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Road-map for greater European cooperation proposed

March 14, 2022 5:03 PM

Clean up our water

March 13, 2022 10:53 AM

h772zLast year the government passed legislation which missed the opportunity to clean up our rivers and water supply given revelations that there had been 4000000 incidents over 12 months of untreated sewage entering our waterways

Rather than target water companies with levels of improvement the government opted for a much weaker requirement to show improvement with no end date for improvement. Ignoring the billions made in profits by water companies the government deemed targets as too expensive

Water companies are responsible for this mess, not consumers. Bill payers should not be paying to clean up the mess.

In our new policy voted for by members today, Liberal Democrats are calling for:

  • a Sewage Tax to force water companies to contribute from their massive profits to cleaning up the damage caused by sewage discharges.
  • reducing the number of licences the Environment Agency gives to water companies permitting them to discharge raw sewage into waterways.
  • setting meaningful targets and deadlines for water companies to end sewage discharges into waterways.
  • adding local environmental groups onto water companies boards, to support water companies in their duties to protect and enhance the environment.
  • The promotion of a "public benefit company" model for water companies, so that particular economic and environmental policy objectives are also considered when running the company rather than just a return for shareholders.

By forcing water firms to accept local environmentalists onto their management boards, the public will be able to hold them to account, the Lib Dems said. "Local groups will hear first hand how bad the problem is from water companies and be able to release the details to the public," the party said.

The Lib Dems said the move is inspired by the former frontman of the Undertones, Feargal Sharkey, who has campaigned to clean up Britain's waterways. Mr Farron said: "It is time to name and shame water companies for their disgusting sewage dumps in our rivers.

"Local environmental groups should have a seat at the table to stop water companies trying to get away with outrageous damage to wildlife habitats and popular swimming spots. The campaign to save our rivers from sewage has captured the public's attention like nothing I've seen in years.

"We have to thank Feargal Sharkey for that. I want to see a Feargal on the board of every water company, ensuring this scandal ends once and for all."

Clean up our air

March 12, 2022 6:27 PM

fr32Whilst, understandably, most focus is on what is being done about climate change there are two environmental issues which have greater consequences for peoples health which the government seems to be studiously ignoring

At our Spring Conference yesterday, Lib Dems blasted the Government for its slowness in taking action on air pollution, the cause of thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK.

We passed a motion submitted by Ealing Lib Dems and moved by Hina Bokhari AM which called for a greater empowering of local authorities and the introduction of stricter, legally-binding national limits for particulate matter and other pollutants.

Our spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Wera Hobhouse said after the debate:

"Air pollution is a killer. Thousands of people lose their lives each year, with many others suffering from ill health because of it. This is no legacy to leave to our children, who are in particular danger. It is heartbreaking and a damning indictment on the Conservatives, who have looked the other way.

"It is high time we put the power into the hands of local people and those who have directly suffered from the Government's failure to act more quickly and urgently,

"The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone has the right to clean air. It is incumbent on this Conservative Government to do all they can to uphold that right, by tackling the air pollution crisis head on and cleaning up their act."

Under our proposals, local authorities would receive greater funding to tackle air pollution in their area. This would allow them to install more pollution sensors near major roads and at every urban school, as well as publicising local air quality issues such as live data from those sensors.

We are also calling for funding to be introduced to support a shift to clean fuels for public transport.

Time for radical action on energy prices

January 9, 2022 12:10 PM

t57k (Photo by Parvesh Kumar on Unsplash)As our Prime Minister works on ever less plausible excuses as to why he approached a Tory donor to fund his flat refurbishment apparently in exchange for pushing the donors desire for a new Great Exhibition, back in the real world where wall paper doesn't cost £800 per roll the people he was elected to serve are confronted with an ever growing cost of living crisis

With prices forecast to grow at 6-7% in the Spring, far outpacing wages, energy prices are expected to increase by around £700 per household and National Insurance is also due to increase by anything up to £1200 per worker ( someone on £30,000 - will pay an extra £255 a year (£21.25 per month) for example)

!n addition a recent freezing of income tax allowances slipped into the budget will plunge more than 1.2million people into the 40p higher tax band and an extra 1.5million into the 20p basic rate by 2026 with analysis by the Liberal Democrats, finding that the average British family will pay £430 more each year by then.

There has been talk of cutting VAT on fuel something once promised by Mr Johnson as a benefit of Brexit (see http://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2022/1421767/yet-another-abandoned-brexit-promise) but in truth that will only cut bills by around £100 pa. Better than nothing but not really the solution on its own

While energy bills rise for families, energy producing firms are making record profits.

As Liberal Democrats we are calling for a more radical approach

It's time for a one-off 'Robin Hood Tax' on the oil and gas barons' mega profits to fund extra support for those hardest hit by energy price hikes.

The levy would raise £5 billion to help the most vulnerable by doubling and extending the Warm Homes Discount, doubling the Winter Fuel Allowance, and helping reduce bills in the long term by investing in insulation and energy saving.

The Conservatives have ignored the problem of rising bills for too long.

We need action now so people aren't forced to choose between heating and eating this winter.

We also need to plan for the future , to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, to better insulate our homes and to stop us being caught at the whim of global energy prices. We need a radical green agenda as proposed by the Liberal Democrats ( seehttp://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2021/1417469/four-broken-climate-promises-by-the-conservatives)

Help kids catch up campaign

January 7, 2022 1:37 PM

nnvc (Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)You may recall that as a result of the closure of schools for long periods caused by covid the government appointed an education recovery commissioner for England, Sir Kevan Collins,to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up for lost learning during the pandemic.

Months later Sir Kevan put forward plans costing £15bn to enable pupils to catch up on their learning with the government offering only £1.4bn cash over three years

The government's proposal represents £50 per pupil per year ( one of the lowest amounts allocated by any of the rich nations in Europe or Norh America) - and Sir Kevan wrote to the prime minister saying: "I do not believe it is credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size."

They ignored his advice and he resigned

As we find our way through the latest wave of the pandemic nothing has changed, the money allocated to support those left behind remains inadequate for the job in hand

Lib Dems would invest £15 billion in helping kids catch up, as recommenced and crucially, some of that money would go direct to parents, with £200 of catch up vouchers for every child, and more for those on free school meals or with special needs.

Every child is different and our plan would ensure they get the individual help they need while helping to close the learning gaps between rich and poor.

You can support the campaign at Help Kids Catch Up (libdems.org.uk)

Davey announces flagship education catch-up vouchers policy

September 19, 2021 3:00 PM

ggds (Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash)Today Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has announced a new flagship Education policy on the third day of the party's conference - Catch-Up Vouchers.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a £15 billion package of education catch-up funding, as recommended by the Government's former Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

As part of this, the party is calling for a £5 billion programme of Catch-Up Vouchers for every school child, putting the money directly into parents' hands to spend on whatever their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.

This idea of a three-year programme of education Catch-Up Vouchers would become the world's biggest ever parent-listening exercise.

These Catch-Up Vouchers would be doubled and in some cases tripled, for children in care, for disadvantaged children, and for those with special educational needs.

Commenting on the new policy ahead of his speech Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

Covid should mark a watershed in how we educate our children and young people. It is clearer than ever that we need a massive education catch-up fund. And this catch-up fund - which our schools desperately need - should also give parents a radical new role in their children's education.

If we are to repair and reverse the lost learning our children have suffered, we need this Government to implement what their own catch-up expert recommended, to fire up a fresh direction for education.

Schools should be free to spend their Covid cash as they see best, and parents should have a catch-up fund that goes directly to them in the most radical empowering of

The Liberal Democrats are the party of empowering people, and supporting parents and children is our top priority in the new fair deal we offer. We empowered children and schools with the Pupil Premium, and our Catch-Up Vouchers would empower the most disadvantaged children now.

The policy

Catch-Up Vouchers worth £200 a year for 3 years, given directly to parents for all 8.3 million children in state-funded schools.

Double vouchers (worth £400/yr) for disadvantaged children (those eligible for the Pupil Premium) and those with special educational needs.

Triple vouchers (worth £600/yr) for:

For parents to spend on approved tutors or classes however they choose - through the school or outside of it. Any vouchers not spent over the year go to the child's school for their benefit.

Schools would be encouraged to offer extra catch-up tutoring and classes, funded through vouchers, and teachers encouraged to discuss with parents what would most benefit their children.


Businesses and workers need certainty and support

September 17, 2021 6:36 PM

Frsd2 (Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)99% of businesses in our economy are small businesses. Unfortunately the Government is simply not doing enough to protect them.

The pandemic devastated small businesses as they were forced shut overnight. Retail and hospitality were among the hardest hit. As a result, many businesses are in a rent-arrears crisis with unpaid commercial rent totalling £6 billion.

Covid-19 also took a toll on the UK's towns and highstreets. People lost employment opportunities in the area and the sense of community fostered by local businesses. The Federation of Small Business has released a dire warning that 250,000 businesses could be forced to close by the end of the year.

Small businesses can't have their problems ignored. They need action now.

Today at conference our members called for dedicated support schemes to protect those sectors worst affected by Covid. Included in our small business support package is:

them.

The pandemic devastated small businesses as they were forced shut overnight. Retail and hospitality were among the hardest hit. As a result, many businesses are in a rent-arrears crisis with unpaid commercial rent totalling £6 billion.

Covid-19 also took a toll on the UK's towns and highstreets. People lost employment opportunities in the area and the sense of community fostered by local businesses. The Federation of Small Business has released a dire warning that 250,000 businesses could be forced to close by the end of the year.

Small businesses can't have their problems ignored. They need action now.

Today at conference our members called for dedicated support schemes to protect those sectors worst affected by Covid. Included in our small business support package is:

To read our policy in full please go to https://www.libdems.org.uk/f6-small-businesses-and-jobs

This government has failed countless small businesses and employees during this pandemic. We call for clear policy and not last minute knee-jerk reactions.

It is urgent that the government puts in place the right support for economic recovery post pandemic.

We must act now to ensure our economy is open, fair and creates new job opportunities.


Radical proposals on carbon investments

August 28, 2021 11:20 AM

7js2 (Photo by Photography Account on Unsplash)We have regularly complained that whilst the government is great at announcing radical targets to cut carbon emissions when it comes to actually doing something there is mainly silence

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper our leader Ed Davey put forward some pretty radical ideas about what needs to be done. Recognising that the private sector out invests the state significantly in climate impacting investment he is proposing that new stock exchange listings of fossil fuel companies would be immediately banned on the London Stock Exchange. He would also stop new bonds being issued in London to finance oil, coal or gas exploration.

Fossil fuel firms already listed in the UK would then have two years to produce a coherent plan about how they would reach net zero emissions by 2045, or risk being struck off the LSE.

In the longer term, pension funds would have to disinvest from fossil fuels by 2035, with all companies with fossil fuel assets removed from the exchange by 2045.

"The reality is that no matter how much governments spend, it's going to be totally dwarfed by the amounts banks, private equity and hedge funds invest every day," Davey said.

"So if you're going to really take on climate change you've got to get that private capital to switch from dirty into clean. And this is a fundamental role for Britain in global leadership on climate change."

Huge amounts of fossil fuel financing still went through London, Davey said, pointing to mooted plans by the part-Chinese owned Neptune Energy for a £7bn initial public offering. The company has interests in oil and gas production projects in a number of locations, including Norway, in the North Sea off the UK and Netherlands, in Egypt and Algeria, and with offshore gas in Indonesia and Australia.

Davey said: "We have a chance to change that in the UK. We don't have to wait for anybody else to do it. And we would also show a leadership role to other financial centres. I think New York under President [Joe] Biden would have a real problem if the UK stole the march."

The plan, which would apply only to fossil fuels used for combustion, would in the end help savers and pension funds, he argued: "There's a massive lie being perpetrated by people in the City, these fossil fuel companies and the government. The lie is these investments are safe. They are not safe. If the City of London doesn't take this seriously, it's risking its own future."

You can read the full story here

An alternative relationship with Europe

August 25, 2021 3:08 PM

j7d3 (Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash)Yesterday we covered some of what we assume were some of the unintended consequences of Brexit ( surely no sane person would deliberately plan these problems!).

That's all fine and dandy you might be thinking but given we have now left the EU what is the Liberal Democrat position on Europe

Well the party supports a longer-term objective of UK membership of the the EU, but we accept that an immediate campaign to reverse Brexit, would alienate voters sick of the recent history of Brexit-inspired division and bitterness. In the short-term we would like the closest possible alignment between the UK and the EU on trade, security, environmental, social, judicial, educational and scientific issues.

We voted against he government's disastrous Trade and Cooperation Agreement was finalised at the end of 2020, ('the only "free" trade deal in history to put up new barriers to trade instead of pulling them down').and are currently working on policies to determine the best possible future framework for the UK-EU relationship across all policy areas, with the aims of:

(a) demonstrating the benefits to UK citizens and businesses of a much closer relationship compared to the government's inadequate measures;

(b) recommending roadmaps for the UK to re-join the Customs Union, Single Market and other EU agencies and programmes as appropriate; and

(c) maximising public support for eventual UK membership of the EU.'

The basic thrust of the party's position is therefore clear: to demonstrate how the version of Brexit that the government has chosen is disastrous for the UK in every respect, and to call for a different relationship in the immediate term - for example, membership of the Single Market - that would be much better. In this way, we aim to construct a 'roadmap to re-join' that ultimately convinces the electorate - including a sizeable number of those who voted Leave in 2016 - that membership of the EU is in the UK's best interests.

The future of the relationship between the UK and EU in the next few years will be one of the most crucial issues this country will face; it is hard to think of any policy area it does not affect, or any individual, community or business it will not have an impact on. Making sure the Liberal Democrats develop a principled and practical set of proposals to deal with this, with the ultimate aim of persuading the electorate to support the UK re-joining the EU, is one of the most critical tasks in front of the party, and we hope you will help us fulfil it.

Under 100 days to save the planet

July 27, 2021 5:30 PM

nnd5Its now under 100 days before the Climate Change conference in Glasgow which aims to agree actions to be taken across the globe to reduce carbon emissions and reach the target of limiting temperature growth to under 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The growing number of climate catastrophises hitting the world in recent years shows how critical this is

The UK is hosting the conference and a lot rests on our ability to cajole others to increase there current commitments to action

We have alienated many poor countries with our withdrawal of aid to them some of which was to help with climate change. On paper we have an aggressive set of targets to reduce carbon emissions although as we have commented before there are few actions actually in train to show how these targets will be delivered by the government

It is against this background the Liberal Democrats have launched a green recovery plan. There are five main themes to the plan

Save our countryside

4 out of 10 species are in decline and we are failing 17 of our 20 biodiversity targets. We want to clean up waterways, restore peat bogs and plant trees to help restore the natural environment

Green every home

Our homes account for 14% of UK emissions and yet the Conservatives scrapped the Green Homes Grant reducing the attractiveness of taking positive action. Our plan would see upgrades to insulation in all homes by 2030 and require all new homes to be built eco friendly

Clean up our air

One in four kids attend schools in areas over air polution limits. The UK has broken air pollution limits for a decade. We would invest £20bn in a clear air fund to create safe walking and cycling routes to schools and invest in pollution free public transport

Revolutionise British transport

Transport is our biggest single source of omissions. We would invest £40bn over three years in rail, buses and trams and electric vehicle charging points

Kickstart the switch to green energy

We already generate over half our energy from renewable sources but need to address the rest if we are to me emission reduction targets. Our aim is to make the investment now to ensure 80% of electricity comes from green sources by 2030

You can show your support for this programme by going to Green Recovery Plan - Liberal Democrats (libdems.org.uk)

Ed Davey calls for help on self-employed tax

July 26, 2021 1:08 PM

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The worlds poor

July 14, 2021 1:55 PM

j42cThe government won its parliamentary vote yesterday to cut aid spend from the legally obliged 0.7% to 0.5%. All Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the proposal

Given his recent time in the news it would seem odd that we would lead our article with a quote from a somewhat discredited Tory ex-Prime Minister

But his thoughts are not isolated

Here are three others

These quotes are not from woke bleeding heart liberals but from two past Conservative Prime Ministers ( Teresa May and John Major ) and the very popular ex -leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson

At a time when the world faces the fall-out from the pandemic cutting our aid spend by £4bn means more children will die, fewer girls will go to school, less investment in climate action and less care for the sick in some of the worlds poorest countries. We are one of the worlds richest countries and our behaviour is shameful. We know opinion polls shows cuts to aid are popular which is probably what motivates the cuts but nit doesnt alter the fact we are cutting aid to some of the worlds poorest and most destitute people

One quote to finish from our leader Ed Davey

Boris Johnson has just switched off millions of Conservative voters by callously breaking his promise and abandoning millions of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our world.

It's decisions like this that will make millions of voters, especially in the Blue Wall, move away from the Conservatives in droves. This Conservative government has lost touch with the values of our country.

The right to peacefully protest

July 5, 2021 12:40 PM

bg53Protest has always been a crucial part of our democratic society in Britain. The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right.

Today MPs will consider the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which includes provisions to allow restrictions on protests to prevent excessive noise, a vague description which risks unnecessary curtailment of the right to protest. The bill proposes changing the Public Order Act to mean police can impose conditions on protests if the "noise generated by persons taking part … may have a relevant impact on persons in the vicinity".

UN special rapporteurs, parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have all publicly raised concerns about the bill.

noise clause was narrower.

A government spokesperson said: "The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but the government will not tolerate a small disruptive minority impacting the rights of others to go about their business without unnecessary disruption.

"The police have been clear that public order legislation is out of date and have stated their support for further powers that will allow them to better manage the highly disruptive tactics used by protest groups today."

The problem is this statement is a complete over exaggeration

The Independent reports that neither police chiefs, elected commissioners, nor Britain's largest force requested the power.

The Metropolitan Police, which hosts the vast majority of large demonstrations that could be affected by the law, said it did "not request the legal change on noise".

The NPCC's lead on public order told parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights that police chiefs had asked for a "lower, broader threshold" for imposing conditions but not a law relating to noise specifically.

Attempts will be made in Parliament to take out these overly restrictive noise clauses. As Liberal Democrats we oppose attempts to restrict the right to peaceful protest. If you agree with us you can join our campaign at Stop the Protest Crackdown Law (libdems.org.uk)

What Liberal Democrat's would do.

June 21, 2021 7:44 PM

dreToday is opposition day in Parliament . With such a big majority the government rarely loses a vote allowing an opposition motion to pass. Nonetheless it gives an indication of what other parties would do if in power

The tweets below summarise what Liberal Democrat MPs are proposing.All sensible stuff we hope you will agree and a long way from some of the cultural posturing of the current government

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Doing the decent thing

June 5, 2021 5:33 PM
cr55The years of coalition government may get mixed reviews now but one thing Liberal Democrats are proud of is the passing of a law to force Govts to spend 0.7% of national income on aid. We were one of the first countries to do so.

Despite the fact it was a manifesto commitment for the Conservatives at the last election the Prime Minister decided to junk the promise on the grounds of affordability even though the actual amount spent was already due to drop significantly as the covid lock-downs reduced the size of the economy on which it was calculated. A further reduction to 0.5% is now being implemented although stories of last minute cuts and poor interactions with aid agencies suggest an unplanned shambolic approach, so typical of this government in many other spheres of activity.

When pressed the government makes no commitment when the cuts will be restored and the law upheld

For Mr Johnson and his populist government slashing spend on aid appeals to a portion of their supporters who dislike foreign aid full stop or say that charity begins at home ( Tell that to our kids who are getting 1/5th of funding in US and 1/8th of that in the Netherlands to help catch up on learning missed during school lock-downs!)

The aid reduction has meant millions of pounds less is being spent on supporting girls' education, reproductive health, clean water, HIV/AIDS, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and Syria, and hundreds of other projects.

Charities warned that millions of women and children would not receive food and support and have predicted that more than 100,000 people could die as a result of the government's decision.

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has described the aid cuts as a "death sentence"

To their credit a growing number of Tory MPs ( 30 at the time of writing) from across the Party have threatened to rebel on this issue ( All three living Conservative Ex Prime Ministers support the restoration of the cuts) and attempts will be made to put this to a vote next week in parliament

As Liberal Democrats we believe we have a moral duty to the world's poorest. We will vote again