Advertiser Open Letter: Where are you Mr Paterson?

Dear Mr Paterson,

Possibly Leaving the European Union & Oswestry

I understand from the media you are visiting the United States and trying to promote the UK leaving the European Union.

Why are you not in the United Kingdom representing your constituents in North Shropshire?

The Government has both a Foreign Secretary and yet another Brexit Secretary, both employed to represent us on matters outside of the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile locally:

The National Health Service in both Shrewsbury and Telford are in crisis.

In Oswestry the local NHS dentist has only one dentist left.

Many of the local roads in North Shropshire are falling to bits.

Several street lamps do not work throughout the area.

There are an increasing number of people living/sleeping rough in the town of Oswestry.

Local Bus services being cut back.

You were elected to represent the people of your area in North Shropshire and not your own personal interests, why are you not here in the United Kingdom?

You should be in the area explaining to local people of your constancy the massive changes and impact that leaving the European Union will have on their lives.

Who is paying for your trip to the United States?

At the moment explanation of the United Kingdoms possible exit of the European Union is being done in Oswestry and elsewhere by volunteers from the “Peoples Vote Campaign”.  Who have regular street stalls in Oswestry and the local area.

These events are staggeringly popular, as people just do not know what is going on and look to these events for information.

But where are you?

It seems anywhere but in the local area or your constituency!

When will you be spending more time in the local area?

Clive Geary

LED street lights on the way for West Felton

David Walker in West Felton

Last Tuesday West Felton Parish Council agreed to upgrade their remaining street lights to LED street lights.

I am grateful that colleagues supported my proposition to carry out the upgrades. I only wish Shropshire Council were so enlightened. Instead, their light upgrades will take 36 years.

The upgrades will be paid for from the CIL neighbourhood fund. CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) is money provided by housing developers to support/provide infrastructure in a community to support those houses.

West Felton LED street light with an old Sodium light behind
West Felton LED street light with an old Sodium light behind

Getting the lights upgraded has been a no-brainer for me because:

  1. The money comes from a developer (and we already have the money in the bank) so there is no spending impact on the Council Tax.
  2. Also by carrying out the upgrades, we cut the maintenance bill because the lights last a lot longer. This reduces the impact of the lights on the Council Tax.
  3. The existing sodium lights are being phased out next year
  4. Finally, the upgrades cut our energy bills by 75% (based on our existing lights that have already been upgraded to LED).

It has been a long process – probably longer than it should have been. (See my previous posts) I suggested the upgrades in the summer of 2017. Members rightly wanted to see figures. I calculated estimates for the upgrade a year ago. Then the sum for the upgrade was added to the budget in the new year. A lengthy process to obtain quotes followed… frustrated by no response or delayed quotes. Having obtained sufficient quotes we have now resolved to make the upgrades.

The upgrades will consist of replacing the sodium luminaries to LED luminaries. We still have some concrete columns that have been sleeved. These will be upgraded to new longer life columns.

We also agreed to support the residents of Queens Head by exploring the options of expanding our lights there. I have suggested 3. The options for connecting the electricity supply are now being costed. Hopefully, this won’t be an obstacle but we can also cover those light from CIL money.

More details on the LED street lights upgrade will appear on here and on West Felton Parish Council’s website and the parish magazine soon.

We need bold action on climate change

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Climate change isn’t just an environmental problem, it’s a human one too.

Climate change isn’t just an environmental problem, it’s a human one too.

Look at our country – and the impact of weather extremes likely linked to climate change. This summer, Manchester’s Moorlands were turned into an inferno. Food prices spiked as farmers struggled in an unseasonal heatwave. Back in March, parts of the country were brought to a standstill with massive snowfalls from the Beast from the East.

And in many other countries, such extreme weather impacts are already far worse – from forest fires to devastating floods, as rising seas levels threaten low lying coastal communities.

Ten years ago, the Climate Change Act was a radical and forward-looking step to tackle this crisis. For the first time, it set meaningful and achievable targets to help us decarbonise. It’s a model that has been adopted all over the world and it has been a great success.

As Secretary of State, working towards the “carbon budgets” and targets set by the Act, I more than trebled investment in renewable power, helped developed Britain’s off-shore wind industry into a world leader and secured an EU-wide agreement on new ambitious climate change targets for 2030.

Since 2015, the Tories have only been paying lip service to climate change, and Brexit is making it worst.

But that progress is not being taken forward by the Conservatives. Since 2015, the Tories have gone backwards in some areas, like their decision to scrap our Zero Carbon Homes regulation and with Brexit, they threaten Britain’s previously strong international influence on European and global climate change policies.

So far, they’ve slashed subsides to solar power, they’ve banned on-shore wind, they’ve cancelled the ambitious Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and they’ve pressed on with fracking despite its obvious problems.

With policies like slashing support for solar power, banning on-shore wind farms and failing to develop tidal power, with the decision not to proceed with the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, coupled with their obsession with fracking, the Conservatives simply lack any credibility on climate now.

We need a Government that puts climate change at the heart of decision making, not one that relegates it to a small sub-office of a minor department.

Liberal Democrats must demand far better for our environment and our planet. We would restore the green heart to our government, with a whole of Government approach to tackling climate change and all environmental issues. And this would start with a Queen’s Speech focused on five new green laws.

Liberal Democrats would restore the green heart to our government.

First, we would introduce a Zero-Carbon Act – a sort of Climate Change Act Mark II. This would commit Britain to becoming a net zero carbon emitter as soon as possible, and no later than 2050. We would toughen up the original Act, to give more teeth to the Climate Change Committee, and include new financial regulations to promote green finance and fast track the switch away from fossil fuel investments into clean energy and green tech. The Act would be a cornerstone of the new green economy Liberal Democrats want.

A Green Transport Act would not just cut emissions, but also tackle the public health crisis of air pollution, with a National Air Quality Strategy with specific timetables and policies. Liberal Democrats would, for example, bring forward the ban on new diesel and petrol cars to 2025 and 2030 respectively and help fast track the uptake of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Our Green Transport Act would toughen up our own air quality legal standards to at least World Health Organisation levels and introduce an investment programme to retrofit or replace buses and trains with those that meet the cleanest standards and introduce new low emission zones in towns and cities.

We would introduce five new green laws to tackle climate change effectively. These would form the Climate Change Act Mark II, suitable for the next decade.

A Green Buildings Act would reintroduce our Zero Carbon Homes standard that have been recklessly scrapped by the Tories. It would set meaningful targets to improve the energy efficiency of our existing homes, currently some of the worst in Europe. We would implement fully the Fuel Poverty Strategy we developed in Government, but with the more ambitious targets the Conservatives opposed.

A Nature Act would aim to achieve the same goals as Climate Change Act but for our natural environment. It would set goals to improve bio-diversity and targets on the restoration of species. Farmers would be paid not just for farming land, but on a public money for public goods approach, putting the restoration of the environment and the reduction of carbon emissions at the forefront of farmers thinking.

Finally, a Zero-Waste Act would introduce legally binding targets on cutting waste, including plastics, helping reduce our emissions from over-consumption, and would develop a new framework for more efficient use of resources.

Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of progress on the environment.

To underpin these laws, we would establish an independent Office for Environmental Responsibility. This body would scrutinise all aspects of environmental policy not already covered by the Climate Change Committee and be empowered to take enforcement action against Government where it was failing to meet standards and targets.

This radical approach to climate change is vital if we’re to build on the legacy of the Climate Change Act. Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of progress on the environment, and by linking the environment to the economy and health more clearly than ever before, we can show why action is so important and urgent.

The Court closure confirmed with £600,000 price tag

David Walker in West Felton

For a little while rumours circulated that The Court nursing home had closed. The nursing home in West Felton has now been put up for sale for £600,000 confirming The Court closure. This is sad news for the village and the wider community. Sad for the staff and the residents. It is never good when part of the fabric of a community closes. With towns and villages expanding, the population growing and ageing, you would expect facilities like these to be in higher demand. This only makes the sense of loss is more acute.

The Court closure could spell the end for heartwarming moments like these

Residents and staff at The Court enjoying the Carnival parade in 2017. The Court closure could spell the end for heartwarming moments like these
Happier times with residents and staff at The Court enjoying the Carnival parade in 2017

Cllr David Walker waiting for the carnival parade in 2018. The Court closure could spell the end for heartwarming moments like these
Cllr David Walker waiting for the carnival parade outside The Court earlier in 2018. “Seeing the residents enjoy the carnival has been very touching. The Court closure could spell the end for heartwarming moments like these”

What the future holds for The Court remains to be seen. There is potential for it to continue as a care home, supported living accommodation, a bed and breakfast or for residential conversion. Any change of use would present different challenges for a purchaser. However, in the current climate where Social Services are facing huge financial pressures, the viability of that option remains uncertain. Potentially it could be purchased for conversion to a residential use.

Social Care funding crisis

Sadly, the funding crisis in Social Care continues unabated. The Conservatives have left them chronically under-funded, while need continues to grow and patient care suffers. Social care is facing a funding black hole of £2 billion this year alone and more than a million older people are missing out on the care that they need.

People are routinely left stranded in hospital after they finish their treatment because the follow-up care and support they need is not available. Nearly two-thirds of NHS Trusts ended the last financial year in deficit.

Yet Labour and Conservative politicians refuse to be honest with the public about the scale of the crisis or the tough decisions which are needed to protect these vital services.

Liberal Democrats recognise that Britain’s health and social care services are our most treasured national institutions. Any party seeking to lead the country should be prepared to take bold action to safeguard them. This isn’t about doing the easiest thing, it is about doing what is right and what is essential.

Secure the future of our NHS, focusing on social care and mental health with an extra £6bn per year, funded through a penny in the pound on income tax.

Read more about how the Liberal Democrats demand better for the NHS & Social Care

Care Home evictions due to closures were up by 40%

I don’t know the circumstances of The Court closure so it is hard to comment on that but certainly, the trend of closures due to the funding issues is a concern. I hope the residents of The Court and their families haven’t been impacted by this closure in this way. If it was without warning then my heart goes out to them for the disruption caused.

Last June The Telegraph reported a Forty per cent rise in care home residents being evicted because of closures quoting The association of Directors of adult social services in England (ADASS):

“Care home evictions as a result of closures have risen by almost 40 per cent in a year amid a growing crisis in social care, a new report warns

The audit by ADASS reveals that at least two-thirds of councils, and thousands of elderly residents, have experienced recent closures.

It follows warnings that such moves can threaten the health of the frail, with higher death rates found among those forced to undergo unplanned changes in accommodation.

The figures show 58 councils have seen residential and nursing homes go out of business within a six-month period, forcing the vulnerable into new accommodation.

In total, 2,492 people had to be re-housed after their provider closed down, the figures show – a 39 per cent rise from 1,793 the previous year. “

Earlier this year The association of directors of adult social services in England (ADASS) reported that:

“The overall picture is of a sector struggling to meet need and maintain quality in the context of rising costs, increasingly complex care needs, a fragile provider market and pressures from an NHS which itself is in critical need of more funding…

“…The evidence shows that investing in adult social care gets results.”

If The Court closure is due to the general financial climate, the residents, their families and the staff will have felt the immediate impact. Ultimately we will all have lost out. Very sad for news everybody.

We need to talk about homelessness

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The latest report from Shelter has revealed that 1 in 52 people living in the capital are homeless.

That’s thousands of vulnerable people forced to go without food, warmth and a roof over their head.

The report also shows that around 320,000 people are now homeless across the country.

It’s an absolute disgrace.

While Theresa May has been busy botching Brexit, she’s let her party wreak a homelessness crisis in our capital. Thousands of people are suffering the dangers of sleeping out on the streets. That’s 320,000 people who don’t have a home to go to. And the government has done nothing.

This failure is nothing short of a dereliction of duty.

The country needs more social housing and it needs them now.

That’s why we’re calling for the government to build 50,000 social houses every year until this problem is solved. This should be increased to 100,000 as soon as possible.

The situation is urgent. Housing benefits aren’t enough to cover rent and thousands of houses across the UK aren’t being used. This needs to change.

The government is failing and the people deserve better.

We’re demanding better for homeless people all over the UK. And we’ll carry on demanding better until no one in the UK has to sleep without a roof over their head.

Lib Dems announce London Mayoral candidate

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

“I am delighted to have been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London.

I will show the Lib Dems can offer a fresh alternative

I will show the Lib Dems can offer a fresh alternative to London’s tired two party politics.

Sadiq Khan isn’t delivering the right solutions to violent crime and only the Liberal Democrats can provide a genuinely public health approach. The Tories have shown how out of touch they are with London’s values by selecting an illiberal, pro-Brexit candidate.

Only the Lib Dems have truly stood up for Londoners against Brexit and we will continue to be a strong, liberal voice for our city.” Siobhan Benita

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“Siobhan Benita has made a big impression in London and will be an excellent candidate to take on both Labour and the Conservatives. I look forward to working with Siobhan in standing up for the issues that matter, not least tackling London’s knife crime crisis, the soaring cost of living and stopping this Conservative Brexit mess.

“Liberal Democrats have had a string of great electoral successes right across London. Now is the time to get behind Siobhan and demand better.”

Celebrating local government

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Local government is the bedrock of our communities. It is central to people living happy, healthy and productive lives, and if properly funded, has the potential to solve some of the biggest problems in our society.

Local government is the bedrock of our communities.

Local government faces many challenges.

I’ve argued repeatedly in Parliament and in the press that local government has experienced deliberate and systematic destruction over recent years, and I see this as one of the great political tragedies of our time.

But #OurDay is a day for positivity. I want to focus on the potential that local government has to tackle some of the biggest issues in our society.

Let’s take the housing crisis. The private sector has proved beyond doubt that it’s incapable of building housing that people can genuinely afford. The task now lies with local government. Our policy of building 50,000 to 100,000 new homes for social rent every year is a project for the good of the nation. The local state has a role here in securing the wellbeing of its citizens, and ensuring they reach their full potential by providing everyone with a home.

They know what’s best for schools serving their communities.

This responsibility goes further than housing. Local government has a key role to play in the shaping and delivery of social care and public health services. And it also should have full responsibility for the start of people’s lives.

Local government is accountable to local people, and they know what’s best for schools serving their communities. Local government can solve the Tories failed education policies, if they are given the responsibility to do so.

Local services, for local people, delivered locally is how our country should be structured.

#OurDay is a celebration of the people who dedicate their lives to doing this.

Rally for a final say

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Within hours of Theresa May speaking to Parliament about the deal she negotiated, hundreds of Lib Dems gathered on Parliament Square to make clear they opposed it.

For over two years now Liberal Democrats have led the fight to give people the final say on the Brexit deal in a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU. And Thursday was a big day. It was the day that turned a People’s Vote from a possibility into a probability.

It was the day that turned a People’s Vote from a possibility into a probability.

What happened in Parliament was remarkable. The Prime Minister came to the Commons with her proposals, but she found virtually no support. 50 MPs spoke, asking her questions, but only 7 supported what she is proposing.

Meanwhile, she admitted that if her plans fail, there are two options: “no deal”, which would be a catastrophe, or “No Brexit”. This is now the crucial argument for us to win.

The Government can no longer frame the debate as about Theresa May’s deal or “no deal”. Instead, “No Brexit” is on the table. Europe is planning for “no Brexit”. We should be planning for it too.

The Government can no longer frame the debate as about Theresa May’s deal or no deal

Polling now shows a substantial majority in the country for Remain. That means we need to keep going. We need to work on MPs across the parties, so that when this bad deal comes back to Parliament, we can get a majority of MPs behind a People’s Vote. And then we have to turn a substantial Remain majority in the country into an overwhelming majority.

Our movement is on the march: with your help, we will win an Exit from Brexit.

New Brexit Campaign Pack

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

For over two years now Liberal Democrats have led the fight to give the people the final say on the deal with the option to remain in the EU.

Parliament has seen the deal that Theresa May has cobbled together. We have a real chance to derail the Conservatives’ damaging and chaotic Brexit.

So this Autumn, I’m are asking you to do three simple things:

  1. Today we’re launching our Autumn Campaign Pack. We’ve got the leaflets, postcards, scripts and emails all designed to make it even easier you to campaign against this damaging Brexit.

    Get the pack

  2. Continue to knock on doors and deliver our latest Exit from Brexit leaflets. We need to repeat our message that we would give people the final say. All the information about how you identify the right people to talk to can be found in the pack.

  3. Host an Action Day on 24 or 25th November. The Autumn Campaign Pack walks you step-by-step through the process of holding a successful action day. It’s vital we keep up the pressure and one way of doing this is continuing to deliver on volume our message on Brexit – that we want to give people the final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in Europe.

    Add or find your event

The tide is turning, with more and more voters backing our campaign. But we need you to do even more this Autumn to keep up the pressure and ensure we give the people the chance to Exit from Brexit.

We’re closer than ever

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

It’s taken us two years of negotiations with the EU to get a deal.

But what we now have in front of us is a very bad deal for the United Kingdom. We are left rule takers not rule makers.

The Liberal Democrats won’t stand idly by and watch a Tory Brexit wreck our NHS, endanger our security and damage our economy

The Liberal Democrats won’t stand idly by and watch a Tory Brexit wreck our NHS, endanger our security and damage our economy. Far from creating a ‘Global Britain’, this deal leaves the UK tied loosely to Europe but with no influence, and shunned by the rest of the world.

Rather than wasting time, money and effort on delivering a Brexit deal which no one, whether they voted remain or leave, signed up for, the Liberal Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to give power back to the people.

Rather than wasting time, money and effort on delivering a Brexit deal which no one, whether they voted remain or leave, signed up for, the Liberal Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to give power back to the people

We are fighting to give people the final say on the Brexit deal, with the choice to remain in the EU.

By protecting the economy from a Brexit slowdown, remaining in the EU would allow the UK to focus on the challenges which really affect communities up and down the country, like waiting lists in the NHS, schools under-funding and falling police numbers.

Unlike the Tories and Labour, the Liberal Democrats are showing real leadership by offering a clear solution on how we stop Brexit and end the chaos.

And we are not going to stop until we win a final say for the people.

For over two years now, the Liberal Democrats have led the fight to give the people, not politicians, the final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to Remain in the UK.

And we won’t stop until we win a final say for the people.