Newbury and West Berkshire March for Europe

This post was first published in 2017.

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].”

“It was a choice to pull us out of the customs union, it was a choice to embark on that demeaning bout of transatlantic obsequiousness,” Clegg explains, as he accuses the prime minister of “threatening to turn our country into a bargain basement cowboy economy”. (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2017/mar/25/brexit-protest-thousands-march-in-london-to-unite-for-europe-live?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other)

If you would like to join your local Liberal Democrats and work with us,
please sign up online and drop me a line at judith.bunting@wbld.org.uk.

Judith meets local entrepreneur Ruth Headon

Judith Bunting with Ruth Headen at Rio's Burger Bar

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 Bunting with Ruth Headen & her team at Rio's Burgers
Judith with Ruth (far right) & her team at Rio’s Burgers

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”.” 

Ruth is now looking to buy Rios burgers in Newbury where she has worked for 2.5 years and is currently successfully managing. Ruth has set up her own crowd funding page to support her efforts of buying Rio’s and enable her to continue her charitable support of those who are suffering. http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/rios-for-ruth

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.”

Judith Bunting: Standing up for Local Business

 

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.”

Lib Dem Judith Bunting unveils manifesto plan to fund more nurses, teachers and police in West Berkshire

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.” 

Judith Bunting outside West Berkshire Community Hospital
Judith Bunting outside West Berkshire Community Hospital

The Lib Dem Manifesto (and Easy Read, BSL and Braille versions) can be found here.

Judith Bunting calls for end to injustice on mental health and social care

Judith Bunting outside West Berkshire Community Hospital

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.”

Lib Dems Our Plan for Health: Save the NHS by putting a penny in the pound on income tax to give the NHS and social care services the cash they need. Make waiting times for mental health care match those for physical health care. Limit the amount elderly people have to pay for social care.
Summary of the Lib Dem plan for Health & Social Care. Find out more: http://www.libdems.org.uk/health

Judith supports the Mencap Campaign for Easy Read manifestos

 

FriendshipSkillsc
Judith at the local Friendships Skills group

Message from Judith…

I am delighted to support the Mencap Campaign for Easy Read manifestos for the 2017 General Election.

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.

An image of the Lib Dem Easy Read manifesto from 2015
Part of the 2015 Lib Dem Easy Read manifesto

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). 

Please send me a link to the manifesto

Judith Bunting at Newbury Friendships Skills group
Judith at the local Friendships Skills group

For more information on this issue, this podcast may help.

Judith Bunting on BBC Radio Berkshire talking about Mental Health Funding

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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.

#itsgottobeJudith

Judith Bunting says NO to hard Brexit, NO to coalition

 

Judith Bunting meeting local residents in Northbrook Street
Judith Bunting in Northbrook Street, Newbury

In a positive mood, speaking at a street stall in Northbrook Street recently, Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrat candidate for Newbury constituency, said: “We must be clear with people about our stance in this election. We don’t rule out future coalitions – we believe in optimistic, plural politics – but we will not enter a coalition led by either May or Corbyn.”

Bunting continued: “We will work with pro-European MPs in any party to stand up to the Conservatives over hard Brexit, but Corbyn is not that. Corbyn is pro-Brexit, he wants to pull us out of the single market. He marched his MPs through the lobbies to vote for article 50 alongside Richard Benyon and the Brexit Conservatives.

Every Liberal Democrat vote and every Liberal Democrat MP elected is a challenge to Theresa May’s Brexit agenda. This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to stop a hard Brexit, if you want to keep us in the single market, if you want a real opposition, this is your chance.”

Lee Dillon, leader of the Liberal Democrats on West Berkshire Council said: “During the referendum this constituency was clear regarding Brexit. People here don’t want it. Labour should unite behind the Liberal Democrats in this election and back Judith Bunting to hold our Tory MP to account for going against the wishes of his constituents”.

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Judith Bunting in Northbrook Street

See more of Judith’s articles on Brexit here.

 

 

 

Lib Dem candidate Judith Bunting challenges Council to work with Newbury Community Football Group

Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Newbury constituency has challenged Hilary Cole, Acting Deputy Leader of West Berkshire Council to provide assurances that they will work with Newbury Community Football Group on to protect and enhance the town’s Football Ground on Faraday Road.

JB football2

Speaking last Thursday to West Berkshire Council’s Executive on Football and children’s health and wellbeing, Judith Bunting said: “As the Council’s adopted Core Strategy requires the protection and enhancement of green infrastructure and cultural facilities in West Berkshire, … what investment is planned to safeguard and enhance the protected community green infrastructure and cultural facility at Newbury Football Ground in Faraday Road?

She went on to ask: “Are Councillors willing to work with the Newbury Community Football Group on a progressive strategy to protect and enhance the Football Ground with a view to encouraging a positive attitude to exercise, health and wellbeing which are at the centre of the Council’s Health & Wellbeing Strategy?”

Judith Bunting was a prominent supporter of Newbury Town Football Club in its fight against eviction by West Berkshire Council last year.

Speaking this week, she said: “In excess of 500 people including more than 350 children play club-based football in Newbury each week. Physical education is important for our children. In football, they learn good habits of cooperation, discipline and motivation, as well as getting fit and having fun.”

“Richard Benyon’s Conservatives on West Berkshire Council have removed school bus routes, they have cut back drastically on children’s mental health support, and have tried to close our libraries. Now they want to destroy the football club too.

“If the Conservative party, here, do not have some particular axe to grind against the health of our children, I ask them to please think again and try working with Newbury Football Club to encourage the work it does rather than to destroy such a great and useful organisation.”

You can read more about Judith Bunting’s campaign to support Newbury Town Football Club here: Open Letter about Newbury Football Club

Newbury Community Football Group is a new organisation that brings together Ladies, Men’s, Boys and Girls’ and Youth Football groups in Newbury. For more information please go to: NCFG.uk

Message to voters in Newbury and West Berkshire

#YourVoiceMatters

This General Election is the Best Thing for Britain.
It Gives us a Chance for Change.

The Conservatives are hell bent on a ‘hard Brexit’. We now understand the future of our country is at stake. The national press suggests that the number of Leave voters who still want to exit from Europe is shrinking:

  • ‘Leave’ voters who did not realise Brexit could lead to the break up of the UK.
  • People who chose not to vote who now regret that decision.
  • ‘Leave’ voters who feel they were lied to during the Referendum Campaign.
  • 17 year olds who have had a birthday since last June and now want a say in their own future.

Add these to the 48% who feel the narrow margin of victory last June is being casually disregarded. Yes, this general election is the best thing that could happen to the UK right now.

If you want to stop a hard Brexit, you need an MP who will fight for you.

  • If you are a Remain Tory voter, please lend me your vote for this election.
  • If you are a Labour voter who does not want to leave the single market, please support us.
  • If you are angry at the potential break up of the UK, vote for us.
  • If you want to live in a country which is open, tolerant and united, vote with us.

#YourVoiceMatters

If you would like to join our local campaign team to work to stop this hard #Brexit in its tracks, please write to us at westberkslibdems@yahoo.com.

If you would like to join the Liberal Democrats – it only takes two minutes: http://www.libdems.org.uk/fightback