Pro EU in East Grinstead

Wealden Libdems joined East Grinstead Libdems on their pro EU stand last Saturday. They had an interesting morning. 77 cards were signed for the local MP, Nicholas Soames requesting that he supports a “Peoples Vote” on the final deal.!

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Human Rights explained in 2 minutes

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The People’s Vote in Tunbridge Wells

Wealden LibDems joined with Tunbridge Wells LibDems to campaign for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal in Tunbridge Wells centre on Saturday.

Campaigning for the People's Vote in Tunbridge Wells

There was great support for the pro-EU stall with a good group of volunteers talking to passers-by and plenty of lively debate about a possible Brexit deal, or no deal, or the option to stay in! People were reminded that it’s not too late to cancel Brexit altogether and get out of the current impasse and give political space to address other pressing issues on the NHS, housing and local government cuts.

Over 90 people signed postcards to local MP, Greg Clark, asking him to support a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal and with an option to stay on the ballot paper…

Everyone was invited to take part in the Brexitometer poll to say whether, if we were to leave the EU, it would be good for trade, jobs, NHS and families. A substantial majority thought any kind of Brexit would be bad for everything and supported having a final People’s Vote on any deal…


Elsewhere a new nation-wide poll on the EU found that over 100 constituencies which voted to leave in 2016 now want to remain in the EU. See the map here. This is very encouraging news at national level and means that a majority of Westminster Mps (including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove) now represent remain-voting constituencies. There are no big changes in the South-East however, but although no constituencies have changed majority from leave to remain the results do show significant shifts towards remain in towns like Eastbourne and Crawley. Wealden stays about the same narrow majority for ‘leave’ – and Tunbridge Wells stays the same for ‘remain’…

We encourage everyone who wants to take action to sign the People’s Vote petition here and to consider joining us in London on 20 October for the biggest anti-Brexit march yet on Westminster to pressure our MPs to do the right thing for our country and get an Exit from Brexit !

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Why this nation of ours is facing a perilous nine months

Wealden Libdem Alan Whittaker says

Two of correspondents of the Sussex Express last week (July 27 ’18), Ukippers both of them, demonstrated why this nation of ours is facing a perilous nine months.

“Ex-county councilor, Laurence Keeley, is right in saying the LibDems want to remain in the EU, but so wrong in saying Tory cuts to council services are caused by our membership of that body, the richest democratic market in the world. He seems to have forgotten ex-Chancellor Osborne’s austerity policy. In the EU, we are prosperous and have a major say in its administration; outside, trading on our own as though the nineteenth century has not gone away, we will be heading for the bottom of any prosperity league and more cuts to services.

“Councillor Latham lauded President Trump and berated the news media for fake news about the president. I won’t labour the irony. The Donald is happy for the UK to leave the EU because he thinks that will lead to a weakening and eventual break up of the Union. That, of course, will remove the US’s main economic competitor and leave the way open for exports of chlorine-washed poultry carcasses and GM crops. A Brexit Britain will be too cash-strapped to do anything about it.

“However, American big business sees economics differently from the president. In recent weeks such international firms as Ford, FedEx and Nike have raised concerns about stability and a global economic downturn. American Airlines is worried that it will be unable to use Heathrow should Brexit actually occur.

“On this side of the Atlantic, John Nelson, the former chairman of Lloyds, the City’s insurance market, told the Financial Times that business people should be more open about Brexit and the damage it will do to the economy. He has reportedly said ‘…I think the population do not understand the consequences of what we are heading for at all.”

“Someone who has led Lloyds should know just how disastrous Brexit would be. I wonder how many people are listening?”

Posted in Alan Whittaker, Economy, EU, Exit from Brexit, Liberal Democrats, Wealden | Comments Off on Why this nation of ours is facing a perilous nine months

Gareth says “We hear you!”

Local Liberal Democrat campaigner Gareth Owen-Williams has been out finding out what issues most matter to residents of Jarvis Brook in Crowborough.

After knocking on doors in every road in Jarvis Brook, it’s clear there are five major issues that top local people’s concerns:
1. Potholes
2. Parking
3. Better facilities
4. Shops
5. Traffic

Gareth says

‘A massive thank you to everyone who completed our survey in Jarvis Brook.At At a time when many people feel local representatives just aren’t listening, it was very rewarding to find out what issues affect many people’s lives, and I’ve
already been active trying to make progress on several fronts.’

If you missed the survey and want to fill it in, email Gareth email_icon

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Tim Murray – LibDem candidate for Uckfield Town Council 12 July

Tim Murray (right) with fellow LibDem Paul Sparks

Tim Murray (right) with fellow LibDem Paul Sparks

I am Tim Murray standing in the Uckfield North Ward, Town Council by-election, on Thursday July 12th.

Your vote really matters, so I would ask you to consider very carefully who you support.

I am local, having lived on Manor Park in the North of Uckfield since we moved here with our then young children more than 20 years ago. Our children attended the local primary school and Uckfield Community Technical College.

I have always been interested in the local community. I was a school governor for Manor Primary School for 12 years, and in that time represented the school on County wide forums for governors.

At elections, it can be better to vote for the person, that you think will work hardest to represent your views locally. You deserve to be represented by someone, living at the heart of the community, who has the experience of community service, the experience and skills of business and life, who will listen and work for you,

I am a regular commuter to London where I work for a consultancy advising business and public bodies on purchasing. Through my job I have also travelled widely throughout the UK, Europe, China and America. Being home every day means I am always here to help.

I have been a member of the Liberal Democrat Party for 21 years. I believe that the Open, Tolerant and United values of the Party, and our belief in equal opportunity for everyone means we work for all the people in our community, young and old.

Our Town Council should not be dominated by Party or other groups, sometimes with their own agenda. The limited powers of the council means it is important to be able to build networks with community groups, district and county councillors and businesses to support our Town.

Working together to achieve what is best for our community in Uckfield should be the common ambition for all Councillors.

By-election in the North Ward of Uckfield Town Council
Voting is from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm on Thursday 12th July

To be sure where to vote please check the Wealden District Council Website here. There are two polling stations depending on where you live (Only approximate areas)

Church Coombe The Belmont Centre 

Manor Park Area Manor Primary School

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Liberal Democrat March for Europe Saturday 23 June

On Saturday, June 23rd 2018, there will be an anti-Brexit march calling for a vote on the final deal in London.

As the only political party that is clearly and firmly opposed to Brexit, the federal party is organising a major Liberal Democrats presence at this event.

LibDem MEP Catherine Bearder says:

“Time is getting very tight, but it is still possible to stop Brexit. As Europe waits for real answers on the hundreds of issues to be sorted, Mrs May is wasting time trying unite her quarrelsome cabinet, not putting the fate of our country first.

“To make matters worse Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is still cowering behind the sofa rather than being a real opposition.

“If there was ever a time for the people to stand up and demand to be listened to it is now – and they are.

“23rd June is the second anniversary of the European referendum Leavers lied about having a plan and it’s now clear that there is no plan for our exit. It’s costing us all money, jobs, damaging the NHS and the future for peace and security for our young.

“So I am asking you to join me on 23rd June as we march through London – to give voice to the people’s concerns.

“The march will reconfirm our commitment to EU membership and call for a public vote on the deal – when people, not politicians, should have the final say.

“It’s what Liberal Democrats have been calling for since day one.

“I will also be joined by MEPs from all parties at this march. This is real, European cross-party cooperation.

“So, I’m asking you to join together with me and with thousands of other pro-Europeans and march on Mrs May’s front doorstep. Wear your blue hats, bring your flags and swell the crowds.

“We really can do this – public opinion has shifted hugely, we now need to make sure those in Westminster listen to us.”

If you wish to join the LibDem group on the march please RSVP here.

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Lib Dem MP takes ban on ‘upskirting’ to the verge of law

A private member’s Bill aimed at protecting an individual’s dignity from intrusive photographs has been taken to the verge of becoming law by the Liberal Democrats, and would have completed its legislative passage but for an outrageous objection by a Conservative MP.

Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse, who was elected to the House of Commons last year, proposed a private member’s Bill that would ban the practice of ‘upskirting’ – taking photos with a selfie stick under a person’s skirt – and other forms of photography under a person’s clothes without their permission.

Wera Hobhouse

Having gained cross-party support, the Bill looked set to pass into law, but was thwarted by a single Conservative MP with a history of obstructing compassionate measures. Despite this, the Bill is still expected to get through the Commons in the next few weeks.

The Conservative MP, Christopher Chope, used a parliamentary convention that allows a single MP to object to a private Bill on the grounds of insufficient time to consider it if it’s being debated after 2.30pm on a Friday. Sir Christopher simply had to say ‘Object’ and the Bill was stopped, though it is expected to come back to the House early next month.

Wealden Lib Dems’ parliamentary spokesperson Chris Bowers said: “Wera Hobhouse’s Bill is very important. She has taken a really well-founded campaign by various activists, and turned it into a piece of parliamentary legislation that looks set to become law. It has become known as ‘upskirting’, but it would apply to all photos taken under someone’s clothing without their permission, which is particularly important in an age dominated by social media.

“I met Christopher Chope when he was a junior transport minister in the early 1990s, and he was as unreconstructed then as he is now. I don’t mind the odd maverick MP as they keep us intellectually on our toes, but this man has form in obstructing compassionate legislation – he blocked measures to scrap hospital parking charges for carers, to make revenge evictions an offence, and to increase penalties for those who attack police dogs. At the same time he has voted to strengthen MPs’ privileges and demanded Twitter take down an account parodying him.

“His behaviour is a disgrace, and once again shows up the Conservative party to be the nasty party. Many Conservative MPs are embarrassed about his actions, yet the fact that Chope avoids party censure shows that he reflects the party’s culture.”

Posted in Chris Bowers, Liberal Democrats, Wera Hobhouse, Westminster Parliament | Comments Off on Lib Dem MP takes ban on ‘upskirting’ to the verge of law

Tory and Labour party problems starting to damage democracy

Wealden Libdems Parliamentary Spokesperson Chris Bowers draws attention to an article in the Independent by Labour MP Chuka Umunna.

In the article Mr Umunna talks about progressive alliance arrangements, saying

“Last week a number of my parliamentary colleagues, including Jon Cruddas, Clive Lewis and Ruth Lister, wrote an open letter to the party calling for the three members to be reinstated and for progressive alliance arrangements of this sort to be allowed to stop the Tories.

“I am instinctively a pluralist and not overly tribal in my politics so have some sympathy for the case being made. I have always obeyed the rules of my party on this – and I always back Labour candidates – but I have a genuinely open mind about whether the rules should be changed to allow for this, because of our anachronistic, outdated and undemocratic national voting system that forces tactical manoeuvres of this kind.”

“This sorry state of affairs is one of many reasons why I have always been a passionate advocate of changing the rotten voting system we have to a system of proportional representation. It is the system we use to elect members of the Scottish parliament, Welsh assembly and the London assembly – where they have constituency members and top up members to ensure a more representative body – so it should be good enough for the UK parliament too.”

Chris BowersChris Bowers comments

“If a Liberal Democrat had written this article, people would say it was biased and self-serving. The fact that a senior figure in the Labour party has written it should make people think. There’s a lot of inherent good sense in the column.”

Posted in Chris Bowers, Democracy, Liberal Democrats, Wealden, Westminster Parliament | Comments Off on Tory and Labour party problems starting to damage democracy

Wealden LibDems fight to save essential music service

Teachers, pupils and parents across East Sussex are bracing themselves for the news on Monday April 30 that the Lead Member for Education and Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability, Cllr Bob Standley, will recommend a review leading to the end of music instrument teaching to individuals and small groups.

Cllr Standley, who represents North East Wealden, including Mayfield, Rotherfield and Wadhurst, is expected to start the process after 84 years of music teaching in East Sussex. The Music Service currently delivers lessons to around 7000 children in schools, while nearly 1000 children aged between 4 and 18 attend area music centres each week.

Gareth Owen-WilliamsLibDem campaigner Gareth Owen-Williams in Crowborough says: “It’s too easy for councils to see music as irrelevant when setting budgets, whereas professionals know its immense value in self-esteem, mental health and personal development – not to mention the huge financial contribution it makes to the national economy. We urge Cllr Standley to consider very carefully the long term damage cuts will cause.”

A Year 8 Beacon Academy student has been learning to play the clarinet for five years and provided the following statement on the school’s website: “Now I am in Year 8 I can see how much of a benefit it has been for me in my life so far. With the supporting, friendly teachers, the East Sussex Music Service has improved my confidence levels massively, both in myself and in front of others. Closing the Music Service would absolutely devastate me and the future generations of musicians.”

The issue has captured the attention of professionals outside of the county too.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, says: “The news that East Sussex County Council is proposing to close their Music Service by 2019 is deeply concerning. Music is central to our cultural life, a key driver of economic growth, and has a positive impact on children’s cognitive development and emotional wellbeing. We are joining the thousands of voices calling for the Council to consider the impact the closure of the Music Service will have and to find an alternative proposal that would allow the service to continue.”

Gareth Owen-Williams adds: “These draconian cuts along with other vital services are the result of central government’s obsessive austerity programme. It’s time the people who will be affected by this are given a chance to voice their opinion.”

Posted in Crowborough, East Sussex, Education, Gareth Owen-Williams, Liberal Democrats, Wealden, Young people | Comments Off on Wealden LibDems fight to save essential music service