Sunday, 31 August 2014

Nick Clegg's foreword to the pre-manifesto

On Wednesday 3 September, Liberal Democrats will launch their pre-manifesto, which will form the backbone of the party's general election platform.

The party's focus will be a ‘manifesto for the next generation’ with a host of policies aimed at improving the life chances of children and young people.  Read Nick Clegg's foreword to the pre-manifesto below.

This is a manifesto about the future: your future, your children’s future, and Britain’s future.

Since 2010, Liberal Democrats have worked in government to rescue and repair Britain’s shattered economy.

Growth is up. Jobs are up. Government borrowing is down. The repairs to our public finances must be completed. And they must be completed fairly. But I do not believe that in the next five years Britain simply wants more of the same.

We need to move from rescue to renewal. We need to move from austerity to ambition. We need to think boldly and restore a sense of national optimism.

After the rescue from recession we cannot go back to the old Britain.

We no longer want an economy based on debt and speculation; out of the rubble of the 2008 crash we must build a new economy, not just reassemble the old one. We cannot accept a society of unfairness and inequality of opportunity. We cannot mortgage our children’s future by ignoring the threat of climate change; and we cannot have a state where power is hoarded at the centre rather than being returned to citizens and to our local areas.

I believe that the task of a liberal party is above all to empower every person to realise their own potential. No matter what your background, your race, your colour, your sex or your sexuality: we believe in you.

Liberal Democrats don’t write anybody off.

Our determination to set people free is the thread that holds this whole manifesto together. The Liberal Democrat vision for the next five years is to focus our efforts on clearing away the biggest barriers that are holding people, and holding Britain, back.

Our objective is to create a stronger economy and a fairer society: a society of free citizens in which every person is enabled to get on in life.

I am incredibly proud of what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government.

Think back to 2010: a country in turmoil, at sea on the financial markets, with borrowing spiralling out of control and forecasters predicting disaster as the first peacetime coalition in 80 years sought to restore order after the financial crash.

We have come a long way. The economy rebuilt. Millions of people freed from paying income tax. More renewable energy than ever. The Pupil Premium to help poor children get a first-class education. More childcare and shared parental leave. Cancelling ID cards. Free school meals for under-7s. More apprentices. The biggest ever cash increase in the state pension. A Green Investment Bank. Equal marriage. The biggest transfer of fiscal power to Scotland in three hundred years. None of these things would have happened without the Liberal Democrats.

But this manifesto is about the future and not the past. Liberal Democrats played an essential role in rescuing Britain; I am asking for your support today so that we can lead the renewal.

I am asking you to back a liberal Britain where you and the people you care about have the freedom, the space, and the opportunity to flourish.

Spreading opportunity through education

Spreading opportunity through education will be at the heart of the Liberal Democrat pre-manifesto.

The 80-page document will form the backbone of the party's 2015 election campaign.

The party's focus will be a ‘manifesto for the next generation’ with a host of policies aimed at improving the life chances of children and young people.

Throughout the summer Liberal Democrats have announced the following plans designed to create opportunities for young people. These include:

Liberal Democrats will also pledge to ‘finish the job’ of eliminating the deficit but to do so fairly. The party's plans include continuing to cut taxes for working people and focusing on building infrastructure, investing in green industry and boosting regional growth.

Plans include:

The pre-manifesto will be launched on Wednesday 3 September.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Six weeks paternity leave for fathers

Liberal Democrats will give fathers an extra four weeks paternity leave under manifesto plans announced today.

Currently fathers are entitled to two weeks paternity leave but the Liberal Democrats want to go further and dedicate an extra four weeks exclusively to fathers. This will increase the protected paternity leave for dads to six weeks.

The coalition is already introducing shared parental leave in April 2015, with the first parents eligible for the leave finding out they are expecting now.

Liberal Democrat Business and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said:

"Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society where everybody has the opportunity to get on in life. Shared parental leave plays an essential part in that. It allows couples to choose how to split time off work to look after their new baby.

"Extending paternity leave is an important next step to encouraging new dads to spend more time with their child in those vital early weeks and months after birth.

"When parents share caring responsibilities, more equality in the workplace will follow.

"It is a nonsense to think it is only the mother’s job to look after children. Parenting is a shared responsibility.

"Most dads want to spend more time with their new baby, but can sometimes be discouraged by outdated ideas and cultural barriers in the workplace.

'The ‘use it or lose’ it six weeks will establish the important role of dads early on, and encourage couples to use the full flexibility on offer."

Friday, 29 August 2014

eCops: Area Update 29/08/2014

On 26th of August between 1800 and 1830hrs, a theft from a person took place in Tesco, Bar Hill.  Whilst victim has been shopping in Tesco, perpetrator has stolen his mobile phone from his jacket.

On 25th of August at 215hrs, a theft took place from the Fox Pub in Bar Hill. Suspect has ran up a bill to £55 despite knowing he had no money on him to pay. Suspect has been identified and dealt with accordingly.

There has been further reports in relation to motorists parking fully on footpath in Hill crest, Bar Hill. Parking patrols will continue in the area, any vehicles seen parked on pavement leaving insufficient room for a pram/wheelchair user, will be issued with a parking fine.

On 28th of August at 2330hrs, a man in his 20’s was found in possession of a small quantity of cannabis in Recreation Ground, Girton. This man was dealt with accordingly for the offence. 

Kind Regards

Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Nick Clegg reviews his third day in India

Our third and final day in India began with an early rise of 5.15am so we could make the long journey to Southern India - myself to Bangalore to try to better understand India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ and for Ed to visit Hyderabad to continue his energy and climate change discussions.

After arriving at Bangalore’s impressive new airport, our first stop was the Airbus India facility in one of the hubs of the city’s IT sector. This Airbus site isn’t where they actually build the planes – a lot of that happens in the UK – but it instead focuses on the hi-tech modelling, testing and simulation of civil aircraft.

A Q&A with staff revealed they were very proud to be working for Airbus as a business born from a cross European partnership, and interested in building greater relations with the UK. The site manager told me that they had many French and Germans working at the facility but had not yet managed to attract any Brits. So if any of you fancy a high-tech job in a somewhat sunnier climate then I’m happy to put you in touch!

One of the main reasons for my visit to Bangalore was to inaugurate the new UK-India Business Council office so that is where we headed to next. For those unfamiliar with UKIBC, it is a UK government initiative that provides really practical support and facilities to British businesses – especially SMEs – that want to enter the Indian market. It’s a great initiative that means you can get everything from a desk and phone to market in one convenient place.

Bangalore is clearly booming and the people who work here have an infectious enthusiasm for its potential. You hear many stories of companies that have grown from small start-ups to multi-billion giants virtually overnight. My final engagement of the day was to meet with the Chief Minister of Karnataka to discus how this had been achieved and his future plans for the state.

The trip to India has been a really positive experience. It’s an overused phrase but India is genuinely at a crossroads. Prime Minister Modi has a clear vision for how India can finally reach its enormous potential and the enthusiasm of the people I have met gives me no doubt this will happen.  

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Making our tax system fairer

The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to introduce a trio of wealth taxes which will help to cut the deficit whilst ensuring fairness in our tax system.

Manifesto plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest will go alongside a pledge to further cut Income Tax and reduce National Insurance.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:
"Great progress has been made in tackling the largest deficit since the Second World War, but there is still more work to be done. 
"The Conservatives have indicated they will focus on spending cuts in the next Parliament to achieve the aim of eliminating the deficit, particularly through cuts to welfare which will hit the working age poor. That is not a fair approach. 
"We will achieve the elimination of the deficit fairly with some reductions in public spending balanced with some tax rises on the wealthiest in society. We have always been clear that we believe those with the broadest shoulders should bear their fair share of the burden."
The trio of wealth taxes include:

  • Introducing a banded High Value Property Levy on residential properties worth over £2m
  • Limit tax relief on pensions to a pot of £1m
  • Maximising revenue from Capital Gains Tax by aligning rates more closely to Income Tax

By April next year, the Liberal Democrats will have delivered a £800 tax cut for millions of workers and plan to go further in increasing the personal tax allowance to £12,500.

Danny added:
"We believe this package of tax measures is another step in making our tax system fairer. Liberal Democrats believe these measures are the best way to create a stronger economy in the fairest way possible, creating opportunity for everyone."

Alistair Carmichael takes the ice bucket challenge

Liberal Democrat Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael has called on major supermarket chains to do their bit to support Motor Neurone Disease Scotland after taking the ice bucket challenge.

After he was doused in iced sea water at Tingwall Pier in Orkney and donated to Motor Neurone Disease Scotland, Alistair nominated the supermarkets selling bags of ice to make a donation to the charity.

Alistair said:
"People who are aware of Gordon Aikman's campaign to raise awareness and funds for Motor Neurone Disease Scotland cannot fail to be impressed by his bravery and enthusiasm in hugely challenging circumstances. I was delighted to take part in the ice bucket challenge and am pleased to report that the feeling has now returned to my fingers and toes. 
"Ice is not usually in short supply across the Northern Isles but the ice bucket challenge has seen something of a run on bags of ice in Orkney and Shetland recently. 
"I think that it is right that those profiting from these extra sales should give something back. I nominate the major supermarket chains to get involved and back this campaign."

Nick Clegg writes: Dadabhai Naoroji is one of my political heroes

The latest leg of my visit to India has taken me to Mumbai where I have been able to spend time on a Bollywood set and have dinner with Sachin Tendulkar.

However the highlight of my time here has been the opportunity to announce the institution of the Dadabhai Naoroji Awards which will be UK government awards for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Anglo-Indian relations in the fields of commerce, culture and education. The ties between our two nations are broad and deep, and so I was very keen to be able to recognise them in this way.

Dadabhai Naoroji is one of my political heroes – he was known as The Grand Old Man of India and broke down enormous barriers by entering the British parliament (albeit by the somewhat nerve-jangling margin of three votes!) as the first Asian MP and challenging European prejudices about Indians. He was rightly admired by many in both Britain and India, including Gandhi, for the huge contribution he made to political debate in both countries.

I’m enormously proud that Dadabhai served in parliament as a Liberal MP and he is rightly honoured by our party award in his name and by being one of the new membership card options available. And I’m delighted that his contribution is also now recognised in these new government awards too.

Nick Clegg's postcard from Mumbai

After a fascinating first day our delegation left Delhi on an early morning flight to arrive in the hustle and bustle of India’s financial capital Mumbai. Mumbai is famous for many things, but in particular for being the heart of India’s world famous film industry – Bollywood!

Our first stop today was a visit to a municipal school for underprivileged children in Lower Parel, one of Mumbai’s less well-off suburbs. Muktangan is an incredibly inspiring NGO that has managed to turn an ordinary government school into a model of learning. Ed and I were greeted on arrival by the fantastic school choir were assembled to greet us and I got a chance to read to some of the children.

Muktangan was founded and run by Mr Sunil Mehta and his wife Elizabeth who first met at Leeds University in the 60s. Their efforts have led to a 90% attendance rate for children and teachers, which is phenomenally high in India where even getting children into the classroom to learn remains a serious problem. They are a truly inspiring couple.

After the school, Ed and I went to the Taj Mahal Hotel memorial to lay a wreath in remembrance of over 150 people who lost their lives in the 2008 terrorist attacks. The number could have been much higher if it had not been for the bravery of those hotel staff that stayed at their posts and sought to protect many guests.

Following a lunch with a range of Indian businesses it was on to St Xavier’s College to meet 250 Indian under-graduates and post-grads. Not surprisingly, they were very bright and engaged, and came to the Q&A ready to quiz me on a range of issues from nuclear disarmament to racism to extremism in the Middle East.

The time had come for my first experience of a Bollywood film set. Veda is a new Bollywood film, which is based on an interpretation of Hamlet and is being filmed in the UK and India. The sheer number of cameras that had turned up to snap the stars of the film told me everything I needed to know about the popularity of the actors. Admist a blur of camera flashes they gave me the great honour of opening the first scene – the “mahurat”.

Ed and I were then off again to meet with Mukesh Ambani who is the Chairman of the largest business in India, Reliance Industries. He has some fascinating plans to make carbon capture and storage using algae commercially viable in India in only a few years time; yet another example of how green technology and business is the way forward.

After a long and busy day there was only really time left for dinner. I know I will make a huge number of constituents green with envy to know that I was fortunate to spend the evening sitting next to Sachin Tendulkar. One of the world’s greatest ever batsmen and a most definitely an honorary Yorkshireman. On to Bangalore tomorrow to learn about the tech hub of India.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Cambridge MP discusses how expensive everyday life can be for the disabled

Julian joins Scope shop Manager, Rio Ford (left) and Assistant
Manager, Sally Parr to find out more about the campaign
MP Julian Huppert has been discussing the issue that disabled people can pay up to an extra £1,000 a month just to live the same lives as everyone else.

He is backing a national campaign to raise awareness of the problem and met people in Cambridge who told him about their experiences.

The campaign has been launched by the disability charity, Scope, and Julian visited its shop in Cambridge’s Burleigh Street.

People have been recording their feelings about the issue on postcards which are displayed in the shop window.

Earlier this month, Scope launched an Independent Commission on Extra Costs. The year-long commission will find out how to get disabled consumers a better deal and drive down costs.

And in a bid to help the public understand the problem the charity has released an online game called The Price is Wrong, a retro-style quiz which challenges players to guess how much everyday items cost disabled people.

Through its ground-breaking report Priced Out the charity discovered disabled people pay a financial penalty on everyday living costs – on average £550 per month, with one in ten paying over £1,000 a month. They have to pay extra in three ways:

       • Having to buy more of everyday things like heating, or taxis to work
       • Paying for specialist items, like a wheelchair or a hoist or other equipment
       • Paying more for everyday products and services, like insurance, travel, clothes and cutlery

The charity has uncovered shocking stories of £31 for a knife, fork, and spoon, wheelchairs that cost more than new cars, and high-chairs marketed at disabled children that are over five times as expensive as similar models.

Julian said: “These extra costs are making it extremely tough for disabled people, many of whom already struggle to live independently or find and stay in employment. I have already been working with organisations such as Whizz-Kidz and You Can Bike Too - it is clear from them how expensive specialised equipment can be.

“This campaign is hugely worthwhile; it’s bringing this issue to the attention of the wider public through some clever ideas especially the postcards in the shop window and the online game.

“I hope through this campaign, there will be a fairer deal for disabled people across the country.”

Rio Ford, Manager of Cambridge’s Scope shop said: “It’s great to have Julian visit our shop to find out what our customers think about disabled people paying more at every turn.

“We’ve had a great reaction to the posters and postcards in the shop and most people almost can’t believe how expensive everything is for disabled people.

“We have fantastic customers, and I’d like to thank them for taking this issue to their hearts.”

Guaranteeing sex and relationship education in state schools

Children in state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, will be guaranteed age appropriate sex and relationship education under manifesto plans announced by the Liberal Democrats.

The plans will also include a curriculum guarantee of teaching pupils financial literacy and citizenship lessons.

This ‘Curriculum for Life’ means that Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) will be compulsory in all state-funded schools to ensure that children are taught these valuable life skills.

Making PSHE compulsory is a move that has been strongly resisted by Conservatives inside the coalition government.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:
“It is vitally important that children learn all the life skills they need when they are at school, and Liberal Democrats believe that should include learning financial literacy, citizenship and age-appropriate sex and relationship education. 
“We have long made the case, both inside and outside Government, for updated sex and relationship education to be taught in all schools, including academies and free schools, but it is not something the Conservatives are open to. We believe that by educating children about sex and relationships in an appropriate way we can help them to make informed choices in their personal lives and ensure that they have the best opportunity to succeed in life. 
“Currently academies and free schools have no requirement to teach sex and relationship education, depriving children of important life lessons. Liberal Democrats are committed to ensuring that children have access to age-appropriate sex and relationship education regardless of where they go to school. 
“By learning how to manage money and be a good citizen, we will be equipping children with the skills necessary to deal with the many practical issues that they will face in adult life, such as balancing a budget or voting for the first time. 
“Teaching these important life lessons will help to build the stronger economy and fairer society that Liberal Democrats want to see."

Nick Clegg launches Dadabhai Naoroji Awards

During his visit to Mumbai, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched a new awards programme for individuals whose outstanding achievements have strengthened relations between the UK and India.

The awards are dedicated to Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian MP in the UK.

A Liberal MP for Finsbury Central from 1892-1895, Dadabhai Naoroji was also the man who first brought Indian business to the UK.

The awards will have three categories - people who have furthered UK-Indian relations in the fields of commerce, culture and education.

Online nominations open on 1 September and anyone who would like to nominate an individual, either in the UK or in India, will be able to do so.

Winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony hosted by Nick Clegg at the Foreign Office in the autumn.

Launching the awards Nick Clegg said:
"It is a great honour to name the awards after Dadabhai Naoroji. The Grand Old Man of India is one of my political heroes, having broken down enormous barriers by entering the British Parliament as the first Asian MP and challenging European prejudices about Indians. He is celebrated for his achievements in India and in the UK, and it is fitting that we should name these awards after him."

Generating jobs and growth with India

Nick Clegg is leading a trade delegation in India with more than 40 British businesses, colleges and representatives of the aerospace industry to secure the incredible opportunities on offer.

As part of his visit, Nick met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a number of issues where there is a natural partnership between the UK and India, including education, business, climate change and economic growth.

Since the new Indian Government was elected in May, they have been making plans to grow their economy.

United Biscuits and Lush are among iconic British brands that are flocking to India to take advantage of booming growth and ever increasing spending power.

Nick gave a speech at the GREAT Business Conference in New Delhi about what the UK companies can bring to India and how India’s entrepreneurs to benefit from the UK’s business environment.

Nick Clegg said:
"India’s food and drink industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in this market. I am delighted to see British companies expanding, and I am glad to see the delegation I am leading helping our great retail sector to make even greater inroads and launching iconic brands globally."
With India also boosting its education sector, Nick announced a new exchange programme which will see thousands of young people from the UK travel to India to work and study.

The new British Council Scheme will unlock opportunities for many British students whose experience of living and working in India will help equip them for jobs in the global marketplace.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Protecting the NHS budget

Liberal Democrats will protect the National Health Service budget in the next Parliament.

Under plans announced in the party's manifesto, NHS spending will rise by at least the rate of inflation over the next Parliament.

As well as protecting the NHS budget, Liberal Democrats will also pool health and social care budgets. This would help make care more tailored towards individual patients and reduce inefficiencies.

This follows the announcement of a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to establish a mental health research fund worth £50m per year by 2020.

Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:
"The NHS was a Liberal idea and we are proud to be committed to protecting funding over the next Parliament. 
"In this parliament the Government has had to make difficult decisions to cut the deficit and build a stronger economy. We have protected the NHS and Liberal Democrats will continue to protect the NHS budget from cuts in the next parliament. 
"We are clear that a crucial part of building a fairer society, where there is opportunity for everyone, is ensuring that once the deficit is eliminated public services are protected. 
"Labour have said that this is irresponsible, and in Wales they have cut the NHS budget by 8%. They are wrong and will be judged on this record."

Vince Cable: Large companies will have to publish top earner’s salary

Companies will be forced to publish their highest earners pay under Liberal Democrat manifesto plans.

In a bid to encourage fairer wages, businesses with more than 250 employees will be required to release pay details of their top earner. Under manifesto proposals companies will also publish their median pay and consult employees on future executive salaries.

These proposals follow Liberal Democrat plans to legally require companies that employ more than 250 people to publish the average pay of their male and female workers, creating pressure to close the gender pay gap.

In Government Liberal Democrats have ensured low-paid workers receive the biggest cash increase in take home pay since 2008 in October.

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"In the last decade we have seen extreme increases in top executive pay which appear to be completely unrelated to the performance of companies. 
"Policies that reward executives out of proportion to the value they create are a clear dereliction of the duty and act against the interests of shareholders and consumers. 
"There is widespread consensus, not just among the public but in the business community as well, that this is unacceptable and is undermining the credibility of our markets-based system. 
"By making companies be transparent on executive pay and involve employees on salary proposals the Liberal Democrats will make sure rewards are properly aligned with performance."

Saturday, 23 August 2014

eCops: Crime Update 23/08/2014

On Wednesday 20th August, I attended an incident relating to suspicious activity. A small cannabis side was found in the wooded area opposite The Spinney, Bar Hill. A number of cannabis plants were seized, CSI attended and taken finger prints from equipment nearby. A crime has been raised for this offence and currently being investigated.

Between 22nd of August, at 18:30hrs and 23d at 10:10hrs, there has been a report of criminal damage to a vehicle in Appletrees, Bar Hill. During the times and dates stated, vehicle was left unattended parked, when owner returned, discovered a dent on the boot. If you witnessed this, please get in touch via 101 quoting crime reference number: CF0321290814

Kind Regards

Safer Neighbourhood Team

eCops: Enquiry Office 23/08/2014

Histon Enquiry office will be closed from Thursday 28th August until Friday 12th September. If you wish to attend a police station for whatever reason during these times, Parkside Station will be your best options.

Kind Regards

Safer Neighbourhood Team

Friday, 22 August 2014

Safe standing for football fans

A Liberal Democrat government would allow football clubs in the top divisions to introduce safe standing areas into their grounds.

Under manifesto plans announced today, football clubs would be allowed to work with their supporters to introduce standing areas.

Safe standing already operates in domestic leagues across Europe, including Germany, Austria and Sweden.

70% of UK football clubs support safe standing and fans say standing provides a better atmosphere.

Introducing safe standing would also cut the price of going to watch a football match.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Culture, Media & Sport John Leech MP said:
“The Liberal Democrats believe football clubs should be allowed to introduce safe standing areas where there is a desire to do so. Safe standing is allowed in many other sports and we do not believe that the top level of football should be an exception. 
“We are not calling for a return of the terraces of the 1980s. Modern safe standing areas using ‘rail seating’ operate very successfully in top tier football across Europe. 
“When clubs and fans are in favour of safe standing and it can be done safely, then the Government shouldn’t get in the way. That is why Liberal Democrats want to change the law to let clubs introduce safe standing. 
“Safe standing offers supporters more choice, a better atmosphere and cheaper tickets. It is an idea whose time has come and I am proud that it is the Liberal Democrats who are the first political party to commit to delivering this.”

Update on changes to Waste and Recycling Services (1st September)

The following update has been circulated by South Cambridgeshire District Council in relation to changes to household collections over the coming months.

"Over the next five years the council must save around £4m due to reducing government grants – a quarter of its annual budget. Some savings have been found but we still need to find £1.1m savings by April 2015. The waste and recycling service will be contributing around £400,000 a year to these savings from a number of changes:

New collection rounds from 1st September 

Using the very latest software, we’ve completely redesigned all our waste and recycling collection rounds, which will be rolled out from 1st September, making them even more efficient. The great news for residents is that, apart from nine properties, everyone’s collection day will stay exactly the same.
Collection times may however change so we’re asking residents to put their bins out the night before collection or by 6am on collection day.

The new rounds will mean big changes for our crews, so residents are being asked to be patient with the crews whilst they learn their new routes.

Residents have been notified of the changes in the Summer edition of the South Cambs Magazine, and further information will be included within the Autumn edition.  A press release will also be issued at the end of August.

Monthly green bin collections in the winter

Monthly green bin collections will be introduced this winter, in December, January and February only, when far less garden waste is put out by residents.

Further information on this change will be included within the Autumn edition of the South Cambs Magazine, together with a revised collection calendar detailing when the changes apply in all areas.

Changes to Christmas bin collections 

Revised bin collections over the Christmas period will save £25,000, contributing to savings in 2014/15.

This Christmas period, collections will be made up until 27 December 2014, break until 5 January and then return back to normal collections.  Where, in previous years, collections that would ordinarily fall on Christmas Day and Boxing Day were re-scheduled for up to three days later, some of these collections will also be made earlier.

Besides saving money the changes will result in the normal service being resumed two weeks earlier than in previous year, reducing disruption for residents.

Residents will be reminded that they can recycle a wide range of materials from their doorstep in South Cambridgeshire, and all their Christmas wrapping paper can be recycled in the blue bin.  Any excess recyclable material can also be placed in a returnable container or cardboard box next to their blue bin for collection.

The changes will be highlighted to residents in a number of ways in the lead up to Christmas, through articles in the South Cambridgeshire Magazine, parish and village magazines, a press release, posters and leaflets.  

A copy of the Autumn magazine can be found through from the end of August.

Further information can also be found on the website via and"

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Cambridge MP meets students signed up for National Citizen Service

MP Julian Huppert met students who have signed up for the National Citizen Service programme yesterday (Wednesday, August 20) at Cambridge’s Hills Road Sixth Form College.

The teenagers aged 16 and 17 are being given the chance to take part in outward bound activities and create community projects as part of the summer scheme.

Julian joined them as they prepared cakes for a stall they were setting up to raise money for Age Concern.

He said: “I am delighted that these teenagers are taking part in this programme which gives them a chance to try out new activities while giving back to the community at the same time.

“We have excellent young people in Cambridge and a strong community spirit. It’s great to see them taking part in such a worthwhile programme over their summer holidays.

"I met many of the people who took part last year and they really enjoyed it. I hope it will encourage many more to do the same.”

Previous participants have organised events such as music gigs to raise money for a hospice and ‘sleep-outs’ to raise awareness of homelessness.

The National Citizen Service programme costs a maximum of £50 for each young person, but is free for those receiving free school meals. It is being run across the East of England by employment and skills provider Reed in Partnership.

Record breaking set of GCSE results at North Cambridge Academy

Pupils and staff at North Cambridge Academy are celebrating after once again recording dramatically improved GCSE results.

Sixty per cent of pupils achieved the benchmark figure of five or more A* to C grades including English and Maths. This represents a 21 per cent rise based on last year’s results.

In 2012 the school, formerly known as The Manor Community College, recorded the eighth worst GCSE results in the country at only 20 per cent. Since January 2013, the school has been supported and led by CMAT, implementing a rapid and comprehensive programme of change.

Excellent results have been seen in the core subjects of English and Maths. The total of pupils gaining five or more grades at A* to C in English is 70 per cent, a rise of 27 per cent from last year; this success was replicated in Maths with a nine per cent rise in pupils gaining five or more grades at A* to C, to 67 per cent.

Principal, Martin Campbell said: “This is a tremendous set of results for North Cambridge Academy and the best in recent history; we have seen some extraordinary academic performances from our pupils. With the support of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust our figure of five or more A* to C grades including English and Maths was at 20 per cent in 2012 and now is at 60 per cent.

“These results help to confirm the journey North Cambridge Academy has come on and the success of the programmes we have implemented together with CMAT. The Trust has worked with the staff and students to achieve these results and they should be congratulated on their efforts and hard work.”

Particularly successful pupils were Jessica Pickering and Adaline Ong with 10 grades at A* or A, Bethany Hawes with 8 A grades, Julia Szczesna with 7 grades at A* or A, and Amy Creek with 5 A* and A grades.

Executive Principal of Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, Mark Woods, added: “North Cambridge Academy can be very proud of these GCSE results. The partnership CMAT has with the Academy is highly valued and it is very warming to see this year’s success.”

Plans for a £10 million transformation of North Cambridge Academy’s buildings have been submitted to Cambridge City Council this year. If approved, the academy will then transfer into its new buildings in the final parts of 2015.

Ringfencing the science research budget

A Liberal Democrat government would introduce a package of measures supporting innovation in UK businesses, it has been announced today.

The manifesto plans include ringfencing the science research budget and introducing a green innovation arm to the British Business Bank.

The plans also provide further support for the ‘Catapult’ programme, which bridges the gap between universities, research institutions and business through £100m of funding over the next Parliament.

The green innovation arm of the British Business Bank would deliver an expansion of innovation funding in the UK green technology sector.

In July, Vince Cable launched the driverless cars developments, which had benefited from this programme.

The announcement comes after Vince demanded that the £4.6bn science research budget was ringfenced. This funding is mainly allocated through universities and science research councils. Ringfencing helps support Britain's innovation research.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“Supporting innovative businesses is crucial to building a stronger economy in Britain. There are hundreds of businesses and individuals across the country with a good idea, pioneering groundbreaking research or working tirelessly to bring their product to market. 
“In Government we have fought to protect funding for these innovations, and we will continue to do so in the next Parliament. We will not allow others scrap this vital funding because of a short term outlook, rather than invest in the people who are building the businesses of tomorrow. 
“Liberal Democrats recognise that providing the support that these businesses need is central to our work to build a stronger economy and a fairer society where there is opportunity for everyone to get on in life.”

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Vince Cable launches new apprenticeship campaign

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has today launched a new campaign to encourage more young people to take up apprenticeships.

The "Get In, Go Far" campaign is being supported by a number of employers across the country and coincides with the introduction of 40 new employer-designed apprenticeships in sectors including engineering, hospitality and the legal profession.

To mark the launch of the campaign, Vince visited ITV studios in Leeds to meet TV production apprentices.

Vince said:
"For too long there has been a divide between university and vocational education which has been damaging for both employers and young people. Placing university degrees and apprenticeships on an equal footing will help to break down barriers and better meet the needs of business.

"Since I became Secretary of State we have expanded apprenticeship numbers greatly, particularly higher apprenticeships. The reforms to apprenticeships enable employers to design and deliver apprenticeships that meet their needs, giving young people valuable qualifications and helping them to build successful careers from television production to advanced manufacturing."

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Installation Of Temporary Classrooms at Bar Hill Community Primary School

If you've been out and about during the day today you will probably have noticed the massive crane by the Primary School.

During the day contractors have been installing new temporary classrooms into the Primary School to allow the flood damage to the school during the recent heavy rains (which was substantial - YouTube clip) to be repaired, without having to be rushed, and for the school to open as usual for the new term.

My understanding is that the construction on the green is just temporary (to protect the surface from the weight of the crane) and will be gone soon.

The plan is for the mobile classrooms to be removed when the flood damage has been completely repaired, by Christmas at the latest.

Michael Moore MP: Will you help protect UK aid?

Britain is the only country in the G7 to meet the UN target for international aid spending. Next year we’re at risk of spending less on international aid. Take a look at some of the reasons below and then say you’ll back our campaign to project the UK aid:

If we want to continue meeting the target year after year we have to get 100 MPs to the Second Reading of my Private Member's Bill on 12th September.

Labour, Conservative and SNP MPs all support the idea - add your name and say you’ll help get your MP there.

Thanks for your help,

Michael Moore MP

Driving down the deficit and repairing the economy

Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics show that inflation fell from 1.9% to 1.6% in July. The rate fell more than was forecast, with economists expecting it to fall to 1.8%.

Commenting on the latest inflation figures, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: 
"The fact that inflation has been below the Bank of England target for seven consecutive months shows that subdued inflation is now becoming the norm as the economy recovers. Eliminating the deficit fairly, and repairing the UK economy remains central to the role of Liberal Democrats in Government. 
"These encouraging inflation numbers should give businesses the confidence they need to deliver the investment required to boost productivity. Rising productivity is the only route to sustainable increases in living standards."

Cambridge MP wins Home Office battle over heavy-handed action against Studio Cambridge

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has won a battle with the Home Office to get a leading language school’s licence reinstated after it was suspended for no reason.

Studio Cambridge, the city’s oldest English language school for overseas students and an official TOEIC test centre, had its powers to issue visas revoked after another TOIEC centre was found to be offering fraudulent exams.

Despite making no formal allegation against Studio Cambridge nor presenting any evidence, the Home Office took away its licence for two months while carrying out a review.

Julian fought the move calling on the UK Visas and Immigration department (UKVI) to review the decision.

He had also raised concerns about the reputational damage inflicted on the school as a result of the decision.

And he had to intervene when an international student was detained at Heathrow Airport having been refused entry to the UK because of the action taken against Studio Cambridge.

Julian’s action led to Studio Cambridge receiving a formal apology from UKVI which acknowledged that there was “no complicit behaviour on the part of Studio Cambridge”.

Malcolm Mottram, Managing Director of Studio Cambridge claimed that he was certain the process would have taken much longer without Julian’s input.

“We are, of course, pleased to be exonerated,” he said. “However, we are disappointed that the UKVI publically suspended our licence, causing us considerable reputational damage, without any allegation being made or evidence offered.

“We are very grateful for the tremendous support we were given by Julian. He believed in us from the beginning and fought to have our case reviewed. That it has taken the UKVI nearly two months to undertake a very simple review is a disgrace; but without Julian’s help we are sure it would have taken longer.”

Julian said: “This was incredibly damaging not only to Studio Cambridge but also to our international reputation as a world leader in education for overseas students.

“Each time a student is refused a visa under these circumstances it builds a poor reputation for the UK and discourages students from seeking to study in the UK. This means we are in danger of missing out on the world’s brightest and most capable students who contribute to our academic reputation for excellence.

“These students are highly important for our local businesses not only in the money they bring in for accommodation providers and other service industries but also for our future economic success in attracting the best for our companies.

“It is incredible that the UKVI can come down in this heavy-handed way without any evidence to seriously hamper a school’s business and threaten its reputation.

“Clearly, we need to make sure that our immigration system is run properly and that schools which are targeting students in a fraudulent manner are rooted out and dealt with; but there is no excuse for the behaviour meted out to Studio Cambridge.”

Monday, 18 August 2014

Report shows that Oxford to Cambridge rail line has real potential

New study supports economic case for investment in East West Rail ‘Central Section’ rail link

The East West Rail Consortium has published a report that shows that extending the East West Rail line from Oxford to Cambridge has real potential. It shows that the delivery of attractive new rail services between key locations could deliver substantial economic benefits and support significant growth in the East West Rail corridor.

The report concludes a study by Atkins Consultants and is the first step towards developing an outline business case for the East West Rail ‘Central Section’.

Working closely with the East West Rail Consortium and Department for Transport, Network Rail will now lead the next phase of work which will consider and examine the engineering, operational and planning feasibility and cost of several potential route options.

The aim is to establish a scheme with a robust and convincing business case that can be submitted to Government in 2016 to secure inclusion of the scheme, subject to funding availability, in the 2019-24 investment plans for the rail industry.

It has been a long term aim of the East West Rail Consortium to improve rail connections within the region by re-instating the former ‘Varsity Line’ between Cambridge and Oxford. This would provide the rail infrastructure for train services to run from East Anglia to Oxfordshire (and beyond) with connections to all national mainline services to the north, west and south of England.

Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for East West Rail said:

“There’s no doubt that we need this railway - linking Norwich and Ipswich through Cambridge to Oxford and Reading has huge benefits; that’s why I’ve pressed for it for years. But the route is hard to find, and people have quite rightly been asking which route would be taken, how much it will cost and when it will finally happen - this study helps us to answer those concerns. I am delighted that Network Rail will now take forward the next phase of route design and produce a business case.”

Bob Menzies, Service Director for Strategy and Development at Cambridgeshire County Council and Chair of the East West Rail Central Section Steering Group, said:

“Now that the Western Section between Oxford, Bedford and Milton Keynes is going ahead, we are working to develop the business case for the Central Section to complete the missing link. To do this, we need to identify a route that will deliver the greatest benefits to support the case for investment.

“The good news is that this study shows there is significant economic growth potential that could be unlocked through new rail services and that the Government is providing funds for Network Rail to undertake the next vital phase of feasibility work to identify a preferred route.”

“The former line between Bedford and Cambridge has been dismantled, the land sold and sections used for other purposes, including housing. This means that we are looking at constructing a brand new stretch of railway. Several routes have been considered in the past but until now there has not been clear justification for investment.

“This is why we commissioned Atkins to identify where the greatest economic benefits could be realised through improved transport links. The study considers forecast population growth, employment levels, economic activity and planned growth as well as a review of existing and forecast transport requirements.”

Graham Botham, principal strategic planner at Network Rail, said:
“We welcome the exciting opportunity to unlock the economic growth of the region though improving rail services and the infrastructure that may be required to support these. We look forward to working with the Consortium to explore the role that rail services can play in facilitating growth of the economy".

The East West Rail Consortium was formed in 1995 with the objective of promoting and securing a strategic railway connecting East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England, to include the re-instatement of a Cambridge to Oxford rail link and a line to Aylesbury. The Consortium was established by Ipswich Borough Council who provided the chairman until 2005; a role now undertaken by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The Central Section Steering Group comprises officers from Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Bedford Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Luton Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council; Network Rail and Department for Transport.

In July 2012, the Western Section of East West Rail, promoted by the East West Rail Consortium, was included as a ‘mandatory scheme’ in the Department for Transport’s ‘High Level Output Specification’ which sets out the Department’s plan for the rail industry for 2014 to 2019 to be delivered by Network Rail and will form part of the national strategic rail network. The scheme involves re-constructing and upgrading sections of disused and under-used railway in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire for new passenger and freight services to operate between Bedford and Oxford (and on to Reading), Milton Keynes and Oxford (an on to Reading) and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury (and on to London Marylebone). The scheme is being funded by the Department for Transport with a contribution from local authorities in the Consortium.

Additional links below;

News release

Central Section Intro Page

Explanatory Note

East West Rail Central Section Conditional Outputs Statement August 2014 – Executive Summary

East West Rail Central Section Conditional Outputs Statement August 2014 – Final Report

Free access to national museums and galleries

Liberal Democrats would maintain free access to national museums and galleries under manifesto plans announced today.

The party would ensure free entry and continue to make this a condition of government funding.

Museums and galleries play a crucial role in the cultural life of the UK, attracting millions of visitors each year and the Liberal Democrats want to see that continue.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:
"Our museums and galleries are some of the best in the world. They are a source of inspiration and education for millions across the country. 
"The fact that attendance is at record levels and that last year was the first time a majority of people had visited a museum or gallery shows that free access is a policy that works. 
"The Liberal Democrats are now committing to maintain that free access in the next parliament so people from all backgrounds and income groups can make use of these great institutions without concerns about the cost. 
"The Liberal Democrats believe in offering opportunity for everyone in order to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. This is another way of making sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to get on in life."

Tackling homophobia on the football terraces

Liberal Democrat Minister Stephen Williams has called for homophobia on the football terraces to be met with the same zero tolerance as racism.

The Bristol West MP called for football clubs, the FA and the police to tackle anti-gay abuse with the same vigour as racial discrimination.

Gay rights charity Stonewall said seven out of ten fans have reported hearing homophobic slurs at matches.

Sign our petition if you agree that homophobia should be met with zero tolerance.

Stephen Williams said:
"We need to stamp out homophobia on the terraces with the same vigour that we banished racism. 
"It isn’t acceptable that footballers still feel the need to hide their sexuality out of fear of abuse. 
"I want homophobia to be treated with zero tolerance just the same as racism and I want clubs, stewards, the police and FA to work even harder to achieve this aim."
He added:
"Football clubs in England and Wales have done a frankly remarkable job at cracking down on racism since it was rife in the 1970s. 
"With the occasional exception that draws deserved criticism from fans up our game is leagues ahead of many of our European neighbours when it comes to integration."

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Tackling child poverty

The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to introduce new child poverty measures it has been announced today.

The manifesto will feature the three child poverty targets which were blocked by the Conservatives: reducing relative poverty, reducing gaps in life chances, and reducing entrenched poverty.

The announcement forms part of our ongoing commitment to creating a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life.

Commenting, Chair of the Liberal Democrat manifesto group, and Education Minister, David Laws said:
“Liberal Democrats know you can build a stronger economy and fairer society at the same time, and will not let political dogma, or headline chasing, damage someone’s opportunity to get on in life. 
“Labour’s ‘poverty plus a pound’ strategy made a statistical impact but it left people’s circumstances and future prospects largely unchanged. 
“Our changes will change the focus in order to lift young people out of poverty for good by generating real opportunity. 
“Rather than spending billions of borrowed pounds on welfare payments designed to move someone from just below, to just above, the official poverty line, we intend to invest in education and skills so people can be work their way out of poverty and towards a future of self-reliance and success. 
“The Conservatives have been keen to point up the failings of Labour’s child poverty measures but less keen to replace them with decent, effective and supportive measures. 
“Their desire to shrink the state by continuing to cut spending long after the deficit has been cleared trumped their rhetorical commitment to expanding opportunity for young people. 
“Clearly a political dividing line on fiscal policy matters more to them than the effort to reduce poverty and expand life chances.”

Monday, 11 August 2014

eCops: Volunteer Police Cadets 11/08/2014

We’re delighted to be launching a Volunteer Police Cadet Scheme in Cambridgeshire. The scheme will promote a practical understanding of policing among all young people and encourage the spirit of adventure and good citizenship through volunteering in the community. It will also provide opportunities for structured youth engagement and diversionary activities.

Vital to the successful running of the Cadet Unit will be our adult volunteer leaders. We’re looking for enthusiastic and committed people who will inspire our young people to achieve their goals. No particular experience is required and we will provide all the necessary training, support and development. So if you can give up a few hours each week, then this role could be for you

Please find further information about the roles on our website - If you’re interested in joining our team, please complete the application form and return to us as soon as possible. Once we’ve received your form, we will arrange to meet with you to discuss your application further.

We look forward to hearing from you soon, but if you require any further information about the scheme or the roles, please contact Hannah Watson, Volunteer Co-ordinator on 01954 713911 or email

Friday, 8 August 2014

Lib Dem City Councillor Julie Smith appointed to the House of Lords

Cambridge Liberal Democrats are delighted that Newnham councillor Julie Smith has been announced this morning as a Liberal Democrat appointment to the House of Lords.

Julie has been a councillor in Newnham for over ten years and has served as an Executive Councillor, as well as being a Vice-Chair of the party's influential Federal Policy Committee. She is Director of the European Centre in the POLIS department at Cambridge University and a fellow of Robinson College. Julie was Head of the European Programme at Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) from 1999 until 2003.

Julie commented "Having been involved in politics for over thirty years and a councillor in Cambridge for the last decade, it is very exciting and a great honour to be asked to continue this work in the Lords, where I look forward to working with colleagues to deliver Liberal Democrat policies which I have long helped formulate as a member of the party's Federal Policy Committee."

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, said: "Julie has given outstanding service to the people and City of Cambridge in her roles as a conscientious Newnham councillor and very able Executive Councillor. With her strong policy-making expertise in defence, European policy and other fields, I have no doubt she will make a significant contribution to the work of Parliament. In addition, given Julie's strong commitment to replacing the Lords with an elected upper house, I am confident she will strive to achieve this and other vital constitutional reforms at the earliest possible moment."

Julie's ward colleague in Newnham, Sian Reid added “We are thrilled that Julie's talents have been recognised with this appointment. She will be an excellent addition to the House of Lords.”

Ending imprisonment for the possession of drugs for personal use

Nick Clegg has announced that the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to end imprisonment for possessing drugs for personal use, so that no one is sent to prison, where their only offence is one of possession.

Under the proposals, users would instead receive non-custodial sentences and appropriate medical treatment.

Liberal Democrats are calling for an immediate end to prison sentences for people whose only crime is the possession of drugs for personal use.

More than 1,000 people in England and Wales are jailed every year for the possession of drugs for their own use. Many of these people are addicts, suffering from a medical problem and would be more effectively treated in the community.

This proposal is about saying to courts that the very unusual step of imprisoning someone for drug use should no longer be an option. The primary aim for sentences should therefore be to see drug use as a health problem that needs appropriate action.

In the long term, Liberal Democrats want to see a system which will effectively tackle the harms caused by drugs and prioritising resources for medical treatment. In such a system, drug users would be assessed at the police station and those with addiction would be directed to treatment.

Nick said:
“We are never going to win a ‘war on drugs’. Illegal drugs still cause immense harm to the people who use them and to the communities they live in. We need a radically smarter approach if we are serious about tackling this problem.

“Liberal Democrats believe the first step to ending the war is to recognise that drug use is primarily a health problem. Addicts need treatment, not locking up. And it is a nonsense to waste scare resources on prison cells for cannabis users.

“That’s why we will commit to ensuring that nobody in future will go to prison where their only offence is possession of drugs for their own personal use.

“Instead these people should receive non-custodial sentences, and addicts should get the treatment they need to stop using drugs.

“In the longer term we will develop a more effective approach that frees up resources currently spent on prosecuting users, and reinvests that money in treatment and in the fight against organised crime.

“Liberal Democrats believe in a stronger economy and a fairer society. These liberal reforms will ensure that drug users get the help they need and that taxpayers don’t foot the bill for a system that doesn’t work.”
What do you think? Should there be an end to imprisonment for people whose only crime is possessing drugs?

Introducing our new Lib Dem Peers

Today Nick Clegg announced the appointment of a new group of Lib Dem peers. The six new peers, three men and three women, all have vast experience in the party. All of them have represented the party in local government and all have made a huge contribution over a number of years.

Chris Fox

A member of the Liberal party at the age of 16, Chris was the founder chair of the North Herefordshire Young Liberals working in Roger Pincham’s team during the second election campaign that year. In 1994 Chris was elected councillor for Feltham South and went on to fight the new Windsor parliamentary seat for the 1997 General Election.

Chris joined the staff of the Liberal Democrats in February 2009 as Director of Policy and Communications and became interim Chief Executive in July 2009. Up to the General Election he led the administration of the party based in Cowley Street London. After the election in May 2010 he was appointed to Chief Executive, a role he held until December 2011.

Dave Goddard

Dave was born in Stockport and has lived and worked there all his life. He spent 25 years with British Gas starting as an apprentice service engineer at the age of seventeen. First elected to Stockport Council in 1990 a position held for twenty two consecutive years. After a number of executive positions he was elected Leader of Stockport Council in May 2007.

Dave was one of the four leaders of Greater Manchester that made the successful presentation to government to obtain the City deal, a billion pound investment in the Greater Manchester region.

Barbara Janke

Barbara joined the Liberal Party in 1978 and volunteered and worked for the party around the country until 1986 when Barbara won a seat on the council in the London borough of Kingston and became vice-chair of the policy and resources committee. In 1987 she became the party’s lead on the education committee and, in 1988, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group.

Barbara was Liberal Democrat leader of Bristol City Council for much of the period between 2003 and 2012. Since Bristol elected its first Mayor in November 2012, Barbara has been a member of his cabinet as executive member for care and health.

Kath Pinnock

Kath has been a member of Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats for 40 years. She was first elected as councillor for the Cleckheaton ward of Kirklees Met Council in 1987 and has been re-elected every time since. She was the first Liberal/Liberal Democrat ever to be elected for the town.

She was Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Kirklees council from 1991 to 2014 and the Leader of Kirklees council, as the first woman and first Liberal Democrat from 2000 to 2006. Kath has been a member of ALDC and Chair of ALDC from 2008 to 2012 and she is currently one of the vice chairs.

Paul Scriven

Paul was born in 1966 in Huddersfield and for most of his life has lived in the north and Yorkshire. Paul represented the Broomhill Ward in the City of Sheffield, from 2000 as a Councillor and did so until May 2012. He was elected as Leader of the Sheffield Liberal Democrat councillors in 2002. He became the Leader of the Council in 2008 a position he held until 2011. During his time as Leader of the Council Paul was awarded LeaDeR award at European level for his Liberal achievement in local government.

Julie Smith

Having first become involved in politics at the age of 12, campaigning for Shirley Williams in her native Crosby, Julie has been actively engaged in the Lib Dems ever since. She is currently a Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Policy Committee and serves the General Election manifesto working group. She has served on numerous policy working groups particularly focusing on European and Defence matters She chaired the Party's working group on Security in 2007-08 and the Defence working group in 2012-13.

Julie represents Newnham ward on Cambridge City Councillor where she served two terms as Executive Councillor, for Arts and Recreation from 2006 until 2010 and as portfolio-holder for Customer Services and Resources from 2012 to 2014.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sue Doughty writes: Why we should move to One Member One Vote

At Federal Conference in Glasgow, we will be debating a proposal to move from the current system where local parties elect their conference representatives who then are able to vote at Conference and also vote for members of the key committees that run the party. Why change what seems to be working?

It seems odd that the most democratic of the large parties doesn’t already have One Member One Vote (OMOV) but much more importantly we are preventing many of our members participating in key decisions which affect party policy and indeed the party itself. The majority of our members now join online and although some of them join following contact by the local party through literature or canvassing, our research shows that most of them join because of our national politics and indeed, to participate in policy making.  However if their local party is weak and fails to involve them, or has fewer than thirty members they are not going to get the chance to do this at Conference.

Some members find it impossible to get nominated as voting reps. With the increase in people who rent their homes and move more often, links with local parties and getting that nomination can be a challenge even for the most determined member. Not all would-be reps are successful.

In Scotland any member can attend and vote at the Scottish Conference and since the introduction of this change there have been no adverse outcomes.

Although there has been an increase in the number of reps a local party can elect - a welcome move - this doesn’t sort out the basic problem that you can be paid-up but not vote.

We certainly don’t want to reduce the link between a local party and its members. I hope that local parties will be holding events to discuss upcoming conferences and ensuring that any member going is included.

As for candidates for the key party committees, they will need to make sure their manifestos set out clearly their qualifications to stand rather than trusting that the same faces will be elected by the same reps.

There will be a lively debate at conference but I hope that as a result of this we can become a truly democratic party that trusts its members to do what is right.

Have you thought of standing for Parliament?

There are still vacancies around the country for the role of Liberal Democrat PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) and you may just be the person to fill one of them.

The process is designed to be as accessible as possible and it assesses competences rather than qualifications - so an epic and illustrious track record in the Party is not necessary. The application form is extremely brief so the onus is on the assessment day itself. This way you get to show off in person what you're good at.

Whatever your hinterland, the assessors are looking for evidence of your valuable skills. And it's up to you how you show them. The six competences you'll need to demonstrate are:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Strategic thinking and judgement
  • Representing people
  • Resilience
  • Values in action
These can be gained in many areas of life. So if you're thinking, "I'm not the type to become an MP or candidate," then think again. Your unique background and talents may be just the things to bring to the Party!

Maybe you've been doing voluntary work, bringing up a family, or doing a job not directly related to politics. Your transferable skills will be recognised. Make sure you can also show sound knowledge of campaigning and Liberal Democrat policy - you'll be equipped with all sorts of helpful guides from the Candidates Office to help you through this once you submit your application form.

The Assessment Day itself is split into five sections, with a mixture of written and spoken exercises. The panel of assessors collates your results at the end of the day and you'll be notified of the outcome within two weeks.

Well, since you've read this far, you're obviously interested: why not find out more?

The Candidates Office at Liberal Democrat HQ have a friendly team who can explain the competences in more detail, as well as pointing you towards any training you may require. You can contact them on email via or you can call 0207 340 4993.

Mental health research should be the next big breakthrough

A Liberal Democrat government would establish a mental health research fund to support the development of new cutting-edge mental health treatments, Nick Clegg has announced.

Nick is calling for Britain to lead the world in understanding and treating mental illness, so that it is put on equal-footing with physical health.

In the plans outlined by Nick, Liberal Democrats would increase funding spent on mental health research by £50m, by 2020.

The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Research shows that one in four people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives. By tackling mental health as a same priority as physical health, we can build a fairer society.

Nick said:
“Mental health issues have been treated as a sort of Cinderella service compared to physical health issues. 
“I want people who are dealing with depression to be as effectively treated as if they had diabetes. 
“That is why I want to see Britain become the world leader in the next breakthrough in mental health research just as we have always been a country that is a world leader in research into physical health. 
“We’ve led the world in research in physical health issues. We’re the country where penicillin was invented, where DNA was discovered, where IVF fertility treatment was developed, I see no reason why we can’t lead the world in mental health research and treatments as well. 
“To that end, the Liberal Democrats will commit in our manifesto to a new research fund which, by the end of next Parliament, will be worth £50m per year.”   
Liberal Democrats in government have prioritised mental healthcare. We have introduced a legal duty on the NHS to promote parity of esteem for mental health and are investing £400m to increase access to talking therapies.

By establishing a mental health research fund, we can go even further and pave the way for major breakthroughs in the way we understand and treat mental illness.

Danny Alexander: We must stay in Europe, lead Europe and reform Europe

Leading Tories are happy to sacrifice British jobs and growth to boost their own anti-Europe credentials, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said.

His remarks come after Mayor of London Boris Johnson claimed leaving the EU could be an "attractive" option for the UK. But Danny called for Britain to “stay in Europe, lead Europe and reform Europe".

Danny said:
"Boris Johnson has shown once again that leading Conservative politicians are willing to sacrifice British jobs and economic growth in order to bolster their own Eurosceptic credentials. 
"Successive independent and Government studies have shown that between three to four million British jobs rely on our trade with the EU and it is clear that leaving the EU would undermine these jobs.  
"Leading figures at companies such as Siemens, Nestle, Goldman Sachs and Honda have all warned that there could be serious implications for British jobs and investment into our economy if we leave. 
"To play internal Conservative Party politics and ignore these warnings is to play Russian roulette with the British economy. 
"Liberal Democrats are clear that we must stay in Europe, that we must lead in Europe and that we must reform Europe. Only by staying in and leading can we make the EU more competitive, create more British jobs and cut red tape for our companies."

Energy riggers to face jail

Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey has put forward new proposals to safeguard customers from unfair practices by energy companies.

Under the new laws, anyone found guilty of rigging wholesale gas and electricity prices could face up to two years in jail.

The plans would give new powers to energy regulators to prosecute people suspected of abusing the energy market.

It would be a criminal offence to fix the price of energy at an artificial level or use insider information to buy or sell energy on the wholesale market.

It would also be an offence to make misleading claims or conceal facts about wholesale energy prices to manipulate the market.

Ed Davey said:
"Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable, and these proposals provide a much stronger deterrent - more in line with the approach taken in the financial markets."

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cambridge Carbon Footprint: August Update

With lots of people off enjoying their holidays in August, it's a pretty quiet month here at CCF. We're settling into our new accommodation (read below for news on our office move) and making plans for our program of events from Autumn through to 2015. (Many thanks to everyone who attended our AGM on July 17. Your feedback on was invaluable to our planning.)

We do have one event happening in August though, and a pretty exciting one if we do say so ourselves! It's called Remade Heaven, and will transform a corner of the Burleigh Street Oxfam shop into a demonstration of the best of second-hand style, with lots of activities and performances including artist interventions, comedy improvisations and up-cycling workshops. We're working in partnership with Up t'Arts on this and think it should be a great event! More details (including dates) below.

As it's quiet, we'll be skipping our mid-month August newsletter. But do keep an eye on your in boxes for our September newsletter, where we'll be giving you a full update on Open Eco Homes 2014 and the 5 following home energy events!

  • Remade Heaven 
  • Open Eco Homes 
  • Open Eco Homes seeks volunteers 
  • Cutting Fossil Fuels 
  • Eco-Coaching 
  • CCF 2013 Annual Report now available 
  • We've moved! 

1. Remade Heaven

August 18-31, Oxfam Burleigh Street

Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Up t'Arts are partnering this summer to organise Remade Heaven. From 18th-31st August, part of the Oxfam shop in Burleigh St will be transformed into a beautiful second-hand room setting. This room will furnished and decorated using accessories borrowed from a variety of second hand outlets in Cambridge, plus up-cycled and re-purposed artworks and furniture from local artist-makers.

At the same time, there’ll be artist interventions, comedy improvisation, singing and up-cycling workshops. Check out the Remade Heaven facebook page for further information. No booking required.

2. Open Eco Homes

14th and 20th September, various locations around Cambridge

Eighteen Cambridge-area low-energy homes are open on 2 days for booked visits:

Householders will show how they save on energy, bills and carbon emissions. See what energy-saving measures suit your home: from low-cost & DIY through to big projects. Most of the open homes are older properties that have been improved, or works-in-progress, some using the Cambridgeshire Solid Wall Insulation Fund.

See full information on our Open Eco Homes Website.

3. Open Eco Homes seeks volunteers

Open Eco Homes is a popular annual CCF event for the public to visit and be inspired by local low-energy homes of all descriptions. This is the 5th year and 18 Cambridge homes will be open on 14th /20th September. We are now seeking friendly volunteers for the following tasks and occasions:
Office-based publicity support - May include printing, photocopying, sorting brochures for distribution and online publicity. 2-6 hours/wk during office hours, preferably on Wednesdays and/or Fridays throughout August. 

You be part of our team, getting experience of how events like this are organised.
Delivering brochures and posters around town - Can be done at flexible times during mid-August in an area near you, depending on where you live.

Stewarding at one of the open homes (mainly Cambridge-based) - Between 10.15am-4.30pm on 14th and/or 20th September. Contact Amy for locations.

Interested in one of these roles? Contact Amy Ross, or phone 01223 301842.

4. Cutting Fossil Fuels

The World Council of Churches, representing over half a billion Christians worldwide, has just pulled all its fossil fuel investments. This followed the UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, describing (in St Pauls Cathedral) how action on climate action is a moral issue for our time. A new study shows that much of the investment needed for renewables could come from switching the $500 billion annual government fossil fuel subsidies. Do you have investments you could switch - or maybe your pension fund can?

CCF works to cut fossil-fuel use and one important way is by making our homes energy-efficient; so it’s disappointing that the government has effectively abandoned its pledge to make all new homes "zero-carbon" by 2016. And that their Green Deal Home Improvement Fund has unexpectedly closed, amid worries of fraud.

In Cambridgeshire we still have the similar Solid Wall Insulation Fund, offering grants of up to £6,000 per property. If you have an older, solid-wall home, it’s well worth looking into. We’ll feature examples among 18 low-energy homes open for informative and inspiring visits on the 14th and 20th September in this year’s Open Eco Homes.

5. Eco-Coaching

A one-to-one session with an eco coach can help you make make a real difference to you carbon footprint – and it only takes an hour. One of our trained eco coaches will meet you – in your home, if that suits – and talk through your particular carbon dilemma. We will listen, support and encourage – never judge. We’ll also provide you with lots of useful resources.

You might want to
  • work out your travel carbon footprint 
  • identify the main causes of food waste in your home 
  • learn more about the environmental impact of the weekly food shop 
  • understand what a carbon-friendly wardrobe might look like 
If you do, talk to us. You can expect a lively, though-provoking discussion, leading to a personal action plan that works for you.

If you would like free and personal advice on reducing your carbon footprint then book an eco coaching session. Just email your name and topic selection (travel, food waste, clothing or food production) to

6. CCF 2013 Annual Report now available

We estimate that in 2013 CCF saved 793 tonnes of CO2, reached over 1377 new people, and benefited from 5849 hours of volunteer time. To read more surprising statistics and get all the details on our activities throughout 2013 have a look at the newly released 2013 CCF Annual Report.

Our thanks again to CCF’s many volunteers, supporters and funders, without whom our great range of activities would not be possible.

7. We've moved!

CCF have moved offices. If you'd like to drop by the office (we have energy monitors and great books and DVDs to borrow) please note our new address:

The Wharf
Hooper Street

It’s the last building on Hooper Street at the railway end and is accessible by foot or bicycle from Mill Rd. We’re located on the top floor of this building, with lift access. Check out our website for a map and full directions (including public transport and cars).