Category Archives: National policy

LibDems are standing for the 48%

48Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has pledged to fight the next General Election on a platform taking Britain back into Europe.

Since Britain voted for Brexit on Thursday thousands of people have joined the Liberal Democrats and all Suffolk Lib Dem groups are seeing a share of this surge.

The economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote  will affect jobs, people’s homes and livelihoods.  While accepting the result of the referendum, the Liberal Democrats plan to make the case for us to rejoin the heart of Europe.

“For many millions of people, this was not just a vote about Europe. It was a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they felt they were out of touch and had let them down,” said  Tim .

“The British people deserve the chance not to be stuck with the appalling consequences of a Leave campaign that stoked that anger with the lies of Farage, Johnson and Gove.

“The Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear promise to restore British prosperity and role in the world, with the UK in the European Union, not out.

If you agree with us, join us to make this happen.”

You can join the LibDems here

Caroline Page

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Europe: Keep Britain IN

InIn Europe, Britain can thrive. Together we will be a stronger and more prosperous nation, creating opportunity for future generations, respected all over the world.

Together we created the world’s largest free trade area, we delivered peace, and we gave the British people the opportunity to live, work and travel freely. History shows that Britain is better when it is united with Europe.

Together we are stronger in the fight against the global problems that don’t stop at borders. We can stop international crime, we can fight climate change, and together we will provide hope and opportunity for the future.

It is not the time to turn our backs on Europe, leaving us isolated, sidelined and alone.

By voting to remain in, Britain can thrive.

Together we show the world an open, outward-facing Britain we can all be proud of.

Join the Liberal Democrat campaign today, to remain in together, and to stand up for the type of Britain you think we should be.

www.libdems.org.uk/europe

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Suffolk’s Law Courts Under Threat – Lobby or Lose Them!

Suffolk LibDems  have joined in cross-party unanimity to condemn government proposals to close all law courts in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft leaving the county with just the courts in Ipswich.

In brief, the Ministry of Justice proposes that:

a) Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court is closed and the civil hearing work move to Great Yarmouth(Magistrates’ Court and Family Court), the family hearing work to Ipswich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court)., and the criminal work move to Great Yarmouth (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court) and Norwich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court).

b) that Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court and Family Court and Bury St Edmunds Crown Court are closed, and the existing magistrates’ and family workload  be moved to Ipswich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court) and Norwich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court). It is also proposed that victim and witness facilities will be installed at Bury St. Edmunds County Court and Tribunals which would enable court users, in suitable matters, to give evidence by video link!

All to save £600,000 a year. Truly this government knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Continue reading Suffolk’s Law Courts Under Threat – Lobby or Lose Them!

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Liberal Democrats call on MPs to reject Right to Buy for Housing Associations

Lib Dems are opposing the government decision to allow the tenants of Housing Associations the right to buy the homes they rent so the Mid Suffolk group are putting the following to the council

Motion to Mid Suffolk district council  “This council supports the housing charity “Shelter” in its campaign to persuade the Tory government that its plan to introduce the right to buy to housing association properties is ill conceived. The council therefore resolves to lobby all Suffolk MPs and government ministers to reject this policy as the council is concerned at the loss of such social housing for future generations”

This council has one of its strategic priorities, housing, to ensure there is enough good quality, environmentally efficient homes, with appropriate tenures in the right location.

To have a policy of extending the right to buy to housing associations will not improve the housing crisis it will exacerbate it.

Even the National Housing Federation chief executive has publicly stated “this will have a serious and long lasting consequence for future generations. It will not solve the housing crisis :  it will make it worse” Continue reading Liberal Democrats call on MPs to reject Right to Buy for Housing Associations

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Blah blah blah – Local Government Conference at Harrogate

Harrosmall
Local Government Conference (John Pienaar speaking)

Attended my first Local Government Association Conference last week in Harrogate. As you can imagine there was a great deal of blah, blah, blah but a few interesting speakers. Jeremy Hunt, the Health minister, put forward his ideas on how they were going to reduce demand on the NHS. It appears as though it’s all my fault – overweight, a bit of a smoker and I live on my own. So if I give up drinking, smoking and eating the NHS should be safe. Then all of us retired people should move back in with our children to reduce care costs and free up some housing – great in theory but it presumes that you have to got rid of your kids in the first place!

John Pienaar gave us his views on the state of the parties after the election – it looks like we could be in for a long spell of Tory rule. Mind you it was interesting watching the ‘group’ of Tories from Suffolk County Council spend 3 days trying to avoid each other. It is a worry for the residents of Suffolk because I just don’t see the quality of Cabinet member required to deliver the services with reduced funds. In two years time, with the Tory Government delivering the peak level of austerity cuts, the County Council elections could deliver a mixed colour administration.

I hope that the many Council CEOs that were there spent more time talking with the many exhibitors who seem to have already come up with some innovative solutions – my favourite was the rubbish bin that has its own built-in compactor thus reducing the emptying frequency.

Dave Busby
County Councillor, Belstead Brook
Spokesman, Audit and FInance

Continue reading Blah blah blah – Local Government Conference at Harrogate

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LIB DEMS SUPPORT “SHELTER” CAMPAIGN TO STOP SALE OF HOUSING ASSOCIATION HOMES

Suffolk Liberal Democrats are supporting the campaign by the housing charity “SHELTER” to stop the new Tory government selling housing association homes. Housing Associations are “not for profit” organisations set up to provide social housing, often using land given at no cost by local councils. Selling these homes will just make the housing crisis worse NOT improve it!!

Penny Otton
Spokesperson for Education, Skills, Young People and Localities

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LibDems fight for East of England Jobs

CBIFOcusMEPcandidatesLike it or not, more than 4 million UK jobs depend on Britain remaining in the European Union.

Which is why the Lib Dems want us to stay in Europe, unlike UKIP and the many Conservative Eurosceptics. Pulling out of Europe would be disastrous for the economy – and for Suffolk!

In the East of England a staggering 375,000 jobs will be put at risk if Britain leaves the European Union.

“The facts speak for themselves,” says Lib Dem Euro MP Andrew Duff. “Locally, the EU has provided vital funding for job creation projects and has brought in £millions of investment.

The truth is, the EU needs reform, but pulling out would lead to economic disaster.”

 Published and promoted by I Horner on behalf of the Liberal Democrats at Orwell House, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0PP

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NHS Data sharing – it’s your call

file0001810786833 (653x800)Everyone in Suffolk should have received a leaflet through the post  (click here)  about how the government intends to share your personal health data with a variety of ‘approved’ (but unspecified) organisations and ‘researchers’. The leaflet came without an envelope and  will probably  have arrived with a lot of other leaflets  and many people may have thrown it away unread.

The leaflet tells you, “If you are happy for your information to be shared “ (or if you have thrown away the leaflet unread) “you do not need to do anything. There is no form to fill in and nothing to sign.”

In other words – you will automatically have opted into having your full medical information shared with whoever the government decides appropriate.

Or indeed, anyone who breaks into the HSCIC ‘secure’ system.

“The thing that worries me, is why is there no form to fill in and nothing to sign?  The government are leafleting every household in the country,and  the form could easily have contained a simple opt-in slip that you could fill in and take to your GP.  Almost everything in this country that’s not compulsory requires an opt in – from electoral registration, to becoming an organ donor. If the government wants to start a trend for opting-out rather than opting-in  why don’t we start with one or both of these?  ” asks Woodbridge County Councillor Caroline Page.

“The second problem I have is  can we be identified via this data?  The leaflet tells you that your name will not be linked to your data but the parent NHS website confirms that they are linking “your date of birth, full postcode, NHS number, and gender will be. That is enough to identify most people.

Theoretically NHS data sharing is a good idea. Nothing would please me – and people like me – more than if a responsible state used our medical data for responsible research to ameliorate our  current problems and make life better for the future. But until we can have better guarantees as to anonymity and security this initiative seems to be fatally flawed.

Personally, I’m happy to share my NHS data with my excellent GP practice, with hospitals and with various expert medical personnel.  But until we can have better guarantees as to anonymity and security  I will not be sharing my data with the state!”

A proposal – which will be discussed next month –  could additionally give access to our data to non-NHS bodies, including private firms. Make a positive decision as to whether you are opting in or out. Contact your GP surgery

Caroline Page

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Carers should have rights every day of the year!

Caroline PageToday, 29th November is officially Carers Rights Day – the day when the UK  celebrates family carers and tells  them what they are worth.

” I am offended by the whole concept.  Carers Rights Day seems to be a day when well-paid professionals and media pundits gather together to pat each other on the backs and declare they care.  The brutal truth is that they don’t.  Society doesn’t. Successive governments don’t.   And when I once asked Unison strikers why they were not striking for family carers they memorably replied “Because you don’t work!” ,” says Woodbridge Councillor, Caroline Page

“Carers wouldn’t need a Carers Rights Day if the state had ever given Family Carers any meaningful rights.  And the right to be accepted as a worker rather than patronised as a rather dim and unworldly saint  comes top of the list,” Cllr Page –  a longterm family carer – maintains.

“If carers were seen as the workers they are, the real cost of that care: the working hours, the loss of careers, the impact of poverty and poor health, the absence of employment-related pensions – all these might be factored into the support offered to them. As it is, people suggest they may like a session of aromatherapy!

“The welfare state has traditionally relied  on the love carers feel for those they care for to save the state the real cost of that care. Yet carers suffer from blighted careers, poverty, poor health (fulltime carers are twice as likely to be in bad health than their peers) and can look forward to little more than an impoverished old age.  Thousands of people like myself have worked unsupported 168 hour weeks for years. It is perfectly possible we might just get worn out!”, says Caroline Page.   “This is not only sad and wrong, it is also very expensive.  How much does it cost to replace 24/7 specialised, knowledgeable care? Five years ago the cost of home care was estimated as between £18 and £27 per hour depending on whether it was daytime, evening or weekend. Goodness knows what it is in 2013.

Every day should be Carers Rights Day – and everyone should recognise and remember they are a single step away from being either a carer or someone who needs  care.”

Caroline Page is calling on the government to look at and act on her wish-list :

  1. Carers Allowance should be viewed as a wage rather than a benefit, awarded to all full-time carers . Currently family carers can claim £59 odd a week -if they don’t earn more than £100:  meaning carers are expected to live and further their careers on £8368  a year. If, of course you earn a little more than £100 a week, you get no carers allowance at all. Yet the constraints on your lifestyle of fulltime caring are very equivalent to those of disability.
  2. The state must further relax rules on ‘other employment’ to allow carers the ‘luxury’ of being able to work, and have some non-caring life outside their responsibilities.
  3. The state should pay into the equivalent of an occupational pension for carers to accurately reflect (ok at minimum wage) the real hours spent caring. This could be established by reference to the cared for’s DLA returns and would give carers the prospect of a securer old age with recognition of what can be decades of real – if unpaid work.
  4. When a family carer is bereaved they are simultaneously made redundant. The state should set up robust and appropriate  training to provide  carers for genuine, satisfying jobs when their caring roles (often sadly) end. This isn’t a luxury – it is a reward for all the unpaid work they have done without prospect of career advancement. 

Caroline Page

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