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.
East Herts District Council By-Election in Puckeridge - An encouraging result
On 16 September, Sara Mihajlovic achieved 18% of the vote in the by-election in Puckeridge, caused by the resignation of Conservative councillor James Cartwright. This is more than double the share of the vote achieved by Liberal Democrats in Hertford and Stortford and North East Hertfordshire constituencies in the General Election, and a remarkable result in a ward where we had not put forward a candidate in recent elections.Well done to Sara and the team for all their hard work.
After all the political turmoil in the aftermath of the EU Referendum, many organisations are settling down now to accept the result, and to make plans for the future. It has been reported that Ryanair will cut capacity and frequency on some routes. It will also focus its new developments in other EU countries, and not the UK. Holidays in these countries are already more expensive because of the fall in the value of the £.
So, now we know - the Country has voted by a small majority to leave the European Union. The result has shown that we are a divided population - 51.9% to Leave and 48.1% to Remain. In East Herts the vote was even closer with only 622 votes out of 85,000 forming the majority to Leave. I
The Boundary Commission of England and Boundary Commission of Wales have published proposals to reduce the total number of Westminster constituencies to 600 and redraw existing constituences to "balance" the number of voters in each seat. The proposals for Scotland will be published next week.
I make no apologies for writing about the EU Referendum again. The decision which we as a Nation will make on 23rd June is really important and it will affect us all at an International level, National level, and at the Local level as well.
I believe that we will all be better off if we Remain IN the European Union. We will be more prosperous: - over 3 million jobs are linked to our trade with the EU (source: HMG), 200,000 U.K. businesses trade with Europe and the EU takes almost half of our exports (source HGM and ONS). There will still be lower prices for goods and services, as competition between businesses across all of Europe means lower prices in UK shops, cheaper airfares and lower energy bills. (source: European Commission and CEBR) The Vote Leave campaigners would put all this prosperity at risk. They claim that we should take control and negotiate our own separate trade deals with all the other EU members, in the same way as Norway does. Yes, we could; but we would have to pay the EU a large amount of money for the privilege of overcoming the tariffs to gain entry to the Common Market. We would also be compelled to allow free movement of all EU citizens, and we would have to obey all the EU rules and regulations, just as we do now. BUT, we would have no say whatsoever in the drafting and setting of those regulations. So why should we go to all that trouble, risk, and expense for absolutely no benefit?
The discussion and debate about the EU Referendum is now well underway. As a Liberal Democrat, I am in favour of Great Britain staying IN the European Union. I do believe that we are stronger together, with other European countries as our partners, than when we stand alone. We have much more influence over world affairs when we are part of a bigger bloc than we would ever have as just a little off-shore island. I do not pretend that the EU is perfect - far from it - but I strongly believe that we have a better chance of bringing about reform if we are inside the club, rather than being on the outside.
Have you had your say yet? Have you been involved in the plans for the Future of our Town? Did you know that you were invited to participate? Well, you are invited - invited to join the Town's Focus Groups in discussing the Neighbourhood Plan for the southern half of the Town. This important plan is supposed to influence and shape all the future development of this area. I have attended 2 meetings so far, and must agree with a recent writer to our local paper when she expressed her dismay at the very poor attendance by ordinary residents. The four meetings have been attended by local Councillors, for which I commend them, and by representatives of various interest groups (cyclists, fishermen etc.) which is eminently sensible, but by very few ordinary residents. I regret this situation, but think that the poor attendance probably reflects the public disillusion with the whole protracted process. This may be based on past experience, when willing residents have given up hours of their time to contribute to similar plans, only to see the final documents left languishing on dusty shelves and being completely disregarded by all the Planners.
By Rob Lambie - candidate for Hertford Heath by-election
ROB LAMBIE - A LOCAL VOICE FOR THE VILLAGES
Rob Lambie has officially launched his Liberal Democrat campaign for the Hertford Heath ward by-election due to take place on 17th December 2015.
Rob lives in Brickendon, but knows Hertford Heath as he studied for his A-levels at Haileybury College on the edge of the village. He has family connections with Hertford where his grandparents lived, and his uncle ran the independent electrical store on Fore Street before retiring.
So, now we know! - The District Council has bought back the Causeway Site for £19.5 million, having sold it 6 years ago for £7.35 million. This is the site off the Old River Lane which includes the Council Offices, the Waitrose Car Park, the Causeway Car Park and now Charrington's House. Even allowing for the complications of this deal, with various freehold and leasehold arrangements on different parts of the site, this seems to be a very bad deal for the tax payers of East Herts. We are now required to foot the bill for this ill-advised venture.
I am appalled by the Budget which the Conservatives are proposing at County Council - they are proposing a Council Tax increase of 1.9% and at the same time are proposing a reduction in services - cuts to buses and Libraries. The Liberal Democrat group has demonstrated that neither the tax hike nor the reduction in services is necessary. The Lib Dems have produced an Alternative, completely balanced Budget which would restore the bus cuts, and even expand support for non-commercially viable but socially important buses. This Lib Dem Budget would also fund £770k for some discretional reversal of Part Night street lighting, and would put more money into additional Highways maintenance; it would also expand its Apprenticeship scheme, and reverse the mobile Library cuts. The Lib Dem Budget for Hertfordshire Country Council would do all this without any increase at all in Council Tax (details of this Budget are available on request).