"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."
Friday, December 22, 2006
Help the environment - and save money!
There's been quite a bit of interest in the Electrisave - a gadget featured in Harlow Liberal Democrats' seasonal FOCUS newsletter. So we thought we'd provide some more information.
The Electrisave is a portable, easy to read electricity monitor you can use at home. It will show you instantly how much electricity you are using, how much it is costing you, and how much harmful CO2 you are contributing to the greenhouse effect. By knowing which appliances are using a lot of electricity you can change your energy-use habits, which means you aren't wasting electricity and you are saving money on your electricity bills.
There are many different suppliers for the Electrisave, and prices vary between £60 and £75. You can even buy them on Ebay! Here are some options.Google for more options and best prices.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Harlow North back on the agenda
Proposals for new homes north of Harlow are back on the agenda, following the publication of the Secretary of State's response to inspectors' recommendations.
Her proposals for Harlow include 16,000 new homes - an increase of 2,500 on the number previously proposed - but these include 'urban extensions' in Epping Forest and East Hertfordshire, to the north, east and (on a smaller scale) the south and west.
She proposes a review of the Green Belt north of Harlow, providing for at least 10,000 more homes by 2031. The review will set the long term limits for development north of Harlow.
The proposals also include keeping the principle of Harlow's green wedges, including in the new urban extensions; improved retail provision, further and higher education, and more jobs related to Stansted Airport; and better access between Harlow, London, Stansted and Cambridge. Harlow's current transport and congestion problems are recognised as needing further work.
The Secretary of State's proposals are now subject to consultation until Friday 9 March 2007. In a joint statement with Harlow's MP and representatives of the other two parties on Harlow Council, Liberal Democrat leader Chris Millington said:
"The draft Government response is an improvement on the Inspector's Report - particularly the re-instatement of Harlow North.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
November Lib Dem by-election surge
Liberal Democrats enjoyed a successful month at the polls in November. According to the latest figures, the Liberal Democrats gained more seats than the Conservatives whilst Labour remained in the doldrums with a net loss.
The Lib Dems' most successful night was on Thursday 30 November when the party picked up five seats - three from Labour and two from the Independents. The only loss on that day was to the Conservatives in Havant. Ironically, at the start of the month the Lib Dems gained a seat from the Conservatives on the same council.
The Lib Dems ended the month with a net gain of six seats, while the Conservatives have a net gain of four. Labour's net losses stood at three whilst the Independents lost seven and had no gains.
The by-elections are a boost for the Liberal Democrats with the local elections in May 2007 now on the horizon. These will be the biggest set of local elections in the four year cycle.
The results indicate that voters have not been fooled by Cameron's spin and lack of substance. People don't believe Conservative claims to be committed to the environment are anything other than a cynical attempt to create a different image for themselves.
Their campaign against NHS cuts is equally unbelievable, given how they voted against the national insurance increase in 2002 that has boosted NHS spending to its current level. The NHS would be almost £10 billion worse off this year (or more than £1 million an hour) if the Tories had had their way! Harlow's Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said,
"The November by-election contests show that in many Labour areas, the Lib Dems are the main challengers. But the results also show we can pick up seats in areas as diverse as North London, Wiltshire, Maidstone and Newcastle upon Tyne.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Motability office opens
National charity Motability opened its new office at Warwick House on Roydon Road, with Harlow Council vice-chairman Lorna Spenceley among the invited guests.
This is Motability's third Harlow office in succession, having started in the town centre and then moved to Goodman House near the station. Senior staff and governors of Motability were present to witness the unveiling of the charity's charter at the entrance to the new office, and to tour the building.
Since 1978, some 2 million cars, powered wheelchairs and scooters have been provided through the Motability Scheme. The scheme currently purchases over 5 per cent of all new cars, powered wheelchairs and scooters sold in the UK, through a national network of over 3,800 Motability dealers.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Three children from Water Lane Primary School received their prizes today for winning the Motorsales of Harlow Design-A-Christmas-Card competition.
Harlow Council vice chairman Lorna Spenceley was at Motorsales with the school head teacher and representatives from the company to present the prizes to Harry, Lucy and James, who had all drawn splendid Christmas card designs featuring a vehicle. She said:
"I was delighted to see such a magnificent display of entries and the standard of the designs produced by such young children from the school was excellent. It is good that car dealerships like Motorsales are engaging with local schools and putting so much into our community like this."
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Nativity at Pets' Corner
Never work with children or animals, they say - but that certainly wasn't the case at Pets' Corner on Saturday. The Nativity story came to life, as told by children from the Playhouse, with a real donkey and sheep; and the two alpacas, provided with temporary humps, made magnificant camels. After a spot of carol singing and tea, coffee, soup and mince pies, Santa also put in an appearance, with his reindeer.
Harlow Council vice chairman Lorna Spenceley handed out certificates to all the children who'd taken part, and congratulated them on a brilliant performance.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Environment & Community Committee meeting
The future of Harlow's town centre came under the spotlight at Harlow Council's Environment & Community Committee, chaired by Cllr Eleanor Macy, with a presentation about the council's draft town centre strategy. The draft strategy will now be put out for public consultation.
The committee also proposed to change the way in which objections to planning applications are considered. At present, if two or more written objections are received that cannot be resolved, a planning application is automatically referred to the Planning Committee. Under the new proposals, which the committee is recommending to the Full Council, this will no longer happen. Officers had also proposed that councillors would be able to refer an application to the Planning Committee only if they had "reasonable cause"; instead, Cllr Lorna Spenceley successfully proposed an amendment to change this so that any councillor "who considers it appropriate" can require an application to go before the Planning Committee for determination.
Proposals to limit and license the distribution of free literature in the town centre were withdrawn, and will return to the 30 January 2007 meeting of the Committee, in view of the issues and objections raised.
Cllr Linda Pailing joined the meeting to answer councillors' questions about the progress of the recent Scrutiny review on flooding. Councillors generally agreed that this had been an extremely valuable piece of work, and had had a noticeable effect on joint working between the various agencies involved, with practical action already evident in a number of estates. The committee unanimously agreed the proposed action plan on flooding - including, as Lorna pointed out, the agreement to publish gulley cleaning schedules, so that the community will be able to monitor what is being done, and how effectively!
Children's Sporting Lunch
Today is the annual Children's Sporting Lunch, organised by Mike Jackson MBE and the President's Sporting Club. It's the twentieth of these events, and once again takes place at the Sportcentre. There's a huge amount of activity - balloons, streamers, clowns, unicyclists, large friendly furry animals, the Army, and lots of food and drink. Schools for children with disabilities from near and far, including Harlow Fields, are represented.
Frank Bruno MBE, the very committed president of the club, is just one of the celebrities present, and together we all hand out awards to a number of children to mark their special sporting achievements.
Liberal Democrats demand more money for social care
A promise has been made to actively seek more government funding to support care in the community services in Essex. In a debate called by the Liberal Democrats at County Hall today, the Conservatives agreed to support Lib Dem recommendations on securing more money for social care needs. Cllr Mike Mackrory, Liberal Democrats deputy leader on Essex County Council, said:
"We are concerned that the NHS funding crisis is causing real problems to our constituents as this council's social care service is forced to pick up financial shortfalls in the NHS. With added pressure on the funding available for vulnerable and elderly residents, this will inevitably result in support services being dropped for residents with needs less than critical. This is not what taxpayers expect from council services.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Harlow Business Debate
Harlow Council hosted the fourth annual Harlow Business Debate, with council vice chairman Lorna Spenceley in the chair and about 40 participants from local companies.
The debate started with presentations on regeneration issues in Harlow, the role of the Economic Prosperity Action Group - part of Harlow 2020, the local strategic partnership - and Harlow Renaissance.
After a lively question and answer session, the second topic was the business opportunities presented by the 2012 Olympics. A meeting for further discussion of Harlow's role in the Olympics is being planned for February 2007.
Painting a Picasso
Today, as Vice Chairman of Harlow Council, I have an unusual engagement in my diary - painting a Picasso. The Picasso in question is a Citroen, at Motorsales at Burnt Mill, and the painting involves twelve pupils from Fawbert & Barnard School and a set of vibrant liquid chalk pens.
The Picasso is a 'Christmas car-d' from the company to its visitors, and our duty is to make it as Christmassy as possible. Between us, we manage to smother the car in drawings of snowmen, stars, trees, candles, angels, puddings, presents, holly and baubles. The children are rewarded with selection packs of chocolate, and the car-d will stay on display in the Motorsales showroom over the Christmas period.