"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and
open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values
of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall
be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Home Secretary bows to the inevitable
The decision of the Home Secretary to withdraw his notice proposing the amalgamation of Essex Police with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire was completely predictable, say local Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"It was clear from the outset that the Labour Government's flawed plans for enforced police mergers were deeply unpopular with the police and with the public. Local people want local policing. The Home Secretary has simply bowed to the inevitable."And local Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman Cllr Lorna Spenceley added:
"The Labour Government's proposal to create remote police super-forces has met with massive opposition - and the Home Secretary's withdrawal is not surprising. Ministers should now focus on sensible, practical policies to help the police tackle serious crime by working together."
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Playground consultation continues - have your say!
Local residents are being invited to a consultation event on 24 July, from 09:00 to 17:00 in the Council Chamber, to help decide the future of former playground sites around the town.
After extensive public consultation including local schools and the Youth Council, Harlow Council recently took the decision to close 20 of its playgrounds to invest over £1 million in brand new equipment and improvements for the remaining 42 play areas.
The reduction in the number of sites - which have already been agreed for closure - means the council will be able to provide better and safer equipment at the playgrounds that remain open, and should also enable an increase in council patrol visits to keep them clean and safe.
Among the options for the future of the former playgrounds are:
"We understand that there will be sadness at the closure of some of the playgrounds, but our priority is to ensure that children can enjoy playgrounds that are well equipped and safe. There are no second chances when it comes to child safety and I am sure that parents will confirm this. Harlow Council has invested over £1 million in new equipment for the remaining sites which will meet all health and safety requirements. I hope people will get involved with the consultation and tell us what they think about the future use of the sites."A questionnaire is also available online; the deadline for replies is 7 August.
The play areas which will close when all the other sites have been upgraded are: Blackbush Spring, The Briars, Cock Green, Denby Grange, Felmongers, Guilfords South, Fennells, Hull Grove, Jocelyns, Latton Common, Longbanks, Little Pynchons, Pennymead, Perry Spring, Seymours, Sycamore Field, The Downs, Town Park toddler play area, Vicarage Wood, Whieldon Grange and Wooding Grove.
Stansted: Harlow's Lib Dems welcome EU call on aviation emissions
Local Liberal Democrats have welcomed proposals by members of the European Parliament - including East of England MEP Andrew Duff, whose constituency includes Harlow - for urgent action to force airline operators to pay towards the real costs of their carbon dioxide emissions.
MEPs have proposed that aviation should be subject to the EU's carbon emissions trading scheme; that aviation fuel should be levied for excise duty; and that VAT exemptions for the aviation industry should be ended. Harlow's Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington says:
"Air transport contributes just 4 per cent of current CO2 emissions - but the volume has grown by 85 per cent since 1990. The accelerating growth in air travel from airports such as Stansted puts at risk Europe's attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The European Parliament wants the European Commission to set up a new emissions trading scheme specifically for the aviation sector. The initial allocation of emission rights should be auctioned, and a cap should be imposed on the overall number of rights on the market.
The measures being proposed by MEPs are expected to increase average flight costs by less than £10, but would reward operators who invested in the most up to date technology.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Brays Grove School 'sorry day': Liberal Democrats
Harlow Liberal Democrats have expressed their disappointment that Conservative-run Essex County Council's decision to close Brays Grove School has finally been confirmed.
Essex's Schools Organisation Committee voted in favour of closing the school. Local Liberal Democrats leader Cllr Chris Millington, who represents the ward in which the school is located, said:
"This is a deep disappointment for the school, for local residents, and for the community of Harlow as a whole. It's a sorry day which will do great damage to the educational prospects of our town, and impair our ability to achieve the regeneration Harlow needs."Cllr Lorna Spenceley, who attended the pre-meeting of the Schools Organisation Committee on 12 July and addressed the Committee, added:
"The accuracy of the predictions of future pupil numbers used by the county council has been challenged. At a time when even more housing is being forced within Harlow's boundaries and to the south and east of the town, it flies in the face of reason to close the only school in the south east of Harlow. This decision will reduce parent and pupil choice, put pressure on the other secondary schools in the town, and disrupt working partnerships that have taken years to build."
Friday, July 07, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Lib Dem leader attends local government conference
Harlow's Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington joined other leading politicians from Essex and around the country at the Local Government Association general assembly and conference in Bournemouth this week.
Keynote speakers included ministers Ruth Kelly and David Miliband, Liberal Democrat local government spokesman Andrew Stunell and Conservative leader David Cameron. Chris says:
"This was a useful opportunity to discuss important issues facing local councils like Harlow, to meet leaders and councillors from other parts of Essex and the East of England, and to share views on improving partnerships between our councils and on significant priorities such as recycling."
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Brays Grove School: Harlow's Lib Dem leader calls on County to halt process
Harlow's Liberal Democrat leader and Bush Fair councillor Chris Millington has written to Essex education chief Cllr Stephen Castle calling on him to halt his plans to close Brays Grove School.
The call comes after the Examination in Public into the draft East of England Plan, instead of recommending new housing north of Harlow as expected, proposed significant amounts of extra housing to the east and south of the town.
Cllr Millington told county councillor Castle:
"Given the unexpected outcome of the Examination in Public, and the Panel's proposals for additional housing in the east and south of the town, it would seem premature to close the only secondary school in the south east of Harlow.Cllr Millington has also copied his letter to the members of the School Organisation Committee, which is due to meet to decide the fate of Brays Grove School on Wednesday 12 July.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Together We Can ... Clean Up Our Town
Harlow Council is to clean up every housing area in the town following the success of a trial earlier this year with 22 housing estates. The programme starts today, with areas in the CM18 postcode area the first to benefit.
At the insistence of local Liberal Democrats, the council has invested £150,000 to take its successful clean-up campaign townwide. Over the next 12 months each housing area in the town will be given two special clean-ups. Each area will be given a day where residents can use a refuse vehicle and special green bins to get rid of any unwanted bulky items. Residents can also request on the day or in advance (call 446655) small improvement tasks for the Community Response Team to undertake. The council will follow up the day with an extensive street clean and litter pick.
Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Cllr Eleanor Macy says:
"Living in a clean, safe and green place is the top priority for local people. That's why Harlow Council is investing in a cleaner Harlow through its Together We Can ... Clean Up Our Town campaign. It's an ambitious programme which follows on from the successful pilots run earlier on in the year. Feedback from residents taking part in this was very positive and many said they would like to see it continue.The council will publish programmes in four stages for each postcode area of the town for the first cycle of clean-ups. Properties will receive a newsletter and information pack shortly before the clean-up starts. In the pack is the cleaning schedule, information on cleaning services, litter and dog fouling enforcement, a comment form and how to use the community response team. The pack's aim is to promote what residents can do to keep their area clean.
Residents living in CM18 who don't receive a pack within the next few weeks can collect one from the Civic Centre or get one by calling 446900 or emailing the council. A pack can also be downloaded from the council's web site.
The Together We Can ... Clean Up Our Town campaign will also see the council's everyday work continue as well as increased environmental enforcement action, installation of more litter and dog waste bins across the town, and promotional activities.