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.

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.

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