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  • Good Law Project ()
    Article: Aug 6, 2020
    By SW Wilts Lib Dems

    Cronyism and corruption at the heart of this government seems to be becoming more and more apparent.

    Today the Good Law Project have released details of their investigation that indicates a senior advisor to Liz Truss, Andrew Mills, registered a business for £100 and then the government apparently entered into a £252 million contract with them to purchase PPE despite the company seemingly having had absolutely no previous experience in these matters. It hadn't even filled any accounts.

  • Boris Johnson demeans the office he holds
    Article: Aug 6, 2020

    Lib Dems say 'we don't need rhetoric' as thousands of planning applications are sitting there without a brick being laid.

    "Build, Build Build" says Johnson who dismisses opposition to planning reforms as "nimbyism"

    "Developers to be permitted to build on top of existing blocks of flats up to 5 storeys" says Baroness Jenny Randerson

    The Government have announced a planning 'revolution' that will force local authorities to allocate land for developments that will then not have to go through the full planning process. Under the new process, land will be designated in one of three zoning categories: 'for growth, for renewal or for protection'.

    In the first two categories there will be a new legal 'permission in principle' approach for new buildings, it is understood. Areas of outstanding natural beauty and the green belt will come under the protection category where most new buildings will be automatically banned.

    The reforms will be published in a paper entitled Planning for the Future and follow an extension of permitted development rights announced earlier this summer.

    Critics including the RIBA, the Local Government Association and the charity Shelter have already said that the move would lead to poor-quality new houses being built in areas without adequate public services and would lessen democratic accountability.

    Reported in the Architects Journal, RIBA President Alan Jones said. 'deregulation would not deliver new homes and called for the government to 'urgently reconsider'.

    Baroness Jenny Randerson said: "I have spoken out in the Lords against Conservative Government regulations which will allow developers to build on top of existing blocks of flats up to 5 storeys. We had 5 Lib Dem speakers all fiercely opposed to this. This is going to be a major issue for local planning authorities".

    LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Howard Sykes said: "The prime minister has promised 'the most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the Second World War'. Not again please. Will the Government wake up to the FACT that councils aren't the problem with getting homes built nor is the planning system?

    He added: "How many times do we have to say that councils approve nine in 10 applications? The Government conveniently forgets the thousands of planning applications that are sitting there without a brick being laid. Hundreds of thousands of homes lay unbuilt. We need powers to force developers to build these out. Don't demonise us and point the finger again at local government blaming us. We don't need rhetoric - we need partnership".

    Liberal Democrat MHCLG Spokesperson Tim Farron MP added:

    "The announcement to reform England's planning laws today reveals that once again Ministers are not serious about solving the housing crisis. It is not the lack of planning permission that prevents new, genuinely affordable, homes being built, but this Government's refusal to properly invest in social housing.
    "Rather than tinkering with planning laws, what Robert Jenrick should be doing is unveiling a huge housebuilding program of social homes for rent. We have already lost thousands of social rented homes as a result of the Government's permitted developed changes to date.

    "The Liberal Democrats want to see 100,000 new social homes to be built every year, as well as giving local authorities the ability to suspend the right to buy in their own areas, so that we can finally start tackling the crisis that's crippling the UK's housing market."

    LINKS:

    Lib Dem Lords speak out against planning changes Baroness Jenny Randerson ". A link to the speech can be found here:

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-07-29/debates/04DC3EE5-E933-41CA-BD17-02795ADD6A24/TownAndCountryPlanning(FeesForApplicationsDeemedApplicationsRequestsAndSiteVisits)(England)(Amendment)Regulations2020#contribution-5A475532-D6FE-4BC5-B9BF-117E9EFBA0DD

    Architects Journal: Sweeping reforms will give new schemes 'automatic' planning permission 3 AUGUST, 2020 BY WILL HURST

    https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/sweeping-reforms-will-give-new-schemes-automatic-planning-permission/10047761.article

    A major planning overhaul in England will allow 'automatic' planning permission for new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices

  • Departures ()
    Article: Aug 5, 2020
    By Ellen Nicholson

    This week it was reported that the number of UK citizens emigrating to EU member states has risen by 30% since the Brexit vote in 2016.

    • With the Government still failing to guarantee the rights we all currently enjoy through the EU, it is unsurprising that so many Brits are abandoning ship in favor of EU member states.
    • It's time the Government stops posturing and secures a Brexit deal. Crashing out of the EU with a rushed bad deal, or - even worse - no deal at all, would be catastrophic and would likely lead to even more Brits leaving.
    • To avoid a brain drain and yet another hit to our economy, the Conservative Government must secure our rights and freedoms. Stripping these to appease an impossible image of what Brexit means would be unforgivable.
  • Trowbridge Hilperton Cycleway ()
    Article: Aug 5, 2020
    Great to see the speed at which this cycle way linking Hilperton to Trowbridge, providing safer access to the town centre for cyclists and pedestrians is being created,
    The momentum behind this scheme makes it even more difficult to understand why in July 2020, Wiltshire Council voted by 52 to 31 to reject a Liberal Democrats resolution encouraging cycling, walking and horse riding.
  • The Weekly Whip
    Article: Aug 4, 2020
    By Liberal Democrats

    Top Lines

    Govt must act to strengthen NHS Test and Trace ahead of new school year

    Scientists have today warned that current testing and contact tracing is inadequate to prevent a second wave of coronavirus when schools in the UK reopen.

    • After months being cooped up at home, millions of children are looking forward to getting back to school in September, but safety must remain the top priority.
    • In the absence of a vaccine, a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system is the only way to keep people safe as we reopen schools. The Government must do everything in its power to strengthen that system if we are to have any hope of a safe start to the new school year.
    • Equally, the Government need to be honest about the very real risk that, if they do not get the NHS Test and Trace system in order, or in the event that we see a sharp rise in infections, children may have to go back to learning from home. Ministers must put in place safeguards now to ensure children are still able to get their education in this worst case scenario.
  • BBC
    Article: Aug 4, 2020

    The Liberal Democrats are to debate plans at their Autumn conference to ensure the BBC licence fee level is set independently next year after government cuts forced the BBC to end free TV licences for most over-75s.

    Liberal Democrat Culture spokesperson Daisy Cooper, who will move the motion at the Party's first digital conference, warned the Government must never again be allowed to "force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable."

    The Party, which led a cross party group of 106 parliamentarians calling for a review of the decision to cut hundreds of BBC staff working across regional programmes, will put forward plans to protect the long-term future of the BBC.

    They will call on the Government to uphold its promise to retain the licence fee model until the end of the current Charter period in December 2027, and for a transparent and independent body to review the cost of the licence next year.

    The Liberal Democrats also use the same policy motion to take a swipe at Boris Johnson ducking BBC scrutiny during last year's General Election by calling on all senior politicians to make themselves available for scrutiny in televised interviews and debates.

    Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

    "Families around the UK have flocked to the BBC during the coronavirus pandemic as a source of trusted news, entertainment and education, demonstrating the true value of public service broadcasting at a time of national crisis.

    "As families face serious financial hardship and the prospect of local lockdowns, it is absurd that the BBC is left with no choice but to cut jobs and programmes that will reduce people's ability to know what's going on in their area.

    "Ending free TV licences for the over 75s, which could push some of the poorest pensioners into poverty, jars with common decency.

    "We must be clear: the responsibility of these cuts falls squarely at the feet of Conservative Ministers. With these plans, it is no wonder we can find neither hide nor hair of Boris Johnson when proper media scrutiny comes calling.

    "To save BBC programming we must never again allow Ministers to force the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between cuts to programming or raising these fees on the most vulnerable. That means ensuring the licence fee is set independently

  • House of Lords ()
    Article: Aug 3, 2020

    The Times: "Mr Johnson's appointment of his brother to the Lords shows that however talented Jo Johnson may be nepotism knows few bounds in modern Britain"

    And it's facilitated by an undemocratic, corrupted second chamber.

    Liberal Democrat's have long called for reform of the House of Lords.

    Particularly relevant as the latest Lords appointments are a laughing stock across the world, as last week Johnson nominated 36 more people for peerages, but today it seems Number 10 says today the size of the Lords 'needs addressing.

  • Munira Wilson
    Article: Aug 3, 2020

    Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson commented on the Treasury's "Eat Out to Help Out" discount scheme for restaurants starting on Monday,

    "We all recognise the need to support the high street through the pandemic, but the Government should have been more discerning with this scheme.

    "Obesity is already an immense challenge for people and the NHS, but the latest research suggests it also contributes to the deadliness of coronavirus. With a number of fast-food chains signing up to the scheme, it seems clear that public health did not factor into the Government's decision.

    "The Government must put public health first and exclude from the scheme meals and drinks proven to contribute to obesity. We cannot afford to risk lives as we re-open the economy."

  • Housing ()
    Article: Aug 2, 2020

    New homes and hospitals will be granted "automatic" permission to be built as part of sweeping planning reforms in England, as it was announced a "permission in principle" will be given to developments on land designated "for renewal" to speed-up building.

    But Shelter has warned against any reforms that lead to "bad-quality" housing. The homeless charity has said 280,000 homes received permission in England between 2011 and 2016 but were never built.

  • Car industry
    Article: Jul 31, 2020
    By Ellen Nicholson

    Reports state that the UK car industry is likely to have its worst year since 1954.

    "This pandemic has left the car industry on its knees. The Government must step in to stem the tide of job losses. But the recovery must also be an opportunity: the car industry must change to produce low emission, green vehicles said Acting Leader of the Lib Dems Ed Davey.