"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."
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Labour and Tories' shameful vote on secrecy
Liberal Democrats in Harlow have slammed Labour and Conservative MPs for voting for a change to the law to remove the public's right to see MPs' travel and expenses claims.
The Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, introduced by Conservative MP David Maclean, would remove any obligation for MPs' expenses to be made public. It would also stop people from finding out what their Member of Parliament has said to other public bodies.
Harlow Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"This Bill has brought Parliament into disrepute. And by voting for it, Conservative as well as Labour MPs have played a part in that.Cllr Millington has also welcomed the launch of a national petition by Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell against the proposals to exempt MPs from Freedom of Information rules. The petition calls on all political parties to back the campaign to stop the change going through.
Harlow Lib Dem leader hits out at government's disgraceful tax credit record
Local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington has hit out at the government's disgraceful tax credit record after the government published records showing they overpaid £2.5 million of tax credits to residents of Harlow in 2005/06.
At the same time they failed to pay over 1,300 Harlow families the tax credit awards they were entitled to. This amounted to a massive underpayment of £800,000. Local Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Millington said:
"The government's record on tax credits here in Harlow is a disgrace. Gordon Brown has presided over a tax credits fiasco that is of his own making.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Council appoints new committees
Harlow Council has appointed councillors to its various committees for the year 2007/08.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington was re-appointed Joint Leader of the Council alongside his Labour counterpart. Cllr Lorna Spenceley was elected Chairman of the Council for the year.
Cllr Eleanor Macy will continue to chair the Environment & Community Committee, and Cllr Ian Jackson the Constitution Committee. Cllr Lesley Rideout continues as Vice Chairman of Housing, and Cllr Chris Millington as Vice Chairman of Policy & Resources.
Cllr Robert Thurston is the new Chairman of the Audit & Improvement Committee. Cllr Linda Pailing is Vice Chairman of Licensing, and Cllr Eleanor Macy Vice Chairman of Planning.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Home Information Packs
The government has completely bungled the introduction of Home Information Packs, which were due to be launched next week. The Liberal Democrats have long been warning the government that their plans as they stood were unworkable. They had not processed or published the results of their pilot studies or trained enough inspectors for the task.
Just 10 days before their introduction, the government admitted that this was indeed the case. Just 520 of the 2,500 inspectors required had qualified, and their proposals would certainly have damaged the housing market.
The Minister has now announced a confusing, botched way forward for the packs. HIPs will be introduced for four bedroom homes on 1 August, and she will make further announcements on what should happen for all other homes 'towards the end of the year'.
The chaos surrounding HIPs means that Energy Performance Certificates will be significantly delayed for the majority of homes, possibly for years. These are urgently needed to make the energy efficiency standard of a home clear to buyers, and to recommend ways of improving the home's rating. Armed with this information, home-buyers will be able to save money on fuel bills and help tackle climate change.
The Liberal Democrats will be demanding that the Government resurrect the Energy Performance Certificates out of the wreckage of HIPs and implement these at the point of sale of all homes as soon as possible.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Police consultative meeting
Cllr Su Lawton (Staple Tye) reports:
"Cllr Linda Pailing (Netteswell) and I were at the police consultative meeting tonight. The meeting launched the new police neighbourhood panels, which have now had their first couple of meetings.
Mobile phone roaming: final deal at last
The European Parliament is tomorrow expected to back a key compromise on mobile phone roaming charges that will cap charges on calls made and received abroad. Andrew Duff, Euro MP for the East of England - which includes Harlow - has welcomed the compromise between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Commenting, Andrew said:
"The major concerns throughout these negotiations have been to ensure consumers everywhere in Europe are properly informed about the level of tariffs they are being charged when outside their home country, to have a choice of operators and services and to be protected against abusive charges that bear no resemblance to actual costs. Mobile phone users should feel the benefits of the single market and not be penalised simply for crossing a border.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Government removes rights of local residents over everything from airports to back extensions
The complex system of checks and balances which has made the crowded parts of England bearable for the past 60 years is set to be dismantled by the Government.
Today's announcement by CLG Secretary Ruth Kelly
"It is frankly difficult to find a way through all the weasel words. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Government is desperate to wreck our environment by driving through airport schemes and new power stations.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Harlow 2020 Citizens
I'm among three judges for the Harlow 2020 Citizens awards, which are presented to 15 very deserving young people at the Civic Centre. The other two judges are David Ellerby, Chairman of Harlow 2020, and Ken Morley, group editor of the Harlow Star series. This is the fourth year the awards have been presented, and it's always a pleasurable task to read about the achievements of Harlow's young people, often in difficult circumstances.
Congratulations then to the 15 award winners: Damon Alderson, Sophie Bray, Rebecca Butcher, Robyn Court, Georgie Crowley, Tara Davis, Anneka D'Eath, Anthony Fuller, Conner Hardy-Gray, Aiden Lee, Amy Livesey, Carole Madel, Beverley Magumise, Eleanor Merry and Katie Summerville.
Award for Mr Luigi
Cllr Lorna Spenceley presented Mr Luigi's fish shop at The Stow with a Gold Award from the Sea Fish Industry. Mr Luigi's, run by Luigi Forgioni, is the first Harlow fish and chip shop to receive this award.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
No change at the top
Harlow's Liberal Democrat councillors have unanimously re-elected Cllr Chris Millington as their group leader, and Cllr Robert Thurston as deputy leader. Cllr Linda Pailing was also unanimously re-elected as group secretary. The group has a new chairman, Cllr Su Lawton, also elected unanimously.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Ian takes the plunge
Netteswell's very own Cllr Ian Jackson abseiled down the water tower on 6 May, to raise money in support of Harlow MIND, the local mental health charity based in the Town Park.
Harlow MIND was Cllr Jackson's chosen charity when he was chairman of the council in 2004/05, and Ian is still keen to support the charity's work.
It's still not too late to sponsor Ian: call him on 416138 or drop your donation at 34 Greenhills.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Local election results
Two of the four sitting Liberal Democrat councillors facing re-election held their seats in the local elections. Cllr Chris Millington held Bush Fair with a majority of 59 votes, and Cllr Lesley Rideout retained her seat in Mark Hall with a nail-biting 12-vote majority.
Sadly, Harlow lost two hardworking local councillors - Jim Pailing in Netteswell, and Chris Robins in Staple Tye.
Harlow Council now has 12 Labour councillors, 12 Conservatives, 8 Liberal Democrats and one Independent. Full election results are available on Harlow Council's election results page.