Swinson: Liberal Democrats will scrap business rates

Speaking to the CBI today, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson announced that the Liberal Democrats would scrap business rates entirely to breathe new life into our high streets.

Shops on a high streetThe Liberal Democrats would abolish business rates and replace them with a commercial landowner levy, based on the value of the land only. This would take the cost off businesses and help support our high streets.

The change would cut taxes in 92% of local authorities and help rebalance the UK economy.

The Commercial Landowner Levy would give a big boost to the manufacturing sector and make it cheaper for all businesses to invest in renewables or other new technology for their premises.

In her speech, she also set out plans to spend £130bn on infrastructure, including housebuilding, and £5bn for a new Green Investment Bank to invest in zero-carbon projects.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

“Liberal Democrats are committed to helping small businesses, who are the engine of our economy.

“That is why Liberal Democrats would scrap business rates and replace them with a Commercial Landowner Levy.

“It will shift the burden from the tenant to the landlord, so that we can breathe new life into our high streets.

"Frankly, we have seen enough promises of reviews of business rates from the Conservatives. It is time for clear action that will give proper help to our small businesses.”

“We’ll invest £130bn in infrastructure over five years. We’ll use that to improve our railways and open up new lines. To reduce how much energy our buildings use.

“And we’ll use it to leverage private investment in renewables, to help us meet our target of generating 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030.


"And as part of our radical and credible plan to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible, we will make the UK a global leader in green jobs and technology.

“A Liberal Democrat government will work with you to open up new opportunities for green growth and to save our planet. We will invest £5bn in zero-carbon projects through the Green Investment bank.

“We are the last generation that can stop irreversible climate change, and we are running out of time.

“And while there is much that government can do, I am clear that the business community is absolutely part of the solution.

“Not least because we need to channel your ingenuity and entrepreneurialism to take on this huge challenge, and others we face.

"And my vision is for a country where business joins forces with government, public services and civil society to create the kind of society we deserve.”

Lib Dems commit £6 billion per year to strengthen welfare system

Jo Swinson with baby speaking at a rallyThe Liberal Democrats will today (Sunday 17 November) announce bold proposals to invest £6 billion per year to strengthen the welfare system over the next Parliament. This forms part of the party's ambitious plans to build a brighter future.

Tory austerity has left a fifth of UK citizens in poverty, unable to afford even the most basic essentials. 

The Liberal Democrats will tackle this crisis by committing £6 billion per year to strengthen the welfare system over the next Parliament. Liberal Democrat proposals will prioritise tackling child poverty by abolishing the cruel two-child limit for Universal Credit and ending the unfair benefits cap. 

A Liberal Democrat government will make work pay and tackle in-work poverty, by using part of the Remain bonus - the £50 billion of extra funding that would be generated by stopping Brexit - to restore Work Allowances and introduce a second-earner Work Allowance. A Liberal Democrat government will also invest in boosting the Local Housing Allowance by linking it to average rents in each area.

Liberal Democrat plans to strengthen the UK's welfare system will protect the most vulnerable and help to build a brighter future. 

Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions Tim Farron said:

“For too many people in the UK today, working hard and playing by the rules is no longer enough to secure a decent life. Millions of people’s lives have worsened under the Conservatives. Since 2015 they have bungled the roll-out of Universal Credit, made brutal cuts to benefits and introduced their senseless two-child limit that is fuelling child poverty.

“The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit and invest billions of pounds from the Remain bonus in building a brighter future for those struggling in our society. We will fix our broken welfare system to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities regardless of where they come from.”

Brexit Party’s Adam Cleary standing down in Lewes shows Farage panicked about the Lib Dems stopping Brexit

Responding to the news that Nigel Farage's Brexit Party will not be standing a candidate in Lewes Constituency, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Oli Henman said:

Oli Henman, Lewes LibDem PPC"Nigel Farage's comments show he is running scared of the Liberal Democrats as the strongest Remain party in areas like Lewes constituency. He knows that we are the only party at this election that can take seats like Lewes from Maria Caulfield and the Conservatives and stop Brexit. Recent polling shows that the Remain majority of 2016 is increasing across the seat. Our community deserves to be protected from the Tories and what Brexit will do to our most vulnerable communities.

"Boris Johnson's Conservatives and the Brexit party are now one and the same. Both want to see an extreme Brexit that will damage our local economy, public services and limit opportunities for our children and grandchildren.”

Former MP Norman Baker said, “Given that the Leave alliance has cemented in Tory seats, we can see the true face of Leave as a hard-right project. A win for the Conservatives is a win for Donald Trump, the privatisation of the NHS and a Brexit that will have huge negative impacts for Newhaven and the port, our farmers and the poorest in our community.

Voters in Lewes have a historic opportunity at this election to elect a Liberal Democrat MP, stop Brexit and build a brighter future for our country."

Unite to Remain agreement aims to deliver at least 60 Remain MPs across England and Wales

Oli_003_Lewes_Castle.jpgLewes Liberal Democrats are very glad to see a strong push for a united approach to tackling the biggest and most urgent issue of our political lives - the future relationship of the UK with the European Union.

By making this arrangement with other pro-European parties, the Liberal Democrats are showing that we will put the national interest above party politics, to deliver Remain.

The Liberal Democrats will stand aside, so that there is a clear pro-Remain candidate, in 13 constituencies. In turn, other parties will stand aside in 43 constituencies for a Liberal Democrat candidate.

Speaking on 7th November in the Lewes Constituency, Oli Henman, Lewes Lib Dems Parliamentary candidate, said:

“All the polling and evidence clearly shows that the election in the Lewes constituency will be a close race between myself and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats overwhelmingly beat the Conservatives, Labour and Green Party in the recent European elections here. When it comes to a General Election, this constituency has been a Lib Dem/Conservative marginal since 1992."

"We are therefore very disappointed that the Green Party have decided to split the Remain vote here, especially as they stood aside at the last election here in 2017."

“We are committed to a grown-up collaborative approach to politics and we have shown good faith as a party in the Sussex area as we will be standing down in favour of Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion and we have a strong Cooperative Alliance on Lewes District Council. I would urge the Green Party to think again here."

“We are already working hard across the constituency, talking to voters about our priorities. We are committed to fighting against the chaos of Brexit and the uncaring approach of the Conservative Party and instead offering a brighter future for all local residents.”

Maria Caulfield must come clean on A27 plans, says Lib Dem Oli Henman

In undercover plans being developed by the government, protected areas of the South Downs from Lewes to Eastbourne are facing a major threat to their environment and communities.

After years of ongoing consultations on the future of the Lewes to Eastbourne section of the A27, Conservative MP Maria Caulfield, had reassured residents that there would be no new ‘motorway style’ road across the South Downs landscape.

However, in a recent letter from Ms Caulfield, local residents have been told that a business case for £450 million has been submitted to the government and is currently being considered.

Oli_Cuckmere_Valley_cropped.jpgOli Henman, Lib Dem Parliamentary campaigner said, “We do not need new road-building at a time when government at all levels is declaring a climate emergency. We should be moving to a more flexible and environmentally sustainable approach to transport and identifying creative ways to encourage people to limit their carbon footprint while travelling.

“Previous plans agreed with Norman Baker, former MP for Lewes, have already secured ‘in-line’ improvements of approximately £70m and include specific initiatives around road safety and traffic flow such as roundabouts, crossings and cycle paths.

“The £450m now proposed is not needed for the existing road. Even dualling the current route would have a major impact on surrounding villages, and the fact that there are plans for consultation on possible routes makes it clear that this would indeed be a new road.

“This funding could be spent in many better ways, such as delivering more frequent and longer train services and electric buses; as well as faster broadband for our rural areas to support a growing number of people to work remotely.

“It is particularly worrying that our current MP, Maria Caulfield, is telling some residents in affected villages that she opposes any new road, while the Reference Group she chairs put forward the case for this development. Why so much secrecy around the plans? How badly are our villages going to be affected? It’s time that the Conservatives came clean on what is going on with the A27!”

Vic Ient, South Downs Society Policy Officer, said, ‘‘The route of this new road has not yet been approved but it is clear that any major new road would carve a scar across our beautiful ancient landscape and blight many villages, local communities and rural businesses. We understand that there are several options being considered by Highways England for a new road, all to the north of the A27, the building of which would substantially impact the view from the Downs. The unconfirmed new plans would see an enormous and damaging new road-building programme across an area of natural beauty, rare ecosystems and high biodiversity.”

Local resident Yvonne Fuller said “This news is very worrying to anyone who enjoys the beautiful and peaceful landscape of the South Downs. We welcome the fact that there is new investment for cycle routes and improved safety but we are deeply worried by reports of a new ‘motorway style’ road across our unique landscape.”

Tory cuts leave children in Seaford, Newhaven and rural villages stranded

Local Liberal Democrats have condemned cuts to Children’s Centres in Lewes District that will leave only one Children’s Centre in the whole of the constituency of Lewes. Under plans to be carried out by April 2020, local Tories are targeting cuts at coastal towns and rural villages. Children’s Centres have been earmarked for closure in Seaford, Newhaven, Ringmer and Chailey.

"These cuts will leave coastal and rural families struggling when their local Children’s Centre closes. There’s no guarantee that “partners” will take the centres over and provide the services, nor is it obvious how families will continue 'to receive keywork services at home from nearby keywork hubs’ as ESCC claims,” said Cllr Philip Daniel, Lib Dem County Councillor for Ringmer and Lewes Bridge.

“Many families will now have no choice but to pay the high costs of travel to Lewes in order to access children’s services at all," said Lib Dem County Councillor for Ouse Valley West and Downs, Cllr Sarah Osborne, "We know how much pressure families are under in our communities and the additional time and high transport costs are yet another thing for them to cope with if these cuts go through”.

“The situation in Newhaven is particularly worrying”, commented Cllr James MacCleary, Lib Dem District Councillor for Newhaven South and deputy leader of Lewes District Council, “The Newhaven Children’s Centre at Denton Island is being ‘de-designated’ from a dedicated Children’s Centre to be rented out instead to interested parties. This is a cut in any other terms and the Tories should come clean about it and the fact that yet again they are targeting our coastal towns and villages.”

Lib Dem County Councillor for Seaford South, Carolyn Lambert, highlighted the impact of the cuts, “We’ve seen this over the years in Lewes. East Sussex County Council use Lewes District as a target for some of their most draconian cuts. With 4 out 14 Children’s Centres affected in Lewes District, Lewes will suffer 30% of the ESCC cuts. Following closures of day centres in Seaford and Ringmer and the threats to Ringmer swimming pool, Lewes District is yet again singled out by the Tories”.

Oli Henman with Cllr Christoph Kurthy at Newhaven Children's Centre

“Lewes needs a stronger voice at a national level to bring pressure to stop Lewes Constituency taking the brunt of unfair and divisive cuts” said Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, Oli Henman, “Although the Tories are promising more money for public services, the real picture is Tory cuts across the board, targeting our most vulnerable communities.”

The latest Conservative plans for cuts in Children’s Centres across East Sussex were presented by children’s services lead, Cllr Sylvia Tidy, on Monday 7th October. It is proposed that 14 Children’s Centres will be de-designated across East Sussex with 4 in Lewes District. 14 centres were listed in the original consultation document in May 2019.

Lib Dems take action on attacks on anti-Brexit campaigners and growing far right activity in Lewes

190927window.jpgThree attacks with far-right overtones occurred overnight in Castle Banks, the Wallands and Priory. A brick with the word ‘traitor’ was thrown through the window of a private house displaying a Lib Dem ‘Stop Brexit’ Poster and anti-Semitic and threatening graffiti were daubed on fences and walls in the Wallands area.

As town councillors for the Castle Ward, Kate Wood and recently selected Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Oli Henman, are addressing what is an escalating situation. The local Lib Dem party has been active in working with Lewes police since incidents of politically motivated vandalism and criminal damage at the recent local and European elections targeted local parties opposed to Brexit. Local Lib Dem councillors are continuing to act to protect local residents and campaigners.

Oli_Henman_Speaks_Hustings.jpeg‘Lewes is known for its open-minded, liberal and creative atmosphere but these attacks are indicative of the rise of insidious far-right activity in the town,’ said Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate, Oli Henman. ‘Words such as ‘traitor’, now combined with death threats and anti-Semitic abuse, show a serious escalation of behaviour. We are deeply concerned at the criminal attacks to a number of properties over recent months and the impact this will have on local residents. We cannot ignore the fact that this follows the recent increase in the use of charged and inflammatory language by the Prime Minister and the Tory government. Will Maria Caulfield join me in condemning this recent vandalism and in calling on the government to adopt more conciliating language?

Lewes Lib Dems have been working with the police to take action on this activity for several months: ‘We are in regular contact with the local police and are asking for action at all levels from the local commander to the Police and Crime Commissioner’, commented ward councillor, Kate Wood. ‘Councillors and the local party have been dealing with several cases not just of Brexit related but also far-right vandalism and threats to individuals recently. We know the police have escalated these cases to intelligence-led policing and we look forward to some progress in these cases. The traditional values of British society – free speech, open and fair debate, respect for the individual and difference of opinion that have always been a strength of our nation are brought under threat by such actions.’

The Liberal Democrats will be organising a public meeting to which all residents will be invited to discuss responses and actions to the growth of extremism in Lewes. Further details will be circulated in the coming days.

Swinson: Parliament should be sitting so we can question PM

JoSwinsonFINAL-20190115033527423.jpgResponding to the Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson said:

“The court have found what we all knew all along, Boris Johnson has again proven he is not fit to be Prime Minister.

"This shutdown was an unlawful act designed to stop Parliament doing its job and holding the Government to account. Given this verdict, Parliament should be sitting so that we can continue to question the Conservative Government on their disastrous Brexit plans.

“This verdict has been unanimously agreed by experienced judges who have considered the case on its merits, acting as impartial guardians of our democratic system. The rule of law is an important pillar of our democracy, and those looking to use this opportunity as an excuse to attack these judges would be not only attacking them, but also the entire principle of our legal system.

“It remains the Liberal Democrats' priority to stop no-deal Brexit and to stop Brexit altogether.”

Oli Henman selected as LibDem PPC for Lewes

Lewes Liberal Democrats have selected Oli Henman Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes Constituency

Oli_Henman2017cropped.jpgOn Friday 20th September 2019, at a packed meeting Lewes Liberal Democrats selected Oli Henman as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC). With the chance of a General Election mounting and intense speculation that the Liberal Democrats could win back the Lewes constituency from the Conservatives, local members had their opportunity to select the candidate at the hustings which took place in Lewes tonight. In a highly competitive contest with applications from nearly twenty applicants, three candidates were shortlisted and spoke at the hustings.

“We were delighted with the three strong candidates that had been shortlisted and I would like to thank them for making it difficult for our members to choose between them. I look forward to working with Oli and helping him campaign across the constituency. Our membership locally and nationally is at record levels and we know that Oli will work hard for the people of Lewes,” said Simon Burall, Lewes Liberal Democrat convenor. “Lewes is a constituency that the Liberal Democrats have held before and can and will win again. The whole party will be behind Oli.”

Oli Henman said, “Tonight I am excited to be selected to stand for the Lewes constituency - this is a beautiful part of the country, which I am delighted to call home. The warm welcome at the meeting from so many friends from across the constituency has been incredible, and I am determined to repay their confidence in me.

"However, our area is facing major challenges, the devastating Tory cuts of recent years have undermined our local services and the threat of a damaging No-Deal Brexit is critically endangering our local economy.

"The next election, when it finally comes, will mark a crucial moment for the future of our country. People will face a stark choice between the continued chaos brought about by the Tories or a chance to elect a strong local Liberal Democrat candidate.”

Rail fare rise an insult to passengers

Responding to the reports that rail fares are set to rise by 2.8% in January, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

"It is an insult to passengers to see yet another rail fare rise. People right across the UK are paying for hugely expensive tickets whilst their services remain regularly delayed, over-crowded and often cancelled.
“The Conservatives have continually let down passengers. The Liberal Democrats have been long calling for an immediate fare freeze funded by the Government who must take responsibility for our failing railways – but to no avail.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. In government, the Liberal Democrats would not only freeze rail fares, but transform our railways by overhauling our ticket system as well as investing in our railways to make them more efficient and sustainable.”

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