1,796 pupils could benefit from Summer Learning Fund

Summer Learning Fund that would support 1,796 disadvantaged children across North Shropshire

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to commit to a Summer Learning Fund that would support 1,796 disadvantaged children across North Shropshire to get ready for returning to school.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for North Shropshire Helen Morgan said:

Helen listening to Whitchurch residents in 2019
Helen listening to Whitchurch residents in 2019

“Parents and teachers locally are concerned that pupils, especially the most disadvantaged, are not getting the education and care they need to get on in life.

“That is why the Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to do more by combining the free school meals voucher scheme with an emergency uplift in child benefit during the crisis and a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged children.”

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran, who welcomed the Government’s u-turn on free school meals, warned further action was needed to “ensure no child is left behind.”

The intervention comes after official figures published last week reveal 1,440,777 pupils across England could benefit from free school meals this summer, following a campaign by Liberal Democrats and others.

The Liberal Democrats have now set out a package of measures to support children and open schools safely. The Party is urging Ministers to create a Summer Learning Fund, which would give every child on free school meals free places at summer learning camps in their community.

The scheme would help Shropshire Council run such groups to help pupils learn and prepare them for returning to school.

making education work for youu

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

“The Government’s plan would have left many vulnerable children to fall through the cracks at a time when people are really struggling.

“I am grateful to Marcus Rashford and all those campaigners who have helped force the Prime Minister to rediscover his conscience, but it should never have been needed.

“The Government must now work cross-party and with parents, teachers and local governments to do more. We must ensure no child is left behind.”


Government statistics for children known to be eligible for FSM can be found here.

The Liberal Democrats’ five-point plan for reopening schools to more pupils in England.

  1. Increase capacity for physical learning. Combine local spare space registers, where local councils and school leaders can cooperate on using suitable empty buildings in the community as learning spaces.
  2. Recruit an army of extra teachers to cope with demand. Launch a Teach for Britain recruitment campaign to bring out-of-work supply teachers and recently-retired teachers into schools so more pupils can return. Build on the success of the Social Work Together campaign, developed with the Local Government Association. Work with unions to try and get more teachers into learning spaces in any one school day.
  3. End the online learning void for thousands of children. Develop a bold strategy to leave no child behind by partnering with the private sector to get laptops and internet access to any disadvantaged child currently unable to learn online. Recognise that the current target of 230,000 leaves too many children behind, and that councils are neither receiving the equipment they have asked for, nor seeing high uptake rates for the kit they’re given. Begin major advertising campaign to encourage families and children to ask for equipment. Back this up by working to get more physical resources including textbooks to children lacking internet/computer access.
  4. Consider designing a flexible, phased reopening that follows the science and has the trust of parents and the profession by being developed with them, following the lead of Kirsty Williams in Wales. Consider extending the summer term by one week, and stagger pupils’ attendance in school, so that at most a third of pupils are normally present at any one time. Begin the next academic year on time in September, but double the autumn half-term break to two weeks. We must recognise that many schools are doing a fantastic job at phased reopening, and ensure local authorities, academy trusts and government are learning from their successes.
  5. Halt the widening of the disadvantage gap. Extend the free school meals over the summer holidays, but recognise the scheme is flawed and excludes many families and so combine it with an emergency uplift in child benefit of £150 per child per month, with £100 for every subsequent child, during this crisis. Implement a ‘catch-up premium’ of £700 per disadvantaged child, to enable schools and charities give them a much-needed boost in the next academic year. Also create a Summer Learning Fund so that councils can run summer learning camps for children, focused on local authorities in the most deprived areas. This will prepare children for September and give many children a positive environment in which to learn and re-acclimatise to an educational environment. Fully fund places for children on free school meals.

Support needed to protect workers and prevent redundancies in North Shropshire

Helen campaigning in 2019

According to government statistics published this week, 11,800 people in North Shropshire have benefited from the job retention scheme. A further 4,100 people in North Shropshire are receiving financial support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, following a successful campaign by the Liberal Democrats.

The party is now urging the Government to extend furlough support and bring forward bespoke packages of support for key sectors, such as hospitality, to avoid high levels of local unemployment.
 
Liberal Democrat spokesperson Helen Morgan for North Shropshire said:
 
“The furlough scheme is a lifeline for so many. However, I worry what will happen to people here in North Shropshire who rely on furlough support if it ends before the local economy has recovered.
 
“Many parts of our economy, such as hospitality, will simply not be back up to speed by October. The Government must bring forward bespoke packages of support for these industries to save jobs and prevent mass unemployment.”

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP, who is asking the public to join his campaign to protect workers, said 

“The Coronavirus crisis is leaving thousands of families facing financial uncertainty. Financial support must be agreed to ensure no one is left behind.
 
“Liberal Democrats are calling for statutory sick pay to be increased to £220 a week to ensure everyone can self-isolate, following guidance, regardless of their type of work.
 
“Ministers must also resolve the gaps in their plans by helping those who recently became self-employed by expanding the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.”

Helen campaigning in 2019
Helen campaigning in 2019
Shropshire Star article featuring Helen: Lib Dems call for government coronavirus support scheme to be extended

Open Letter to Owen Paterson MP for North Shropshire

 

Open letter to Owen Paterson MP for North Shropshire, requesting a response to the Prime Minister’s press conference this evening.

Dear Mr Paterson,

This evening I have watched the Downing Street press conference. As you can imagine I am angered and frankly frightened about the damage the Prime Minister has inflicted on the country in such a short time.

He has effectively endorsed breaking the law, avoided legitimate questions about his own knowledge of Mr Cummings’ trips, and lied outright, not least by asserting that Mr Cummings was in need of childcare when it is known that this was not the case.

It is deeply insulting to those of us who have endured the lockdown for the greater good. Loved ones have died and been buried alone. Fathers have been unable to attend the births of their babies. Elderly relatives have been isolated from their adult children and their grandchildren.

More worryingly, it shows that Mr Johnson does not value the rule of law. He has lied to the nation in a live public broadcast, without conscience. Trust in the government will be undermined after this shameful display, and meaningful enforcement of public health measures could be very difficult. It is my belief that continued support from our MP is untenable.

I would be grateful if you could address the most concerning elements:

Number 10 Downing Street issued a statement which accused Durham Police of lying about speaking to Mr Cummings’ family. However Durham Police have confirmed that they indeed spoke to Mr Cummings’ family.  At a time when public trust in the Government guidance is critical to save lives, are you comfortable with the Prime Minister’s office issuing statements that are apparently false?

In Saturday’s evening press conference, the Transport Secretary suggested that the guidance had always been open to personal interpretation. However, experience shows the vast majority of the British public, and evidently Durham Police, felt that the guidance, ‘if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus, do not leave your home for any reason’ was unequivocal. Are you comfortable with the guidance being retrospectively twisted to save the career of an unelected bureaucrat, unaccountable to the British people?

In light of the immense community efforts taking place across the country, it is simply not credible that Mr Cummings’ family could not find the support that they needed in London. In the unlikely event that they are friendless, have no family in the area, and were unable to find paid support, there are community groups who would have helped them with their food shopping during the period.

In backing Mr Cummings, Mr Johnson has undermined public trust to an extraordinary degree, and now threatens the public health initiative.  The country desperately needs this to be effective, so that life can return to normal as soon as possible.

Democracy ends with ‘one rule for the people and another for the elite’ and the public will rightly not accept it. I am extremely concerned that social distancing, already fraying, will now become unenforceable, risking a very damaging second wave of the virus. There is a risk that thousands of people will lose their lives, and many thousands more will lose their jobs and businesses. This issue could not be more serious.

Mr Johnson has shown breath-taking arrogance and contempt for the public sacrifice made over recent weeks. You have made no public comment regarding the matter. Your constituents deserve to know whether you will be continuing to support him in light of the weekend’s dramatic developments.

I look forward to the publication of your response.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Morgan

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for North Shropshire
07508 550361
CC: North Shropshire Liberal Democrats, Shropshire Star, Oswestry and Border Counties Advertiser, Whitchurch Herald, BBC Shropshire, ITV Central News, Oswestry Chronicle

Angry response as Owen Paterson voted against protecting British Farmers

Helen Morgan reacted angrily to the news that Owen Paterson MP hadn't voted to support British Farmers. Helen is pictured supporting Helen supporting rare-breed farming in 2019

Today Helen Morgan reacted angrily to the news that Owen Paterson voted in parliament to undermine hard-working farmers in North Shropshire. Yesterday, local MP Owen Paterson voted against an amendment to the Agriculture Bill that would have prevented trade deals which undermine current UK food and farming standards.

Helen Morgan reacted angrily to the news that Owen Paterson MP hadn't voted to support British Farmers. Helen is pictured supporting Helen supporting rare-breed farming in 2019
Helen Morgan reacted angrily to the news that Owen Paterson MP hadn’t voted to support British Farmers.

Helen (Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for North Shropshire) said: “I’m so angry that our MP ignores the needs of the local economy. In voting against the amendment he has effectively told farmers ‘we’ll sell you out to get our US trade deal, complete with hormone-fed beef and chlorinated chicken’. It’s outrageous.

“This amendment would have protected our farmers by preventing trade deals which allow the import of goods with lower production, animal welfare, environmental and labour standards.

“Along with the looming ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of the year, our farmers are looking at tariffs on their exports and critical imports (such as machinery and fertiliser) and no protection from substandard food imports in any future trade deals.

“Agriculture and the food industries are our major employer here in North Shropshire, but our MP is more interested in an ideologically pure Brexit than protecting our jobs. North Shropshire deserves better”.

Neil Parish, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, had called on MPs to back his amendment providing protection of our current production standards in law, saying:

“There is no point having world-leading standards in the UK if we do not expect trade partners to reciprocate. Allowing preferential access to food imports produced to lower standards will put many of our farmers at a competitive disadvantage and out of business.

“Not only will this export jobs in farming and food production, it will export the impact of this production, turning a blind eye to poor animal welfare standards abroad and encouraging environmental degradation there. We will be exporting control, not taking it back.”

Helen said: “Mr Paterson has notoriously travelled to the US to listen to the concerns of lobbyists there. But to safeguard jobs in North Shropshire he should be supporting British farmers and food producers. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for our local industry and local jobs in North Shropshire”.

The NFU had been calling for greater protection for British Farms in the Agricultural Bill
The NFU had been calling for greater protection for British Farms in the Agricultural Bill


Yesterday MPs voted on a series of amendments to the Agricultural Bill

All MPs were sent a letter urging them to back British Farming
The letter said:
“As representatives of farming, consumer, environmental and animal welfare
organisations across the UK, we are urging you to take this last proper
opportunity to ensure that the Bill secures vital safeguards for the high
standards of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection that
the public value so highly. At this time of crisis, you have the opportunity to
ensure that British farmers can produce the sustainable, healthy food we
need knowing that they will not be undercut by low standards imports as a
result of future trade policy, while meeting the public’s strong expectation
that food standards will be maintained. ”

The letter was co-signed by:

  • Minette Batters – President, National Farmers Union
  • Beccy Speight – Chief Executive, RSPB
  • Chris Sherwood – Chief Executive, RSPCA
  • Miriam Turner and Hugh Knowles – Co-Chief Executives, Friends of the Earth
  • Mark Bridgeman – President, CLA
  • Hilary McGrady – Director-General, National Trust
  • Helen Browning – Chief Executive, Soil Association
  • Sue Davies – Head of Consumer Protection and Food Policy, Which?
  • Patrick Holden – Chief Executive, Sustainable Food Trust
  • Shaun Spiers – Chair, Greener UK & Executive Director, Green Alliance
  • Craig Bennett – Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
  • Richard Benwell – Chief Executive, Wildlife and Countryside Link
  • Kath Dalmeny – Chief Executive, Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming
  • John Davies – President, NFU Cymru
  • Caroline Drummond – Chief Executive, LEAF
  • George Dunn – Chief Executive, Tenant Farmers Association
  • Ivor Ferguson – President, Ulster Farmers Union
  • Jyoti Fernandes MBE – Chair, Landworkers Alliance
  • Martin Lines – UK Chair, Nature-Friendly Farming Network
  • Andrew McCornick – President, NFU Scotland
  • Darren Moorcroft – Chief Executive, Woodland Trust
  • Kate Norgrove – Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, WWF-UK
  • Doug Parr – Chief Scientist, Greenpeace
  • James Thornton – Chief Executive, ClientEarth
  • James Robinson – Conservation Director, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
  • Sarah-Jane Laing – Chief Executive, Scottish Land & Estates.

Owen Paterson voted against British farmers

Owen Patterson MP for North Shropshire voted against the amendments that the NFU and the other signatories were calling for.  Clause 2 proposed by Neil Parish, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee would have safeguarded British Farms from inferior quality cheap imports and protected the animal welfare and food standards the public expects.

Owen Paterson failed to vote to support British Farmers
Owen Paterson was surprising satisfied that he had hadn’t voted to support British Farmers

Owen Paterson failed to vote to support British Farmers
Owen Paterson failed to vote to support British Farmers on the crucial amendments the NFU and others were calling for.

North Shropshire Lib Dems had previously backed the NFU’s calls to back British farmers. Before the coronavirus lockdown, we had launched a Farming and Food Standards petition to that effect urging Owen Paterson to:

  • Oppose any deals allowing imports of food that would fail to meet our current world-leading standards of hygiene and animal welfare.
  • Add concrete legal protections into the Agriculture Bill to keep current protections for food standards, hygiene and animal welfare, in time for the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020.

Report stage of the Agricultural Bill

13 May 2020
Division 42
Ayes: 277 Noes: 328 (Owen Paterson voted  No)
13 May 2020
Division 43
Ayes: 221 Noes: 352 (Owen Paterson voted  No)
13 May 2020
Division 44
Ayes: 56 Noes: 362 (Owen Paterson voted  No)

Third reading of the Agricultural Bill

13 May 2020
Division 45
Ayes: 360 Noes: 211 (Owen Paterson voted  Yes)
Indeed all of Shropshire’s Conservative MPs failed to back British Farming despite pledging to do so in their manifesto

Reaction to the votes on the Agricultural Bill yesterday

“Despite frequent warm words, it is disappointing the government did not take the opportunity to legislate that they will not allow the imports of food that would be illegal to produce here.” NFU Brexit director Nick von Westenholz‘s response to the Agriculture Bill report stage.

Soil Association reaction: Liz Bowles, Assoc. Director of Food and Farming at the Soil Association said: “As a farmer, and a member of society, I was disappointed in yesterday’s outcome.”
Liz manages one of the largest pedigree flocks of Shropshire sheep in the UK and combines this with being a Council Member of the Breed Society.

Demand Better for farming and food industries
Demand Better for farming and food industries

2019 General Election Results for North Shropshire

2019 General Election Results for North Shropshire - biggest share growth of any party

Thank you to everybody who voted for Helen Morgan on the 12th of December in the 2019 General Election.

Locally we outperformed the national result, the West Midlands regional result and the result in strongly Leave seats.  Helen’s vote went up by 4.7% – the largest increase in vote share compared to 2017 for any party in North Shropshire.  This was our biggest campaign in a long time. Whilst, the national picture wasn’t great for us – 3 weeks before polling day we were looking at a much better result and aiming to take second place – we held our own and made solid progress in target areas. Owen Paterson’s vote share rose modestly whilst Labour’s collapsed.

We have plenty to build upon as we turn our eyes to the County Elections in 2021. For those elections, the Liberal Democrats are currently the largest opposition group and we expect to make gains in North Shropshire. If you are interested in being a Councillor and standing those elections please get in touch.

Nationally the party saw a disappointing result despite seeing a 4.2% increase in vote share and gaining an extra 1.3 million votes compared to 2017. The Conservatives gained 0.3 million votes and Labour lost 2.6 million votes. Yet in seat terms, the Liberal Democrats lost 1 seat, the Conservatives gained 47 seats and Labour lost 59 seats. Turnout was 67.3%, slightly lower than the last election in 2017. The shows clearly the distortion in seats that First Past the post produces. Under a fair voting system, the Liberal Democrats would have gained upwards of 70 seats. Just one of many reasons why the Liberal Democrats have consistently campaigned for electoral reform over the decades. https://www.libdems.org.uk/lder

Regional breakdown the the 2019 Generela Election: BBC
Lib Dems advanced in every region of the UK. In North Shropshire the Lib Dems grew by 4.7% – more than the national and regional amounts except for London, the South East and East. Labour went down everywhere

Labour lost votes in Leave & Remain areas. The Lib Dems gained in both. As a leave area North Shropshire saw and above par rise for the Lib Dems - rising 2.1% more than Leave areas
Labour lost votes in Leave & Remain areas. The Lib Dems gained in both. As a leave area North Shropshire saw and above par rise for the Lib Dems – rising 2.1% more than Leave areas

Leaked documents reveal Trump trade deal threat to farmers in North Shropshire

Helen Morgan addressing NFU hustings in Prees

Leaked documents from US-UK trade deal talks have revealed the threat facing farmers in North Shropshire from a trade deal with Donald Trump, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Liberal Democrat candidate for North Shropshire, Helen Morgan said “I hope Owen Paterson (Conservative Candidate for North Shropshire) will make a “cast-iron” guarantee to vote against any lowering of UK food standards that could put local farmers at risk”.

It comes after documents published online yesterday revealed years of talks between UK and US trade negotiators, with American officials pushing to allow greater use of chemicals in food production, including chlorine-washing chicken. The US team even offered ‘public lines’ on chlorine-washed chicken to help UK officials try to sell the controversial practice to British consumers and help ‘inform the media narrative’.

The US negotiators also said that maintaining the UK’s current high standards for food production was ‘the worst-case scenario’, adding that in a no-deal Brexit there would be ‘all to play for.’

Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Morgan said:

“These documents show that a Donald Trump post-Brexit trade deal poses a grave threat to farmers across North Shropshire. The US has far lower animal welfare and food standards, especially on the use of chemicals and growth hormones. The Conservative party’s desperation for a US trade deal would open the door to these lower food standards being forced onto the UK.

“Farming communities here in North Shropshire are rightly concerned about being undercut by low-standard imports from the US and losing access to vital European markets.

“Conservative candidate Owen Paterson must make a cast-iron guarantee they will vote against any attempts to lower our world-leading food standards as part of a trade deal with Trump.

“The Liberal Democrats will demand better for local farmers and stop Boris Johnson ramming through a damaging Trump trade deal. Every vote here will make a difference in stopping Johnson getting a majority and making sure he is held to account.”

Helen Morgan addressing the NFU hustings in Prees
Helen Morgan warned the audience at the NFU hustings in Prees that a US trade deal would open the door to lower food standards undercutting Farming communities here in North Shropshire

Testy Hustings in Market Drayton

The first General Election Hustings in Market Drayton last week kicked the General Election into high gear in North Shropshire. The at-times testy hustings for about 200 people with our candidate Helen Morgan (Liberal Democrats), Owen Paterson (Conservatives), Graeme Currie (Labour Party) and John Adams (Green Party) representing the candidates in the General Election.

We are biased but Helen had a great husting and we have received many, many compliments on her performance. Owen didn’t have such a good time but don’t just take our word for it, here if the video of the hustings and decide for yourself:

Many, many one nation Conservatives are now backing Helen upset with how their party has now become such an extreme party. Helen represents a sane, rational, pragmatic voice for North Shropshire with the honesty, integrity and energy to build a brighter future here.

Many people have commended Helen on her first Hustings performance
Many people have commended Helen on her first Hustings performance

Helen’s opening address to the packed room is here:

My name is Helen Morgan, and I am the Liberal Democrat candidate for our constituency.

You probably recognise Owen and Graeme, but I’m new to the fray, so firstly a little bit about me.

I’m a Chartered Accountant by profession, and I moved here with my husband a few years ago because we wanted to raise our son in Shropshire. I’m here because I’ve been galvanised to take a stand for the things I value: tolerance, honesty, common sense and democracy. We have seen the two old parties of the past being taken over by their extreme factions. The pragmatic ground of the centre has been vacated. Populism is the order of the day. But populism feeds hate and division, and it won’t solve the problems that face this country and constituency. So I’m here to offer a better alternative and a brighter future.

That’s why I’m standing as the Liberal Democrat Candidate. Here’s why I think you should you vote for me?

The first reason is stopping Brexit. The Conservatives and Labour Party are standing here offering to shake the magic money tree, but the reality is that Brexit will blow a £50bn hole in the public budget. It is simply not responsible to take a sledgehammer to the economy with one hand and borrow money willy nilly with the other to try buy off voters. We could end up spending more on interest repayments than we do on educating our children.

The Liberal Democrats will end the uncertainty that is crippling our businesses by stopping Brexit on day one, and using that £50bn we’ve saved, to invest in public services and tackle the terrible inequality in our country. If you’re wondering whether that number is pie in the sky, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has assessed it and called it modest.

The Conservative’s Brexit is so extreme, even Nigel Farage is happy with it. There’s no Brexit Party candidate here because, in effect, we already have one. The reality of Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement is that it really doesn’t get Brexit done. A crash out ‘no-deal’ is still on the table. If we avoid it at the end of January, we still have to negotiate a complicated trade deal, that all 27 countries left in the EU must agree to individually, within a very short – most likely impossible timescale. We could easily be threatened with crashing out this time next year.  No deal potentially involves medicine and fresh food shortages. Can you imagine living with the stress of that if your child is insulin dependent? Or your mum is fighting cancer?

As for Labour, they’re not telling us what their view on Brexit is. But it seems unlikely to me that they’ll campaign to Remain when they’ve just negotiated their own Brexit deal.

Brexit is especially important here, because we’re reliant on the farming and food industries for our jobs. For instance, a friend of mine is a farmer who breeds pedigree sheep. He is struggling to sell his sheep into Europe because of the uncertainty. He likens the stress of not-knowing what will happen, to that of the foot and mouth crisis of 2001. There are farmers all across North Shropshire in this position, and for what?

The easiest way to give our farmers and local businesses a stress-free Christmas is to stop Brexit on day 1. That’s what a Liberal Democrat government will do.

But this election isn’t only about Brexit. It’s about who will govern the United Kingdom (if there is still a UK) for the next five years. And there are other key issues that need dealing with.

I have put the NHS first on my list. Here in Shropshire we are seeing first hand the crisis that happens when you chronically underfund the NHS and starve it of workers. Our A&E waiting times are already the worst in the country.

Brexit puts the NHS at even greater risk. Donald Trump has been clear that US pharmaceutical companies want to charge far more for their drugs, and that that’s a key issue in any trade deal. The NHS is not safe if there is Brexit. You can’t trust Johnson’s claims that it’s not true, because you haven’t been able to trust many of his claims to date.

Labour want Brexit, and then a top-down re-organisation of the NHS, which would result in jobs for management consultants, but not necessarily money for the 40,000 nursing vacancies underlying this crisis. And it’s not clear how their four-day working week will help with this chronic understaffing either.

But the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit to keep the NHS safe from a US trade deal, put 1p on income tax to give the NHS the cash injection it desperately needs. Stopping Brexit will help retain our EU nurses and doctors here while we try to fill the massive number of vacancies we have. We will build the hospitals we actually need for the future.  In the longer term we’ll iron out the gaps between the health and social care by bringing them together, which many especially older people fall through will be ironed out.

Next on the list is education. The public sector pay freeze has left teachers demoralised and the brutal cuts since 2015 have left North Shropshire schools under funded by a total of £6.7 million. We’ll reverse these cuts and recruit 20,000 more teachers to reduce class sizes and give every child the best start.

We need to look to the future as well. In places like this where many people are in low-paid jobs, the march of technology and threat of automation is real.  Just look at the most modern milking parlours, where the cow does all of the hard work itself! If we want our villages to thrive, we need people with skills for the 21st century economy. The Liberal Democrats will provide a £10,000 fund for each adult to retrain or keep their skills up to date over their lifetime.

We also need to consider other essential infrastructure for the future economy. The dreaded ‘B’ word – but this time it’s broadband. I doubt anyone sitting here will need me to tell them that the broadband here can be awful. I bear the scars of trying to connect an office near Prees to the outside world. We don’t think Labour’s plan of spending millions on nationalising the infrastructure is the answer to the question. We’ll legislate to make sure that existing providers meet their obligations to provide rural broadband, and ensure that those obligations are fit for purpose as technology develops.

We’ll also tackle the significant shortage of affordable housing here. While we were attempting to bring the 21st century to our office, I chatted with a BT engineer from Whitchurch – a highly skilled worker with a full-time job and a working wife, who can’t even begin to afford a home or save for a deposit. Our rural plan will require councils to identify the houses we actually need in each area, and the developers to build more affordable housing, so instead of building the wrong homes in the wrong places, we’ll help to ensure that our villages retain the young working families they need to thrive.

I can’t ignore the climate emergency. The Conservatives have done nothing about it. The Labour party seems distracted by a utilities renationalisation programme. The Liberal Democrats have a detailed and credible plan to become a world leader in this area, including banning fracking altogether, generating 80% of electricity from renewables by 2030 and insulating all low-income homes by 2025.

I’ve done a whistle-stop tour of our key policies, but I will stop now and leave you with some thoughts.

We have choice at this election. We can choose extremism or pragmatism. Populism or responsible government.

You could vote Conservative – the party which has completed its journey to the far-right, appeased the Brexit party, been endorsed by convicted criminal Tommy Robinson and is offering the hardest of Brexits with years and years of uncertainty to come as we wrangle over our future trading relationships.

You could vote Labour – the party which has returned to the 1970s, is being investigated by the equalities and human rights commission and will not own up to its policy on the most important issue to face this country since the war.

Or you can vote Liberal Democrat, to stop Brexit, give businesses the certainty they crave, and get a government with a detailed, pragmatic and fully costed plan to solve the severe issues we face as a country.

If you vote for me, you’re voting for all of that, plus a fresh face for North Shropshire, with the honesty, integrity and energy to build a brighter future here.

 

North Shropshire aviation firm Metal Seagulls inspires women of all ages

Helen Morgan learns how North Shropshire aviation firm Metal Seagulls inspires women of all ages

Liberal Democrat Candidate Helen Morgan met directors Patricia Mawuli Porter and Jonathan Porter to find out how they are promoting essential skills to a wider audience.

Local business woman Patricia Mawuli shows Helen how she is promoting engineering careers to women and young people in the Midlands
Local businesswoman Patricia Mawuli shows Helen how she is promoting engineering careers to women and young people in the Midlands

Liberal Democrat Candidate Helen Morgan visited local aviation firm Metal Seagulls Ltd on Friday to learn more about the light aircraft industry in the area and a special project plane registered G-WXYZ. The light aircraft has been built by Patricia with a team of around 300 volunteers keen to learn new skills, 75% of whom were women and/or under 25. The Zenair CH750 STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) plane is now complete. Having completed its test flight programme it will be sold to raise funds for the next exciting project at Metal Seagulls, which will give even more youngsters much needed hands-on experience of engineering in aviation.

Patricia is the first civilian Ghanaian woman to obtain a Ghanaian Pilots licence, the only black female aircraft inspector in the UK for the Light Aircraft Association and British Microlight Aircraft Association, and she is the only woman worldwide to be factory trained by Rotax Aircraft Engines and ULPower Aero Engines… and is now running an aviation business with her husband at Sleap Aerodrome in Shropshire.

Helen learning how local firm Metal Seagulls is promoting careers in STEM to young women
Helen learning how local firm Metal Seagulls is promoting careers in STEM to young women

Helen said “Patricia is an inspiration to women who might not have considered a career in engineering. As our industries become more automated, engineering skills will be increasingly important, but many women lack the confidence to enter traditionally male occupations. The G-WXYZ project has provided valuable insight for a huge number of young people, and we are lucky to have Metal Seagulls in North Shropshire.”

Metal Seagulls director Jonathan said: “It is a pleasure to receive a parliamentary candidate who shows such a genuine interest local development, was down to earth and shared the same values and beliefs as we do in relation to the needs of business and young people in Shropshire. We wish Helen every success and believe that she will make an outstanding MP for North Shropshire.”

Shropshire marches for a Final Say

Shropshire marched for a Final Say and an end to the Brexit mess

Six coaches organised by the Open Britain group left Shrewsbury early on Saturday morning, destined for the huge ‘People’s Vote’ march in central London.

Lib Dem PPC Helen Morgan marching for a Final Say
Lib Dem PPC Helen Morgan marching for a Final Say

Helen Morgan, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North Shropshire, travelled with the Shropshire contingent to demonstrate with her family. She said “We have had a memorable day, marching with friends from all over the UK, and the rain did not dampen our spirits. But this immense crowd knew that this was probably our last chance to be heard. Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement may only defer a catastrophic no-deal Brexit for a short period of time, and almost all opinion polls since 2017 show that Britain has changed its mind. We need to put this back to the people for a final say”.

100,000s of thousands marched in London - joined by coach loads from Shropshire
100,000s of thousands marched in London – some sources say 1 million – joined by coach loads from Shropshire

Shropshire marched for a Final Say and an end to the Brexit mess
Shropshire marched for a Final Say and an end to the Brexit mess

Nat Green, the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury and Atcham also joined the large group of protesters from Shropshire.

Organisers estimated that over one million people from all over the UK attended the demonstration, in one of Britain’s biggest protests of modern times. It passed off peacefully, with police making no arrests. As news of the successful ‘Letwin amendment’ (designed to give MPs more time to scrutinise the legislation of the Withdrawal Agreement) reached the streets, the crowd cheered in celebration.

Blackberry Fair visitors are ready to demand better

Lib Dems at the Blackberry Fair to talk to voters

Liberal Democrat Candidate Helen Morgan says that support for the party is surging across North Shropshire

Helen, who was selected as the party’s candidate in August, was campaigning with a local team at the centre of the annual Blackberry Fair in Whitchurch on Saturday.

Former Councillor and Mayor of Whitchurch, Ray Hatton, backs Helen Morgan's campaign
Former District Councillor and Mayor of Whitchurch, Ray Hatton, supporting Helen Morgan’s campaign to become North Shropshire’s next MP. Ray said: “Helen will make an outstanding MP for North Shropshire and I urge everybody to back her in the looming General Election.”

The local party has seen a surge in interest, with membership more than doubling over the last six months, as the government’s Brexit strategy descends into chaos.

Helen said “Whitchurch residents have told us today that they are shocked by the Government’s disrespect for the law, that they are fed up of being lied to, that they are shocked by the behaviour of Tory MPs and that they want Brexit stopped.

“Local farmers and businessmen are increasingly anxious about the threat to their livelihoods from a no-deal Brexit”.

This is a pattern reflected across the constituency, with new members from all corners of North Shropshire. These new members and supporters have previously voted both Conservative and Labour, and Helen believes they have joined because the only party representing their values is the Liberal Democrats.

“Of course stopping Brexit is the priority for us, but our clear stance on fighting the climate emergency, putting a cash injection into the NHS and reversing Tory cuts to the school budget is proving really attractive to voters” Helen explained.

“The Liberal Democrats are the biggest party of Remain and following our brilliant results at the European elections, are the only party that can oust the Conservatives in North Shropshire at the next election.

“The response today at the Blackberry Fair has been fantastic. We’ve had a great day here enjoying the entertainment and the party atmosphere, and we feel real optimism about a general election in the next few months.”

Today Heidi Allen, a former Conservative MP, joined the Liberal Democrats putting the parliamentary team a 19 MP.