Health Campaigners Fight for County Seats

Councillors Roberts and Hanson at a recent private meeting with health chiefs about the Success Regime consultation.

West Cumbrian Health Campaigners Phill Roberts and Rebecca Hanson are fighting hard for Cumbria County Council Seats in the elections on May 4th.

Councillors Roberts is contesting the Apastria seat where he lives and is a well known activist, organiser and Councillor.

Councillor Hanson is contesting Cockermouth North where she lives, which contains the Cockermouth Christ Church town seat she won in a recent by-election.

An excellent by-election result

Copeland vote change 2015 general election to 2017 by-election

The Liberal Democrats were the only party to increase their 2015 general election vote in Copeland during the recent by-election as they returned to 3rd place in the polls.

During the dark months when it was difficult to canvass in the evenings, candidate Rebecca Hanson used Facebook Live to take and answer questions from voters in real time.

You can look at the campaign here on Facebook and you can watch the recordings of the Facebook Lives here on youtube.

West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Success Regime Response

The full text of West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Group response to the Success Regime Consultation is available here:


It concludes:

West Cumbria Liberal Democrats find this consultation fatally flawed. Taken at face value most people would vote Option 1 throughout as it is the least bad of the options. What is missing is the context of the consultation, including; the risk assessment of the expected impact of changes, the financial aspects and the relation to other services, particularly social care in the community. We cannot accept that lives will be knowingly put at risk because Cumbria is sparsely populated.

Liberal Democrats are committed to sound financial management of our public services.  They are also committed to ensuring our NHS is properly funded (and to raising taxes where necessary to achieve this).

For a response to the details of each option presented, West Cumbria Liberal Democrats recommend the response of ‘West Cumbrians Voice for Healthcare’:

Libdem councillor’s research predicts very serious birth risk



Councillors Phill Roberts and Rebeca Hanson meeting with key people from the Success Regime consultation

Cllr. Rebecca Hanson has today published her second report on the expected loss of obstetric care in Whitehaven.

In today’s report she used results from international research on birth outcomes to predict what may happen  to births in West Cumbria if obstetric care ends.  Her report demonstrates that the risk associated with closure is vastly greater than the risk associated with continuing with the status quo.

Rebecca’s report: Closing Obstetric Care in Whitehaven: Implications for Birth Outcomes is available here.

Her previous report which showed that there is no precedent for the urgent tranfer times involved is available here.

Rebecca’s reports have received substantial coverage in newspapers, on the tv and on radio.

She has received personal assurances and messages from most of the senior people involved in the consultation to confirm that they have read, and are grateful to have received, her report.

“Let’s ensure that every voice is heard”

Roger PUTNAM  Vice-Chair, West Cumbria Liberal Democrats
(writing in the Whitehaven News)
Picture – Liberal Democrats Rebecca Hanson and Roger Putnam at the Success Regime Consultation in Whitehaven 19th October 2016.
I want to support the recent pleas by Chris Whiteside and Jamie Reed in this column to urge all local folk to make their voices heard, loud and clear, on the Success Regime report into our health services in West Cumbria. We should all endorse the excellent “Save our Services” campaign by this paper and your sister papers to demand a fundamental rethink here. Local Liberal Democrats strongly support the campaign to maintain full maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital and to retain stroke patient care. To do otherwise would be unsafe and discriminatory.
Recent public meetings in Whitehaven showed massive support for retaining these services at WCH. The strength of feeling has been overwhelming, especially amongst those working in the hospital maternity department. The vital need now is for all who participated to reply in good time to the Consultation ending on December 9th. I hope too that all community organisations will register their full backing for the campaign. If they all do this, then there is a chance that the Success Regime will eventually see sense.
We have a brand new hospital, and yet it is still unclear what services it will provide. What a ludicrous situation! It reflects the chaos into which the NHS has fallen nationally in recent years. At the heart of the problem across the country is that we have not yet found an effective method of managing and financing the NHS to meet the changing needs of the 21st century. The total NHS deficit for 2015/2016 reached some £3.5 bn. There has to be a radical review of health-care and a recognition that substantial additional funding is needed, targeted especially to areas like ours with real disadvantages of poverty and remoteness.
That is why the Liberal Democrats are establishing an independent review body, similar to the pioneering Beveridge committee of the 1940s which proposed the creation of the NHS as the central feature of the Welfare State. This will examine the whole problem of health and social care provision at the national level, and explore ways of properly funding what is now needed. However this cannot happen overnight. The only answer as an immediate course of action is to allocate substantial new resources to the existing NHS if it is not to be irreparably damaged. I believe that there is now only one realistic course and that is to increase taxation specifically to retain and improve NHS services before they disappear.
Recent public meetings have emphasised the problem of recruiting staff at our hospitals. I recognise that this is a national rather than a local problem and it reflects a wider dissatisfaction with current NHS management and organisation. However recruitment at WCH is especially adversely affected by the ongoing uncertainties about the future of our local hospital. Senior staff will not be tempted to seek jobs where that future is so unclear.
Having spent a week-end in the WCH recently, I must pay tribute to those outstanding staff who give selfless support to their patients, despite current uncertainty and shortage of resources. They will all be hoping for a maximum public response to the present consultation. So make sure to send in your views!

Election Success in Cockermouth

Dragons Den 1

Education policy campaigner Rebecca Hanson won a by-election to become Cockermouth’s first ever Liberal Democrat Councillor on Thursday 22nd September 2016.  Rebecca now represents Christ Church Ward.

Debbie Taylor came second in the Allerdale by-election on the same day, achieving a 20% swing to the Liberal Democrats.

Cockermouth Neighbourhood Development Plan

Debbie Taylor writes in the Times & Star today:
Debbie Taylor

Dear Sir,

I applaud the positive, can-do attitude of more than 30 people who attended a forum on Tuesday 2 August arranged by Cockermouth and District Civic Trust “in a bid to gauge interest in developing a Neighbourhood Development Plan.”

In favour of transparency, I want to ask why the Town Council have rejected this progressive sounding initiative as being “a waste of time and money.” (Times and Star, August 5) Neighbourhood Development Plan or not, surely it would be very helpful for the community to know their Town Council’s opinions on this matter.

As someone who visits the town every day; with a son who attended Cockermouth School until recently, I am concerned about Cockermouth’s infrastructure and sustainability as it grows. We all know that housing initiatives, for instance, need to be supported by other essential services. Moreover, particularly if there are a great many new houses, a Community Impact Assessment is key. In the 20-odd years I’ve lived here I have seen Cockermouth change dramatically and, for the most part, I have embraced those changes. However, we all have a responsibility to start to look holistically at the infrastructure and development of Cockermouth in order to help support, among other pressing concerns, young people; senior citizens; start up enterprises and our existing independent businesses. As Darren Ward, architectural adviser to the Civic Trust said (Times and Star, August 5) there is a “growing concern that the town is moving very rapidly towards dormitory status.” Mr Ward feels this will be irreversible. This has happened in many villages, we cannot let it happen to our town.

There needs to be a mindful debate where everyone can participate, including the Town Council. Could this happen using social media? I am led to believe that Cockermouth Town Council are one of the few councils still not making use of that medium. If the readers of this newspaper believe that many heads are better than one, might I also suggest, in the words of my colleague Rebecca Hanson, that “the Town Council needs to be crowdsourcing their capacity to work on complex issues – like a town plan and flooding – through social media.”

A Neighbourhood Development Plan might provide an amazing opportunity, not least to listen to the community – and that is paramount; and partnership working. An ambitious and focused initiative could improve the physical environment, economic wealth and prospects for Cockermouth.

Debbie Taylor, West Cumbria Liberal Democrats

Call for a General Election


Phill Roberts writes in the local papers:

Dear Sir

Conservative MPs have selected Theresa May as our next Prime Minister without any democratic vote. I’m sure many will be concerned that a Prime Minister can be chosen by a few members of Parliament without a general election.

Following the 2011  Fixed Term Parliaments Act a general election can only be called in exceptional circumstances by two thirds of MPs or if a budget fails to get approval by Parliament.

The need to change the policies set out in the Conservative manifesto to meet the changing circumstances following the Brexit vote clearly satisfies the test of exceptional circumstances, however we will have to wait and see if two thirds of MPs vote for a General Election.

Although many will be outraged at the prospect of not having a vote or say in who will be our next Prime Minister, there is recent precedent set by the Labour Party, when they chose Gordon Brown to be our Prime Minister.

At the time Theresa May called for a General Election and baited the Labour Party that they were scared to call a General Election. Now we have Theresa May stating that she will not call an early election and the Labour Party once again in the midst of its own election for a more presentable, electable leader.

In the interests of democracy and the need to have a Parliament that reflects the wishes and interests of the country post Brexit, rather than the self interest of any political party there should be a General Election.

Only a new Parliament will have a mandate to negotiate a New Deal with Europe that recognises the wishes of the 51.8% who voted to Leave and the 48.2% who voted to remain.

Yours sincerely

Phill Roberts

(Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats)