School cuts – West Berkshire Council proposes charging schools who need help

Judith Bunting at Park House School, Newbury, during
the recent election campaign.
With Ian Millar, Head of Physics.

This week West Berkshire Council announced plans for financial “task forces” to be sent into the district’s struggling schools to help heads manage their budgets. They are also threatening to charge any school that requires ‘the task force intervention’.
Judith Bunting, Parliamentary Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats in Newbury, said: “This is another shockingly negative move from the Conservatives on West Berkshire Council. They present this issue as if our schools are failing, In reality, the actions of West Berkshire Council and the Conservative Government mean that many local schools have not only suffered significant cuts to their funding, but at the same time are being expected to provide more services around children’s mental health and other matters.”
Judith continued, “West Berkshire Council should be glad to help schools doing their best to keep up standards of education under such onslaught, not chastise them and then charge them for the privilege.”
This week, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran told national press about the hypocrisy surrounding Justine Greening’s announcement £1.3bn of additional funding for schools. In reality, she said, this ‘additional funding’ will come from “efficiencies” from within the education budget:
“This is a desperate attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Instead of providing the £4bn of extra funding promised in their manifesto, the Conservatives are recycling cash from the education budget. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Schools are still facing cuts to their budgets once inflation and increasing class sizes are taken into account.
“Children only get one go at education. We need to invest more in our schools to ensure that no child is left behind.”
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Judith Bunting on BBC Radio Berkshire talking about Mental Health Funding


Mental health awareness week ended yesterday and this morning, Judith Bunting, was speaking on BBC Radio Berkshire about Mental health.

BBC Radio Berkshire Andrew Peach Show 15/05/2017

The interview starts from 25 minutes into the show, but is preceded by a relevant interview on funding cuts from Reading Your Way, a local mental health charity.

If you’re a user of West Berks Mental Health services and want to feedback your experiences to the local authorities, Healthwatch West Berks have a Thinking Together event on Thursday.

Find out more about how the Lib Dems want to end an historic injustice in mental health care by providing ring-fenced funding.

Find out about the Lib Dem’s Five Step Plan for the NHS and Social Care.


Reasons to vote Liberal Democrat

While in government the Lib Dem team has put through some of the most common sense, socially democratic policies this country has seen for a generation. 

If I am elected to Westminster, whether we are in Coalition with Labour or Tories or no one, I will work with our team to do more of the same. 

My Manifesto priorities are below. If you would like to browse the whole document, pls click here:


A World Class Education:  Education is the top priority for Liberal Democrats.  In government, we will guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class.

The only way we will achieve greater equality in the country is to make sure everyone has the chance to make the most of what they were born with, whether you’re a high achiever or work with special educational needs.

Prosperity: We want to balance the budget fairly. To do this we will cut some, but no where near as much as the Tories, who are planning £12bn out of welfare (compared to our £3.5bn of cuts). We will raise the additional funds by extending Council Tax bands – let’s have the same rule for all.

Once we’ve caught up with the deficit, we look forward to investing to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy.

Quality health care: We have a clear plan to allow us to invest £8 billion in the NHS by 2020. We are already investing large sums and have a plan for £3.5bn for mental health treatments in the next year. We will continue our campaign to guarantee equal care for mental health.

Fair taxes: Raising the Personal Allowance from £6,800 to £10,600 has been a huge change that only happened because Lib Dems were in the coalition. Isn’t it great that all the other parties have taken the policy on board? A fundamental change to British society that’s benefitting 45,600 people in West Berkshire. 

In the next parliament we would continue the plan  £12,500, cutting your taxes by an additional £400.

Science: A Liberal Democrat government would introduce a package of measures supporting innovation in UK businesses. The manifesto also includes ringfencing of the science research budget and introducing a green innovation arm to the British Business Bank.

Environment protected: We will continue protecting nature and fight climate change with five green laws. In the past 5 years we fought day by day to protect the green agenda. We have doubled investment in renewable energy and almost tripled renewable energy generation. 15% of all UK power now comes from renewables.

Climate change is critical and we will continue this focus, with the target of having 60% UK energy coming from renewables by 2030.

Housing: Locally and nationally Lib Dems will work to bring empty properties into use, speed up housebuilding and introduce new Help to Rent and Rent to Own schemes for youngsters in work without the means to afford deposits for rental or home purchase.

We would pursue a plan of building Garden Cities in parts of the UK where they are welcomed. We would double council tax on second homes to discourage the buy to let market. This is a very tempting investment while bank interest rates are so low, but it’s helped accelerate the boost in house prices and in rents.

THANK YOU – Petition against Cuts to Youth Mental Health Services

photo 1

HUGE THANKS go out to everyone who stopped to sign the petition in Northbrook Street in Newbury today. The petition is against the cuts proposed by the Council in West Berkshire to Mental Health Services for children and adolescents.

The petition will keep running for a few months and will be available online soon.

Our aim is to gather 1500 signatures and so force a debate in West Berks Council. You don’t put vulnerable kids on the front line.

We hope to have an online version of the petition up and running soon. In the meantime, here’s the link to contact West Berks Council directly if you would like to make your views known:

Thanks also go to the volunteers who came out this chilly day to help gather signatures on the stall.

Petition to stamp out Mental Health Stigma – Please Sign

Join our campaign to stamp out mental health stigma.
Sign the petition, here.
Please share this page with your friends.  

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The Newbury and West Berks team is working to support the Lib Dem commitment to put treatment for mental health conditions in line with other NHS services. The more signatures we get for the petition, above, the stronger our voice will be.

THE SOLUTION: In government Lib Dems have prioritised mental healthcare. Already we have:

  • introduced a legal duty on the NHS to promote parity of esteem for mental health.
  • invested £400m to increase access to talking therapies.
  • put through changes which mean that, from April 2015, most patients who need talking therapies – for conditions like depression – will be guaranteed the treatment they need in as little as six weeks, with a maximum wait of 18 weeks.

Now we want to go further. We are tackling the unacceptable practice of holding some young people with severe mental ill-health in a police cell as a “place of safety” and in the Department of Health, Norman Lamb is also working to  increase access to talking therapies for children and young people. A Liberal Democrat government would also establish a mental health research fund to support the development of new cutting-edge mental health treatments.

Why is this action necessary?

THE PROBLEM: The problem is that Labour introduced a lot of targets for health service provision (waiting times, right to chose, internal NHS payment system) and in each case missed out mental health. We are living with the consequences of these big decisions – the combination of intense pressure to meet waiting time standards AND paying for every patient sucks money into acute hospitals and away from mental health. 

This is why the Lib Dem success in securing the first ever waiting time and access standards from next year (with a clear plan to roll out comprehensive standards across mental health over next five years) is so important. It finally delivers real equality for mental health.
What we are doing is to legislate for parity – or equality for mental health. And believe me, this would not have happened with Norman Lamb in the driving seat. 

Please sign the petition if you would like to stamp out mental health stigma:

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You can find out more about Judith Bunting, here:

Follow her activities around W Berks on Facebook, here:

or on Twitter:

Mental Health: Sign our petition for fixed waiting times

Newbury team - selection night 3rd Nov 2013Judith Bunting and the Newbury and West Berks Lib Dem team support the national petition to improve mental health treatment.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to putting treatment for mental health conditions in line with other NHS services.

That’s why we are introducing the first ever NHS waiting time standards for mental health treatment, from April 2015.

Show your support by signing the petition, here:

Please share this petition with your friends.


You can find out more about Judith Bunting, here:

Follow her activities around W Berks on Facebook, here:

or on Twitter: