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Councillor Lisa Brett has announced that she is standing down after six years as Liberal Democrat Councillor for Walcot Ward. Lisa will be moving to America with her family and plans to work on women’s rights issues globally. The Liberal Democrats have selected local campaigner Richard Samuel (pictured, with Lisa Brett) as their candidate for the forthcoming by-election.
Lib Dems: Civil partnerships ruling disappointing but fight will continue
A heterosexual couple have lost their Court of Appeal battle for the right to enter into a civil partnership instead of a marriage.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Equalities Secretary Lorely Burt, who was at the Court of Appeal today together with the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, commented:
“This verdict is a slap in the face to mixed sex couples who want a civil partnership, but the fight will continue both at the grassroots level and in Parliament.
"The Government is now on borrowed time, with judges in agreement that this state of inequality cannot continue.
"Ministers must show political leadership and make a simple change to the law rather than hiding behind today’s judgement.
"It is not fair to the three million couples, and their children, who choose not to marry and therefore face legal and financial uncertainty.
"People should have the freedom to choose and civil partnerships should be open to all who want them."
19 hospitals facing closure as NHS is "downgraded behind closed doors"
Nineteen hospitals are facing closure, including five acute hospitals, according to an analysis of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) by the i newspaper.
Other findings of the investigation include the planned closure of 2,000 beds in acute and community hospitals and the loss of nearly 3,000 NHS jobs.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb commented:
"Hospital closures and reduced access to care are an inevitable consequence of this government's chronic underfunding of the NHS.
"We are seeing the gradual downgrading of our health service taking place behind closed doors.
"There needs to be an honest debate that fully involves the public. Many people now agree that to secure the long-term future of the NHS and care, we may all have to pay a little more in tax.
"It's time for a national convention on the NHS and care that brings the public and political parties together to come up with bold solutions to this crisis."
“Home Secretary can and must do more for unaccompanied child refugees” says Carmichael
Alistair Carmichael, Shadow First Secretary, today demanded further action from the Home Secretary to ensure Britain takes unaccompanied child refugees where they have families in the UK. Speaking about the Dublin regulations, a set of EU rules which determine the member state responsible for an asylum application process, Mr. Carmichael asked the Home Secretary to use the discretionary sections to ensure that any refugees with families in the UK could be reunited.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“This is an issue where she has the opportunity to demonstrate that our global vision is about more than just trade deals. Limiting our ambitions to less than 1% of the desperate children who need to be helped is not worthy of that vision. Will the Home Secretary look at the way in which she uses the Dublin regulations; there are discretionary clauses there which could be used more effectively to identify children with family links already in the UK to ensure that they were helped.”
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd responded:
“The Hon. Gentleman has raised an important point about the Dublin arrangements, the fact is that until we had an accelerated process and really leant in to identify children that qualify under the Dublin arrangements into Calais, it wasn’t really working. The number of children being transferred under Dublin previously were very small. We managed to transfer nearly 600 under Dublin last year. I now feel that the Home Office and other associated organisations who help us deliver on Dublin have learnt how to ensure that it operates better in the future, and I am confident that those numbers will improve going forward.”
Commenting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
"Last Year the government, faced with massive public pressure, agreed to an amendment with cross-party support setting up a process to allow vulnerable children to come to the UK. Yesterday, with some of the pressure off them and when Parliament was busy dealing with the Brexit bill, they slipped out a written announcement that they would be closing the scheme. At a time when Britain's standing is already diminished by our Prime Minister's rush to cosy up to President Trump, this is a further blow to our standing on the world stage."
Stephen Williams has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Metro Mayor in the West of England, following a vote of the local party members. The election is to be held on Thursday 4th of May this year. Williams, who is a former Local Government Minister and MP for Bristol West, secured the Liberal Democrat nomination following a series of hustings.
The B&NES Conservative Cabinet will decide today (25 January 2017) whether to build an East of Bath park and ride on the Bathampton water meadows.
Lib Dem opposition Councillors are attending the crunch Cabinet meeting to speak out against the plans:
- Councillor Alison Millar (representing Bathavon North ward, Alison is the only non-Conservative Councillor in the ward in which the park and ride would be built).
- Councillor Dine Romero (representing Southdown ward, Dine is the Leader of the Lib Dems on B&NES Council).
- Councillor Neil Butters (representing Bathavon South, Neil the Lib Dem Council Group’s transport spokesperson).
The proceedings of the Cabinet meeting can be viewed online: webcast; and the Cabinet decision papers can be seen on the Council's website: papers. The Lib Dem Councillors' speeches can be viewed below.
Lib Dems: Plans to roll out monthly bin collections are "bonkers"
Families are being forced to burn trash to avoid it rotting outside homes, it was reported today, as a council in North Wales cuts bin collections to once every four weeks.
The scheme is now set to be rolled out across UK, in a sign of the crippling cuts being faced by local councils.
Commenting on the news, Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh said:
"This shows that life under the Tories is rubbish. How can families be expected to burn rotting food?
"In what world should this plan be rolled out nationally. It's bonkers.
"It's easy to blame local councils, but when local authority budgets are being slashed to the bone it's clear the fault lies squarely with this Conservative government.
"The Department for Communities and Local Government needs to step in, today, and ensure this scheme is not introduced in streets across the country."
Papers for next week’s Special Cabinet meeting, which will decide on the location of the East of Bath park and ride, have been published today (Tuesday, 17 January 2017).
The Cabinet is proposing to promote site 'B', on Bathampton Meadows, as the preferred site for the new park and ride, and if this is not deliverable, site 'F', which is also on the Meadows. You can read the full report here: Special Cabinet meeting agenda papers.
Responding to a warning from CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn on the risks of a "disorderly" Brexit, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake said:
"Bluster and bravado from the leading Brexiteers is not enough. They should admit that crashing out of the Single Market without any fall-back plan would have serious consequences for jobs, businesses and the public finances.
"It's about time this government listened to the advice of business leaders instead of recklessly pursuing a hard and destructive Brexit that would sink the economy.
"It would be a betrayal of British businesses if Theresa May went into these negotiations waving the white flag on membership of the Single Market
"Labour under Corbyn are failing to hold the government to account and are now cheering Brexit along from the sidelines.
"Only the Liberal Democrats are providing a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit government and fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.”
Blue Monday: data shows 11 million days lost due to depression - Lib Dems
Coinciding with Blue Monday, figures show that the total number of working days lost due to depression in 2015/16 was 11.7 million days. This equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case. Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Norman Lamb said these startling figures should force the Government to sit up and take notice of the mental health crisis facing the UK workforce.
The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100,000 workers.
In 2015/16 stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.
Stress is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defence.
The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures including tight deadlines, too much responsibility, and a lack of managerial support.