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.
Chris White condemns May's 'mission creep'
Lib Dem Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Chris White has condemned the Home Secretary's proposals in a speech yesterday to expand the role of Police and Crime Commissioners. Chris said: 'The Government is already thinking of giving PCCs the control of fire authorities on the time-honoured principle of "if it's not broke, then fix it anyway".
'But yesterday's speech by Theresa May beggars belief. The Home Secretary has apparently been working with the Justice Secretary to look at the criminal justice system, and will bring forward proposals for PCCs to have a role in youth justice, probation and court services.
'She also outlined proposals to bring encourage PCCs to create free free schools, with the objective of diverting youngsters from a life of crime.
'So the role of PCCs - a post not loved or trusted in the first place given the 14.5% who turned out in the first elections - is to be vastly expanded to take on roles that should either never have been taken away from local authorities or should have been handed over to them in the first place.
'The prospects for councillors, diversity and local government continue under thisGovernment to be chilling. What next will be handed over to PCCs? Ambulances? Social care?'
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).
I welcome the news that ALDI will be enlarging its car park at the London Road store. The store has proved to be very popular, and there are times during the week when customers have to queue to get into the car park, and this causes traffic congestion on the London Road. So, by using the adjacent Fyfe Wilson site, ALDI should be able to provide another 27 car spaces and also to improve the layout of the car park. Furthermore, ALDI managers have invited interested members of the public to be in touch with them if they have any ideas to contribute. In my opinion, this seems to be a commendable sign of a business wishing to be a good neighbour and to be an asset to the community.
I wish the Town Council well with its project to run the Town Market on Thursdays and Saturdays, and I wonder what it will do. I have heard talk of free promotional bags and monthly themes, and I wonder if these will help? I would have thought that it would be more important to attract a greater number of stall holders, and so the price of a pitch has to be right. Then, to attract more customers, the Town needs to provide more car parking. I do hope that it will succeed.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor Malcolm Cowan (Handside and Peartree) is speaking out about the farce where County Councillors are not permitted to ask the Police and Crime Commissioner about policing and crime issues here in Hertfordshire.
Malcolm said, "When we were forced to have an elected Police and Crime Commissioner, we were told it would make the position 'publicly accountable'.