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The Liberal Democrats have announced their team of regional spokespeople for Brexit – and Stockport Councillor Lisa Smart, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Hazel Grove, has been appointed as the spokesperson for the North West.
She will be tasked with fighting to reduce the damage of Brexit for people across the North West following Theresa May’s announcement yesterday that she intends to take Britain out of the Single Market and impose a Hard Brexit.
350,000 jobs in the North West, or around one in ten, are linked to trade with the Single Market. The North West exported £13.5 billion worth of goods to the Single Market in 2014, which was 52% of total goods exports for the region.
Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said:
“Brexit is going to be a major upheaval for people up and down the country. It is easily the biggest political decision in modern history and the repercussions of the decisions made in the next few years will be felt for a generation.
“The pound has already fallen in value, jobs are at risk of migrating overseas, and we must have no doubt that the years ahead will be tough for the North West.
“Lisa Smart is going to do an excellent job of holding the government to account as the Conservative’s drag us out of Europe and the Single Market. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a fair deal for the people of the North West.”
Lisa Smart said:
“Theresa May’s decision to take us out of the Single Market will have a devastating effect on the economy of the North West and I will fight tooth and nail for local people to ensure that jobs and prosperity are protected.”
Jane Brophy, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, is calling for the Greater Manchester Spacial Framework (GMSF) to be scrapped.
Jane, who is running on an unapologetically pro-EU ticket, said: “Everything in Greater Manchester is underpinned by our place in the European Union. My top priority is to halt this aggressive Brexit agenda which will have an enormous and detrimental impact on our housing, health services, transport, air pollution and climate change crises.”
The GMSF process will only go ahead if all ten councils in Greater Manchester and the newly elected mayor vote in favour of it. If any one of the eleven deciding vote against the plans, then it will fall – and the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate is now pledging to do just that.
Jane Brophy continued: “The Government and Greater Manchester Combined Authority should have worked together with local councils, local people and local communities to ensure no more houses were built on our greenbelt until all other options were exhausted.
“There was no attempt to have any conversation with local people and their voices have been ignored. We now risk blindly destroying our green spaces and depriving our children of the areas to grow and play in.
“Before we open up the greenbelt for development we must bring empty homes back into use, develop every old mill building, empty warehouse, factory, brownfield space and derelict piece of land that we can.
“Only when all those options were exhausted should we have considered moving onto the greenbelt. But our voices have gone ignored for long enough and it’s now time to scrap this GMSF process.
“There was no discussion about where was going to be developed, and clearly no intention to begin any discussion.
“The GMSF has been top down, rather than from the bottom up. We need a plan that fully involves local people and their communities right from the start.
“This should have been about responsibly building affordable homes in areas that are near public transport and existing links, and it should be for local people in each area to decide the future of their community, not for a secret group at Manchester Town Hall to present a completed plan.
“Therefore, I am now withdrawing my support from the GMSF process and if elected I will vote to block the process, and work to ensure each and every local resident and local community is involved properly in the process to build the much-needed homes.”
The Witney by-election yesterday, caused by the resignation of David Cameron as local MP, saw a swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems of 19.3%.
That’s the biggest by-election swing to the Lib Dems since 1997’s Winchester by-election.
In 2015 we came fourth with 7% of the vote in Witney.
At yesterday’s byelection we leapfrogged the Labour party and beat them to take second place with 30% – while their vote was significantly down on 2015.
UKIP and the Greens both lost their deposits with less than 5% of the vote.
Former Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington, John Leech, who led the successful campaign to pardon Alan Turing, has today secured an agreement with the Government which will grant a posthumous pardon to tens of thousands of gay and bisexual people convicted under long abolished sexual offence laws.
The decision to accept the amendment has been warmly welcomed by the architect of Alan Turing’s pardon, Cllr. John Leech, who said: “For years I have campaigned and fought for this moment and I’m completely overwhelmed that this is finally coming to a positive end.
“This is a deeply profound and emotional day for my team and I.”
Those similarly convicted but still alive will also receive pardons if they have successfully applied for a disregard, or in future successfully apply for a disregard under the Protection of Freedoms Act.
The Government will add their name to the Liberal Democrat amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill that when passed will finally grant the long awaited pardon to over 75,000 people.
This has been a long fought campaign for John Leech who first raised the issue in the Houses of Parliament and began campaigning in 2011.
Mr Leech submitted several motions to Parliament and campaigned hard to secure the historic pardon, stating that it was “utterly disgusting and ultimately just embarrassing” that the conviction was upheld as long as it was.
In 2013, Alan Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon and an official apology by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, following the high profile campaign led by John Leech.
Following the success of his campaign, Mr Leech turned to securing the pardon for the 75,895 other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who were unfairly convicted for similar offences.
Alan Turing was a pioneering English computer scientist and mathematician whose groundbreaking work is thought to have brought WWII to an end four years early.
However, at a trial in 1952, Turing admitted to “acts of gross indecency” before being sentenced to chemical castration. His conviction meant he lost his security clearance and was forced to stop work at Bletchley Park.
Aged just 41, he was found dead from cyanide poisoning in 1954 with a half-eaten apple by his side. An inquiry concluded that it was suicide.
It is estimated that Turing’s work saved the lives of some 14 to 21 million people.
Mr Leech said Turing’s persecution “by the state for being gay was a scandal that shouldn’t have ever been allowed to stand”.
The first motion Mr Leech submitted called for a recognition of the “vital contribution made by Alan Turing to Britain’s war effort” and “regrets that following his years of national service he received a criminal conviction for having a sexual relationship with another man”.
John Leech concluded: “This is an enormous step forward for LGBTQ+ history and I believe Alan Turing would be truly proud to see tens of thousands of people rightfully vindicated in his name.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron MP, added: “The Liberal Democrats continue to be the strongest voice on equality in and out of Parliament.
“This was a manifesto commitment which even in opposition, thanks to the tireless work of John Leech alongside our MPs and peers, we have been able to deliver on.”
Lib Dem Leader in Rochdale, Councillor Andy Kelly has reported Greater Manchester Police to a police watchdog for failing to log calls. Greater Manchester Police has failed to log more than 38,000 calls – including an astonishing 25% of violent crimes. Now the Lib Dems are calling for a thorough investigation by the Independent Police Complaint’s Commission. The force, run by Labour politician and current Mayor Tony Lloyd, has been slammed as ‘inadequate’ by national watchdog – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary .
Andy said, “I have not taken this decision lightly. It is clear that a thorough investigation is needed though. People need to have confidence in policing. In the fight against crime – every penny counts. The Police distribute funding and officers based on the crime rates. It’s clear that Labour’s police bosses have absolutely no idea what’s going on out there. It’s inconceivable that we won’t be losing out on officers. The blame lies squarely with Labour. It was only last year that they were claiming crime was going down. Now we find out that at best they have failed to do their job in recording crime. At worst, it is a deliberate manipulation of figures. We need answers.”
Lib Dem Mayoral candidate for Greater Manchester Jane Brophy said, “If the public are to have confidence in the Police, we need to know that all the calls are being logged. No-one calls the Police just to have their concerns ignored. Tackling rising crime is a priority for me.”
Councillor Andy Kelly continued, “My complaint against Greater Manchester Police relates to the failure to log 38,000 calls a year. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) have reported that GMP recorded around 85 per cent of crimes BUT the force was under-recording some serious offences. A quarter of violent crimes, equivalent to more than 16,800 offences, went unrecorded in a year according to the HMIC. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was graded “inadequate” at recording crime. HMIC also found officers were also wrongly cancelling recorded violence, robbery and sex offences.
“This is an extremely serious matter and could skew how resources to fight crime are distributed across Greater Manchester. It is my view that Greater Manchester Police are letting down victims of crime across Greater Manchester. I would like to see an investigation into the reasons why such a huge number of crimes have not been recorded. Statistics are crucial when allocating resources and it is clear that as a result of failing to record accurate crime figures, Greater Manchester Police have no idea about the true picture regarding crime across our area.
“It is crucial that the public have confidence that their complaints to the Police are taken seriously. I cannot, say hand on heart that this is currently the case. I would like to see an investigation into the training provided to staff. Further to this, I would like to see the rules with regards to the previous training of staff that has led to the under reporting of crime.”
Black History Month is an opportunity for us all to reflect on Britain’s diversity and rich culture, as well as serving as a reminder of the inequality that still exists.
This year, more so than others, the significance of Black History Month cannot be overlooked. Following the referendum result, we have seen a rise in racist attacks and xenophobic hate crimes reminding us that we must remain vigilant against division, and always celebrate our differences as well as our shared humanity and compassion.
Britain leads the world in so many different arenas from the Olympic medal leaders board to university league tables thanks to the diversity of those who have made this country their home and we must always strive to remain open and united against intolerance. The continued standing of this island depends on the contribution of all of those who live, work and study here – many from BME communities, some who have been here for hundreds of years and others who are newer arrivals.
Once again, the sheer number and quality of the events and activities being put on to celebrate Black History Month this year is breathtaking. It promises to be another wonderful year filled with talent and joy. I wish everyone a successful and enjoyable Black History Month and offer my congratulations and thanks to all those involved in making it a success.
Plummeting home ownership across Greater Manchester and other major Northern cities shows housing is no longer just a London problem.
English home ownership has fallen to levels last seen in 1986, with Greater Manchester experiencing double digit falls since their early 2000s peak, according to new Resolution Foundation analysis published today.
John Leech, the former Manchester Lib Dem MP, said: “For years, housing, as with many other issues, has been completely fixated on the South.
“These new figures show that it’s about time the government paid attention to Northern cities, and recognised issues, outside of the Westminster bubble.”
The analysis shows that having peaked at 71 per cent in 2003, the proportion of people owning their own home across England has fallen steadily over the last decade by seven per cent.
The Foundation says that while much of the discussion around the struggle to buy a home has centred on London, Greater Manchester has actually recorded the sharpest fall in home ownership of any major city area in the last decade or so.
Back in 2003, 72 per cent of households living in Greater Manchester were owners – slightly above the average across England as a whole. However, home ownership has since plummeted by 14 per cent – more than twice as fast as it has in England – so that by this year year just 58 per cent of households living in Manchester owned their own home.
The Foundation notes that people living in Greater Manchester are no more likely to own a home than people living in Outer London, and that home ownership rates have fallen below all other big Northern city areas apart from Tyne & Wear. It says falling deposit affordability has played a major role in this trend.
This fall in home ownership has corresponded with a near doubling in the proportion of private renters across England, up from 11 per cent in 2003 to 19 per cent in 2015. The proportion of households renting privately in Greater Manchester has more than trebled over that period – from 6 per cent to 20 per cent.
The study also found that fewer than one in ten private renters did not expect to purchase a house because they liked it where they were, while just 1 per cent preferred the flexibility of renting to home ownership.
Stephen Clarke, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The chances of owning a home have fallen fastest in Greater Manchester over the last decade.
“These drops are more than a simple source of frustration for the millions of people who aspire to own their home. The shift to renting privately can reduce current living standards and future wealth, with implications for individuals and the state.”
Home ownership across UK:
|Area||Peak of home ownership||Home ownership in Feb-16||Change||Date of peak home ownership|
|Rest of North West||78.7%||71.4%||-7.3%||Oct-99|
|Rest of Northern region||72.4%||63.3%||-9.1%||Oct-05|
|Rest of Scotland||71.5%||63.7%||-7.7%||Oct-04|
|Rest of South East||75.7%||70.5%||-5.3%||Apr-00|
|Rest of West Midlands||78.1%||68.7%||-9.5%||Oct-05|
|Rest of Yorks & Humberside||74.6%||65.0%||-9.5%||Apr-04|
|Tyne & Wear||64.0%||56.5%||-7.5%||Apr-03|
|West Midlands (met county)||70.5%||59.3%||-11.2%||Apr-05|
The Liberal Democrats have gained 15,000 new members since the referendum, including doubling our membership in Tameside, and going strong.
Join us today! http://www.libdems.org.uk/join
After bruising elections for the Lib Dems, losing seats each May for the past eight years, this year we were the party making the most gains nationwide. And many of those were here in the North West.
Labour’s one-party state in Manchester was brought to an end as John Leech won in Didsbury West.
In Burnley we gained 3 seats – Gannow (Cllr Mark Payne), Rosehill with Burnley Wood (Cllr Christine White) and Whittlefield with Ightenhill (Cllr David Roper)
Knowsley was another Labour one-party state but we gained three seats – congratulations to the three new Prescott North Councillors Carl Cashman, Ian Smith and Mike Wynn.
In Sefton we won every seat in the Southport constituency for the first time since 1858, as local MP John Pugh tweeted last night. That’s another council seat gained from the Tories.
In Liverpool we held Church ward (with new candidate Andrew Makinson) and gained Allerton & Hunts Cross (new Cllr Mirna Juarez) and Woolton (new Cllr Malcolm Kelly). We are now joint largest opposition party on the council.
In Liverpool‘s mayoral contest we moved up to second place and from 6% to 21% – a brilliant result even if not the winner.
In Rochdale we gained a seat in Milnrow & Newhey, congratulations to new councillor Irene Davidson.
In Bury we gained a seat in Holyrood ward. Congratulations new councillor Steve Wright.
Warrington council had all-up elections on new boundaries. We emerged with two more seats – up to 11 from 9.
It can’t all be good news though and next-door in Oldham we lost one seat and another was lost in Pendle.
In Stockport we sadly lost Manor ward, making Labour the largest party on the council, though as for many years it is in no overall control. Commiserations to former council leader Sue Derbyshire.
Nationwide, the graphic here shows the overall result. Lib Dems up 45 seats, UKIP up 25, and the others all falling back.
In the Police & Crime Commissioner elections we moved from fourth to third place in Cumbria. For Merseyside we went from 7% to 11.5%. Our Cheshire support went up half a percent – and 8,000 votes. And in Lancashire we gained an extra 5,000 votes compared to 2012. There was no ballot in Greater Manchester because we have the new elected Mayor for Greater Manchester to be elected next year instead, incorporating the PCC role’s powers.