West Cumbria Liberal Democrats chair Phill Roberts with Chris Davies (former MP and MEP and Chair of North West Liberal Democrats), Rebecca Hanson (West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Membership Officer) with Tim Farron (picture from 2013).
With membership soaring (West Cumbria Liberal Democrats have seen a rise of over 50%) and a popular and charismatic leader appointed (Cumbrian MP Tim Farron), the Liberal Democrats have started their fight back strongly.
Old members met new at a recent social event and there are plans afoot for more members events this autumn and winter in addition to the usual excellent AGM and dinner in November. Join us, come along and be inspired by other members! Watch Tim Farron’s first speech as leader here.
Sadly it’s not all been good news as we recently lost Ian Francis. He was a hard working, long serving Liberal Democrat Councillor on Allerdale Borough Council – working alongside Allan Caine. He chaired the Allerdale Planning and Development committee for several years and also represented St Michael’s, Workington on Cumbria County Council. Ian served in the war and last year, despite ill health, managed to get to the D-Day reunion.
Here’s a full copy of chair Phill Roberts’ current letter to the papers on the topic of Human Rights:
Ref: European Convention on Human Rights & The Human Rights Act
In recent times there has been a call for a British Bill of Rights not least from many Liberal Democrats. You would after all expect the Liberal Democrats to champion human rights, freedom and citizenship. Liberal Democrats have always supported and protected our human rights and have a long and proud history of campaigning for human rights and the protection of individual freedoms
In government, we supported the development and setting up of the 2011 Commission on a British Bill of Rights. However The Commission failed to come to a unanimous position due to the Conservatives using The Commission as an opportunity to undermine and weaken the ECHR rather than an opportunity to strengthen our human rights legislation.
In the first few days of this new parliament the Conservatives have brought forward proposals to develop their own Bill of Rights and restrict the use of freedom of information requests.
Freedom of information requests have been used by individuals, campaign groups and a free press and media to shine a light on many issues of public concern, not least the abuse of children, failure of our institutions to deliver care to our elderly and abuses of power within local and national government.
When in government, we were also able to scrap the Labour proposals for a National ID Card, remove innocent people from the National DNA Data Base, stop child detention for immigration purposes and halve the period of detention in prison without charge.
There are many myths and misconceptions regarding the ECHR and The Human Rights Act, mainly promoted by a right wing press, global corporations and certain political parties who use our human rights legislation and a few high profile cases, often linked to terrorism, as an argument to support their case against the European Union.
We should not confuse the ECHR and human rights legislation with our membership of the European Union or our fight against terrorism.
Our human rights have been hard fought for by previous generations and through world conflicts; the democratic values and beliefs of British lawyers are embedded in the ECHR and Human Rights Legislation, supported and upheld by previous British Parliaments.
Yes, we need a British Bill of Rights and a Constitutional Convention to address the many issues associated with constitutional change and the call for devolved powers from Westminster to Regional Government; Scottish devolution has not gone away and there are many unresolved constitutional issues waiting just around the corner.
Let us therefore not be complacent and easily fooled into joining a call to scrap our Human Rights Legislation at a time when we need it more than ever or into a belief that a Conservative Government, supported by a right wing press, global corporations and hedge fund managers, would be the appropriate body to develop a British Bill of Rights.
Our Human Rights Legislation is there to protect us, our personal freedoms, and underpins our democracy; it may at times need to be updated and strengthened. However this should not be left in the hands of political elites and vested interests.
(Chair, Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats)
01697321609 or 07730284529
Issued by Phill Roberts
Chair, Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats
Tel. 016973 21609
Mobile. 07730 284 529
Email. [email protected]
Election of Mayor for the Copeland Borough Council.
Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats have taken the decision not to put forward a candidate for the forthcoming mayoral election in Copeland in May 2015.
In the present circumstances it is felt that putting forward a candidate would not be appropriate, given the current situation in Copeland, the background to this mayoral election, and the increasing support in Copeland for an assessment of the benefits of a change to a unitary authority. It is also our view that if we are to have an elected mayor in Copeland at this time, he or she should not be closely identified with a single political party.
It is our view that proper democratic accountability is best maintained through an effective local council elected on a proportional basis, so representing the widest spectrum of local people. However the Liberal Democrats will give their broad support to any independent elected mayor acting in the genuine interests of the whole of the Borough of Copeland for the duration of this present experiment, which may extend to two terms of office.
In the longer term, Liberal Democrats in West Cumbria believe that the present two-tier system of local government which currently operates in Cumbria should be replaced throughout the County by a unitary system, in order to improve efficiency, simplify administration and reduce costs. This might entail the creation of one or possibly two unitary authorities in Cumbria, with appropriate local area subcommittees.
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