Labour’s NHS pledge is pie in the sky.

This week Labour pledged an additional £37 billion of NHS funding, which sounds to me, as Shadow Health Secretary, like poorly-thought-out, pie in the sky policy.

You can’t solve the crisis in our NHS and social care services by simply imposing more top-down targets on staff and plucking numbers out of thin air.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a fully costed plan to deliver £6bn more per year for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax.

We are the only party that are prepared to be honest with the public that giving the NHS and social care the funding they need will mean us all chipping in a little more.

A group of 26 leading health experts, including the former chief executive of the NHS David Nicholson, have all backed our plans on the NHS in a letter to the Observer today.

To add your voice to theirs and back our plan to save the NHS and social care:

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We will honour Britain’s commitment to international development

We vow to honour Britain’s commitment to international development.

As part of the coalition, the Lib Dems managed to secure 0.7% of Britain’s gross national income for international development. It was one of our final acts in government, and it’s one we’re most proud of.

Since then, 0.7% has been a legal requirement, which has prevented the Conservatives and UKIP from stopping these vital funds getting to the world’s most vulnerable people.

Now, in the face of yet more callous opposition from the government, who are attempting to reduce the funding – the Lib Dems are making a stand.

The British people don’t have to settle for Theresa May’s cold, mean-spirited Britain.

Today, we have vowed to protect our 0.7% legacy and ensure that the UK continues to alleviate poverty across the world, helping to build a more secure and stable international community.

Why? Because UK aid prevents unimaginable suffering. It allows girls to stay in school, stops babies from dying from preventable illnesses, and ensures that farmers can sell their crops at a fair price.

And because a healthier, safer and more stable world is better for Britain. We should all be proud of our outward-looking, modern, progressive record as a global leader in international development.

If you want to fight for Britain’s legacy and protect the 0.7% pledge, support us today:

Back our plan to protect international development. Say you're voting for us today:


I’ve told Britain’s property developers: if you won’t build houses, the Lib Dems will

Today the Lib Dems are laying down the law to developers: unless you build the homes that Britain needs, we will.

The Conservative government has given developers a carte blanche to play the property market at the expense of our citizens. And now the country’s in crisis.

Not enough homes. Properties sitting empty. Exorbitant prices. The market is closed and exclusive: a fat cats’ game. That’s not good for people and it’s not good for business.

Today the Lib Dems are laying down the law to developers: unless you build the homes that Britain needs, we will.

We’re tired of the commercially unsound and short-sighted greed of developers, who buy up local authority land and sit on it until it appreciates. We’re tired of absent foreign investors, who’s attractive up-front cash is a false economy – contributing nothing to the improvement of the surrounding public realm.

The Lib Dems are taking decisive action on the housing crisis.

As a modern, pro-business party, we think commercial sense and social justice go hand in hand. That’s why we’ve put a progressive housing package at the heart of our new manifesto. It will include: building 300,000 homes a year by the end of the next parliament and giving local councils the power the charge absentee landlords up to 200% council tax on empty homes.

Why prioritise housing?

Making sure that the housing market is both profitable and socially beneficial is just pure good sense. But I also have personal reasons for standing behind this issue. As a teenager, I was inspired to get into politics by watching Cathy Come Home – a heartbreaking film about a couple who were made homeless – and I joined the housing charity Shelter as a result.

As an MP, I’ve seen first-hand the misery caused not having a proper home. For many people in the next generation, it is virtually impossible to get on the housing ladder. I think they deserve a helping hand.

If you want a government who will fight for everyone’s basic human need for shelter, who has the commercial clout to unpack the property monopolies which hold the market in a vice, then add your name here and say you're voting to change Britain's future on Thursday 8th June:

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The unregulated cannabis market is harming our young people. Something must be done.

The unregulated cannabis market is harming young people. The Liberal Democrats have a plan to change that:

The Liberal Democrats plan to break the grip of criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis.

Why are we doing this?

Because the current approach to cannabis has been a catastrophic failure.

Unregulated cannabis is freely available and widely used, generating significant mental and psychical health problems – especially for young people – who are being harmed by increasingly potent products.

And because organised criminals are making huge profits at the expense of people’s health, in an illegal industry with no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength. The UK cannabis economy is worth an estimated £7bn a year. We could put that money to better use.

Every British government so far has passed the buck of responsibility for this problem, thereby giving total control to the illegal rings who benefit from it. This is irresponsible and dangerous.

It’s time for an honest and pragmatic response. Only the Lib Dems can do this.

We propose a series of strict regulations, such as limiting sales of cannabis to over-18s, making cannabis safer by limiting its psychoactive chemical content, and taxing all cannabis sales (generating up to £1bn for investment in drug education and treatment).

How do we know it will work?

We’ve rigorously consulted a panel of experts, including senior police officers, drugs policy analysts and public health experts. They considered evidence from countries who’ve successfully legalised cannabis.

When a country as eminently sensible as Canada has come to the conclusion that regulation is better than prohibition, you know that the tide has turned. The question is now how to regulate responsibly and effectively. We can do it.

Full details of the regulatory model proposed by the party can be found in the report of the expert panel here: http://www.libdems.org.uk/a_regulated_cannabis_market_for_the_uk

If you believe Britain’s young people deserve a sensible, progressive policy on cannabis, support us today:

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Ending an historic injustice in mental health care

It's time to take mental health seriously - find out how we do that here:

Excellent healthcare is at the heart of our vision for Britain. As a leading liberal democracy, our public services should – and can be – the envy of the world. The Lib Dems are committed to making this vision a reality.

Last weekend, Tim Farron and I announced our five point NHS and care recovery plan, which laid out our health strategy for the next parliament – generating an extra £6bn funding boost.

Today, we are proud to announce that £1bn of this money will be ring-fenced and dedicated to 12 key priorities in mental health.

These priorities include improving waiting time standards for mental health care on the NHS, providing support for pregnant women, and trebling the number of people accessing psychological therapies.

You can read the full report here.

Why are we doing this? Because services have been stretched to breaking point under the Conservatives, and promises made under the coalition have been broken. Now people’s lives are at stake.

The Lib Dems believe that every progressive, future-facing country should prioritise the mental health of its people.

If you share this vision, support us today:


Have your say on retirement village plan

A PROPOSAL for a retirement village of more than 70 apartments and “cottages” was overwhelmingly opposed by the 40-plus people who attended a public meeting arranged by West Malling Parish Council on April 18 at West Malling Primary School.

Members of the public objected to the use of Green Belt land for housing and felt there were enough properties to cater for retired people in West Malling already.

A number of residents said the greatest housing need in West Malling was for affordable housing for younger families.

Objections also related to the size and design of the apartment blocks proposed for the London Road site.

However the application is an outline one only and therefore the details of such things as parking, and building design provided by the developer were for illustrative purposes only.

The parish council, which is a consultee on the application, has responded to the borough council that it opposes the application on the basis that there is no demonstrated community need for housing of this type to justify development of Green Belt land where it would be an inappropriate use.

Richard Selkirk, chairman of the planning committee, urged residents to send their views to Tonbridge and Malling Council, quoting reference TM//17/0509. 

 


CONCERNS OVER SCHOOL ADMISSIONS

PEOPLE have been urged to send in their views on the proposed federation of Brookfield Infant and Junior Schools.

Opening in September, the scheme would mean there would be one executive headteacher and single governing body, with a senior leadership structure in each school. Both schools would retain their separate identity in respect of budget, admissions, performance tables and Ofsted inspections.

The proposals were outlined at a parents’ drop in meeting but concerns were raised about the infant school being over-subscribed for the first time this year. County Cllr Trudy Dean said that 22 children, for whom Brookfield was their first preference, have been turned away. They included six who are thought to have a sibling link.

While supporting the proposed federation, Cllr Dean has taken up the issue of admissions with Jared Nehra, Area Education Officer. She urged KCC to consider expanding the school as a matter of urgency to enable it to take at least the pupils who have older siblings in the junior school and Larkfield pupils who have been unsuccessful. A temporary mobile classroom was suggested as the school’s preferred option to accommodate them.

In her response to the consultation, Cllr Dean said: “I think an executive head will strengthen the focus on teaching and learning, and the federation will facilitate inter school co-operation in teacher professional development and cross year working.”

Written responses to the federation proposals should be sent to Rachel Pearson, Clerk to the Governors, c/o School Office, Brookfield Infant school, Swallow Road, Larkfield, or email clerk@brookfield- infant.kent.sch.uk. Closing date is June 9. 


Trudy Dean steps down as Leader of Kent Liberal Democrats. Rob Bird elected as new Leader

At today's meeting of the Kent County Council Liberal Democrat group, Trudy Dean announced that she was stepping down from her position as Group Leader.

Trudy said "All leaders want to step down in favour of the safe hands of a talented successor.  I have worked very hard to lead and support the Lib Dem Group as a well informed and constructive group at KCC.

“I laid plans for my Deputy, Rob Bird to take my place two years ago and I am extremely pleased that today those plans have come to fruition.  I am absolutely confident that Rob has all the skills necessary to fulfil the role with great success. He is hard working and committed to the crucial role that Local Government plays in our county, especially for more vulnerable people. Having a background in finance, and serving as Chairman of Maidstone CAB, he has an excellent knowledge base from which to champion the needs of Kent people.  I was pleased to be asked to serve as his Deputy.”

Mrs Dean was re-elected in 2017 with an increased share of the vote in the Malling Central division comprising Larkfield, East Malling and West Malling.  She said "This is a job I enjoy, and there are many projects I still have to complete.”

Rob Bird commented “Trudy has served as Group Leader with great distinction for the past 20 years. She has massive experience and has commanded the respect of all members of the Council and of the people of Kent. I am extremely honoured to be her successor and delighted that she has agreed to be my Deputy.

“The recent elections have given Mr Carter’s Conservative group a very large majority which will be a challenge for all opposition members. But this does not diminish the need for effective opposition and scrutiny. The Liberal Democrats are committed to challenging the Administration to ensure that KCC services are efficiently, effectively and fairly provided for all Kent residents.”


£6bn extra a year for the NHS and care

 

Today, we've have announced our first election manifesto commitment; we will invest an extra £6bn a year in our NHS & Social Care system.

This new funding will be paid for through an immediate 1p rise on all rates of income tax.

This funding will be ring-fenced to be spent only on the NHS and social care and will provide vital services with the money they desperately need as part of a five point plan to put health and care services on a more sustainable footing long term.

This is our flagship spending commitment and our first major policy announcement for the election.

Our manifesto will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services. 

As he made the announcement, Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron, said:

"Theresa May doesn't care about the NHS or social care. People are lying on trolleys in hospital corridors and she has done nothing. The truth is you can't have a strong NHS with a Hard Brexit."

"The Liberal Democrats will rescue the NHS and social care. We are prepared to be honest with people and say that we will all need to chip in a little more."

"It is not too late to change Britain's future. The Conservatives want absolute power, Labour are too weak to stand up to them, so we will. The Liberal Democrats will be the strong opposition Britain needs."

Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Norman Lamb, added:

“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this plan is the first step in restoring it to where it should be."

“A penny on the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view."

“Simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services long-term."

“We also need to do much more to keep people fit and healthy and out of hospital, and that is why this new funding will be targeted to those areas that have the greatest impact on patient care such as social care, general practice, mental health and public health."

This our five-step plan for the NHS & Social Care:

  1. Introduce a 1% raise in income tax, generating £6bn a year
  2. Ring-fence ALL of this for the NHS and care, investing efficiently and effectively in social care, primary care, mental health and public health
  3. Introduce a dedicated Health and Care Tax, showing on people’s payslips exactly what we spend it on these vital services.
  4. Establish a cross-party health and care convention, consulting and working with patients, the public, NHS staff and care workers, to ensure our systems are sustainable and integrated and put on a sustainable financial footing in the long term.
  5. Introduce an Independent Office of Health and Care Funding to monitor health and care budgets, which would report every three years on how much money the system needs to flourish

Cllr Trudy Dean in the media - Kent News Article

Quote from Paul Carter

“Even though the opposition numbers may be limited, I can assure you the leader of the Liberal Democrats Trudy Dean is a very experienced and very sharp politician. 

“We hope they provide the right checks and balance and scrutiny of the big decisions we make and support this county council which has a very proud history to continue to go in the right direction. 

“We have collective responsibility on the big decisions.”

ON THE KCC ELECTION RESULT.                                                                                          

Kent Liberal Democrats performed  better than in the rest of the Country, and retained our seven seats on the County Council. We are disappointed that more of the falling Labour and UKIP votes didn't come our way, and sad to have lost a young and talented Councillor in Brian Clark. 

We are delighted that Antony Hook, fighting a very pro-European campaign, romped home in Faversham taking the seat from the Conservatives.

This means that, as before, we are now once again the second biggest party on Kent County Council, and will lead the opposition.
This shows that, while Labour have gone in and out of popularity, and UKIP have come and gone, the Lib Dems remain the enduring party of opposition to the Conservatives in Kent. 


ON HOLDING THE CONSERVATIVES TO ACCOUNT 

KCC has a Cabinet system which means all decisions are taken by only ten members of the 81 strong councillors.  Decisions can often be taken in private, or in emergency situations.  All committees are chaired by Conservatives who ultimately control the agenda.  

This makes it crucial that the ten cabinet members are questioned strongly on the decisions they make on caring for the elderly, schools, roads and traffic which are KCCs responsibility. With only 14 members of the opposition that will be a difficult job, particularly when all Labour members are new councillors.  But no one is right all the time.  KCC got it wrong when they proposed turning off street lights from midnight.  We got that changed through using the Scrutiny process. 

Paul Carter, Leader of the Conservative  Group has said that he believes it is important that we have effective examination of Cabinet members.  I agree.  In my view, he must demonstrate he means that by making sure that KCC's single Cabinet Scrutiny Committee is chaired by an opposition member. That is best practice nationally, and was recommended by the Independent Panel to KCC who told Mr Carter in public that effective scrutiny cannot be achieved if the process is controlled by the Conservatives.   
I shall be writing to Mr Carter to ask him to make this change.  With a membership of 67 members of the 81 strong Council, there is no way the Conservatives can be outvoted.  I can see no good reason why he should resist making the change to ensure that questioning is as challenging as it needs to be to ensure KCC's services are as good as they can be. 

ON THE GENERAL ELECTION

We must use the next few weeks to firstly explain to people what HARD BREXIT , SOFT BREXIT, and the SINGLE MARKET mean, probably for the first time.  Most people haven't a clue and the referendum debate was a confusing, shambolic disgrace.

Secondly, it doesn't matter whether you voted to leave or remain, no one knows right now what deal we are going to get with Europe.  It's like early retirement.  It's a lovely idea but it depends on the deal you get out of your employer because it's going to have to last the rest of your life.

So it makes perfect sense that the final deal should be agreed by a  vote of the British people.  The Liberal Democrat party is the only party which is arguing for that.

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