Image courtesy of paulbr75 https://pixabay.com/en/new-home-construction-build-1664302/
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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."
Support the LibDem campaign against the ESCC cuts:
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Commenting on the Government's plan to prevent youth crime, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“Efforts to prevent young people turning to crime are welcome, but today’s £11 million pales in comparison to the £200 million that Conservatives have taken away from youth services since 2015 and the £700 million they are cutting from police forces across the country.
“There are now 4,800 fewer police officers than there were in 2015, and the Home Office’s own analysis shows that this has contributed to the rise in violent crime.
“If the Home Secretary is serious about tackling that trend, he must urgently reverse those cuts and put more officers on the beat.”
A message from Paula Woolven, our LibDem candidate for Peacehaven Town Council, August 2nd.
To any friends who live in PEACEHAVEN EAST ward, or have friends who do. As you can see, I have stepped forward and put my name down for the by-election scheduled for August 2nd (next Thursday). As independent candidates are rarely successful, I chose to represent a political party that I feel has less extremes than the others - I believe those fanatically opposed to listening to any view other than their own (and these are the extremes) block cross-party working for the benefit of the people you are supposed to represent. At Town Council level of local authority, politics shouldn't even come into it. But it does. And that's what we have to work within.
I have achieved community success working with people of all political persuasions and I think communication is key.
None of the candidates can promise enormous strides forward for the time that is left in the four year representation period - we would only be Councillors until May 2019 - but I could promise to put forward the questions I, and others, have - and those questions, or actions, have to carry on into the next administration (whether I would be on it or not) until they reach the conclusion.
Why stand for Peacehaven East? As a child I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in Arundel Road. I would climb their back fence and play in the farmer's fields where a housing estate now lies. My parents-in-law live on the west side of the ward, and have for over thirty years. I have supported a friend who was subject to a terrible arson attack there last year. I am concerned - as is EVERYONE in the Havens - about the inevitable gridlock that is going to happen along the A259 and the lack of public services, ever decreasing, to meet an increasing population. I know the area very well and Town Councillors are elected to represent the whole town, with special interest in one area. I have that interest, those memories and even a bit of hope remaining for the future.
The indefatigable Vic Ient, LibDem District Councillor for Kingston, has won a moton at the Council which will encourge much greater uptake of renewable energy in the future.
From 1st Sept 2019 planning applicants for housing and commercial development will have to work with the officers of the council to include a renewable energy scheme. Also the South Downs National Park are being encouraged to do the same.
This year the Liberal Democrats at Lewes District Council are having another go at getting renewable energy higher up the planning agenda when it comes to building new homes.
Last October Lib Dem councillor Vic Ient proposed that all new housing and commercial developments incorporated renewable energy in them. The proposal was lost by 1 vote so he has had to wait 6 months in accordance with the rules of the council to put the motion again.
On Monday the 16th at the Full Council meeting the matter will be considered again. Cllr Vic Ient said "I hope the controlling Conservatives will now back this proposal. Since last October we have had the Prime Minister Theresa May's "cleaner greener" planet declaration promising a 25 year plan by the government to improve the environment. My motion gives the opportunity for the Conservatives here in Sussex do their bit to meet these objectives."
Cllr Vic Ient's motion is based on government policy set down during the Lib Dem/ Conservative Coalition and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) issued in 2012 which says:
“Support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate……” and later continues: “and encourage the use of renewable resources (for example, by the development of renewable energy);”
Sarah Osborne, the leader of the Liberal Democrats at Lewes District Council said, "It's a fraction of the cost to build in renewable energy systems into a new house, and there will be a real bonus for the new residents as it will mean their fuel prices will be lower and at the same time they will be helping reduce the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere."
NB: Prime Minister Theresa May's "cleaner greener" planet declaration is based on a wider plan, produced by Michael Gove’s environment department, covering areas including land use, tackling climate change and poor air quality. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/governments-vision-for-a-greener-future-launched
The Liberal Democrats have today claimed victory as the Conservative government bowed to pressure to take decisive action on empty houses, by giving new tax powers for councils.
The government has accepted the principle of an amendment from Lib Dem Peers (Baroness Pinnock and Lord Shipley) to set in place an escalator of council tax charges. This would mean that the longer a property was left empty, the more council tax would have to be paid.
Last week Lib Dem leader, Vince Cable called for an increase in council tax for properties that have deliberately been left empty as part of a wide ranging keynote speech on tackling the country's housing crisis.