From Liberal Democrat Lord Roger Roberts' recent speech on protecting children seeking asylum in this country:
"I want a world fit for children to live in, a world where the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is respected in all parts. We talk of so many people who, because of various circumstances, do not receive this care. This could be because of famine, disease, conflict, poverty and so much else. I think the UN’s latest figure was that about 66 million people are in some sort of statelessness. There are nearly 100,000 unaccompanied children in Europe alone. I would love to say that we can resolve all these problems and help every child, but we do not have a magic wand. However, we do have the ability to remove many obstacles and transform the world of thousands of children.
"On a worldwide scale, in the last two months, the conflict in Syria has led to 544 deaths, 100 of which were children. In the same area, unregistered migrants in Turkey have been rounded up and many have been returned to areas where death is a great possibility. On the other side of the Atlantic, on the Mexico-United States border, we have pictures of a little girl drowning in her father’s arms and we read of the President’s intention to round up unregistered immigrants.
"But would the UK treat its asylum seekers any better? If we distance ourselves from Europe and co-operation with European countries, will things be better? If we give up our co-operation with countries such as Italy, Greece and France, will conditions improve? Will the kids have a better life? How will Brexit improve the condition of unaccompanied children in Europe? How will Brexit affect the work of the churches, especially the Catholic Church, and their pan-European activity to help refugees? There are many other organisations which deserve the most wonderful praise for all the work they are doing. They know no borders, but the UK is now guilty, with the whole attitude of the hostile environment, of digging ditches instead of building bridges. We are doing something that in itself will cause children to suffer.
"We must look at the Home Office, and the decisions that create heartache when families are threatened with deportation. Even though I have been promised changes, the latest figure is that over 50% of Home Office decisions are overturned on appeal.
"Somehow, we must restore people’s dignity. We can, and it will not cost us a penny. We would benefit, because they would pay taxes and national insurance contributions. Will the Government now please change their attitude? We need a change in immigration regulations, a change that would transform lives. There is so much that we could do. We could remove the threat of deportation on reaching 18 years of age. We could restore legal advice to those who have nowhere else to turn, and at the Home Office, we could avoid these wrong and heart-breaking decisions. A positive outlook and a generosity of spirit could help."
Responding to the resignation of UK ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Jo Swinson said:
“Sir Kim Darroch should never have been put in this position. His resignation is a true loss to our diplomatic service, and we must have a full and urgent investigation into where these leaks came from.
“It is regrettable that President Trump has such sway over our foreign policy. Boris Johnson’s failure to stand up for one of our most senior civil servants has once again proved that he will always put his own interests ahead of the country’s.
“The UK deserves a Prime Minister who is willing to stand up to bullies and fight for what is best for our country.”
Responding to the Climate Change Committee’s 2019 Progress Report to Parliament (link to download) – detailing how the UK Government is “lagging far behind, what is needed” to meet the old climate change targets, let alone the new net-zero emissions target for 2050 – Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:
"This report shows that this Conservative Government is all talk and no action when it comes to climate change. They’re off-track, but instead of reversing their most damaging decisions such as effectively banning on-shore wind, slashing subsidies to solar power and scrapping the zero-carbon homes standard they instead continue to do more damage by permitting new fossil fuels like fracking. Meanwhile, the two Conservative leadership contenders are taking money from climate change deniers.
"Liberal Democrats demand better. The UK should be leading the world on climate change, instead this Government is squandering the progress we’ve already made. Liberal Democrats would place climate change at the heart of Government, instead of paying it lip service as the Conservatives do."
Liberal Democrat Councillors on the County Council are appalled by the way in which the Conservative Cabinet has failed to get a grip on the County Council’s finances.
Cllr Philip Daniel explains:
"In 2018/19, the Conservative administration made half the savings they said they needed to make. We said all along that the amount of savings needed was not achievable. All the Cabinet are doing now is kicking the can down the road by trying to plug the gap with "temporary variations" – meaning one-off money from reserves. On spending, the County Council can do it, but won’t plan to do it. The detailed amendments the Liberal Democrats put forward for the 2019/19 budget would have restored about £6 million to services to some of our most vulnerable residents, but yet again, Conservative councillors, supported by Independent councillors, voted this down and Labour councillors simply abstained, missing an opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable people in our county.
"The situation will be even worse next year. We simply cannot continue to limp along from year to year with last minute handouts from a national Conservative government that thinks handing out some one-off moneys will somehow plaster over the cracks in service which have now become a gaping chasm".
Responding to research by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which shows that some children’s homes call the police 200 times a year, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“The Conservative Government is underfunding Children’s Services, and that’s a false economy. When they don’t have the staff to deal with these issues, it falls to the police at much greater cost.
“We also need different services to work together to address the factors that cause children to run away or engage in criminal behaviour in the first place.
“That way, the police will be free to focus on tackling the rise in violent crime, solving more burglaries and robberies to bring closure to victims, and making our communities safe.”
Today, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has led the Estimates Day debate for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's spending on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee.
In the debate Layla Moran said:
"Local government spending is a story of unsustainability and inequality. According to the Local Government Association, funding to local government and business rates has fallen by £4.1 billion since 2015.
"We need to end false economies in local government spending, focusing on the long term.
"Local government is vital – it’s the coalface – where real policy meets real people. I hope today’s debate will be a clarion call to central government; local government may not always be sexy, but it is significant."
Following the debate Layla Moran commented:
"As knife crime continues to rise, our elderly fail to get the care they need and our children struggle to get a proper education, it is clear that the Tories are ignoring the biggest issues this country is facing.
"Local government is crucial for our communities, it’s the glue that keeps them together. Rather than funding vital services properly, the Conservative Government is cutting them to the bone.
"Whether it is children’s services, adult social care, special educational needs provision or our youth clubs, the Tories are under-funding them to critical levels and passing the burden on to local government to fund through council tax.
"It is time the Conservatives stopped ignoring the crises they’ve caused, and woke up to the realities of government. The Liberal Democrats would not only majorly re-invest in our communities, but also focus much more on prevention when it comes to local government spending. This cost shunting by central government to local authorities must come to an end."
The petition on the swimming pool launched by Ringmer Liberal Democrats will be considered by the County Council's Lead Member for Resources on Tuesday 25 June.
Ringmer and Lewes Bridge County Councillor, Philip Daniel, says,
“I taught some of my children to swim at Ringmer Pool. Its future matters to residents in Ringmer and beyond, and to me personally.”
The petition started by Lib Dems and supported by some 140 residents simply says,
"We call on East Sussex County Council to guarantee that the Ringmer Swimming Pool will remain open, and that, before any decision is taken that would result in a significant reduction in community availability, it will discuss all options with Ringmer residents, the school and other authorities."
Councillor Daniel added: “In responding to this petition it’s not enough for ESCC simply to roll the response up into the annual budget process. In view of the pressure on County finances that response isn’t reassuring. Consultation on budget cuts tends to come only AFTER the budget has been set. The Ringmer Swimming Pool is a vital part of the Community and, if it’s under threat, consultation needs to start now.”
More on this story is available at the Sussex Express.
A new cross-party Alliance has announced they are set to take the leadership of Lewes District Council.
The move follows a month of discussion and negotiation since local elections. A small number of Cooperative Councils exist elsewhere in the UK, however the move is unprecedented in Lewes District.
The Alliance has a majority of councillors on the council and the new administration will come into effect at the next meeting of the council on 15th July. The Alliance will be led in the first year by Councillor Zoe Nicholson who leads the Green Party group. Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor James MacCleary, will be Deputy Leader. The new Cabinet will also include Labour and Independent councillors.
The Alliance is underpinned by detailed agreements on how the Alliance will work in practice. This includes a rotating leadership where the Liberal Democrats will lead the council in the second year of the administration.
Green Party Leader, Councillor Zoe Nicholson, who has been nominated as Leader of the council, said:
“British politics is changing. We are seeing a realignment beyond the traditional two-party system. I hope that this sort of co-operative arrangement will become more typical as it represents a true diversity of viewpoints and opinions. It also represents the will of voters in Lewes District as the participating councillors represent a majority on the council.
“I am excited about what we can achieve on behalf of local residents and can’t wait to get started.”
Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor James MacCleary, said:
“We have been determined not to rush into this. It needs to be an enduring partnership that can achieve real change for local people and that means getting proper agreements in place. I am confident that we have got an agreement that will last and gives us a stable basis to work from.
“We put forward a forward-thinking manifesto for the District in the local elections and are looking forward to working with our partners to deliver that agenda.”
Labour Leader, Councillor Chris Collier, said:
“I’m delighted that we’ve got an agreement. This is an exciting change for Lewes District that we know will better serve all our communities. As well as securing a strong agreement, we’ve agreed a shared policy platform that all partners are signed up to. We are convinced this is the best way to achieve positive change for everyone.”
Independent Co-Leader, Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe, said:
“I have always felt that Councillors’ first priority should be working together for the people who elected them, and I am very hopeful that this Alliance will do a lot of good for the residents of Lewes District. There are many areas where we could do better as a Council and this is a chance to achieve this.”
Independent Co-Leader, Councillor Steve Saunders, said:
“I am looking forward to being part of this new group of like-minded Councillors, that represent the vast majority of Lewes District residents and giving them a real voice in the running of our Council”.
From the mayor of Seaford, Pinky Adil.
On this auspicious Eid day which is one of the grandest celebrations we the Muslims have after Ramadan, I would like to spread the message of peace and harmony to the whole Ummah (Muslim brothers and sisters), my community and the towners on the whole to honour, meet, greet and treat everyone with love, respect, equality. And to be more accepting, forgiving and helpful to one another.
I would like to say the town has always been welcoming and has warmly embraced the minorities with great regard and open mindedness which is the wonderful character of our kind and generous inhabitants.
A very happy and prosperous Eid to everyone celebrating and fortunate returns with positive spirits of the same to all my family, friends and locals. Here’s to the integrity and Unity of the community of my Dear Old Seaford Town.
Wishing everybody a sweet and blessed Eid.
On the night of 29th May, political violence flared up again in Lewes, when 2 residences on Priory Street near the railway station displaying political posters with the message ‘Stop Brexit’ and a Lib Dem logo had their windows smashed with bricks.
Oli Henman, leader of the Lib Dem group on Lewes Town Council, stated: “We are appalled at the recent incident on Priory Street. This is yet another example of the damage that is being done to the fabric of our society by the Far-Right rhetoric of Nigel Farage and the aggression unleashed by Brexit. This follows earlier damage to several properties in two previous incidents around the time of the local and European elections in both the Priory Street and Wallands areas of Lewes.
“We are actively campaigning for a more tolerant vision for the future of our country, which is built on mutual respect and shared fundamental rights for people of all backgrounds and we will not be intimidated by this kind of politically motivated violence. We have written to Sussex Police and the Police & Crime Commissioner and expect them to take this matter very seriously.
“We were overwhelmed by the level of support shown in our recent local and EU election results, where we took control of various Town Councils and won 3 MEPs across the South East region, and it is clear from the doorstep that people in Lewes reject the politics of exclusion.”