"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."
Monday, March 26, 2007
Adventure playground improvements - have your say!
Designs of the next phase of works on the Town Park Adventure Playground are on display in the foyer of the Civic Centre for the public to view.
The display runs from 26 March for two weeks - and comment forms are available for you to have your say on what is being proposed.
This phase of work concentrates on toddler and junior play provision in the Adventure Playground. Main installation works are set to start in the second week of April (subject to contracts).
Sunday, March 25, 2007
European Union's 50th birthday
The Treaty of Rome, which founded the European Union, is now 50 years old. The Treaty was signed by the community’s original six members - France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The Union now has 27 members, following the accession of Romania and Bulgaria.
Membership of the EU has been, and remains, hugely important for British jobs, environmental protection, equality rights, and Britain’s place in the world. However, following enlargement to 27 member states, the EU needs reform to become more efficient and more accountable.
Liberal Democrats want to make Europe work more effectively - through more democracy, more openness, less waste, and less bureaucracy.
Just a few of the differences that the EU has made to people's lives include
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
'Timid' council tax report fails to tackle unfairness
The long-awaited report by Sir Michael Lyons on council tax has failed to tackle the reasons why the current system is so unfair, say local Liberal Democrats.
The report calls for a new top rate council tax band, along with a new bottom rate to cut bills for those in the cheapest properties. It also says that the savings limit for pensioners should be higher, and council tax benefit should be paid as an automatic rebate. And it proposes new powers for councils to charge for domestic waste and levy a supplementary business rate in consultation with business. Harlow's Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington says:
"These are timid recommendations that nibble at the edges of the council tax, rather than attacking the unfairness at the heart of it. Council tax is an unfair tax, invented by the Tories and continued by Labour. It should be scrapped, and replaced with a locally set income tax, which charges people based on their ability to pay."A recent NOP poll for the BBC found that 60% of people are in favour of replacing the current council tax with a local income tax.
Chancellor abandons fairness to hit lowest paid
In his 11th, and probably final, Budget, Gordon Brown announced a cut in basic rate of income tax by 2p to 20p from April 2008. But the chancellor also raised the lower rate up to 20p, which means most people will not be better off. Analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that single people with no children, earning less than £18,500 a year, are the big losers from the Budget.
A YouGov poll has found fewer than one in five (18%) of people think the Budget will make them better off, and only one in three (34%) think the Budget was fair. Local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington says:
"The rise in the lower rate of taxation from 10p to 20p means most people will be no better off. These changes mean anyone earning less than £15,000 will end up paying more tax. It is a tax cut for the rich dressed up as a tax cut for the poor."The Liberal Democrats want a fairer tax system - and would have paid for the 2p income tax cut by raising taxes on polluters and the wealthy, not by raising tax for low earners.
Meanwhile, the 'green' measures in the Budget are half-hearted and weak. Liberal Democrat research shows they would only cut the UK's carbon emissions by one sixth of one per cent of the total (330,000 tonnes a year).
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Lib Dems in Harlow call on Rammell to apologise for Iraq
Liberal Democrats in Harlow have called on Bill Rammell to apologise for his support for the invasion of Iraq. Harlow's Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman Lorna Spenceley said:
"Four years ago, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown led Britain into the war in Iraq. The Conservatives were the cheerleaders for the war. They attacked the Liberal Democrats for being opposed to this disastrous military venture.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
2 Good 4 Trade gets into gear
Cllr Lorna Spenceley, vice chairman of Harlow Council, officially opened the new 2 Good 4 Trade showroom at Burnt Mill. Lorna cut the tape with Motorsales of Harlow sales manager Marc Philp.
The new showroom, near Harlow Station, offers customers the chance to purchase used cars normally reserved for the motor retail trade.
All vehicles are examined by Motorsales technicians before they are sold. On passing the various checks they receive a guarantee and warranty.
"Cut income tax in budget," Lib Dems urge Chancellor
Chancellor Gordon Brown should cut national income tax, funded by rises in green taxes, when he delivers his Budget on 21 March, say Harlow's Liberal Democrats. Local Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman Cllr Lorna Spenceley said:
"Gordon Brown should use next week's Budget, which will probably be his last as Chancellor, to make the tax system fairer and deliver tax cuts for hard working local people.Proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrats would:
"The current system of taxation is not fair. The poorest 20% of households pay a bigger share of their income in tax than the richest 20%. Wealth inequality has actually risen since Labour came to power.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Lib Dems say yes to limited growth
Liberal Democrats on Harlow Council have voted to support proposals for 10,000 additional homes north of Harlow - so long as transport and other infrastructure is provided to support them. The meeting of the Full Council also voted overwhelmingly in favour, with all three parties and the lone independent backing the plans.
The government's consultation period on the proposals ends on 9 March, and Harlow's Lib Dem influenced council has exceeded its obligations by giving residents inside and outside the town the chance to express their views.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington welcomed the changes the government had made to the 'confused' report from the independent inspector. He pointed out the need to address the serious housing shortage in the town, and to recognise Harlow as a key centre for development. Chris said:
"The plan also paves the way for Harlow to become a regional centre with better facilities for everyone. However, along with development, we are also keen to protect the town's green wedges and we will be stating this loud and clear to the Secretary of State."Cllrs Ian Jackson and Jim Pailing from Netteswell both drew attention to Harlow's existing traffic problems that need to be resolved. Cllr Jackson said it would be important to clarify the future of the land at Harlow North that was currently in Hertfordshire; and that the lessons needed to be learned from the development of Church Langley.
Cllr Pailing, the council's design champion, also drew attention to the possibilities for improved rapid public transport provision, and options for providing imaginative starter home opportunities for the many local young people needing a first home.
Harlow Council's agreed position on plans for growth is to support:
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Poll confirms public support for local income tax
Of 840 adults interviewed across England in a NOP poll, 60% said they were in favour of replacing the current council tax with a local income tax. 59% said that basing the tax on eight property price bands was unfair. The poll comes two weeks ahead of the anticipated publication of the Lyons report on local government finance. Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"Council tax is unfair and hits pensioners and single income households particularly hard. A locally set income tax, which charges people based on their ability to pay, would be fairer and more accountable. This result clearly shows that the British public support the Liberal Democrat proposal to abolish council tax and replace it with a fair locally set alternative."
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Liberal Democrats in bid to keep streets lit
Liberal Democrats at County Hall have taken steps to try and stop street lights being switched off. The Conservative decision to permanently switch off street lights across Essex will be based on a pilot scheme, due to run in Uttlesford, that the Liberal Democrats say is flawed. Essex County Council Liberal Democrats leader Cllr Tom Smith-Hughes said:
"There are areas in Essex that would provide the council with the accurate information it needs to be able to make an informed decision to turn off street lights permanently in the county. Uttlesford is not one of them.
Cllr Lorna Spenceley once again chaired the regular Harlow Business Forum meeting, which took place at the Latton Bush Centre. The topic for the first half of the event was business support, with speakers from Business Link, ExDRA, the Chamber of Commerce, Harlow ITEC and Rainbow Services. In the second half, Harlow Council regeneration officer Joanna Beaumont updated the Forum on Harlow's regeneration strategy and the various projects within it, including the town centre, the town park, renewal of neighbourhood shopping areas, and the Harlow Innovation Centre which is set to open in April 2008.
Harlow Business Against Crime award
Harlow Business Against Crime (HarBAC) has been awarded an Action Against Business Crime Safer Business Award. Harlow Council vice chairman Cllr Lorna Spenceley opened the award ceremony at the civic centre, and spoke with leading members of HarBAC including chairman Kelvin Jones, and with Harlow's new District Commander, Chief Inspector Paul Eveleigh. Lorna says:
"This award is a fitting recognition of HarBAC's hard work over the last year. With over 80 local businesses involved, and the numbers growing all the time, this is just the sort of initiative Harlow needs.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Harlow Liberal Democrats boosted by conference
Local Liberal Democrats have returned to Harlow from the party's spring conference boosted for the battles ahead.
Parliamentary spokesman Cllr Lorna Spenceley, who attended the Liberal Democrats' gathering in Harrogate on 2nd - 4th March with members of the local Liberal Democrat team, said the conference was a great success with party leader Menzies Campbell leading from the front.
Members debated a number of issues but tackling crime was the most important matter discussed. Other debates included cutting pollution from homes, regenerating communities and the future of the nuclear deterrent. Lorna said:
"Harrogate was a successful conference for the Liberal Democrats. In sharp contrast to both the Conservatives and Labour, we are able to discuss policy, have informed debates and allow the members to decide policy.
Harlow Lib Dems back 'people power' to regenerate run-down estates
Liberal Democrats from Harlow have given their support to proposals to put local people, not Whitehall, in charge of regeneration projects, when they were debated at the party's conference in Harrogate last weekend.
Local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"Since Labour came to power there has been a torrent of new schemes and initiatives to try to regenerate neglected areas, and new organisations to run them, but none of them have achieved a genuine transformation of the targeted communities.
Harlow Lib Dems welcome conference vote for effective action on crime
Liberal Democrats from Harlow have welcomed new proposals to cut crime and anti-social behaviour adopted by the party at last weekend's conference in Harrogate.
Party members in Harlow are currently carrying out a survey of local residents about the effects of crime, and will be publishing some of the findings later this spring.
Harlow's parliamentary spokesman Cllr Lorna Spenceley said:
"These proposals would make those causing vandalism and graffiti clean up the mess they cause and make them carry out tough community sentences.
Backing for greener, warmer housing welcomed
Liberal Democrats from Harlow were in Harrogate for the Liberal Democrats' conference to back a move to make housing in Harlow warmer, greener and more affordable.
The Liberal Democrat plans would:
Local Liberal Democrats are backing proposals that would see fuel bills for local people fall dramatically and carbon emissions from homes cut by over half by 2050.
Local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"Making Harlow a greener, cheaper and more sustainable community must be a top priority. These plans to cut carbon emissions from homes by more than half would save families here in Harlow a lot of money currently being poured into the gas and electricity companies' pockets.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Harlow Lib Dems meet shadow Home Secretary to discuss crime
Liberal Democrats from Harlow met Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Nick Clegg MP at the party's spring conference in Harrogate to discuss how to tackle crime.
Councillors Chris Millington, Robert Thurston and Lorna Spenceley, together with local party chairman David Wright, discussed with him the crime survey that Harlow campaigners are currently carrying out.
The survey is being delivered to over 30,000 houses in Harlow. Harlow's parliamentary spokesman Lorna Spenceley said:
"We were keen to meet Nick Clegg MP to discuss with him the concerns and experiences of residents of Harlow. We were very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to Nick. He has a real understanding of the issues."Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Nick Clegg MP said:
"I was very pleased to meet the local team and discuss the concerns of residents from Harlow. It is clear to me that Labour's posturing and tough talk on crime has done nothing to cut crime.