Friday, 30 May 2014

eCops: Distraction Burglary Alert - Impington 30/05/2014

Details are just coming in regarding a potential Distraction burglary at School Lane, Impington.

A resident has reported a male knocking at the door approx. 15:35 hrs 30/05/2014 claiming to be from the 'Waterboard' the male entered the property and asked the householders to turn their bathroom taps on.

Vehicle described as black Audi convertible 2013 model reg ending WCJ

Please call if you have information relating to this incident Crime ref: CC 30052014- 0368

Police 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

Please do not allow anyone into your home, you feel may not be genuine. The 'Waterboard' does not exist it will be Cambridge Water or Anglian Water, and they very rarely visit customers without an appointment.

Always check callers identity, and keep your door shut until you are satisfied they are bona-fide. The correct number to check staff identity will be on your utility bill. If you are still unsure contact the Police.

You can find more information about dealing with doorstep callers on our blog

Not sure? Don't Open the Door

Kind regards

Rachel Carr
Crime Reduction Officer

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A14 Consultation - Have Your Say!

This is to remind you that the A14 consultation closes on 15 June 2014. The Highways Agency is keen for all those who use the A14 and who live or work nearby to have their say on the scheme before the consultation closes.

There will also be an opportunity to talk to members of the project team during the second and final web chat. This will take place between 4pm and 5pm on Wednesday 4 June.

To find out more please visit the schemes web chat page.

To find out more about this scheme and comment on the consultation please visit the project homepage.

Please note that roadwork information it is not updated in real time. Please check Traffic England for the latest information and current traffic conditions.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Andrew Duff Says Lib Dems Will Stay Faithful To European Vocation While Drawing Lessons From Campaign

Reacting to his defeat as Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for the East of England, in a message to his party, Andrew Duff says:

'This was the most polarised of the seven campaigns in which I have stood as a candidate for the European Parliament.

'The financial and economic crisis has had serious social consequences, especially for the young unemployed, which took their toll on the popularity of the UK coalition government, but especially that of the junior partner, the Liberal Democrats. Campaigning on the doorsteps, fear of immigration, although inflated in exaggeration of the facts, was palpable. The European Union is not given credit for the benefits of European integration in terms of jobs, trade and security. National political parties, in particular, have failed for too many years to understand, explain or justify the continuing need for a deeper Europe.

'Nick Clegg's tactic of challenging Nigel Farage was absolutely right. It is unfortunate that neither the Labour not Tory party joined the Lib Dem battle against UKIP's simplistic nationalism.

'While the 'party of In' was a good starting point for the Lib Dem campaign, I regret we were unable to develop sufficiently the idea that there is a better Europe to come, and that the status quo is not a serious option. We should have done more to expose the fact that Mr Cameron's famous 'renegotiation' in advance of an In/Out referendum in 2017 is essentially spurious. The Tories have no agreed idea on what they hope to achieve in this exercise, other than to blunt the populist appeal of UKIP - still less have they a chance of getting Britain's EU partners to accept a package which calls into question the fundamentals of the European Union.

'Over the next years, the Liberal Democrats need to develop their ideas for a reformed EU, centred on building a popular consensus behind stronger democratic government at the European level whose main political goals will be to grow a sustainable economy which delivers the digital agenda and secures green energy. We also need to re-connect the idea that our security as a nation rests on European solidarity.'

Mr Duff added:

'I want to thank my team of fellow candidates and every Lib Dem activist who worked fantastically hard throughout this long and tough campaign.

'It has been a great honour to serve as Lib Dem MEP for the East of England for 15 years. In congratulating those candidates who were successful yesterday, I know that the Lib Dems will remain faithful to our vision of Britain as a modern, tolerant and progressive European place. We will be back.'

European Election Result: South Cambridgeshire

Here's the result (just from South Cambridgeshire);

UKIP 11464 (24.2%)
Conservative 15394 (32.4%)
Labour 6589 (13.9%) 
Green 5486 (11.6%)
Lib Dem 7033 (14.8%) 
Independence From Europe 502 (1.1%) 
English Democrats 323 (0.7%)
BNP 197 (0.4%)
Christian People's Alliance 366 (0.8%) 
NO2EU105 (0.2%)

The total votes cast were 47459.

The Liberal Democrats finished third behind Conservative and UKIP but ahead of Labour. Unfortunately when you take into account the results from the rest of the region the overall Lib Dem vote dropped from 14.8% to 6.9% - not enough to re-elect Andrew Duff.

Overall UKIP won the region with 34.5% of the vote, the Conservatives finished second on 28.4% with Labour and the Greens on 17.3% and 8.5% respectively. We finished fifth. Interestingly the Green share of the vote actually dropped from 9.1% to 8.5% which I found very surprising as the leaflet they put out was, I thought at the time, going to be an incredibly effective at getting both Labour and Lib Dem voters to instead vote Green.

It's a disappointing result - to put it mildly - still, as Andrew Duff said in his statement on the result; "We will be back".

Friday, 23 May 2014

A14 Junction 31 to 32 Eastbound and Westbound Update

The traffic management installation has now been completed to provide the necessary working areas for the construction works to be completed safely. Two narrow lanes are maintained on the A14 through the works area but due to the reduction in lanes widths drivers of HGVs are to use lane 1 only.

The slip road layout on the westbound carriageway at junction 31 (Girton) has also been changed and there are now separate slip roads for the M11 southbound and A14 westbound respectively.

A 24 hour 50 mph speed limit is in place for the entirety of the works and is enforced by average speed cameras. Cambridgeshire Police will be prosecuting drivers who break this speed restriction.

A free vehicle recovery service is in place, as advised by the signs on site, and drivers are advised to remain in their vehicle until assistance arrives.

No works are planned to be completed over the coming bank holiday weekend but the traffic management arrangements will remain in place for safety reasons.

There are no planned overnight road closures programmed in the coming weeks but in the week beginning Tuesday 27th May some overnight lane closures are required on the eastbound carriageway. These lane closures will take place between 2200hrs and 05:00hrs.

eCops: General Crime Update 23/05/2014

Between May the 2nd at 2200 and May the 3d at 1100 hours a theft from a motor vehicle took place in High Street, Boxworth. Vehicle was left unattended parked on a private drive way, during the dates and times mentioned, perpetrator(s) have broken into and taken Tom Tom satellite navigation and other items.

Between May the 2nd at 1700 and May the 3d at 1700 hours, a theft form a motor vehicle took place in Foxhollow, Bar Hill. Perpetrator (s) have removed the front index plate from this vehicle which was left unattended parked in the area.

On May the 16th between 0900 and 1800 hours, a shed burglary took place in Yarmouth Farm, Redlands Road, Lolworth. Perpetrator(s) have entered the shed and taken a ride on lawn mower.

If you have any information in relation to the above crime reports, please get in touch.

 Kind Regards

PCSO 7009 Bujar MANI
Safer Neighbourhood Team

Elections 2014: Where We Work We Can Win

Local election results show that where Liberal Democrats work, we can win.

Liberal Democrat councillors have a good reputation for their hard work and commitment to local areas. We have a proud record of delivery in local government, freezing council tax and protecting vital services locally.

Our record of delivery and commitment to local issues and work in our communities have been recognised in these local election results.

In Eastleigh, Liberal Democrats have held control of the borough council. The group returned all 12 councillors and made one gain.

In Maidstone, Liberal Democrats increased their share of the vote, and the Conservatives lost control of the council.

Liberal Democrats in Sutton held control of the council and made gains from both the Conservatives and Labour. Liberal Democrats in Sutton now have 45 seats in the 54-seat council.

In Hull, Liberal Democrats gained a seat from Labour and held four wards with increased majorities.

Liberal Democrats held their four seats in Birmingham Yardley constituency and increased their voted share to over 46%.

In Mid Dorset and Poole, Liberal Democrats held their seat and made a gain.

Liberal Democrats in Colchester returned seven of their eight held seats.

Dorothy Thornhill Re-elected As Mayor Of Watford

Congratulations to Dorothy Thornhill who has been re-elected as Liberal Democrat Mayor of Watford.
Dorothy topped the polls, scooping 65.4% of the vote after second preferences.

She has campaigned tirelessly for the people of Watford, working to create a healthy local economy, more green spaces and a high standard of local services.

A true champion for Watford, Dorothy now enters her fourth term as Mayor.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

More Women Than Ever On Top Company Boards

New figures highlighted by Business Secretary Vince Cable show that 99% of FTSE 100 companies now have at least one female director on their boards, which is a considerable turnaround from where 1 in 5 were all male in 2011.

The Liberal Democrats have worked to promote gender equality on the boards of listed companies, setting the target to have 25% of women on boards by 2015. To help with this, Vince Cable has commissioned an independent review into the 'code of conduct' signed by headhunters to help increase diversity at the top.

Latest figures show that women now account for 21% of total directorships, increasing from 12% in 2010.

Speaking on Woman's Hour, Vince Cable said:

"When we started this whole process of trying to get British boards more representative of the population, we had 21 companies without a woman on the board. We're now down to this last one."

Vince commented on the last FTSE 100 company that still has an all-male board:

"I specifically met the chief executive to discuss its performance on this issue. It has consistently failed to act. The vast majority of Britain's top companies have got the message that a diverse top management team is good for business - it is simply not credible that one company cannot find any suitable women. I will be speaking with their incoming chairman Tony Hayward and will raise this as a matter of priority."

Today's Polling Day: Don't Forget To Vote!

Today is polling day, and for Bar Hill the polling station is the Village Hall.

All you need to vote is your address, if you have the postcard from South Cambs (with you polling number on it) it makes things slightly quicker but if you don't have that you can just turn up with your address and ask to vote.

Polling takes place up till 10pm tonight.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Cambridge Carbon Footprint: Mid May Greetings (Newsletter)

Things have been super, wonderfully busy in the CCF office these last few weeks. There has been a lot of buzz around Eat Cambridge and the Cambridge Sustainable Food stall. And while we've been mighty tempted to spend our days outside enjoying the sun, we've been busy heads down gearing up for a summer full of wonderful events. All the details are below - but keep your eyes peeled for info on Cambridge's first Repair Cafe, the Perfect Summer's Day SkillsFest and our free cycle powered screening of Belleville Rendezvous. Now who said living sustainably couldn't be fun?

This is also your last chance to book for our Communicating Powerfully workshop next week - we've only got a few spots left! If you would like to feel confident speaking to a crowd, giving a presentation or being interviewed be sure to book soon to avoid disappointment.

1. Communicating Powerfully

May 27 7.00 - 9.30pm, Friends Meeting House, 12 Jesus Lane, CB5 8BA

Public speaking continually appears in the Top 10 most feared life experiences.

If you feel that you would love to become a more confident public speaker in your work, community or personal life then evening is for you! Cambridge Carbon Footprint is delighted to be teaming up with the non-profit organisation Toastmasters International, a highly regarded leader in communication and leadership development. The local branch Cambridge City Communicators is made up of local people from all walks of life and includes a variety of members, from experienced speakers to those new to the thrills of public speaking.

Over the course of the evening participants will pick up skills and techniques that’ll help them feel more confident the next time they need to speak to a crowd, do a presentation or an interview. The Toastmasters ensure all learning takes place in a very supportive and friendly environment. All are welcome. You can come as an individual or as a representative of a community group or organisation.

The event is free, but there are only 20 spaces available. To secure a place please book ASAP by emailing or by calling 01223 301842.

2. Repair Cafe

May 31, 2.00 - 5.00pm, Friends Meeting House, 12 Jesus Lane, CB5 8BA

The Cambridge Skillshare group are holding our first Repair Café! The idea is really simple – people who have stuff that needs to be fixed get together with people who can help them fix it. But we need your help to make this wonderful event happen!

Do you have something that needs repairing?
Book in your item for repair! Email your name, the type of item, and one sentence about what’s wrong with it. We'll email you nearer the time to confirm if someone will be able to help fix your item.

Are you able to repair things?
Or perhaps you know someone who likes to repair things who might like to come along? Email to let us know what you can repair and if you can make this date, and we’ll be in touch to let you know if people will bring things that you can work on.

The Repair Café movement is growing rapidly, and is all about people helping each other out, learning how to fix things which are fixable, and keeping stuff out of landfill. You can learn more about the day on the Transition Website. Cambridge Skillshare is a partnership between Transition Cambridge, Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Greeniversity.

3. ‘For the Love of …’ at Strawberry Fair

Sat 7th June, Midsummer Common, Cambridge

Cambridge Carbon Footprint will be supporting The Climate Coalition’s ‘For the Love of …’campaign by capturing and celebrating the things that you love but that are threatened by climate change. Come along to our stall at Strawberry Fair and let us know what’s precious to you. We’ll be collecting your thoughts and using them to spread the word!

Sound like fun? Why not join us? We're still looking for people to help out on the stall. if you'd like to take part.

4. Cycle powered screening : Belleville Rendezvous

June 14, 7.00 – 10.00pm, Romsey Mill, Hemingford Road, Cambridge, CB1 3BZ

To celebrate all things cycling and the Tour coming through Cambridge, CCF have teamed up with the Transition Cambridge, Outspoken and the County Council to screen the fantastic cycling animation Belleville Rendezvous. It’s listed in the National Film Theatres Top 10 great films about cycling . 

The audience will be invited to power the film by cycling for a few minutes each. It’ll be free to enter and there will be refreshments available before and after the film. There’ll be opportunities to find out about all things bike related from the best routes and maps, bike technology, design and maintenance, plans for cycling locally and much, much more. The building is fully accessible.

5. SkillsFest – A Perfect Summer’s Day

June 21, 12 midday - 4.30pm, Newnham Scout and Guide Centre CB3 9JF

This is one of the highlight events of the year and we are really excited about it. It’s all about learning new skills so you can set about both creating and mending those things that’ll prepare you for your Perfect Summers Day in Cambridge. The venue is a spacious wooden cabin set in some lovely grounds. It’s right on the edge of Sheep’s Green and Granchester Meadows so we hope to head out for a bike ride sometime during the day to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

A flavour of the workshops we will have on offer:
• Bike maintenance
• Sewing bunting, kites and a picnic blanket
• Fixing electronics (radios, mobiles)
• Making eco-friendly lotions, potions and suncreams
• Making cordials
• Foraging
• Making jams, pickles and other preserves
• Jewellery repair

More details will be published soon and we’ll start taking bookings then too. Save the date and please let your friends and family know about the day. The event is FREE!

Cambridge Skillshare is a partnership between Transition Cambridge, Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Greeniversity.

6. Trumpington Swish

June 21 10.00 - 12:3m, The Pavillion, Paget Road, Trumpington, CB2 9JF

Swishing is a clothes swap - bring along your unwanted clothes in good condition and take away something you love instead - a simple idea but a great one!

Bring along your unwanted clothes at 10.00 am, the actual swishing will start at 11.00. Tea, coffee and homemade cakes will be available. Any profits will support the Trumpington Stitchers to pay the weekly hall hire allowing local residents to meet and share their skills.

No admission, donations greatly appreciated!

7. Get the inside story - The CCF AGM

July 17, 7:30 - 9:30pm, Venue TBA

Save the date!

Come and hear about CCF’s successes and challenges - the inside story. Ask questions, meet up with staff, volunteers, trustees and supporters to discuss and help shape our forthcoming work.

Members of CCF Ltd (see below) can vote at the AGM on the election of 3 new Trustees and the re-election of 3 longer-serving Trustees, who have to retire in rotation.

8. Become a CCF Ltd Member

As explained here CCF is a Company, as well as a Charity. You’re welcome to become a Company Member, which gives you voting rights at General meetings, such as in the election of Trustees at our AGM.
You can apply to be a member too (application form) if you:

• share CCF’s aims and general approach
• take a keen interest in CCF and want to contribute to its success.
• normally attend AGMs (at which you can vote)

But you can still be actively involved in CCF without being a company member!

9. News from Cambridge Sustainable Food

Our stall at the Eat Cambridge Fair at the Corn Exchange was a great success - many many thanks to all the 27 volunteers from 9 partner organisations who made it possible (including CCF, of course!). We had a very prominent stall in the foyer, which generated a lot of interest, with 248 people completing our short food survey (results will be in next newsletter). Brand's vegan tasters made with local veg donated by Cofco (who also generously sponsored the stall) were very popular, as were Jennie's chocolate truffles from the last Liberated Feast. Meg's CamBake yummy bread tasters were also a great draw for the stall.

As you know, CCF is hosting Cambridge Sustainable Food for the time being. The other partner organisations who took part on Saturday were: Transition Cambridge Food Group, Cambridge City Council Recycling Team, LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), Bread on a Bike and Cambridge Cropshare. Arjuna Wholefoods and Cambridge Food Cycle had literature on the stall.

Membership of Cambridge Sustainable Food
We started last December and we now have over 200 members, including 44 local organisations: food businesses, like Origin8, Cofco and Arjuna; food producers (Hawthorn Farm, Waterland Organics), college catering managers, the ARU catering department, dieticians, schools and Cambridge City Council. You can join as an organisation or as an individual - membership is free and involves supporting our sustainable food aims and receiving our monthly e-newsletter. You can join online.

Food Charter consultation
We had some very useful responses to our Sustainable Food Charter consultation, which ended last month - we are now discussing the changes which need to be made and will be launching the new charter on July 5th, at our stall at The Big Weekend. (You can read the original draft charter here.

Cambridge Sustainable Food volunteer opportunities
We are looking for volunteers to help us with:
• mapping sustainable food projects/businesses in Cambridge
• editing the monthly newsletter (Mailchimp)
• improving our website design (Wordpres)
• building our membership
• improving our Facebook page
• background research on sustainable food
• interviewing member organisations for items in newsletter / on website

Email if you are interested in volunteering.

10. Urgent: Can you help us find an office?

CCF may have to move soon. Do you know of any office space that might suit us? We are ideally looking for an office within Cambridge that would allow us to set up 5 workstations (i.e. 20-30sqm). Obviously price is important and we would prefer to minimise cost as much as possible. At most we could afford to pay £500 per month. If you know of any space that would suit our requirements, or you or someone else you know could help us find somewhere please get in touch ASAP, if possible by Friday May 23. Call Alana in the CCF office on 01223 301842 or email

11. A great opportunity for green businesses : Open Eco Homes sponsorship

On 14th & 20th Sept 2014 Open Eco Homes (OEH) plans to attract over 700 visits from the public to at least 18 varied, low-energy homes - both new-build and retro-fit. As a sponsor you would be welcome to a free stall and publicity at relevant OEH follow-up events. We would also include your organisation’s logo
on all OEH flyers, posters and publicity material
on the fact sheets given to all visitors
on the OEH website’s front page and acknowledgments page, including a link to your website

Major sponsors, donating over £1,000, are featured more prominently in these places and with an appreciation and web-link when we promote Open Eco Homes in our newsletter to over 1800 supporters. They also have the opportunity to be a speaker at one of the follow-up events.

Visitors say how informative and inspiring they find seeing energy-saving measures first-hand, and virtually every visitor makes home-energy changes as a result. We estimate OEH 2013 resulted in 545 tonnes CO2 savings.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or would like more information please contact Amy Ross on or 01223 301842.

12. 'Balance' in the climate debate

Our former newsletter editor Laura Lehtosalo (now in California) has forwarded us this link to a great YouTube video of part of an programme by John Oliver (Last Week Tonight), who defeats the so-called media 'balance' argument in the best way - by making us laugh. It's quite short, so do have a look.

13. Transition: Sustainable Food Cafe Evening

May 22 7.30 – 9.00pm, CB1 Cafe

Do you love good food, but are unsure whether the current food system is good for people or the planet? Come and join the discussion and find out how you can make positive choices for a healthier, more environmentally-friendly future. This event is part of the Eat Cambridge festival, and booking is essential. Email us to book.

14. Mulching and munching at The Missing Sock forest garden

May 25 10.00 - 2.30pm, The Missing Sock restaurant

The Growing Spaces project and the Missing Sock forest garden invite you to join us for a cycle out to the Missing Sock, where we'll do some caring for the early-stage forest garden, learn about forest gardens, and share a lunch at the Missing Sock restaurant. We'll be leaving Cambridge on bike at 10am and aim to be back well before 2.30pm. Everyone welcome! If you can, please let Toni know you are interested by Sunday the 18th, so we can book if there's lots of us. If you only read this last minute, do still give a shout - there may be space for you.

15. Transition Cafe - Let's talk about marketing

June 5 7.30pm - 9.00pm, CB1 cafe, 32 Mill Road, CB1 2AD

Marketing was once very product-focused - methods to sell more breakfast cereal (or cars or burgers or whatever). But can insights from marketing help us to communicate ideas about sustainable living to wider audiences and more effectively? What is best practice now, in an era of blogposts and social media? Our speaker Emma will share her experience of working in a variety of marketing roles and there’ll be time to ask her questions. So whether you’re involved with a community group with a message to get out, or have a pet project waiting to get off the ground, this evening is for you! There will also be a chance to share ideas and discuss what works. Hopefully you’ll gain some ideas and tips to help your group or project become more effective. All welcome, free!

16. Climate Change & Food Security Marketplace

June 13 9:30 to 3:00pm, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge

Beginning with a special keynote conversation between Dame Barbara Stocking (previous CEO of Oxfam) and Sir Jonathan Porritt (founder of Forum for the Future), this interactive and dynamic “marketplace” is a space for exchanging ideas and making new connections.

For more information about these events, visit www . humanitariancentre . org/food-security
Register: ;;;

17. Transition: Thermal Comfort in Older Houses

June 17 7.30 - 9.00pm Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane

The next energy group forum will be about energy efficiency measures for older houses. What can we do to reduce heat loss and be more comfortable in our older (pre war or earlier) homes without damaging the features that we love about them? Our panel includes Jason Dorks from Natural Building Technologies and Jim Ross from Cambridge Architectural Research - both of whom have many years of experience in this area. More info on the Transition website.

Cambridge Carbon Footprint
www . cambridgecarbonfootprint . org
01223 301842

Twitter - http ://twitter . com/CCFcambridge

Danny Alexander: The European Elections Are Crucial For British Jobs And Prosperity

Writing for British Influence, a day before voters go to the polls, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander explains why the European elections are crucial for British jobs and prosperity.

Danny writes:

Tomorrow, voters across Britain will decide who will represent them in Europe over the next 5 years. For many, the European elections are a chance to sound off against the government of the day, or to flirt with fringe, anti-establishment parties. But this is not a choice to be taken lightly. As the European Parliament has grown in power and influence, the role of MEPs has become increasingly important.

The vital reforms that are needed to secure future economic prosperity both in Britain and the continent will be significantly affected by the outcome of tomorrow's vote. That is why it is vital that we elect as many hard-working, engaged MEPs as possible, people who we can trust to fight Britain's corner effectively and steer Europe towards the path of prosperity and growth.

UKIP MEPs have already shown that they are incapable of standing up for Britain in Brussels. Time and again, they have missed crucial votes or opposed key reforms that improve the lives of British citizens. UKIP themselves admit in their manifesto that "we don't go there to make the EU better".

In fact, they have a strong vested interest in making it worse. Their one and only aim is to pull Britain out of the EU once and for all, a move that would ruin the economic recovery and plunge Britain back into recession, putting the 3 million jobs that depend on our trade with Europe at risk.

Liberal Democrat MEPS on the other hand, recently ranked as the hardest-working British party in Europe, have fought tirelessly to reform the EU for the better and ensure that the UK's voice is heard. Whether it's putting in place stricter oversight of banks to help prevent another financial crisis, ending overfishing in Europe's seas or delivering the first ever cut to the EU budget while shifting spending towards research and innovation, Liberal Democrats have consistently defended British interests at Europe's top table.

They have shown that the most successful MEPs are not necessarily those that shout the loudest, but those who are willing to roll up their sleeves, build alliances and deliver vital reforms. As we look to crucial changes in Europe in the years ahead, we need more MEPs like this, not less. The Liberal Democrats are firmly the Party of IN, because being in Europe means being IN work.

First, we need to make sure that the UK benefits as much as possible from the billions of available EU infrastructure funding for projects of common European interest, such as the Eleclink project in the Channel Tunnel that will link France and the UK's electricity grids. Using funds to modernise Britain's infrastructure and improve energy links with the continent will increase investment, unlock economic growth and secure our future energy security.

Second, we need to ensure that the world's biggest ever trade deal between the EU and US goes ahead, giving a major boost to jobs and growth in Britain. This is set to be complemented by other major trade deals currently in the pipeline, including with Japan and India.

Third, we need to bring the single market into the 21st century by opening up the EU's digital, telecoms and services sectors, creating new opportunities for UK firms to expand into the continent. Crucially, all of these steps will require the support of the European Parliament and the hard work of British MEPs.

So when you cast your vote tomorrow, remember that this election is not just a sideshow before the general elections next year. The decision you make will have real repercussions for the lives of people across the UK. Ultimately, the choice is simple. Do you want your representatives to lead reform in Europe and fight for British jobs, or to sit on the side-lines with one foot out of the exit door. Liberal Democrats are clear where we stand. Only by playing an active role in Europe can we build a stronger economy and a greener, fairer society.

3 Reasons To Vote For The Lib Dems Tomorrow

Do you think Britain is better off in Europe or do you want us out of it? The Liberal Democrats are Britain's only party of IN.

Here are three reasons why you should vote for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections:

Susan Kramer: Ours Is The Only Party That Has Had The Guts To Take On UKIP

Today, minister of state for transport Susan Kramer wrote for City A.M. about why London should vote for the Liberal Democrats in the European Elections.

Susan writes:

LEAVING the EU is the surest way to pull the rug out from under the City's feet. The Square Mile is Europe's financial centre, with twice as many euro foreign exchange deals done in London than in any other country in the Eurozone. Holding our position at the heart of Europe is essential if we want our financial services to continue to compete with the best in the world.

If we leave the Single Market, we lose our competitive edge. That's why tomorrow's European elections are so important.

Ukip is throwing everything it has at this campaign, but a vote for Nigel Farage's party is a vote against businesses in London. You may not have supported the Liberal Democrats before, but back us tomorrow to help us protect our City. Ours is the only party that has had the guts to take on Ukip. Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband have completely ducked the issue of Europe.

Labour and the Tories are too scared to speak out against Farage because they believe it will cost them support. It has fallen squarely to the Liberal Democrats to take on the anti-EU brigade, because Ukip is everything we are not. The Liberal Democrats do not fear the future, but embrace it. We celebrate diversity. We are internationalists because we understand that the biggest challenges Britain faces demand that we work with others - whether it's preventing terrorism, tackling climate change, promoting free trade or clamping down on organised crime.

We believe that turning away from our neighbours would massively undermine Britain's interests, with London paying a particularly high price. A European exit would hurt the vast numbers of businesses which sell their goods and services across the EU - our biggest export market - and threaten British livelihoods and jobs. We understand that being in Europe gives us more strength to negotiate trade deals with global players like the US, China, India and Brazil. And we will work hard to make sure companies find it easier to export to, as well as help slash red tape for small businesses.

Sadly, Farage's party doesn't get this. Behind the crowd-pleasing, pint-swilling banter is a party that wants to turn the clock back. Ukip's only answer to the complexities of the modern world is to pull up the drawbridge, shun the outside world and hanker for a past that never existed. But nothing could be more at odds with the values and attitude that make our capital great, as well as the values of our party. So if you believe in safeguarding British jobs, securing the economic recovery and protecting our ability to trade, then vote Liberal Democrat tomorrow.

Vote for Andy Pellew for South Cambridgeshire District Council on May 22nd 2014

Cllr Andy Pellew with Lib Dem President Tim Farron
Tomorrow is polling day and Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew will be seeking your vote for the District Council elections.

Andy Pellew said; "The decisions that are going to be made in the next four years need a strong voice for our villages.

"The A14 improvements and the creation of Northstowe will change the landscape in our region for decades to come. Implemented correctly they will lead to vast improvements not just for drivers, but also for cyclists.

"It's vital that the voices of Bar Hill residents are heard during these discussions, and with the support of residents I hope to be elected and work towards bringing the maximum benefit from these two projects to our villages."

Andy Pellew lives in Bar Hill, and has served on the Parish Council since 2011. He's married with two small children (ages 3 and 5) and works as a Software Engineer on Cambridge Science Park (so is very familiar with the problems of the A14).

The Liberal Democrats Manifesto for the 2014 Elections is available here.

If you'd like to contact Andy you can do so via email - -, via Phone 07814 871 752, or via post at 9 Foxhollow, CB23 8EP.

Thinking Of Voting UKIP? Ask Yourself A Question ...

The Liberal Democrats believe in a Britain that is open, modern, tolerant and diverse. UKIP, frankly, do not. We are the only party standing up to UKIP in and their brand of divisive, backwards-looking politics.

Some polls have suggested that UKIP could come first in the European elections next week. If you want to know what sort of party they are, listen to what they say. Watch this video and ask yourself a question:

Are you going to let these people win the next election?


Local Residents Survey - MAY 2014

Do you have 3 minutes to spare to give your views on our local environment?

I've prepared a short residents survey which is going out across the division. If you'd like to complete it online then the form is available here;

You can also printout the two pages individually available here;

This is your opportunity to express your views both in our local area, key national policy areas, as well as international issues.

If you'd like to help deliver (or collect) these surveys please drop me an email;

I'll respond individually to every completed survey (although it might take a few days depending on the number!) - if you worry about politicians ignoring you then this is your chance to have your say.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Lynne Featherstone: New British Aid Package For South Sudan

Liberal Democrat International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone will today announce a new British aid package for South Sudan.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Norwegian government in Oslo, Lynne will say that the new £60m package will help hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict.

Lynne will say:

"The situation in South Sudan is deeply saddening. In just three years the hope that filled the country during independence has given way to violence and one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"We will not look the other way while innocent people go through unimaginable suffering. Britain is already leading the international response to this crisis and the extra support announced today will give hundreds of thousands of people the food, water and medicine they need to survive.

"But, above all, responsibility for the well-being of the people of South Sudan sits with the leaders of South Sudan. The Government and Opposition need to take steps to speed up the delivery of aid. Clearance through customs for humanitarian goods should take a few days, not almost a month."

Since fighting broke out in South Sudan in December 2013 the situation has quickly escalated into one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. More than 1m people have been forced from their homes, 10,000 women and girls are at risk of rape and there is evidence of child soldiers being recruited.

Britain's new £60 million package of support for South Sudan includes £16.5m to help the World Food Programme feed over 100,000 people and £5 million for the Red Cross to provide life-saving assistance and treat the war-wounded.

Nick Clegg: There Is Nothing More British Than Standing Tall In Our Own Backyard

Ahead of Thursday's European elections, Nick Clegg today gave a speech in Oxford, explaining exactly why Liberal Democrats are the only party campaigning to keep Britain IN Europe.

Read the full speech below.

"I've often asked myself why, here in Britain, we are so restless about our membership of the European Union.

Other EU counties may have their doubts - just look at the rise of eurosceptic parties across the EU in the run up to this week's elections - but no country has been as bedevilled for so long about its membership of the EU as Britain.

Whilst there have been many twists and turns to the European debate in our country over the last forty years, I believe the seeds of our ambivalence were sown when we first joined the European Community back in 1973.

For the Germans, the French, the Italians and the Benelux countries, European cooperation represented the victory of peace over war, propelled by the historic reconciliation between France and Germany.

For Spain, Greece and Portugal, membership signified the victory of democracy over fascism as military dictatorships gave way to modern governments.

More recently, of course, a number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe have joined the EU as the crowning act of their post-Communist transformation and as a guarantee of their independence from Soviet rule.

In other words, for these countries joining has been above all a statement of something big and positive, an affirmation of a better future after the bloodshed and extremes of the past.

Yet, for us, joining the EC was seen as a lesser of evils: better than going it alone, but a sombre admission nonetheless that the days of Empire were well and truly over.

It was a case of 'if you can't beat them, join them'.

In the 1970s membership was sold to the British people in pounds and pence. It was an entirely rational calculation based on two sides of a ledger: the economic benefits of joining in one column, the costs of not joining in another, with the former just about winning out.

We are not entirely unique. Denmark and Sweden, for example, were originally resistant to membership. They wanted to protect their strong and healthy welfare states and it was only when continued Scandinavian welfare exceptionalism grew increasingly improbable that they accepted the need to join.

But the fundamental point is that Britain, unlike much of the rest of the EU, did not join Europe as a way of embracing a new and modern identity. This was not a step towards the kind of nation we wanted to be, but rather a step away from the kind of nation we once were. We were driven by arguments for the head. We have rarely been encouraged to value our place as a leading European nation in our hearts.

This, in my view, is where much of the angst stems from. And it is why so much of our European debate is not, in fact, about Europe at all. It's about Britain. Our identity. Our sovereignty. It reflects what has been a lack of clarity about where exactly we stand in today's world, and who we stand with.

What is striking about all of this is that it is a complete misreading of who we are.

The history of these Isles has been intimately linked with our continental neighbours since Roman times and our membership of the European Union is simply the latest expression of what has been a long tradition of engagement.

We have had Danish kings, Norman-French kings, one Dutch King and a succession of German kings. We have been allied with the Dutch against the French and the Spanish; with the Spanish and the Prussians against the French; and with the French against the Germans. Britain became an imperial and global power in competition, first with Spain, next with the Netherlands, and then with France.

We have been a cosmopolitan nation for centuries - long before modern trends of mass migration. No doubt the Libyan auxiliaries who guarded Hadrian's Wall intermingled with the native Britons. Retired legionaries from across the Roman Empire were settled in Britain.

Viking settlements shaped many of our place-names, Norman settlers shaped our language. Huguenot refugees colonised East London - among them the ancestors of Nigel Farage. Germans migrated to England in our industrial revolution. Russian and Polish Jews fleeing Tsarist persecution transformed first our clothes manufactures and then our retail trade.

Enterprising British also flowed the other way. There were Scots Generals in both the French and Russian armies. Donetsk, now caught up in the troubles of eastern Ukraine, was originally called Yusovska, after the Welshman - John Hughes - who set up the first iron smelter there.

And the modern British values we now cherish were developed alongside European values. The English Reformation was closely linked to reforming ideas in the Netherlands; the Scottish Reformation to preachers in Geneva. The 18th century Scottish Enlightenment interacted with the French Enlightenment; David Hume and Adam Smith both spent time in Paris. The growth of scientific and technical education in the 19th century drew heavily on the German model.

So when in the 20th Century we joined the EU, it was hardly some great historical departure. And far from being the outcome of some sort of simple, arithmetic equation, it was the best and only way that we could make sure that our European continent was going to be run with Britain's interests in mind, with British ideas shaping the big decisions that affect us and with our modern, tolerant, open and outward-looking approach driving things forward.

And we should be proud of what has been achieved since that moment.

If political scientists from Mars landed on Earth today they wouldn't look at the European Union and remark at how extraordinary it is that the Widget Directive is decided in the Council on the basis of Qualified Majority Voting. They would see Europe for what it is: imperfect, yes, but still the most successful example of international cooperation in modern history, anywhere in the world

What originated as a Franco/German peace settlement to allow the continent to rebuild itself out of the ravages of the Second World War has evolved into the most sophisticated response to globalisation anywhere on the planet. Twenty-eight different states working together to tackle the greatest challenges of our time, all of which are international by nature, whether that's advancing free trade, regulating our financial systems, promoting democracy, countering terrorism, tackling climate change, protecting ourselves from cross-border crime.

And it has British fingerprints all over it. Just look at the two greatest achievements of the EU - the Single Market and European Enlargement - each of which has brought stability and prosperity to millions of people and each of which has transformed the world in which Britain is able to operate.

The EU is now the world's largest borderless marketplace, home to 500 million consumers. Margaret Thatcher and Lord Cockfield launched it, and it now supports millions of British jobs.

And it was Margaret Thatcher who, in her Bruges speech, declared that Warsaw and Budapest were European cities; and once the Berlin Wall came down we pressed our reluctant partners to accept EU enlargement to the central and eastern European countries - spreading peace, security, political freedom, economic empowerment and the rule of law to the very edges of the continent.

UKIP now suggests enlargement was an historic mistake. Well, that so-called mistake has helped Britain bring down the share of our national wealth that we devote to defence spending, as well as bring back from Germany thousands of troops we had stationed there, on the front line of the cold war, for 40 years.

English is the primary working language of the Union. Enshrined in its founding texts are the British values of fairness and human rights. Its institutions are working to deliver our political and economic priorities. The Head of Europol is a Brit. The last head of Eurojust was a Brit. We have been at the forefront of building the most advanced system of cross-border policing in existence.

So far from being foisted on passive and reluctant British governments, the European project has long been shaped by Britain.

And the great irony behind the claim that we should leave the EU because it is somehow anti-British is that we would be doing so just as the big principles we have long advanced - openness, competition, free-trade - are enjoying greater continental consensus than ever.

When I first worked in Brussels, the Single Market was viewed as a dangerous Anglo-Saxon conspiracy. When I worked for Leon Brittan as a trade adviser on the EC I remember him calling for a European Free Trade Agreement with America - which we are now in the process of negotiating. Jacques Chirac held a press conference to label him a 'dangerous recidivist'.

Why, having finally won so many of the big arguments, having spent decades ensuring that the European Union embodies our values and priorities, having grounded British prosperity in European trade, would we walk away now?

UKIP. Conservative backbenchers. Isolationists. They are not thinking about Britain's interests. They shroud their narrow nationalism in the language of patriotism. They mask their hostility towards Europe as British bulldog spirit. But these are false patriots. The isolation they offer is a breach of our history, of our great British tradition of engagement, and of our enlightened national self-interest. If the forces of insularity and chauvinism get their way they will ensure that Britain no longer benefits from the political and economic advances in Europe that we have shaped. And they will hand the keys to running our European continent to the Germans, the French and others, while we retreat back across the English Channel.

For all these reasons the Liberal Democrats have approached Thursday's European Elections as Britain's party of IN: unashamedly and unapologetically pro-European because we believe that is how we best serve Britain.

We are not starry-eyed about Brussels. On the contrary we have a very clear idea of the way in which it needs to be reformed: so that it does more of what it's good at and less of what it isn't. The EU needs to stop meddling in things which ought to be the preserve of member states, for example by ensuring national parliaments play a bigger role in scrutinising EU proposals, sending the Commission back to the drawing board where those proposals are unacceptable. At the same time, where scope for greater cooperation will allow for greater prosperity and stability, that should be pursued relentlessly - and nowhere more so than in the completion of the Single Market. In many ways we need to return the EU to its original purpose: facilitating cooperation in the areas where nations are increasingly impotent alone, but where together we can be greater than the sum of our parts.

It may not surprise you to hear that I think the Liberal Democrats are now the party best placed to drive this reform, not least because we are the only major party that is unified on the fundamental question of whether or not the UK should be in the EU. I do not believe that a party can implement a programme of reform when it has to keep returning to this basic point, and both Labour and the Conservatives remain deeply divided on this issue. And both are terrified of haemorrhaging votes to UKIP if they take the argument head on.

When I challenged Nigel Farage to the TV debates I did it because I wanted to show that there is a clear, polarised choice here about the kind of nation we want to be. Open versus closed. Engaged versus detached. Outward-facing versus inward-looking. Great Britain versus Little England. In versus out.

In other words, the cold, incremental terms in which this debate was had and won over forty years ago when we first joined the EC will no longer do. This is the debate of the heart, not just the head. A vital debate, in the end, about who we are.

We need to show people that our role as a leading European nation is in keeping with our history and vital to our future. We must not allow the sceptics to monopolise the arguments of the heart while we limit ourselves to arguments of the head.

The isolationists want to make this a debate about identity - well I relish that debate. Because there is nothing more British than standing tall in our own backyard, working with our neighbours to pursue our values and showing what tremendous advances are possible when nations work together. I hope as many of you as possible will join me in making that case."

Monday, 19 May 2014

Lib Dems Flat Out For Victory: Andrew Duff Will Stop UKIP

The choice on Thursday in the European Parliamentary elections in the East of England is between re-electing Andrew Duff or having a third UKIP MEP.

In a message to supporters today, Andrew says:-

'This weekend's opinion polls were all over the place, but it is clear from our intensive campaigning efforts over the last weeks that the effective choice in this election is between having a Lib Dem or yet another UKIP MEP.

'The East of England thrives on its European roots and engagement. Leaving the EU, as UKIP wants, would be a disaster for our jobs, science and agriculture - but it would also make us meaner and isolated. Too many Tories are marching to the beat of UKIP's drum - and nobody can have much faith in Mr Cameron's famed 'renegotiation'. Labour is strangely quiet on EU matters, and the Greens are unsound on economic recovery.

'I want Britain to become part of the solution to Europe's common problems, and not, as now, to be always part of the problem.'

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk and Health Minister, adds:

'A Lib Dem vote on Thursday will keep in the European Parliament somebody who by his record is known for his commitment to the deep democratic reform of the EU and to working hard for the interests of the East of England.

'The alternative to the re-election of Andrew Duff is almost certain to be that of a third UKIP MEP. This would be incredibly damaging to Britain's position on the world stage.'

Cambridge MP Turns His Hand To Decorating To Help Homeless Charity

MP Julian Huppert became a painter and decorator for the morning when he was given the job of freshening up a shower at Cambridge’s Wintercomfort centre for the homeless.

Julian was joined by his team from his Cambridge constituency office as part of Give and Gain Day on Friday (May 16).

He was given a scraper and a paintbrush and set to work removing the old paint and mould from the shower in the basement of the building before adding a fresh coat of mould-proof paint.

While Julian tackled the shower, other members of his staff spent a couple of hours painting fencing and trellis alongside a team from Cambridge’s Lloyds Bank who were also supporting the charity day.

The event was organised by Business in the Community for the fourth year running to encourage workers across the world to use their skills to help society.

Julian said: “Give and Gain Day is a brilliant idea. I have some very talented people working for me and it was good opportunity for all of us to go out and use some of our skills to help such a worthwhile charity.

“Everyone was keen to get involved and as a result, the staff at Wintercomfort were able to get some help with a number of important jobs.”

James Martin, Services Manager for Winter Comfort said: “Julian and his team did a sterling job for Give and Gain day here at Wintercomfort.

“It was great to see our local MP pitching in and getting his hands dirty to help a worthwhile cause. Julian did a great job scraping, cleaning and painting our shower here at Wintercomfort, helping to provide better facilities for those sleeping rough and vulnerably housed in the city.”

Julian gets to work on the shower with the help of Pancho
Lewis, a member of his constituency office team

Nick Clegg Warns Exiting The EU Would Undermine Britain's Interests

Writing in today's Evening Standard, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warns that leaving the EU would undermine Britain's national interests.

Nick explains how a vote for UKIP would threaten the British economy and why the Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up to UKIP.

He writes:

Today I'm calling on all Londoners. Whatever else is on your to-do list this week, make sure that, on Thursday, you go out and vote.

I understand why European elections rarely enthral the public. But these matter. UKIP are throwing everything they have at this campaign. Your vote is the only way to stop them making gains.

Over the last few weeks, when I've been campaigning across London, delivering leaflets and knocking on doors, I've met people who say they're relaxed about UKIP winning seats. They are fed up with the other parties. Nigel Farage's party does at least, they say, offer a change.

But don't be fooled: its change of the worst kind. Behind the crowd-pleasing, pint-swilling banter is a party that wants to turn the clock back. UKIP's only answer to the complexities of the modern world - in which our lives and communities have been transformed with dizzying speed - is pulling up the drawbridge, shunning the outside world and hankering for some bygone past. These are people who resent the 21st Century.

Nothing could be more at odds with the values and attitude that make our capital great. This is the most open, diverse and cosmopolitan city on the planet, where people of every colour, creed and background live side by side. Outward-looking and forward-facing, London is at the vanguard of every major cultural and technological change. It's a city that embraces the future: boundless in its ambitions for what its industries and inhabitants can achieve.

London is, however, also home to much deprivation and hardship - and this is where UKIP see their chance. Their tactic is to play on the anxieties and insecurities that are rife in some of London's poorest boroughs. They offer easy solutions - not least on immigration and Europe, where they argue that all of our problems will magically disappear if only Britain unshackles our self from the continent, retreating back across the English Channel and locking the door behind us as we do. If UKIP win seats in the European Parliament this week, that is precisely the end they'll pursue.

But we live in a world where isolationism is masochism. Turning away from our neighbours would massively undermine Britain's interests, with London paying a particularly high price. European exit would hurt that vast numbers of businesses which sell their goods and services across the EU - our biggest export market - threatening livelihoods and jobs. It's also the surest way to pull the rug out from under the City. Right now the Square Mile is Europe's financial centre. Twice as many Euro foreign exchange deals happen in London than in any other country in the Eurozone. Holding this position in our own backyard is essential if we want our financial services to continue to compete with the best in the world. But if we leave the European Single Market this competitive edge disappears.

So vote. Vote to stop all of that. Polls open at 7am and close at 10pm. Chances are your polling station is spitting distance from your front door. Visit it before you take your children to school, on your lunch break, on your way home, after dinner - make the time however you can. Don't allow these people into a position where they can speak in your name. Act now, before it's too late.

You may not have voted for the Liberal Democrats before, but back us on Thursday to help us protect this city. We are the only party that has been prepared to take on UKIP. How many times you've heard David Cameron or Ed Miliband enter into this debate? None? That's because they won't. Labour and the Conservatives are too intimidated: scared that if they speak out against Farage it will cost them support. It has fallen, squarely, to the Liberal Democrats and it's a fight we relish - because UKIP are everything that we are not.

I lead a party of people who do not fear the future, but embrace it. Who do not regret diversity, but celebrate it. We are internationalists to our core because we understand that the biggest challenges Britain faces today are those which demand we work with others, whether it's preventing terrorism, tackling climate change, promoting free trade or clamping down on organised crime. We see that there is strength in numbers in an increasingly uncertain, fluid and interconnected world. We know that nations are stronger together than we are apart.

Above all, I lead a party that will always fight stop those who seek to sow division and exploit fear. That is precisely what UKIP do. The more we hear from Nigel Farage, the more we see his mask slipping. Despite all the criticism at the time, I feel it was right that I took him on in one-to-one debates because they have helped to lead to the scrutiny of his views which he has managed to escape for far too long.

However much Nigel Farage tries to disown the backwards and abhorrent views repeatedly espoused by the people he leads, his party holds an unmistakably regressive and ungenerous view of the world. Farage himself has said women are "worth less" to their employers because they go off and have children; he is hand-picking nationalities who he doesn't want to live next door to; he refuses to support gay marriage (one of my proudest achievements in government); he has said caring about climate change may be the biggest, stupidest mistake in history; he says Vladimir Putin is the politician he admires most.

These people must be stopped. The Liberal Democrats are doing everything we can but ultimately your vote is the thing that will make a difference. You can exercise your democratic right to prevent a party of populists and rabble rousers from gaining a foothold, and you can use your voice to stand up for the openness and tolerance that defines our capital. Whatever else you do this week, make a date with yourself: on Thursday go and vote.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Nick Clegg writes: Coalition is a sign of grown-up politics

Nick Clegg MP
Writing in today's Sunday Telegraph, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg expresses his pride in what the coalition has achieved in government, including raising the personal tax allowance, expanding the apprenticeship scheme and introducing the Pupil Premium.

Nick explains why "coalition it is a sign of grown-up politics, rather than unforgivable betrayal."

He writes:

The advent of Britain's first fully fledged coalition government in a generation still seems to take many people by surprise. For some, the biggest surprise is that this coalition will last a full five-year term. I have lost count of the many solemn predictions made since May 2010 of the Government's impending collapse. However many times I or the Prime Minister stated that we remain determined to provide the country with strong and stable government in the face of unprecedented economic difficulties, the sceptics still claimed that they knew better.

For others - from the Left and Right - the Coalition (or more precisely, the role of the Lib Dems in it) has been guilty of diametrically opposed sins. For the Left, the very act of coalition is condemned as heinous moral treachery; for the Right, the Lib Dems have far too much clout, thus frustrating the birthright of the Conservative Party to do what it wishes. Unprincipled powerlessness on the one hand, ruthless power-play on the other. Both can't be right. In my view, both are utterly wrong.

Then there is the breathless outrage that greets every compromise struck. Each time either of the coalition parties admits that power-sharing involves give and take, the tribalists holler that some great betrayal has occurred. The Tory Right wants this Government to turn its back on climate change; cut taxes for the rich; and pull out of Europe, when clearly the Conservative Party has no mandate to do so, having failed to win a majority at the last election. And on the Left, the Labour Party - which has never understood the progressive promise of pluralism - lambasts the Lib Dems for failing to implement every dot and comma of our manifesto, even though we constitute just 8 per cent of MPs in Parliament.

It is ridiculous for either side to criticise the compromises that this Coalition has struck in the national interest. Compromise may sometimes be difficult, but in coalition it is a sign of grown-up politics, rather than unforgivable betrayal.

The most trenchant criticism, levelled at the Coalition when first formed, is the one that has proved most wrong: this Coalition, it was said, would not be able to take the big decisions that the country was crying out for in 2010. A combination of Conservatives and Lib Dems, it was breezily predicted, would be a pantomime-horse government, driven constantly to make insipid trade-offs between the parties and incapable of taking the tough, at times downright unpopular, decisions required to put our economy back on track. Of all the silly things said about the Government, this one, in my view, takes top prize. Far from now being accused of doing too little, we more often stand accused of doing too much.

I am intensely proud of the sheer scale and ambition of what this Coalition has achieved. The biggest transformation of our tax system in a generation - slashing income tax for more than 24 million ordinary people - not only delivering on the Lib Dem signature tune of a £10,000 tax-free allowance, but going further, so that by next April, no one will pay any tax on the first £10,500 they earn. The biggest cash increase in the state pension, following the implementation of the triple-lock guarantee - a promise of decency in retirement made by Lib Dems in opposition and now delivered in government. The biggest expansion of apprenticeships in a generation; ambitious welfare reform to make sure work always pays; the introduction of a Pupil Premium to transform the life chances of the poorest children in our schools; new child-care entitlements to help two-, three-and four-year-olds across the country; the deficit down by a third and falling; radical reform to our broken banking system; the world's first Green investment bank; and a total overhaul of our energy market.

The list goes on. Some of these policies enjoyed effortless consensus across government. Others had to be hammered out through intense argument. Of course, there are differences between the two governing parties and sometimes they're stark and fiercely held. But no one can say, four years in, that this unprecedented Coalition has not done unprecedented things. That bodes well for future coalition governments, which I believe are an inevitable consequence of the demise of old-style, two-party politics. It bodes well for anyone who believes, as I do, that the central ambition of modern governments is to build a strong and prosperous economy with fairness at its heart.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Nick Clegg: This Has Been A Good Week For LBGT Rights

Today, on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Nick Clegg wrote a piece for Pink News:

This has been a good week for LGBT rights. Last weekend Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision song contest, reminding us that we live in the most liberal continent in the world. Some progress was made on the other side of the Atlantic too. A federal judge declared the state of Idaho's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, saying it relegated same-sex couples to a second-class status.

Predictably, however, these victories have not been universally welcomed. Online petitions were started in Russia, Belarus and Armenia to try and persuade the European Broadcasting Union to remove Conchita from the competition. In Idaho, lawyers for the state have been clamouring to appeal the ruling.

So this weekend, as we mark Saturday's International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we should celebrate sexual and gender diversity - but we equally need to redouble our efforts for equality. There is still a long way to go.

The Liberal Democrats have always fought passionately for the rights of the LGBT community - the values of equality and respect for all are central to our party. One of things I'm most proud of in Government has been the introduction of same sex marriage, championed by Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone. It's partly thanks to same sex marriage that the UK has been ranked the 1st in Europe for LGBT rights for the third year in a row.

That should give every person in Britain reason to feel proud. And yet people like Nigel Farage and UKIP still won't support it. Rather than embrace modern Britain, they'd rather turn the clock back. That's why my party is doing everything we can to try and stop them making gains at the Euro Elections this coming Thursday. I want those elections to send as many Liberal Democrats as possible to represent Britain in the European Parliament - because we're the people who will stand up for a Britain that is open and diverse.

Your Liberal Democrat MEPs have already been fighting for the rights of the LGBT community in Europe. For example, they have supported a European Parliament campaign for the recognition of equal marriage, civil partnerships and cohabitation in EU countries, as well as for the mutual recognition of these civil partnerships between different countries. They have led the campaign for new EU laws that would outlaw discrimination across Europe against LGBT people who had previously been turned away from services and businesses. Liberal Democrat MEPs have also led calls for the European council to condemn LGBT oppression in countries such as Russia and Uganda, encouraging EU countries to offer asylum to those fleeing persecution because of their sexuality or gender identity.

If you want a party that defends equality and respects a person's gender and sexuality then now is the time to make yourself heard. Vote for the Liberal Democrats on May 22. Vote to stay in the EU, vote to stand up to prejudice and vote for a party that will work with our neighbours to ensure Europe becomes even more of a tolerant, liberal and progressive continent.

Lynne Featherstone: LGBT Rights Abroad Must Remain On Everyone’s Agenda

Lynne Featherstone MP
Today marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia - a celebration of sexual and gender diversity.

Commenting, International Development Minister and former Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

"Here in the UK we reached a milestone this year, with the first ever same-sex weddings. I was lucky enough to attend Our Gay Wedding - the musical, which was held at Alexandra Palace Theatre in my constituency on the first day of equal marriages. It was a fantastic day for the couple, and for all the campaigners, like Peter Tatchell, the Coalition for Equal Marriage and many others, who have campaigned for this for so long.

"But not everywhere in the world is like this. In my role as International Development minister, I see first-hand how difficult life is in Africa for the LGBT community. Now I am working with others to find a way forward in these most difficult of circumstances. LGBT rights abroad must remain on everyone's agenda.

"That's why the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is such an important day, and one I fully support."

Click here to read Nick's piece for Pink News.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Cambridge MP Newsletter: Local and European Elections, Give & Gain Day and Norman Lamb visits Cambridge

Local and European ElectionsThis coming Thursday sees critical local and European elections. These matter immensely, and there are a lot of tight races coming up. We’re defending our leadership of the City Council, where in 14 years we have substantially improved how it runs, and have a lot of excellent candidates. In the European elections, the last MEP seat is likely to be a close race between us winning our first seat and UKIP getting an extra one - please help us get Andrew Duff back, for an open, tolerant, liberal Britain.

I’ve been working hard on the elections, and we’ve had lots of other volunteers, including people coming out to help for the first time. But we do need more help - if you have any time between now and the end of Thursday, please do give us a hand - email and we can let you know what you can do to help.

Give and Gain DayThis morning my office and I took a couple of hours away from our desks to help out at Wintercomfort, a local charity that supports those who are homeless or are at risk of becoming so in Cambridge. [what you did] We did our bit as part of Give & Gain Day which is a great celebration of the power and potential of employee volunteering. It was great to see so many well know companies taking part in Cambridge and it was a reminder of how many deserving charity initiatives we have on our doorstep. Volunteering couldn't be easier and a couple of hours here and there can really go a long way, check for opportunities near you.

The European debateThis evening I’ll be speaking at a Cambridge University panel discussion on Europe. The European elections are right around the corner now and it is important we get our message out on Europe loud and clear. The Lib Dems are the party of IN and the only ones brave enough to stand up and say yes we are pro-European because we are pro-Britain – pro-British jobs, pro-British trade and pro-Britain taking its role as a leader in Europe and the World. I’ll be making this case at the debate tonight and on the doorsteps in the run up to the elections. We should be proud of what Lib Dem MEPs have achieved for us in Europe – lower data roaming charges, action on climate change and a better fisheries policy to name but a few. We now need to help them keep their seats so they can continue delivering on policies that are best for Britain.

Lib Dem Minister Norman Lamb hits Cambridge streetsIt was a pleasure having Norman Lamb out canvassing with us this Wednesday and gave our team a real boost. We also managed to fit in a really constructive visit to Alzheimer’s Research UK, where Norman learned more about the details of the fight against dementia. The Lib Dems and Norman in particular have taken the lead in Government making mental health a priority. We've already taken some very important steps to achieve parity between mental and physical health care, you can read more about that here, but there is a long way to go. The Closing the Gap policy paper lists 25 priorities for change which will make a significant difference to mental health provisions in this country and create the fairer society we all want to see.

Good luck to Cambridge UnitedOn Sunday, Cambridge United are at Wembley, playing for a long-awaited promotion back into the Football League. This season has been excellent, with the U’s winning the FA Trophy and the National Game Awards Team of the Year, as well as coming second in the Conference Premier division. Let’s hope the season ends with a triumph!

A Fairer, Simpler Pensions System

State Pension reforms which will simplify the system and provide greater clarity to people about what they receive in retirement, have moved a step forward.

Reforms outlined in the Pensions Act, which was yesterday given Royal Assent, will create a simple, flat rate pension, the full level of which will be set above the basic means test, currently £148.35.

These reforms will particularly benefit women, carers and some low earners who have previously not received much by way of additional benefit.

It is expected that in the first 10 years after implementation around 650,000 women will benefit from the single-tier valuation of their pension at 2016, receiving on average, £8 per week more in State Pension.

The reforms are expected to help millions of people to secure a more comfortable retirement.

For the first time, self-employed people who under the current arrangement, miss out on any additional pension, will be brought fully into the State Pension scheme.

Liberal Democrat Minister for Pensions, Steve Webb said:

"The new State Pension will replace the current complex mix of basic and additional state pension which successive governments have tinkered with so much over the decades.

"It will give people clarity and confidence about what income they will get from the state in their retirement. In addition the State Pension reforms will benefit those who have historically done poorly under the current two-tier system.

"I want to see us build a fairer society within a stronger economy. That means ensuring people have a simple, better State Pension in retirement which protects them from poverty and provides a solid foundation for them to save for their future."

Under the reforms, ten qualifying years of National Insurance contributions will be required to receive any pension and for people who start their National Insurance record after the reforms are introduced, the full level of the new State Pension will be based on 35 years of contributions.

Transitional arrangements have been designed to protect people's contributions made before 2016, provided they meet the minimum qualifying period.

Thanks to Liberal Democrats in government, the coalition has introduced the triple lock guarantee to ensure the value of basic State Pension will rise by highest of inflation, earnings of 2.5% for the duration of this Parliament. The State Pension is now a higher share of national average earnings than at any time in more than 20 years.

Under the reforms, ten qualifying years of National Insurance contributions will be required to receive any pension and for people who start their National Insurance record after the reforms are introduced, the full level of the new State Pension will be based on 35 years of contributions.

Transitional arrangements have been designed to protect people's contributions made before 2016, provided they meet the minimum qualifying period.

Thanks to Liberal Democrats in government, the coalition has introduced the triple lock guarantee to ensure the value of basic State Pension will rise by highest of inflation, earnings of 2.5% for the duration of this Parliament. The State Pension is now a higher share of national average earnings than at any time in more than 20 years.

Danny Alexander: Better Together, In Britain And In Europe

Danny Alexander gave a speech this morning at Paris-Dauphine University highlighting how the issues at stake in the Scottish referendum and the European debate overlap.
In his speech, Danny stated how unemployment and inflation is falling, and the deficit is cut by a third. He spoke about the risks that cutting ourselves off from our neighbours would have on securing a sustained recovery.
"Do we accept that in a global economy and a world of instant communication, working closely together is the only viable way forward, or do we want to go back to narrow national divisions?
"And do we want to withdraw into our own national exceptionalism, or are we confident enough to recognise the larger sovereignty which we gain by working with others to face similar challenges together?"
Danny stated that England and Scotland have prospered because, throughout history, we have traded goods and ideas with other continents. He also spoke about how union between the four nations of the United Kingdom has delivered peace and security in our islands for more than two centuries.
"Just as Europe - and its institutions - have helped deliver peace for our countries for 70 years.
"Where once there was war, now there is trade.
"Where once there was poverty, now - even allowing for the recent difficulties of the eurozone - there is prosperity.
"We all benefit from living in an open global economy, in which travel and communication across borders is far easier and faster than ever before."
Danny continued by speaking about how 10% of British jobs our linked to our membership of the EU. The EU is also important for defence and security as it is developing an important framework for cooperation in foreign and security policy. Likewise, Scottish defence and security have benefitted from its role in the UK.
Commenting on Nigel Farage's beliefs, Danny said: "Nigel Farage has suggested that the UK outside the European Union could take Iceland as its model. A country with a population the size of Coventry's."
Danny finalised his speech by saying:
"I believe in open societies, with well-regulated markets, managed by democratic governments cooperating together.
That's best in tune with Scottish values, British values, European values, and liberal values at their very best."