May 7, 2010 Comments Off
May 12, 2013 Comments Off
Lib Dems in Reading welcomed the Queen’s speech, which has a package of measures on pensions, care for the elderly, and green energy, to help create a stronger economy and fairer society.
Especially welcome in Reading are proposals to streamline the way anti-social behaviour is tackled, including giving victims a bigger say in how the Police deal with this issue. This is an issue that blights the lives of many local residents, and anything that leads to a faster, more effective response will make a difference.
Pensions will be made simpler and fairer by paying a decent flat rate of £144 for a full contributions history and relieving thousands of our pensioners from the need to apply for means-tested benefits after a lifetime of full employment.
The government will introduce a cap on the cost of social care (expected to be around £70,000) so that pensioners are not forced to sell their homes to pay for care. This is a real problem in areas like Tilehurst where there is a large elderly population. It will also provide protection to people whose care provider goes out of business and give everyone a legal entitlement to a personal care budget, which they can receive as a direct payment to spend as they wish.
The government will reform the energy market to ensure secure, clean and affordable energy. We will inevitably be paying more for energy in the future but some of that money will be spent on providing green, sustainable energy.
And one big thing not in the Queen’s speech
The Lib Dems have very effectively blocked the Tories Communications Data Bill which would have given government the right to see all the email you have sent or received plus all the websites you have visited over the last year. A veritable snoopers charter has been nipped in the bud by Lib Dem activists including our own campaigning Dr Jenny Woods.
May 10, 2013 Comments Off
Liberal Democrats in Reading have chosen Cllr Ricky Duveen to take over from Cllr Daisy Benson as their leader on Reading Borough Council.
Ricky has represented Tilehurst on the Council since winning a by-election in 2006 and has previously been the Party’s spokesperson locally on transport and the environment.
Ricky said, ‘I would like to thank Daisy for all her work as leader of the Lib Dem Group over the last two years. She has been an excellent leader who has fought for local residents on the things they care about, with great determination and skill.’
‘I have two key current issues that I want to see the Council move forward on: I want to see 20 mph speed limits on residential roads within Reading to improve road safety, and there needs to be a greater push to build much needed affordable housing and so make a real effort to tackle the 10,000 strong housing waiting list. The Council could also be doing much more on the green energy agenda, saving heat and energy, and generating much more from sustainable sources.’
‘Lib Dem Councillors will first and foremost look after the interests of the residents we represent. Our party has a reputation for providing good ward Councillors and whatever political battles we fight we will always keep in touch with, and serve, our local communities.’
Apr 29, 2013 Comments Off
Reading University Liberal Democrat President Ben Thomas welcomes the libel law reform, championed by Liberal Democrats in Government:
“On the 24th April, the Commons voted through landmark libel law reform. As Liberals, we should be trumpeting this achievement. Protecting scientific inquiry from the interference of big businesses is surely one of the landmark achievements of this government. Dr Julian Huppert MP has been instrumental in pushing this since his election, building on the ground prepared by Dr Evan Harris and Lord Lester. Lord McNally also deserves generous credit as the minister responsible. However, this story’s greatest hero does not hail from the political bubble. This victory for scientific independence and free speech owes as much to a softly-spoken physicist called Simon Singh as it does to the efforts of Liberal Democrats.
In 2008, Simon Singh co-wrote a book investigating “alternative medicine” – in particular acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and chiropractic treatments. Singh had been known as a talented scientific communicator for some time, writing several books on maths and science in a way that was accessible, interesting, and informative for non-scientists. He summarised his conclusions about chiropractic treatments in an article for the Guardian.
The British Chiropractic Organisation (BCA) was not happy with the scientific light shed on its methods, many of which were exposed as not just bogus, but dangerous and in some cases even fatal. Devoid of a defence in the laboratory, the BCA attacked Singh in the courtroom, utilising the UK’s ridiculous libel laws. The case initially seemed to be going their way, as a judge ruled that because Singh’s writings were fact, not opinion, he could not use the “fair comment defence”. However, Singh refused to back down, and rallied significant support in the scientific and political communities. Later that year, Singh’s appeal succeeded and he turned his attention immediately to demanding the reform of the ludicrous system that granted immunity from exposure as a fraud to those with enough money. Now, his campaign has finally succeeded.
We owe a lot to Simon Singh. He refused to sit down and accept that he had to sweep his scientific research under the carpet just because a group with enough money to fight him in court decided it disliked the results of his investigations. He saw that such a system destroyed scientific integrity and independence and put lives at risk in order to protect financial interests. He didn’t do it alone – but it wouldn’t have happened without him, and we are all in his debt.”
Apr 26, 2013 Comments Off
The proposed new laws, also known as the “Draft Communications Data Bill”, would have meant that details of everyone’s emails, phone records, even internet browsing history would have been available to the Government. Communications companies, many big local employers, would also have been forced to keep much of this data.
But thanks to a campaign that Jenny started in February 2012, with support from Internet boffins in Reading, that will not now happen.
As soon as rumours of the plans leaked from the Home Office last year, Jenny consulted Internet security experts in Reading. Her conclusions became official Lib Dem Party policy last March, following a motion passed at the Party’s Gateshead conference. Not content with that, Jenny lobbied MPs and Peers all through the year.
Although Theresa May’s Home Office pressed on, Lib Dem opposition meant the plans could not proceed, leading to Nick Clegg’s announcement on Thursday 26 April.
Jenny said, “These proposals would have intruded on everyone’s privacy, they would have damaged our local businesses and would have taken police away from their crime-fighting duties. I’m delighted to see them thrown out.”
Reference article on LibDem Voice, which provides comprehensive details on this issue:
Details of the Lib Dem conference motion: http://www.aldes.org.uk/?p=888
Apr 24, 2013 Comments Off
I’m writing to urge parents who felt unable to take up the MMR vaccine between 1998 and 2003 because of the terrifying misinformation about it that was being spread at the time. We now know that there was no scientific basis for the MMR scaremongering (and that the man responsible for it planned to make a lot of money from the selling of single vaccines).
We have all heard on the news about the recent measles outbreaks in Wales, but measles is spreading and there are now outbreaks recorded in Teeside, Manchester, Preston, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Many Reading parents may feel that these places are a long way from their children’s school, but Gloucestershire is only 70 miles from Reading by the M4!
One in ten children who catch measles need to be admitted to hospital and catching measles whilst pregnant can be very serious and threaten the pregnancy. Babies born in 2012 are also at risk because they are too young to get their vaccinations.
In Reading only 80.3% of children between the ages of 4 and 11 have had both of their MMR jabs. It’s even worse in the 12 to 18 year old age group with only 66.7% having had both vaccinations!
Measles is highly infectious and spreads rapidly in places like schools. Most of the cases in the recent outbreaks have occurred in the 10 to 16 year old group and all of them are young people who received only one MMR dose or none at all.
The good news is that uptake of the vaccine is currently at its highest ever level and so future generations are not likely to be affected by measles. But, please, if your child only had one MMR dose or none at all, contact your GP right away and get an appointment.
Let’s not wait for Reading to be named in the media as another area which has had a measles outbreak! Protect your child from this potentially devastating illness and give them the MMR. Please pass this message on to all your friends and family.
Cllr Meri O’Connell
Lib Dem Spokesperson for Education
Mar 29, 2013 Comments Off
Following on from the welcome decision in the budget that the beer duty escalator will be scrapped, Reading Liberal Democrats are celebrating further that The Retreat has been accepted as the first community pub to go on the town’s list of Community Assets, following an application by Reading Liberal Democrat campaigner Gareth Epps, on behalf of Reading CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).
The popular backstreet local – famous for fine ale, local music and the occasional pickled onion contest – is only the second building in Reading to receive this protection (the other being King’s Meadow Baths). It means that if the current owners try and sell off the pub, local residents have the opportunity to bid to buy it – and would have 6 months by law to raise the money to do so. The new right was introduced by the Coalition Government last year as part of its Localism Act.
James Moore, Reading Liberal Democrat community pub campaigner said: “This is a great tribute to all those who have and continue to make The Retreat such a great example of a community pub. The new designation protects those buildings that become part of a community’s life and provide places to meet – and much more. There have been concerns about the pub’s future – but if the pubco bosses try and sell the pub off, it gives the locals the chance of taking it on.”
This builds on the strong work of Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, announced in January by Business Secretary Vince Cable to introduce an independent adjudicator to address unfair practices in the pub industry.
The code will cover fair practices including rents and the prices publicans pay for beer. The adjudicator will have the power to investigate and deal with disputes between pub companies and publicans, and in some cases to impose fines.
Notes to Editors:
Reading Borough Council press release: http://www.reading.gov.uk/pressreleases/2013/mar/council-lists-popular-neighbourhood-pub-asset-community-value/
Vince Cable calls time on unfair practices in pub industry: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/08/vince-cable-pub-industry-code
Mar 27, 2013 Comments Off
At last night’s Reading Borough Council full meeting, Reading Liberal Democrats Councillors tabled an amendment on a Labour motion on maternity pay and family cuts. Raised by Leader of the LibDems on Reading Borough Council, Cllr Daisy Benson, it was backed by the Conservative and Independent Councillors.
Speaking on the amendment, Cllr Benson said: “This motion is a cynical move by Labour in Reading. Ed Balls and Ed Miliband have not said they would reverse any of these cuts.’
‘Time and again Labour are very clear about which cuts they are against but have no ideas about what they would do if they were in government.’
‘Is it any wonder very few people are willing to trust Labour near the economy again.
‘In contrast, Liberal Democrats working in Coalition have taken a range steps to help families on low and middle incomes in Reading despite massive pressure on the public finances – including increasing spending on Reading’s poorest children to help improve their life chances, cutting income tax bills and making childcare more affordable.”
Notes to Editors:
Mar 21, 2013 Comments Off
We’ve heard from so many residents about the poor state of the roads and the neglect of Labour of keeping them up to scratch. I’ve been raising these issues with the Council for years, but the situation only seems to have got worse.
I, like many others, cycle to work each morning. But now I dread my daily cycle-commute across Reading’s deteriorating roads.
Before Christmas, I had reported several pot holes on Erleigh and Addington Road to the Council. A few of the worst offenders were filled but Council staff, but the majority were left – why they couldn’t fill them all in on the same stretch of road, I’ll never know. Since then, the covering has worn off, decaying the road surface further so that the section near Reading School is now more like a dirt track. I again reported this to the Council, but haven’t had a reply for almost a month!
I have seen several cyclists nearly fall or have to swerve onto the wrong side of the road, so that they avoid this mass of pot holes. It’s only a matter of time before someone is injured or killed. I’m also sure that car users can’t be impressed with the damage these pot holes are doing to their vehicles. So, I’ve submitted a question about this at the next full Council meeting: “When will this section of road be fixed?”
It’s worth noting that Labour-run Haringey Council have already been ordered to pay £1 million in compensation to a pedestrian that injured themselves crossing a pot holed road. Doing nothing is not an option.
No doubt Reading Labour will say it’s all because of the ‘Coalition cuts’ and not stand by their budget and their choice of budget priorities which have left our roads in a very sorry state.
Mar 5, 2013 Comments Off
“Liberal Democrats are working for a stronger economy and a fairer society, so that everyone can get on in life. That’s why we are cutting taxes for working people.
“Today’s announcement means that by April, 72,200 ordinary working people in Reading will get a further Income Tax cut, bringing the total tax cut to £600 a year since Liberal Democrats joined the Coalition Government.
“In Reading, this welcome news also means that 5,710 low-earners have been lifted out of paying Income Tax all together since the Coalition Government came to power.
“Liberal Democrats want fairer taxes, which is why we made raising the tax-free allowance our number one priority at the General Election – so important that we put it on the front page of our manifesto.
“When times are tough, with rising bills and wages not keeping pace with inflation, we want to give people real, practical help.
“Cutting Income Tax will not deal with all of those problems, but it will help. And I hope it will make a big difference to every family in this country.”
Feb 26, 2013 Comments Off
Scottish and Southern Energy were poised to cut down three landmark willows at Kennet Mouth. Fortunately quick thinking from Wokingham Councillor Jenny Lissaman and some cross-boundary work with Reading Councillor Rob White has saved the day.
While working with Grahame Hawker from Earley Town Council planning a tidy up of Kennet Mouth, at the boundary of east Reading and Wokingham, Jenny came across Scottish and Southern Energy and their plans to fell three significant willow trees at Kennet Mouth which were growing close to electricity cables.
As Kennet Mouth is on the boundary between Reading and Wokingham Jenny contacted Reading Councillor Rob White. Both Councillors lobbied the tree officers from their respective authorities, and following a site meeting with Scottish and Southern Energy a compromise was agreed.
The problematic trees are now all due to be reshaped to bring them away from the power cables and not cut down as was previously planned.
Jenny said: “it was a stroke of luck that I was waiting to meet up with my colleague and the Conservation Volunteers and found out about the plans, otherwise the outcome could have been very different.”
Rob said: “Reading officers were really helpful on this providing us with professional opinion and technical detail which helped us to argue that these trees are an important feature of the area and that the felling of them is unnecessary.”