Local traders say Brexit is bad for business. Survey Results.

Version 2

  • “After the referendum result we spent six months absorbing cost increases. Since January we have had no choice but to pass these increases on to our customers”.Jon Gage, Rivar Sand and Gravel (see photo).

Two thirds of local traders and service providers who took part in West Berks Business Brexit Survey survey think their business is going to be hurt when we leave the EU and the single market.

The consultation was part of a national exercise for small businesses. Newbury and West Berks Liberal Democrats wanted to make sure that the views of our local traders and employers were properly represented in the national results. The consultation ran online from 19th October to 14th December 2016.

  • “If tariffs are introduced for British businesses trading with the EU,
    the effect on my business will be catastrophic!”

The news is that two thirds of local traders and service providers who took part in the survey think their business is going to be hurt when we leave the EU and the single market. Many report that their costs have gone up already and that they have no choice to but to pass these onto their customers through increased prices.

  • EU funding supports nearly 45% of the post 16 funding.
    There is
    nothing in the plans to show how this loss will be addressed.”  

The Liberal Democrats continue to believe that Britain is better off in Europe, but our immediate priority is to make sure small local businesses do not pay the price of a rushed withdrawal.

The results of the survey are being used to draw up a list of negotiating requirements, which the Liberal Democrats will call on the Government to achieve.

This report was first published in 2017. See the report from the Newbury Weekly News, here:
https://www.newburytoday.co.uk/news/home/20695/west-berkshire-business-bosses-reveal-fears-for-the-future-in-brexit-survey.html

RESULTS

Q: Do you expect Brexit to have a positive or negative impact on your business?

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66% of people who responded expect Brexit to have negative impact on their business

Q: Do you export to the EU?

q3-numbers

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27.08% say they export to the EU

Q: Do you import products or materials from the EU?

q4-numbers

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47.92% import products or materials from the EU

Q: Do you have suppliers or business partners who do business with EU countries?

q5-numbers

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81.25% of respondents have suppliers or business partners who do business with EU countries

More comments from the survey responses will follow
in separate posts, published in the next few days.

VIDEO: Newbury Lib Dem puts West Berks cuts on National Agenda

This post was first published on 12th March 2016

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3eP3tdoCwI&w=854&h=480]

Today, at the Liberal Democrat National Spring Conference Judith Bunting spoke about the need for sound and stable public finances at local and national level, and the devastating effect that that Tory cuts are having on our young people:

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Good morning, Conference.  I want to highlight the link between the need for sound and stable management of public finances and the devastating effects the current Conservative drive to kill off local authority funding by central government is having on the education, training and aspiration of young people around the UK.

George Osborne’s commitment to reduce government funding of local councils to zero by 2020 has not received enough attention in the press. That’s one for the journalists in the hall – the Conservatives have not been challenged nearly enough on what result this draconian change of funding is going to have.

I was the parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Newbury in West Berkshire in 2015. We currently have a Tory MP and a horribly Tory Council – they lead the council 48 to 4.

Last week, they imposed £10m of cuts on our public services. In a few weeks time they will be making a further £6m of cuts. They are closing bus routes, school bus subsidies, children’s centres, funding for charities like Mencap and Time to Talk, and they are about to close 8 out of 9 of our libraries.

There are other cuts as well, but so much of the damage is falling on the back of our children, that I worry for the future. I really do. I am not convinced that many Tories, including our MP and our Council, have given a second’s consideration to how this mis-management of public finances is going to affect our young people.

Whatever happens in the future, however, we are unlikely to ever be able to turn the clock back and restore the funding that Richard Benyon’s government is removing from local authorities, so how will Councils in the future achieve sound and stable management of public finances at a local level without a government settlement.

To answer this, I look to Liberal Democrat led Councils such as Eastleigh, now, and Portsmouth, as was. These teams set up additional income streams some years ago now to take the pressure off their public services. For example:

  • In Portsmouth, the council has for a long time had external businesses that they run to make a profit. It now owns and lets a number of extensive buildings to the HMRC and other commercial operators.
  • Eastleigh Council is part-owner of the Ageas Bowl cricket ground, hotel and spa, a profitable enterprise, which supports their schools, libraries and community centres
  • This £150m asset management plan has enabled 13 years of real term cuts in council tax and no front line service cuts.

If a small council like Eastleigh can find ways to raise money without increasing the very unfair council tax and can still provide the services people need, why can’t West Berkshire Council?

Ambitious and imaginative councils can run good services without pushing up the council tax. A senior source at the LGA recently vouchsafed to me that the only way Councils are going to manage in the future is going to be to own and let property. What is West Berkshire and other Conservative Councils doing, but selling off property for short term gain.

Since 2013 Local Authorities have also had the power the power to keep up to half of any business rate growth in their area. West Berkshire Council’s response to this is to lose Bayer to Reading, lose Hitachi, lose Amec and force numerous local traders out of business.

We sorely need a Liberal Democrat hand on the tiller. In government, to halt the mean-spirited cutting of George Osborne, and at the local level, in West Berkshire, to put some vigour and commitment into the funding of our public services.

The only way to achieve this is to develop strong, clear policies, like this the Economic Policy before us today and to restore some good sense and sound management to public finances in government and in local authorises across the UK.

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.

EU rally in Newbury

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 17.31.00.jpgSite under construction. This post was first published in 2017.

The recent West Berks Stronger in the EU  rally, saw a good cross-party crowd gather and march through in Newbury town centre.

Speakers included Paul Field of the Greens and Jonny Roberts from Labour, and myself representing Liberal Democrats across Newbury and West Berkshire.

Before the rally, I was asked by a couple of people why we were bothering, given the Brexit process is underway now and the Article 50 bill has been passed by parliament. For me the answer is clear and was put perfectly by Andrew Rawnsley in this Sunday’s Observer:

“The hard Brexiters … did not stop campaigning when the referendum result came in. They continued agitating and with a burning ferocity that was amplified by the Brexit press at its most megaphonic. They did so to ensure that they could impose their interpretation of what the referendum meant.”

Meanwhile, the views of area’s like Newbury and West Berkshire and other places and people who voted Remain are being drowned out. Local businesses are being hurt, prospects for employment are worse and EU funding that supports local charities, farmers and work-place training is on the line. None of these are academic worries, they add up to hundreds of jobs, hundreds of lives.

Remain MPs, like our own, Richard Benyon, have caved in and voted to support Article 50 and against the amendment that would have ensured that all EU citizens legally living in the UK on June 23 – the date of the EU referendum – would have their right to stay protected. I have met people on the doorstep who moved to Newbury and Thatcham years ago – some 15 to 20 years ago – to work for great businesses like Vodafone and Stryker, who have married, had families and are happy here, part of the local community. And now, they have no idea whether they will be allowed to stay.

If Remainers do not keep up the pressure, the UK is going to be hit with the hardest of hard Brexits, which was not on any ballot paper I saw on 23rd June.

So join us. We may not be able to change the direction of travel, but we can influence the Brexit destination where this ends. 

Vince Cable and the Preying Mantis of Coalition

Having Vince Cable as our leader during the changes and challenges of Brexit negotiations will be an excellent outcome. .
.
I regret Tim Farron’s passing. He was a great help to people and campaigns in our own constituency. I would also like to register, here, the amazingness of what he has achieved as our Leader in the past two years. When you think of the 2015 election results – see later for Vince’s comments on the preying mantis of coalition – who would think that we could have increased our membership so dramatically, so quickly, so that now membership of the Liberal Democrats is the highest ever.
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The current hung parliament is a real climb down for the Conservatives. Cross-party collaboration is going to be an intrinsic part of what’s to come, which Tories will hate and Labour may resist, putting party before nation, as ever, but it is an exciting thought for anyone willing to work cross-party. Now, they stand a chance of getting through policies from their various manifestos. For the Lib Dems this means reforms in housing, NHS and mental health funding. And Vince drives a hard bargain.
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I have known Vince for a few years, now. He is direct, unflinching and tough enough to take on the big boys. When I delivered my first leaflets, they were to support his campaign and it was he who essentially lured me into becoming an activist. If you would like to know more about his current views – see his interview on the New Statesman website fro 5th July 2017:

Vince Cable: Theresa May’s Tory conference speech “could have been taken out of Mein Kampf.
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My personal favourite passage is the comment he makes about coalition, right at the end of the piece:  ‘ “I have the metaphor of mating with a praying mantis,” he says, as his pale blue eyes twinkle with amusement. “You get eaten at the end of it. We don’t want to go down that road again.” ‘
.

Working with Vince Cable, after the Business Breakfast at the Regency Hotel in Thatcham, 2012.

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.