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  • Apr 17, 2014:
    • Willott: rising employment, real incomes growing - things are on the up! (Jenny Willott)
      The number of people out of work in the UK has fallen by 77,000 to a five year low of 2.24m in the three months to February, official figures have shown. At the same time, average earnings in the three months to February grew 1.7% compared with a year earlier. With the latest figures out this week showing a fall in inflation to 1.6% in March that means wages are now increasing faster than inflation, for the first time in six years (apart from 2 months in 2010). Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff, has welcomed the news saying: "The past few years have not been easy for households and businesses all over the country, including here in Cardiff. People have put up with a lot of pain and austerity, but I think these new figures demonstrate why this was necessary and that the Coalition Government has been on the right track. "We have had a recovery on paper for a few months, but I am delighted that people are now actually starting to feel this in their back pocket. Clearly we're not out of the woods yet, but this is good news on which we can build." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Apr 15, 2014:
    • Haringey Council does it again (Lynne Featherstone)

      Another day, another mess up by Labour-run Haringey Council. In the past we've seen yellow lines painted days before the entire road was dug up and potholes filled days before resurfacing work. And they still haven't learnt. This new roundabout below might look fine at first glance (apart from the cones) but take a closer look at the arrows and which way they point.

      Wrong way roundabout - Stapleton Hall Road, Stroud Green

      It is, unfortunately, what we have come to expect from the Council. But there is a serious point here about both road safety, first and foremost, and about taxpayers money, too. All of these mistakes add up - and it's the taxpayer that ultimately pays.

      And if they can't be trusted to get something as simple as this right - it makes you wonder about what else they're messing up! Haringey needs fixing - and Labour clearly aren't capable of doing it!

  • Apr 14, 2014:
    • Labour's control of Haringey Council must end! (Lynne Featherstone)

      Here's my latest Ham and High column - on why Haringey Council needs to change.

      A few weeks ago, the Broadway exposed the cost of Haringey Council's trip to Cannes in South France. It was three times more than the council originally stated. So, not only did they use taxpayers' money for the jaunt, they didn't tell us the truth about the cost, either.

      This is just one of the reasons why I believe that Labour's control of Haringey Council needs to end.

      Those on the trip were two senior council officials and one Labour councillor - who is responsible for housing in the borough. They went to meet organisations like Tottenham Hotspur.

      Residents are rightly angry - if Haringey has wanted to meet with Tottenham, they could have got on a W3 from outside the civic centre and saved the taxpayer thousands.

      But despite the controversy and reaction, the Labour council leader (who authorised it all) is still defending the whole trip, and its cost to the public purse.

      Unfortunately this kind of behaviour is what we have come to expect from Labour-run Haringey Council - ignoring residents, whilst providing bad services and wasting money.

      Just a few months ago, we discovered that the council had authorised £3.7million in bonuses for housing staff at Homes for Haringey. At the same time, hundreds of residents were contacting me, and asking for help with getting decent repairs.

      On the Noel Park estate - the area 'represented' by the Labour councillor who went on the trip - residents are in such desperate need, that I called a public meeting so that Haringey Council and Homes for Haringey could hear the problems first hand.

      The Labour councillor declined the invitation to attend the public meeting - another let down for local residents he is supposed to represent.

      The waste is not just confined to the housing sector. On our local roads, we've seen yellow lines repainted days before the entire road was dug up for resurfacing. Just last week the Labour-run council introduced a new roundabout, with the arrows painted the wrong way round. All of these mistakes add up - and it's the taxpayer who ultimately pays.

      There is another way. Labour's control of the council is not absolute. And on May 22 this year, Haringey residents get the chance to vote Labour out.

      The Haringey Lib Dems have been working hard all year round for residents, and will shortly be releasing their manifesto. It's packed full of great proposals which would greatly improve our local services, our local area and our borough as a whole! And all of these would be funded by cutting Haringey Labour's waste.

      For me the choice - between a Labour party who have mismanaged our borough for 40 years, and the local Lib Dems, who want to work with residents to fix Haringey - is easy. I know who I'll be voting for on May 22!

  • Apr 9, 2014:
    • Sarah Teather welcomes High Court finding that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully in treatment of asylum seekers (sarahteather)
      Sarah Teather has today welcomed the ruling that Home Secretary Theresa May acted unlawfully when setting financial support provided to individuals and families seeking asylum in the UK. Sarah, who is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, has urged the Home Secretary to urgently respond to the ruling to ensure that people fleeing violence and persecution are not forced to live in poverty and isolation. The ruling comes as a result of a challenge to the decision taken by the Home Secretary in June 2013 to freeze the level of support provided to asylum seekers. That decision meant that asylum support rates had been frozen since April 2011. Last year, a cross-party panel of Parliamentarians, chaired by Sarah Teather and supported by The Children's Society, found that families are often living on £5 per person per day, leaving 10,000 children destitute or in severe poverty. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that since the rates were last increased, prices have risen by over 7%. The legal challenge was brought by Refugee Action, who argued that the rates of support were not enough meet essential living needs and that the Home Secretary had failed to properly consider all the relevant costs faced by asylum seekers. In handing down the judgment, The Hon. Mr Justice Popplewell said that the Home Secreary "failed to take reasonable steps to gather sufficient information to enable her to make a rational judgment in setting the asylum support rates for 2013/2014." Mr Justice Popplewell went on to state that the Home Secretary had acted irrationally in failing to take into account the extent of the decrease in asylum support rates in real terms since 2007 and the freezing of rates in absolute terms since 2011. Commenting on the ruling, Sarah Teather said: "This is a welcome ruling that reflects the experiences of thousands of individuals and families who come to the UK after fleeing violence and persecution. Current levels of support are forcing people into poverty, yet when presented with evidence of this, the Home Office has repeatedly failed to act. "It is now vital that the Home Secretary responds positively to today's judgment. I urge her to immediately carry out a full, transparent inquiry into the way support rates are set to ensure that those people seeking asylum are able to do so in dignity." People can sign up to support Refugee Action's campaign to increase support rates on their website: http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/policy_campaigning/campaigns/1152_bring_back_dignity_to_our_asylum_support_system Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • More action needed on reproductive rights for all (Lynne Featherstone)

      Here's a recent blog about my work as a minister in the Department for International Development, also available on the Huffington Post.

      Twenty years ago the world took an important step in agreeing that population is not just about measuring the numbers of people in the world, it is about the quality of lives of individuals and that every person counts. At the heart of this agreement was the recognition that gender equality should be a global priority, and that making decisions over your own body is a human right. Significantly this included the rights of women and girls to make decisions about their reproductive life free of discrimination, coercion and violence.

      Since then we have made remarkable progress. Fewer women are dying in child birth, more girls are going to school, increased numbers of women are taking on roles in public office, there are more female entrepreneurs and less poverty. But significant challenges remain, and we are still a long way from achieving universal access to reproductive and sexual health and the realisation of reproductive rights for all.

      2014-04-07-populationreproductivehea.jpg

      Women queue to be registered for free family planning services in Malawi.

      Globally there are 222million women who wish to space or delay the timing of births, but do not have access to modern forms of contraception. This has real and devastating consequences on their lives. In 2010, 800 women a day died from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth and in 2008 an estimated 8.7million young women aged 15 to 24 in developing countries resorted to unsafe abortions. All of this was preventable.

      These figures are staggering and what makes it all the more astonishing is that after 20 years there is still so much resistance to women and girls having a right to decide what happens to their own bodies. Yet again this year progress at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was stalled by negotiations on wording around reproductive rights. While ultimately the event was successful, why after 20 years since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 58 years of the Commissions on the Status Women, are reproductive rights still being used as a bargaining tool in women and girls' progress?

      The successes of previous years have been hard fought and we cannot accept attempts to undermine them. Achieving gender equality means allowing individuals to make decisions over their bodies, and this doesn't just mean through ensuring reproductive rights, but also by eliminating violence against girls and women and practices such as female genital mutilation and child early forced marriage.

      This week I will be attending the Commission on Population and Development at the United Nations, as I did CSW, to not only to call on countries to uphold the commitments they made 20 years ago, but also to recognise that the world has changed since 1994, and emerging challenges also need to be addressed. It is not acceptable that each year 75million women and girls face an unintended pregnancy and that 22million are desperate enough to have an unsafe abortion despite the risks of the death, disability and, in many settings, imprisonment. For me the argument should not be about the rights and wrongs of abortion but about providing women and girls with the freedom and services so that they can make their own choices about their own lives without discrimination.

      The Department for International Development (DfID) has taken a leadership role in committing to reproductive rights. Our International Family Planning Summit in 2012secured commitments to give 120million more women access to family planning helping to stop 200,000 women and girls from dying in pregnancy or childbirth and saving the lives of three million babies across the world's poorest countries. By 2015 DfID alone will have given 10million women access to modern methods of family planning, enabling more women to delay their first pregnancy, as well as committing to providing increased skilled birth attendants, particularly for the poorest and most marginalised.

      Reproductive rights should be guaranteed for all, without discrimination, otherwise we will not only fail to achieve the objectives of the ICPD, but also fail women, girls as well as men and boys, across the world.

  • Apr 7, 2014:
    • Fighting crime in Haringey (Lynne Featherstone)

      Here's my latest Muswell Flyer article, also available here.

      When I'm out on the doorsteps or at my local constituency surgery - I often hear awful stories from people who have been victims of burglary or fraud, for instance. Crime does unfortunately affect the vast majority of people at some point in life.

      On the whole, crime is currently falling - but we must remain vigilant. Figures recently revealed the Muswell Hill area to be in the top 10 UK 'burglary hotspots' - and other types of crime in the Wood Green area remain a concern to local residents.

      But there are some things we can do to help.

      The Haringey Liberal Democrats, for instance, have put together a fully-costed plan to replace Haringey's old street lighting with new energy efficient LED street lights.

      As well as reducing the Council's electricity bills and helping the environment through lower electricity usage, the new lights will help to reduce crime and the fear of crime by making our streets brighter at night.

      The Haringey Lib Dems want to cover all of Haringey's street lights - provided of course they win the local elections in May and get the chance to introduce it!

      The local Lib Dems and I have also teamed up with residents to fight for a replacement police base in Muswell Hill.

      Having a police presence back on or around the Broadway would certainly make people feel a lot safer, and we have been working hard to find a suitable property. We hope to have some good news on this front very soon.

      Lynne Featherstone MP and local campaigners (Michael Tiritas, Dave Beacham, Cara Jenkinson and Thomas Southern) discuss the new campaign with local residents

      Thirdly, the Lib Dems and I have just launched a campaign to give local Special Constables a 50% discount on their Council Tax.

      This campaign has already been supported by hundreds of local residents, and our Borough Commander Victor Olisa.

      He said: "I am fully behind the proposal to give our Special Constables a 50% Council Tax discount. I think it would be a good reward for the current Specials, and it would encourage more people to sign up and volunteer to fight crime in Haringey."

      Special Constables have the same powers and responsibilities as regular police officers, and spend up to 16 hours a month volunteering with the police - all without pay - in order to help make our community safer.

      We think these volunteers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and assistance in tackling crime. And, if the Council Tax discount helps encourage more people to become Special Constables - increasing police presence on our streets - all the better!

    • Solihull student wins Parliament's national film competition (Lorely Burt)
      SO PROUD: Lorely with prize-winner Kerri Donohoe A film created by student Kerri Donohoe from Solihull was named as the 2014 winner of the Secondary: Film category in Parliament Education Service's national film competition, Lights, Camera, Parliament! The competition asked students to make a three-minute film, script or storyboard explaining what law they would create, giving young people a creative platform to voice the issues of importance to them, whilst learning about Parliament's law-making process. Kerri Donohoe's contribution, A Rubbish Law, uses stop-motion animation and story-telling to argue for increased penalties for littering. Kerri, who is currently in Year 9 at Tudor Grange Academy, said, "Lights, Camera, Parliament! gives young people a voice. A chance to get our opinions across, and to let the world know what we think. However, sometimes our honest opinions may not be entirely what adults would like to hear… I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of creating my animation - from researching different laws to making the models. It's totally worth all of the brain power used when you see the final product." Lorely Burt, Kerri's local MP, said, "I thought this was a thought-provoking and hugely entertaining film which got its message across by the use of animation. Kerri was also the only winner who entered by herself and not through a school. I think she is to be doubly congratulated for her inventiveness and initiative." The five other winners were submitted by students at Kerr Mackie School, Leeds, Coombe St Nicholas School, Yeovil, Lancaster Girls' Grammar School, Lancaster, and Bolingbroke Academy, Battersea. Parliament's Education Service invited all six winners to come to London to visit Parliament and to have their films screened at the British Film Institute. Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Apr 4, 2014:
    • Sarah Teather: Frozen support rates show "complete lack of compassion" (sarahteather)
      Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has today expressed her disappointment that the Home Office do not plan to increase asylum support rates. The news means support given to individuals seeking asylum will have been frozen for over 3 years. Immigration Minister James Brokenshire revealed the news in response to a Parliamentary Question from Sarah, saying "There are no immediate plans to change the support rates provided to destitute asylum seekers". Last year, a cross-party panel of Parliamentarians, chaired by Sarah Teather and supported by The Children's Society, found that families are often living on £5 per person per day, leaving 10,000 children destitute or in severe poverty. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that since the rates were last increased, prices have risen by over 7%. In a separate answer, Brokenshire revealed that there has been a sharp increase in the number of individuals receiving Section 4 support over the last year. Section 4 support is available to those individuals and families who have had their application for asylum turned down and who are either in the process of leaving the UK or who can't return to their home country. Figures show that 3,515 people are now on Section 4 support, up by 788 from last February, including a 35% increase in the number of people who have been on it for more than 4 years. However, Earl Attlee, speaking on behalf of the Government, told the House of Lords during debate on the Immigration Bill last month that "Section 4 support is a temporary fix". Commenting on the announcements, Sarah Teather, who is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, said: "The Home Office is once again showing a complete lack of compassion when it comes to supporting vulnerable children and families fleeing war and persecution. This is despite the growing body of evidence that clearly shows current levels of support are forcing people into poverty. "It's also time for the Home Office to accept that Section 4 support is not fit for purpose. By the Government's own admission it is designed to be a short term solution, but the figures show that more people are in the system for longer. "When over 1,500 people are receiving section 4 payments for more than two years, to say that it is a temporary fix is at best misguided. At worst it's a complete misrepresentation of reality." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Burt debates Solihull dementia care in Commons (Lorely Burt)
      STANDING UP FOR DEMENTIA SUFFERERS IN SOLIHULL: Lorely questioned the Secretary of State for Health about the future of Ward 10 at Solihull Hospital Local Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has questioned the Secretary of State for Health about the future of Solihull dementia care in the House of Commons. Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt - the most senior minister in his department - promised to look into the future of Ward 10, which offers dementia care at Solihull Hospital, in response to the MP's Oral Question on Tuesday. Mrs Burt's exchange with Mr Hunt follows her recent face-to-face meeting with Norman Lamb, the minister responsible for dementia care. Mrs Burt said, "I was pleased with the positive response I received from the minister. "I very much hope that with the dementia-care minister and the Secretary of State looking into this, we'll be able to get the best possible result for dementia patients in Solihull." The exchange between Lorely Burt and Jeremy Hunt is available online here: http://tinyurl.com/ngyfrax. For your convenience it is reproduced below: Lorely Burt (Solihull) (LD): In my constituency the success of virtual wards has decreased the need for hospital beds. That is welcome, but dementia sufferers, who sometimes need hospital treatment and specialist care to mitigate the additional confusion and anxiety that they experience, do need specialist care within a hospital. Our local dementia unit is under threat of closure. Does the Secretary of State agree that it should not be closed and that that is a wrong decision? Mr Hunt: I do not know the details of that particular case, but I am happy to look into it. I would say that a quarter of our hospital in-patients have dementia, and it is incredibly important that hospitals continue with a revolution in the way they look after people with dementia. There are some fantastic examples of that around the country, and I want to give them every support and encouragement. You can sign Lorely's petition to save Ward 10 here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-ward-10 Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Apr 3, 2014:
    • MP backs Sixth Form College petition for funding review (Lorely Burt)
      STANDING UP FOR LOCAL STUDENTS: Lorely is backing students at the Sixth Form College, Solihull, and Principal Paul Ashdown in their campaign for fairer funding Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt is backing a petition run by students at the Sixth Form College, Solihull, calling on the Education Secretary to review funding for sixth form education providers. Under the current funding formula, 16-19 education providers receive £1,000 a year less per student than pre-16 providers. Sixth form colleges lose out even more because, unlike schools and academies, they cannot claim back VAT, insurance costs, or business rates. Students at the Sixth Form College, Solihull, met Mrs Burt and agreed with her to jointly petition Education Secretary Michael Gove for a review of the funding formula for 16-19 education providers. Mrs Burt said, "The government has had to make some very tough spending decisions to get borrowing under control after the mess left by the previous government. "However, it seems to me that sixth form colleges are getting a particularly tough side of the deal. "I'm calling on the Education Secretary to review this anomaly. Katie Edwards, the Executive Publicity Officer of the Student Executive of the Sixth Form College, said, "For the students that the Executive represents, the Sixth Form College provides the vital link between their pre-16 education and future University or employment prospects. "Given how crucial a stage it is, students wish to run a joint petition in the hope that the Education Secretary reviews this proportional dissimilarity within the system, and the formula under which 16-19 education providers receive less funding." Paul Ashdown, Principal, the Sixth Form College, said, "Sixth Form Colleges like us have a national reputation for delivering an excellent education, but we now have less funding to do this with than any other part of the education system. "We are delighted to have the support of our MP in requesting that this discrepancy is reviewed. We do not understand why sixth formers deserve less resource than students at other stages of their educational journey. "Why are they valued less?" The petition reads: We, the students of the Sixth Form College, Solihull, call upon the Secretary of State for Education to review the discrepancy in funding for sixteen to nineteen-year olds' education compared with the levels of funding provided at other stages in their academic careers. Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Apr 2, 2014:
    • Local MP Jenny Willott urges Cardiff Central residents to sign up to The Big Deal and get cheaper energy bills (Jenny Willott)
      Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, is urging local residents to sign up to The Big Deal campaign in order to save hundreds of pounds on their energy bills. The Big Deal is a national campaign for cheaper energy. It brings people together to harness their collective buying power and deliver lower bills. The Big Deal launched nationwide this week, and has received support from senior figures in every major party. Five thousand people have already signed up in just a few days. Similar schemes across the world have led to savings of 16.5%. In Britain the equivalent would be about £200 per person. Jenny Willott MP said: "Energy bills are one of the biggest worries for Cardiff Central residents, who often feel powerless after years of price rises. The Coalition Government is working hard to make the energy market work better for customers, and The Big Deal can contribute to this." Henry de Zoete, Co-founder of The Big Deal, said: "We are delighted that Jenny Willott has chosen to support The Big Deal. Energy bills have become completely unaffordable. By joining together we can take on the Big Six and demand cheaper bills. It's all about people power - more people means lower bills." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Apr 1, 2014:
    • Burt welcomes 'partial U-turn' on Shirley Library (Lorely Burt)
      STANDING UP FOR SHIRLEY LIBRARY: Cllr Ian Hedley (Shirley East) campaigning with Lorely to save Shirley Library Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has welcomed a 'partial U-turn' by the council over plans to mothball 45% of Shirley Library's books. The council came under pressure last year from local residents including Councillor Ian Hedley and MP Lorely Burt, after sparking outrage with its 45% book-busting bombshell. However, the council has now revised down to 14% the number of books set to disappear from library shelves. Liberal Democrat campaigners welcomed this partial U-turn by the council. Mrs Burt said, "I'm pleased the council has executed a partial U-turn under pressure from Lib Dem campaigners and local residents. "However, none of this changes the fact that they are wasting £150,000 of local taxpayers' money on a move that library users do not want. While welcome, this partial change of plan is too little, too late." Councillor Hedley said, "Conservative councillors have let down Shirley Library users. Now they are trying to spin the fact they are taking away fewer books than previously planned as evidence of their plan's success. "14% of books is still 14% too many, especially for a move 80% of library users have stated they do not want." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Burt slams 'rip off' England shirts (Lorely Burt)
      Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has given voice to public disgust over the £90 price tag on the new England football strip. A slightly cheaper version is available for children, but Mrs Burt remains unimpressed. Mrs Burt said, "Football is supposed to be a game for everyone. How are ordinary working parents supposed to fork out that much money for football shirts for their kids? Even after the £700 tax cut delivered by the Lib Dems, it's a hell of a lot of money for most people." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • More money for apprenticeships in Solihull (Lorely Burt)
      HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE INTO WORK: Apprentice Alvin Dawati showing Lorely his work at local company PPS Works Businesses and workers in Solihull are set to benefit from more money from the government to support apprenticeships. The coalition government is extending the Apprenticeships Grant for Employers by two years until 2015-16, providing £85 million extra to cover it. The Grant is worth £1,500 to employers for every apprentice they take on, up to a maximum of 10. The policy has already seen hundreds of thousands of pounds invested in Solihull and the number of apprenticeships each year has more than doubled. Nearly 7,000 new apprenticeships have started in Solihull since 2010-11. Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt is urging local business leaders to make the most of this opportunity while it lasts. Mrs Burt said, "Apprenticeships deliver fantastic value for employers while getting young workers on the wage ladder and giving them skills to set them up for life. "I am very pleased to see that support for them is being extended and I would strongly encourage local businesses not to waste this golden opportunity." PPS Works, a recruitment company based in Shirley, took on their first apprentice in Summer 2013. Director Debbie Edmondson said, "PPS have found recruiting an apprentice into our business to be really valuable. "Alvin has grown and developed in his role, taking on more and more responsibility with each month he is with us, gaining exposure to a broad variety of business principles. Moreover, he has proved his ability to work well independently and as part of a larger team - a strength which will no doubt benefit his future career aspirations. "With the recent news that funding for apprenticeships has now been extended, we would strongly encourage any local business to consider recruiting apprentices. It has been a really positive experience for PPS." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Ambulance response times hit new low (Jenny Willott)
      Emergency ambulance response times in February were the worst they have been since a new system was introduced in 2011, figures published today have shown. Just 51% of emergency responses to Category A (immediately life-threatening) calls in Cardiff arrived at the scene within 8 minutes. This is despite the target being for 65% of ambulances to arrive within that time. The all-Wales figures are the worst since a new classification system was introduced in 2011. Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, said: "These figures are a national disgrace. It would seem our ambulance service has reached crisis point. "To have only around half of immediately life-threatening calls responded to within the 8 minute target time is a huge concern. Lives can be lost because of slow response times. The people of Cardiff deserve better. "These alarming figures come on the same day the Health Minister has said he plans to change the way our ambulance service is monitored. People will be concerned the system is being changed due to the Welsh Labour Government categorically failing to meet the current targets it has set itself. I hope these changes are patient focused, rather than political. I find it strange that the Minister is unable to confirm whether the current targets will remain in the long term. "No-one doubts the skill and dedication of our front-line staff. What is in doubt is the ability of the Welsh Labour Government to provide a decent reliable service that the people of Wales deserve." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Thousands of parents in Cardiff to get help with childcare costs - Jenny Willott MP & Eluned Parrott AM (Jenny Willott)
      A major childcare package is set to help 9,440 families in Cardiff, Liberal Democrat Jenny Willott MP said today. In total, 83,600 people in Wales will benefit. Working families will be given up to £2,000 to ease the cost of childcare as part of a scheme to be rolled out in Autumn 2015. The Government has said it will provide 20 per cent support on childcare costs up to £10,000 per year for each child. For example, it means a family with two children under 12-years-old could benefit by up to £4,000 as a result. Jenny Willott MP said: "This news provides a huge boost to hardworking families in Cardiff. "The Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society and this helps children get off to the best start in life." The Government has also said people on Universal Credit will get 85 per cent of childcare costs fully covered. Eluned Parrott, Regional AM for South Wales Central, added: "These measures will help parents to go to work and provide security for their families." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Lib Dems deliver £800 tax cut for 31,140 people in Cardiff Central (Jenny Willott)
      An £800 income tax cut for people in Cardiff Central is the real budget boost, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott has said. Last month's Budget revealed plans to increase the personal allowance from April 2015 and put an extra £100 back in taxpayers' pockets. Lib Dems have already delivered a £700 tax cut for low to middle earners, but today's news goes even further. The number of people who will benefit from a cut to the personal allowance in Cardiff Central is expected to be 31,140 - while over 136,000 people will benefit across Cardiff as a whole. Commenting, local MP Jenny Willott said: "This tax cut is the real budget boost for working people and would not have happened without Lib Dems in Government. "The Tories try to claim credit, but in reality their focus is on changes such as an inheritance tax cut for millionaires, which we blocked, while Labour simply cannot be trusted with the economy. "This was on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto, but we are also helping people with other measures such as a freeze on fuel duty and new tax-free childcare to help parents." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Annette Brooke MP Adds Support to BUAV's 'Our Best Friends' Campaign (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette at the BUAV event in Parliament. Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, attended the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection's Parliamentary Reception on March 26th in order to discover more about their Our Best Friends campaign and why they wish to bring all UK experiments on cats and dogs to an end. Government statistics show that 3,214 dogs and 202 cats suffered in tests in Great Britain in 2012. This is a 6% increase for dogs and a 32% increase for cats on the previous year. Most experiments carried out on dogs are for toxicity testing. The dogs may be injected with or force fed drugs and chemicals and then observed for signs of adverse (toxic) effects including vomiting, internal bleeding and organ damage, seizures - even death. They are killed at the end of the experiment. Cats are often used in fundamental biological research. This usually focuses on the visual and nervous system and can involve experiments in which cats are deprived of their sight or subjected to lengthy, invasive brain experiments from which they do not recover. Annette said: "Over 11 million families in the UK share their home with either a dog, or a cat yet these much loved animals are still being used in cruel tests. I was happy to join BUAV in Parliament to highlight the issue and call for more to be done to stop cruelty to animals." Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 31, 2014:
    • ANNETTE BROOKE MP BACKS CANCER RESEARCH UK CAMPAIGN TO MAKE EVERY MOMENT COUNT (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette at the event in Parliament Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, attended Cancer Research UK's parliamentary event to discover more about the power of research which, every week, saves more than five times as many lives as there are seats in the chamber of the House of Commons. This astonishing fact means over 2,800 people will survive cancer every week thanks to research. Annette said: "It's a real eye-opener to visualise the number of lives saved in terms of seats in the House of Commons. It is truly inspiring to see what research can achieve. That's why I'm backing Cancer Research UK's campaign to make every moment count in the fight against cancer and I'm encouraging everyone to join me. Every year around 30,700 people in the South West and more than 330,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to research, survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years. This means that 45 per cent of those people will survive the disease for more than 10 years. Cancer Research UK's work has been at the heart of that progress. The charity's researchers have played a key role in the research leading to some of the landmark advances in treatment including tamoxifen for breast cancer and cisplatin for testicular cancer. However, despite the successes, Cancer Research UK believes much more can be done to help more people in the South West and across the UK beat cancer sooner. The focus of the reception was on the importance of early diagnosis, radiotherapy and surgery in helping to save more lives. Cancer Research UK's Head of Policy, Sara Osborne, said: "It's great to have Annette's support to highlight the power of research in saving lives and to raise awareness of how much more we need to do to ensure no-one's life is cut short by cancer. "Although more people are beating the disease than ever before, survival rates in the UK still lag behind the best in Europe for nearly all common cancers. This must change and that's why we need everyone to back our campaign for improvements in all areas of the patient's journey, from earlier diagnosis to access to the best treatments." She continued: "The number of people being diagnosed with cancer is set to rise steeply by 2030 so we need everyone to make every moment count. "Evidence shows that early diagnosis helps save lives. That's why we believe it's imperative for funding to continue for public awareness programmes which boost knowledge of the signs and symptoms of cancer as well as removing the barriers to accessing breast, bowel and cervical screening. "We know how effective radiotherapy is in treating cancer. Radiotherapy and surgery are responsible for around 90 per cent of cases where cancer is cured. That's why Cancer Research UK wants to ensure all patients across the UK can access vital, innovative radiotherapy and surgery treatment as soon as possible." For more information on how to get involved, visit cruk.org Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Annette Brooke MP cheered on Broadstone Middle School Girls' Football Team to victory at Wembley on Sunday (middorsetlibdems)
      Broadstone Middle School Girls' football team were victorious in the final of the Football League's 6 a side tournament for school girls' teams on Sunday! They were representing AFC Bournemouth and were playing Thomas Telford School representing Shrewsbury Town at world famous Wembley Stadium. The match took place on Sunday 30th March ahead of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final. Annette was there to watch the girls win and cheered them on during the match. She was then very proud to be able to present the trophy and other post match prizes to the girls. Annette said: "The girls were so focused and determined and I was delighted to be able to support them on the day. Over 700 teams entered the competition so their achievement is immense. It was a really special opportunity for the team to be able to play on the famous pitch at Wembley Stadium, and I am sure it is something they will treasure for years to come. Congratulations to all the players!" Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 30, 2014:
    • Two same sex weddings - one happy politician! (Lynne Featherstone)

      Yesterday was just the best day ever.

      You know you go into politics to make the world a better place - and yesterday that happened. The world is a better place today than it was - because two people who love each other can get married. Full stop!

      The first wedding of the day for me was at 9.30 at Wood Green Civic Centre between two men who I have known for years - Subodh and Niranjan.

      They have been together for over twenty years - and yesterday - I was there when they got married. Yes - I did cry. It was incredibly moving. Weddings are always moving - but this was both personal and historic. And additionally - because they come from an Asian background - it heightened even more the discrimination and rejections that they have come through to get to this day - with their mothers and family around them.

      The second wedding of the day was quite a production - literally. It was the wedding of Benjamin and Nathan who had written and composed their entire wedding as a musical and wanted to share it with us all. It was held in the theatre at Alexandra Palace and as it will be screened on Monday night on Chanel 4 at 10pm - I will keep the surprise. Suffice to say that despite all the hoo ha and the celebs that surround a television production - this was still a wedding at its core and just as real and just as moving. In fact there is one bit that had me sobbing - but if you watch it on Monday you will probably be able to guess which bit.

      This was definitely a day to remember - and the wonderful thing is - that it will now be every day from this day forward.

  • Mar 29, 2014:
    • I'm going to two same sex weddings today! (Lynne Featherstone)

      The first wedding of the day is Subodh and Niranjan - who have been together forever - at the registry office in Wood Green. The second is at Alexandra Palace - Benjamin and Nathan. I am even wearing a frock! And I wish both couples and everyone else who is getting married today all the happiness in the world.

      This really is an historic day!

  • Mar 28, 2014:
    • Same sex marriage day tomorrow! (Lynne Featherstone)

      I am going to two weddings tomorrow - same sex weddings of course!

      And whilst those who marry on this first day will be part of history - the real point is that from this day forward - people of the same sex can get married any day - and live happily ever after!

      This will be such a landmark day for me too.

      It's been a long journey since I marched into my office at the Home Office and said to my civil servants 'I am going to deliver same sex marriage - and I know it's not in the Coalition agreement - but it needs doing',

      And the rest is history - literally.

      If you use the find mechanism on my blog - and find 'gay marriage', 'same sex marriage' or 'equal marriage' you will see some of how this came to be. One day - when I am no longer a minister - I will be able to tell the whole story.

      But all I really want to do here and now - is wish everyone who marries someone of the same sex exactly what I would wish couples of the opposite sex - all the joy and happiness that being married can bring to two human beings who love each other.

    • Government cash boost for Solihull manufacturing (Lorely Burt)
      STANDING UP FOR SOLIHULL MANUFACTURING: Lorely in the Commons is making the case for investment in our area The government is considering extra funding for advanced manufacturing in Solihull and Greater Birmingham, following a question in the House of Commons from local MP Lorely Burt. Wave 2 City Deals qualify for government money to support Advanced Manufacturing Growth Hubs. However, Wave 1 City Deals like the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership do not. Mrs Burt asked Cabinet Office Minister of State Greg Clark to review this unequal situation in a question in the House of Commons. He agreed to do so, calling the West Midlands a 'big opportunity' and promising to 'take her representations on board' while negotiating City Deals over the next few weeks. Mrs Burt said, "As I said in the House of Commons, our area is the advanced manufacturing capital of the UK. It would be crazy to leave us out of any support for advanced manufacturing and I am pleased the minister agreed to look at this again." Andy Street, Chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said, "Lorely Burt has aired an important subject as far as the LEP is concerned. We are determined to establish the 'growth hub' and therefore any commitment she can win from the minister is extremely welcome." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 26, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke MP questions Deputy Prime Minister on a growth deal for Dorset (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, yesterday asked the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP about a growth deal that would bring significant benefits to Dorset. In the House of Commons, Annette asked the Deputy Prime Minister how he will ensure Dorset benefits from a growth deal "that builds on the opportunities of our air and sea ports, and the high potential for growth and job creation in a number of spheres?", pointing out that Dorset does have significant pockets of deprivation. Replying, the Deputy Prime Minister said that the new local growth deals will be received in the coming days, and he urged all those with an interest in the economic future of Dorset, whether in the public or private sector, "to work together to assemble the best possible proposal for the new local growth deals". He indicated that the Government will look at the new deals "as quickly as possible and will hopefully make a positive announcement for the economic future of Dorset in the summer". Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD): Dorset is obviously not a core city, but it does have significant pockets of deprivation. How will the Deputy Prime Minister ensure that there is a growth deal that builds on the opportunities of our air and sea ports, and the high potential for growth and job creation in a number of spheres? The Deputy Prime Minister: I urge my hon. Friend and everybody in the private or public sector who is concerned about the economic future of Dorset to work together to assemble the best possible proposal for the new local growth deals which we stand ready to receive in the coming days. We will look at it as quickly as possible and will hopefully make a positive announcement for the economic future of Dorset in the summer. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 25, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke MP delivers Budget speech in Parliament (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, gave a speech in the House of Commons yesterday praising many significant Coalition Government policies in last week's Budget. Annette opened by welcoming the "rising employment, falling inflation and rising economic growth, which is now expected to be 2.7% in 2014", with the UK economy set to grow faster than any other G7 nation. Annette spoke with pride about the key Liberal Democrat policy in the Budget to increase the income tax threshold, which is set to rise to £10,500 and which has already taken 2.7 million of the lowest paid workers out of income tax altogether. Annette also welcomed the significant reforms to pensions, supporting those who have saved all their life, and a major achievement by the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government. Alongside this, Annette also welcomed other measures in the Budget including increased child care support, clamping down on tax avoidance and the Government's plans to support businesses "such as increasing tax incentives to invest in new equipment and carry out research and development, and increasing the level of financial support for exporters". In her role as Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Backbench Committee, Annette spoke about Budget proposals that will impact her area of interest. Annette commended the Government's attempts to tackle what she deemed to be a "deep housing crisis" in this country, with measures in the Budget going some way to alleviating the pressures. However, Annette expressed her concerns that such measures may not be sufficient enough and she hoped that there would be close monitoring of the 'Help to Buy' scheme "given the fears that it might result in undue upward pressure on house prices", especially in London and the south-east of England. Annette was pleased that plans had been made to develop garden cities for up to 15,000 much needed homes. Annette said: "The new town option provides the opportunity to capture community benefit to provide long-term facilities and infrastructure for a settlement and its surroundings and potentially to provide affected individuals with a share in any benefits". Annette also praised the Government for building more social housing, but she stressed her view that "planning should be bottom up; we should be working with our communities to help tackle our housing crisis" as it is the communities which know their housing needs best. Annette also touched on cuts to local government expenditure, which she acknowledged are placing serious pressures on local services. Annette acknowledged that "there are also likely to be more increases in regressive charges, despite the innovative and transformative work that is taking place and the extra money that has been pledged for the integration of health and social care services". To read the full speech, pleased visit http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140324/debtext/140324-0003.htm#14032429000274 Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Annette Brooke questions Schools Minister on summer-born children (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, contributed to Education Questions in the House of Commons yesterday by again raising the issue of summer-born school children. Annette opened by welcoming the new guidance that had been produced on summer-born children starting school at aged 5 in the reception year. Annette went on to ask if Ministers were aware that there have been cases where school admissions authorities have given varied responses to parental requests on summer-born children. Annette asked Ministers what action they will take as a result of this occurring. In response, the Schools Minister David Laws MP stated that his department were "keeping the matter under close review". Mr Laws said that he would be keen to hear from Annette if she had "any information on the way in which schools are implementing their responsibilities". Mr Laws finished by declaring that his department "will take action if we find that schools are not paying attention to parental demand". Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD): I welcome the new advice on the summer-born starting school at age 5 in a reception class, but are Ministers aware of just how varied the response to parental requests is between different school admission authorities, and what action will they take? Mr Laws: We are keeping the matter under close review. If my hon. Friend has any information on the way in which schools are implementing their responsibilities, I would be keen to hear from her, because we will take action if we find that schools are not paying attention to parental demand. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Violence against women and girls - at home and abroad (Lynne Featherstone)

      Here's my latest Ham and High column on my work at home and abroad to protect women and girls from violence. Also available here.

      Last week, I represented the UK at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. I have always been committed to tackling violence against women and girls - and since taking on a ministerial role in the Department for International Development, I have been able to make it a UK government priority.

      The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have led to remarkable achievements in alleviating poverty over the last 15 years. But for all their good, the MDGs omitted a crucial element - a target for ending gender-based violence.

      I'm proud that the coalition government is committed to the principle that every woman and girl has the right to live free from violence or the threat of violence. And that every woman and girl should be empowered to take control over her own life.

      So in the post-2015 international development framework discussions at the UN Commission, we were focused on pushing for a stand-alone goal to empower girls and women and achieve gender equality. Within this, we are pushing for a target on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

      Over the last year, I have spearheaded a new multi-million pound programme to tackle one of the most extreme manifestations of gender-based violence - female genital mutilation (FGM). And because of this solid foundation of work and momentum, this July the prime minister will host a major summit to tackle FGM as well as early and forced marriage - both domestically and internationally.

      Our aim is to get political and popular support to end early and forced marriage and FGM within a generation. An ambitious goal, but women's rights campaigners have always been ambitious! And I believe this goal is achievable - but only if we work together and ramp up our efforts to support this African-led movement.

      There is work to do in the UK, too. Young girls who live in the UK are sent abroad to be "cut". It has been estimated more than 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM.

      As the local MP in Haringey, I have called a roundtable - with officials from the local council, health services and police - in order to discuss an integrated strategy to protect girls in our borough.

      Ending gender-based violence has been and will continue to be a long-fought struggle. This includes addressing the entrenched social norms and gender inequalities that drive violence against women and girls.

      It will take time, and we've got a long road ahead. But I believe if we all, men and women, work hard enough together we really can create a world where women and girls no longer live in fear of violence.

  • Mar 24, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke MP Leads Global Call for Action to Mark World TB Day (middorsetlibdems)
      World TB Day - 24th March Every year over 1 million people die from a disease that many people consider to have already been eradicated. TB is airborne, infectious, drug-resistant and found in every country in the world, and yet in the UK, more people associate it with badgers than they do with humans. This World TB Day, 24th March, parliamentarians from around the world have come together to call for renewed action against the disease. The statement has been signed by over 130 representatives from across the G7 countries and the European Parliament. Annette Brooke MP, one of the first MPs to sign the statement, said: "TB has killed more people than any other infectious disease in history and still kills 1.3 million people every single year. The only way that we're going to beat the disease is if we have coordinated, global action." Members of the UK House of Commons and House of Lords make up over half of all the politicians who have signed the statement, reflecting the fact that TB remains a significant problem here in the UK. Parts of the country have rates to match those found in some of the worst affected countries in the world, and London has the highest rates of any capital city in Western Europe. "People just don't appreciate what a problem TB really is," said Ms Brooke. "People often think that it's a disease that is only a problem in other countries, but it's a problem here in the UK as well. TB really is a global killer." Brooke is a vice-chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB which works to raise the profile of TB within political circles and was influential in pushing the government to commit £1 billion to the Global Fund. "The Global Fund provides over 80% of all international financing for TB," explained Ms Brooke, "and the UK's pledge will save a life every three minutes. There's a lot more to be done if we're going to beat TB, and no individual country or organisation can do it on their own, it's really important that there's international cooperation to tackle the disease." "There is a lot we need to tackle the disease, but it all starts with political commitment", agreed Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, an NGO which works on TB. "We've never had so many politicians from across the world sign onto one call for action. This is a significant moment in the fight against TB." Full text of the statement can be accessed here. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Haringey Council's latest housing scandal (Lynne Featherstone)

      Last week it was revealed that Labour-run Haringey Council spent over £3 million of taxpayers' money repairing the High Road West area of Tottenham in 2011 - only to decide to demolish the properties two years later.

      That's right - In 2013, the Labour council decided they would demolish every one of these properties so Tottenham Hotspur can build 'Wembley Way.'

      This is, sadly, what people have come to expect of the Labour-run council. Noel Park Estate has been in desperate need of repairs for many years now, and yet the council has refused to invest in the area. Instead, the council spends our Council Tax on vanity projects like the Haringey People magazine, and on repairs for houses they want to demolish.

      People in my Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, which covers Noel Park, deserve decent homes. So do people in Tottenham, and this appalling waste of money by the council is a slap in the face for everyone who has waited years for the council to repair their home.

      I receive many hundreds of contacts from constituents who are in dire need of improvements to their council homes. The scale of the problem is huge - and it is not just an isolated problem in the east of Haringey; it covers the whole Borough from Highgate to Northumberland Park.

      It's another case of high council tax and poor services in Haringey. I will keep up the pressure on the council to provide the services that residents pay for and deserve. But after forty years in power, it is clear the Labour leadership has no effective strategy in providing quality housing to residents.

    • £700k pot holes pot of cash for Solihull (Lorely Burt)
      ROADS GONE TO POT: Cllr Ian Hedley is calling for Solihull's pot holes to be fixed More potholes on Solihull's battered roads can now be filled in after the borough was awarded a £723,664 grant in the Chancellor's Budget. The funding will come from £183.5 million made available to councils across England and follows £200 million being made available in the Budget for pothole repairs in 2014 and 2015. The government has said councils will be required to publish online how they spend their share of the money. Lib Dem Council Group Leader Ian Hedley has contacted Solihull Council officers to urge them to bid for Solihull's share as soon as possible. Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt said, "After years of neglect by the Conservative-run council, the poor state of our roads is a major concern for local people. "This money will be very welcome but it will require swift action from the council. I would strongly encourage them to act quickly and not waste this golden opportunity." Councillor Hedley said, "It's well known that the Conservative-run council has let Solihull's roads go to pot, so to speak. "Pot holes are a huge problem but this coalition government money should help repair some of the damage." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • MP and comedian pledge for Marie Curie appeal (Lorely Burt)
      SUPPORTING MARIE CURIE: Lorely supporting the Daffodil Appeal with comedian Jon Culshaw Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has made a joint pledge with impressionist and comedian Jon Culshaw to support Marie Curie Cancer Care's Great Daffodil Appeal. Jon Culshaw is an award-winning impressionist and star of the 'Dead Ringers' comedy sketch show. The Great Daffodil Appeal is Marie Curie's flagship annual fund-raising campaign. Supporters are encouraged to donate to the charity and wear one of its daffodil pins throughout March. The money raised through the appeal helps Marie Curie provide free nursing and hospice care to terminally ill people and their families. Mrs Burt said, "Marie Curie do incredible work supporting people going through very difficult times. Our local branch in Solihull provide excellent facilities but they do need your help. "I would encourage anyone in Solihull to wear a daffodil and make a donation if they can." Jon Culshaw said, "I am delighted to support Marie Curie's amazing Great Daffodil Appeal and will wear my daffodil pin with pride." Imelda Redmond, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Marie Curie, said, "We are grateful to have the support of Lorely Burt and Jon Culshaw, as our fund-raising activities are vital to ensure we can continue to provide more free care to people with terminal illnesses in their own homes and in the charity's nine hospices. "Every service provided by Marie Curie relies on charitable donations. The generosity of people from across Solihull makes our work possible." To make a donation to the Great Daffodil Appeal look out for bright yellow collection boxes or visit www.maricurie.org.uk/daffodil. For further information on Marie Curie's specialist nursing services or one of our nine hospices, please speak to your local GP or district nurse. Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 23, 2014:
    • FGM (Lynne Featherstone)

      I gave an exclusive interview to Marie Woolf of the Sunday Times about an announcement I would be making about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2013.

      However, I wouldn't give her the figure.

      I kept that for the moment when I actually announced the UK new anti FGM funding from the platform at the UN to a hall full of hundreds of people. Campaigners and leaders from around the world on the issue of FGM had gathered to discuss this most extreme form of violence against women and this, I decided, was the right time and right place.

      It's over a year now since I made that announcement and launched a £35million fund to support the anti FGM African-led movement.

      Twenty-five countries in Africa have now made it illegal. The African Union took a resolution to the UN just before December 2012 - and the UN resolution passed banning it world wide.

      It had the desired effect. I remember well waking up the morning after I had made the announcement to a text from the Evening Standard saying could I do an interview on FGM. So I phoned them, did the interview and they did the rest. It is the publicity that has been our major partner in raising this issue.

      I am very optimistic now that we are on our way now - joining hands with all the countries of the world - including in the UK - to end this harmful practise.

      With the announcement from the Crown Prosecution Service this week that two men have been charged with FGM and with the Prime Minister's announcement that FGM and EFM (early and forced marriage) will be the subject of a huge world summit - The Girl Summit in July - all the tireless work of the campaigners who have worked away at this for years is now bearing fruit.

      And these women - Nimko Ali and Efua Dorkeeno just two among them - have worked for years to bring us to this point. I remember Nimko coming to see me at the Home Office where I was before I moved to DFID. She was full of anger at the lack of prosecutions and the lack of action on this extreme form of violence against women - mutilation of women's external sexual parts. I often now say (as there is absolutely no equivalence with male circumcision) that if this had been little boys having all or part of their penis cut off the practise wouldn't have lasted four minutes let alone four thousand years!

      And that meeting left its mark.

      David Cameron appointed me as Ministerial Champion for tackling Violence Against Women and Girls overseas when I went to the Home Office in 2010 and I took this title with me when I moved to DFID (Department for International Development). I said almost the minute I arrived at DFID - we are going to tackle FGM. It is my priority. It was always my view - with 20,000 girls at risk in the UK - that with the mother countries and our UK diaspora intrinsically linked - we would have to end it in Africa in order to end it here.

      A huge amount is now going on in the UK as well as our international program. The Home Office with my colleague Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, is doing a prevalence study and has also won funding for our own community groups to apply for. The Department of Health, with Conservative Minister Jane Ellison has now announced that FGM will be coded. It didn't exist in data previously. And that information will be collated at the Department. We have a number of FGM clinics. The Secretary of State for Education is writing to all schools and will also be issuing statutory guidelines on safeguarding and giving schools the tools and information they need. The Ministry of Justice is looking to see if we need any new legislation. And the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, was saying that they were near to a prosecution - and now one is happening. And Norman Baker and I have met with faith leaders and David Laws (Schools Minister) and I have met with the teaching unions.

      If I have learned anything over my time campaigning on FGM - it is that it takes everyone working together to address this.

      But I want to pay tribute particularly to the media and encourage their continued support on this issue. Without them - we wouldn't be at this point. So - huge thanks go to the Evening Standard for their massive campaign almost on a daily basis that has raised everyone's in London's awareness and then some; to the Sunday Times who carried the first and exclusive interview on what I was going to do in New York; to the Times who sent a reporter and photographer with me to Senegal, to Chanel 4, to the Guardian and most recently to congratulate BBC Radio London who spent a whole day practically on FGM.

      I did an interview with them in the breakfast slot - but was then listening to the Vanessa Feltz program on my way to work where women (survivors) were phoning in with their own most personal and harrowing tales. I was crying. I suspect Vanessa was crying. Such brave women to tell their stories so that we might learn intimately of the abuse they have suffered.

      There is an NSPCC FGM helpline if you know anybody who might be at risk or who has been affected and needs support. You can telephone 0800 028 3550 or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.

  • Mar 21, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke MP welcomes new dangerous dogs law that keeps Postmen and Women safe (middorsetlibdems)
      A new law that will extend the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and see far harsher punishments for owners of dangerous dogs has recently received Royal Assent. Amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act in England and Wales, the first significant changes in 23 years, will see tougher dog control laws introduced in early May. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) - which represents over 200,000 postal and telecommunication workers - welcomed the news saying it will bring "significant improvements" to the lives of thousands of workers. The union has lead the call for law changes with its high profile 'Bite Back' campaign, supported by all animal welfare charities, the police, vets, dog wardens and dog trainers. Over 26,000 postal workers have been attacked and injured by dogs in the last six years. Two Postmen were nearly killed in savage attacks in 2007 and 2008. Many others have lost fingers and parts of limbs. The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill, which includes amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act, will now allow the prosecution of owners for dog attacks on private property. It'll mean that irresponsible dog owners will now not only face longer prison sentences for the actions of their animal, they'll also be liable for prosecution regardless of where an attack takes place, even on their own property. This means that postal workers, telecom workers, health professionals and children will all be protected. New preventative powers for police and local authorities will also ensure that they can act early, to help stop dog attacks before they happen. Annette said: "I am so pleased that the dangerous dogs laws are to be changed in May. These changes will help to keep thousands of CWU members, and in particular postal workers, safe. This will also help to hold irresponsible dog owners to account." "On top of these changes, we must continue to work for more education and training for dog owners to ensure owners are keeping dogs in a safe and responsible manner." The implementation date will be announced shortly and is expected to be introduced this May. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 19, 2014:
    • Brent Central MP Sarah Teather welcomes changes to unfair Caribbean Passenger Tax (sarahteather)
      Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has today welcomed changes to Air Passenger Duty (APD) announced in the Budget. Under the current system, introduced under the last Labour government, charges are based on the destination's distance from the UK. As this is calculated on the basis of a country's capital city, it can be cheaper to fly to more distant locations in the United States than to destinations such as Jamaica or Barbados. Many in Brent's Caribbean community have been priced out of travelling to the region to visit family. The thousands of British people visiting the islands each year are also hit by this unfair charge. The change announced in the Budget today will mean that everyone travelling long-haul will be in the same band - reducing the tax on flights to the Caribbean. APD will also now apply to private jets too. Sarah has previously submitted a petition to the Treasury and tabled a parliamentary motion on the issue. She also wrote to the Chancellor in October, calling on him to take action on APD. Commenting, Sarah said: "It's fantastic that action is finally being taken to address the unfairness of Labour's Caribbean passenger tax. "It's just not right that families were penalised over business travellers, in rules that weren't even good for the environment. "I've been calling for this change for the last five years as it affects hundreds of my constituents, so I'm really pleased about today's announcement." Liberal Democrat candidate for Brent Central, Ibrahim Taguri, added: "Labour's air tax meant those visiting their families in the Caribbean paid more than business travellers going to the US. Hundreds of people in Brent have borne the cost of this terribly unfair system. "This is just another sign that the Liberal Democrats in government are building a stronger economy and a fairer society." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • £800 tax cut for 32,440 people in Mid Dorset and North Poole (middorsetlibdems)
      An £800 income tax cut for people in Mid Dorset and North Poole is the real budget boost, Annette Brooke MP said today. The budget revealed plans to increase the personal allowance from April 2015 and put an extra £100 back in taxpayers' pockets. Lib Dems have already delivered on a £700 tax cut for low to middle earners, but today's news goes even further for hardworking people. The number of people who could benefit from a cut to the personal allowance in Annette's constituency is expected to be around 32,440. Annette said: "This tax cut is the real budget boost for working people and would not have happened without Lib Dems in Government creating a stronger economy and a fairer society. "The Tories are desperate to claim credit, but in reality their focus is on changes such as an inheritance tax cut for millionaires which we blocked, while Labour simply cannot be trusted with the economy. "This was on the front page of our manifesto, but we are also helping people with a freeze on fuel duty and new tax-free childcare to help parents." Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • £800 tax cut for 77,000 people in Solihull (Lorely Burt)
      An £800 Income Tax cut for people in Solihull is the real Budget boost, Liberal Democrat Lorely Burt said today. The Budget revealed plans to increase the Personal Allowance from April 2015 and put an extra £100 back in taxpayers' pockets. The Liberal Democrats in government have already delivered a £700 tax cut for low to middle earners as promised in their manifesto, but today's news goes £100 further for most workers. The number of people in Solihull who could benefit from raising the Personal Allowance - the amount you can earn before paying Income Tax - is expected to be around 40,300 in Meriden constituency and 36,390 in Solihull constituency, giving a total of 76,690. Mrs Burt said, "This tax cut is the real Budget boost for working people and would not have happened without Lib Dems in government creating a stronger economy and a fairer society. "The Tories are desperate to claim credit, but in reality their focus is on changes such as an Inheritance Tax cut for millionaires which we blocked, while Labour simply cannot be trusted with the economy. "This was on the front page of our manifesto, but we are also helping people with a freeze on fuel duty and new tax-free childcare to help parents." Table showing changes to the Personal Allowance: Fiscal Year Personal Allowance Tax cut (since previous year) Tax cut (since 2010-11) Budget set by 2010-11 £6,475 NONE N/A Labour 2011-12 £7,475 £200 £200 Coalition 2012-13 £8,105 £126 £326 Coalition 2013-14 £9,440 £267 £593 Coalition 2014-15 £10,000 £112 £705 Coalition 2015-16 £10,500 £100 £805 Coalition Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 18, 2014:
    • Thousands of parents in Brent to get help with childcare costs - Sarah Teather (sarahteather)
      Thousands of parents in Brent to get help with childcare costs - Sarah Teather A major childcare package is set to help nearly 10,000 parents in Brent, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather said today. Working families will be given up to £2,000 to ease the cost of childcare as part of a scheme to be rolled out in Autumn 2015. The Government has said it will provide 20 per cent support on childcare costs up to £10,000 per year for each child. For example, a family with two children under 12-years-old could benefit by up to £4,000 as a result. People on Universal Credit will get 85 per cent of childcare costs fully covered. A new Early Years Pupil Premium, a Liberal Democrat policy, has also been announced. This builds on the Pupil Premium, introduced when Sarah was Children and Families Minister. Its extension will mean £50 million will be invested in 2015-16, giving more support to those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. As a Minister, Sarah also secured funding to extend the free entitlement from 12.5 to 15 hours of free early years education and childcare for all three to five year olds. From September, this will be extended to the most disadvantaged 40 per cent of two year olds. Local MP Sarah said: "Today's news provides a huge boost to families in Brent. Childcare is really important in helping every child to get the best possible start in life. "Many people are still facing a difficult time financially, and I know many families are struggling to meet the cost of childcare. That's why I'm really pleased that the Government has announced this substantial support for parents. "I'm also thrilled that the Pupil Premium is going to be extended to early years education. Introducing it during my time as a Minister is one of my proudest moments in politics - it's fantastic that the Government is now going even further to help children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Local MP Sarah Teather calls for private rental tenants to have better protection against unscrupulous letting agents (sarahteather)
      MP for Brent Central Sarah Teather has called on the Government to protect tenants in the private rental sector. Last week in Parliament, Sarah co-signed a Bill proposed by fellow Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert under the 10 Minute Rule. It received an unopposed first reading, with its second reading due on 6th June. Mr Huppert's proposals would end excessive letting agent fees, extend the rules controlling estate agents to letting agents and make it easier for people to choose good landlords. The Bill also calls for a new housing ombudsman service to deal with tenants' complaints. Commenting, Sarah said: "I am regularly contacted by constituents who are being charged hundreds of pounds by letting agents just so that they can rent a flat, or for minor repairs by their landlords when their tenancy ends. "Of course, there are many decent letting agents and landlords. But the lack of regulation of the private rented sector means that some unscrupulous agents and landlords are taking advantage of tenants. Julian's sensible proposals would go a long way to tackling this problem." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • 6,000 families in Solihull to get help with childcare costs - Burt (Lorely Burt)
      A major childcare package is set to help 6,050 families in Solihull, Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt said today. Working families will be given up to £2,000 to ease the cost of childcare as part of a scheme to be rolled out in Autumn 2015. The government has said it will provide 20 per cent support on childcare costs up to £10,000 per year for each child. For example, it means a family with two children under 12 years old could benefit by up to £4,000 as a result. The government has also said people on Universal Credit will get 85 per cent of childcare costs fully covered. Mrs Burt said, "Today's news provides a huge boost to hard-working families in Solihull. "If you're earning more than £50 a week you can benefit from this provision. "These measures will help parents who want to go to work." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • MP takes Ward 10 campaign to minister for dementia sufferers (Lorely Burt)
      STANDING UP FOR SOLIHULL: Lorely putting patients' concerns about the futue of Ward 10 dementia care to dementia minister Norman Lamb Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has met with Norman Lamb, the Government Minister with responsibility for dementia sufferers, to discuss the threatened future of dementia services in Solihull. Ward 10 provides care in a safe environment for dementia sufferers until they are ready to return home. It is under threat as Solihull Hospital looks at ways to cut costs. However, following Mrs Burt's online and door-to-door petition, local NHS bosses have agreed to fund Ward 10 for another three months, after which a final decision will be taken on its future. After meeting Mrs Burt in the House of Commons, Mr Lamb said he 'applauded' her campaign and promised to look into the issue. Mrs Burt said, "I am delighted that Norman Lamb is now looking into this. As the minister responsible for dementia services, nobody is in a better position to do so than he is. "Dementia sufferers and their families in Solihull are really dependent on Ward 10. When I recently visited Ward 10 I saw the fantastic work the staff do there. "I very much hope that this will help us keep up the momentum, so that dementia sufferers continue to have a first-class service they can rely on." Mr Lamb said, "Dementia is one of the greatest public health challenges we will face over the coming decades across the world. We must provide the best dementia care whether at home or in hospital." You can sign Lorely's petition to save Ward 10 here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-ward-10 Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 13, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke MP praised by Schools Minister for local education funding campaign during school funding announcement (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, today received well deserved praise from the Schools Minister David Laws MP who was announcing the Government's new Fair Funding for Schools policy consultation. Annette has long pushed to increase the funding that Dorset and Poole education authorities receive. In his opening remarks in the House of Commons, Mr Laws singled out Annette with special praise: "I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke), who tells me that she first raised the issue 13 years ago in her maiden speech. Most of her campaigns deliver success over a shorter time scale. I hope she will be pleased with the announcement today". Annette thanked the Minister for his welcome statement, and remarked that it had taken a Coalition Government to make such progress on fairer education funding. Annette stated that under the current administration, last year Poole had the worst key stage 2 results across the country. In light of this she asked the Minister whether he could confirm the current position in Poole and "does he agree that any extra money that goes to Poole must be put into our schools to support teachers in improving the outcomes for our children?" In response, Mr Laws declared: "I am pleased that it is a coalition Government who are proposing to raise the amount of funding for Poole from just over £4,000 per pupil to £4,142, which would give Poole over £2.25 million of additional funding". The full figures revealed show that for Dorset funding would rise by 0.9% to £4,204 per pupil for 2015-16. Full version: Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD): I welcome the statement and note that it has taken a coalition Government to make some progress on fairer funding for our schools. Given that last year, under its current administration, Poole had the worst key stage 2 results across the country, will my right hon. Friend confirm the position for Poole? Does he agree that any extra money that goes to Poole must be put into our schools to support teachers in improving the outcomes for our children? Mr Laws: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Once again, I praise her resilience in campaigning on this issue throughout the long period of the Labour Administration, who ignored the issue. I am pleased that it is a coalition Government who are proposing to raise the amount of funding for Poole from just over £4,000 per pupil to £4,142, which would give Poole over £2.25 million of additional funding. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Lib Dem Minister announces £13m of new funding for Brent's schools (sarahteather)
      Sarah Teather has warmly welcomed proposals which will see Brent receive over £13million more in school funding than under the current system. This comes as part of an extra £350million boost to schools in the least fairly funded areas in the country. The proposals announced in Parliament today by Liberal Democrat Education Minister David Laws will mean that funding will be allocated to local areas on the basis of the actual characteristics of their pupils and schools, rather than simply on the basis of historic levels of spending. Funding will be based on characteristics including the number of deprived pupils and pupils with English as an additional language. Local MP Sarah Teather has campaigned for fairer funding for 10 years The proposed changes mean that, on average, schools in Brent will receive £5,416 per pupil next year, an increase of around 7 per cent. During his announcement, David Laws named Brent as one of the top gainers from the new funding formula, reflecting the current unfairness of the current system. Commenting on the announcement, Brent Central MP Sarah Teather said: "This is fantastic news for Brent's children and is a much needed reform. I have been calling for fairer funding for Brent's schools since I was first elected over 10 years ago and I am delighted that the Lib Dems have been able to secure these reforms. "The old funding system failed to reflect the unique characteristics of Brent and the particular challenges faced by schools in the borough to the detriment of local children. Today's announcement will go some way to correct this injustice." Ibrahim Taguri, Lib Dem PPC for Brent Central, said that the funding will mean Brent's pupils can get the education they deserve Ibrahim Taguri, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Brent Central in 2015, added: "The school funding system inherited by the Coalition was unfair. Labour knew it was unfair, but chose not to act. "For too long, school funding has been based on historical data that no longer reflects pupils' needs. Similar schools just miles apart can be funded at very different levels, just because they happen to be in different local authority areas. "Today's announcement, along with the Pupil Premium which was introduced by Sarah Teather, will mean that Brent's children can get the education they deserve. It is more evidence that the Liberal Democrats in government are actively implementing policies to build a fairer society." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 12, 2014:
    • Being bad at maths could cost the UK £20 billion a year - Willott (Jenny Willott)
      New research by economists from Pro Bono Economics estimates that low levels of adult numeracy cost the UK around £20.2 billion per year, or about 1.3 per cent of the UK's GDP. Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central, has welcomed today's launch of the National Numeracy Challenge, which aims to help millions of people improve their everyday maths skills. In England and Wales, almost half the adult population only have the numeracy levels expected of primary school children. The National Numeracy Challenge will encourage everyone to check their own level of numeracy, using a web-based self-assessment tool, the Challenge Online, www.nnchallenge.org.uk. Those who need help will then be lead towards a programme of personal learning, with an initial target to raise at least one million people out of poor numeracy over the next five years. Commenting, Jenny Willott said: "Whether it's running your own business, doing the family shop, understanding statistics in the media, or helping the kids with their homework, maths skills are a critical part of everyday life. And in an increasingly global economy, basic numeracy levels are fundamental to ensuring we can compete. The National Numeracy Challenge is a fantastic tool to help anyone whose maths is a little shaky to easily get the support they need." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Welsh Lib Dems announce plans for young person's concessionary fare scheme (Jenny Willott)
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats have published plans for a new concessionary bus fare scheme for young people and students in Wales. Young people are disproportionately impacted by increases in public transport fares due to their reliance on public transport to access education, employment, training and apprenticeships. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today published a cost efficient proposal for a concessionary fare scheme for young people that they would bring forward in government. Jenny Willott MP said: "Affordable public transport is key to enabling young people to access work, education, training and apprenticeships. That is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for a national concessionary scheme for young people aged 16-18, as well as those in full time education." Eluned Parrott AM added: "Our report recommends a national concessionary fare scheme based on a blanket reduced fare rate for 16-18 year olds and students. This policy achieves the objectives of improving access to affordable transport for young people, with minimal administration costs. "While some local authorities in Wales have taken welcome steps to introduce bus schemes for young people, there is significant variability in these schemes which creates confusion and difficulty in travelling across local authority boundaries. Introducing a national concessionary fare scheme would end this confusion and give young people more affordable access to public transport." Liberal Youth Wales have been running a campaign on fairer fares for young people on public transport. Please sign their petition here. Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Cardiff Central MP supports smokers in their attempt to quit on No Smoking Day (Jenny Willott)
      Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, is urging smokers to ditch the cigarettes on national No Smoking Day today. Miss Willott is supporting the annual health campaign, run by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which last year encouraged a million people to quit smoking. This year's campaign has a 'V for Victory' theme which is set to inspire hundreds of thousands of smokers across the UK to win the fight against cigarettes. It will help them on the road to victory, providing information, support and encouragement so that they are in the best possible position to make a successful quit attempt. Jenny Willott MP said: "Quitting smoking leads to a never-ending list of benefits. I would encourage every smoker in Cardiff Central to join the hundreds of thousands of other people across the UK who are using No Smoking Day as a great opportunity to win the battle against cigarettes." Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the BHF said: "As we march towards No Smoking Day we're encouraging people to put together a personal battle plan so that they're in the best possible position to make a successful quit attempt on the day. "We know that quitting smoking isn't easy, but it's the single best thing you can do for their health so it's more than worth the hard work and perseverance. "No Smoking Day is a great opportunity to join hundreds of thousands of other quitters across the UK, so give it a go and sign up to a longer, healthier life and wealthier life. We're here to help and support people along the way so we're encouraging people to get ready to join in." For more information and support, smokers can visit nosmokingday.org.uk Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 11, 2014:
    • Jenny Willott MP calls for musicians and film makers to enter Rock the House and Film the House (Jenny Willott)
      Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott is calling local musicians and film makers to enter Parliament's largest competitions, Rock the House and Film the House. The competitions are sponsored by industry and supported by celebrity Patrons, offering creative people in Cardiff Central the opportunity to have their work judged by the leading lights of industry. Prizes range from festival slots to studio time to equipment, not to mention the opportunity to have work premiered in London's West End. Jenny Willott MP said: "These competitions offer such exciting opportunities for talented people all over the country to get their work noticed and to win some truly amazing prizes. I would encourage anyone in my constituency who is interested to get involved before the 31 March 2014 deadline." Rock legend and actor, Alice Cooper said: "Rock the House is a great project which celebrates the fantastic diversity of the British music scene and gives musicians a vehicle through which to hold their legislators accountable about protecting the music industry's intellectual property." Competition Founder Mike Weatherley MP said: "Every year the competition gets bigger and better and my thanks go to our Patrons, Sponsors, Judges, the entrants, the MPs who take part. If you're a musician or a film maker, make sure you take part in the 2014 competition!" For more information on how to enter Rock the House go to www.rockthehouseHOC.com/apply.html; and for Film the House www.filmthehouse.com/apply.html. Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 10, 2014:
    • Sixth Form College essay-prize winner's day in Parliament (Lorely Burt)
      INSPIRING CHANGE: Sixth Form College student Sophie McHale enjoying her day in Parliament with Lorely Sixth Form College student Sophie McHale joined local MP Lorely Burt for a day in Parliament after winning first prize in an essay competition run by the MP in honour of International Women's Day. Sophie's 200-word essay slammed gender inequality and female stereotypes while praising international feminist campaigners such as Femen and Pussy Riot. The eighteen-year old's action-packed day included watching a House of Commons debate, tours of 10 Downing Street and the House of Lords, and meeting other MPs and women entrepreneurs for tea in the Speaker's Apartment. Sophie is studying Maths, Economics and Politics at the Sixth Form College, Solihull, and hopes to apply her talents to a degree at Manchester University. Sophie said, "Shadowing Lorely Burt MP in Parliament yesterday was an inspiring opportunity. "I had the chance to hear what real politicians had to say about the rights of women and new laws to achieve greater equality for women in the UK. "After witnessing the strength of female MPs and entrepreneurs throughout the day, I am determined to share my newly found confidence with other young women and encourage the participation of women in politics. "Thank you to Lorely Burt and her team for organising my visit, it has definitely inspired me to pursue a political career in the future." Mrs Burt said, "It was a pleasure meeting Sophie, a very bright young woman with a promising future. Although there were many excellent entries to my competition, her essay was exceptional. "There are too few women in politics and I am doing my part to change that. "Hopefully events like this will inspire more young women like Sophie to make the most of their potential as future leaders." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 7, 2014:
    • Sarah challenges Brent Council to save 80% of energy costs for Climate Week (sarahteather)
      To mark Climate Week, local Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has today challenged Brent Council to help the environment and reduce their energy costs by installing LED street lighting. LED street lighting is six times more efficient than standard lighting. If all street lights in the UK were upgraded to LED lights, the savings in greenhouse gas emissions would be the same as taking 330,000 cars off the road. Thanks to the Green Investment Bank, set up by the Liberal Democrats in government, local authorities can use a Green Loan to pay for LED lights. The loan is then paid back using the money saved, so the Council will always be better off. Sarah has now written to Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, urging him to take advantage of this scheme. Commenting, Sarah said: "It's really important we do all we can to reduce our carbon emissions and protect the environment. That's why I fully support Climate Week. "Thanks to the Green Investment Bank, local authorities can now tackle climate change but also save a significant amount of money that can be used on vital local services. LED street lights are a fantastic innovation, and I urge the Council to install them in Brent as soon as possible." An infographic on UK street lighting can be found by clicking here. Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 6, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke questions Minister on planning guidance for flooding (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, contributed to Communities and Local Government questions in the House of Commons by asking about planning guidance in light of the recent flooding. Annette asked the Planning Minister Nick Boles MP if he would now consider reviewing planning guidelines relating to flooding risks. In response the Minister said his Department was already looking at what can be done in the future after the recent floods. He alluded to the strict tests in place to protect people and property from flooding, which councils should follow, "and we will underline the importance of that in new planning guidance to be published shortly". Annette thanked the Minister for his response and went on to talk about the effect of changing weather patterns on future planning. Annette asked the Minister for his advice for local planning authorities and planning inspectors on "the allocation of housing sites that are identified as having future flood risk, in terms of green spaces, drainage systems, house design and, indeed, a need to find alternative sites?" In reply, Nick Boles MP said the current policy is very clear and "development in flood risk areas must be flood resistant and resilient". His advice for councils, planning authorities and planning inspectors was to follow the guidance of the Environment Agency rigidly and "make sure that all development is resilient to flood risk". Full text of question: Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD): If he will review planning guidance relating to flooding risks. [902752] The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Nick Boles): We are already looking to see what lessons can be learned from recent floods. There are strict tests to protect people and property from flooding, which all councils should follow, and we will underline the importance of that in new planning guidance to be published shortly. Annette Brooke: I thank the Minister for his answer. Given our changing weather patterns, what advice would he give to local planning authorities and, indeed, planning inspectors on the allocation of housing sites that are identified as having future flood risk, in terms of green spaces, drainage systems, house design and, indeed, a need to find alternative sites? Nick Boles: Development in flood risk areas must be flood resistant and resilient. That policy is very clear. I would advise inspectors and councils to follow the Environment Agency's advice to the letter and make sure that all development is resilient to flood risk. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Lib Dems demand better step-free access at Kilburn Station (sarahteather)
      Local Liberal Democrats are calling on Transport for London and the Mayor Boris Johnson to improve access at Kilburn station and to speed-up the work to replace the lift at the station. Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central Sarah Teather, Parliamentary Candidate Ibrahim Taguri and Mapesbury Ward council candidates Helen Carr, Paul Edgeworth and Lauren Keith are concerned that work to replace the lift at the station is taking too long. There is currently no step free access to the platform at Kilburn whilst the repair works are being carried out, with the new lift not set to re-open until late June 2014. In addition, ramps installed for the 2012 Olympic Games have since been removed. Sarah, who this week wrote to Mayor of London Boris Johnson to demand better step-free access at the station, said: "It's really concerning that there will be no step-free access at Kilburn station until June. Many residents in Brent - such as those with a disability, parents with buggies and the elderly - rely on the lift at Kilburn to be able to use the underground and overground networks. "I understand the need to replace facilities at stations. But there's no step-free access at all Brondesbury, West Hampstead and Willesden Green, so replacing Kilburn's only lift will have a considerable impact on local residents. "That's why I have today written to Transport for London and the Mayor - it's really important that they don't ignore the needs of Brent residents." Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central, Ibrahim Taguri, said: "Other local stations at Willesden Green, Brondesbury and West Hampstead don't have step free access and aren't part of TfL's plans to install lifts or ramps at more stations over the next few years. The current upgrade of Cricklewood railway station isn't going to see ramps to every platform either. "That's why it's so important that step-free access at Kilburn is the best it possibly can be, and why we want the ramps on the platforms brought back to help everyone to be able to get on and off trains as easily as possible." Local resident Lauren Keith lives in Kilburn and uses the station every day. Lauren said: "It's crazy that a vital service like a lift is taking months to complete. There are many people that need step free access to the platform including parents with prams and buggies, disabled people and the elderly. It is even stranger that platform ramps installed for the Olympics were removed." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • 'Wales a step closer on leading the way on safe nurse staffing levels' - Jenny Willott MP and Eluned Parrott AM (Jenny Willott)
      Assembly Members have voted through Kirsty Williams AMs' proposals for minimum nurse staffing levels to be enshrined in law. In December, Kirsty Williams was successful in the National Assembly's ballot to introduce backbench legislation. Her proposal would see Wales become the first country in the UK with a legal duty on safe nurse staffing levels. Assembly Members across all parties supported Kirsty's proposals in the chamber today, which means the proposal will now proceed to the next stage of the legislation process. Jenny Willott MP commented: "I am delighted that we are now a step closer to this proposal becoming a reality. I believe it has the potential to revolutionise healthcare in Wales. "Assembly Members across all parties saw the merit in allowing this proposal to be further explored. This proposal will ensure safe and compassionate care by having the right number of nurses on our wards." Eluned Parrott AM added: "The Francis Report, which looked at failings by Mid Staffordshire Trust, cited low staffing levels as one reason which contributed to poor treatment at the trust. There is a clear link between staffing levels and the safety and quality of care on hospital wards. "It is a fact that nurses in Wales have the highest ratio of patients to care for than any other part of the UK. This proposal would change this to ensure that we have safe staffing levels in our hospitals." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Sarah welcomes Brent Cross development stop notice (sarahteather)
      The news that the Secretary of State has put a stop notice on the Brent Cross development has today been welcomed by Brent Central MP Sarah Teather. This follows a sustained campaign by local group the Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross. Concerns have been raised by Brent residents and the Coalition about the impact of the proposed waste handling facility and the increased traffic the development will bring to Brent. The Secretary of State can put a stop notice on a planning application if it conflicts with national policy in important ways, or is nationally significant. An inspector will now be appointed to carry out an inquiry into the proposals. Sarah, who wrote to Eric Pickles last month asking him to call in the application, said: "I'm really pleased that the Secretary of State has decided to put a stop notice on the Brent Cross development, and that the hard work of the Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross has had some reward. "It's been clear from the outset that the development will have a significant impact on Brent, not least because of the traffic chaos and incinerator pollution it will cause. I hope that this will be an opportunity for the concerns of Brent residents to be properly taken into account." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Local MP Sarah Teather to take part in "fasting relay" (sarahteather)
      This weekend Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent Central, will take part in a "fasting relay" to highlight the need for the Government to take action to prevent people in Britain being left without food. On Saturday 8 March, Sarah Teather will fast for the day in her leg of the fasting relay, which is being organised by End Hunger Fast. Sarah will be joined in the relay by faith leaders, celebrities and campaigners, including Eddie Izzard and the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker. Statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions show that between October 2012 and September 2013, over 2,000 residents in Sarah Teather's Brent Central constituency received had their Job Seekers Allowance reduced or stopped as a result of a benefit sanction. New figures from the Trussell Trust, which runs nearly 400 foodbanks across the country, found that over 50% of people they surveyed have had to tighten their belts, cutting down on food to pay other bills in the last year, with one in five admitting to having gone hungry to save money. Commenting on the fasting relay, Sarah Teather said: "It is completely unacceptable that so many people in Britain today cannot afford to feed themselves and their families. I see many people who come into my constituency office who are left effectively destitute by benefit sanctions and others who suffer crippling levels of poverty because of benefit cuts. "No one should go hungry in a country as wealthy as Britain. We have a duty of care to one another and the Government has a duty of care to its citizens to ensure that people have enough food to eat. "I wanted to take part in End Hunger Fast out of solidarity for those in Britain who don't have enough to eat. I am very conscious that I often waste food and have never known real hunger. It is Lent and so I will offer this day as my own rather inadequate gesture for others who don't choose their hunger. "I must admit though that I am a little bit nervous about the fast as I have occasionally fainted and done myself a little damage in the past when I haven't eaten regularly. I thought hard about this though and decided that feeling faint no doubt affects others too who must go without because they cannot afford to eat. However, I am going to be responsible about it. I don't intend to cause the health service any extra work and will be with people for most of the later part of the day." Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • ANNETTE BROOKE MP ACTS TO TACKLE PUPPY FARMING (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette at the Pup Aid event in Parliament Local MP, Annette Brooke has pledged to stamp out the sale of commercially farmed puppies within Mid Dorset and North Poole and across England. Annette attended an event in Parliament highlighting the issue ahead of a House of Commons debate in March. The debate has been secured following a campaign by the animal welfare group Pup Aid, and the support of over 108,000 members of the public who have signed an e-petition asking the government to ban the sale of puppies and kittens without their mothers present. Puppy farms, largely found in Wales and Ireland, and licensed by their respective governments, have been using pet shops and dealers in England to sell their puppies. These dogs are bred purely for profit and without any thought for the health, welfare, and quality of life of both puppies and parents. Kept in horrific conditions, these puppies are usually unvaccinated, unsocialised, removed from their mothers too early, then sent long distances cross country and sold en masse - usually poorly and riddled with painful disease - to pet shops, private dealers, and for sale through websites. Annette is calling on the government to legislate to stop the cruel practice by banning the sale of puppies where the mother is not present. Commenting, Annette said: "We may not be able to do anything about these farms in Ireland or Wales but we can definitely help curb the sale of these puppies. As well as the huge damage puppy farming causes both pups and their mothers, new owners - often young families - are frequently left to deal with the financial and emotional wreckage when these puppies develop serious behavioural problems, or require expensive veterinary treatments, and at worst, euthanasia. TV vet Marc Abraham, who has led the Pup Aid campaign, added: "Pup Aid's e-petition is proudly the biggest government petition supporting pet welfare of all time, clearly showing that the British public are opposed to puppy farms, and we finally have a chance to change the law cutting out this important supply route - the pet shop. The support of MPs like Annette is vital if we are to ensure that the government acts. It's so important that potential owners see the puppy interacting with its mother and in conditions that support both its physical and behavioural development; and current legislation must reflect this." Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 5, 2014:
    • Jenny Willott MP calls on AMs to support Minimum Nurse Staffing Levels Bill (Jenny Willott)
      Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central, is calling on Assembly Members in Cardiff to support the call for Wales to become the first country in the UK to establish a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels in hospital wards. In December, Kirsty Williams AM was successful in the National Assembly's ballot to introduce backbench legislation. Her proposed bill calls for minimum nursing levels to be enshrined in law. Assembly Members will vote on the proposed bill today, March 5th. If the vote passes, then the proposed bill will progress to committee stage where it will be properly scrutinised. Jenny Willott MP said: "I want Wales to lead the way in being the first country in the UK to establish a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels. This significant change has the potential to transform the quality of care provided in the Welsh NHS. Nurses who have fewer patients to tend to are able to spend a greater amount of time with each patient and as a result can provide better care. "I am urging all AMs across Wales, and particularly those in Cardiff, to put party politics aside and support this great cause by voting for the bill today." The Royal College of Nursing in Wales has offered its full support for the bill having campaigned for an increase in nursing numbers. Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 4, 2014:
    • Equalities Minister Jenny Willott marks eating disorder awareness week (Jenny Willott)
      As Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2014 comes to a close, Women and Equalities Minister Jenny Willott is warning that we urgently need to address the widespread problem of poor body image, as evidence mounts of its harmful effects on mental and physical wellbeing. With hospital admissions for eating disorders on the rise - 8% in the last year - and cosmetic procedures continuing to soar - over 50,000 performed in 2013, a rise of 17% since 2012 - some experts are claiming social media and celebrity culture are part of the problem. Jenny Willott said: "There is so much pressure on young people to conform to the ideal body - even Olympic athletes, young women at the pinnacle of their strength and performance, are telling us they feel scrutinised about their appearance. This causes immense distress to young people and their families, but it also affects young women's confidence and aspirations in the job market. The whole of society pays a price through the waste of unfulfilled talent. It has never been more important for us to help young girls and women to have confidence in the full range of their talents, and to raise their aspirations beyond how closely they match unrealistic standards of beauty." The government's Body Confidence campaign continues to work with the media, advertising, retail and fashion industries to encourage more diverse and realistic representation of body shapes, sizes, ages and skin colour Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Consumer Minister Jenny Willott confirms extra funding for the National Trading Standards Board to investigate misleading websites (Jenny Willott)
      Misleading websites that try and palm themselves off as legitimate government services are to come under the spotlight from Trading Standards today (4 March 2014) as Consumer Minister Jenny Willott confirmed extra funding for them to help tackle these rogue traders. The Minister has committed an additional £120,000 this financial year to National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) so they can investigate these websites. This money will help NTSB also tackle websites that exaggerate the nature of the services they provide or deliberately underplay that people can get them for free or at a lower cost from official sources. The extra funding for NTSB will mean that they are better equipped to identify, investigate and take enforcement action against any misleading websites that pass themselves off as official government services. Consumer Minister Jenny Willott said: "Misleading websites which dupe people into believing they are using the official government channel need to be stopped in their tracks. The unfortunate reality is that a minority are exploiting those who are perhaps less web-savvy and we need to clamp down on them. These rogues that con people out of their hard earned cash need to know that the full glare of Trading Standards is now on them." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Groundbreaking documentary to be shown in Brent for International Women's Day (sarahteather)
      Local MP Sarah Teather has today welcomed news that a documentary about three heroic Somali women is to be screened in Brent to mark International Women's Day. Through the Fire tells the story of three women who have each led groundbreaking humanitarian initiatives in their communities in Somalia and Somaliland. These include Edna Adan Ismail, founder of the Edna Adan University Hospital; Dr Hawa Abdi, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of the Dr Hawa Abdi Foundation; and Ilwad Elman, director of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre. Launched last year at the UN Association Film Festival, the documentary is going to be shown three times in Brent on the weekend of 15-16th March. All funds raised will be donated directly to the three foundations. Commenting, Sarah said: "Through the Fire is a fascinating insight into the work of three inspiring Somali women. Their tireless work has laid the foundations for health, education and social infrastructure in Somalia and Somaliland. "This is a great opportunity to mark International Women's Day in Brent and to support the fantastic work of these inspirational women - try to catch one of the screenings if you can!" Screening details: Saturday 15 March, 12pm: Tricycle Cinema, Kilburn Saturday 15 March, 4pm: Brent Civic Centre, Wembley Sunday 16 March, 6pm: The Hub, Stonebridge Centre Published and promoted by Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats, 70 Walm Lane, Willesden Green, London NW2 4RAPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 3, 2014:
    • Sixth Form College student's essay wins parliamentary prize (Lorely Burt)
      THE WINNING ESSAY: Sophie McHale's excellent essay on why we need more women in Parliament won first prize Sixth Form College student Sophie McHale will join local MP Lorely Burt in Parliament for the day on Thursday, 6th March after winning first prize in an essay competition run by the MP. The day will include watching a debate in the House of Commons, a tour of 10 Downing Street, and meeting MPs and women entrepreneurs in the Speaker's Apartment. The 'Inspiring Change' event is run by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Parliament, of which Mrs Burt is a member, to support International Women's Day, which falls on 8th March. MPs can invite one person to take part each. Mrs Burt decided to run the competition - inviting girls in local sixth forms to submit 200-word essays on 'Why we need more women in Parliament' - as a way of choosing someone to take part. 18-year old Sophie of the Sixth Form College, Solihull, won first prize. However, Mrs Burt has promised something special for runners up as well. Mrs Burt said, "There were many excellent entries and I was encouraged by the strength of feeling about getting women better represented in politics. "I was particularly impressed by the knowledge Sophie showed and her excellent writing style. "Women's talents are under-utilised in top decision-making roles all over the country, and I hope that Sophie will feel inspired to make the most of her talents in whatever career she decides to apply them to. "I can't wait to meet her." Sophie McHale said, "I was delighted to have won this competition. "Women must have greater representation in the political world as the issues that affect women matter. "Therefore to be part of a Parliamentary event dedicated to this very cause is an honour, and I would like to thank Lorely Burt for this great opportunity." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • MP launches campaign to save dementia ward (Lorely Burt)
      STANDING UP FOR LOCAL DEMENTIA SUFFERERS: Lorely launching her campaign to save Ward 10 with Lib Dem activists including Yardley MP John Hemming, Cllr Ian Hedley (Shirley East), Cllr John Windmill (Olton) and Cllr Glenis Slater (Elmdon) Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt has launched her campaign to save Ward 10 at Solihull Hospital. The award-winning Ward 10 provides in-patient care to dementia sufferers. Its 13 beds are under threat in a drive to reduce costs and focus on outreach services - treating patients in their homes. The fate of the ward is due to be decided imminently. Mrs Burt launched her campaign outside Solihull Hospital with Lib Dem campaigners including Yardley MP John Hemming and Lib Dem council group leader Ian Hedley. Mrs Burt spent the afternoon in the town centre, gathering signatures from shoppers who wanted to save Ward 10. The petition is available online and Mrs Burt is promoting it on Twitter using the hashtag #SaveWard10. Mrs Burt has requested a meeting with the Managing Director of Solihull Hospital to discuss the proposals and she plans to raise it at a meeting with Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. Mrs Burt said, "I am deeply concerned about proposals to take away this vital service for dementia sufferers. Outreach services are a wonderful thing but not all patients have the same needs. "When I recently visited Ward 10 it was clearly an excellent service, giving vulnerable older people real dignity and quality of care. "I have written to the Managing Director of Solihull Hospital to request an urgent meeting with her. "In the meantime, I would encourage anyone who wants to save Ward 10 to add their name to my petition." Mrs Burt's petition can be signed online at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-ward-10. Readers wishing to sign who do not have access to the internet should write to 81 Warwick Road, Solihull B92 7HP. Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Lode Heath School students interview MP for BBC (Lorely Burt)
      Students from Lode Heath School have interviewed local MP Lorely Burt on behalf of the BBC. Nine students from Years 7, 8 and 9 questioned Mrs Burt for three quarters of an hour on over a dozen issues. The interviews covered which subjects Mrs Burt studied as O-levels, her campaign to protect Solihull's ambulance service, and how to get more women elected into Parliament. The interviews will be uploaded to the BBC website on 27th March as part of the BBC News School Report. They will also be available on Lode Heath School's website. Mrs Burt said, "I was impressed by the students, who asked clever and articulate questions. They were well-prepared and didn't let their MP off the hook easily! "I can see some bright futures for these keen young people and I hope they and the school will continue to stay in touch with me." Anthony Collins, the English teacher who organised the visit, said, "On behalf of the students, I would like to thank Lorely for visiting Lode Heath School. "The students very much enjoyed interviewing Lorely and hearing her thoughts on a range of local and national issues. It was a fantastic opportunity for students to develop their journalism skills." JOURNALISTS IN THE MAKING: Lorely Burt in Lode Heath School library with student interviewers (left to right) Louise Minton, Tamia Vernon, Oliver Savage, Stephanie Lowe, Parvin Begum, Emma Avery, Andie Dayus-Reason, Katie Bennett, and Rachelle Townley Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 28, 2014:
    • Reform of the Planning System (middorsetlibdems)
      Reform of the Planning System Annette Brooke MP and Lord Graham Tope, Co-Chairs of the Liberal Democrat DCLG Parliamentary Policy Committee 'The supply of housing in the UK is a national disgrace. But it is not the real problem. The much vaunted 'Housing Crisis' is a symptom of a deeper problem. The real crisis is in planning.' Tom Papworth (A Liberal Solution to the UK's Housing Crisis, Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead) The Lib Dem DCLG Parliamentary Policy Committee identified the need to look at planning policy when the Policy Paper, 'Decent Homes for All' was approved at the Party's September 2012 Conference. The Committee accepts that there are other much needed changes to deliver the scale of new home building to which we aspire, for example, lifting the borrowing cap on local authorities and hence increasing their ability to support the building of new homes. However, we agree with Tom Papworth that the planning system should be reviewed as a matter of urgency. This Paper has been produced with input from representatives from a wide range of organisations, party members and councillors from across the country. We are pleased to present some key ideas for reform. We are also receptive for further ideas and comments to be submitted so that ideas for planning reform can be developed throughout 2014. The motion submitted to Spring Conference sets down some key principles (as set out in the paragraph below) but this Paper is a starting point for developing additional and more detailed proposals. We would also draw your attention to 'Planning-Problem or Solutions'*(See Annex 1), views and suggestions from key commentators collated by the LGIU for the Liberal Democrats' CLG Parliamentary Committee - which we recommend as a stimulating read! Notwithstanding the successful implementation of the affordable homes programme by the Coalition Government, there has been a failure over more than three decades of new housing provision to meet the need for new homes in a growing and ageing population. Current delivery rates of around 140,000 homes a year is over 100,000 homes a year short of those needed to keep up with the growth in housing need, and is less than half the level needed to also address the backlog of homelessness and prevent further unsustainable house price rises. We need to address this failure and ensure local decision making plays a key role in delivering the 300,000 new homes per year that we need and to which the Liberal Democrats committed in 'Decent Homes for All', September 2012. At the same time we wish to see the strengthening and enhancement of local sustainable communities. The National Planning Policy Framework and the National Planning Practice Guidance developed under the Coalition Government have been a big improvement from the 1000s of pages of contradictory policy and guidance they replaced, but an early review of the NPPF should be undertaken to consider further improvements. For example, the Woodland Trust, made very strong representations to us that ancient woodland should be given greater protection. The NPPF and NPPG provide a framework for Local Planning Authorities to assess their Housing Need. LPA's must present their analysis and conclusions on their local housing need in an open, transparent, and easily accessible format. If local residents are to be fully engaged in the planning process they must be able to understand the basis of the calculations and be assured that there is not double counting across authorities. It would be helpful if housing need could be broken down, so that an assessment can be made of the type of housing provision needed - specialist housing including provision for our ageing population, size of home, provision for intermediate housing (raised with us by the CE of Pocket*- see Annex 1), private rented/social rent, and other categories. We note the recent publication by the RTPI **(see Annex 2) which concludes; 'this is a difficult time to plan for housing. Over the last 10 years household formation patterns have departed significantly from the previous long term trends and there is considerable uncertainty as to what will happen over the next 20 years. Authorities need to consider their own specific situation carefully.' The relationship between communities, local government, the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State must be redefined to end unnecessary intervention in local decisions against the wishes of local councils and communities where local plans are up to date and independent examination has confirmed they meet the requirements of the National Policy Planning Framework. We will therefore review the planning powers and responsibilities of local and central authorities, with a view to: ​Restricting the call-in powers of the Secretary of State where the local authority has an up to date independently approved local plan. ​Limiting the role of the National Planning Inspectorate to examining local plans and where these are in place then only dealing with appeals on major applications to judge whether they are or are not in conformity with a local plan, whilst minor application appeals are dealt with by local appeals panels. A pilot scheme should be run with a volunteer planning authority on local appeals for minor applications. ​Reforming the balance of responsibilities in London between the Mayor of London and the London Boroughs so that the Mayor's role is truly limited to strategic matters. ​Introducing a Community Right of Appeal by a recognised Parish or Neighbourhood Forum if a planning authority passes an application which is not in conformity with an approved, up-to-date Neighbourhood Plan. Introducing a 'use it' or 'lose it' policy rather than automatic renewal of a planning permission. More resources and support should be given to the development of Neighbourhood Plans. Whilst Ministers hail the hundreds which have been commenced, the number is tiny in relation to the potential for such plans across the whole country. Community involvement in identifying and supporting housing sites and other land uses within a local area at an early stage is essential. We support the continuation of Neighbourhood Forums with the consent of local people. There is a clear need for strategic planning co-operation beyond the boundaries of individual planning authorities on a democratic basis. There must be greater cooperation on strategic planning issues by local authorities working together in natural 'sub regions' by: Encouraging local authorities to form partnerships (determining the boundaries themselves, as in city regions, providing they evidence that the area is designed to respond to strategic housing and economic planning needs). Such partnerships will be required to produce joint plans to meet housing, economic and infrastructure needs, with democratic representation from councillors from all political or non-political groups. The plans will be devised using a bottom up approach but in the event of a lack of agreement within the partnership there will be a system of arbitration on the partnership's boundaries and plan (perhaps facilitated by PINS, an issue to be picked up in the review of the functions of PINS as above). There must be measures to ensure communities benefit from the uplift in land values permitted for development, and we propose Piloting of community land auctions for publicly and privately owned land (Tim Leunig*** (See Annex 3)). A review of the Community Infrastructure Levy. Allowing local authorities to use the New Towns Act to address local housing and economic development, with the majority of the land value uplift captured for the infrastructure and social development of the community in perpetuity. We attach a brief paper by Tom Papworth, 'the Pen is mightier than the Shovel'****(See Annex 4) on the issue of capturing community benefit, for further consideration. Garden Communities: We are proposing that the social contract of the garden cities/green belt should be revived: protecting existing historic communities from urban sprawl by offering permanent designation of green belt, whilst meeting their housing needs instead through new and more sustainable communities built on Garden City principles. This will provide an alternative local choice and reduce the pressure on all green space within a settlement and land immediately around existing built up areas. We will: Introduce a local trigger into the 1981 New Towns Act to allow local authorities and partnerships to choose to address housing need through one or more new communities built on 21st century garden city principles with the jobs, facilities and services the community needs to be sustainable. In return, Local Planning Authorities should be enabled to designate permanent open spaces around and within the existing settlement (and so require any development that takes place in existing communities to regenerate poor quality built environments and brownfield sites). Secure land for the new communities through the powers of the New Towns Act, with the majority of the land value uplift reserved for investment in the community whilst compensation arrangements in the New Towns Act are reviewed to provide compensation to existing residents and land owners. Using the difference in land values before and after planning permission is granted to provide resources to support the new community with good infrastructure, services and amenities, but also to allow good quality homes to be sold and rented at much more affordable prices. Avoid rationing and lack of competition in the housing market by allowing a mix of providers (including local builders, overseas builders, social enterprises including housing associations, and funds wishing to invest in the private rented sector) to develop the new communities according to the locally determined master plan and design code, including making available on demand plots for self- and commissioned- build. We support the principle of Garden Cities. These will be on a much larger scale than Garden Communities, and they will have the capacity to really address our housing needs in the long run. Local support is required but there will be a role for Central Government. We endorse the ongoing work by the Deputy Prime Minister. We propose enrichment of all local communities by encouraging good design on homes and localities, celebrating best practice and recognising that good design may allow higher densities. Poor standards of residential design and performance, including the smallest new homes in the EU and failure to adequately address the challenges of climate change, are fostered in many areas by the stranglehold of the large housebuilders on access to land. We believe greater competition both from self-builders and smaller developers will lead to higher standards. We wish to promote greater competition in the housebuilding market by: Reserving a significant portion of land for small developers and self-builders when public land is sold for development (the local authority should hold a register of those seeking land to inform the proportion needed). Giving planning authorities the right to require under the planning permission that land be provided for small developers/self builders within any development larger than 40 homes. Using new communities to encourage greater access to land by a wide range of providers including self and commissioned build. 'Community benefit' from increased land values as a result of development permission should be used to secure transportation links, schools, and other local facilities as we have outlined above. The planning system and building regulations must further respond to climate change and environmental sustainability by: Requiring local plans to provide sufficient green and blue (water) spaces in urban areas to mitigate the heat island effect - such spaces will also bring health and other benefits for local residents. Amend building regulations to take proper account of the rising summer temperatures that will be caused by climate change. Recognise that good quality gardens, tree lined roads, and quality open spaces as well as sustainable urban drainage schemes all add significantly to biodiversity and ecological improvement compared to much agricultural land, and therefore over urbanised development should be discouraged. In light of the recent flooding crisis we will identify best practice and review all existing planning guidance and building regulations. The growth of out of town retail and now internet shopping is increasingly a challenge to the vitality of city centres and high streets. This requires a proactive and imaginative response to support the evolution of the high street to meet 21st century needs. Empowerment of local planning authorities to ensure the vitality of town and city centres by: Giving more power to local planning authorities to determine use classes. Requiring local authorities, working with local businesses, to produce town centre business and development plans with a 20 year vision and to report on progress every year - such plans should recognise that traditional retailing may not be the prime attraction in at least some city centres in the future and should include consideration of increased boutique, café, leisure and cultural uses - and where retail is contracting, replacing some retail space with housing (outside of an identified core area) which in turn may increase the vitality of the remaining retail area. It has been pointed out to us that the present relaxation in use classes has enabled conversion of offices into residential where those offices are in current active use and in successful areas. This has militated against local growth, increasing travel to work pressure, reducing community mix and resilience. Hence local authorities should be able to require proof that the property concerned is empty and has been actively marketed, and that if the property is in a Conservation Area normal council permission would be required. * * * * * * *Annex 1 'Planning-Problem or Solutions', views and suggestions from key commentators collated by the LGIU for the Liberal Democrats' CLG Parliamentary Committee - http://www.lgiu.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Planning-Problem-or-Solution1.pdf ** Annex 2 Planning for housing in England: Understanding recent changes in household formation rates and their implications for planning for housing in England Neil McDonald and Peter Williams, Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, University of Cambridge ***Annex 3 Community land auctions: working towards implementation by Tim Leunig for CentreForum ****Annex 4 The pen is mightier than the shovel: Enabling local communities to benefit from development windfalls Tom Papworth, CentreForum, 6 December 2013 What is the value of something? From where or what is the value derived? These are questions that have vexed philosophers and (more recently) economists for millennia. In the case of land, they also vexed the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) until fairly recently; since 2012 the VOA have stopped publishing their (extremely useful) Property Market Reports. Figure 1 is a summary of the VOA's last (2011) report. It clearly shows that the value of land depends entirely upon what one is allowed to do with it. Price (£) per hectare Arable Dairy Mixed agricultural Industrial Residential West Midlands 20,687 20,069 20,069 475,000 1,005,000 Yorkshire and North East 18,196 15,376 15,933 443,333 1,345,000 East Midlands 20,995 19,760 19,760 450,000 1,390,000 North West n/a 20,378 18,443 550,000 1,425,000 South West 18,834 19,143 18,834 600,000 1,800,000 East 19,141 n/a n/a 582,500 2,250,000 South East 20,872 20,625 19,555 1,223,750 2,462,500 London - Outer[1] n/a n/a n/a 2,306,025 4,200,000 Wales n/a 19,143 16,673 440,000 1,800,000 Scotland 16,920 13,338 9,921 706,666 1,716,667 Northern Ireland 23,887 25,112 21,818 n/a n/a Figure 1: Value of land by region and use category, Valuation Office Agency, 2011 We say "what one is allowed to do with it" for two reasons. Firstly, these figures are not necessarily the values of land that already has a farm, a factory or housing on it, but includes the value of land "zoned" for agricultural, industrial or residential use. Secondly, and more importantly, what use the land is put to requires "planning permission" from the local planning authority ("local authority"). This is a crucial point. Since 1947 the right to develop land in the UK has been nationalised, and the decisions then devolved to local authorities. Whereas "ownership" generally conveys a right to use property as one sees fit, the right to use land has been separated in law from the right to decide what use is fitting: you may own land, but you cannot do with it as you will. That right is owned by the government, and the government has decided that the local authority will exercise that right. Two things follow from this. Firstly, the value of land does not change dramatically as the result of a change of use; it changes dramatically as a result of a decision to permit a change of use. Secondly, the right that is being exercised to create this changed value is not the right to use the land (held by the landowner), but the right to decide how it is used (held by the local authority). It is the exercise of the local authority's right, not the exercise of the landowner's right, that creates the uplift in the value. So why is it the landowner, rather than the local authority, that profits from the exercise of the local authority's right? It is our contention that the profit from exercising a right should accrue to the holder of that right. If the local authority creates wealth by a stroke of an officer's pen, then the local authority should gain the windfall profits that result. There is no reason why landowners should gain a windfall for doing nothing of value. Having said that, the granting of planning permission does not compel the landowner to use the land differently. Granting permission to build a factory does not require that a factory be built; the landowner may decline to build a factory, and may continue to use the land for the original purpose. It is therefore a necessary corollary of granting planning permission that the landowner will benefit to some extent from the change, otherwise they would not go along with it. It is our view that a balance needs to be drawn between what is needed to incentivise landowners to release their land for development, and what is the profit from the exercise of a right held by the local authority. Without seeking here to prescribe what that balance should be, we would expect that the vast majority of the windfall would accrue to the local authority while the landowner received what was, by the standards of the use to which their land was at present being used, a handsome profit. For example, in the East Midlands, one might pay a farmer £100,000/hectare (five times the arable value of his land), and convert it into industrial land, capturing £350,000 for the local authority; or a local authority in the South West might share the proceeds of converting an industrial estate into a housing estate equally with the landowner, allowing her to keep twice the industrial value of the land while capturing £600,000 for the local authority. How can this be achieved? A number of methods could be explored, including (but not necessarily limited to): Taxing windfall gains Extending the Community Infrastructure Levy Planning-gain Supplement Community Land Auctions Land Value Taxation Proprietary community model. Whatever method were implemented, it should have the following characteristics: The money is captured locally and retained locally - this should not become centralised The money is used to directly compensate those who are adversely affected by development The amount must be set sufficiently to incentivise development - both by rewarding those who make land available and by rewarding those who support development in their locale The amount must be flexible - as our example showed, what is necessary to incentivise the owner of industrial land is larger than what is necessary to incentivise the owner of the arable land Any surplus after compensating losers should be used to incentivise local communities through some combination of tax breaks, additional services or direct side payments. Additional services in this context may include provision for social housing. Local communities should be free to decide on the balance between tax breaks, additional services or direct side payments There should not be an automatic assumption that the existing planning authorities are the natural body to decide - and to share in - this windfall. Annex 5 Localism & Garden cities - a policy proposal Lord Matthew Taylor of Goss Moor March 2014 Q: How would you promote the big increase in housing new build which the housing crisis demands, without running into enormous popular opposition that stops the delivery happening, and ensuring that the funding and capacity is available to deliver it? A: By empowering local authorities to use a modernised New Towns Act to create new communities, capturing the land value uplift to fund them, and guaranteeing those local authorities that do so can protect existing communities from the blight of increased sequential development The scale of the housing crisis is immense. In fact, we are building some 100,000-150,000 too few homes every year to meet the scale of need. That is a shortfall of the scale of a large garden city or two every year. The scale and distribution of the housing shortage we need to solve materially determines the solution this paper proposes - which is NOT for Government to seek a small number of very large new 'Garden Cities', nor to imagine the problem can be solved by somehow increasing the rate of unpopular sequential development ringing every historic community, but to create the circumstances where local communities choose to support and deliver many small scale new 'garden' villages and towns to meet local needs. In short, we need to make the visionary approach of creating new places, on garden cities principles, viable and popular across England because creating one (or two or even three) garden cities by exception, however substantial, would not address thescale of the problem. This paper proposes some simple, do-able policy initiatives to do just that - and do it without the Government of the day being seen to impose development from on high. The reality is that even at the peak of the development of Milton Keynes, no more than 3,500 homes were ever delivered in any one year there. However much a simple answer of large scale garden cities might seem as a solution to the housing crisis that avoids urban blight and creates inspiring, practical, desirable and beautiful places to live, it can't do the job. We need to find a solution that is so popular, the viability so engineered in, the capacity so unlocked, the vision so compelling, that it unlocks an appetite for this solution, such that the delivery can be on the scale of homes (and economic development) that is needed in the very many places it is needed, and that means unlocking such communities in the many different places that homes arein desperately short supply and prices ever more unaffordable, on scales appropriate to those local needs. In fact, it is this challenge that makes it an economic and political challenge rather than architectural or design or location specific question: What is it that in an apparently free market economy, where a car or mobile phone can be ordered, built and delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days, that has locked up housing supply such that millions cannot access a decent home, and those new houses that are built are the third meanest sized in Europe and as much associated with blight rather than beauty? In unlocking the answer to this conundrum, this paper proposes a simple but radical change that turns today's opposition to development on its head, creating an environment in which new communities are the popular choice, captures the land value uplift implicit in creating great communities and so underpin viability and quality, and unleashes a competitive market place to meet the need for homes, drive up quality and drive down price. Executive Summary 1. Lots of Planning Authorities need to find thousands more homes in the local plan. But sequential development around existing settlements on this scale promotes furious opposition, and the land carries huge values and is optioned by the big house-builders making quality new communities there unviable. 2. So this paper proposes to modify the New Towns Act to empower local authorities to jump over the optioned land and the powerful politics of the Nimbys, and create new communities on Garden City principles instead. That captures land value to deliver the infrastructure (schools, shops, etc), and improve the sizeof homes and gardens whilst selling/renting at lower prices. 3. The paper proposes to repeat the green belt deal - allow protection of green fields around traditional communities in return for agreeing the new communities; it works with, not against, the interests of existing householders, who may not own their view but have assuredly had to pay for it. It would however be a 'rolling' green belt - available only so long as the local authority provides sufficient land through new garden communities to meet local housing needs. 4. To improve the compensation to land owners to make it sufficiently generous to make it a clear gain for them, but retain most land value uplift for the new community. 5. Use the land control to seek and encourage new players to deliver the house building, overcoming the capacity constraint of the big house-builders: housing associations, overseas house-builders, contract builders, small local builders wishing to grow; and commissioned build by individuals. 6. This is a local solution, not requiring national government to get involved in choosing sites for major new communities, avoiding the risks of repeating the delays and controversies of the eco-town programme, HS2 and the search for a new London runway. In short: Existing communities are relieved of pressure to build on land they care most about - the fields on the edge of the existing community - their views, their open spaces, the places they walk their dogs, pick blackberries. The new community does not face the high land costs of sequential development (there were no option agreements, no high land value expectations). It delivers good sized homes at a low price, and land value uplift support great local infrastructure The council only has to take one or two big development decisions covering a decade or more of housing needs, rather than endlessly unpopular smaller decisions around every community; it can offer existing communities guarantees that green borders will be maintained and can be defended against speculative applications/appeals; can use land value uplift to deliver core services; and communities will be well planned and attractive yet responsive to housing demand as they can be built out to demand - ending the inability of the current five year supply process to create a responsive open market. In sum, enabling local communities the power to create their own visionary new communities that are both popular and viable - and which collectively allow the scale of new homes to be delivered to meet the country's housing needs. Vision versus short-sightedness When people comprehend the scale of housing need over time, they may understand that fighting over each planning application for another small estate won't end the pressure for homes in our back yard; that short-sightedness only delivers endless small mean estates without facilities, on the very green fields we most care about (at the bottom of our gardens and the edge of our historic towns and villages); putting together long term growth into larger communities is what allows places to be built with facilities and services and jobs and greenery and community and a sense of place. It is this scale of need, and it's distribution across very many communities in many parts of the country, that underpins this paper's proposition. As a result of not building sufficient new homes: There are already 3.3 million adults between 20 and 34 living with at least one parent. That's an increase of nearly 700,000 (around 20%) since 1997 with no increase in the population in that age group. There is no reason to think that more families want to be in this situation, the increase is driven by necessity: two thirds of parents say their adult children are at home because house prices mean their children can't afford to move out. On current trends, today's teenagers will add another 700,000 to that increase by 2020 without a substantial increase in house building. The present baby boom isn't slowing down - so this number will only continue to increase until we find a way to create homes on the scale needed to meet this need Then there is the ageing population. More than 10 million people are now aged over 65 in the UK, and that rises to an estimated 19 million by 2050. The number of over 85's is expected to double between 2010 and 2030. Recent net immigration, notably from Eastern Europe, chiefly working age, is of course part of the growing housing need too. Last year net immigration was 165,000 (40% of the total population rise). They are having children too - some 25% of babies born last year had mothers born outside the UK. In much of the south (especially the South East, but also the South West), population growth is exceeded by the pressure of net internal migration. Last year 50,000 people moved out of London alone to satellite towns around the South East And it's not just people living longer, moving South, and having more children. More people are also living singly, divorcing and sharing child care between separate homes, which means many more homes would be needed even if the population were not growing, ageing, and shifting south. ONS population projections show that by 2028 rural populations will increase by 16% compared to 9% in urban areas as a result of such migration, creating particular growth pressures on rural communities. In sum, according to analysis of the new census data by Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, even if the economy remains depressed and household formation rates remain held down by those young people unable to move out of hotel mum and dad "there will still be almost a 20% increase in the number of households over the 20 year period to 2031". Between 240,000 and 245,000 additional homes are required each year to keep pace with the demographics, around double current delivery rates and one third higher than peak delivery pre 2008. If we are to address the demand from young people and others for a home of their own, currently suppressed by the unaffordability of homes (which is the price outcome of the shortage of homes), it will need to be more. The existing 2 million home backlog of undersupply led RIBA's Future Homes Commission to detail we need another 55,000 new homes a year to address this backlog of undersupply. So we need around 300,000 new homes built each year, yet we are delivering barely more than a third of this? Between 1997 and 2007, the boom years, on average we delivered just 148,000 new homes each year. In no year did it come close to 200,000. Now it's nearer 100,000 a year. A vocal case is still made that the housing shortage is not a result of a failure to make enough land available for development at all. In support of this, it is pointed out that most planning applications are approved, and that there is a backlog of 400,000 un-built permissions. However, 400,000 extant permissions is only around three years supply at current build rates, in an industry that needs more than that in the pipeline just to maintain a steady development flow and viable businesses. And that's before we consider those permissions stalled because they are unviable, or in the wrong place (where there is low demand), or just plain held up by the myriad hurdles that come between permission and delivery. Even in the pre 2008 boom years the housing industry never got close to delivering the numbers we need. Between 1997 and 2007, on average we delivered just 148,000 new homes each year, at a time when finance was plentiful and demand and prices soaring - nearly 100,000 a year less than the Barker review said was needed. In an open market responsive to demand, the great majority of those in work in the UK (after all, one of the world's wealthiest economies) could afford to buy a home, since the bricks and mortar of building does not cost all that much relative to average earnings. It takes from around £80,000 in simple build costs for a two bedroom apartment, around £120,000 for a two bedroom terraced house. However, in a market where housing land supply is highly constrained, prices of homes are pushed up far beyond the bricks and mortar cost by the price of land. It is often said that people will be forced to rent 'instead'. But with a limited supply of housing, this does not house more people; it simply switches demand and bids up rental levels. NHF research in spring 2013 predicted a 42% rise in private sector rents by 2020 as a result of housing shortages. Naturally, rising rents will attract new rental supply, notably expressed by the buy-to-rent boom; but in the absence of a great deal of new land to meet this surge in demand, buy-to-rent is competing within the limited housing and land supply, not adding to housing supply. As a result of the failure to build enough homes, we already see that demand for social housing far exceeds supply; housing benefit bills have mushroomed to the point the Government can't afford them, and more and more miss out on a decent home. And so it is that housing in one of the world's wealthiest countries has become a crisis of under-delivery. That's why house prices are shooting up even though incomes have fallen back. Even by last August RICS showed the strongest price reading since November 2006, and commented that while the supply of housing for sale was growing it was inadequate to keep pace with the "sheer weight of demand" and the Halifax said average house prices had broken through the £170,000 barrier for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008. By last autumn RICS were calling on the Bank of England to control house price rises (and indeed they ended some of the demand stimulus). Why in a free market are homes not being built to meet demand, and quality and price improved through competition? Why if garden cites provide all the benefits that this paper argues are they not happening already? The answer to that is about how the development market operates and how the housing market has been distorted by the failures of the planning system. It is in essence a text book example of unintended consequences. The new National Planning Policy Framework. In important respects, the NPPF was designed to address this undersupply. The NPPF's 'localism' offer to communities is to empower them as place shapers - but not rationers. At its heart is meeting local housing and economic needs - provision is required to be founded on evidenced need, evidenced land supply, evidenced delivery. The National Planning Framework says: Plans should take account of market signals, such as land prices and housing affordability, and set out a clear strategy for allocating sufficient land which is suitable for development in their area, taking account of the needs of the residential and business communities." In contrast, however, there is a view about amongst many MPs and councillors that localism means (or should mean) that councils are empowered to ignore any government's wish for development and, where there is opposition to development, to minimise it all over again. That the NPPF is a betrayal of localism. Local authorities who want to avoid development sufficient to address these needs argue that their areas are too popular and that if they built across the entire district it would still not bring prices down. They also argue the green belt will be put at risk by the new guidance. That they may meet their own needs, but can't be expected to meet the needs of others. Or they simply fail to put in place a local plan at all. Only 12% of local planning authorities have an up to date local plan examined under the NPPF. The greatest test of the NPPF is still around the corner: The toughest cases are likely to be those that come late, because very often they have had to be dragged every step of the way. Maybe it's an unfair generality, but increasingly the reason that plans are not yet in place is more than likely that the local authority has been reluctant to face up to its responsibility to deliver, and is still hoping that it will never really have to. One thing is for sure - a lot of bets are being placed by local politicians that any Government will lose its nerve. But that simply points to a fundamental truth, the NPPF alone is not enough, political will is necessary too locally and ultimately nationally. And history suggests that the politics of development is toxic - that at best the planning process drives down the eventual permissions because that is the politically acceptable solution. Indeed, the under supply of housing proves the case. So this paper argues that any answer to housing supply must find a proposition that can change this political calculus. If they are to support the homes needed, the politicians are going to need a far more compelling deal on offer. People don't want too much more development on their doorstep (but that's the only solution the present system is guaranteed to deliver - sequential deevelopment eeked out to meet the disliked requirement for a five year supply) The truth is that the current planning and development model, based on pressing sequential development into and up against existing communities, driving high densities and low quality, ramps up opposition to development. Limited land releases leads to cramped poor quality estates on the very green fields most important to local communities - the green spaces on the edge of town. Not only is this development failing to meet housing needs (quantitatively and qualitatively) it also gives people the impression huge amounts of development is taking place, as it is concentrated on the very places they see most often - the green spaces on the edge of town. As it is located in the very places it has most visual impact to the greatest number of people, the developments feed the belief that the countryside is being concreted over and that development is out of control. As the combination of land rationing and sequential development makes it predictable which land will eventually be released for development, and land in scarce supply has large value, the land around the community is acquired/optioned for development by the major house-builders. The value uplift is largely captured by the landowner and not the community or indeed the builder. And because supply is below demand and land prices are bid up, there is no incentive to increase quality - rather it is to pare back costs (size, quality) whilst maximising returns (more, smaller units). Moreover the sequential releases and secretive option deals means land generally comes forward in small units, none of which individually can fund the social infrastructure of schools and shops and pubs etc - especially as they are designed as dormitories of the existing community, rather than communities in their own right. Each is fought at the planning stage as if it were the last word (stop it and protect the town, allow it and meet the housing need). Yet in reality each is just a small step on a never ending conveyer belt - gradually encircling the community with ever more dormitory estates. So everyone's a loser (*except the now very wealthy landowners): The old community has ugly development on its doorstep, on the green fields it most valued The council struggles to fund social infrastructure, and suffers the toxic politics of allocating development over and over again The new community has amonst the tiniest homes in Europe, built to the lowest possible costs It is built in the places people see most, giving the impression that there is 'lots' of development, and that development is concreting over the countryside So every opportunity is taken to resist further such development and so prices continue to spiral and more people cannot afford a home of their own Government finds housing benefit spiralling out of control, yet the housing crisis worsening despite this huge housing expenditure Because there is predictable sequential land release, notwithstanding the housing shortages less profitable brown-field redevelopment struggles in the expectation green-field land will be released sooner or later. The house-builders won't deliver the numbers - or the quality What is also the case is that the lack of new homes is not just a planning issue - the business model of the large house-builders makes them both unwilling and unable to greatly increase output, yet they have a stranglehold on developable land. Can the housing we need be delivered simply by gearing up 'business as usual? Between 1999/00 and 2007/08, there was an explosion in house prices (173%) and mortgage credit (182%) - yet housing completions in the private sector increased by less than 17% (124,470 to 145,450). What did change was that despite the fact that only a tiny percentage of the population aspire to live in flats (an IPSOS MORI poll in 2002 put it at 2%) , between 97/98 and 08/09 the proportion of these new home completions that were flats rose from 12% to 46%. Not only that, but the overall floor space in new build shrank to the third lowest in the 28 countries in the EU - better only than Romania and Italy. The Calcutt report rightly attributed this to the lack of an effective competitive market - both because the shortage of housing supply limits choice, and because the shortage of developable land increases land prices such that making a return requires maximising the number of units on a given site and maximising prices by releasing them onto the market slowly. That lack of competition is seen by the share of the market in the hands of the biggest builders - according to the IPPR report 'We must fix it' (2011), the share of the 10 biggest rose from 17% in 1973 to 28% in 1980, and 47% in 2002. By 2007 just three companies delivered over a third of all new homes. Over the 20 years from 1990, the number of house-builders overall fell from 12,000 to just 4000 according to the NHBC. These figures highlight how the growth of the larger builders has been achieved by buying the medium sized builders. They have been bought in order to access their land banks. The OFT report into the industry in 2008 spelt this out clearly - "Increasingly it is land rather than finance that becomes the most significant barrier to further expansion. Many of the very largest firms have had to acquire land through purchasing other homebuilders and their land holdings". As middle sized house-builders were squeezed out, the capacity of the industry to respond to demand reduced. And the inability to access land not only prevents smaller builders growing, it prevents others - such as overseas builders - from entering the market. The big house-builders hold most of the options on developable land, and have bought the mid-sized builders for their land options. Yet their business model won't allow a big increase in numbers built as they could not finance them and they depend on slow release of new homes into the market to maximise prices and cover the cost of the land they have acquired and optioned. So they can't make up the numbers - but they control the obvious land supply (i.e. the land predictably available for sequential development) even if councils increased the pace. The lack of developable land, and the strangle hold of the major house-builders on the land supply (including option agreements on the land around existing communities that might be approved for development in the future), makes it near impossible for housing delivery to be increased to the levels needed simply by speeding up sequential land supply, unless access to that land is opened up to new players - whether overseas builders, smaller builders wishing to grow, self-builders, or Housing Associations. This problem of Land acquisition as a barrier to entry was the conclusion of the Barker Review, The Callcutt Review, and the Office of Fair Trading. Meanwhile, the shortage of land means that land values have rocketed - making up an increasing share of the cost of a home. Between 1983 and 2007 land prices rose 1,695% according to the Valuation Office Agency. Reframing the debate When the planning system first came into something like the form that we know it today, the collective (popular) will was very different. There was evidently great housing need and the delivery of it was central to competition between the parties. On the other hand, there was also a desire to ensure that development did not simply increase a growing problem of urban sprawl, ribbon development, and a bungalow in every view. So planning was the means to both deliver vitally needed (and publically popular) decent homes, and the means to stop the worst excesses of sprawling development. Also it was an era when the legitimacy of the role of government was never more accepted. Naturally the state chose where the development would - and would not - take place. Naturally it planned the numbers. Naturally it delivered itself the majority of the new homes built. This was, in many ways, successful - if not always in terms of design and community building, certainly in terms of the numbers. Green belt and other controls protected communities and the crucial green spaces on the doorsteps of the big conurbations from poor quality speculative development, but new homes were delivered on a huge scale. So successful was this implicit contract between state and people that by the 1980s the area of the country protected by greenbelt designation was twice the built area, but the new settlements and urban extensions that were the other side of this deal had delivered the huge number of extra homes needed. By the early 1980s housing was broadly in balance with needs, and communities faced low (by today's standards) development pressure as a result of this and the strong environmental designations around them. The need for new towns and communities largely having evaporated, this part of the deal was all but forgotten, whilst environmental protections were stepped up - including increased green belt designations. Moreover, more and more of the population were becoming home owners with a vested interest in the value of their homes. House prices tracked upwards as people's wage packets and declining interest rates made mortgages more affordable. As most people were now home owners, these rising prices were generally welcome - and increasingly the good rates of return (and the fact the investment could also be lived in) made housing an investment rather than a conventional purchase. With so many people invested in homes, when the economic cycle led to falling prices the political priority was to prop them up and restore price growth, not celebrate increased affordability and the correction of imbalances. Unlike any other consumable, house price inflation had become a 'good'. As a consequence, when ageing, migration, immigration and a baby boom started to ratchet up housing need especially in the South East and South West, the plan making system failed because the incentives were now all against delivery: Green belt and other environmental designations had become a good to be defended in its own right, forgetting that the 'deal' was that new housing was delivered in new communities instead. Often the politics of anti-development feeling meant it was better locally for politicians to refuse an application and see it go through on appeal (blame the government) than accept an application or proposes something better (catching the blame). Whereas post war electoral success was built on delivering more homes, now the key political objective is to minimise the numbers of homes. Each application was fought as if it were somehow the last. "We can't possibly be swamped by another 100 homes now' masked the reality that in five or 10 or 15 years a 1000, 2000, or 5000 would be needed. And of course supply and demand meant that the places homes were in shortest supply against demand saw the largest house price increases, the greatest gentrification, the largest and the most articulate opposition to development. The solution proposed: New towns for green belt - the old deal, re-imagined for the 21st century. We can strike a better deal. It's in the very roots of planning, its first principles, its' very DNA. It's by creating great places that don't step on so many peoples' toes so crushingly. Agreeing instead to create great new towns and villages to deliver much of the development we need whilst protecting the great historic places that already exist - not from all development but from encircling and diminishing them with the scale of housing we actually need. This paper proposes to return to the deal pioneered by planning in the first place. The deal offered by the garden city movement and by the new towns: protect the green space around our towns, villages and cities from poor quality development by creating fantastic new communities (neighbourhoods, villages and towns). This does not mean concreting over the countryside. Even in the most developed area, the South East, the Generalised Land Use Database shows that only 12.2% of the land (outside London) is developed - and that definition includes gardens and other urban green spaces. So over 87% remains green fields. Kate Barker estimated that delivering all of her maligned 3 million homes in the South East (not, as she pointed out, a realistic scenario) would have amounted to just an additional 0.75% developed area. England will still be better understood as a green and pleasant land than an over-crowded island. A solution that delivers 1. A solution that delivers a step change in housing delivery - at least 100,000 more homes each year The scale of needs exceeds the numbers of homes delivered by the present system by a substantial margin. The eking out of permissions around existing settlements means that development sites acquire huge development value (even if unallocated, land acquires hope value if it can be predicted it will be released for development in due course on the sequential basis), and the 'options' system allows the large house builders to acquire control over the bulk of current and future land supply. In sum, neither the planning model not the large house builder's financial model would allow a huge growth in the development numbers. On both sides, there are considerable incentives to slow build out rates to maintain on the one hand local political support, and on the other foster high prices. The housing price boom up to 2007 demonstrates this - rising prices and need did not see either councils or the house-builders respond with the numbers needed. Empowering local councils to trigger new garden communities using the mechanism of the New Towns Act would, if taken up, release the scale of land needed in the multitude of places they are needed, and create a supply that can be responsive to demand and the aspirations of people for better homes and fantastic places. Crucially, development would not be controlled by the large house-builders (as the land for development is not under option and could be offered to a wide range of builders, including small ones wishing to grow, self builders, overseas entrants, and housing associations). Nor would the annual rate of build be controlled by the planners - once a new community is identified for development, the build should be responsive to the market, not a predetermined figure of 'need'; so if 10,000 homes are planned to meet 10 years need, nonetheless if demand is there for all 10,000 in five years that could be delivered by the market and another new town established or the existing one grow further. It is controlled in terms of place - this is not a return to urban sprawl and ribbon development, quite the contrary - but still responsive to demand. 2. A solution that is popular with local electors The prospect of a huge increase in development on the sequential model is too politically toxic to achieve the homes we need. To achieve an increase in excess of 100,000 homes a year needs development to be de-toxed. Sequential development, building on the next field, endlessly adding to existing communities, directs development to the very bits of environment most precious to people - at the end of their garden, the gateways to the town, the fields they most treasure precisely because they are on their doorstep. Adding endless new estates encircling communities, often without services or jobs, without so much as a cafe or shop, is a guaranteed recipe for generating ever greater opposition to new homes. In short, far too often people are getting exactly the thing they fear. Inevitably development gets ever more unpopular. And the result is that supporting development becomes ever more politically toxic. It is a self reinforcing spiral. What we do get is not just too little land for development, but a lock on the land by large house-builders both unable and unwilling to greatly increase supply, and sharply escalating house prices and homelessness as demand vastly exceeds supply. And the need to squeeze in more and cheaper homes to justify the high land prices paid, plus lack of effective sales competition, leads to the very thing those worried about development most fear - unattractive densely packed housing estates with few or any facilities, on the green spaces most precious to that community To make development popular we need to recognise the NIMBYs have a point. We need to say so. And we need to do something about it. Not only can the garden cities provide higher quality cheaper homes and services, but their local creation allows councils to protect the land that people actually care most about - the land around where they live. This paper proposes making exactly that deal. 3. A solution that works for local councils The key problem for councillors is that yet more sequential development around existing settlements promotes furious opposition. In addition, the land value uplift is not properly captured for the community, leaving councils worrying about how they can fund the necessary infrastructure (physical and social) to support the growing number of households. The result of the present system is that for very many local authorities a large increase in development is the last thing they want. Not only does political pressure mitigate against the local authority agreeing development, but sequential estate by estate development leaves the local authority struggling to back fill the infrastructure and services needed - especially as much of that impact is on the existing older community which cannot accommodate the increased traffic, does not have the school spaces. In response to this, complex arrangements (CIL, S106 obligations) are created to extract funding for these societal requirements - but this can impact on the viability of the development, the funding achieved may be inadequate, and in any event in existing communities solutions to the negative impacts of endless sequential development can be hard to deliver - e.g. in relation to transport congestion. Locally triggered garden communities can in contrast be constructed as a compelling proposition for local planning authorities:This paper proposes that allowing local authorities to identify and trigger the creation of new communities though an updated local implementation of the New Towns Act should be matched in return by allowing communities certainty that they can rule out unwanted sequential development with a 'rolling green belt' ('rolling' because it is explicitly only there because sufficient long term supply is being provided for, and therefore only for so long as that is so). In theory the existing local plan process is meant to cut this deal; identify sufficient sites for development, and you can protect yourselves from other development you don't want'. But as local authorities can't currently trigger new garden communities in ways that unlock the land value and provide certainty of delivery, in practice the local plan system is usually about rolling forward sequential development (albeit at times at scale). Giving local authorities the power to use the New Towns Act to create new garden villages and market towns, and in return protect existing communities from unwelcome sequential development, would be a far more compelling proposition for local authorities, especially as the land value capture it allows also answers how infrastructure can be funded. 4. A solution that can deliver quickly and create a competitive market that improves quality in the many places the social and economic impacts of housing shortages are immediate, and increasing We need to find a model that can be built on localism and the NPPF, delivering the housing required, in the places that it's actually needed, at the rates it's needed, and which can command local political support. Altering the New Towns Act to allow LPAs to exercise it to meet local needs will make the step change needed in housing delivery and quality and cost not only possible, but relatively quick. This local approach, empowered by national legislation but not nationally prescriptive re location and scale, calls for not a handful of large garden cities the size of Milton Keynes, but starts with enabling new villages and market towns on garden city principles to meet local needs. Almost every community in Britain started life as a small village or market centre - some grew through popularity of need, others stayed small - trying to predict this by setting out to create large new cities from day one echoes the kind of 'state knows best' approach of command economies, and will simply drive the concept of new garden cities into a storm of opposition. Locally proposed and empowered garden villages and market towns have the potential to be popular precisely because they are the best response to local need, free of the political quagmire of central government imposition. This after all was the vision of the garden city pioneers - small towns not super cities, built around communities of 6-10 thousand homes. Of course the term 'Garden Cities' gives an image of substantial scale. A housing shortfall of 100,000 or more suggests scale too. So it is not surprising that larger scale new towns of the sort exemplified by Milton Keynes, Peterborough, or larger, have been widely canvassed. The argument is primarily that these can deliver the numbers needed, on a scale sufficient to unlock the resources for the infrastructure needed. It may also be thought that given how unpopular development is, three or four large settlements would minimise the number of unpopular development decisions. However, this thought rapidly unravels: Unpopular: Realistically large garden cities of this size would have to be a top down imposition by central government (or perhaps regional). A proposal for a new city of 80,000 + homes is highly unlikely to be an outcome of localism - as communities on this scale don't simply meet local needs. It's not hard to grasp that in the modern world in the UK such a decision would be immensely politically difficult. The decision-taking process would today require Government to consider a huge range of possible locations, all of which would likely me met with furious hostility, before short-listing and final decision taking all in the public spotlight. It would be like the debates over a new London runway and HS2 - wildly difficult for any government to see through. Realistically, none would be likely to start building homes for at least a decade and probably far longer, even were a decision made and stuck to. Slow at best: The simple fact is that Milton Keynes never delivered more than 3500 homes in a single year. It is very hard to see how a modern equivalent could beat this. Realistically the effort to build a large new garden city could deliver no more than low thousands in a year at peak delivery, and the largest social infrastructure (e.g. large scale shopping, district heating etc) would be unviable for many years. So even two or three large new garden cities would not significantly impact the overall annual housing delivery. Given we need 100,000 more homes a year now, that is a significant number of new settlements - far easier to do so through fostering local support for locally scaled solutions, than try for an almost similar number of sites for much, much larger communities that need national imposition. Huge upfront cost: All new communities need upfront infrastructure - roads and other transport connections, shops and other facilities, utilities, before many, if any, homes are delivered. But the scale of such requirements for a very large garden city is dramatically greater than for anew village or small market town. To put it bluntly, creating a village or market town hugely easier to make viable and popular early on. 5. A solution that delivers cheaper, better homes, but does not disrupt the existing housing market Ask most people if it would be better if homes were more affordable for their children and they will probably give an emphatic yes. Ask them how they would feel if the value of their own house dropped, and they are unlikely to be happy about it. The same applies to house-builders of course - ask them if they would like to build and sell more homes and the answer would be yes. Ask them if they would like to build and sell a lot more homes and the answer would probably be no, precisely because they are very aware that selling too many homes in one place undermines prices - prices built into their business model. On the face of it, both might be described as selfish - but in fact greatly disrupting values in housing markets by building a lot of homes would create serious problems. Existing home owners would not only have a powerful reason to oppose development, but many would find themselves in negative equity, not only hitting them but destabilising the mortgage market and so exacerbating the problem. Pushing prices down rapidly would cause political pain to the decision takers, and wide economic disruption. Kate Barker therefore advocated an increase in homes only sufficient to bring real house prices into relative stability - not enough to bring prices down and make them more affordable, just enough to stop affordability getting worse. Even that proved politically unpalatable as it required councils to release more land on the current model, which as we have seen is deeply unpopular as it impacts the land around communities that is particularly valued by existing residents. However, switching to new communities to generate the extra housing helps militate against any sharp impact on existing housing markets of increased supply bringing down prices: Imagine a popular market town. If a lot of housing, sufficient to mop up actual and suppressed demand, was built in and around that town, it would put substantial downward pressure on prices there. Increasing supply through a new garden community on the other hand is less likely to be disruptive. However well designed, it is unlikely that the new community will - except hopefully in the longer term as its qualities are proven and mature - compete head-on with the older popular market town. As development is concentrated at the new town, developable land at the old market town should gain a scarcity value - and that should make brown-field redevelopment there more attractive than in the past. So the policy of new communities is also a policy that encourages development of brown-field sites in historic communities, by increasing values there at least in the short run. 6. A solution that also encourages brown-field regeneration - not all homes will be delivered in new communities Clearly this paper is not suggesting all new homes could or should be delivered though new communities. Many existing communities will need and want some growth. A great deal of brown-field previously developed land is available for and needs regenerating - a supply which constantly evolves as old uses cease, or less well designed older development is renewed. It is clearly sensible to encourage the regeneration of brown-field sites such as this - but ironically the foreseeable release of green-field sites around older communities often makes brown-field sites unviable or at least less attractive to developers (as they can be more expensive to develop and can have lower potential value for sales). In contrast, the new deal of protecting historic communities from more sequential release of green-field land, by using new communities instead, can increase the appetite for brown-field development in the historic communities. 7. A solution that offers communities choice as to how they grow Sequential development, building on the next field, endlessly adding to existing communities, directs development to the very bits of environment most precious to people. The result is that supporting development becomes ever more politically unacceptable. By offering to protect communities from being ringed by yet more bland unattractive housing estates - by allowing these communities to say 'enough is enough' in return for creating new communities instead, we are increasing local choice. It's the original but now forgotten 'green belt deal' - green belt was created on the proposition of meeting needs by creating new communities, new market towns, instead - not that green belt protection allowed the draw bridge to be pulled up against development anywhere. However, the old fashioned top down command economy model of centrally determined locations for the new communities won't work. Support needs the compelling offer: you have the choice to build there rather than here, and we will give you the tools to do so - but not imposition. It works with the grain of localism, crucial to current political and community acceptability locally and nationally. The NPPF was founded on the proposition that local planning authorities can't be allowed to ignore their local housing needs, but should be able to decide how to meet them. This proposal for giving local communities the power to use the new towns act to meet their local needs increases their choice, empowers them, but does not impose on them. The eco-town PPS very well describes how to create sustainable, attractive, even visionary new communities that could well have had the descriptor '21st Century Garden Communities' rather than 'eco-towns'. And in theory they were meant to be locally proposed, not a top down imposition. But in the end the Government held to itself the decision on whether they were to go ahead or not - and local communities got no guarantee that it would not be on top of the sequential development they already faced, rather than allowing them to clearly and certainly refuse development they don't want. With no apparent carrot to local communities, and with it seen as an unwelcome imposition by national government on local communities, it is little wonder the Eco-Town programme generally failed to be popular. This paper proposes a model designed to be popular: empower local communities to create attractive, well-planned and integrated new communities that deliver the housing and economic development they need in ways that are far more attractive and sustainable than endless new housing estates around every market town. 8. A solution that is viable It is all very well to describe how to create new communities that are attractive and vibrant, economically, socially and environmentally far more sustainable than sequential estates. These have been well described and there are as many different design approaches as there are advocates. This paper does not prescribe this because it sees a competitive market in housing allowing the best approaches to rise to success. In a well supplied competitive market shoddy homes and unattractive design will fail to attract buyers, great quality and design will thrive. However, none of it will happen if the model isn't viable. Creating great homes with more space and better design, alongside new infrastructure, thriving town centres, community services from schools to doctors surgeries, parks and allotments, superb transport facilities and successful employment spaces all comes at a cost those building a housing estate don't directly face. Moreover, putting in place all this essential infrastructure needs to be done from the start of creating a new community (you can't build a successful community starting with the housing and bolting on the rest at the end - so many of the biggest costs are upfront. Using the New Towns Act allows the capture of the greatest part of the land value uplift created by giving agricultural land development permission - especially as this is land well outside the area under option around every community in anticipation of eventual allocation. It carries no hope value and the acquisition cost does not reflect its suddenly created development value. So the proposal in this paper unlocks the opportunity to capture land value to deliver the infrastructure and to improve the size and quality of homes and gardens whilst selling/renting at lower prices than those achieved in existing communities. In the 2008 Taylor Review 'Living Working Countryside' I put it this way: "By putting together the value unlocked by thousands of new homes, and planning it as a community with a sense of place, it is possible to deliver the infrastructure, the shops, the pubs, cafes, schools, health centres, leisure facilities, green spaces, business premises and mixed housing, that makes a community....In contrast, piecemeal developments of a few hundred houses at a time will likely leave local authorities trying to piece together the bare minimum of infrastructure, without the funds or the land to do it well." The model in this paper unlocks upfront investment: Capturing of land value creates a much larger gain from land value uplift, and the certainty of permission for long term development (on a scale that meets known local demand) makes it able to attract institutional and other long term funding. Strategic development is changed from a speculative investment demanding high returns against risk, it is de-risked into a relatively low risk development process that captures long term value uplift. Because the settlement is largely self contained, revenue streams such as CIL, rates, new homes bonus could properly be earmarked not to the local authority but to the new community - predictable long term revenues that can therefore be used to fund upfront development costs. This, alongside the granting of new town powers to local authorities, is the other key ask of central government to empower this model. Where Government has a key role however is in enabling the early investment in infrastructure. Whilst these new garden communities will have a strong appeal to institutional investors due to their capacity for long term returns and their planning certainty, they will need early investment in key infrastructure delivery, before any houses are sold. This is not just about utilities and roads, but also the elements that make a new community an attractive and sustainable option - early delivery of schools, employment space, and retail are crucial to this, but may well have to be underpinned for some time by upfront investment (as has been shown in places as diverse as Poundbury and Cranbrook. This is not a call for public subsidy. Capturing land values should make all this fundable in the long run, but Government can help unlock it short run - whether through guarantees and loans of the sort the Government is already offering developers, or working with local authorities to support ring-fencing funds like CIL, Rates and New Homes bonus for the new community itself, on the logical grounds that it is designed as a self-sustaining community. Longer run community costs should, as with the original new towns, also be underpinned by gifting commercial property and other assets to the community to support its social infrastructure. This has proved a hugely successful model in places like Letchworth and Milton Keynes, and is readily replicable with the model proposed in this paper. 9. A solution that allows access to land The step change in delivery needs a step change in the access to development land, and the removal of the large house-builder oligopoly, to allow a competitive market response to demand. It is vital to able to quickly grow delivery, unlocking the land market from the big house-builders to unlock the capacity of smaller builders, Housing Associations, overseas house builders, and individuals to commission their own homes If the New Towns Act is used as this paper suggests, the land involved is not under option to anyone. The commission set up with responsibility for the delivery for the new community will be charged with its master-planning and design codes, but not its direct delivery. They will not be a local government body but a partnership which should be charged with identifying long term investors and delivery partners, and explicitly to bring forward development to meet demand working with a range of home builders - the objective being a visionary design but also the encouragement of a competitive market for homes. In this way the model overcomes the capacity constraint of the big house-builders: housing associations, overseas house-builders, contract builders, small local builders wishing to grow; and commissioned build by individuals can all innovate and deliver, within the master-plan/design code. In fact, affordable and private rented sector are key players in delivering a thriving community quickly. Housing Associations in particular offer key skills in community building (essential in the early days of new towns). Also, where new communities have a scale and focus that is explicitly local, many locally focused Housing Associations would have an interest in investing in and partnering the development of any new communities proposed in their patch. These new garden communities would not just attract the large regional/national Housing Associations. In short, this model of many small new garden communities responding to local needs is especially well tuned to the interests of smaller builders and alternatives to the big house-builders - it breaks wide open the housing oligopoly whose power is maintained by their grip on access to developable land. 10. A solution that is fair and attractive to landowners Access to land is not just about the New Town Act powers and the appeal of the new 'Deal' proposed to local authorities. It will also be crucial to strike what is perceived as a fair deal for those impacted most - those who currently live in the area proposed for the new garden community. On the one hand this will be land that is not optioned or subject to hope value until it is proposed for a new community. It therefore does not carry the huge costs associated with land around existing communities or allocated for development through the current local plan process. Traditionally New towns have therefore acquired land at existing use value - largely very low cost as agricultural values have applied. However, forcing someone to sell their home or business, or land sometimes in a family for generations, simply at current use value is likely to be seen as harsh given these are people who would otherwise be happy to stay put. Whilst it is crucial that the new community is able to access land at low value in order to be able to benefit from the land value uplift in order to provide the high quality infrastructure, design and architecture envisages, and at the same time provided bigger homes at lower cost, there is room for more generosity to existing owners. Therefore this paper proposes: a) That the compensation arrangements under the New towns Act are amended to increase the compensation payable so that an existing owner gets sufficient compensation to be able to afford a significantly better farm, business or home elsewhere. In France development is often welcomed by owners affected precisely because they know they will be better off as a result. Further work to research the appropriate levels is need, but a range from 50-100% uplift would provide a very real benefit, without significantly impacting the land value capture available to the new development b) In the nature of areas suitable for these new communities relatively few residents will live there - many would wish to move away to stay in the countryside or avoid the blight of development taking place around them, but some might wish to stay. This paper proposes investigating allowing them the 'uplift' they would gain if they moved. c) To minimise the upfront costs of compensation, it might be possible to offer a small stake in the development as an alternative to cash compensation. How this might be calculated requires detailed work. 11. A solution that meets local needs - now and in the future This paper offers a vision that locally empowers and incentivises the creation of new garden communities to meet local needs. It therefore is not focused on very large new communities - in fact it is argued they are very problematic to achieve, and in any case would only scratch the surface of the housing problem. For that reason it is about multiple places, and a range of different sizes of communities. None need look the same - whilst there are clear principles around creating sustainable and vibrant communities that are common, this proposal is about empowering both communities and the market to generate fantastic new communities that respond to the market - not a top down prescription intended for endless repetition. However, they will need to function as identifiable communities that are to a greater or lesser degree self sustaining. In that context it is useful to think about the kinds of communities envisaged: - Around 1500 homes allows a village built around a hub of primary school and cafe/shop/post office (financed by the land value uplift); with good live/work opportunities too, but it will clearly function in relation to nearby larger settlements for facilities like hospital healthcare, main retail shopping, etc. - Around 5000 homes allows a secondary school as well as two or three primary schools and a small but vibrant market town high street offer and a strong employment offer. Whilst it probably won't attract a full range of national retailers, for the most part it will operate as a self-sustaining community. - Around 10,000 homes upwards creates a substantial new Market Town, with a main high street but also neighbourhood centres. All these are good starting points for master-planning, and are of a scale to have a significant and yet rapid impact on local housing needs. What would be a mistake however is to assume that when they reach their initially planned size they should simply stop evolving. Sufficient land should be in their control to allow natural evolution and growth. Some may flourish to the point that they will one day grow much more than that - but seeking to plan that way is not the intention of this paper, precisely because it does not believe that is the best way to grow a community, nor to tackle the present housing crisis, nor to secure viability or popularity. This paper argues instead the case to set free multiple visions and local solutions. [1] The non-applicability of figures for farmland in Outer London is bizarre. The author is aware of many farms in Outer London. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Government announces extra funds for roll out of superfast broadband in Wales (Jenny Willott)
      Cardiff Central's Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott and South Wales Central regional Assembly Member Eluned Parrott have welcomed an extra £12 million to the National Assembly from the Westminster Government for broadband. This money is for the roll out of Superfast Cymru, a programme which is set to give 96% of homes in Wales access to broadband by 2016. Commenting on the news, Jenny Willott MP said: 'The total investment into the roll out of broadband in Wales by the Coalition government is now £69 million. 'I am especially pleased that Wales is receiving an above Barnet formula share of the money. This shows that Westminster is serious about investing in Wales.' Regional Assembly Member Eluned Parrott added: 'Ofcom concluded in a Report last year that Wales has the worst access to superfast broadband in the UK. Wales cannot hope to compete economically without the right tools for the digital age. 'This is great news for Wales as a whole and especially parts of Cardiff that have had to suffer from poor internet services for far too long.' Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Jenny Willott MP meets local businessmen over bank mis-treatment claim (Jenny Willott)
      Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central Jenny Willott attended the Bully Banks campaign day, "Brolly-Day", in Westminster on Wednesday 26th February to show her support for local SMEs damaged by alleged misconduct of high street banks. Jenny met with constituents Martyn Russell and Keith Glaister, who are two of several hundred small businesses owners who attended the "Brolly-Day" campaign day and met with their MPs. The purpose of the lobby day was to raise awareness of the ongoing problems with the interest rate swap mis-selling scandal and to encourage MPs to take action on behalf of businesses in their constituency. Jenny Willott said: "Mis-selling of financial products has had a devastating effect on hundreds of small businesses across the country, yet even now banks are dragging their feet in compensating people. I know of cases where people have been left waiting for 6 months for a decision regarding their claim which they were told would take 6 weeks at most. This is simply not good enough. I will be continuing to do all I can to ensure that justice is served and that my constituents get the redress they deserve." Jeremy Roe, Chair of Bully Banks said: "The parliamentary support for this campaign has been invaluable in securing redress for thousands of businesses across the UK each of which has been the victim of mis-selling at the hands of our high street banks. Much more remains to be achieved but the turn out on Wednesday was extremely encouraging. We look forward to working closely with our MPs in Parliament to resolve the ongoing issues." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 27, 2014:
    • KEEP ME POSTED CAMPAIGN RECEIVES POLITICAL BOOST FROM ANNETTE BROOKE MP (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette at the Keep Me Posted event in Parliament. The Keep Me Posted campaign has received a boost from Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole. Annette attended an event in Parliament to raise awareness about the growing trend towards online only bills and statements and the impact this is having on people's ability to effectively manage their finances Keep Me Posted is a partnership of representatives from charities, interests groups and businesses including Age UK, Personal Finance Education Group, Disability Action, Mind and the National Consumer Federation. The campaign believes it is every consumer's right to choose, without disadvantage, how they are contacted by banks and financial service companies, utility companies, and other service providers. Annette said: "It is important that my constituents are able to choose how they receive important financial information from service providers including banks and utility companies. Customers should be entitled to free paper statements as part of the standard service they receive. Levying hardworking individuals who either don't have online skills, cannot afford computers or broadband, or are unable to manage their affairs online for various reasons is unfair and we must fight against it." You can sign up to the Keep Me Posted campaign yourself by calling 020 7566 9773, writing to Keep Me Posted, 24a St John's Street London EC4P 4DZ or sharing your stories, preferences and experiences at www.keepmeposted.uk.com. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 26, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke MP questions Minister on ME in House of Commons (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, contributed to Health Questions in the House of Commons with two important questions on Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME). In a written question Annette asked the Secretary of State for Health if he has received any reports on the possible reclassification of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In response, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Jane Ellison MP stated that the WHO "is currently developing the 11th version of the international classification of diseases, which it aims to publish in 2017". She confirmed that the Department of Health and the WHO had not held any discussions on a reclassification, and the WHO "has publicly stated that there is no proposal to reclassify ME/CFS". Annette thanked the Minister for her answer, declaring that the news would be a great relief to many people. Annette went on to state that as the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME, "I receive many representations about GPs in this country still not necessarily recognising the condition". Annette asked the Minister to look further into this matter, and asked her to work with her colleagues in the Department of Work and Pensions on the implications for people on benefits. Responding, the Minister admitted that the subject of ME "is a very difficult, complex and emotive area". She acknowledged that Annette has raised points before about the position of GPs on ME sufferers. The Minister finished by saying that she would be happy to take up Annette's points and discuss them further with her. Full text of question: 11. Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD): What reports he has received on the possible reclassification of ME/CFS by the World Health Organisation. [902634] 25 Feb 2014 : Column 155 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): The World Health Organisation is currently developing the 11th version of the international classification of diseases, which it aims to publish in 2017. No discussions have taken place between the Department and the WHO on the reclassification of ME/CFS, but the WHO has publicly stated that there is no proposal to reclassify ME/CFS in ICD-11. Annette Brooke: I thank the Minister for her answer. Many people will be greatly relieved about that. As chair of the all-party group on myalgic encephalomyelitis, I receive many representations about GPs in this country still not necessarily recognising the condition. Will she look into that, and will she work with her counterparts in the DWP on the benefits side as well? Jane Ellison: I am aware that this is a very difficult, complex and emotive area. I have heard before the point that the hon. Lady makes about GPs. I am very happy to take up her points and discuss them with her. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Welsh Government denies vulnerable claimants millions - Willott (Jenny Willott)
      Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, has reacted with outrage to news that the Welsh Government has not allocated £2.5m of a £12m fund to the vulnerable benefit claimants it was intended to help. The UK Government set up a network of Discretionary Assistance Funds to replace the Social Fund, which offered emergency payments to people needing urgent assistance. In Wales the fund is administered by the Welsh Government. Last April it was given £12.4m by Westminster to help in cases where people need urgent assistance and where there is an identified need to safeguard health and well being. It has now emerged that £568,000 of this money has not been distributed and £2m has been spent paying a private company to run the scheme. Commenting, Jenny Willott said: "For months the Welsh Government has been falling back on their standard excuse that all the difficulties people are facing in Wales are the fault of the Coalition Government at Westminster. The news that they have both wasted one sixth of a fund especially created to support the most vulnerable people in our society on outsourcing and then failed to allocate a further half a million pounds just goes to show how hollow this excuse is. "It is certainly true that these are difficult times across the entire country, but in the first place, the essential role of any Government is to make tough decisions on how to use scarce resources - the Welsh Government need to step up and start taking responsibility for their spending decisions. Secondly, in this case the UK Government has actually handed the Welsh Government money on a plate for a specific purpose. I can't believe the Welsh Government are wasting time slagging off the UK Government rather than doing their job and providing help to people who need it here in Wales." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 25, 2014:
    • Jenny Willott Talks Politics With Students at St. David's College (Jenny Willott)
      Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, Jenny Willott, recently met with politics students at St David's sixth-form college in Cardiff. Ms Willott gave the group an overview of her work as an MP and also of her role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations & Consumer Affairs and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women and Equalities. This was folllowed by a lively Q & A session and discussion on various issues, including Council cuts to youth services and the appalling situation in Syria. Miss Willott, who visits St David's College every year, said: "It is so important that people understand how Parliament works and feel involved in the political process, given the impact politics has on all our lives. I think it is essential that MPs do all they can to get out and about and open up our sometimes obscure and confusing political system, particularly for young people as they prepare to join the voting population. "I really enjoy meeting the students at St David's, who are always very well informed and keen to engage with politicians. Each year is different, with a variety of topics raised but I am always delighted to see young people taking such an interest in politics and current affairs." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Annette Brooke MP Questions Minister on Discretionary Housing Payments during Work and Pensions Questions (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, contributed to Work and Pensions Questions in the House of Commons yesterday with a question on discretionary housing payments and the ending of the spare room subsidy. Annette asked about the effectiveness of councils' use of discretionary housing payments and also pressed the Minister of State for Work and Pensions, Steve Webb MP to agree that councils should use all available funds provided to offset the ending of the spare room subsidy for those who are disabled and have a clear need for two bedrooms or more, and those who cannot find smaller accommodation. She also went on to ask whether the underspending this year will affect next year's allocation. In his reply, Mr Webb agreed that the funding being made available to local authorities for cases where it would be inappropriate for individuals to make up the shortfall should be spent. In addition, he informed Annette that the Government have made available an extra £20 million, in-year, but less than a quarter of local authorities bid for that money. He added "We want local authorities to spend the money being made available, so that those who can move do, but those for whom that would be inappropriate have the top-up that they need." Question in Full: 10. Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD): What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of councils' use of discretionary housing payments in this financial year. [902608] The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): Details of how local authorities used discretionary housing payments in the first half of this year were published on 20 December. That report gives an early indication of how that funding is supporting people, including disabled people living in specially adapted accommodation, and of the type of choices that people are making in response to the changes, such as seeking to move to alternative accommodation or looking for work. Annette Brooke: Does the Minister agree that councils should use all available funds provided by his Department to offset the ending of the spare room subsidy for those who are disabled and have a clear need for two bedrooms or more, and those who cannot find smaller accommodation? Will the underspending this year affect next year's allocation? Steve Webb: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that the funding being made available to local authorities for cases where it would be inappropriate for individuals to make up the shortfall should be spent. In addition, this Government have made available an extra £20 million, in-year, but less than a quarter of local authorities bid for that money. We want local authorities to spend the money being made available, so that those who can move do, but those for whom that would be inappropriate have the top-up that they need. Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Jenny Willott joins Welsh Lib Dem colleagues in call for more affordable childcare (Jenny Willott)
      Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central Jenny Willott has joined Liberal Democrat colleagues in the Assembly calling on the Welsh Labour Government to improve access to affordable, quality childcare. This follows research showing that nearly one in three families spend 30% or more of their available earnings on childcare. In a debate in the National Assembly held by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the Party called for the Welsh Government to review the system of pre-school childcare entitlement in light of enhanced provision in England under the Coalition Government. Liberal Democrats also called for more wrap around and holiday childcare provision across all ages, and for a single online source of information to make it easier for parents to find information about childcare services and entitlements and how to access them. Commenting following the debate, Jenny Willott said: "The cost of childcare is a huge worry for many families. Liberal Democrats in Westminster have vastly improved childcare provision in England, extending the hours available and making the system very flexible. This is in stark contrast to what is on offer in Wales, where families in Flying Start areas are only allowed 2.5 hours a day of free childcare a day. Even more worrying is that there is little to no provision for children who don't live in designated Flying Start areas. "For many families it is not worth having both parents working because childcare has become so expensive. We must change that. We're not trying to force every parent to return to work before their child starts school, but we want every family to have the option so they can make their own choice. Not only would this make life easier for Welsh parents, it would also provide a significant boost to our economy." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 24, 2014:
    • Brit Awards record labels face the music on unpaid interns (Jenny Willott)
      Major record labels involved in this year's Brit Awards are among the latest targets of HMRC's continued crackdown on unpaid internships. Michelle Wyer, HMRC's Assistant Director, National Minimum Wage, said: Non-payment of the National Minimum Wage is not an option, it's the law, and we're letting the music industry know that we've got them in our sights. If they are not playing by the rules, now is the time to put things in order. Last year we fined over around 800 employers, so our message is clear: if you are not paying your interns, but should be, come forward now and put things right to avoid a penalty. Employment Relations Minister Jenny Willott said: "The music industry is often seen as a glamorous industry to work in, particularly for young people. However, that is no excuse for interns not to be paid at least the minimum wage if they are employed as a worker. We need to make sure that interns who want a career in music are getting a fair deal and are not being exploited. Letters to 35 record and events companies have been sent to set out the rules with follow up compliance visits due to begin later in the year to check the rules are being followed." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Good news for employers and staff as improved TUPE rules come into force (Jenny Willott)
      Changes have been made to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), which protect the employment terms and conditions of employees who are transferred from 1 organisation to another. The regulations have been improved to make sure both employers and staff are treated fairly when a transfer takes place. Under the new regulations: businesses will now be able to renegotiate terms and conditions in collective agreements 1 year after a transfer has taken place, provided that the overall change is no less favourable micro businesses will be able to inform and consult employees directly when there are no existing appropriate representatives. Under existing TUPE regulations businesses usually have to inform, and sometimes also consult, employee representatives such as trade unions representatives; for micro businesses with 10 or fewer employees, there are often no representatives which means that they have to be specifically elected for this purpose; this change will make this process much less bureaucratic the new employer will be able to engage in pre-redundancy consultation with employees, with the consent of the old employer contractual changes will be permitted for economic, technical or organisational reasons with the agreement of the employee and or where a contractual right of variation exists The regulations also clarify the existing law in a number of areas: in cases where employees' terms and conditions are provided for in collective agreements, only the terms and conditions in the collective agreements that are in place before the date of transfer will apply; any future changes will not bind the new employer, unless it has taken part in the bargaining process that brought about the changes the test for service provision changes will make clear that activities carried out after the change in provider must be fundamentally the same as those carried out by the previous person who has ceased to carry them out; this means that if businesses radically change the way they provide services, that change is unlikely to be subject to the TUPE regulations Employment Relations Minister Jenny Willott said: "When a business is transferred from 1 company to another we want to make sure that TUPE continues to provide appropriate levels of employee protection, whilst making the process as smooth as possible for the businesses involved. Making these changes will give businesses more clarity about conducting transfers and provide them with the tools to create new opportunities in the UK labour market, whilst protecting fairness for all." Published and promoted by Cardiff Lib Dems, 38 The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AD.Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 21, 2014:
    • MP's fact-find mission to local blindness charity (Lorely Burt)
      Lorely with Action for Blind People service user Malcolm Jones, Danny the Guide Dog, and staff from Action for Blind People and RNIB Solihull Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt visited local charity Action for Blind People to learn more about rehabilitation for blind and partially sighted people. The MP met blind and partially sighted Silhillians benefitting from Action for Blind People's services as well as staff from Action for Blind People and the Royal National Institute for Blind People. The rehabilitation service in Solihull is provided by Action for Blind People, part of the RNIB group and funded by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. Every year 23,000 people lose their sight and it can have a devastating impact on their lives. Not only does sight loss have a massive emotional impact, but it also means having to re-learn the everyday tasks that other people take for granted such as going to the shops, cleaning the house or cooking a meal. Mrs Burt said, "I enjoyed the visit, especially learning about the vital difference rehab can make for people who might really struggle without support. It's reassuring to know an excellent service like this is on offer when my constituents need it." Rebecca Swift, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the West Midlands, said, "At RNIB we know that sight loss can have a devastating impact on a person's life. "The right rehabilitation service can make a huge difference to someone who has recently lost their sight, and also to those who have been blind or partially sighted for a while but need a top-up course to improve their confidence." Cormac MacCarthy, Operations Manager at Action for Blind People said, "Action for Blind People have provided a first-rate rehabilitation service for visually impaired people in Solihull for many years. "The service works with people in their home and in the community to keep them safe, mobile and independent." Published and Promoted by Claire O'Kane on behalf of Lorely Burt and the Solihull and Meriden Liberal Democrats, all at 81 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7HPPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 13, 2014:
    • Annette Brooke MP Raises Cuts to Local Bus Services during Parliamentary Debate on Local Government Finance (middorsetlibdems)
      Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole and Co-Chair of the Lib Dem Communities and Local Government Parliamentary Policy Committee, contributed to a debate on the Local Government Finance Settlement in the House of Commons yesterday. Annette highlighted the fact that bus services are among the many services being cut in the rural part of her constituency. She said: "The most recent cuts have made the situation diabolical. From April, in one large village, with a population of 1,800, whose bus route goes through several other villages, there will be a bus to Poole only two days a week, and evening services at 5.30pm are being slashed, meaning that workers are not being supported...Basically, some of my constituents face a stark choice: use a car or move from the village. That is very harsh." Annette welcomed many of the measures in the settlement, including the extra funding to enable councils to freeze council tax for the next two years, but did point out that she believes in localism and looks forward to times when it will be appropriate for more local choices. She noted that most if not all Liberal Democrat-controlled councils are expected to freeze council tax in 2014-15. Later Annette highlighted her remaining concerns about the local council tax reduction scheme. According to the National Association of Local Councils 20 billing authorities are not passing on council tax support funding to parish councils. Annette endorsed the extra funding for rural councils (topping up the rural services delivery funding by an extra £3 million this year, including the extra £2 million announced yesterday so it is now worth £11.5 million) but agreed that it would in no way get to the heart of the matter. She said the "rural penalty has been with us for a long time. I represent part of Purbeck district council and have presented a petition in the House on the matter. The gap goes on and on. We are not closing it. I have constituents on low wages and there are very high housing costs." She concluded: "Local government is facing a tough situation, and the Government must listen to councils that fear they are facing a cliff edge or a precipice in future years. I also think that the rural penalty must be addressed sooner rather than later. We need to appreciate what local government does best, which is pulling local government services together. I support the rewiring of local government services as put forward by the Local Government Association. Among other things, local government borrowing that complies with prudential rules should be facilitated, but at the same time, I thank the Government for allowing councils to borrow more money in the last financial year. I want more, not fewer, and better quality services delivered by local government, and I want other services facilitated too." To read the full speech, visit http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140212/debtext/140212-0004.htm#140212192000638 Published and promoted by Mid Dorset and North Poole Liberal Democrats on behalf of Annette Brooke, 14 York Road, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8ETPrinted (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY

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