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  • Ed Davey ()
    Article: Jan 13, 2022
    By Ed Davey in Lib Dem Voice

    Ed Davey has said that Boris Johnson must resign over the Downing Street parties. He said:

    "Boris Johnson has broken the law and lied to Parliament and the country, and he must now go.
    "Millions of people obeyed the lockdown rules, often at huge personal cost. They missed funerals, cancelled weddings and said goodbye to dying loved ones on video calls - some on the very day that Number Ten illegally hosted a garden party.
  • Covid: Government's PPE 'VIP lane' unlawful ()
    Article: Jan 12, 2022
    In BBC

    The government's use of a "VIP lane" to award contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) to two companies was unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

    Campaigners claimed the VIP lane was reserved for referrals from MPs, ministers and senior officials and gave some companies an unfair advantage.

  • Article: Jan 12, 2022
    By Mark Pack

    In 2021 we achieved something we've not achieved since 1993: winning two Parliamentary by-elections in the same year off the Conservatives. We start this new year with a larger Parliamentary Party than any of us would have dared dream of a year ago. (A winning run that has continued with the first council by-election of this year too - congratulations to now councillor Andrew Dunkin who won a seat from Labour from third place.)

  • Rising costs ()
    Article: Jan 12, 2022

    Following Conservative MPs voting against Labour's opposition day motion on energy bills, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

    "We are bitterly disappointed that the Conservatives have voted to do nothing for people facing soaring heating bills.

    "Millions of people are facing a choice between heating and eating and yet the Tories are still refusing to act.

    "The Conservatives are forcing families into poverty and won't even take the simplest of measures to give people a bit of support."

    Ellen Nicholson, South West Wiltshire Liberal Democrats spokesperson said "the Lib Dems have proposed a "Robin Hood Tax" - a one-off levy on firms who have made huge profits from record high gas prices. This would include oil and gas producers along with energy traders such as Gazprom's trading arm that profit from betting on fluctuations in energy prices. The levy would raise an estimated £5 billion to £7 billion".

    This would be spent on:

    Doubling and extending the Warm Homes Discount (£2bn): Taking £300 a year off the heating bills of around 7.5 million vulnerable and low income households, by more than doubling the Warm Homes Discount and extending it to all those on Universal Credit and Pension Credit. This would also reduce energy bills for all households across the country, as currently the Warm Homes Discount is paid for by other customers rather than through taxing the super-profits of oil and gas companies.

    Doubling the Winter Fuel Allowance (£1.9bn): Giving up to £600 a year to 11.3 million elderly pensioners to help with their heating bills, through a one-off doubling of the Winter Fuel Allowance. Pensioners are currently facing a £208 real-terms cut to the state pension next year due to the Conservative government's decision to scrap the triple lock. This would cost an estimated £1.9 billion.

    A new ten-year home insulation scheme (£500m): This would be spent on reducing people's energy bills in the long-term through an emergency home insulation programme to upgrade poorly insulated UK homes - including through fully funded grants for those in fuel poverty and on low incomes. This would cost an estimated £500 million in the next year.

    Supporting energy intensive businesses (£500m): This funding would be used to support businesses and protect jobs in energy-intensive industries, while helping firms reduce their need for energy in the long-term.

  • Town Precept ()
    Article: Jan 11, 2022
    By Warminster Town Council (edited)

    Meeting of Warminster Town Council, full council will be held on Monday 17th January 2022 at 7pm
    at Civic Centre, Sambourne Road, Warminster, BA12 8LB

    Warminster Town Council Precept and Budget 2022 - 2023

    Item 10 of the council agenda relates to the 2022/23 precept.

    At its meeting on the 29th November 2021, the Conservative led Warminster Town Council debated the precept and
    agreed that the draft budget be accepted and be represented to Full Council in January 2022 with an updated precept calculation. Minute FC/21/096 Refers.

  • nnvc (Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)
    Article: Jan 10, 2022

    You may recall that as a result of the closure of schools for long periods caused by covid the government appointed an education recovery commissioner for England, Sir Kevan Collins,to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up for lost learning during the pandemic.

    Months later Sir Kevan put forward plans costing £15bn to enable pupils to catch up on their learning with the government offering only £1.4bn cash over three years

  • Article: Jan 8, 2022
    By Councillor David Vigar

    When they look at their likely council tax bills for the year ahead, people in Trowbridge are asking why.

    Why do they have to fork out more tax to the town council to take over street cleaning and grass cutting from Wiltshire Council?

    If Wiltshire hands over the job to Trowbridge, why don't they hand over the money to pay for it?

    Short answer

    It's a very good question and like many simple questions it doesn't have a simple answer. Perhaps the quickest is just that you get what you pay for. Wiltshire's services have been struggling for years and if Trowbridge wants clean streets and well kept parks, we need to pay to do the job well.

    But it still seems unfair and so the longer answer is worth setting out. It explains a few home truths about the way the country is run and why towns like Trowbridge need to take control of their own affairs if they want to make sure things are run better.

    Longer answer

    The answer starts a long time ago and a long way away, with the financial crash of 2007-08 that began in the USA. This happened because banks in America and the UK lent people money they couldn't repay and took excessive risks. Governments then had to bail many of them out to stop them going bust and losing people's savings. That meant the incoming UK government in 2010 had a massive deficit to pay off. They could have done this by raising taxes, cutting spending, or both. And they mainly chose to cut spending. Remember 'austerity'?

    In particular, they slashed the amount of money provided to local councils from central government - by 37%[1] between 2010 and 2020. That's just the average. For councils like Wiltshire, the cut was closer to 50%. Councils also get money from council tax and business rates, but the cut in grants has meant overall average spending power has fallen by 16%.[2] over the last decade.

    Demand for care

    As councils have channelled much of their dwindling cash into care, other services have suffered. In big cities with big care budgets, the squeeze has meant huge cuts - the closure of swimming pools, libraries, children's centres and other community assets. In counties like Wiltshire we've seen the youth service practically eliminated and services like grass cutting struggling to cope, as we saw in Trowbridge last summer.

    Government resources have been reduced even more in recent years, such as in 2018 when Philip Hammond handed out big tax cuts, particularly for the well-off. COVID-19 has since meant higher Government spending, but to cope with the pandemic, not to solve the deeper issues. The lesson is obvious. If you take money out of public funds - whether at the top in Westminster, or the bottom in Trowbridge - you get worse public services.

    Smart politics, bad government

    It's smart politics. Westminster gets the credit for lower taxes while town and county halls get the blame for the ragged services. But it's bad government. It leaves the old and vulnerable at risk. It forces councils to focus money on 'must-do's that directly affect those people's lives - like care, fostering and mental health. And activities like street sweeping and grass cutting get pushed down the priority order.

    So that's why a town council like Trowbridge has a choice. Do nothing and see the area become shabbier every year. Or take on the job and do it properly. It does cost a bit more, but really we're just seeing chickens coming home to roost as the lowest level of local government picks up the bill for the cuts made by governments years ago.

    On the bright side….

    But there is an upside. We are now in control of our streets and parks. We have a great team determined to do a great job. And we don't plan to do what Westminster and Wiltshire have done and let the service slide. In Trowbridge, we won't be cutting anything but the grass.

    Taxes are never welcome, but as the American judge Oliver Wendell Holmes said "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilised society" - or in this case for the county town we deserve.

    *********************

    P.S. My party, the Liberal Democrats, was part of the 2010-15 government that started the local government funding cuts. For the record, I didn't support joining the coalition - but it was a very tough call. By way of balance, the Lib Dems pushed through the pupil premium, tax cuts for the less well-off and a record increase in clean electricity.

    P.P.S. We Brits pay less in tax than many other countries - but we often get worse services. Tax revenue makes up 35% of the UK economy whereas it's more like 45% in Denmark or France - but those countries have very high quality health, education and care, plus generous pensions.[4]

    [1] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/local-government-funding-england

    [2] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/local-government-funding-england

    [3] https://www.carersuk.org/images/Facts_about_Carers_2019.pdf

    [4] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/local-government-funding-england

  • Boundary Commission for England ()
    Article: Jan 7, 2022
    By Ellen Nicholson

    The Boundary Commission for England proposed new boundaries for Parliamentary constituencies which they published last year and invited comments from interested parties. You can see a map of their proposals for the West Midlands here: https://www.bcereviews.org.uk/node/6490

    By entering your postcode, you can narrow it down to your area.

  • Article: Jan 6, 2022
    By Mark Valladares in Lib Dem Voice

    December

    The Party was throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at the North Shropshire by-election. And, with the gratefully received co-operation of the Conservatives - Non-local candidate? Check. Hapless campaign? Check. - the bookies were suggesting that we were marginal favourites to achieve the 26.4% swing required to snatch the seat. Our campaign team were taking no chances, with "private briefings" somehow reaching the media.

  • Helen Morgan MP ()
    Article: Jan 5, 2022
    By Ellen Nicholson

    Lovely to see Helen Morgan sworn is as the Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire in Parliament today.
    https://youtu.be/ujbFuJyA0tY

    Wiltshire Liberal Democrats are proud of our part in helping to get Helen elected.

    Just a few hours after being sworn in, Helen was asking the Prime Minister about the crisis in the ambulance services around the UK, and specifically in her constiuency.