"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, July 28, 2008
Lib Dems launch proposals to tackle fuel poverty
The Liberal Democrats have set out how to help people struggling with rising energy costs with the publication of Tackling Fuel Poverty, launched today by Nick Clegg.
Energy companies should be compelled to use the money from a £9bn European windfall to help protect some of the most vulnerable people from the effects of fuel poverty, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said today.
The call comes as the Liberal Democrats publish their document Tackling Fuel Poverty, which sets out measures designed to help people struggling from rising energy costs.
The energy firms received the multi billion pound windfall thanks to the giveaway of free permits to emit carbon dioxide under the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme. Previous estimates have put the proceeds of that windfall at £9bn, although a recent letter to Nick Clegg from Ofgem estimates the true figure could be even higher.
Proposals in Tackling Fuel Poverty include:
Punish those selling knives to children
Liberal Democrats in Harlow are calling for tougher action against those caught selling knives to children and young people.
Liberal Democrat council leader Cllr Chris Millington made the call after being sent figures for prosecutions that were uncovered in Parliament by Chris Huhne MP, the party's Shadow Home Secretary.
The figures reveal that:
"This is a completely inadequate deterrent to unscrupulous shop keepers who flout the law to sell these weapons to children and young people.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Local welcome for Liberal Democrat vision for Britain
Liberal Democrats in Harlow have welcomed the launch of the Liberal Democrats' vision for Britain by Party Leader Nick Clegg MP. Called Make it Happen, the paper will be debated at the party's conference in Bournemouth in September.
In Make it Happen the Liberal Democrats say:
No resident of Harlow has escaped the rising cost of food and fuel. The credit crunch is biting hard and local people are feeling the pinch.
Nick Clegg has set out how we can help ordinary people through cutting taxes on those on low and middle incomes. Thousands of people in Harlow will benefit from this.
We are taking the plans in Make it Happen to the people of Harlow during the summer to get their response. And in September, we will be heading to the Liberal Democrats' conference where we are looking forward to taking part in the debate."
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Lib Dems vote against Tory plans for massive waste plants in Essex
Liberal Democrats at Essex County Council have voted against Tory plans to build large waste treatment plants in Essex. The vote was taken after a debate on waste at County Hall. Commenting on the vote, Cllr Ian Gale, Essex County Council Liberal Democrats spokesman for waste and recycling, said:
"We have repeatedly raised our concerns over the Conservatives' plans to deal with waste in the future. We oppose the massive waste treatment plants favoured by the Tories, as these plants need constant feeding and that is likely to discourage more recycling. We believe that the recycling targets set by the administration are too timid and this view is backed up by an independent Commission that looked at the Conservatives' proposals.
Tory county leader doesn't want public to speak at council meetings
Lord Hanningfield, Conservative leader of Essex County Council, has slammed a proposal by the Liberal Democrats to allow the public to speak directly to councillors at council meetings and to ask questions about the work of the council. The Leader made his comments at a debate on public participation at a meeting of the full council.
Responding to the comments, Cllr Tom Smith-Hughes, Liberal Democrats group leader on Essex County Council, said:
"The Leader's comments today show a level of arrogance that is almost impossible to comprehend. There are many district and borough councils across Essex that have had such a permanent and designated spot for members of the public for several years. We are only asking for something that the public is getting already from their councils locally anyway.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Let the public speak at County Council meetings
Liberal Democrats at Essex County Council have put forward plans for members of the public to take part in open council meetings at County Hall. A motion submitted by the group proposes a 'public questions' spot at meetings of the full council, where any member of the public can put a question directly to the administration. Speaking about the idea, Cllr Tom Smith-Hughes, Liberal Democrats group leader on Essex County Council, said:
"It is about time that local residents and taxpayers were given an opportunity to take an active role in how their council works, what their council tax is used for and why decisions are made. It is not enough to talk the localism talk, residents must be included in the democratic process in a real and meaningful way.The motion will be debated at the next full meeting of Essex County Council on 15 July.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Labour side with phone giants against local communities
Liberal Democrats in Harlow have launched a stinging attack on Bill Rammell, Labour MP for Harlow, for siding with phone company giants rather than residents in a row over the power of communities to stop inappropriately sited phone masts.
Currently, fewer restrictions govern planning applications for phone masts up to 15 metres in height, often making it difficult for councils like Harlow to refuse permission for controversial proposals.
Liberal Democrats in Parliament recently moved an amendment to the Planning Bill which would have meant applications for phone masts would have required full planning permission and therefore be considered in the same way as applications for new buildings or change of use of existing ones.
But Labour MPs, including Mr Rammell, voted against the call - and Conservative MPs did not bother voting at all. Local Liberal Democrat planning spokesman Cllr Lorna Spenceley says:
"Bill Rammell had the opportunity to side with local communities or with giant phone companies. It is extremely disappointing so see that he decided to back the latter - and that the Conservatives just sat on their hands.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Audit of MPs' expenses
Local leader Cllr Chris Millington has welcomed the announcement by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg that his party is committing to unilaterally introduce proposals rejected by Parliament yesterday on the audit of MPs' expenses. These include independent spot checks of the expenses of the party's MPs. Chris said:
"It is good to see Liberal Democrat MPs setting an example and showing that they have nothing to fear from open, independent scrutiny of their expenses.Harlow Labour MP Bill Rammell was absent from the vote in parliament on external audit of MPs' expenses. No Liberal Democrat MP voted against the proposals for independent external audit.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Councils must be set free from Whitehall
Councils should be set free from depending on Whitehall funding by raising three-quarters of their money locally, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said today in a speech to the Local Government Association Conference in Bournemouth.
Explaining the Liberal Democrats' position as the only party willing to properly devolve power and money away from central government by re-localising business rates and scrapping the council tax, Nick accused the Government and the Tories of only 'talking the talk' about empowering communities. Nick also labelled the regional ministerial posts introduced a year ago by Gordon Brown as 'pointless gimmicks' and call for them to be scrapped. Nick said:
"Centralised government simply doesn't work to deliver the change I want for Britain. It doesn't improve services fast enough. And it certainly doesn't deliver fairer outcomes - where everybody gets opportunities no matter what their background is.Speaking about radically reforming how local government is funded, he said:
"The Liberal Democrats are committed to scrapping Council Tax. It's Britain's unfairest tax. Based on property values nearly twenty years ago, instead of what people can afford to pay.Calling for regional ministers to be scrapped, Nick said:
"It's time to scrap regional ministers and spend the money on something useful. Devolving power isn't about having a national minister 'advocating' national policy in the regions. It's about letting the regions - and below them, councils, communities and people - make decisions for themselves.