Thursday, 4 February 2016

Sir Graham Watson: Mobilising Middle England. What you can do.

As the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign (aka StrongerIN) gets up and running - with our own Richard Pinnock as the SW regional organiser - it will need all the help it can get. This means political parties, trade unions, churches etc all mobilising to persuade people to stay in Europe. But it also means all those organisations working together in a common campaign under the StrongerIN umbrella. 

The common campaign probably has a better chance of persuading more people. And it will attract support from internationalists everywhere.

You may already have received a mailshot from StrongerIN. Many SW households have. But the national campaign does not have the resources to fight local campaigns locally.

That is why we must do three things:

1. Identify locally the following: companies who depend on EU markets; the essential workers (teachers, nurses, drivers) from other EU countries who would lose the automatic right to live and work in Britain; local people who work or own property abroad.  Then set up a street stall, organise house parties and deliver leaflets to tell people about the threats they face. Local examples are so much more powerful than national generalisations.

2. Identify people active in membership organisations such as Mumsnet, the WI, the RSPB, the National Trust. Ask them to start a dialogue with their fellow local members about what leaving the EU would mean to their organisation. Offer to get them pro-EU literature and speakers.

3. Identify/join local Facebook and Twitter groups and retweet to them good news about the EU from pro-EU campaigners. It's today's equivalent of David Penhaligon's immortal advice 'If you've something to say, put it on a leaflet and shove it through a letter-box'. And it eats less shoe-leather.

As well as being President of the Western Counties LibDems I am the chairman of the South West Outreach Team for StrongerIN. We can provide speakers and material for literature. But this campaign will need every committed individual to act on her or his own initiative. Within your community, within your profession, within your circle of acquaintances.

Some 200 Liberal Democrats joined me in Exeter last Saturday to learn about the messaging and the techniques we can use. Visuals from that event are available if you would like them.

The European Commission published yesterday the terms they propose to offer to the UK to meet David Cameron's concerns. These can be found here. If approved by the other EU heads of state and government, hese will help persuade some of the UK doubters (especially Conservatives) to vote to stay in. But the question on the ballot paper will not mention the concessions to Cameron. It simply asks the voter whether s/he wishes Britain to remain in the EU or to leave the EU.

Tories back pedal on cycling revolution

The Government has been accused of a real gap between rhetoric and reality for cyclists in a debate in Parliament.

Speaking for the opposition, Shadow Transport Minister, and Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner demanded to know whether the Government’s “cycling and walking investment strategy” actually has the resources to deliver any investment.

A third of the cash for cycling has already been allocated to cycle city ambition grants and spending on Bikeability training will continue, but Mr Zeichner said he had “repeatedly run into a brick wall” when attempting to get answers from the Government on if there was any remaining cash and, if so, how and where it would be spend.

Commenting Daniel Zeichner MP said: “There is a real danger that the Government is drawing up an investment strategy with no investment.”

The disparity in cycle funding nationwide was also highlighted with spending outside of London and the cycle city ambition grant areas now projected to be around just £1.39 per person.

Mr Zeichner also slammed the Government for failing to set national road safety targets saying: “cycling safety is a key factor in encouraging people to get on their bikes in the first place. Anxiety and fear about safety stops many people cycling, especially women and older people.”

National Voter Registration Week

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An end to years of complacency

Lib Dem Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Chris White has called for an end to 'years of complacency' following the election of a Conservative to be the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire in November 2012.

Chris said: 'It is really disturbing to read the papers being presented to last week's meeting of the sadly toothless Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel.

'Commissioner Lloyd acknowledges that crime is up with a 4.6% increase in anti-social behaviour, a 6.8% increase in burglary, a 21.1% increase in motor vehicle crimes, as well as a troubling 40% increase in crimes against the person.

Even if some of this is due to better recording methods, it cannot justify the Commissioner Lloyd's pathetic attempt to court electoral favour by cutting council tax by a token 0.55%.

'Elsewhere in the Commissioner's budget, it is clear that Hertfordshire policing is being held together by sticking plaster - with a £4 million raid on reserves and £5 million reductions in front-line and back office policing.'is is due to better recording methods, it cannot justify the Commissioner Lloyd's pathetic attempt to court electoral favour by cutting council tax by a token 0.55%.

Chris added: 'Despite all this David Lloyd finds time to congratulate himself on his "prudent" financial plans.

'I doubt very much whether the many victims of crime in this county will take such a cheery view.'

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Stronger In: The renegotiation – and what it means to you

Today was an important day.

Our renegotiation terms with the EU were laid out - a set of changes that would make Britain even stronger in Europe:

An end to 'ever closer union' for the UK, building on our opt-outs from the Euro and Schengen border-free area;

  • New powers for our national Parliament through a 'red card' system;
  • More fairness in the immigration system so new migrants have to pay in for 4 years;
  • Measures to boost trade and create more UK jobs.
UKIP and the Leave Campaigners want to attack this crucial renegotiation - despite the fact they've been campaigning for these same measures for decades! They want us out of Europe at any cost - and it's up to us to stop them.



It's vital we all get behind these important reforms to stop UKIP and their friends dragging us out of Europe.

Thank you,

Will Straw,
Executive Director,
Britain Stronger In Europe

Friday, 4 December 2015

Still time left to have your say on Street Lighting ...

One week to go to the closing date (11 December 2015).

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Cambridgeshire County Council is looking for the views of local residents on proposals to save money on street lighting.

Cambridgeshire residents are being urged to have their say to join more than 60 other councils and further dim or turn off some streetlights at certain times to meet tough saving targets.

Cambridgeshire County Council is faced with finding £41 million in savings next year and more than £100 million over the next five years with less money from Government and more demand on services.

The Council is looking to follow the lead of more than 60 councils across the country, which have already turned off or dimmed street lights, which should save around £272,000 from an annual cost of over £1.4m a year.

The savings made would help reduce the impact of cuts on other frontline services, such as caring for the elderly or children as well as repairing roads.

A consultation has already started with parish, town, district and city councils to explain the proposals for their areas. This has also included looking at any concerns they may have as well as local solutions they may wish to propose, including funding for some lights.

Following that consultation some seven councils, including two market towns, have indicated they would look at paying to keep lights on for their communities.

Now residents can have their say by going to the online consultation here where they can complete a survey or ask for a paper copy by contacting the research team at research.performance@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

The full link, if you want to share it, is;

http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CambridgeshireStreetlightConsultation/ (or http://goo.gl/6DGHjo)

The closing date for responses is 11 December 2015.

The County Council, which has already been dimming lights in the county since 2011, has proposed to implement further changes to those streetlights which are remotely controlled by a central management system:

  • To increase the current period of streetlight dimming (8pm or 10pm until 6am) to all times;
  • turning off lighting not on main traffic routes between midnight and 6am;
  • The Council is not proposing to turn off lighting on main traffic routes, where CCTV cameras are present, where there are any statutory requirements or where they support the night time economy.

A recent report shows that where this approach of dimming or turning off streetlights has been taken elsewhere, there is no evidence to suggest a link with increases in crime or detrimental impact on safety.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cambridgeshire Lib Dems renew call for 5 per cent council tax increase to raise £7.2M

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are repeating their call for a five per cent rise in council tax to generate an extra £7.2 million a year to protect crucial services.

The move would mean the average council tax payer would face an extra bill of just £1 a week – but would prevent the most disastrous of cuts to social care including the care of vulnerable children.

Threatened services such as libraries, rural transport and street lights could also be better funded.

And vital community funds could be maintained allowing match funding which could bring in thousands of pounds.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24) Cambridgeshire County Council’s General Purposes Committee will meet again to scrutinise the authority’s budget focusing mainly on savings plans.

County Lib Dem Leader, Lucy Nethsingha said: “I will be repeating my call for a five per cent council tax rise rather than the two per cent which is expected. This would mean a small increase for the average council taxpayer but would have a big impact on council services in the coming year.

“If the Conservative Government chooses to set the council tax cap at two per cent or below, they are making a political choice to reduce the level of service available to the public at large and in particular the most vulnerable members of society who depend most on council services.”

A five per cent increase in council tax would:

  • Keep the street lights on between 12 and 6am in all areas of the county where residents are keen to do so – £106k.
  • Maintain vital community funds enabling match funding for a wide variety of other projects, leveraging many thousands of pounds - £15k.
  • Maintain school crossing patrols across the county - £171k.
  • Keep roads gritted in winter – with the hope of extending cover to all school routes - £650k.
  • Keep libraries open - £145k - and cycle paths maintained – 217k. 
  • Fill potholes on roads and pavements - a real hazard, particularly for the elderly - £483k.
  • Continue to support rural transport, services such as dial-a-ride and subsidised buses - £694k.
  • Continue to support 16-18 year olds with tested transport to sixth form centres and colleges (means tested as at present) - £960k.
  • Maintain investment in preventative services for young people with a range of problems through locality teams - £615k – and maintain youth services - £200k. 
  • Prevent cuts to speech and language therapy services for very young children - £120k.

“I have called on the Conservative group on the county council to push for a higher cap for many months,” added Cllr Nethsingha. “I hope they have listened.”