The EU Referendum

Elizabeth Barraclough

West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Chair Elizabeth Barraclough writes in the Whitehaven News:

Why stay in Europe?

Liberal Democrats are convinced we should stay in Europe. At the time when we were all waiting to see what deal for Britain could be achieved, we were reminded that there were many more pressing concerns in the world – such as the migrant crisis, the war in Syria, the problems on the Russian border and rising sea levels resulting from Climate Change. Our view is that these difficult, almost intractable, problems cannot be solved by individual countries but must be tackled by working together in Europe, in the Commonwealth and in the United Nations.

What we cannot achieve alone is progress to combat environmental impacts. In Cumbria, we have seen the effect of the predicted warmer, wetter winters. Europe has to set an example and to provide the knowledge and techniques – Solar Power, Fusion Energy, Carbon Capture – for third world countries. The EU can and has tackled Europe-wide problems like the rescue of fishing stocks in the North Sea.

I am concerned about the many things we would lose by opting out. Our students are able to pursue courses in other EU countries – improving their understanding of different communities and learning to cooperate across language barriers. Crime is global, so criminals must be pursued across national boundaries using the European Arrest Warrant throughout Europe. Many Brits choose to retire to warmer climes in Europe, this would become much less easy.

We need the EU if we are to attract investment to create jobs and opportunities. Would Nissan have opted to build a new car in the North East if we were not in the EU?

Perhaps the greatest but not so obvious achievement of the EU is peace in Europe for 80 years. Those of us old enough to remember the second world war know that European countries must cooperate to avoid conflict.

The EU will continue. It needs to be reformed to avoid the financial problems that Greece and other countries have experienced. We need to be in the EU to help it achieve its potential of creating a Europe where everyone can live prosperously and in peace.

LIB DEMS LAUNCH PCC CAMPAIGN

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Loraine Birchall, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner election, has launched her campaign. Loraine will be fighting for a fair funding formula for rural police forces, and collected signatures in Kendal to back her campaign.

A key issue for Loraine will be her campaign for a fair funding deal for rural police forces. Changes to the police funding formula are expected to be brought back later this year, having initially been postponed following a number of high profile errors in the government’s figures in November 2015. Under the original proposals, rural forces were due to lose out on significant amounts of funding compared to urban ones, due to the criteria used.

Loraine has lived in Cumbria for 40 years, and has a teenage son. She has an in-depth understanding of the local police, as her father, brother and former husband have all served as special constables for Cumbria Police. Prior to her current work as a web developer and management consultant, Loraine worked at BAE Systems in Barrow, and she also serves as a tenant board member for South Lakes Housing – the largest housing association in South Lakeland.

Loraine’s priorities for the police include improving safety for women including taking domestic violence more seriously, tackling crimes against small businesses and ensuring a visible policing presence on our streets. Loraine also wants to address the growing problem of cyber-crime.

Loraine commented: “As Police and Crime Commissioner, my priority would be to keep our communities safe. I want to restore the trust of Cumbrians in our Police Service, but to do that we need to have the resources to keep our county safe.

“The government last year decided to postpone the funding formula changes which would have drastically reduced Cumbria Police’s funding. However, these changes are still on the cards. I will be campaigning to ensure that rural areas like Cumbria are given a fair funding deal. The criteria used must recognise the challenges involved in policing large rural areas. It was clear from talking to residents today and collecting signatures for my petition that they too feel strongly about this.”

South Lakes MP Tim Farron said: “Loraine would make a fantastic Police and Crime Commissioner. She is knowledgeable about policing and understands the challenges facing the force, but more importantly she cares deeply about Cumbria. I’m backing Loraine.”

 

Phill Roberts on West Cumbria Hospital

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Health & Social Care Provision

During the thirty years I have lived and worked in Cumbria our Health Services have lurched from one crisis to another, none more urgent than the current crisis, despite the hard work of our nurses and health care workers.

I have benefited from some amazing care from my GP, at the Cumbria Infirmary and – when my grandchildren were born – in the West Cumberland Hospital. At times I have wondered if I have been looked after by a different health care system than the one being reported on in the press. However the evidence of system failure is now overwhelming. Indeed much of the NHS is in crisis.

Our community has during this time had many health and social care interventions both national and local that can only be viewed in hindsight as temporary measures covering up long-term problems.
I have attended the meetings of health care professionals in locality meetings that eventually established the Clinical Commissioning Group, as a community representative before Healthwatch took over the role of community engagement.

It was evident during the meetings that the organisations involved in the provision of our health care were competitors in health care provision and that opportunities for engaging in true partnership development would be limited. This was brought into sharp focus when I asked questions about double funding of services and overarching responsibilities; there appeared to be no willingness to look at a whole systems approach,(shared budgets etc.) at the time. Although health care professionals understood the concept of joined-up thinking, they were focused on their own budgets and responsibilities at the time.

The commissioning process has developed a competition model within health and social care that, far from driving up standards of service, has increasingly led to a health and social care model that treats patients as consumers of services, inevitably driving down costs to the lowest common denominator and often failing to address the individual needs of patients.

We now have the implementation of yet another strategy, optimistically titled “The Success Regime” and overseen by yet more national bodies. Whether this new intervention can establish a more collaborative health and social care model able to deliver the services needed by our community only time will tell.

We have new facilities at the West Cumbria Hospital, a new Community Hospital in Cockermouth and a number of new community initiatives in health and social care. However I remain sceptical about how or even whether these services are working collaboratively or in a joined up model of service delivery.

How to contact West Cumbria Liberal Democrats:

Tel. Phill Roberts on 01697321609 or 07730284529
Email: <[email protected]> Twitter : phillrobertsli1

Phill Roberts is the current chair of West Cumbria Liberal Democrats.  This article was recently published in the Whitehaven News.

AGM and dinner

Our AGM and dinner will take place on Thursday 26th November at Hundith Hill Hotel.

The speaker will be the former MP and award winning MEP and current Chair of North West Liberal Democrats Chris Davies (scroll down below the picture of Roger Putnam to see Chris).

Please contact us via this website by 21st Nov if you’d like to come.

Campaigning against Workington Court Closure

Local Liberal Democrats are campaigning against the closure of Workington Magistrate’s Court (see this week’s Times &Star).
Here’s Roger Putnam’s current article in the Whitehaven News:
Roger Putnam

Liberal Democrats in West Cumbria share the wide concern across Copeland and  Allerdale about the latest proposal to close the Magistrates and County Courts in Workington. It is only three years ago that our courts in Whitehaven were closed and relocated to Workington. If implemented, the new plan would leave this large county with only two courts in operation, in Carlisle and Barrow.
This is part of a wider trend in which key local services are removed from outlying areas and concentrated in a limited number of larger centres of population. Living in a rural area of Copeland, I have in recent years seen the closure of local post offices and local banks, and of course the virtual disappearance of local policing. And we all know of the continuing threat to key hospital services in the West Cumberland Hospital.
The argument for these changes is always the same – financial viability. But the assessment of true cost fails to take into account real but less easily measured costs, those of easy accessibility and convenience for local people. When those living in Whitehaven and even further south have to travel to Carlisle for hospital treatment or recourse to the law, then these vital services to which we all have a longstanding right become far too costly, both in terms of time and travel.
It seems completely perverse, just at a time when we can anticipate major growth in our local economy with the ambitious planned developments at Sellafield and Moorside, that services should be withdrawn or relocated in this way. We are unlikely to attract more professionals and people of talent into West Cumbria if our communities become even more remote from key public services.
Liberal Democrats also deplore the ongoing transfer of  the probation service and parts of the prison service to private operators more interested in profit than in crime prevention. These key responsibilities should always remain part of the public service provision of the state.
We campaign to make all public services readily accessible to the people they are intended to serve, on fair and equal terms to all. We will continue to work locally and nationally for proper partnership and community support in all areas of life. This may be why, following the deeply disappointing results of recent elections, so many thousands have chosen to join the Lib Dems since May this year. If you would like more information about our priorities for West Cumbria, please make contact.

 

 

The fight back is well under way

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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.

 

 

Phill Roberts in the papers on Human Rights

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

Dear Sir

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.

Yours sincerely,

Phill Roberts
(Chair, Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats)
01697321609 or 07730284529
twitter: phillrobertsli1
www.wcld.focusteam.org.uk

Our Right to Health

mike minogue

Mike Minogue writes in the Whitehaven News:
As we approach the General Election, national polls have shown that the most important issue for voters is the future of the National Health Service. This is true in Copeland, just as anywhere else in the UK. The continuing uncertainty over the future of the West Cumberland Hospital affects us all. Fear for the future of our hospital services has understandably brought popular demonstrations and wide debate.
The NHS has a long history, but now faces major social and environmental changes. Yet the vision in 1942 of that great Liberal, William Beveridge, remains as valid today as it was 70 years ago. He proposed our present social security system, based on the insurance principle – people pay their national insurance and they receive national insurance benefits, including hospital treatment free at the point of delivery.
I suspect we have all at some time been grateful for the excellent work of the NHS and of our local hospital, with its outstanding staff. Despite frequent criticism, the NHS is one of the best health systems in the world and is also among the cheapest. In a recent comparison of eleven advanced countries, the NHS came top for effectiveness, safety, co-ordination, quality and access.
There have been mistakes. The decision by Labour to allow new hospitals to be built via the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) has imposed a huge financial burden involving massive service provision payments for 30 years. Recent reorganisations have caused yet more uncertainty and frustration, nowhere more so than in our local Hospital Trust. But there are some positives too. The new Cleator Moor Health Centre is a great success, effectively a ‘One-Stop shop’ for the community, with impressive facilities appreciated by the local people. We need many more such local developments.
Liberal Democrats believe passionately in the NHS and are committed to maintaining it as a public service open to all, irrespective of their means. We will fight to retain the maximum range of services in our West Cumberland Hospital. The NHS budget will be guaranteed, should Liberal Democrats be in government, to rise to ensure it keeps ahead of inflation.
We will also tackle discrimination against those with mental health difficulties. Around a quarter of the population experience mental health problems, but few receive adequate treatment. Mental health costs the country billions every year. We will ensure that mental health patients get treated as quickly as those with physical health problems. 
Liberal Democrats will fight the coming elections on the principle that everyone needs the best opportunities to get on in their lives. Effective and accessible health care remains essential for this.
To contact West Cumbria Liberal Democrats visit  wcld.focusteam.org.uk  
 or telephone Roger Putnam on 019467 23361

 

 

Restoring optimism and fairness in Britain

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Danny Gallagher: Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Copeland – Writing in the Whitehaven News.
We live in a society which is becoming increasingly unfair. The gap between rich and poor in Britain is steadily widening. An international “league table” assessing income equality shows that Britain now ranks 28th out of 34 of the world’s richest countries. Unlike Germany, for instance, we reward our top managers and bankers wth excessive amounts through salaries, bonuses or share options, whilst many employees struggle on barely enough to survive. OXFAM has calculated that the top 1% of the world’s population, the corporate, financial and social elite, will soon own more of the world’s wealth than the bottom 99%.
This growing inequality requires radical action. President Obama recently asked ”how much longer can we accept a situation where only a few do spectacularly well?”. Many of the political parties in the UK express concern about the vast differences of income and wealth even within our own relatively uncorrupt society. So one key question for politicians from voters in the approaching General Election will be: “What is your party planning to do about our unfair and unequal society?” It is a question which Liberal Democrats have been debating for many months.
Answers to this key question should be contained in the different party manifestos. I hope that voters will examine how each party plans to make ours a fairer society, in which people are rewarded fairly for their work and in which benefits are properly directed to those who genuinely need them. If we fail to tackle what has been described as “the cancer of inequality” I believe we will be confronted by catastrophic social consequences.
Liberal Democrats will ensure high earners and the wealthiest pay their fair tax share; increase public spending in line with the growth of the economy; raise personal tax thresholds to at least £12,500, guarantee decent state pension increases every year; and enforce minimum wage laws. We will also safeguard our precious NHS, ensure those with mental health problems get treated as well as those with physical problems, and protect education funding, from early years through to school and college.
Liberal Democrats understand that a strong economy and a fair society have to go together if we are to enable everyone to progress and achieve their full potential. We have worked hard in this coalition government to rescue and repair Britain’s shattered economy. The task ahead – which we accept – is to move from rescue to renewal, and to restore optimism and fairness. Building a fair society will be at the heart of my campaign.
To contact West Cumbria Liberal Democrats visit  wcld.focusteam.org.uk  
or telephone Danny Gallagher on 019467 23361

Selection of Parliamentary Candidate for the Copeland Parliamentary Constituency

Danny Gallagher photo

The Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats are pleased to announce the selection of MR DANNY GALLAGHER as the Parliamentary Candidate for the Copeland Constituency for the General Election on May 7th 2015.
Mr Gallagher, aged 55, has wide experience of local government and has worked in management in a range of organisations. He is currently a self-employed business consultant; working with a number of Cumbrian companies.
Mr Gallagher has a particular interest in vocational education for disadvantaged young people and in providing training opportunities for the unemployed and those who have dropped out of mainstream education. He has worked with a range of partners including the probation service and the police, as well as local authorities, and private sector agencies.
As a former councillor in Preston, Mr Gallagher has been a member of a many key committees, including those dealing with employment and environmental challenges. He has taken a special interest in the provision of more and better social housing. He is familiar with the staffing and policy issues confronted by councils at this time of financial stringency.
Mr Gallagher is keen to apply his extensive knowledge and experience to the difficulties and the opportunities which will confront West Cumbria in the immediate future. As Liberal Democrat candidate, he will argue for more investment in our area, the development of a stronger infrastructure, further investment in education and health, with the over-riding long-term aim of building a more resilient local economy and a fairer society.
Mr Gallagher is married with two children and has a strong personal interest in architecture and the built environment.
[ Printed, published and promoted by Roger Putnam on behalf of Danny Gallagher 
(Liberal Democrats) at Bower Bank, Irton, Holmrook, CA19 1TD. (Tel. 019467 23361) ]