperate need of safe routes to protection. LOSRAS (Lewes Organisation in Support of Refugees and Asylum Seekers) argues that East Sussex County Council can and should play a part in helping to bring these children to safety. 

Read more

Lewes Lib Dems fight unprecedented cuts to East Sussex County Council budget

Following the recent announcement that the Conservative administration at East Sussex County Council plans to strip back services to "the core", Lewes Lib Dems pledge to fight back.

ESCC said it was looking at a worst-case scenario deficit budget position by 2021/22 of £46.4m. The Conservative County Council Cabinet members, who looked at the "core offer" in July, agreed the plan would be costed and developed over the summer, with more detailed proposals to be considered in the autumn ahead of budget meetings in February 2019.

Ouse Valley County Councillor Sarah Osborne said: “People in Lewes are rightly outraged by the Conservative mismanagement of East Sussex County Council’s budget. We have seen major cuts including the loss of two local schools over recent years and the latest news would lead to an unprecedented further reduction. I have opposed these cuts and am particularly disappointed that the Conservative Councillors voted to raise their own allowances while cutting essential services. I voted against this increase and am donating my share to charity.”

Opposition Leader on ESCC, Eastbourne Lib Dem Cllr David Tutt, said: “This utterly deplorable situation has also come about because the Conservative controlling group have failed to take any of the necessary preparatory steps to deal with this funding crisis. All local authorities have seen a sharp reduction in government grants over the last few years but unlike in Eastbourne where we’ve been facing the challenge head on for some time now and, as a consequence, built up income-generation programmes and significantly reduced costs with only minimal cuts; County Conservatives have just buried their heads in the sand until it’s too late. They have adopted a slash and burn approach to their finances and services. This has meant savage cuts to services such as cuts to our libraries, cuts to the voluntary sector, children’s and adult social services, Music Services and vital provision to vulnerable people as provided by excellent local organisations such as Home Works. The list of draconian service cuts goes on and on.”

Ringmer & Lewes Bridge County Councillor Philip Daniel said: “The Liberal Democrats recently presented an alternative budget, which would have reduced the need to cut by £7m and ensured many key services could be maintained, but the Tories rejected our proposals out of hand. I am fighting hard with Lib Dem colleagues to keep much-needed services going such as the Phoenix Centre and the Music Service to ensure that vulnerable people, young and old, in our community continue to benefit from vital provision.”

Seaford South County Councillor Carolyn Lambert said: "Central government policy is to withdraw government grant from local authorities by 2021 and to replace it with 100% retention of business rates, plus of course, Council tax. This is an unsustainable and highly fragile way to fund critical public services, including education, highways maintenance, adult social care and care for vulnerable children and other residents. We have made this point repeatedly as a group at County Council and have put forward alternative budgets that have sought to mitigate the most severe cuts to services, including, this year, a proposal to make savings through a corporate vacancy control procedure.

"We have repeatedly challenged the Conservatives to lobby their ministers and MPs to put the case for the funding that is needed, particularly for adult social care - day care services for those with dementia and other mental health issues have just been removed from Seaford. We will of course support the Council Leader in making the case to government but so far, as the Leader has admitted, government is simply not listening."

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