"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, September 29, 2008
Lib Dems in Harlow challenge Conservatives on economy
Liberal Democrats in Harlow have thrown down the gauntlet to the Conservatives on the eve of their conference by demanding answers to questions about the economy.
Leading the charge for the local Liberal Democrats is Lib Dem council leader Chris Millington. He said that with the credit crunch biting hard, residents in Harlow have a right to know what the Conservatives would do to restore the economy to health.
"The credit crunch started last year but so far, the Conservatives have said a lot about how badly the economy is going, and very little about how they want the economy restored to health.Cllr Millington is calling for answers to the following.
Will the Conservatives make the richest pay their fair share of tax?
The only tax proposals announced by the Conservatives are to cut Inheritance Tax for millionaires, abolish Stamp Duty on shares and introduce a marriage-based tax system which would penalise widows, those escaping domestic violence and anyone else who is not married.
Will the Conservatives continue to defend the behaviour of City fat-cat speculators?
The Conservatives have refused to criticise the City hedge funds, which have significantly worsened the recent financial crisis.
What do the Conservatives mean by sharing the proceeds of growth, and how will they do it in a recession?
Why have the Conservatives nothing to say about council and other social housing?
The Conservatives brought council house building effectively to an end when they were last in government. Now council housing is badly needed but the Conservatives have been silent about this.
Do the Conservatives now admit they got it wrong on Northern Rock?
The Conservatives failed to see the Northern Rock fiasco coming. When it did arrive they kept changing their position on how to deal with it. Now that other banks are facing difficulties will they continue to oppose state ownership on ideological grounds?
Why did the Conservatives ignore the dangerous boom in lending and house prices?
Whilst the Government let the boom in credit get out of control, the Conservatives sat idly by. Now that the housing bubble has burst, the Conservatives are happy to make political capital. Their frontbencher Andrew Mitchell MP said that the economic problems besetting the country have created 'an incredibly good moment' for the Conservatives. How can taxpayers believe they will do anything to tackle the problem were they in government? (Source: ePolitix.com 26/9/08)
What is their view of house prices?
High house prices mean many people are unable to get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder. However, the Conservatives have so far failed to accept that prices needs to be more realistic. They were the first to propose a Stamp Duty holiday to get first time buyers into the market. Yet that same policy completely failed when they introduced it the last time they were in office. People did not want to buy homes which a few months later would be worth a great deal less than they paid for it.
Why do the Conservatives still support Council Tax?
The last Conservative Government introduced the unfair Council Tax in the wake of the disastrous Poll Tax. 15 years on and after it has doubled under the current Government, the Tories have still failed to tackle this flawed tax, which disproportionately hits pensioners and poor families.
Cllr Millington said:
"So far the Conservatives have failed to tackle any of the big issues facing families today.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Essex Tories cry wolf over financial crisis
Liberal Democrats at Essex County Council have questioned Conservative claims that the budget for services for the elderly is in crisis - a claim that is not shown on the council's balance sheets.
Speaking about the claims, Cllr Tom Smith-Hughes, Liberal Democrats leader on Essex County Council, said:
"The Conservatives have been bleating about the lack of funding for services for the elderly for some time now. There is a problem of inadequate funding by the Labour government. However, it is an astonishing fact that they have chosen not to spend the money they allocated themselves to spend on this service.
Tories forced to stop rubbishing school children
Work on this year's SATS tests in schools should be torn up and thrown away, according to Conservatives at Essex County Council. The Conservatives presented a motion to annul the results, at the meeting of the full council today, but were embarrassed into withdrawing the offending words after criticism by the Liberal Democrat group.
Commenting on the motion, Cllr Tom Smith-Hughes, Liberal Democrats leader on Essex County Council, said:
"I am astonished at the crass insensitivity shown by the Conservatives towards the hard work done by children, their teachers and parents this year. About four months have been spent in schools, preparing for and taking SATS tests, in good faith that their work would be part of their overall year assessment. To even suggest that this has been a waste of their time is unforgiveable.
Harlow Liberal Democrats back action to save homes from repossession
Plans that could save many residents of Harlow from the trauma of home repossession have been backed by local Liberal Democrats. With the credit crunch biting, many households are struggling to keep up mortgage payments and risk losing their homes.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable MP launched the plans on 27 August that could stop many people being thrown out of their homes because of the growing mortgage crisis. Local Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington said:
"The fear of repossession is stalking communities in Harlow and the Labour government is not doing enough to protect people from the worst effects of the mortgage crisis.The Liberal Democrat proposals include:
"The Government seems obsessed with fighting a losing battle to artificially prop up the housing market, rather than finding ways to deal with its worst effects. Ministers must act to help the thousands of families struggling to keep a roof over their heads."
Friday, September 05, 2008
Residents hit hard by rising prices
Local residents in Harlow are being hit hard by rocketing costs for food, energy and fuel.
It doesn't matter how much we earn, all of us are paying more when we buy basic groceries, pay the gas bill or fill up the car. Hardest hit of all are those on fixed incomes - especially pensioners.
Everyone we meet is worried about rising prices. There is also a lot of fear about job losses and the threat of repossessions as house prices fall. People want to see action from Gordon Brown, but nothing seems to be happening.
Gordon Brown and Labour are simply out of touch with real life in Harlow. It is time for a change.
Local Liberal Democrats are fighting for a better deal for local people hardest hit by rising prices. They want to see a big rise in the basic pension to make sure older people can afford to heat their homes properly this winter.
Pensioners have been let down by Conservative and now Labour Governments. Liberal Democrats say: we need to give older people a fair deal at last.