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

Danny Gallagher photo
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) ]

Copeland Mayor: Press Release

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.



Our Place in the Global Economy: Elizabeth Barraclough in the Whitehaven News

Elizabeth Barraclough

‘It’s the Economy, stupid’ was Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 Presidential campaign message. And it is probably as true now that the economy is enormously important. However, controlling or forecasting the economy has become even more difficult.

We are living in an increasingly interconnected world. There are many global companies that have turnover greater than some national governments. Most of these companies have the simple aim of maximising profit for their shareholders within the law. Countries compete to provide a financial environment, particularly the tax regime, to attract such companies who provide jobs and income, eg Luxembourg and Amazon. So what should our next government do? As Liberal Democrats we believe we have to cooperate, particularly within Europe, to get a fairer tax regime for global companies.

At home we can aspire to reducing the national debt but in the global economy it is not wholly under our control so a proportionate approach has to be taken. The Liberal Democrat objective is to eradicate the current account deficit by 2017/18 so that we live within our income each year. The long term debt we would keep falling as a percentage of GDP.

It is the duty of government to protect and care for its citizens; this must include concern for fair wages for all. The Tories, funded by big business, believe in the trickle down effect to their employees from businesses that flourish but what we have seen is the divide between top salaries and wages expanding from 8 to 1 to 10 to 1. Liberal Democrats believe that we should help wage earners directly. So we pushed the coalition government to raise the initial tax level to £10,500. We would raise this again to £12,500 which is roughly what someone on the minimum wage could earn, still not reaching a fair wage. At the other end of the scale we believe the wealthiest should bear more of the burden and we would introduce a banded high value property tax on homes over £2 million.

Promises, promises but can we keep them? Liberal Democrats have learnt a lot from being in the coalition government and know how difficult it is to escape from recession into growth. What we are determined to achieve is a fairer society and to tackle the wider aspects of the economy by cooperation and agreement within Europe. We may be an island but we cannot be insular.

Elizabeth Barraclough

Executive member, Copeland and Workington Liberal Democrats

Phill Roberts to fight for Workington

News Release 13th Jan 2015

Phill Roberts UTC reduced file size

Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats have selected Local Community Supporter and Chair of Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats Phill Roberts to stand for the Workington Constituency in the forthcoming General Election

Liberal Democrat candidates have to undertake assessment and selection procedures plus attend Local Party hustings before being selected as a candidate.

Phill Roberts stood for the Workington Constituency in 1997 and is a previous Allerdale BC councillor. Phill is currently a Bromfield Parish Councillor and chairs a number of community projects including Aspatria Community Transport and Keswick carers.

Phill is also a passionate supporter of the campaign against inequality and the fight for a Living Wage.

Phill Roberts said

‘I am delighted to have been selected by the Workington Liberal Democrats to represent the Libdems at the 2015 election.

The Liberal Democrats have ensured that the country has had a stable government during very difficult financial times. Difficult decisions have had to be made in order to balance the country’s finances and the Liberal Democrats have ensured that the decisions made have been fair decisions.

We can’t however say that at this time we are all in it together when the mega rich get richer and the poorest in society get left behind.

Our society needs to ensure opportunity for all not just the few.’


For further information please contact

Phill Roberts on 01697321609 or 07730284529

Or email [email protected] or twitter phillrobertsli1

Press Release from West Cumbria Liberal Democrats Annual Dinner



Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrat s

NUCLEAR PRESENTATION TO: Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats by Barry Watkinson (Nuclear Development Director) Morgan Sindall

The Copeland & Workington Liberal democrats held their Annual AGM & Dinner at the

Hundith Hill Hotel on the evening of the 27th Nov 2014

Following the AGM Hundith Hill Hotel provided dinner for the Liberal Democrat members and guests.

Phill Roberts (Chair, Copeland and Workington Liberal Democrats) welcomed and introduced Barry Watkinson to the assembled members and guests for a presentation on the current planning and development for the new Nuclear Reactor at the Moorside Site adjacent to Sellafield.

Barry Watkinson informed the audience of the current planning and preparation for the Moorside site that was needed before work could actually start after 2017 including the infrastructure changes to roads leading to both the Sellafield and Moorside sites.

Barry provided an insight into the possible future developments of the Moorside site over the next 30 years and the scale of the current and future projects that would bring investment and jobs to West Cumbria

Barry’s vision went beyond current projects and provided an indication of the many possibilities and opportunities for the people of West Cumbria from the development of a National Nuclear Centre of Excellence based on the west coast of Cumbria.

He mapped out the considerable additional investment required in education and skills development that would be needed for Cumbria to take full advantage of the opportunities.

Following his presentation Barry was able to answer a number of questions from a very knowledgeable audience in regard to the generation of electricity from Nuclear Power including questions on nuclear waste and its safe storage.

Although Barry agreed with the Liberal Democrats that Cumbria’s geology may not be the best in the UK for safe storage of Nuclear Waste Barry was of the opinion that an engineering solution could be found to overcome the differences in geology and that any waste should be retrievable in the future.

Phill Roberts (Chair, Copeland & Workington Liberal democrats) in conclusion said

“I would like to thank Barry Watkinson for his presentation on future developments in the nuclear industry and all in the nuclear industry who have had the vision to prepare for this investment including the staff at UTC and the NNL in Workington

If the people of Cumbria and in particular West Cumbria are to take full advantage of all the opportunities in hosting the nuclear industry then we will need more investment in our infrastructure , roads, education and not least our hospital on the West Coast at Whitehaven

The safe storage of nuclear waste remains a challenge to all and wherever it is stored it must be retrievable. There is now general acceptance that Cumbria’s geology is in its self unsuitable for the development of a GDF and we therefore, as a party, remain opposed to the sitting of a GDF in Cumbria.

Whether an engineering solution can be found remains open to debate”


For further information please contact:

Phill Roberts 07730284529 or at [email protected] or on Twitter at phillrobertsli

Views on Scotland and the UK

The skies have cleared and Scotland is clearly back in view as part of the UK.

This photo shows the view from a classroom at the new Energy Coast UTC.

View resized

West Cumbrian Liberal Democrats fought to save the UK through traditional canvassing and through the use of traditional and social media.  Rebecca Hanson took to using social medial.  You can explore her views on Libdem Voice.

Phill Roberts went up to Scotland to campaign.  Phill and Roger Putnam have been writing about the future of the UK in the local press. If you missed them they’re available below.  Nick Clegg’s views are also well worth a read and are available here


Dear Sir


Scotland has now voted to remain part of our United Kingdom; however we should not underestimate the depth of feeling that brought us to the brink of Scotland going its own way.


A profound distrust of the current political and constitutional structures and our politicians over many years has now become entrenched in public opinion allowing nationalism to take the place of patriotism.


That such a sizeable minority of Scots voted Yes should be no surprise.


Already, vested interests in the Conservative and Labour parties are conspiring to block and undermine constitutional reform at a time when we should be listening to the call from our communities and regions for devolved powers from Westminster.


The call for devolved powers is however not new and some of the arguments for and against continue to be played out at a national and local level.


Devolution and the arguments for and against were a major issue within British politics in the mid 1990s resulting in John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister, attempting to devolve powers to the regions.


This attempt failed when the North East voted emphatically No albeit on a very low poll to the proposals. Will people be any more engaged in the debate following Scotland’s independence vote?


Some of the reasons that persuaded people to oppose devolution at the time included the cost of setting up new democratic structures and the possibility of having even more councillors at a time when the credibility of our democratic representatives were at an all time low; a position that has not improved greatly.


We certainly do not need more councillors, and constitutional reform should provide us with the opportunity to restructure our councils so that we have unitary authorities and strengthened parish councils.


Has Scotland and the Independence Vote refocused our belief in self determination and control over our own circumstances, tax raising, welfare, health, housing and economic development?


There is a widespread view that economic growth will only be balanced and sustainable with devolution of key economic powers and functions to our cities and that our cities will then be the drivers of economic growth.


However, would devolved powers to our cities and urban areas create further divisions and tensions, as indicated by the disagreements between our local councillors when rehashing old arguments about towns getting more resources than the villages and rural areas?


The current ambivalence to involvement in our democratic processes and distrust of our political representation will prove a considerable hurdle to getting the electorate engaged in the debate regarding devolving powers.


All people are calling for is a fair system that represents their wishes and feelings, not some system that supports party factional or vested interests.


Any model of devolution will be devalued undermined and not trusted unless we can support it with credible democratic structures and systems that people and communities can have confidence in.


There is therefore a strong argument that we should return to the call for devolution: an English Parliament and a federal system of governance. However, this time we should also guarantee that we have a fairer voting system where everyone’s vote counts and everyone feels included.


Simply giving more powers to English MPs does nothing to empower our local communities and regions.


Rebuilding confidence in our democratic systems and representation can only be achieved with an open and transparent process of devolving powers from Westminster that ensures Localism meets the needs of all in our communities and is not simply another “buzzword”.


We need to know your views. Please leave any comments on www.wcldfocusteam.org.uk where you will also find further information, or contact Phill on twitter @phillrobertsli1


Phill Roberts

(Chair, Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats)


Former Chair, Copeland Liberal Democrats
‘Now for radical change in England as well.’  
I watched the news from Scotland last Friday with a profound sense of relief. Had Scotland chosen to secede from the UK my feeling would have been one of deep bereavement. I know that many others in Cumbria would have shared this sentiment.
Scotland has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I value the long alliance between England and this nation which has given so much to the UK in philosophy, literature, science, engineering and sport, whilst maintaining its own unique and separate culture.
However the Scottish ‘YES’ campaign highlighted many issues which have been building for far too long. It is clear that too many people are alienated from the political process as it operates at present. There is scepticism about the motives of politicians, frustration at the lack of attention paid to the needs of those living far from Westminster, a sense that democracy is not working as it should. This results in steadily decreasing turnout at elections, which then creates openings for sinister political forces hostile to an open, pluralist society.
It is my hope that the remarkable campaign we have just witnessed in Scotland will force a genuine re-examination of our governance arrangements across the UK. I believe we need a comprehensive review of our present system of government by a broadly-based Constitutional Convention, rather than a rushed, inadequate process as proposed by the Prime Minister. This Convention should represent the wider communities and interests of the country, and not simply the narrow political elite.
Liberal Democrats have long called for such changes. We must extend power beyond Westminster to the vibrant communities of the north, the midlands and the south-west. Great cities such as Carlisle, Newcastle, Birmingham and Bristol need greater autonomy to serve their people and their regions. And in my view the only way to overcome the democratic imbalance which exists (whereby Scottish MPs can vote on all English matters, yet English MPs are powerless to influence most Scottish legislation) is by creating a new legislature – an English Parliament – based ideally in Manchester or Leeds. The UK federal legislature would remain at Westminster, supported by an entirely new Senate, representing all UK nations and regions, replacing the anachronism which is the House of Lords. 
This will cost money, but it will be money well spent. At the same time we must improve our inadequate system of local government – and save money – by replacing the remaining district councils with single-tier local government authorities elected by a proportional system, whilst strengthening the influence of parish and town councils. And then maybe, just maybe, we could build a culture of co-operation rather than conflict among our politicians.
To contact West Cumbria Liberal Democrats visit  wcld.focusteam.org.uk  
 or telephone Roger Putnam on 019467 23361