Cuts to police service unacceptable

Judith out with the Newbury street pastorsAs recent events in Manchester and London have shown, terrorism and violent extremism threaten us all. As liberals, we must have an effective security policy which is also accountable, community- and evidence-based, and does not unduly restrict personal liberty.

This why the Liberal Democrats would:
• Continue cross-border co-operation between security forces across Europe.
• Permit intercepts where justified and permit surveillance of those suspected of serious crime and terrorism with proper judicial oversight.
• Scrap the flawed Prevent strategy and replace it with a scheme that prioritises community engagement and supports communities in developing their own approach to tackling the dangers of violent extremism.

Judith out with the Newbury street pastors
Judith out with the Newbury street pastors

Judith said today:

“I have enormous respect and appreciation for the police teams who work here in Newbury, in the Met and across the UK. The swift response achieved at London Bridge last weekend was remarkable. Police forces are under hugely increased pressure, however, because of reduced funding. In our manifesto, we have laid out specific steps to help the police in their work.

As I mentioned in the hustings last night, community police with the resourcing to go to community events, to go into schools, make real connections with local people, are what is needed, to fight both crime and the threat of terrorism.

A member of the Met Police came into our HQ recently to discuss the cuts to policing. He said they are simply decimated. 20,000 people have been lost from the police, across the board. This is not acceptable.”

The most important changes proposed are:

• An end to the 1% cap on police pay rises and all public sector pay, and uprate wages in line with inflation. The cap has been in place for far too long already. The change across all the public sector is estimated to cost £2.7bn and is fully costed in our manifesto.
• An additional £300 million a year for local police forces to use as they see fit. Let’s put the support in the hands of the experts on the ground.
• An increase in community policing. This is the best way to reverse the increase in violent crime, boost community confidence and increase the flow of community intelligence.
• As part of our fight against hard Brexit, we would maintain cross-border co-operation in combatting serious organised crime, including international fraud and child sexual exploitation, by retaining the European Arrest Warrant, membership of Europol and access to EU information databases.
• Finally, we would do away with Police and Crime Commissioners, elected at great expense in elections with very low turnout, and replace them with accountable police boards made up of local councillors.

You can read the full proposals in the section ‘7.3, Crime and Policing’, on page 72 of the Manifesto. Our manifesto is available online here.

Judith Bunting announces Lib Dem plans for funding boost to give children in West Berkshire a brighter future

Judith reading to preschool children
Judith reading to preschool children

This week, at Park House School, Newbury, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Judith Bunting launched the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto policies for young people and children.

Under the plans, 3-4 year-olds in Newbury and West Berkshire would benefit from Liberal Democrat plans to triple funding for the early years pupil premium, which gives extra cash to nurseries, pre-schools and school receptions when they take on children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The cash would triple the funding to £1,000 per pupil per year – up from £302 in 2015-16.  This will increase the allocation for West Berkshire Council from around £75,000 (£74,591) to £223,773, and will pay for every disadvantaged child who benefits to receive 570 hours of state-funded early education. This forms part of a series of policies the Liberal Democrats are announcing with a focus on giving children and young people a brighter future.

Judith Bunting said: “I was delighted to be able to tell the 6th formers today about key Liberal Democrat policies that will significantly improve the lives of young people.”

These include:

  • Helping people buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with a new model of ‘Rent to Own’ homes
  • Restoring housing benefit for young people
  • Creating a discounted bus pass for 16-21 year olds, giving a 66% discount
  • Introducing votes at 16 for elections and referendums across the UK

As well as:

  • Investing almost £7bn in our schools and colleges
  • Doubling the number of businesses that take apprenticeships
  • Tripling the early years pupil premium
  • Extending free school meals to all primary school students

Judith Bunting added: “We will give children in Newbury and West Berkshire a brighter future, by investing in those from more deprived backgrounds to give them the best possible chance in life.

“This forms part of a package to build a fairer Britain and ensure no child or young person is left behind. Education is at the heart of everything I stand for, as a Liberal Democrat.

“I want the opportunity to help the Liberal Democrats provide a strong opposition to this Conservative government and to give the people of Newbury and West Berkshire a voice in standing up against the cuts to our local schools, hospitals and regional funding.

“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a brighter future for people across Newbury and the surrounding area.”  

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has let us all down by voting with Theresa May and UKIP on Brexit. “The Liberal Democrats will stand up to Theresa May and give the people the final say on Brexit, with the choice to remain in Europe if they don’t like the deal on offer.”