Where do you want to vote?

Tameside Council is reviewing polling places across the borough. As part of the review they’re doing a public consultation exercise.

The background to and basis of the review is set out in the background documentation on the council website. In addition proposals for each of the Council’s 19 wards are put forward for comment, with maps showing current and proposed arrangements. All new polling stations are assessed for suitability before final agreement to proposals.

At its meeting on 22 February the full Council will determine future polling district and polling place arrangements, so comments are sought by 5pm on Thursday, 10 February 2011.

All comments must be in writing either by sending an email through the council’s special online form or by writing to: Robert Landon, Head of Democratic Services, Tameside MBC, Council Offices, Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 6DL.

MP welcomes Metrolink announcement

Lib Dem MP for Withington John Leech has welcomed the government announcement today confirming the Metrolink extension to Ashton under Lyne and Didsbury.

The two lines were under review after the Treasury announced it would look at a list of projects that Labour had previously promised in a pre-election spending spree. However the Department of Transport has now confirmed the new route through East Didsbury and Ashton-under-Lyne will receive its planned funding.

Having lobbied for extensions to the Metrolink network since his election in 2005, John said, “I have been pushing the government for a positive decision on the future of the Metrolink extension and I am delighted they have finally confirmed the decision to give it the go-ahead.”

He also said, “The extension was one project that was never really under threat, as it ticked all the boxes in terms of creating jobs and economic value to the area.”

Local MEP casts key vote against ‘meat glue’

Tameside’s Lib DemChris Davies MEP MEP has cast the key vote to reject a bid by the food industry to use ‘meat glue’ to enable meat from different sources to be stuck together in products.

Liberal Democrat Chris Davies says that he was not satisfied that consumers would be told the whole truth about what they were being invited to buy.

The proposal to authorise the use of an enzyme preparation based on thrombin was this week rejected by MEPs in the European Parliament by just one vote. (more…)

Overcrowded housing reveals Labour’s failure

Commenting on today’s report by Lloyds TSB Insurance which reveals the number of families living in overcrowded homes has hit a record high, Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Teather said: “The news that a record number of families are trapped in overcrowded housing is yet more devastating evidence of Labour’s failure on social housing.

“We urgently need to build new family-sized homes, and get a grip on the number of properties sitting empty and unused.”

Energy firms clobbered customers through the cold snap

Commenting on Ofgem figures showing that energy companies are making £105 profit per customer, a 40% increase in the last three months, Liberal Democrat Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Simon Hughes said: “Energy companies clobbered households even as they struggled through the cold snap.

“Cynical price cuts now won’t disguise bumper profits made on the back of grossly unfair fuel bills.

“Energy firms should be forced to show how much profit they make on every pound they charge at the bottom of every fuel bill.”

Our Green Jobs Plan

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg today set out a manifesto pledge to create 57,000 jobs by investing £400million upgrading disused shipyards to enable the production of off-shore wind turbines. The proposals would enable firms to manufacture off-shore wind turbines in the UK, instead of seeing them built abroad due to out-of-date facilities. Current plans to expand wind farms in the North and Irish seas could see every one of the 6,400 turbines needed brought in from abroad, as there are currently no turbine manufacturers in the UK.

Wind turbines in wind farmLib Dem renewable energy plans would create 57,000 jobs

British ports are ideally located to host turbine manufacturers due to their proximity to the off-shore wind farms; however, they are currently unable to invest due to the lack of appropriate docks with suitable space.

The proposals to invest in physical infrastructure to support a greener economy also include a pledge to invest £100million in training and testing facilities, including at universities with specialist engineering research facilities such as Loughborough, Durham and Newcastle.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said:

“We need to make sure we come out of this recession with a rebalanced and green economy.

“Our plans would act as a huge boost for Britain’s budding wind industry and create nearly 60,000 jobs in many shipyard cities where unemployment is a huge problem.

“New off-shore turbines, with blades the size of the London Eye, need to be built and launched from modern docks, so we need to upgrade our shipyards to take advantage of this massive opportunity.

“Just imagine the docks and shipyards along the coastline of Britain coming to life and leading the world in this new technology.

“Expanding off-shore wind will create jobs but unless we act now, these jobs won’t be British jobs. It’s a scandal that 90% of the £1.75bn contract for a wind farm off the coast of Kent is going to foreign contractors, with the turbines being manufactured in Germany.

“Investing in infrastructure for a new green economy not only helps create jobs now but will allow Britain to take its place at the cutting edge of this growing industrial sector for the future.

“Britain clearly has the manufacturing and engineering expertise to lead the world in this green technology but government must play its part in supporting this.”

The Policy in brief

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The Liberal Democrats will renovate and adapt facilities in seven North and Irish Sea ports so they can be used to build the giant turbines needed for off-shore wind energy. This will be a huge boost for Britain’s budding wind industry and create 57,000 jobs in many shipyard cities where unemployment is a huge problem.

This plan forms part of the Liberal Democrats’ economic stimulus and job creation package. In the first year of a Liberal Democrat government, over £3.6bn of spending will be redirected to create jobs and build up Britain’s infrastructure. In the following years this money will be redirected to other Liberal Democrat spending priorities and reducing the structural deficit.

Why is it necessary

Energy from wind must meet a much larger proportion of Britain’s energy needs if we are to cut carbon emissions and our reliance on fuel imported from abroad. But there’s a problem: there is hardly anywhere in Britain suitable to build the giant turbines needed. That holds back our industry and also the much-needed expansion of wind energy.

Liberal Democrats are committed to increasing the proportion of our electricity that comes from renewables to 40% by 2020. The majority of that electricity will have to come from off-shore wind – so we need to build at least 6,400 offshore wind turbines, 2.5 a day.

The technology we need is ready and the consortiums who have won the right to build offshore wind farms in the North and Irish Seas are now looking for manufacturers to build the turbines. If action is not taken now all the manufacturing jobs that these orders could create will go abroad where there are already the facilities to build huge wind turbines. Only if existing port facilities close to the off-shore wind farms of the North and Irish Seas are converted will the turbines be built here and the jobs created here too.

Renovating ports: The Liberal Democrats will invest £400million in refurbishing ports in the North of England and Scotland so they can manufacture offshore wind turbines. They will be upgraded so they are suitable for construction and testing facilities and are of a reasonable depth for the large boats used to transport the blades and towers. All port authorities with direct access to the North and Irish seas, the crucial areas for offshore wind development, will be invited to bid to be part of the scheme.

For example, ports in the North of England around Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Middlesbrough and ports in Scotland around Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow will all be eligible for funding. Based on the cost of the recent renovation of Great Yarmouth, it is estimated that £400million will be enough for the renovation of seven ports.

The Liberal Democrats will also invest £100million through the Renewables and Energy Efficiency Delivery Authority (an agency we will establish, modelled on the Olympics Delivery Authority) who will invest in training and testing facilities, including at universities which specialise in this kind of engineering research such as Loughborough, Durham and Newcastle. In Government, the Liberal Democrat would work with the education sector and industry to ensure we have the skilled workforce to support new world class facilities.

Jobs: This investment will create 12,000 jobs in port development and facilitate a further 45,000 new jobs in the manufacturing, construction and supply chain of offshore wind energy within the UK.

Labour’s PFI costing the NHS 63 billion pounds

Commenting on Number 10’s refusal to answer questions about the £63bn PFI (Public Finance Initiative) bill facing the NHS, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb, said: “Labour’s scandalous mismanagement of the NHS has left many hospitals facing PFI bills they simply cannot afford.

“Gordon Brown’s speech contains even more spending commitments but he has yet to explain how on earth he intends to pay for the damage he’s already done to the future of the NHS.

“Despite the enormous amounts of money we owe for these hospitals, many of them will never end up in public ownership. Hospitals all over the country are mortgaged to the hilt and there are serious concerns that these repayments will lead to cuts in vital services.

“We need a new approach to public services in this country. By setting up an infrastructure bank the Liberal Democrats will ensure that key projects get access to the funding they need to revitalise our economy.

“The Liberal Democrats will change the way the NHS works so that money goes further and patients come first.”

Figures released yesterday by the Liberal Democrats have revealed that the NHS is facing a £63bn bill for PFI hospitals which are only worth £11bn. The figures also reveal that:

· The first payments for hospital PFIs began in 1999 and the NHS still owes £58bn on 106 PFI contracts over the next three decades

· The NHS will have to pay back £7.3bn in PFI payments over the next Parliament alone (2010-2015)

· The most expensive PFI contract was for Wythenshawe Hospital where the NHS will pay back 16 times the original capital value

Shelter report highlights Labour failure on housing

“Housing costs are making the elderly more isolated and keeping families apart,” said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister.

Commenting on today’s report by Shelter, which reveals the impact unaffordable housing is having on families, Sarah Teather said:

“This report highlights Labour’s failure to provide affordable housing and get a grip on the housing crisis.

“It is appalling that housing costs are making the elderly more isolated and keeping families apart.

“Allowing thousands of houses across the country to sit empty is nothing short of a scandal. The cost of bringing these homes back into use is just a fraction of the cost of building, yet the Government is sitting idly by while they fall into disrepair.”

Labour failure to give extra support to poorer children shameful

“The Liberal Democrats would give schools the extra money they need to cut class sizes and give individual attention to children who are struggling,” said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Schools Secretary.

Commenting on Government figures showing that almost a third of poor boys cannot write their own name after a year at primary school, David Laws said:

“These depressing figures reveal that the gap between poorer children and the better-off is clear when they are only five years old.

“Labour’s shameful failure to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds extra support means that this gap grows wider as children grow older.

“The Liberal Democrats would give schools the extra money they need to cut class sizes and give individual attention to children who are struggling.”

Bring empty homes back into use

The Liberal Democrats today set out plans to bring a quarter of a million empty homes back into use, making homes available for people who need them and creating 65,000 jobs. There are over 760,000 empty properties across England which are no longer used as homes but can be brought back into use with some investment. People who own these homes will get a grant or a cheap loan to renovate them so they can be used: grants if the home is for social housing, loans for private use.

The plans form part of the economic stimulus package outlined as a core principle of the Liberal Democrat election manifesto. In the first year of the new Parliament, the party would redirect over £3.6bn of spending to create jobs and build up Britain’s infrastructure. In the following years this money will be redirected to other Lib Dem spending priorities and reducing the structural deficit.

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg today launched the plans with Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable and Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Teather. Visiting the College of North West London, they met students on construction and engineering courses who would benefit from these new plans.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said: “Allowing thousands of houses to sit empty when millions of families have been waiting years for a home is nothing short of a scandal. These plans are a clear example of where Liberal Democrat priorities lie: creating jobs and providing more family homes.

“The cost of bringing these homes back into use is just a fraction of the cost of building new ones, yet the Government is sitting idly by while they fall into disrepair.

“This is one element of our economic stimulus package that will generate jobs and help Britain on its way to building a fair, sustainable economy.”