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.

Lib Dem Trudy Dean retains Malling Central seat in County Council election

LONG-standing Liberal Democrat county councillor Trudy Dean retained her Malling Central seat with 2,576 votes.

Voters went to the polls on Thursday, May 4 and results were announced today, Friday, May 5.

There was a 36 per cent turnout for the Malling Central seat.


Barrister, Thomas Quinton Selected as the Chatham and Aylesford Liberal Democrat Candidate

Chatham and Aylesford Liberal Democrats are proud to announce that they have selected Barrister, Thomas Quinton as their parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Chatham and Aylesford.

Thomas first came to know the Medway towns in the 1990s attending all the local courts through his job as a barrister. A graduate of the London School of Economics, he has a passion for bringing people together and reducing the gap between the different opportunities children have depending on the circumstances of their parents.

Thomas sees equality of opportunity as the key to strengthening our economy and unlocking everyone's potential in life.  After becoming a father, himself in his mid-thirties, he made the difficult decision to leave his successful legal practice of 10 years to pursue his passion by helping people build local enterprises. For the last eight years, Thomas has been active in this part of the economy and is a strong supporter of small, local businesses and social enterprises.

Whilst our links to London are crucial to our local economy and wellbeing, Thomas is keen to see the local economy develop to meet local needs even better and more in harmony with the countryside around us. Above all, he wants to see all our children have the opportunities they need to reach their full potential in life.

Chatham and Aylesford Liberal Democrats Constituency Chairman, Cllr. David Thornewell, has welcomed Thomas’s selection as a Parliamentary candidate and has said, 'It is great to put forward someone who is not a professional politician. I am looking forward to Thomas making great inroads into the Chatham and Aylesford vote and presenting an opportunity for our electorate to vote for sensible policies.

Thomas can be contacted by e-mailing him at tom@tonbridgeandmallinglibdems.org.uk


Liberal Democrats expected to surpass 100,000 members Voters flock to Liberal Democrats after Theresa May calls snap general election


The Liberal Democrat membership surge is about to take the party to a landmark 100,000 members – thanks to a staggering 12,500 joining since Theresa May announced the snap General Election last Tuesday.

Reaching six figures makes the party bigger than it has been since the mid-1990s and puts it on course to reach its highest membership ever within days. The biggest the party has been since its formation is 101,768 in 1994.

It means that more than 50,000 members have joined since last year’s European referendum and more than 67,500 since the 2015 General Election.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron pledged to build the party to 100,000 members by the end of the parliament as a key pledge during his 2015 leadership campaign - but at that point everyone expected the end of the parliament to be 2020.

Join the Liberal Democrats

Tim Farron said:

“Thousands of people are joining the Liberal Democrats every day because they want to change Britain’s future.

“People want a strong opposition to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit agenda and the Liberal Democrats are the only party challenging them up and down the country. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has completely failed, offering no opposition whatsoever and giving Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue a Hard Brexit.

“This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to stop a disastrous Hard Brexit, if you want to keep Britain in the Single Market, if you want a strong opposition to fight for an open, tolerant and united Britain, this is your chance.”

 https://youtu.be/8F71RzAPB70

The landmark figure is just the latest sign of the party’s gathering momentum:

  • The latest poll in Sunday’s Observer gave the party a four point increase. The party is consistently polling between 11-14%, close to double its average for most of 2015 and 2016.
  • We are on a winning streak. Not only did we win the Richmond Park by-election in stunning style in December 2016, we have had an astonishing run of council by-election gains – more than 30 since last May – making it the best year for by-election gains in the party’s history. We are winning from the Tories, Labour and UKIP, and in areas that voted both Leave and Remain. We are also the only party to have increased its share of the vote in every recent parliamentary by-election.
  • We have over-taken Labour in fundraising. In the last quarter of 2016, the Liberal Democrats raised nearly £2m – more money than the Labour Party for the first time ever.

Liberal Democrats rule out coalition with May’s Conservatives or Corbyn’s Labour

Tim Farron has ruled out doing any coalition deals with Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn after the election.

Every Liberal Democrat vote and every Liberal Democrat MP elected is a challenge to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit agenda. In the next parliament we will fight to stop a disastrous Hard Brexit, keep Britain in the Single Market and make sure people have their say on the final Brexit deal in a referendum with remain as an option.

We don't rule out future coalitions - we believe in plural politics - but we won't do one with May or Corbyn.

 https://youtu.be/DzVw1pTCIrg

This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to stop a Hard Brexit, if you want to keep us in the Single Market, if you want a real opposition, this is your chance. But you can only do that by voting Liberal Democrat.

With a large number of pro-European Lib Dem MPs in the next parliament we can force the government to soften its approach to Brexit and give people the final say over what comes next.

What about the Tories?

Under no conditions can we sign up to Theresa May's Hard Brexit agenda. She is going to be the Prime Minister - that's not in doubt. Our job will be to hold her to account and fight for the things we believe in – above all else our membership of the single market and for the people to have the final say on the deal.

What about Labour?

Everybody knows Jeremy Corbyn won't be the next Prime Minister. There is no prospect of a coalition that would put him in power. There are many issues that Labour and the Liberal Democrats agree on and many people on their side that we respect - but we won't put Corbyn into power. He is pro-Brexit, has promised to pull us out of the single market and marched his MPs and Peers through the lobbies to vote for article 50 without any concessions from the Tories. On top of that, he would be a disaster for the country - he has no plan for the country, our economy and offers no leadership.

Are you ruling out a progressive alliance?

We want to work with like-minded, pro-European people of all parties and none to oppose Theresa May's Hard Brexit agenda and fight for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united. But everyone knows Jeremy Corbyn won't be the next Prime Minister and we wouldn't want him to be. We will work with pro-European MPs in any party to stand up to the Conservatives over Hard Brexit, but Corbyn is not that - and there is no prospect of a coalition that would put him in power.

Would you join a coalition with the SNP?

We won’t be doing a deal with the SNP at Westminster because, whatever they might say, they are only interested in getting independence. They will not be interested in making a success of the UK.


Jeremy Corbyn can't lead his party, let alone a country

 

Jeremy Corbyn is never going to be Prime Minister because he can't even lead his own party, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn's speech today, Liberal Democrat Shadow First Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael said: “Jeremy Corbyn is never going to be Prime Minister. He can’t lead his own party, let alone our country. The more people see him, the less they want to vote for him.

"That is not just my view. It is the view of the 172 Labour MPs who just last year said they had no confidence in his leadership.

“That’s why senior Labour figures such as Bob Marshall-Andrews are defecting to the Liberal Democrats.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has waved the white flag on Brexit, is failing as an opposition and has given Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue a divisive Hard Brexit. They are hopelessly divided, have no plan for the economy and are clearly unfit for government.

“This is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit, if you want to keep Britain in the Single Market, if you want Britain to have a decent opposition – vote Liberal Democrat.

“The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united."


Liberal Democrats double size of membership since 2015 general election In the short time since the snap General Election was announced the Liberal Democrats have gained over 2,500 new members

The Liberal Democrat General Election campaign has got off to a flying start as new members have seen the party double in size since May 2015.

In the short time since the snap General Election was announced the Liberal Democrats have gained over 2,500 new members.

Commenting on the surge Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said: “This election is a chance to change the direction of our country and thousands are joining our fight.

“If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.

Join the Liberal Democrats

"Thousands of people up and down the country are joining the Liberal Democrats so that we can send a message to Theresa May and the Conservative Brexit Government that we do not want a hard Brexit.

“In this General Election it is clear that only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”


Vote Liberal Democrat in the General Election to stop a hard Brexit Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron responds to snap general election announcement

 

If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.

What this means for Britain

Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.

Labour won’t win any seats off the Conservatives.

The SNP could only possibly win one seat off the Conservatives.

But there are dozens of Conservative seats where the Lib Dems are the challengers. The only way to stop Theresa May winning a majority is by the Lib Dems winning in those seats.

The only way to prevent a Conservative majority is by voting Liberal Democrat.

The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael explains what this means for Britain:

How you can help

If you want to change the direction of your country, join the Liberal Democrats today.

More than 500 people joined the party in the 20 minutes after Theresa May announced the snap election. This is your chance to do the same.

Join the Liberal Democrats

You can also join the Liberal Democrats' growing army of volunteers. Whether you can help out for several weeks, or just a few hours, we need you!

Whether you prefer to deliver leaflets, talk to voters on the phone or help out with office admin, your help will make a huge difference.

And if you've never volunteered before, you're not alone. 75% of people who have joined our national volunteer team are new!

Volunteer

Elections run on money - and unlike Labour, we aren't funded by the Trade Unions and unlike the Tories we aren't funded by big business. We rely on donations from ordinary people, like you. So please, donate today and help us elect more Liberal Democrat MPs and change the direction of our country:

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