Category Archives: National policy

A14 – why should years of underinvestment take an unjust toll?

Dave WoodSuffolk Lib Dems are deeply critical of  proposals to toll the A14. “We are saying  to government “You have got this wrong! Listen to us and to what the people of Suffolk are saying and revisit your decision to toll the A 14.”  And the majority of Suffolk organisations,  both private and Local Authority-led, are with us, ”  Leader David Wood told October’s full council meeting last Thursday.

The Lib Dems amended the  Conservative motion (to persuade the government to reconsider the need for tolling on this much-needed infrastructure project) by adding in reference to Suffolk’s  pressing need for investment in sustainable transport from  Felixstowe to Cambridge and beyond.

” The A14  is an esssential conduit between East Anglia and the heart of England –  and yet for years there has been underinvestment by various governments in major infrastructure projects in East Anglia. Imposing a toll on the new road would be a further tax on Suffolk,” said Cllr Wood. “We have the largest port in the country, major industry that is expanding, a growing tourist economy  – the two AONB’s alone are worth £300m annually-  and yet we are being told that  if you want this highway  (its not even a motorway) you must pay for it!!  We wouldn’t mind so much if this were government policy across the country, but it isn’t. Of all the current  planned road-building schemes, only the A14  is planned to generate income, ”

“We recognise that Suffolk must be at the table when this subject is being discussed  if we are going to put the point across successfully. This is why we were unable to support a Labour motion to withdraw the £1m funding SCC’s putting towards this major project. A million pounds is a huge amount of money but Suffolk County Council  must be at the forefront of every discussion – putting the case for the people and industry of Suffolk to have its say and obtain a fair deal.

Investment in major infrastructure projects for East Anglia are long overdue which is why we are insisting  that rail links between Felixstowe to Cambridge and beyond  must also be looked at. Suffolk is an important player in the UK’s recovery and deserves investment without taxation,” said Cllr Wood.

Lib Dem spokesperson for Transport , Caroline Page, who seconded the amendment, adds ” years of underinvestment in Suffolk railways has left us with rail services from Ipswich to Cambridge and Peterborough which fall well short of what is required for effective day-to-day operation. In its current state the rail system is unable to provide a viable  alternative to a tolled A14.  This makes any decision to toll doubly unfair, because there isn’t the capacity for a reliable public transport alternative. ”


Pupil Premium – a fairer society in Suffolk?

Suffolk schools pupil premiumA fascinating new interactive map will show you exactly how much extra funding  your local school has been able to claim via Pupil Premium

An extra £25,000? £75,000? £242,000?

Woodbridge county councillor Caroline Page is delighted to point out that ” this school year, Woodbridge’s excellent and inclusive  Farlingaye High School has been able to claim nearly a quarter of a million pounds to provide additional  support to pupils from hard-pressed homes. This is thanks to the  Liberal Democrats  in the Coalition government.”

The Pupil Premium – which is additional to main school funding – is an initiative introduced by the Liberal Democrats in government which intends to address the current underlying inequalities between children eligible for free school meals and their peer. It is doing this very practically by ensuring that funding to tackle disadvantage reaches the pupils who need it most.

You can click here to seach the map for yourself and find out for yourself what your  school has been able to claim.

However, getting the funding is only the start. “Its quite a revelation to see how much money is going into Suffolk schools. We now have to see what they are doing with it, ” points out Suffolk Lib Dem schools spokesperson, Penny Otton

Lets stop being modest about LibDem achievements

Dave WoodOn this Sunday’s  Politics programme, SCC  Lib Dem leader Dave Wood will be voicing robust support for his party at both local and national level  in advance of the Lib Dem party conference.

“After the initial shock at finding ourselves blamed for everything the Coalition government does, and the protest vote that cost us seats, we’ve realised that people have got into the habit of relying on us  to hold the worst excesses of the Tories at bay, without acknowledging any of the good things we do. They’re having their cake and eating it! “ he says.

“So, instead of just getting on and doing the job  – as we always do – we have to start shouting about our local and national successes. It’s  up to us to bring our out light from under the bushel because it is clearly in the interests of both Tories and Labour to keep it hidden.  But we do a lot. Let’s stop being so modest about our achievements.

Locally our hard work and dedication is acknowledged and respected. This is why no sitting Suffolk LibDem councillor lost their seat in the 2013 election. Yet for far too long we have been hard-working councillors that everybody knows and relies on without expecting the pat on the backs we deserve.  We need to be proud of what we have achieved and be proud to tell everyone about our successes. In Suffolk, our local defence of local services saw off Andrea Hill’s New Strategic Direction, while nationally, we are behind all those many innovations like the triple lock pension, tax-cuts for the low paid, the pupil premium, and bringing record numbers of poorer students into higher education etc. These are improving life for so many of us in Suffolk – and in the UK as a whole.

We need to confront people with the reality:  ask them what the Tories would be doing if we Lib Dems weren’t there to rein them in and keep watch on things. Unlike a lot of other European countries, the UK is not used to Coalition  governments and hasn’t fully understood how they work. Too many people choose to  see this Coalition as a friendship group, rather than what it is –  a temporary alliance of very differing views.  It suits the Labour party to support this view – after all the Coalition only exists to deal with the mess they left this country in.

We must not be afraid to tell everyone what we are doing and be proud to do so.”