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Reading Lib Dems Announce Candidates for Council elections in May

forburyLiberal Democrats in Reading have announced their prospective candidates for the 2014 Local Elections on May 22nd. The party will have candidates for every ward up for election this year.

Lib Dem Group Leader on Reading Council, Cllr Ricky Duveen is restanding in Tilehurst. He said, “I am delighted we have such a strong field of candidates standing everywhere across the town. In Tilehurst, I will be asking for re election based on our decades long record of local action, and of staying in touch with residents all year round.”

Cllr Daisy Benson will be leaving the Council. Former councillor Kirsten Bayes will be standing again in Redlands. Daisy said,

“It has been a huge honour representing Redlands on the Council over the last eight years. It has been a pleasure getting to know the residents and I would like to thank them for the kindness and support they have shown me.

I will continue to take a keen interest in local issues and help where I can but I am stepping down as I need to focus on my professional career which is taking up increasing amounts of my time.

Kirsten is an experienced and energetic local campaigner, who has lived in Redlands for more than 20 years: she will be a strong local champion.”

Cllr Rebecca Rye will be stepping down in Katesgrove to stand in Park ward. Peter Kinsley, a scientific data analyst will be standing in Katesgrove, where he is a resident. Rebecca said, “It has been four very busy years on the Council. I am excited to be campaigning for the people of Park, and will be supporting Peter to ensure that people in Katesgrove have a knowledgeable local representative who stands up for them.”

Cllr Ricky Duveen said, “I’d like to thank Daisy and Rebecca for all their hard work in the wards they have represented and for fulfilling key roles as Group Leader and Deputy Leader respectively. I’d also like to wish Daisy well in whatever she chooses to do next, and look forward to supporting Rebecca on the campaign trail.”

The full list of prospective candidates is as follows:

Abbey: James Moore
Battle: Glenn Goodall
Caversham: Chris Burden
Church: Margaret McNeill
Katesgrove: Peter Kinsley
Kentwood: Jon Walls
Minster: Jon Fanti
Norcot: Georgina Hughes
Park: Rebecca Rye
Peppard: Jenny Woods
Redlands: Kirsten Bayes
Southcote: Maddy Adams
Thames: Guy Penman
Tilehurst: Ricky Duveen
Whitley: Janel Blattler

Local Lib Dems welcome extension of Crossrail to Reading

1400894_76032516Liberal Democrats in Reading have welcomed news that the Crossrail project will be extended to Reading.
Cllr Ricky Duveen, the Lib Dem Group Leader on Reading Council, who also speaks on transport issues said,
“We welcome the government decision to extend Crossrail to Reading announced today. It will bring much needed capacity  and extend choices for London-bound commuters as well as for those travelling in to work in Reading. This decision also confirms that Reading  is the beating heart of the Thames Valley and cannot simply be ignored on such a major project as Crossrail.

It was always the logical place to terminate Crossrail.”

Hundreds of parents in Reading to get help with childcare costs

childrens centre photoA major childcare package is set to help 5,050 parents in Reading, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Meri O’Connell said today.

Working families will be given up to £2,000 to ease the cost of childcare as part of a scheme to be rolled out in Autumn 2015.

The Government has said it will provide 20 per cent support on childcare costs up to £10,000 per year for each child.

For example, it means a family with two children under 12-years-old could benefit by up to £4,000 as a result.

Meri said: “Today’s news provides a huge boost to hardworking families in Reading.

“The Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society and this helps children get off to the best start in life.”

The Government has also said people on Universal Credit will get 85 per cent of childcare costs fully covered.

Meri added: “These measures will help parents to go to work and provide security for their families.”

Reading Lib Dems Welcome Budget

key_Tax_cuts_Budget_2014Reading Liberal Democrats welcome many items in yesterday’s budget. Included in this are the positive points in the budget:

  • £700 tax cut promised, £800 tax cut delivered
  • The Budget has confirmed victory for the Liberal Democrats in our campaign to deliver an £800 tax cut for people on low and middle incomes.
  • Cutting income tax by £700 – by raising the tax-free allowance to £10,000 – was the top priority on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto. That comes into effect next month and the Budget has confirmed that the Liberal Democrats have now been able to go even further. The tax-free threshold will rise to £10,500 next year, giving a tax cut of £800 for 25m working people since 2010.
  • Liberal Democrat policy is to continue to increase the threshold in the next Parliament to £12,500

The Budget also includes:

  • A boost for apprentices – £85m to extend the Apprenticeship Grants for Employers scheme, creating 100,000 new apprentices, and £20m to support apprenticeships up to postgraduate level
  • A fuel duty freeze
  • Giving people control over the money they have saved in their pension pots – removing the need for people to be tied into buying annuities
  • Help for savers – reducing tax on savings for people on low incomes and increasing the levels and flexibility on ISAs
  • Help for small businesses – doubling the amount of money that companies can set off against tax for investing in new equipment to £500,000
  • Tax-free childcare worth up to £2,000 per child
  • More measures to clamp down on tax avoidance

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:

“This recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats in Government. The Liberal Democrats are committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society. The Liberal Democrats have fought for rises in the amount of money that people can earn before paying income tax right from the start of the coalition. We have already delivered an increase to £10,000 by April this year. That gives millions of tax payers a £700 tax cut.
We’ve been campaigning for months to go even further and we’ve been successful. The personal tax-free allowance will rise to £10,500 in April 2015 which will give millions of taxpayers another £100 tax cut taking the total tax cut in 2015 to £800.”

Commenting further, Reading Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Ricky Duveen said:

“We promised to give a tax cut to people on low and middle incomes, and we have done just that. £700 was promised, £800 was delivered. And now people earning less than £10,500 per year won’t pay tax at all from next year”

He also welcomed changes to savings and pensions, “the changes to pensions championed by the Lib Dems will give people much more freedom when investing money in retirement. We believe people know best how to manage their own money.”

£1.5m Funding Boost for Reading Schools

Tilehurst schoolLocal Lib Dems have warmly welcomed proposals which will see Reading receive £93 more per pupil in school funding than under the current system. This comes as part of an extra £350million boost to schools in the least fairly funded areas in the country.

The proposals announced in Parliament today by Liberal Democrat Education Minister David Laws will mean that funding will be allocated to local areas on the basis of the actual characteristics of their pupils and schools, rather than simply on the basis of historic levels of spending.

The proposed changes mean that, on average instead of receiving £4,454, schools in Reading will receive £4,547 per pupil next year, an increase of around 2.1 per cent, which equates to £1.5m in cash.

Commenting on the announcement, Cllr Meri O’Connell, Lib Dem Education Lead said:

“This is fantastic news for local children and is a much needed reform. The school funding system inherited by the Coalition was unfair. Labour knew it was unfair, but chose not to act.

“For too long, school funding has been based on historical data that no longer reflects pupils’ needs. Similar schools just miles apart can be funded at very different levels, just because they happen to be in different local authority areas.

“Today’s announcement, along with the Pupil Premium, will mean that our children can get the education they deserve. It is more evidence that the Liberal Democrats in government are actively implementing policies to build a fairer society.”

Saying no to intrusive Government surveillance

jennyReading Liberal Democrat Jenny Woods is once again saying no to intrusive Government surveillance.

Last year she helped see off the Government’s “snooper’s charter” which would have meant local internet and phone companies having to store everyone’s phone, email and web history.

This year, with Lib Dem MPs Julian Huppert and Tim Farron, she is leading the charge for a “Digital Bill of Rights”

Under proposals co-authored by Jenny which were debated and signed off at the recent Lib Dem national conference, this would mean:

- No to bulk collection of data: the Government should only be able to collect the data of people suspected of crimes
- No automatic export of data: America’s NSA should not have automatic access to British people’s information
- Yes to greater transparency: Parliament would have to sign off on surveillance powers, and the Government would have to report on its activities

Jenny said, “We should have the same rights online as we have in the real world. The revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden have shown that spies were even collecting pictures from ordinary people’s webcams.”

She added, “I’m delighted that, following this conference motion, the Lib Dems will be driving a review of the law in this area, keeping our homes safe from intrusion in the 21st Century”

Lib Dems in Reading reject Reading Borough Council’s budget proposals

income-taxLiberal Democrats on Reading Borough Council have rejected the Labour-run Council’s budget proposals, which will be presented at the Council’s meeting on Tuesday 25 February.

Cllr Ricky Duveen, the Lib Dem group leader on the Council criticised the proposed Council tax rise of just under two percent. He said, “It is amazing that on a budget of £120m they couldn’t find half a million pounds to freeze the Council tax. They are putting up the cost of living for those people they claim to be helping. Other councils across the country have been able to take advantage of the Government’s freeze grant, why not Reading?”

Cllr Duveen also accused the Council of setting its priorities based on the needs of the Labour Group, rather than the people of Reading. He said, “Where, for example is the Council’s commitment to road safety? The Council should be taking the lead on bringing in 20 miles per hour speed limits in residential areas across the town. This measure has been proven to save lives and promote sustainable transport. It is as if they want more accidents to happen on our roads.”

He noted that the Council was setting aside £9.5 million pounds to cover equal pay claims, from female workers. He said, “I challenge the Council to bring this sorry episode to an end and to make arrangements to pay out what they owe their female workforce. They should stop the legal wrangling, stop the procrastination and do what is morally right.”

Flooding and the EU

rsz_1rsz_img_0239With the flooding that we have seen over recent weeks in our part of the world, and the increase in extreme weather that we are seeing across the globe, it is growing increasingly urgent that voters know which parties will take action on climate change and why staying in the EU plays a part in that.

Catherine Bearder (Lib Dem MEP for the South of England, pictured to the right in sunnier times) is urging local Councils to apply for EU Development Funding to help cope with the costs of the floods. Reading is a small unitary authority and so might not reach the threshold required to get support, but if we join forces with Wokingham and West Reading we could apply for money that could be used to repair and improve flood defenses in our areas.

Being a member state of the EU doesn’t just mean giving money to other nations, the British people can and do apply for help when disaster strikes here too. I really hope that Reading Borough Council are actively exploring this income avenue for those that have been devastated by the floods. I live on the hill in Tilehurst and am unlikely to experience flooding in my own home, but my Mother lives down in Caversham and so I share the worries that many residents are facing as the rains continue to fall.

The Lib Dems are the party of ‘in’. We believe Britain should stay in Europe. One of the many reasons why is because climate change doesn’t stop at national borders. We believe it is crucial to work with other European countries to cut carbon emissions, promote green jobs, reduce pollution and protect biodiversity. If we don’t take collective action on climate change we are likely to continue to see unpredictable changes to our national weather.

Increasingly the food we eat and the natural resources we consume every day come from all around the globe, and we need a global plan for how to manage them. One country on its own can make little difference to the future health of our planet, but together, as the European Union, we have a real voice and the economic power to effect change.

Cllr Meri O’Connell

Tilehurst Ward

Strengthened commitment to mental health will transform people’s lives

On Monday 20th January, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, together with Lib Dem Care Minister Norman Lamb launched their action plan for mental health, “Closing the Gap: Priorities for Essential Change in Mental Health”.

The document sets out the Government’s 25 key priorities for improving mental health care and support, and clear steps for delivering on those priorities.

Care Minister Norman Lamb commented,

“When at least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life, making sure they get the support they need to live independent and fulfilled lives is essential in delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“Rectifying the profound injustice in the priority given to physical health over mental health has been one of my highest priorities as Health Minister.  This renewed and strengthened commitment to mental health will transform people’s lives.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“All too often, attitudes to mental health are stuck in the dark ages; full of stigma and stereotypes. It’s time for us to bring mental health out of the shadows and to give people with mental health conditions the support they need and deserve.

“Today we’re calling for action – across the NHS, the mental health sector and wider society – to champion change, to transform outdated attitudes and practices and to improve the lives of people with mental health problems.

“We recognise that we’ve got a mountain to climb. But we’re working hard to ensure that the needs of those with mental health problems are considered not just in the NHS, but also across our public sector: with better support in education, employment, the justice sector, housing and elsewhere.”

Local Lib Dem campaigner, James Moore said,

“When the previous Government introduced access and waiting time standards for physical health, they failed to do so for mental health.  For years this has distorted priorities within our health system.  I am delighted that Liberal Democrats in Government are taking action to put right this profound injustice.

“Liberal Democrats believe fundamentally that every child deserves a fair start in life.  The announcement today that schools will be supported to identify mental health problems sooner, with teachers and mental health professionals working together to give pupils the best chance to succeed, is incredibly important in delivering a stronger economy and fairer society.”

Mayfair residents protest at parking enforcement

Ricky Duveen

Ricky Duveen

Tilehurst councillor Ricky Duveen last supported Mayfair residents when they took their case to the council’s Traffic Management Sub-Committee. A strong delegation of residents attended the meeting and applauded spokesperson Dave Penn who outlined their case.

An experimental ban on parking on pavements and grass verges has been in force in Tilehurst for over six months but recently traffic wardens have begun issuing tickets to cars parked on driveways along Mayfair. Cllr Duveen described the tickets as barmy. ‘The ban is there to protect grass verges and to stop cars blocking footpaths. It is absurd to ticket residents parking on their own driveways when they do not encroach on either grass verges or public footpaths.’

‘Well done to the residents for getting together, raising a petition and presenting their case to the council. It has been a great example of local people taking action against council policies that make no sense to anyone.’

‘We hope that the council will come up with an acceptable solution very soon.’

Upcoming Events

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Events on April 23, 2014
  • Exec Committee meeting
    Starts: 7:30 pm
    Ends: April 23, 2014 - 9:30 pm
    Location: Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC), London Street, Reading, United Kingdom
24252627
Events on April 27, 2014
  • Liberal Drinks
    Starts: 7:30 pm
    Ends: April 27, 2014 - 9:30 pm
    Location: The Inn On The Park, Reading, United Kingdom
282930 

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