"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, March 25, 2008
Bigger potholes are good for you, say Conservatives
Conservatives at Essex County Council insist it is good practice to allow potholes to get more than double their present depth before they will be fixed. The Tories rejected a claim by the Liberal Democrat group on the county council, that roads are likely to deteriorate under the new strategy. The Lib Dems pushed for a formal meeting to discuss the issue, but the group was eventually voted down by the Conservative members. Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Tom Smith-Hughes, Liberal Democrats group leader on Essex County Council, said:
"We are disappointed that the Conservatives have decided to go ahead with this new strategy, which we think will lead to a deterioration in road surfaces rather than an improvement. We have particular concerns that this strategy is aimed at motorists and leaves other road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists and all pavement users vulnerable to accidents.The new highways maintenance strategy changes the depth of potholes allowed before being fixed from 20mm to 50mm on roads and 15mm to 20mm on pavements.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Lib Dems in Harlow call on Rammell to apologise for Iraq vote
On the fifth anniversary of the start of the invasion of Iraq, Liberal Democrats in Harlow have called on Bill Rammell MP to apologise for his support for the invasion of Iraq. Local Lib Dem leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"Five years ago, the Labour Government led Britain into the war in Iraq. The Conservatives were the cheerleaders for military action. And MPs from both parties attacked the Liberal Democrats for our opposition to the invasion.
Bus pass furore
Harlow Council could be being overcharged for pensioners' bus journeys using their bus passes, local Liberal Democrats can reveal.
Mark Hall councillors Lesley Rideout and Robert Thurston have been shown tickets given to local pensioners which show journeys considerably longer than those that have been taken.
A trip from The Stow to Old Harlow Post Office was shown as being from Harlow Bus Terminus to the Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth. Another, from The Stow to the town centre, was recorded as being from The Phoenix pub at Bush Fair to the Pinnacles.
Because pensioners are entitled to free local bus travel their tickets do not include a price, but journey details are recorded so bus firms can claim the cost of the concessionary fare from Harlow Council.
The cost of bus travel to the council - which from 1 April will be extended to cover journeys anywhere in England - has been rising rapidly and uncontrollably, contributing to the council's cash problems.
The incorrect tickets were collected by four Mark Hall pensioners who contacted Liberal Democrat councillors Lesley Rideout and Robert Thurston. Robert Thurston says:
"We've just had to make quite a few staff redundant, largely because of the cost of funding bus travel. Now it looks like we've been paying well over the odds.Pensioners receiving incorrect tickets are encouraged to send them to Cllr Lesley Rideout, with details of the actual journey undertaken.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Liberal Democrat council leader Chris Millington and Staple Tye councillor Lorna Spenceley joined youth councillors, council staff and funders for a special VIP preview evening at the new Cafe Youth.
Cafe Youth is a new cafe created by young people for young people, with a chill-out zone with comfy chairs and coffee; a video game and sports zone with the latest video machines, a pool table and computers; and a healthy eating zone where all products are sold at pocket money prices. Chris Millington says:
"What's really great about Cafe Youth is that it's something the young people themselves have made. The Harlow Council of the old days would have done everything itself for the young people - by contrast, we've enabled the young people to develop their own premises in their own way, attracting funding and bringing partners together to make it work."Conveniently situated at 21 Westgate - the former bookmakers' - Cafe Youth will be opening its doors in earnest for the first time on Friday 28 March. The hours will be Fridays 4-8pm, Saturdays 4-9pm, and Sundays 2-6pm. School holiday opening information will be available in due course on Harlow Council's web site.
For more information, call 446012 or email
Harlow Youth Council.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Minister visits to find out about council improvement
Lib Dem council leader Chris Millington and Cllr Lorna Spenceley were on hand to meet government minister John Healey MP yesterday, when he came to Harlow to see at first hand the story of Harlow Council's improvement.
Mr Healey, minister for local government at the Department of Communities & Local Government, toured Harlow and met councillors, officers and partner organisations at the Civic Centre for a presentation on how the council moved straight from being a Poor council to a Good one - a step taken by only four other district councils in the country. Cllr Millington says:
"The improvement demonstrated by Harlow Council is clearly of interest well beyond our boundaries. It's great news that ministers are keen to visit us to find out how we achieved it, and to hear about our ambitious plans for the future and the regeneration of Harlow."
Monday, March 10, 2008
Some interesting planning applications have been submitted to Harlow Council's planning department.
BT want to halve the numbers of payphones in various parts of the town centre, and replacing the remaining kiosks with new ones - at Marks & Spencers, The Rows, Westgate, Nationwide, and Adams House (ref HW/PL/08/00062 to 0066).
There's an application by the Scouts for fencing at the scout hut on School Lane (ref HW/PL/08/00068).
A revised application has been submitted for a two-storey day care centre at Goldsmiths (ref HW/PL/08/00070).
And there's an application for a new builders' merchants' warehouse at Dukes Park industrial estate on Edinburgh Way (ref HW/PL/08/00071).
Don't forget you can look up planning applications on Harlow Council's planning pages.
Conference a success - Harlow Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrats in Harlow have returned from their spring conference in Liverpool in an upbeat mood. The conference, which meets twice a year, had a record number of people attending it. Five members attended from Harlow. Lib Dem deputy council leader Cllr Robert Thurston says:
"The Liberal Democrats had a successful conference. We had important debates about putting people back in control of the NHS and ensuring there are enough affordable homes for all who need them.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Liberal Democrat Conference backs plans to build 1.3 million new social houses
The Liberal Democrat Spring Conference today backed measures to build 1.3 million new social homes over the next ten years. The plans aim to greatly reduce the waiting list for social housing which currently stands at over 1.6 million, up nearly 60 per cent since 1997. Other main proposals include:
"We must build faster and better with at least one million new affordable homes in the next ten years to solve Britain's housing crisis.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Liberal Democrats back plans to protect legal aid
The Liberal Democrat Spring Conference today called on ministers to ensure that legal aid reforms do not restrict access to justice for the most vulnerable groups in society.
The Government's proposed reforms do not take into account factors like location, translation services and the level of legal expertise required, all of which could result in poor families losing access to free high quality advice. The Liberal Democrats would:
"Justice for all is one of the cornerstones of a free and liberal society and a fundamental human right. In its botched legal aid reforms, the Government has failed to protect one of the most important pillars of the welfare state.
Liberal Democrat spring conference backs radical plans for the health service
The Liberal Democrat Spring Conference has backed plans to radically transform the NHS into a 'people's health service' by empowering individuals and decentralising control to local communities.
The measures will set the NHS free from central government control, make it accountable to the people it serves through elected health boards and deliver high quality services to all guaranteed in a 'Patient's Contract'. Plans contained in the policy paper Empowerment, Fairness and Quality in Healthcare include:
"I am thrilled by this result; it is a very significant vote for the Liberal Democrats. The Government's obsession with targets has distorted clinical priorities without giving specific rights to patients.
Friday, March 07, 2008
'Cut income tax in Budget', Lib Dems urge Chancellor
Chancellor Alistair Darling should cut national income tax, paid for by rises in green taxes, when he delivers his Budget on 12 March, say Harlow's Liberal Democrats. Harlow's Lib Dem council leader Chris Millington says:
"The people of Harlow have been squeezed by higher prices for energy and rising council tax over the past year.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Public being denied proper debate on the EU - Clegg
Commenting on the result of today's Parliamentary vote on the issue of an in-out referendum on Britain's future in Europe, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said:
"Today's result simply confirms the determination of Labour and Conservative MPs to deny the people of Britain a real say over our future in Europe.Harlow Labour MP Bill Rammell was among those who voted against an in-out referendum.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Three million poor families paying too much council tax
As many as three million families living in poverty are missing out on an average payment of £700 to help pay for rocketing council tax bills, according to new figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats. Despite the average council tax bill having almost doubled since Labour came to power the numbers of people taking up council tax benefit has fallen by at least 12 per cent between 1997-98 and 2005-06. Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Danny Alexander MP says:
"Council tax is hitting those in poverty disproportionately hard, making life incredibly difficult for millions of hard-working poor families and especially their children. Council tax should be scrapped and replaced with a fair local income tax, so that people pay what they can afford. Families in poverty should not be subsidising local services for everyone else."
Liberal Democrats launch debt advice proposals
Ahead of the publication of the Thoresen Review into personal debt today, the Liberal Democrats have released their own plans on how to tackle the rising problem of personal debt. The Lib Dem paper calls for free generic debt advice centres to be opened around the country to stem the tide of rising repossessions and bankruptcies. The service would be funded half by the Government and half by the financial services industry. Liberal Democrat deputy leader Vince Cable MP said:
"The Government has toyed with the idea of supporting a generic financial advice network for the best part of a decade, without taking any action. With credit card debt soaring, repossessions increasing and the results of irresponsible lending unravelling, this service is vital to stop families sinking further into the red.
Public backs Lib Dem position on Europe referendum by over 2:1
The public strongly prefers the Liberal Democrats' call for a referendum on membership of the European Union, rather than the Conservative proposal for a referendum only on the Lisbon Treaty, according to an opinion survey carried out by Ipsos MORI.
38 per cent of the poll favoured a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU altogether, compared to 18 per cent favouring a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty only. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg MP says:
"This opinion poll clearly shows that the Liberal Democrats are the only political party on the side of the British public on the European referendum. It shows that people understand the huge difference between an honest debate about our future in Europe, and David Cameron's mealy-mouthed support for a restrictive referendum on the specific details of the Lisbon Treaty.You can support the campaign for a real referendum by signing up to the petition.
Olympic recognition for Harlow's new sports centre
Local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington has welcomed the news that Harlow's new Gateway Sports and Leisure Centre - currently being built next to Harlow College - has been selected for inclusion in the London 2012 Pre-games training camp guide.
The new centre will be listed as one of the venues in the East of England region that can be used for badminton, basketball, fencing, trampolining, judo and indoor volleyball. Chris says:
"This is absolutely excellent news, and a recognition of the status of this prestigious new public leisure development here in Harlow."
Road improvements needed to cut Harlow congestion
Commenting on transport minister Ruth Kelly's announcement on road and rail needs in the East of England, local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"Harlow is in desperate need of an extra junction on the M11 with a link to the A414 to take more traffic out of Harlow and reduce the congestion on local roads."
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Cycle bid gets Lib Dem thumbs up
Local Lib Dem leader Cllr Chris Millington has thrown his weight behind an application for Harlow to become a specialist cycling town. The bid would mean that Harlow would become one of ten new 'Cycling Demonstration Towns', with local initiatives including cycle routes and training in cycling safety. Chris says:
"This looks to be an excellent scheme that fits in well with Harlow Council's commitment to provide first class sports and leisure opportunities for local residents. Cycling is an increasingly important part of the town's transport infrastructure and something we are keen to promote."