Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Lib Dems will plant a tree for every baby born

The Liberal Democrats are proposing an increase in the number of trees planted every year to 700,000- 750,000 - equivalent to the number of children born in England and Wales each year.

This is part of a Nature Act that is being drawn up for the Lib Dem 2015 manifesto. This includes targets for clean air and water, and a plan to safeguard natural resources that are being harvested at unsustainable levels.

British forests would be placed in a trust to prevent them from being privatised, and the bill would include an increase in penalties for enforcement and punishment of environmental and wildlife crime.

These proposals will be published later in the summer as part of the Liberal Democrats Pre-Manifesto, which will be considered at the party’s Autumn Conference.

Trees play a vital role in keeping our air clean and alleviating the effects of flooding. The Lib Dem plans would expand the Forestry Commission’s existing ‘Big Tree Plant’ which encourages and supports community groups to plant trees in their area.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Environment Minister Dan Rogerson said:
"This is an ambitious target- to plant 750,000 trees a year is not easy, but is right. People across the country recognise that our environment matters. We have a duty to safeguard our natural habitat for future generations, and these plans are an opportunity to capture people’s imagination."
In Government, the Lib Dems blocked the privatisation of Natural England, and are committed to ensuring that our environment is protected for future generations to enjoy.

eCops: New Special Constable Ceremony

TWENYTWO new special constables are to be presented with their warrant cards at an attestation ceremony after completing 13 weeks of training.

The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, August 6, from 7pm at the Cambridgeshire Constabulary HQ in Huntingdon.

Head of Cambridgeshire Special Constabulary, Victor Kerlin said: “We are always pleased with the recruitment of new special constables.

“The new officers are part of our on-going recruitment campaign to attract local people who wish to contribute to policing and community safety.

“The level of dedication, effort and flexibility provided by our special officers is a matter of immense pride for the force.

“CC is recognised as a pioneering service when it comes to engagement with SC, opportunities that are offered to SC and the resources that the constabulary invests.”

The special constables will receive their warrant cards from Deputy Chief Constable Alex Wood and sworn in by Magistrate Benjamyn Damazer. Police Crime Commissioner, Sir Graham Bright will also attend to meet the new officers and their families.

The Special Constables will be posted across the county.

Driverless cars heading to public roads

In a bid to encourage the development of driverless cars on British roads, Vince Cable has announced a £10 million investment for research projects.

Currently, driverless cars are only allowed on private roads. However, with funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport, driverless cars are expected to begin testing on public roads in 2015.

From today, interested local research institutions will be able to apply for funding by submitting a business case.

The Department of Transport will also launch a review of road regulations to remove red tape and provide legal framework to facilitate driverless vehicles taking to British roads.

In his announcement at the Mira Test Track in Nuneaton, Vince said:
"By building on our world leading science and engineering base, the UK can become the global hub for research and development in to driverless vehicles. Today's announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this important technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society. 
 "Through the Government's industrial strategy we are backing the automotive sector as it goes from strength to strength. We are providing the right environment to give businesses the confidence to invest and create high skilled jobs.”

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Local Lib Dem Councillor Acts On Safety Fears As Work Begins On Milton Road Underpass

Fears for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists as long-awaited work begins on Cambridge’s Milton Road underpass today (Tuesday, July 28) have been expressed by Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ian Manning.

Cllr Manning, who represents East Chesterton, is worried that vulnerable road users could be put at risk as an alternative route means pedestrians have to cross the busy road at several points. The work also leaves cyclists competing with traffic for restricted road space.

He will visit the site tomorrow (Wednesday, July 29) with County Council officers, residents and members of Cambridge cycling campaigners to see how traffic management is working and will push for a safer alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists.

The underpass is being demolished and rebuilt as part of plans to build the new Science Park station on the site of the old Chesterton sidings. Work is expected to finish in December.

“Clearly, this is an important project and naturally there will be disruption to traffic, pedestrians and cyclists while the work is taking place,” said Cllr Manning. “But I am worried that motor traffic has been given priority leaving those people that use the underpass vulnerable.

“I have gone into detail with officers and the contractor, Balfour Beatty. It seems that we are restricted as to what can be done by national legislation. We have to have a road width of 6.75 metres and the rest of the road is needed for machinery.

“But it is vital that we do everything we can to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe. I want to check to see whether we can find a safer and more convenient route for them and maybe free up some of the restricted road space.”

Monday, 28 July 2014

Councillor Nearer To Success In Long Campaign To Improve Residents' Lives

Cllr Hazel Smith
This week Cllr Hazel Smith, Lib Dem representative on South Cambridgeshire District Council for Milton, was able to report to local residents that they were one step nearer to getting the new sewer they have been waiting for, for over 30 years.

New guidance has been issued in Wales which requires water companies to take into account permanent caravan sites in their calculations to determine whether or not a sewer should be provided. Following the Welsh lead it is expected that Defra will recommend that the same guidance be adopted in England - this would eventually improve the environment for the whole community and especially those living at Fen Road, Chesterton.

Cllr Smith said: “This is really good news. We made submissions during the review and we’re happy to see that these have been fully taken into account. When the water companies decide whether they will provide a sewer for residents where there is environmental damage occurring, now permanent caravans and utility blocks will be treated like buildings."

“Unfortunately nothing will change very quickly – the guidance in England may come out fairly soon, but the next step after that would be another petition like we presented in 2007. If it is successful the water company would then be duty-bound to provide a sewer within seven years."

Chesterton Fen residents have reacted positively to both the changes in Wales and the prospect of future changes in England.

Fen Road resident Nelson O’Connor said: “This is good news! We just can't wait for this sewer. It’s ridiculous to have waited so long, we have lived here for 30 years, and if we had been living in a house this would all have been sorted out a long time ago."

Chesterton Fen Road has an extensive Traveller site where, earlier this year, Cllr Smith conducted a survey which counted 274 toilets - all of which currently feed into septic tanks, cesspits and small treatment plants.

Cllr Smith said; “Given the large number of residents and that this is a low-lying area with a relatively high water table it’s good for the whole of Chesterton and everyone who uses the river to see progress like this."

The additional guidance, which requires Water Companies to provide a sewer, has had the following text appended to it in Wales;

"For the sake of clarity, buildings should include mobile homes and caravans on permanent sites, such as holiday parks, and permanent facilities blocks containing toilets and washing facilities.”

Cambridge MP Meets Apprentice Working For Company With World Cup Connection

Apprentice Joshua Bird scored a winner when he landed a place with a Cambridge company with a World Cup connection

And tomorrow (Tuesday, July 29) Joshua, 21, will meet Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert to tell him about his engineering apprenticeship with Sepura which designed radios for the World Cup in Brazil.

Julian is visiting Joshua at Sepura - a global leader in the design, manufacture and supply of digital radios - in St Andrew’s Road as part of his monthly initiative, Celebrating Apprenticeships.

Joshua dropped out of university to take his apprenticeship, a mix of college-based learning at Cambridge Regional College and work-based training at Sepura.

He said: “It was probably the best thing I have ever done. I found university wasn’t really covering exactly what I wanted; it wasn’t really getting into the technical side of engineering.

“At Sepura we make mobile radios mainly, for all sorts of people, but mostly public services, and also for the Fifa World Cup.

“I am absolutely loving my work. It is one of the best things I have done in my whole life. It is a brilliant opportunity and I’m really trying to make the most of it.”

Julian, who launched Celebrating Apprenticeships to give him the chance to find out more about apprenticeships available in the city for young people, said: “I’m delighted that Joshua is enjoying his apprenticeship.

“Learning new skills alongside such talented people as those working at Sepura while also being given the chance for college-based learning is an excellent way to find out more about an industry and get a good start.

“There are so many different apprenticeships available and they bring huge benefits to both young people and the companies employing them. Sepura has shown huge commitment to the apprenticeship programme and I hope other companies will be encouraged to give their support and offer young people opportunities.”

Sepura launched its apprenticeship programme two years ago and it won Cambridge Regional College’s Engineering Employer of the Year last year.

Karl Forbes, Head of Product Realisation for Sepura said: “Our apprentices have been growing professionally and adding a considerable amount of value to the teams they have joined.

“The success of our Apprenticeship Programme is not only confirmed by their impressive progress, but is also affirmed by Sepura’s growing investment which is enabling a larger intake of future engineers this year.

“The scheme reinforces Sepura’s commitment and involvement with its local community whilst laying the foundation of a positive legacy for future generations.”

eCops: Can You Help Give Victims The Justice They Deserve?

As part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s consultation ahead of the introduction of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 later this year, we're asking you to take a couple of minutes to complete a short survey.

The new act comes into force fully in October, bringing with it sweeping changes aimed at ensuring those responsible for dealing with anti-social behaviour are putting the needs of victims first.

Among the changes, in future a ‘Community Remedy’ will give victims a say in the out-of-court punishment of offenders through a list of ‘options’ that can be chosen from. These options must reflect the effects on the victim by having either a punitive element, achieving financial or other amends for the victim, addressing the causes of the perpetrator’s behaviour, or a combination of these.

In addition to giving victims a voice, the remedy will offer offenders an alternative to going to court and getting a criminal record with the aim of ultimately reducing re-offending.

Before the options are finally decided upon and listed in the Community Remedy document, we are consulting with members of the public, community representatives and local authorities to find out their views, so we invite you all to take part in this consultation.

Further information about Community Remedy and a link to the questionnaire are below.

Kind regards,
Lauren Alexander

Julian Huppert's Summer Survey

If you work in Cambridge or travel there frequently you might be interested in completing the survey the liberal democrat MP for Cambridge has just put online.

Here's the link;

Please feel free to share it with your friends/ colleagues.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Should We Pull The Plug On Russia's World Cup?

Today Nick Clegg raised the question on whether Russia should host the World Cup in 2018, considering the events taking place in Ukraine.

Speaking in an interview for the Sunday Times, Nick Clegg said: "If Russia doesn’t change tack on Ukraine, I’m not sure why the World Cup in Russia should go ahead in a rogue state".

After being asked about his thoughts on Putin and Russia, Nick said that Putin is picking a fight with the rest of the world, which will do considerable damage to Russia in the long run.

Speaking further about Putin and the World Cup being held in Russia, Nick said:
"He can’t constantly, you know, push the patience of the international community beyond breaking point, destabilise a neighbouring country, protect these armed separatists in the east of Ukraine and still have the privilege and honour of receiving all the accolades in 2018 for being the host nation of the World Cup. 
"I think it would make the rest of the world look so weak and so insincere about our protestations about Vladimir Putin’s behaviour if we’re not prepared to pull the plug on the World Cup taking place in Russia in 2018 after everything that has been said in recent months about his behaviour. Now, look, hopefully, best outcome of all is he changes course." 
For there to be stability in Europe, Nick said that it is essential for the EU to take tougher sanctions on Putin, he added:
"The one lesson we’ve learned from European history is that the sooner and the tougher that you act, the more heartache and conflict you can avoid in the longer term."

Saturday, 26 July 2014

eCops: Area Crime Update

On Friday 25th July, a theft of pedal cycle took place at Girton College, Huntington Road, Girton. Between 15:00 and 18:00hrs a Carrera Subway, black/grey stripes pedal cycle was left locked and secured at the College cycle rack, perpetrator has cut the lock and taken the pedal cycle.

There have been further parking complaints in Weavers Fields and Hicks Lane. Please park responsibly, any vehicles seen committing parking offences will be dealt with accordingly.

There has been a burglary between 11:45 - 18:00 hrs 23/07/2014 at Robins Lane, Lolworth.

Entry was gained via rear patio door, which may have been insecure as no sign of forced entry.  Items stolen include jewellery and cash.

There have been witness reports of two young males in the area at the time of the offence, age 20-30yrs one described as 5ft 10", blond hair, wearing light coloured top and jeans. Second male described as wearing light clothing.

Did you see anything suspicious?  If so, please call 101 and quote crime ref: CF0277840714.

PCSO 7009 Bujar MANI
Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team

Britain Is In The Fast Lane Of Recovery

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) published its latest update to the World Economic Outlook report today, showing good news for Britain's economy.

The IMF project that the UK will be the fastest growing major advanced economy in 2014, expecting the UK to grow by 3.2% this year and 2.7% in 2015.

The new figures predicted by IMF for 2014 are double the amount predicted last year, confirming that Britain is powering ahead faster than expected.

Commenting on the review, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP said:
"The IMF projection that Britain will be the fastest growing major economy in the world during 2014 confirms that Britain is now in the fast lane of recovery. Our progress continues to confound our critics.  
"There is still a long way to go to fully repair the damage of the Labour years. However, this confirms again that our decision to form the coalition has given Britain the strength and stability to deliver the economic plan - every part of which bears the hallmark of Liberal Democrat values."

Friday, 25 July 2014

Economy Now Bigger Than Pre-Crash Levels

Liberal Democrats have cleared up Labour’s economic mess with GDP now above pre-crash levels, new figures show.

The UK economy is now larger than before the financial crisis in 2008 according to ONS quarterly data released today.

It comes as the IMF predicted Britain will be the fastest-growing advanced economy in 2014.

Lib Dem Treasury Minister Danny Alexander has said it vindicated the party’s decision to form the coalition in 2010.

Commenting, Danny Alexander said:
“Today we are passing a major milestone on the long road back to full recovery. There is still a long way to go but Britain has recovered the economic ground lost under Labour and is forging ahead. 
“The main reason that we stepped forward to form the coalition was to sort out Labour’s economic mess and rebuild a stronger economy and a fairer society for the future. 
“By forming the coalition we gave the country a long term economic recovery plan based on Liberal Democrat values and policies and the stability to see it through. 
“Because we have taken the difficult decisions to stick to that plan we are now seeing strengthening growth and the creation of record numbers of jobs. 
“Growth and job creation, combined with rising business investment is the only way to deliver the higher living standards that the families of Britain deserve.”

Vince Cable: We Are On Track To Eliminate The Deficit In 2017/18

Vince Cable writes about the good news regarding the rise in Britain's economy:

At some point over the last month or so, we passed, without fanfare, one of the most important economic milestones of the last six years – the UK economy is now bigger than it was before the recession began in 2008. Today’s GDP figures are the official confirmation that we have now returned to pre-recession levels.

It has taken six years of hard work by British businesses and workers to recalibrate our economy. The recession was deep and the effects were felt throughout the UK, not least here in the South West, where the local economy, rather than growing shrank by 2.2% between 2008 and 2009.

But it is also a source of encouragement. It is a reminder of how far we have come since the depths of the recession in 2009. Growth is up, investment is up, business is innovating more and unemployment is now at its lowest level for five years. In particular, a revival in private business is underpinning the UK’s recovery and creating jobs – over a million new jobs in the last year alone.

The South West is no exception. More than 77,000 jobs were created here between March 2012 and March 2014, showing the resilience and promise of the region.

The coalition government was formed to tackle an economic emergency. In 2010, the Government faced an enormous deficit as a result of a collapse of Government reserve after the failure of the banks, under the last Labour Government. Although there is much still to do, we are on track to eliminate the deficit in 2017/18. This has required painful and difficult choices to be made.  But the country is now in a much safer position.

But deficit reduction alone was never going to be enough. That is why my Department has been working on a long-term plan to support companies growing and investing, job creation, and training our future workforce, from apprentices to PhD scientists.

At the heart of this has been a new industrial strategy for the UK which my party the Liberal Democrats has championed across government, building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Industrial strategy is a long term partnership between government and business, which attempts to work beyond the usual short term political timetables. We want to make sure that the UK is able to earn a living through our world beating industries such as cars in the Midlands or the oil and gas supply chain in Scotland, or marine industries in the South West. We aim to show that the UK is the right place to set up companies, invest and create long term jobs.

We are also working to ensure that the workforce is ready to take the new opportunities being created as the economy recovers. Almost two million new apprenticeships have been started since we came to office in 2010 and we are investing in colleges like Bournemouth and Poole College, to ensure everyone has access to the skills they need to succeed in the world of work, vocational and academic alike.

But there is more to do. Our recovery needs to be better balanced. Growth needs to be sustainable and we need every part of the UK to be firing on all cylinders, including the South West. We cannot risk a repetition of the disastrous growth paths of the past when it depended on consumption financed by growing personal debt, depending in turn on inflated house prices. The emphasis must be on exports, investment and new technologies.

We must stop small and medium sized businesses being suffocated by the lack of bank credit. I speak to companies with world-beating ideas, including in Weymouth, Christchurch or Gillingham, which cannot get the financial backing they need to seize the opportunities offered to them. So two years ago I launched a new British Business Bank to open up new avenues of finance for business who are struggling to get anything from the high street banks. We are also investing in British supply chains through the Regional Growth Fund. And we are promoting new green technology through the Green Investment Bank which my party has long championed and which we set up at the start of this government.

We also need to ensure that the UK can pay its way in the world economy, by boosting the exports of goods and services and bringing back production that went overseas over the past decades. As a country we still import far more than we export. Helping firms in Dorchester, Bournemouth and Poole to navigate new markets in China, South America or India is at the heart of our strategy.

Finally, the Liberal Democrats in Government are making sure that the economic recovery benefits everyone in the form of improved take home pay. Despite the effect of the economic crisis on living standards, the Liberal Democrats have cushioned the impact by lifting 2.7 million people out of income tax all together and given a £700 tax cut to more than 20 million people. So far in the South West, wages have only grown by 0.1% in the last year. Until this picture changes, we will not tire in our efforts to raise productivity, to ensure people have the skills and the opportunities to succeed in the world of work, and to expect their incomes to grow as a result.

Britain has world beating scientists and while we have protected science investment, we recognize that in the past, Britain has not been as good as competitors like Germany in turning ideas into wealth creation. So we are investing in advanced technology centres which help commercialise cutting edge innovations in sectors like cell therapy, aerospace or advanced manufacturing.

The recovery is in full swing. The challenge now is to ensure that the good news story is one about every part of the UK and is sustained over the long term.

An Update On What Ed Davey's Been Up To

I write this while on a visit to India. A few weeks ago I was in the US, and I’ve just left China. Why? These three countries are the world’s biggest emitters and the series of meetings I’m having all focus on paving the way for a global climate change deal next year. In the UK, and with our partners across the EU we are gaining momentum for an ambitious deal, which I hope will result in a domestic EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. But, the EU acting alone will not be enough – we need to take the rest of the world with us.

Back in the UK I’ve just announced two significant wins for Lib Dems in government, the first of which is very much about reducing emissions and tackling climate change. I have confirmed the 4th Carbon Budget will remain unchanged. This Budget sets out emissions caps for 2023-2027 and my predecessor Chris Huhne agreed that a review into the 4th Carbon Budget should be conducted to ensure the UK would not be out of kilter with the ambition – or lack of – of our European neighbours. The findings of my review are consistent with those of the Committee on Climate Change – the evidence showed that no change was required. We will not cut our climate change ambition.

Why is this an important victory? It’s common knowledge that keeping the Carbon Budget unchanged hasn’t been a view shared across the whole of government. Yet for the Liberal Democrats, Green NGOs, many businesses and investors, it’s been a priority. Keeping the cap unchanged sends a clear message that we will stick with our ambition to tackle climate change as we look to bolster support for a global deal. It’s been good to see my announcement welcomed by many of the Green NGOs including Greenpeace, WWF, and Friends of the Earth, alongside the CBI and many others.

I have also published details on how we intend to tackle fuel poverty in the long-term. While fuel poverty has fallen every year since 2010, there is of course more to do. The new definition of fuel poverty allows us to effectively target the fuel poor as it focuses on households with low incomes and high costs. Let’s not forget that under Labour their definition of fuel poverty was so off the mark that the Queen was said to be fuel poor!

The new proposals focus on driving up the energy efficiency of people’s homes and getting as many of them as we can up to an energy efficiency level of ‘Band C’ by 2030. But given far too many people live in Band G & F homes, this will not be easy. This will be bolstered by interim targets to again get as many as we can to Band E by 2020, and D by 2025. Again, it’s good to see the general welcome that these proposals have received from bodies including the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group.

Alongside this we’ve proposed that from 2018 landlords will only be able to rent out properties meeting certain energy efficiency standards and that tenants have a right to request energy efficiency improvements from 2016.

So, when people ask you on the doorsteps what Lib Dems in Government have delivered, add tackling climate change and tackling fuel poverty to your list, which if you read my last post should already include delivering on green energy and green jobs.

Cambridge MP Celebrates British Growth As GDP Figures Surge

In a double-whammy of good news Britain has been hailed by the International Monetary Fund as having the fastest growing advanced economy in the world, and had the latest new GDP figures show substantial economic growth. GDP figures released this morning (Friday, 25 July) by the Treasury show solid quarterly growth of 0.8% putting Britain's economy back to the position it was in before the crisis hit in 2008.

Speaking this morning Julian said, “It is fantastic that the economy is doing well, and that we are outperforming the rest of the major economies in the world. Unemployment in Cambridge is down very substantially - it’s now less than half of what it was when Labour left government. Youth unemployment is even lower - about a third of what it was, and the same is true for long-term unemployment. This is excellent news for many people, who are now finding the jobs they want.

“Cambridge avoided the worst of the economic crisis, but it is good to see the rest of the country coming through so well. It shows that many of the decisions we had to make have paid off. As the economy continues to improve, I hope that more people will find the employment and careers they want.”

Local Councils Could Be Required To Recycle 70% Of Waste By 2030

Local councils could be required to recycle 70% of household waste and 80% of packaging by 2030, under new EU proposals announced yesterday by the European Commission.

The proposal would also see a total ban by 2025 on sending waste to landfill that could have been recycled. According to the Commission the new targets could create over half a million jobs across the EU.

While there has been a significant increase in recycling in the UK in recent years, there would still be a long way to go to meet the new targets. According to government figures, 43.2% of waste in England was recycled in 2012-2013, up from just 12% in 2001.

Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, who sits on the European Parliament Environment Committee that is set to adopt or amend the recycling targets, welcomed the proposals and said she would work to ensure they were both ambitious and workable.

Mrs Bearder commented:
"Every year thousands of tons of perfectly recyclable waste end up being thrown away and buried in landfill sites or burnt. 
"This makes no sense for the environment or the local economy. 
"These ambitious recycling targets will help us make the most out of our dwindling natural resources and create new jobs in the area. 
"I'll now be working closely with local councils to see how these targets can best be met while maximising benefits for the local economy."
Mrs Bearder is a longstanding environmental campaigner and has worked with councils in the past to promote and improve recycling in the region.

As part of her "Don't Rubbish Our Recycling" campaign, she asked local authorities to disclose how they deal with recycled waste to ensure it does not end up in landfills or being dumped in the developing world.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

eCops: House Burglary - Lolworth 24/07/2014

There has been a burglary between 11:45 - 18:00 hrs 23/07/2014 at Robins Lane, Lolworth.

Entry via rear patio door, which may have been insecure as no sign of forced entry.  Items stolen include jewellery, and cash.

There have been witness reports of two young males in the area at the time of the offence, age 20-30yrs one described as 5ft 10", blond hair, wearing light coloured top and jeans. Second male described as wearing light clothing.

Did you see anything suspicious? Call as below, crime ref: CF0277840714

Police 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

Kind regards

Rachel Carr

Warmer Homes, Lower Bills And A Greener Britain

Liberal Democrats have announced that future Governments will be required by law to help fight fuel poverty by making the coldest, leakiest homes more energy efficient.

Households on low incomes and high energy costs, often caused by poorly insulated homes, will face lower bills as they are raised to a B and C energy efficiency rating by 2030.

Alongside this, the consultation Cutting the Cost of Keeping Warm puts a particular emphasis on helping low-income households who are not connected to the gas grid and those whose health can suffer from living in the cold.

Proposed changes to the private rented sector will also mean that people living in rented accommodation will enjoy warmer homes with lower bills. From 2016, tenants will have the right to request energy efficiency improvements from their landlords.

Unveiling the new proposals, Ed Davey said:
“These proposals mark a radical shift away from old policies of tinkering at the edges without tackling the root causes of fuel poverty – homes that need too much energy and leak too much heat to be able to keep warm. 
“We’ll target the worst properties first, where people in the most extreme cases face paying over £1,500 more than they need to. We’ll work with partners – including GPs and others working in in healthcare – to make sure the right help gets to those who need it the most. 
“And today I’m reaffirming our commitment to the most vulnerable households by confirming that the current levels of help they are getting through the Energy Company Obligation will be maintained, and will continue for an extra two years – helping over half a million more low income households.”
Since 2010, the number of households in fuel poverty has fallen every year through actions made by Liberal Democrats in Government. Nearly 400,000 vulnerable homes have already been helped through ECO and the Green Deal, while last winter the Warm Home Discount reduced the bills of more than 2 million low income households, including 1 million pensioners.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

NW Cambridge: Sainsbury's Supermarket Deal

The University of Cambridge has selected Sainsbury’s as the operator for the supermarket on the North West Cambridge Development.

The supermarket is an essential element of the development’s local centre and will serve both the existing local community and the new residents of the North West Cambridge Development. The store will front onto the market square and be in close proximity to other shops and community facilities, including the primary school, nursery and community centre. It will include 2,000 sqm of net retail space and will have sheltered bicycle parking and underground car parking to serve the local centre.

Roger Taylor, Project Director of the North West Cambridge Development, said "The University is committed to providing these important facilities from the outset so that the new local community can thrive. By reaching this agreement with Sainsbury’s we are delivering on that commitment - the store is due to open alongside the arrival of the new residents and will benefit those in the surrounding neighbourhoods.”

Ian Whittaker, Development Executive for Sainsbury’s commented: “The significant investment in housing within this urban extension is an exciting venture and we look forward to serving future customers, providing local jobs and working with the University to deliver a sustainable supermarket.”

Outline planning consent for the supermarket was secured in February 2013 as part of the masterplan for the development. A reserved matters application for the detail of the design by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, and its adjacent buildings was approved in February 2014. Works on infrastructure on the development will begin in 2014 with phased completions from 2016.

Labour Say 'Non' To Lasting Tour Legacy

Liberal Democrat calls for a lasting legacy for cycling in Cambridgeshire from the Tour De France were voted down today by Labour councillors - including the County Council's own 'Cycling Champion', Noel Kavanagh.

The Lib Dem group at the County Council attempted to amend a motion giving council staff a pat on the back for their work in organising the Tour, to include specific commitments to create a lasting legacy for cycling.

Cllr Ian Manning's amendment singled out completion of the Chisholm Trail cycle route by 2020 and incorporation of the recommendations of the Make Space for Cycling publication as two improvements he wanted to see.

But Labour, UKIP and Conservative councillors refused even to debate to amendment, and ganged up to vote against the proposals before councillors had a chance to make their case.

Lib Dem councillor Ian Manning commented "It is important to thank all the staff and volunteers who worked so hard to bring about this fantastic event. But surely we should be looking to create a lasting legacy – improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists should be top of the agenda for a City like Cambridge.”

The fight continues on Thursday as City Liberal Democrats put a similar set of proposals forward to the City Council's meeting.

Cllr Rod Cantrill, proposing said: “The County Labour groups' response to Ian's motion was disappointing.

Labour City Councillors need to stand up to their County colleagues, and tell them that, in siding with the Tories and UKIP, they were wrong. On Thursday they should vote with us to create a lasting legacy for Le Tour.”

City MP, Julian Huppert, who has championed cycling in Parliament, commented: “It is disappointing to see Labour, the Tories and UKIP unite to block the Full Council from supporting the much-needed Chisholm Trail and from even discussing the excellent 'Making Space for Cycling' report, written in Cambridge, and widely supported. It shows that whatever words they may choose to use, they do not actually want to see action to make cycling safer and easier.“

Nick Clegg: LGBT Rights Are Human Rights

Nick Clegg paid a visit to Pride House in Glasgow today to hear about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights across the Commonwealth and sports.

Almost 80% of Commonwealth countries (42 out of 53 countries) represented in Glasgow this week criminalise homosexuality in some way. Pride House is an LGBT space set up to promote diversity at the Games and within the Commonwealth.

Speaking at Pride House, Nick Clegg said:
"We’ve come a long way in this country towards achieving the genuine equality that LGBT people have always wanted and deserved. This includes last year’s landmark equal marriage reform. Yet there’s still a huge amount to be done across the world. 
"As we celebrate the bravery of Olympians who have come out - Tom Daley, Ian Thorpe or Nicola Adams for example – some countries are taking backward steps; putting their LGBT Olympians so far back in the closet that they can’t ever imagine their day in the open. 
"We can’t dictate how other nations behave but we can promote the principles we believe in – of a fair and open society both in the UK and abroad."

In response to the passage of Uganda's new draconian anti-homosexuality law, an LGBT policy review is being set up and led by Lynne Featherstone.

Speaking about the review, Nick Clegg said:
"When it’s published, I hope it will help us hardwire LGBT rights into our entire human rights agenda - through every bilateral meeting, every multilateral relationship and every corner of the world. 
“The message is clear: LGBT rights are human rights. So we need LGBT protections to be a part of anti-discrimination laws everywhere. 
“This means absolutely continuing to support LGBT campaigners on the ground around the world – they are the key to change in their local communities and countries. 
“It means talking to multi-national businesses to encourage them to make the business case against homophobia. 
“Love is the same – whichever village, town, city, country or continent you live in. It binds people together and makes communities stronger. 
“I will continue to say that to all those people in power, or not, who seek to deny these freedoms to others across the world. 
“I believe in the principle that you should leave no one behind - regardless of race, gender, age, creed, or sexual orientation.”

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A Step Forward In Preventing FGM

Today, Nick Clegg attended the Girl Summit, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end FGM. This follows a Lib Dem campaign to end FGM within a generation.

At the summit, which saw 500 delegates from 50 countries, the government announced a range of measures aimed at bringing an end to female genital mutilation in Britain and abroad.

New laws were announced that would see parents prosecuted if they failed to prevent their daughter undergoing FGM. Programmes were also introduced in order to prevent FGM in 12 developing countries.

The summit was held after new studies showed that the number of girls and women in Britain who have been subjected to FGM is twice as many as previously thought.

Speaking at the Summit Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg said:
“Female Genital Mutilation - or Cutting - and Child, Early and Forced Marriage are two of the oldest and most extreme ways in which societies have sought to control the lives and bodies of young women and girls. Yet, for thousands of years, those with power and influence have turned a blind eye to these practices, ignoring the pain of the women affected and also the activists who have found the courage to speak out and fight against this violence.

“Every year, around 60,000 young girls are at risk of being cut. 60,000 – that is roughly the equivalent of all the pupils in 60 UK secondary schools. On Forced Marriage, the UK’s Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to over 1,300 possible cases in 2013 alone. These are just the cases that we know about.

“Today’s summit is about all of us – Governments, international organisations, NGOs, activists, faith groups, businesses like Nike, community leaders, the media, wider public and people affected by these practices - saying enough is enough. Together, we can kick start a global movement to end Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage once and for all, wherever they occur.

“I’m pleased to announce that the UK Government will be introducing new guidance and training for front-line public sector workers such as mid-wives, GPs, social workers, police officers and prosecutors, alongside more detailed advice to help teachers recognise the signs of FGM abuse and prevent more women and girls getting cut.

"Furthermore, we intend to put this support on a statutory footing - subject to the necessary consultation - to make it a compulsory part of training in public sector organisations and ensure that their staff have the expertise they need to identify, talk about and report these problems.

“We are committed to ending FGM and Forced Marriage. But this is just the start. Now, we need to deliver. We need to stand up alongside those dedicating their lives to ending this abuse. We need to be there for the women and girls still at risk.”

Lib Dems Win Fight To Tackle Global Warming

Liberal Democrats in Government have confirmed the Government's commitment to halving UK greenhouse gases by 2025.

Tories had attempted to weaken measures to tackle global warming with plans to change the fourth carbon budget, which sets a greenhouse gas emissions limit through the 2020s. However, thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the fourth carbon budget will be retained.

Ruth Davis, UK political director for pressure group Greenpeace, commented:

“Ed Davey deserves praise for standing up to the Treasury’s wrecking efforts, and the Prime Minister credit for holding firm on this crucial commitment.”

Ed Davey writes:
Today I can announce that, having concluded a detailed review, the Government will not be amending the Fourth Carbon Budget. The budget, which covers the period 2023 to 2027, will therefore stay at its existing level of 1950 MtCO2 equivalent. 
The decision I have taken is consistent with the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. It also reflects the views of the vast majority of businesses, investors and environmental groups. 
The review was conducted in line with the commitment made by the Government when the Fourth Carbon Budget was set in 2011, specifically that we would review progress in 2014 in order to determine whether the UK’s domestic commitments placed us on a different trajectory from the one agreed by our partners in the EU under the EU Emissions Trading System. In considering the evidence, I have paid particular attention to the requirements of the Climate Change Act and the process that this sets out. 
Having conducted a detailed review, it is clear that the evidence does not support amending the budget. Any revision now would be premature, especially in light of the ongoing negotiations in the EU to agree a domestic 40% GHG reduction target for 2030 by October this year based on the Commission proposals published in January 2014. 
As business groups have made clear, retaining the budget at its existing level provides certainty for businesses and investors by demonstrating Government’s commitment to our long-term decarbonisation goals. Our support for the UK’s energy intensive industries in the 2014 Budget underlined the Government’s continued commitment to protect the competitiveness of UK business. And, although I am clearly mindful of the risk that a misalignment between the EU and the UK’s trajectories in the traded sector might result in a disproportionate strain being placed on sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System, the evidence does not indicate that action is required at the present time. Our current estimate is that UK and EU levels of ambition for the sector are likely to be extremely close over the period. 
Above all, maintaining the Fourth Carbon Budget at its current level demonstrates the UK’s commitment to its climate change target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. 
The UK has the world’s most transparent system of binding emission reduction targets, which are used as a model throughout the world. Today’s decision cements the UK’s place as a global leader in combating climate change, which will allow us to play a central role in delivering a global deal to combat climate change at the end of 2015.

End FGM And Forced Marriage Within A Generation

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, will speak at the Girl Summit on Tuesday, a summit with the aim of ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage within a generation.

At the Summit, Nick will announce a package of measures to help end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK.

It is estimated that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM and that around 20,000 young girls are at risk of being cut every year.

The measures are expected to see new guidance for professionals become part of compulsory training in public sector organisations. This will give their staff the support and expertise they need so they can help protect these girls.

This will improve existing training and give teachers, GPs and social workers advice on how to identify girls who might be at risk of FGM and advice on where to go to report concerns.

In addition, new support will be made available for a small network of Community Champions to encourage volunteers who want to provide community support in areas affected by FGM.

These champions will provide a link between local people who may be at risk of committing or being subjected to these practices and professionals who are responsible for keeping girls safe.

In his speech on Tuesday Nick is expected to say:
“Female Genital Mutilation is one of the oldest and the most extreme ways in which societies have sought to control the lives and bodies of generations of young women and girls. 
“We’re currently failing thousands of girls and must act now to help put a stop to FGM. 
“Central to tackling it are the doctors, nurses, teachers and legal professionals who need to be equipped to identify and support young women and girls at risk of FGM.

“They agree that, without the right knowledge, skills and experience, people feel like they don’t have the cultural understanding and authority to even talk about this practice honestly, never mind intervene when they’re worried someone is vulnerable. 
“The UK Government will be introducing new training and guidance for front-line public sector workers to help recognise the signs of FGM abuse and prevent more women and girls getting cut.”
The PSHE Association will also be asked to produce a new briefing for schools so that children at high risk are given advice and support so they can seek help if they need it, which will be ready for schools to use in the autumn.

Nick's comments support the work already being done by International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone to end FGM in the UK and abroad.

Cambridge MP Welcomes Investment In Aerospace Research

Cambridgeshire companies are to benefit from a share of £154 million of government investment in aerospace technology.

The investment, which includes £30 million of joint funding from the government and industry to benefit 11 projects including six in Cambridgeshire, has been welcomed by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.  

Cambridge-based Granta Design, Innovative Technology and Science and Argon Design all benefit along with Plant Integrity and TWI in Great Abington and Forward Composites in Huntingdon.

The funding was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg and is part of a £2 billion government and industry investment in research and development of the next generation of quieter, faster and more environmentally friendly planes.          

Julian said: “This is excellent news for Cambridgeshire. It recognises the county’s contribution to cutting edge research and technology in the aerospace industry.

“The businesses were awarded this funding following open competition and it is testament to the high level of work that is taking place in our city and our county in an industry in which we lead in Europe.

“Aviation accounts for a significant and growing proportion of our carbon emissions and has a significant noise impact. Research that can lead to new technologies which can go some way to lessening this impact is hugely important.”

Monday, 21 July 2014

Labour Backs Free School Meals

Over the weekend, Labour agreed to back the Lib Dem proposals for free school meals.

After pressure from the party's grass roots at the National Policy Forum, Labour agreed to endorse the policy which was announced by Nick Clegg last year.

Free school meals are expected to benefit 1.5 million children between the ages of four and seven, greatly improving their health, behaviour and results.

Thanks to Lib Dems in Government, the policy will take affect in September and will become one of the most important changes in our education system for a generation.

Click here to find out more about free school meals.

eCops: Awareness 21/07/2014

We would like to remind our communities to remain vigilant of callers to their homes.

Be it the gas man checking the metre, a surveyor checking a previous repair or workmen claiming to be working in the area; don't be fooled by a well known company name or documents with your name or address on.

Please always ask for identification and take the time to inspect it thoroughly. If in doubt I recommend calling the person's company to confirm their identity; if they're genuine, they won't mind. Or you can call police and we will happily come and check their authenticity for you.

Visit our blog for more specific advice on pedlars:

Pupil Premium Helps Youngsters Get Better GCSE Results

Disadvantaged youngsters across Cambridgeshire have achieved better GCSE results as the Pupil Premium begins to have an impact in schools.

The news, that more than 30 per cent of youngsters from poorer backgrounds achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C, has been welcomed by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.

Figures released by Ofsted show that results improved for almost six per cent of children in the last year. In 2012 24.7 per cent of children achieved the GCSE benchmark compared with 30.6 per cent this year.

Julian said: “This is very good news. It is proof that the Pupil Premium is helping these youngsters do well and that gives them greater options when it comes to further education, training or work placements.

“The gap between disadvantaged youngsters and their classmates is closing thanks to this money and I am confident we will continue to see real change.”

The Pupil Premium was introduced by the Lib Dems to give children receiving free school meals a better chance at school.

It is well-documented that children from disadvantaged backgrounds struggle to achieve their potential often falling behind their peer group.

The Lib Dems are increasing the Pupil Premium budget to £2.5 billion this year as well as extending the policy to cover three and four-year-olds.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

New Rules To Provide Greater Choice And More Innovative Pension Products

New rules which would provide greater choice and more innovative pensions products, are expected to be announced this week.

The coalition wants to encourage pension providers to develop new retirement income products that are tailored to the needs of the individual consumer and which offer more choice, freedom and flexibility.

On Monday (21 July), the government is expected to publish its response to the consultation ‘Freedom and Choice in Pensions’.

As part of its response the coalition is expected to announce changes to the tax rules that govern the pension products firms can sell.

It is expected that the coalition will announce the following intentions:

  • To allow people to receive varying levels of income throughout the lifetime of their annuity.
  • To allow lump sums to be taken from lifetime annuities where specified and agreed with circumstances – for example if care needs arise – providing certainty that the person's income is flexible enough to meet sudden costs. 
  • To change the rules regarding payments from annuities after death – so that people can buy products which will guarantee some of their income is returned to their family if they die.

Lifting The Lid On The Gender Pay Gap

Large companies will be legally required to publish the difference between what they pay men and women, under manifesto plans set out by Liberal Democrats today.

Liberal Democrats would make it a legal requirement for companies employing more than 250 people to publish the average pay of their male and female workers.

This would create pressure from staff and customers to account for and close any pay gap that exists between men and women.

The plans were announced by Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, Minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Currently leading employers are encouraged to publish pay gap information on a voluntary basis, but Liberal Democrats want to go further.

Liberal Democrats are the first major party to commit to enforcing gender pay transparency by law.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said:
“Forty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed it is utterly unacceptable that women are not being equally rewarded in the workplace – with women paid, on average, 20% less than men. 
“Real equality means fair pay. It’s time to accept that the voluntary approach does not go far or fast enough. 
“We need to lift the lid on what big companies pay the men and women they employ, with that information there for every employee and customer to see.”
In 2013, the average woman earned 19.7% less than the average man and Liberal Democrats want to see equal pay for equal jobs.

Jo Swinson added:
"The Liberal Democrats have fought for shared parental leave, extra childcare, a new right to request flexible working, and we are determined to tackle the issue of gender pay. 
“If women in the workplace are to have the same opportunities and choices as men, they must be properly rewarded for their talents and skills - it's as simple as that."
Liberal Democrats will work with businesses on what information companies should publish and how often they should do so.

Vince Cable said:
“We’re consulting with business to make sure we get the detail right, but ultimately this is a good step for our companies.

“We’ve already seen some of our biggest firms lead the way on publishing pay gap information. They know that their staff will appreciate real openness about the way men and women are paid and real effort to close any gap that exists.”

Ed Davey Writes: Investing In Green Energy

Today I published the Government’s first ever Energy Investment Report. It shows how Liberal Democrats in Government have delivered on jobs and investment in energy – particularly green energy - and shows the plan we now have for this to continue for decades to come.

Let me be clear – investment in the energy sector has not been a ‘nice to have’. We inherited a legacy of energy underinvestment from Labour and we’ve spent the last four years turning this around. The sheer scale of the investment has already been huge: between 2010 and 2013 we’ve secured £45 billion of investment in electricity generation and networks alone. The UK’s future energy infrastructure investment is larger than transport, communications and water spending combined.

While I’m sure you’ll be interested in reading every word of the entire report, you may want to start with what we’ve achieved on renewable electricity.

A few facts:

  • Since 2010, an average £7 billion a year has been invested in renewable energy. This compares to £3 billion a year in the previous parliament.
  • Electricity generation from renewable sources has doubled since 2010 and now supplies 15% of the UK’s electricity.
  • Earlier this year, eight renewable energy projects got contracts providing up to £12 billion of private sector investment and up to 8,000 jobs
  • The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and we have more than any other country. This supports up to 18,000 jobs. By 2020 we could see offshore wind powering almost 7 million homes.
  • Onshore wind has attracted £7.6 billion of investment between 2010 and 2013 and supports 17,000 jobs.
  • Solar PV attracted £6.4 billion of private investment between 2010 and 2013.

While these facts speak for themselves, we can’t be complacent. We’ve put in place the necessary reforms and now Ernst & Young rank the UK as one of the best places in the world for renewables investment. But we know that there are threats from the right, particularly on onshore wind, and from the Labour Party with their energy price freeze policy. Their policy not only threatens the competition to the Big 6 that we’ve encouraged, but also investors who currently see the UK as a great place to invest.

Be in no doubt. The Lib Dems have the strongest green energy record of any political party and Britain is now on track to beat our renewable electricity targets for 2020.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Education Programme Launched To Tackle Online Piracy

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has welcomed a new programme designed to crack down on online piracy.

The new scheme called Creative Content UK, will promote legal entertainment online and warn Internet users whose connections are being used to illegally share films and music.

The scheme has been agreed by the UK’s creative industries and internet service providers (ISPs) and will aim to raise awareness of copyright by informing those whose internet connections have been used to illegally share copyright material and help them find compelling, legal alternatives.

Announcing the scheme, Vince Cable revealed that it would be supported by a joint creative industry and government three-year education campaign.

The campaign will help to reduce online copyright infringement, raise awareness of the benefits that copyright brings and promote the use of legal digital content.

Speaking at the launch, Vince Cable outlined the importance of tackling infringement and intellectual property crime and working together with businesses to crack down on online piracy which is estimated to cost the global music industry alone more than £7 billion.

Vince Cable said:
“The creative industries in the UK are one of our brilliant global success stories. We have unrivalled creativity – from record breaking musicians to box office films - that excite and inspire people all over the world. Yet too often that content is open to abuse by some who don’t play by the rules. 
“That is why we are working with industry to ensure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected. Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn’t a victimless crime - but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs.”

Use of Community Remedies - Cambridgeshire Police Survey

Sir Graham Bright the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire is currently running a survey on his website seeking views on the use of "Community Remedies" by the police for low-level crime.

The survey is available here;

From the website here are some example of Community Remedies;

  • where two children carried out a minor assault on another child the offender gave a verbal and written apology and had to litter pick for four hours;
  • an adult who caused damage to a wooden gate gave the victim a written apology and paid for repairs to the gate;
  • two children who had verbally abused a shop manager having attempted to steal low value items were made to clean shopping trolleys and attend educational input on the impact of racial abuse;
  • an adult caught shoplifting from a major retailer where the items recovered were of low value  collected shopping trolleys from the retailer’s car park and surrounding area.

In all of these cases these were first time offenders, who showed remorse and where the victim had been fully involved in the decision making in terms of the suitability of the options.

Cambridge MP's Decade Long Fight Pays Off As Schools Get Extra £23.2m

Cambridgeshire schools are to get an extra £23.2 million in government funding - £2.7 million more than originally expected.

The 7.9 per cent increase has been welcomed by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert who has been driving the fight for fairer funding for the county’s children for more than a decade.

And he says there is a commitment to full fair funding for the county’s schools which could bring even more money.

He said: “This is excellent news for every child and every teacher in our schools now and in the future. This is not just a one off payment – the funding formula is to be changed so that Cambridgeshire gets a fairer deal year on year.

“Our schools have been short-changed over the last 30 years with our pupils receiving £600 below the English average. Until now, no government has done anything about it. We have closed more than half the gap between our schools and those across the country.

“Clearly the English average funding will increase so we still have more work to do. But we have a commitment to full fair funding which could bring even more. I will continue to push to make sure that becomes a reality so that every school in our county gets the money our children deserve.”

"I thank all those who have campaigned on this issue, including the Cambridgeshire Schools Forum and many, many others'

Julian lobbied Ministers on many occasions and led a Westminster debate on the issue as well as raising a petition calling on the government to act as a matter of urgency.

The funding will increase by £311 per pupil – up to £4,261 per pupil per year.

Review Of The 2014 European & Local Elections Campaign

After the elections in May, the Leader tasked a group with reviewing the elections, assessing what worked and what didn't, and produce recommendations to improve our campaigning for the future.

On Monday, the Review Group presented our findings to the Leader and later to the Federal Executive. I am pleased to say that they endorsed both the report and its recommendations, and we will now set about putting them into practice well in advance of next year’s elections.

In what was the most-read Party email in some time, more than 700 individual members made representations to the Review Group and almost 2,000 pages of contributions were received by the end of the process. This helped us to produce a 50 page – nearly 20,000 word – report which we presented in fully to the governing bodies of the parties. Here, and on the party website, we share as much as we felt able to without unduly aiding those running against us in future elections.

Concerns raised by members largely fell into three interlinked groups (the three T’s):
  • Tories – our association with the Tories in coalition has made it more difficult to appeal to former Labour voters who swung behind us in 2010, and to win soft Labour voters over;
  • Tuition Fees – breaking of the pledge was raised in responses less as something that was raised with activists on the doorstep, and more as a reason as to why some of our messages failed to gain traction;
  • TV Debates (and messaging) – placing ourselves as the direct opponents to UKIP made it difficult to present the core Lib Dem message of membership and reform of the EU, and didn’t leave enough space to campaign on the strong records of our MEPs. It also meant that the sheer volume given to the opposition to our core position, in the media and elsewhere, made it difficult for us to retain trust in our key messages.
As a group, we worked to come up with a range of recommendations off the back of these concerns, including improving the dissemination of real-time campaigning lines, establishing a process for canvass responses to feed back into the messaging process, ensuring that campaigning targets and plans are tailored to specific local circumstances rather than being set at a national level, and improving the availability and communication of training and fixes for Connect.

Perhaps most importantly, we made clear that over the next 9 months the party should ensure that we are producing inspiring and motivating messages for our activists and the electorate, and ensuring that our manifesto is centred on Liberal Democrat policy - not a defence of the status quo.

We are very good at beating ourselves up as a Party. We desire innovation, improvement and delivery as part of our natural politics and are not afraid to demand it of ourselves. The road to 2015 will involve tough choices and huge amounts of hard work. The responses reveal that passion, dedication and enthusiasm exist in abundance within the Party. We hope that the recommendations provided to the Leader and the Federal Executive can play a significant role in enabling the Party as a whole to realise its rightful potential.

A fuller report of the review can be found by party members here

Friday, 18 July 2014

eCops: New Officers "Passing Out Parade" 18/07/2014

Twenty six new police officers will take part in a "passing out parade” to mark the end of their training.

The parade will take place on Friday, July 25, from 2pm at the Learning & Development Training Centre at Monk’s Wood, near Alconbury, on the last day of their 16 weeks of training.

The 26 new constables are the first intake of new officers for Cambridgeshire Constabulary since October.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hopkins said: "We are pleased with the recruitment of the new police officers.

"This is a really positive step for the community and helps Cambridgeshire Constabulary with making safety and protecting the public a main priority.

"I welcome the new police officers and congratulate them on completing their training.”

The officers, who will be posted across the county, will be inspected by ACC Hopkins. Friends and family will also be present for the parade.  

The officers were presented with their warrant cards and sworn in at an attestation ceremony at the end of March.

Kind regards
Tony Darnell
Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Plastic Bag Charge Will Help Reduce Waste And Protect The Environment

Liberal Democrats are introducing a plastic bag charge to help reduce waste and protect the environment.

A new report published today by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) shows that 8.3 billion plastic bags were used last years by shoppers at UK supermarkets.

Figures show that the use of plastic bags increased by 3.2% last year, compared to 2012.

Commenting on today's report, Baroness Kate Parminter, co-chair of the Lib Dem Defra Parliamentary Party Committee said:
“What these figures show is that there is still a huge number of these single-use plastic bags being needlessly wasted across the UK.

“Lib Dems had to fight tooth and nail to get the Tories to agree to the introduction of a levy, to cut wasteful use, with the excess money given to charity.

“Instead of jumping at the chance to cut the number of bags littering our towns and countryside the Tories insisted on an exemption for household name convenience stores.

“Our policy will encourage reuse and recycling of plastic bags, curb unnecessary damage to the environment and dramatically cut the numbers that blight our towns, countryside and hedgerows.”
The Queen's speech in June confirmed that from October 2015, a 5p charge on all single-use plastic bags will be introduced.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

UK Aerospace Projects To Receive £154m Boost

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has announced a £154 million investment in research projects to keep the UK as a world leader in aerospace innovation.

The investment will be used in four areas - which the UK excels in - wings, engines, aircraft structures and radio communications.

This funding is part of a £2 billion government and industry investment in researching and development for the next generation of quieter, faster and more environmentally friendly planes.

It will help to secure more than 100,000 skilled jobs in aerospace and its supply chain in the long term, in a market expected to be worth over £4 trillion over the next 30 years.

Commenting Nick Clegg said:
“The UK’s aerospace industry is going from strength to strength and helping our economic recovery. We are the number one aerospace industry in Europe and second only to the United States globally. 
“I want to ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of aerospace innovation, which is why I am pleased to announce that we are investing £154 million for research to explore new technologies like the 3D printing of plane parts and creating lighter, greener aircraft. 
“By working in partnership with business, we are building a stronger, more balanced economy, creating more jobs and sharing the wealth equally.”

Electricity Generated By Renewables Doubles Since 2010

The amount of electricity generated from renewable sources has doubled since 2010.

A report released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) assesses the investment in UK energy and the progress being made.

The report which finds that renewable sources now supply 15% of the UK's electricity was unveiled at the CBI Energy Conference by Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.

At the conference Ed announced a £10 million boost to business, industry and other organisations to help improve energy efficiency and reduce energy demand.

He also unveiled new plans that will remove barriers to investment in energy infrastructure.

Between January 2010 and December 2013 Britain's energy sector has received £45 billion of investment, with almost £8 billion in renewable technologies in 2013. This has formed part of measures introduced to tackles the legacy of underinvestment and neglect in the UK energy sector.

Commenting Ed Davey said:
“Our plan is powering growth and jobs in the UK economy. We are building a secure, sustainable energy system for the future, dealing with an historic legacy of underinvestment and neglect that threatened to undermine the whole economy. 
“The funds we invest now in keeping the lights on could, in the future, be available to support cheaper projects that deliver lasting reductions in peak electricity demand. 
“I want to unlock the untapped potential of better efficiency in electricity use – so that more efficient kit can compete with building new power stations in the future. Our £20 million pilot will fund schemes that will help reduce our demand – not only saving businesses and their customers money, but reducing the amount of electricity we’ll need to generate. 
“And by stripping away barriers to investment in our energy market, we’ll make attracting capital investment cheaper and easier – meaning real benefits for the British economy and British consumers.”
Along with the coalition's major reform of the energy investment, the report also finds that energy efficiency policies saved the UK £4 billion on its fuel bills in 2013.

The report also identifies the UK as the world leader in the development of the emerging wave and tidal stream sectors.

Liberal Democrats in government have kept the environment at the top of the agenda. Investment in energy efficiency and smart meters and smart grids is a cost-effective way to support growth, cut bills, improve living standards and cut carbon emissions.

The report also reveals that household energy consumption has fallen by a fifth since 2004, saving
the average consumer £200 a year.

And because of measures introduced by the coalition 1.1 million households will benefit from Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Green Deal measures over the next three years.

Spare Room Subsidy: We Need To Change Direction by Danny Alexander MP

Earlier in this Parliament, the Government changed the way that Housing Benefit was paid to families in social housing to make the payment related to the number of rooms they actually need, effectively removing what was termed ‘the Spare Room Subsidy’. We did this for a number of reasons. Chief among them was to give people a financial reason to downsize where possible and free up bigger homes for larger families. We also needed to make sure that our welfare budget was sustainable in the longer term.

This week, a Government report has produced evidence that this change is not delivering the outcomes that we need. The report shows that as few as 1 in 20 of affected claimants have downsized.

As Liberal Democrats, we are proud of our view that we should take evidence into account when making policy decisions. In this particular area, the evidence clearly shows that we need to change direction. And of course we as a party expressed our clear feelings on this at our recent conference.

We will be pressing our Conservative coalition partners to agree to these changes in this Parliament, but if they won’t we will set out new rules which I would expect to be in our 2015 manifesto.

Those new rules will set out that those already in the social rented sector should only see a reduction in their Housing Benefit if they are offered a suitable smaller home and, crucially, turn it down. We will also make sure that disabled adults are treated in the same way as disabled children, by permanently exempting them.

This is a complex and detailed area, and I hope you might feel able to follow this link to a fuller explanation of our new thinking.


Danny Alexander

Pupil Premium Is Helping Children Across The UK Score Better Exam Results

Figures show that more youngsters from poorer backgrounds achieved five or more GCSEs at A* to C grade than those in 2012.

This rise comes as payments introduced by the Liberal Democrats in Government begin to have a greater impact.

The pupil premium puts additional money into schools with more children from disadvantaged backgrounds in order to help close the gap between them and their peers.

In the 2013 to 2014 financial year, secondary schools will receive an additional £900 for each pupil on free school meals.

Ofsted said the figures showed headteachers were spending cash from the pupil premium more effectively to help support disadvantaged pupils reach their potential.

Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, said: "The Pupil Premium is helping to transform the opportunities of thousands of disadvantaged pupils across the South East, whether it's through literacy classes, catch up lessons or one-to-one tuition.

"But this is just the start. The Lib Dems are now increasing the pupil premium budget to £2.5 billion in 2015, and in future we want to see this help extended to disadvantaged three and four-year-olds as well.

"This is about building communities where every child has the opportunity and funding to help them succeed and get on in life."

Pupil premium now totals £1,300 per primary aged pupil, £935 per secondary aged pupil and £1,900 for looked after children or children who left care through adoption, or by other means

The latest exam figures are from 2013 and come from Ofsted.

Greg Mulholland Writes: The First MP To Play Rugby For GB

On Saturday 12th July I had the huge honour of becoming the first MP to pull on the famous Great Britain white shirt with the red and blue ‘V’, and play for his country at rugby league.

I was selected as part of the 20 man GB side who defeated Australia in the over 35s international in Warrington. We won one try to none at Crosfields, Warrington on Saturday – though in the spirit of Masters it was of course nil-nil!

To play against Australian in their iconic green and gold shirts is the ultimate challenge in rugby league and to beat them and indeed stop them scoring was a great result. The determination of the GB team was etched on all our faces and we pushed our bodies as hard as we could and together did our country proud! After the game I felt every one of my 43 years but every bruise and ache was worth it.

It was great to be joined by my Leeds Akkies team mate and fellow winger Keith Hill, who I play alongside at Old Modernians sports club in Cookridge, in my constituency. As Club Captain of the Political Animals, a team comprising Lords, MPs and Councillors and Chair of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group, it was great to be able to represent Parliament, Leeds and Great Britain against Australia.

Masters rugby league is always played in a great spirit and Saturday was no different though at times it was uncompromising. Masters is a fantastic form of rugby league that enables us older players to carry on playing long after we thought we’d have hung up our boots. I am sure as a game it will go from strength to strength on both sides of the world and I thank the Australians for coming over here and hope the rest of their tour is an enjoyable one.

PCC: Community Remedy Consultation

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 comes into force fully in October, bringing with it sweeping changes aimed at ensuring those responsible for dealing with anti-social behaviour are putting the needs of victims first.

Among the changes, in future a ‘Community Remedy’ will give victims a say in the out-of-court punishment of offenders through a list of ‘options’ that can be chosen from. These options must reflect the effects on the victim by having either a punitive element, achieving financial or other amends for the victim, addressing the causes of the perpetrator’s behaviour, or a combination of these.

In addition to giving victims a voice, the remedy will offer offenders an alternative to going to court and getting a criminal record with the aim of ultimately reducing re-offending.

Before the options are finally decided upon and listed in the Community Remedy document, I am consulting with members of the public, community representatives and local authorities to find out their views.

As a key partner and contributor in this area of work, I am inviting you to take part in this consultation by filling in the online questionnaire. Please also feel free to circulate this email more widely via your own communication channels and other key contacts.

Further information about Community Remedy is available at;

Thank you for your time.

Sir Graham Bright

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner