I’m a new(ish) member – and I just spent a week in Brecon and Radnorshire

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

I’m Benny, and I’ve been a Liberal Democrat since 2017 – but I never really had a chance to get particularly involved.

That changed last week when I headed up to Brecon.

I knew how important this by-election is going in – we can’t afford to take it for granted. It’s essential as many Liberal Democrats as possible head to Brecon and Radnorshire to support our candidate, Jane Dodds.

Brecon and Radnorshire is closer than you think.

I was a bit nervous, initially. I’d never really done anything like this before. But the team on the ground were super welcoming and professional. I was paired up with experienced campaigners and learned a lot from them. I even got the opportunity to act as Jane’s aide, travelling around the constituency with her – it was a lot of fun!

There’s a variety of stuff to do, too. There’s doorknocking, leaflet delivery, envelope stuffing and more – and I want you to know as a first-timer that it was easier and more fun than I ever imagined.

Brecon and Radnorshire is closer than you think. I live in Shepherd’s Bush, and it’s about a 3-hour drive to Brecon from home. It’s pretty easy to get to by public transport too – just get the train out to Cardiff then switch onto a bus there. Many buses to the constituency are free on weekends – it can work out pretty cheap if you book in advance.

Time’s ticking on. There’s serious potential for a Lib Dem gain here, but the Conservatives and Brexit Party are working the constituency hard. We can’t get complacent.

Our team is currently working on the plan for postal votes, which land in just 9 days. In a constituency like Brecon and Radnorshire, that’s a huge chunk of the electorate. That means this weekend is crucial for the campaign.

Don’t leave it to someone else – they might be leaving it to you.

If you’ve never helped before, don’t be put off – everyone has to start somewhere and the team couldn’t be more welcoming. Come along – you’ll love it.

Don’t leave it to someone else – they might be leaving it to you. Come to Brecon and Radnorshire – help us elect a new Lib Dem MP.

I’ll come!

Follow Benny on Twitter: @Benny_curtis1

Farming community facing tough times

David Walker in West Felton

The farming community plays a big role in Shropshire’s economy. Today the president of the NFU has once again laid out how badly the farming community will be impacted by a no deal Brexit. A tariff wall would lead to massive oversupply, farmers going out of business and a huge cull of livestock would be the inevitable consequence of a catastrophic no deal.

NFU President: No deal ‘Economically disastrous’

Whatever your views on Brexit nobody voted to be poorer or for vast swathes of businesses to go out of business in the process. British farmers are the envy of the world, particularly postural farmers who are a global leader in animal welfare standards.

Earlier in the year Richard Huffer made a similar point in the Advertiser: Shropshire sheep farmer criticises ‘woefully irresponsible’ Brexit response

The food supply industry is massively important to the UK economy. Anything that undermines farming and food producers is dire news for everybody.

Only last week Cheshire’s last livestock auction closed down. Today we heard the Mullers were closing down a dairy…. What would be the impact on Shropshire if Mullers closed? That doesn’t best thinking about. If no deal happens there will be a lot more closures like that as the sector rapidly reorganizes to face to massive pressure Brexit will bring.

The Conservatives reckless handling of Brexit is definitely irresponsible. The farming community deserves better. Demand Better for farming.

Next pulls plug on Shrewsbury town centre store

David Walker in West Felton

Next pulls plug on Shrewsbury town centre and have decided not to renew their lease on their store in the Pride Hill shopping centre.


As the owners of the shopping centre Shropshire Council has once again been exposed to the contraction of the retail sector. This has been happening for a sustained period now as retailers move to reduce costs by reducing their floor space footprint. An Essential step as they move to head off lower footfall, rising rents, rates and prices, lower pound, Brexit uncertainty and rapid expansion of online retailers.

Their decision to risk public money to the tune of £51 million was mad. Factor in that they invested the money with getting a proper valuation first and that rises to reckless. After a year their investment had fallen in value by 20% or £11 million. How much further will that fall? Quite a lot further in my view. Filling vacant units will pop up shops won’t stem the tide of retailers moving out or demanding a massive reduction in their rents.

The Conservative administration at Shirehall are now stuck with a toxic asset to will cost them and us as taxpayers a lot of money. I am sure many businesses in Shropshire would have welcomed a share of that money to invest and support their growth… probably for a much better rate of return as well. Times are still tough for all businesses and ordinary taxpayers. Theses aren’t the times to take extravagant risks. People should rightly demand better investment of their money than the Conservatives have shown.

Hear From Nadya in Pride month

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

This is a strange way to start off this blog post, but please bear with me. In April 2016 I got my first telescope. I didn’t spend a great deal, and it took me awhile to learn how to focus it, but eventually one night I caught Jupiter, its red spot and the bright twinkles of the four Galilean moons. It was at that moment I started to believe in Allah again. At around the same time I properly and very bluntly came out to my father – the end of a rather long journey in me accepting that I was a gay woman. Soon after, I popped down to the LGBT inclusive Christian church at the bottom of my road, in a bid to be able to reconcile faith in god with my sexuality. It was welcoming, but it did not feel like my spiritual home.

I am of Arab Muslim descent and in my late teens I was a devout Muslim.

See, I am of Arab Muslim descent and in my late teens I was a devout Muslim. I wore the hijab, prayed five times a day, did voluntary fasts, only ate halal, didn’t drink, stopped listening to music, stopped watching films, and would only read Islamic texts or books written by Islamic scholars. I found peace in Islam and prayer, but that peace started to shatter as my attraction to a Muslim sister I attended Jummuah prayer with started to increase. This wasn’t the first time I had been attracted to a woman, but it was the first time I understood what my feelings meant. I buried that part of me, and met with a Muslim brother from my mosque to discuss marriage. Alhamdulillah that marriage did not take place as it would have been wretched for me and any children that eventuated.

I walked away from Islam. I moved out of home. I met a woman who I was absolutely in love with. I had my first intimate experience with another woman (the former was unrequited). The day after I felt horrid, dirty, wrong and ashamed. I stopped calling myself Muslim.

For the next decade and a bit, I would have relationships with women, self-sabotage them and then go back to dating men. Whilst I accepted and embraced seeing others in same-sex partnerships and unions, I couldn’t embrace me being in one. A current close friend of mine commented that it was uncomfortable to watch.

I have a lot of regrets, the women I walked away from that could have made me so happy, the relationships I had with men that made me feel broken and disconnected inside (not their fault), the impact the above had on my mental health and all those lost years not being who I truly was.

I feel whole and am the person I was meant to be.

With all those regrets riding heavy on my shoulder, I attended Stonewalls’ Diaspora Showcase last year. That led me to attending the Stonewall BAME/LGBT+ role models programme in November 2018, where I met a representative from Hidayah, a Muslim LGBT charity. I am utterly ashamed to say when I walked into the room, I automatically assumed that the person wearing Hijab and Abayah was an ally, not LGBT themselves. It was unconscious bias stemming from my own experience growing up with no LGBT+ Muslim role models.

Where am I now? After 20 years of struggling with my sexuality I have embraced being a gay woman. Hidayah has helped me reconcile my sexuality with my renewed belief and has shown me there is more than one way to be Muslim. I feel whole and am the person I was meant to be. I am not sacrificing aspects of myself.

I am also stepping up. It is hard. Whilst I have stopped caring if my extended family knows about me being gay, I am still petrified of bringing shame to my very supportive father. I have started to deliver talks about BAME and LGBT intersectionality. I was part of a panel on behalf of Hidayah in late March. It is nerve racking in the moments before I talk, but letting it all out and using my voice has given me a peace I thought was well and truly outside of my reach.

I want to change the outcomes of other Muslim LGBT people

And, most importantly I want to change the outcomes of other Muslim LGBT people. If I had been able to see someone like me growing up, I wouldn’t have felt so alone, isolated, scared and have lost so many years being an unauthentic me. I am doing that by working with groups like the Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality and Hidayah, but also by being visible.

Nadya Fadih-Phoenix – Brit, Aussie, Arab, Muslim, Gay (pronoun them/they)

A fresh start for British democracy

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

In a time of political crisis, we have some good news, and an invitation to demand democracy.

I want Proportional Representation

We have signed the Good Systems Agreement, alongside other parties, organisations and public figures.

Together we have achieved something that has never been done in the UK. We’re securing broad consensus about the principles that define good voting systems. Most importantly, seats won in Parliament must closely reflect the votes cast. We have also agreed that the best voting system for the UK would ideally be determined by citizens. This could be done through an evidence-based, deliberative process, like a citizens’ assembly.

We believe this is a major milestone on the path to winning real democracy.

Read more

And now you have a chance to play your part! On Saturday 6th July, we are supporting a major action by Make Votes Matter activists all across the country. A host of street stalls and other activities are being organised for Demand Democracy Day. Check out the map and see what’s happening in your area. You can volunteer to help out and meet some new friends, or simply pop along to show your support for getting Proportional Representation in the House of Commons.

Show your support for fair votes this Saturday

Show support

Ad Lib Magazine: New edition out now

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

July’s edition of Ad Lib Magazine is now out!

We’ve got a bunch of content for you this time around – talking to councillors, new MEPs and new Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna amongst others.

Not only that, but we’ve got the lowdown on the leadership election from both candidates – it’s a really good read.

Is there anything you’d like included in the next edition? Don’t hesitate to get in touch – let us know at membership@libdems.org.uk.

Just click below to have a browse – we hope you enjoy!

Read now

Queens Head LED lights installed

David Walker in West Felton

The new Queens Head LED lights have now been installed by Highline Electrical for West Felton Parish Council. All that remains is for SP Energy Networks (SPEN) to connect up the power supply.

David Walker by one of the new street Lights in Queens HeadDavid Walker by one of the new street Lights in Queens Head
David Walker by one of the new street Lights in Queens Head

The Parish Council agreed to install the lights and pay for them out of their Neighbourhood Fund after an initial request from Queens Head residents last October. The Neighbourhood Fund is a pot of money the Parish Council is given when a developer builds houses in the area.

David Walker giving the thumbs up to the new LED street lightsDavid Walker giving the thumbs up to the new LED street lights
David Walker giving the thumbs up to the new LED street lights in West Felton

This is the last step of the upgrades of the Parish Councils lights. After some badgering, members of the Parish Council agreed to my proposal to upgrade the Street Lights to LED and cut roughly 3/4 off their electricity bill.

It was great to see Highline Electrical LTD out finishing the street light upgrades to LED last February with their cherry pickerIt was great to see Highline Electrical LTD out finishing the street light upgrades to LED last February with their cherry picker
It was great to see Highline Electrical LTD out finishing the street light upgrades to LED last February with their cherry picker

A week later, in March, I had a site meeting to discuss the positioning with a resident and Andy from Highline. Highline then liaised with SPEN about the connection cost.

At the April Annual Parish Meeting, a resident complained about a light at the top of the Avenue illuminating their house. Having looked at it I suggested that the luminary was pitched too high and suggested to the clerk that the lamp be angled downward or the arm replaced. The arm appeared to me to be causing the light to aim over the road rather than onto the road. I am pleased to say that that has now been done. A new arm has been fitted and the luminary realigned. Hopefully, this should improve matters for the resident considerably.

The new arm and adjusted luminary for the street light at the top of The Avenue

A quote was supplied and approved in May to cover the Highline and SPEN works. The SPEN element turned out to be a lot less coming under the budget that we agreed at the May Parish Council meeting.

The new Queens Head LED lights will help improve pedestrian safety and reduce speeding – street lights reinforce the highway code the speed limit. These plus the recently installed VAS Sign should make a big difference. I will be going out with my speed gun to check

Queens Head VAS Sign installed last FebruaryQueens Head VAS Sign installed last February
Queens Head VAS Sign (installed last February) has cut speed – the new lights will also help cut speed particularly at night

The upgrades will help cut light pollution, improve safety and reduce crime. The upgrades will also cut the Parish Council’s energy and maintenance bills. The savings will take some pressure off their element of the council tax for years to come.

West Felton village shop is on the market

David Walker in West Felton

For some time the talk in West Felton has been about the village shop being up for sale. As I understand it the owner had been in discussions about moving to Ralphs Drive where Outline planning was given for new retail units. It is my understanding that that has come to nothing. Rumours also talked about somebody buying the shop. Well, now the shop is officially up for sale for £295,000 with a new for sale sign going up on Monday.

What is of prime importance is the continuation of the village shop as it provides a vital service for the village. As the village expands due to its new Hub status this will be even more important. West Felton Parish Council is reviewing its Parish Plan. Important services like the shop need to be protected in the plan.

The shop is being sold by TSR in Shrewsbury. Sales particulars are here:


Catch up with last night’s online leadership hustings

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

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Ballots are out – go vote!

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Party members – check your inboxes!

Ballots for our leadership election have now gone out. If you were a member by the 7th June, you get a say in deciding the next leader of our party.

voting barack obama GIF by Democratic National Convention

It’s a really exciting time to be a Liberal Democrat – and we’re extraordinarily lucky to have 2 solid candidates in Sir Ed Davey and Jo Swinson. Either would be a fabulous leader for our party.

Credit should also go to them for keeping it so civil. Even the papers have noted how collegiate our contest has been, especially compared to… certain other parties. 👀

Whatever happens in this election – our future is bright!

How do I find my ballot?

Check your emails! Ballots are sent out electronically. If you requested a postal vote, you should have had it in the last few days. You’ll also have got a postal vote if we don’t have an email on file for you, or we’ve had issues delivering emails to you in the past.

me, on my inbox, waiting for my #LibDemLeadership ballot to come through pic.twitter.com/zRDyoJtGf2

— Dan Schmeising 🔶 (@danschm_) July 1, 2019

How do I vote?

Lib Dem leadership elections use Single Transferable Vote. All this means is that rather than ticking one box, you number the candidates in order of preference!

I want to find out more about the candidates!

Easy – head to our leadership election hub, where you’ll be able to read up on both Jo and Ed’s plans for our party. Both candidates have also supplied a manifesto, a link to which will be provided on your ballot.

Find out more

I haven’t received my ballot!

Don’t panic, here’s what to do:

  1. Search your inbox for an email from elections@libdems.org.uk – there should be a few and the most recent one will likely contain a link.
  2. Check your junk, spam and promotions folders – it may be lurking in there.
  3. Check your post – you may have been on the list for a postal ballot.
  4. Email elections@libdems.org.uk – and we’ll be able to take a look for you and send a replacement if necessary.

We’re hugely proud of both contenders and of our members. Thanks to you, the party is so much stronger than it was when Vince took over. We can’t wait to see what happens next 🔶