West Berkshire was well represented at the March for Europe in London, with members of West Berkshire Stronger Together EU (WBSTEU) and Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrats on the move.
We joined with many thousands of people to march from Marble Arch, down Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square, then along Whitehall to Parliament Square. We heard rousing speeches from Tim Farron on Park Lane, before the march began. He was in front of the crowd again at Parliament Square with the Guardian reporting (at 14:10) as follows: ‘Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron cemented his growing role as the political leader of the Remain movement with a well-received address to the Unite For Europe march in Parliament Square.’
Many speeches followed, with excellentt contributions from Alistair Campbell, Peter Tatchell and David Lammy. The big finish came with Nick Clegg, who was excellent, as ever: “Sadness has given way to a perpetual sense of anger about the choices that Theresa May and her government have taken since [the EU Referendum].”
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 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.
Ruth Headon is a local woman who has turned her life around. Judith went to meet her and hear her story and her plans for the future, growing a business in Newbury.
Ruth’s life spiralled out of control a few years ago, in a few short months she lost everything, her home, family, her child and friends to alcoholism and addiction. With the help of a great friend, Dave, she pulled herself through it and is now celebrating 3 years sober.
Ruth found herself looking at a window sign in Rio’s Burger Bar asking for till staff, and she hasn’t looked back. She is now the manager there and has been there for two and a half years.
Rio’s is now being sold and Ruth’s determined and entrepreneurial spirit has given her the motivation to want to take over Rio’s herself, and continue her efforts to support those who are going through similar experiences to her. Calling herself lucky, Ruth is now giving back to the community and is teaching others how to complete forms and how to read. With a desire to do whatever she can to help people and make a difference she has completed both Peer and Facilitating Training.
Ruth describes the team at Rios as ‘a team of amazing people, my own little family. This is my recovery community. People come to Rio’s for food and advice’.
Judith said: “I support Ruth and her venture; looking to the future and not backwards – we need more of this. Ruth has overcome a great deal to get to the position she is in now and she says people should “have pride at where you are now, not shame about where you have been”.”
The Liberal Democrats have announced policies to support local businesses and entrepreneurs in their 2017 manifesto. Judith says: “Backing local businesses is very important to me as a local person, as when small businesses thrive they strengthen our economy and provide local jobs.”
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.”
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.”
The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto plans today for a brighter future, with pledges to reverse Conservative cuts and increase funding for the NHS, schools and police.
The Party’s landmark policy would give the people the final say on the Brexit deal which would include the option to remain in the EU.
The Liberal Democrats would put a penny on income tax for health and care, which would raise £8m for the NHS in Newbury and District Clinical Commissioning Group – enough to fund 48 more nurses.
An additional £28,953,046 of funding for schools in West Berkshire paid for in part by reversing Conservative cuts to corporation tax, would be enough to pay for 159 more teachers.
Meanwhile an additional £8.3m funding for Thames Valley Police would pay for 166 more officers, helping to cut crime and ensure a stronger police presence in the area.
Other key policies in the Liberal Democrat manifesto include plans for a £100bn infrastructure fund to build more homes, improve road and rail links and install fibre-optic broadband across the country.
The Liberal Democrats will also give the people a chance to change Britain’s future by holding a referendum on the final Brexit deal, with the option to remain.
Liberal Democrat candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting said:
“These plans would build a brighter future for people in Newbury and West Berkshire and reverse Conservative cuts to our schools, hospitals and police.
“We want to build a fairer Britain, with good schools and hospitals, a clean environment and an innovative economy.
“You don’t have to accept Theresa May and Nigel Farage’s cold, mean-spirited vision of Britain.
“The Liberal Democrats will stand up to a bad Brexit deal that will cost jobs and put up prices and give you the final say.
“As your Liberal Democrat MP, I will fight for a better deal on Europe, more money for the NHS and schools and a brighter future for Newbury and West Berkshire.”
The Lib Dem Manifesto (and Easy Read, BSL and Braille versions) can be found here.
Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury constituency, has outlined Lib Dem plans to end the “injustice” against people with mental ill health.
Speaking at the start of Dementia Awareness Week, ahead of a visit on Wednesday (17th May) to West Berkshire Dementia Action Alliance’s event at Newbury Corn Exchange, Judith Bunting said:
“Under this Conservative Government, NHS services have been stretched to breaking point. This is at a time when the prevalence of mental ill health appears to be rising.
She said: “Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have explained how they will fund mental health services. Our priorities are clear and will be funded by the injection of £6bn a year into the NHS with an additional penny on income tax.
“We want to in improve waiting time standards for mental health care in the NHS, end the degrading use of force against people with mental ill health and prioritise action to reduce the number of people who take their own lives.
“The Lib Dems want this country to be a world leader in mental health care. These are not just empty words – in Government it was the Lib Dems who introduced a legal duty on the NHS to promote parity of esteem for mental health and invested £400m to increase access to talking therapies.
“I am well aware of the pressures our wonderful local NHS teams are under both at GP level and at our fantastic West Berkshire Hospital which is struggling to keep up. On top of this, mental health and social care issues are a ticking time bomb for West Berkshire. Our Lib Dem commitment to healthcare will give the NHS in West Berkshire the investment it needs NOW.”
Over 1.4 million people in the UK have a learning disability. About 1 million of these people will have the opportunity to vote in the General Election. Research for Mencap’s Hear my Voice campaign in 2015 showed that people with a learning disability have a political appetite and want to vote.
I have met with our local Friendship Skills group for a political grilling twice, now, and the questions asked by the group are often just as tough as those from the audience at public hustings.
The support given by groups, such as the Mencap Friendship Skills group is excellent. Nonetheless, many feel excluded from the political process due to the inaccessible language and jargon used in politics. Providing Easy Read manifestos can change that.
The Liberal Democrats provided an Easy Read manifesto in 2015, alongside the standard version.
Easy Read means using simple language and pictures to make information easier to understand for people with a learning disability. By providing an Easy Read manifesto you are making sure that people with a learning disability feel included and that their vote is valued and counts.
I am delighted to report that the Liberal Democrats were one of the first parties to commit to do the same for 2017.
Links to the standard and Easy Read Manifestos will be posted here, as soon as they are available.
Please sign up below, if you would like me to forward the link to the Liberal Democrat manifestos when they are available (should be Wednesday).
Our campaign HQ is now open at 38a Bartholomew St, Newbury RG14 5LL.
Campaign HQ will be open most days Monday-Saturday until polling day. Please call ahead on 07508 186788 before making a special trip.
Judith’s campaign has received a huge amount of support from both volunteers and donors lately – Volunteer Coordinator Ceinwen Lally says she’s never seen anything like it! If you have an hour or more to spare, come into HQ!
Volunteer jobs to be done:
Staffing reception at HQ so we can stay open longer!
Clerical support (bundling flyers, stuffing envelopes, etc).
Delivering flyers – bundles for local delivery can be collected at HQ and you’ll be given instruction (it’s super easy – just pushing flyers through letterboxes).
Window posters can also be picked up from HQ. If you would like a window poster and can’t get to HQ, please contact the office.
So even if you just have an hour to spare in Newbury, you can help with Judith’s campaign.
Liberal Democrats have announced they would boost investment in police forces by £300m a year. This is in stark contrast to the Conservatives who have overseen devastating cuts to community policing. Theresa May as Home Secretary and now Prime Minister has cut policing budgets by over £2bn, eroding the very fabric of community policing.
Under the Liberal Democrats, Thames Valley Police would see a funding increase of £8.3m a year. This could be used to restore a visible policing presence in the community and ensure the police have the training and tools to deal with the changing nature of crime.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting commented:
“This investment in our police is absolutely vital. Under Theresa May – first as Home Secretary and now as Prime Minister, our police have had to deal with the most brutal of cuts. These are now cutting into the bone.
“Our police work tirelessly to keep us safe and this Government has completely betrayed them.
“Only the Liberal Democrats have a credible plan to reverse the increase in violent crime, boost community confidence and ensure the police have the resources they need to keep us safe.”