In just over two weeks’ time there is an opportunity to choose a new County Council. Please find more information about your local Lib Dem candidates here: http://har0ld.org.uk/en/page/your-2013-east-sussex-county-council-candidates.
If elected to run the Council, the Liberal Democrat Group promises:
‘To tackle Tory waste. Despite their constant claims of ‘good housekeeping’ large sums are wasted on unnecessary consultants, external venue hire, and internal publications, too often printed not emailed.
More ‘20 is plenty’ speed limits outside schools, play areas and other high risk areas and work with the Police to enforce them.
To build business investment and jobs, encouraging Councils at all levels to work together with business groups as has proved so successful in Lib Dem-controlled Eastbourne.
To safeguard adult social care to reduce anxiety and hardship among the most vulnerable, and increase respite care.
To invest available capital in new school buildings to reduce the un-acceptable reliance on mobile classrooms – 183 at the last count across the County, many well past their expected lifespan.
To do everything possible to promote a green agenda, not because a focus group tells us it will gain votes, but because concern for the environment has always been a core policy of Liberal Democrats.’
The announcement that the Income Tax Personal Allowance will rise to £10,000, confirmed in the Budget, means the Liberal Democrats’ top priority at the 2010 General Election has been delivered in full by the Coalition Government. It means:
· A £700 tax cut for 24.5m working people across the UK since the Liberal Democrats came to power.
· 2.7m low paid workers will no longer pay Income Tax at all.
· For the average family, we have cut the Income Tax bill by a third.
· It is enough for a working couple to pay their council tax or combined gas and electricity bills for a year.
· The Coalition commitment to raise the threshold to £10,000 by 2015 will be achieved a year early, in April 2014.
Letting you keep more of the money you earn is a key part of our plan to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
The £700 tax cut comes alongside more help for working families in the Budget, which confirmed a freeze in fuel duty and £1,200 off the cost of childcare for every child.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “When times are as tough as they are now, our focus must be on helping those on low and middle incomes. That’s why we’ve made delivering on this promise our number one priority in Government.”
Amidst a very gloomy economic outlook for the country, this is genuinely good news for low income families in Hastings & Rye.
Following the news that the European Parliament has voted overwhelming to back reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, Nick Perry, parliamentary spokesperson for Hastings & Rye said,
“Hastings & Rye fishermen, as well as our residents, have played their part in this victory today.
“It is crucial to keep bringing the injustices meted out to our under-10s to the attention of the Minister, Richard Benyon MP, just like we did when he came to Hastings and received our 4000-signature petition.
“I am proud of the work that MEPs Sharon Bowles and Catherine Bearder have done to lobby the Commissioner. And credit to our MP too, who has kept the issue alive on the DEFRA select committee and beyond.
“This reform is testimony to the need for us to keep a place at the European table – so we can lobby, cajole and argue for the interests of our own.”
I was delighted to read the reports over the weekend of just how well our footballers played in Middlesborough.
They passed and battled, and by all accounts were fantastic ambassadors for Hastings. So a big thank you to them – they are a credit to the club and the town.
May I also lend my support to Dave Walters and his plea for a plan which all the major decision-makers in the town can own on the future of the football club.
The Leader of the Council, in my humble opinion, ought to have a bit more imagination than to say sorry, there is no housing allocation for the Pilot Field in the Local Development Plan (as he did in your paper a couple of weeks ago).
Notwithstanding the fact that this should have already been thought about before United’s stellar FA Cup run, there are still negotiations going on about the Local Development Plan with the Inspector.
Many people quite rightly want Robsack Wood excluded from development. So surely there is time to add things to the plan?
Why not have a brainstorm quickly about selling the Pilot Field and The Firs and creating a project that the community can support – not just housing there, but perhaps those missing playing fields for the College and the University? What about the Greenway Project – could that not be part of this?
What about all the economic competence that Labour claims it has? Here is a good opportunity to show it.
This landslide Council has failed, so far, to show that it really understands the important role that sport can play in regenerating communities and engaging hard-to-reach groups.
May I humbly suggest that it pulls its finger out and meets with Mr Walters as soon as possible.
I am shocked that you have not, to my knowledge, made any public comment following NHS Sussex’s decision to accept the ESHT recommendations about the Shaping our Future consultation.
My worry is that, as boringly predictable as it was, your bag-carrying responsibilities for George Osborne have led you to take your eye off the ball locally…
You know that I have been critical of your failure to support the Hands Off the Conquest Campaign, and that your logic for doing so was fundamentally flawed. This was made even more evident by your later backing of the Ridge Fire Station campaign on the basis of attendance times – the cornerstone of our argument with the Trust about their proposals.
You were adamant that you were right though, and that your commitment to a centre of excellence for Stroke services was your priority.
However, as a result of the decision of the NHS Sussex Board on 23 November 2012 – a meeting attended by Stephen Lloyd MP and myself but not you – stroke services will now be based at Eastbourne District General Hospital. Given that a FAST response is required for stroke, I personally believe your intervention has cost those in the rural and easterly edges of Hastings & Rye very dearly indeed.
Furthermore, your unwillingness to work across party lines with other colleagues in a campaign to protect core emergency services at both sites has led to the possibility of the Trust dividing opposition to the proposals in a way that was not possible throughout the Maternity campaign of which we were both a part from 2007.
If the result of all of this is that major towns in East Sussex do not have access to core emergency services, I believe you are personally culpable, and I will take every opportunity to put this opinion.
Having said all of this, there is a way in which you can still help.
Despite our disagreements, surely you can see that it would be in the best interests of East Sussex people that the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (which is due to meet on 13 December to make its decision) comes to the conclusion that it must refer this controversial set of proposals to the Secretary of State, and for an independent reconfiguration decision – just as was asked for on Maternity in 2008.
I trust that, despite our significantly different positions on this subject, you can see the benefit for everyone – yourself included – of an independent view.
I hope you will do, and be seen to do, whatever you can to lobby HOSC to refer to the Secretary of State.
I am sure you realise how many people across Hastings & Rye will be concerned by the comments that your ‘new’ boss, George Osborne, has been making at Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, about further billions-of-pounds-worth of cuts to the Welfare budget.
Not only has he made these announcements without any agreement from the Liberal Democrats, but he has sought to scotch efforts that my party is making to ensure that fairness is hard-wired into the Government’s fiscal plans.
Liberal Democrats are clear that in working to secure the health of the economy, those with the broadest shoulders should be required to take their fair share of the pain. I am proud that local Lib Dem, 22 year old George Potter from Brede, made the needs and rights of sick and disabled people a key issue at Lib Dem Conference in Brighton last month (see previous post).
So, as the newly appointed parliamentary private secretary to the Chancellor, I want to know what you will be saying to George Osborne on behalf of constituents and their dependents, many of whom have been let down by the failed regeneration initiatives of the previous Labour Government, and who are still supported by working age benefits?
Will you make George Osborne understand how important it is that this Government acts, and is seen to act, fairly? And that taxes on wealth, rather than income, are the place to start in order to ensure that the poorest in our society are not disproportionately affected by the economic situation – created largely by the need to staunch the wounds inflicted on the economy by the richest few?
There is no doubt that we are in an economic mess. But thanks to the low interest rates that have been secured by the Coalition Agreement, we are in a position to borrow against the Government’s balance sheet in order to invest more in growth and secure Funding for Lending, the Green Investment Bank and Vince Cable’s new Business Bank.
Yet in order to have any claim on remaining a civilised society, we must make sure that our most vulnerable are protected.
How will you ensure that this happens for the people that need such protection in Hastings & Rye?
If I had been elected as our MP back in 2010, I would not hesitate to say these things to the Coalition Government of which you are now a part. But will you?
I am disappointed that you failed to support the Hands off the Conquest campaign in response to the recent Shaping our Future hospital consultation. You must not fail on this. And as the PPS to the Chancellor you have the opportunity to make a real difference.
As with the Health reconfiguration, people’s lives depend on it.
Liberal Democrats from Hastings & Rye won a significant victory at their Conference in Brighton after party members overwhelmingly passed a policy to improve the lives of sick and disabled people.
On Sunday 23 September, Lib Dem members voted through 21 year old George Potter from Brede’s motion with only one vote against. The policy demands no more cuts to disability benefits in this Parliament, changes to assessments for disability benefits to make them fairer and less intimidating, a national campaign to tackle disability hate crime and for more money for schemes to help disabled people get jobs.
Now that the motion is passed it becomes official Lib Dem policy and the Lib Dems have committed to opposing Tory calls from an extra £10 billion of cuts to benefits.
After the debate George said:
“I’m really pleased with what is a major victory. Disabled people have been unfairly hit by benefit cuts so far and, with two thirds of disabled people having experienced disability hate crimes against them, I’m proud that Lib Dems are standing up for them.
“It’s great that we’ve made it clear that we won’t allow the Tories to cut another £10 billion from benefits – it would mean much greater hardship for sick and disabled people both up and down the country and in Hastings & Rye. But this is just the beginning and I hope we can use this as a stepping stone to get a much better deal for sick and disabled people across the board.
Nick Perry, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Hastings & Rye, said:
“I am delighted that George has once again had a significant success at Party Conference making sure that the rights and equal citizenship of people with long-term sickness and disability stay at the top of our policy agenda. Hastings & Rye is plagued by health inequalities. Our vulnerable people need the protection and support of the state in order that they can play a full and equal part in our society. I am proud of the fact that local Lib Dems were at the heart of this move over the weekend.”
You may not have been able to get to Eastbourne on Saturday. Thousands marched for our hospitals in East Sussex – it was a terrific turnout.
But there is still something you can do to help the campaign.
We need as many people as possible to write to the new Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, so that he will instruct the Trust to listen to local people.
Please visit the Hands Off the Conquest campaign website at www.handsofftheconquest.org to download the template letter.
A belated post from Pirate Day… Very glad that the whole family went and became record breakers together with the other 14,000 people who turned up in one place dressed up as pirates!
Aha me Penzance hearties. Take that!
Attended my second committee meeting with the Hands Off the Conquest team today. The weekend’s task is to finish wading through the Shaping our Future consultation document. To be fair, the document itself is quite clearly written, but it is very lengthy. And the options that the Trust are outlining are far from desirable.
We all need to work on our MP to ensure that she is fully behind the HOTC campaign. That she realises the significance of journey times for the services under consideration. And that we can present a cross-party united front to the Trust in respect of what the people of Hastings and Rother are demanding.
This, I suspect, is the first of many blog posts, in what may end up being a long repeat campaign.
Many thanks to those of you who attended Priory Meadow on Wednesday to make your voice heard.
If you didn’t manage to get there but would like to contribute, either go to the East Sussex Healthcare Trust website and complete a consultation submission, or visit the Hands Off The Conquest website, at www.handsofftheconquest.org and sign the e-petition there.