An anti-Brexit campaign bus made its way to Bradley Stoke today, as part of an 8 day tour of the country to tell the truth about the costs of leaving the EU. Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Thornbury & Yate, Claire Young, spoke at the “Is It Worth It?” campaign’s event.
Claire Young said: “Many people in South Gloucestershire voted for Brexit on the back of promises made by Boris Johnson that an extra £350 million a week would be available for the NHS. It’s now clear from the Government’s own economic analysis that this was a lie, and that the UK economy could stand to lose £2 billion a week as a result of Brexit, with a real cost in jobs, incomes, and the amount of money we have to spend on public services like the NHS. The point of the “Is it Worth It?” campaign is to call upon voters to demand a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal – terms which were not set out in the 2016 referendum.”
Speaking at the event, Claire said:
“Brexit will dent public finances. That’s money that can’t be used to cut waiting times at Southmead hospital or to keep facilities like the Minor Injuries Unit at Yate open longer. That’s money that can’t be used to help care for the older people in our communities. That’s money that can’t be used to give better funding to our schools, which here in South Gloucestershire are now the worst funded in the country. That worries me as a parent.
“And it’s not just about money. The NHS and social care services rely heavily on EU staff who are already leaving the country, afraid for their future. Freedom of Information requests have revealed an alarming rise in the number of ambulance service staff from the rest of the EU leaving the service, at a time when there are increasing concerns about response times. A survey suggested that one in five European NHS doctors plan to leave the UK. Doctors can’t be replaced overnight. It takes around 10 years to train a GP, more like 14 for a surgeon.
“If in return for all the hits to the NHS, our jobs and so many other areas of our lives the final Brexit deal doesn’t give us more control, if instead it loses us power and influence, shouldn’t we have the chance to reject it and keep the good deal we already have in the EU?”
You can read more about the “Is It Worth It?” campaign at: www.isitworthit.org.uk
Liberal Democrat Councillors have spoken out about confusion over new recycling arrangements. Residents have complained that leaflets are difficult to understand and even the waste collection crews have been getting it wrong.
Lib Dem Communities spokesperson, Cllr Claire Young, said: “Many residents have told us that they have found the leaflets about the new recycling rules confusing. The leaflets say that items of the same kind should be grouped together in boxes, but don’t make it clear that all items can go into one box.”
Thornbury Councillor, Maggie Tyrrell, said: “Residents aren’t the only ones confused by the new rules. Even the collection crews seem to be unsure of how recycling should be sorted in boxes. When I, and other Thornbury residents, presented recycling in a single box, the crews refused to collect it. They gave us new recycling bags and a flyer telling us that we should sort our recycling into bags. This completely goes against the Council has told us!
“The Cabinet Member for Communities has apologised for the flyer and admitted that the new recycling bags should not have been issued. But honestly, how are residents supposed to get recycling rules right, when even the people collecting their waste aren’t sure of them?”
Cllr Young added, “The Conservative Cabinet Member responsible tells me that the leaflets were produced by professional designers to be easily understandable – but she admits that no members of the public were consulted over the wording of the leaflet. Perhaps in future local people could be asked to give it a ‘common sense’ test.”
Liberal Democrat councillor for Westerleigh ward, Claire Young, has called upon South Gloucestershire Council to step up their efforts to kick-start the regeneration of the “western gateway to Yate.”
Cllr Young said: “The recent sale of the Stover Road trading estate offers a golden opportunity for the Council to work with the new owners to map out a plan for redeveloping the site. The Conservative administration have been very good at setting out their plans for the vast numbers of new houses they intend to build around Yate, but they also need to offer a vision for how they intend to improve life for local residents. I would like to see a far greater ambition from this administration – with plans to improve the range of local employment opportunities and a much improved Yate station with better train and bus services.
“At last week’s meeting of Council I asked Cllr Matthew Riddle whether he would seek to bring together the owners of all the trading estates in order to kick start the regeneration of the western gateway to Yate - and whether he would commit to involving local councillors in that process. Cllr Riddle was non-comital, but said that he would think about it. I, and the other local councillors for the Yate area, would be happy to sit down with Cllr Riddle on a cross-party basis to advise him of what we think the Council’s priorities should be for the western gateway area. It would be a shame if the regeneration stalls because of a lack of leadership.”
South Gloucestershire Lib Dems have hit out at the budget passed by Council’s ruling Conservative group last night. The budget indicates that there will be over £36 million in cuts to the Council’s budget between 2019 and 2022 – but the nature of these cuts are still unspecified and the Conservatives admit they still don’t know how these cuts will be implemented.
Speaking during the debate, Lib Dem group Deputy Leader, Cllr Clare Young, said:
“Last week I chaired a detailed scrutiny of the budget. The most alarming feature was the number of times the answer to how savings was going to be made was ‘we don’t know yet’ or ‘we still need to do the work on that.’ We know the Conservatives plan to cut £36m from the Council’s budget between 2019 and 2022, including over £16 million from adult and children’s social services. It seems extraordinary that councillors would commit to such massive cuts without knowing how services will be affected.
“Councillor Riddle says that belts have to be tightened in these times of austerity, and we accept that, but South Gloucestershire has already tightened its belt pretty damn hard in recent years. There will come a point, not very long from now I fear, when there will be simply nothing left to cut. I didn’t come into local government to see it stripped to the bone and unable to help people we were elected to serve. I’m sure he didn’t either.
“It’s time that, instead of simply defending the cuts being handed down from their party in Westminster, this Council’s Conservative administration, and South Gloucestershire’s Conservative MPs…use their influence to push back against the cuts from central government…. If it turns out that they have no such influence within their own party then local residents might reasonably begin to ask ‘what is the point in having a Conservative-run Council at all?’”
Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors unite to condemn Conservative budget and lack of transparency
The Leaders of South Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors have taken the unusual step of uniting to express their dismay over the Conservative administration’s proposed budget and the lack of transparency surrounding it, following a meeting of the Council’s Scrutiny Commission.
The ruling Conservatives’ budget was published on 26 January and announces £36 million of unspecified savings over the three years from 2019 to 2022. At the Scrutiny Commission meeting the Council’s Conservative leadership admitted that it could not provide details about these savings as they had not yet been identified.
Lib Dem Group Leader, Councillor Ruth Davis, said: “The Conservatives plan to cut £36 million from the Council’s budget between 2019 and 2022, including over £16 million from adult and children’s social services. When questioned by the Council’s Scrutiny Commission about how these cuts will impact services, the Conservative Leader of the Council and his officers responded that they do not yet know.
“It seems extraordinary that the Conservatives would commit to such massive cuts without having some idea of how services will be affected. Either they know where the axe will fall, but won’t say, or they are proposing these cuts with a reckless lack of preparation.”
Labour Group Leader Councillor Pat Rooney said: “The relentless slashing of central support for local government, driven by the government’s ideological austerity programme, will have a major impact on the services that South Gloucestershire Council can provide, the staff it employs and the charges it levies. I was disappointed at the scrutiny meeting that the Conservative leader refused to concede that local government is taking an unfair share of this government-driven pain.”
She added: “Opposition councillors only received the budget information 12 days ago and have not been privy to any of the discussions leading up to its publication. We have always disputed the Tory claim that their new Cabinet system would be transparent, and we have yet further proof of the growing culture of concealment under Tory Cabinet rule.”