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The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

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  • Alistair Carmichael 2020
    Article: Oct 18, 2020
    Why the Liberal Democrats VOTED AGAINST the Tories' CRIME AUTHORISATION BILL. (Oct 15, 2020 5:10)
    This Bill will allow a whole range of employees of Government agencies to authorise crimes, up to and including murder and torture.

    The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson ALISTAIR CARMICHAEL led cross-party opposition to the Government's Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, calling a vote against the legislation in the House of Commons.

  • Tim Farron 2020
    Article: Oct 18, 2020

    Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey has announced a new team of spokespeople who will hold the Government to account and rebuild our party.

    Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale.

    Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing, Communities & Local Government, and Food & Rural Affairs.

    Tim Farron has represented the people of Westminster and Lonsdale as their Member of Parliament for 15 years.

    Tim's win in 2005 ended a 95 year rule by the Tories, winning by 267 votes. In the 2010 general election Tim maintained his seat and achieved an 11.1% swing from the Conservatives.

    Tim lives in Milnthorpe, south Cumbria, with his wife Rosie, his daughters Isabella and Gracie and his sons Jude and Laurie.

    Tim Farron has a strong record of delivery for the constituency.

    He has headed many local campaigns, fighting to protect and bring more services to Westmorland General Hospital, build more affordable homes for local families and bring more well paid jobs to the South Lakes.

    Tim is also a strong advocate for Cumbria's farmers, with the NFU describing him as "a true ally of farmers".

    Tim's proudest local achievement is his successful campaign to bring a chemotherapy centre to Westmorland General, meaning cancer patients in the South Lakes no longer have to make travel long distances to Lancaster or Barrow for treatment.

  • Freightliner Stock (Freightliner)
    Article: Oct 14, 2020

    In announcement on 13th October, 2020 that has been made before, the Conservative Government has confirmed that an extra £17 million is to be invested to bring the Port of Southampton railfreight infrastructure up to European standards.

    Right across the UK a longterm programme to extend railfreight sidings and container handling bays has been taking place. Now almost at the last minute the Conservative Rail Minister has realised that they had forgotten to increase siding and passing loop lengths to 775 metres to accomodate the now standard European container trains of 750 metres. This was done at many ports and inland road-rail interchange depots several years ago, but apparently not yet in Southampton where the maximum train length is still restricted to 520 metres.

    The adoption of the now standard train length of 750 m will enable traffic to and from the port to be increased with by extra 14 containers per train. In practice this means 14 more HGVs are taken off UK roads per train.

    The recent Network Rail press release seems to have confused matters by stating that current maximum capacity is 14 tpd from Southampton - and the improvements will raise this to 24 tpd. However, Network Rail misinterpreted a report on the Port of Southampton written by ABP in 2011. The ABP report stated that there were 19 trains per day (tpd) in 2011 with an additional 5 train paths that were unused but available.

    In fact 19 tpd were operated in 2011 within a maximum capacity of 24 tpd and this capacity was expected to be filled round about 2020. The capacity is consistently expected by both Network Rail and ABP to remain at a maximum capacity of 24 tpd as far ahead as 2030, i.e. the maximum capacity in terms of tpd is unchanged. The claim that the investment is enabling an extra 10 tpd is incorrect - but sadly has now acquired the status of a "Google myth".

    The track and signalling work to complete the project is expected to be completed by Easter 2021.

    Liberal Democrat Nick Hollinghurst, Hertfordshire County Councillor for the Tring Division says, "There is good news here. The £17 million is enabling an increase in train length and so an increase in the number of containers transported per day. This is good for the environment, the UK road users and for the efficiency of the railfreight industry, but it is neither new money nor very much money in rail industry terms."

    He added, "It also highlights the low priority that both Network Rail and the Tory government give to railfreight. Network Rail messed up their press release and the government has provided a paltry sum of money for a minor infrastructure development that actually does not improve the number of train paths available to and from the important port of Southampton."

  • Wera Hobhouse
    Article: Oct 11, 2020

    Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath

    Spokesperson for Justice and Women & Equalities, Shadow Leader of the House.

    Wera was born in Hanover, Germany and came to Britain in 1990 having met and married her English husband, William Hobhouse. They both cite the fall of the Berlin Wall, which they travelled to witness in November 1989, as a pivotal moment in their lives.

    Wera and William have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls, aged 20 to 27 years and live in central Bath.

    She has had several diverse successful careers: as a radio journalist, a professional artist and, in the UK, as a teacher of modern languages. She is fluent in English, German and French.

    Wera started her political life in Rochdale, where as a councillor she fought tireless against the building of 600 new homes and a children's nursery on asbestos-contaminated land, ultimately winning this 7-year battle.

    Since moving, with her family, to Bath she has immersed herself in local politics.

    She is perhaps best known for her pro European and Internationalist views. She is strongly opposing to the brutal and destructive hard version of Brexit that Theresa May has chosen for us.

    Politically Wera's other passion is the environment: encompassing traffic congestion, the pollution it causes and damage to the health of Bath's residents.

    Wera is noted for her strong and deep rooted principles and she is bold and fearless in her defence of them. She was reelected in the 2019 General Election.

  • Cambridge Charge Up Leaf
    Article: Oct 7, 2020
    I feel encouraged by the September 2020 car registration figures.

    Year to Date, the largest percentage increase is for Battery EVs (+165.4%). This is followed by Mild Hybrid Petrol EVs (+142.8%).

    What is a "Mild Hybrid", I hear you ask? Well it's a petrol driven car with a small electric range which has batteries charged by the engine (i.e. not plugged in) - and it doesn't go long distances under electric power.

  • EU flag
    Article: Oct 4, 2020

    The Liberal Democrats held the Virtual Conference from 25th to 28th September, 2020.
    On 27th September the Conference Re-Affirmed the Party's Commitment to the UK being Part of Europe within the EU

    The UK and Europe - Motion as passed by conference

    Mover: Christine Jardine MP (Spokesperson for Europe).

    Summation: Daisy Cooper MP (Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats)

    Conference notes with deep concern:

    1. The decision by the Conservative Government not to seek an extension to the post-Brexit transition period beyond 31 December 2020 despite the apparently deadlocked 'future relationship' negotiations between the UK and the EU on economic, transport, migration, welfare, fisheries and security arrangements.
    2. That the UK cannot afford to crash out of the EU without a deal in place or to accept a rushed, bad deal at a time when the UK is already facing the biggest crisis in generations as a result of COVID-19 against a background of intensified China-USA-Russia rivalry.
    3. That the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK remain at risk, as the Conservative Government attempts to roll back from the commitments it made in the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement.
    4. The Conservative Government's Internal Market Bill, which the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has admitted will breach international law "in a very limited and specific way", trashes the UK's reputation, sets a dangerous precedent and almost certainly precludes any chance of a Free Trade Agreement with either the EU or the USA unless the offending sections are removed.

    Conference believes that:

    1. There is no deal that could be negotiated that could be more beneficial than continued membership of the EU, and the damage caused by Brexit to the UK's economy human rights, security, and standing in the world will be profound and long-lasting.
    2. The UK and its people share fundamental values of liberalism, democracy and respect for the rule of law with our European neighbours and allies; the European Union is our natural home and the UK's rightful place should be at the heart of the EU.

    Conference affirms the party's immediate priorities to:

    1. Hold the Conservative Government to account unstintingly as it fails to deliver what it promised, and expose the damage of this Government's Brexit to our economy, security, society and national unity.
    2. Campaign vigorously against measures which are prejudicial to British industry, agriculture and democracy, and in so doing point to the benefits of closer relations with the EU.
    3. Continue to work with others in Parliament (including in the House of Lords) to halt or amend damaging legislation such as measures in the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill.
    4. Support international cooperation and a global rules-based system, and oppose isolationism and economic nationalism.

    Conference calls for:

    • The Conservative Government to honour the commitments it made in the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration.
    • The rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK not to be further eroded - and where possible enhanced - and the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and Charter of Fundamental Rights to be respected for all UK citizens.
    • The closest possible alignment between the UK and the EU towards customs union, single market and freedom of movement, including minimising tariff and non- tariff trade barriers, no lowering of environmental, food and animal welfare standards, and the maintenance of strong diplomatic, developmental, defence, security, judicial, educational and scientific cooperation.

    Conference RESOLVES to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms.

  • Traffic at Eaton on Eaton Street at the busy junction with Bluebell Road to the left, and Church Lane to the right. Picture: Denise Bradley (http://images.archant.co.uk/polopoly_fs/1.5513395.1525976163!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_630/image.jpg)
    Article: Oct 4, 2020


    We need to preface this particular posting with the caveat that all the figures are derived from pre-covid sources. Covid has of course wrecked a lot of traffic and transport scenarios - however not only may covid produce some permanent reductions in some activities but it may also make the achievement of some of our environmental objectives somewhat easier. However, as far as we can tell, many things - apart from aviation - are likely to bounce back to within 10% of previous levels. But we might be quite wrong...

    On the other hand, what a tragedy it would be:
    * if people used covid as an excuse to give up on the environment or;
    * if they decide that their grand-children will either not be in any danger after all (because it'd false news) or;
    * if they think that the grand-children will just have to take their chances (because they don't care) and/or;
    * there's nothing anyone can do about it (because they don't like to face problems).

    So... take all that on board but use the figures as a picture of the world as it was - but let's see if we can build back better!

    * There will be a 21% increase in the population of Herts (252,000 extra) by 2039 which will increase travel demands.

  • Document: Oct 4, 2020
    9.11 MiB drawing or desktop publishing document
  • Rudest Potato
    Article: Oct 1, 2020
    WHAT A PITY... there are no local Flower and Produce Exhibitions this Autumn.
    'Cos I'm sure I would have won the First Prize in the RUDEST VEGETABLE Section this year!
  • Justice
    Article: Sep 28, 2020

    Emergency motion at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference 28th September, 2020:
    Defending the Rule of Law

    Mover: Wera Hobhouse MP (Spokesperson on Justice and Equalities).
    Summation: Lord Thomas of Gresford QC (Shadow Attorney-General)

    This Conference:

    1. notes that, on 31st July 2020, the Conservative Government announced an Independent Review of Administrative Law to examine judicial review and reportedly plans to establish a future panel to "update" the Human Rights Act, both with the aim of restricting the ability of individuals to challenge the Government in court.

    2. further notes Dominic Cummings' long history of attacking the rule of law, from his complaints about civil servants trying to prevent Michael Gove from acting unlawfully as Education Secretary to his petulant outbursts over recent court rulings against the Government.

    3. is deeply alarmed at Number 10's plans to weaken the courts, limit judicial review and unpick the Human Rights Act, which would allow Ministers to break the law with impunity, enable the Government to violate people's rights and make it harder to secure inquiries or put things right when mistakes are made.

    4. believes that the rule of law is fundamental to our society. When the Government rides roughshod over people's rights, the law is our vehicle for justice.

    5. further believes that threatening to weaken the courts because they sometimes rule against you is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.

    6. reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to promoting justice and human rights and building a free, fair and open society where everyone's dignity and wellbeing is respected.

    7. affirms that Liberal Democrats will always defend individuals' abilities to challenge the Government in court and uphold their rights.

    8. strongly opposes any proposals to restrict judicial review, weaken the Human Rights Act or undermine the rule of law in any way, and calls on the Government to drop these plans.

    I was proud to add my personal vote in support of this Motion at the Liberal Democrat Conference this evening.

    I stand against moves by this present government to remove the universal Human Rights which UK citizens and others currently enjoy in this country and to replace them by a nationally based code of more limited rights which will not be universal and subject to political tests for eligibility.

    I stand against the actions of this present government in introducing legislation such as the Internal Market Bill which amounts to a declaration of an intent to break International Law, weakens the UK itself by damaging devolution, amounts to a breach of the Withdrawal Agreement, is in conflict with the Northern Ireland Protocol and is inconsistent with the Rule of Law to which government in England has been subject since Magna Carta.

Nick Hollinghurst