South Gloucestershire Lib Dems have pledged to keep the pressure up on the Conservatives over their failure to act over the national crisis in Special Educational Needs (SEND) funding. Liberal Democrat councillors Claire Young (Frampton Cotterell), Jayne Stansfied (Thornbury) and James Arrowsmith (Stoke Park & Cheswick) joined thousands of parents and campaigners across the country in taking part in a SEND Crisis Day of Action on Thursday.
Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Claire Young, said: “Parents shouldn’t have to fight to get support for their child with SEND but they do - to get their child's needs identified, to get early support in school, to secure an education health and care plan and to get that plan implemented. And it's a fight that never ends, because at every stage there is the risk of losing provision. As a councillor I hear from parents who feel like they are losing that battle.”
“In South Gloucestershire, as elsewhere in the country, the government funding for SEND hasn't gone up as demand has gone up. Between 2016 and 2018 the number of pupils with identified Special Educational Needs in South Glos went up from 1,398 to 1,744, nearly a 25% increase in just two years. To make matters worse at a time of underfunding across the board, South Gloucestershire is one of the lowest funded per pupil authorities in the country. Government need to take notice of this crisis now.”
Local Lib Dem Education spokesperson Cllr Jayne Stansfield said: “As a parent and former teacher this is a problem that is very close to my heart. My fear is this crisis is yet another issue that is being ignored by the Conservatives as they tear each other apart over Brexit and vie for the leadership. The children who are being let down as a result of Government inaction won’t have another chance to be children. For them it’s now or never. Their life-chances could be seriously affected by the failure to take this problem seriously. We will be raising this issue with the Conservative administration at July’s meeting of Council, and we will keep the pressure up until we finally get some action.”
The Liberal Democrats are celebrating their best ever set of European election results both locally and nationally. While the Brexit Party topped the poll, the Lib Dems came a strong second in South Gloucestershire, the South West, and across the country. The Lib Dems will now send 16 MEPs to Brussels - more than Labour and the Conservative combined.
South Glos Lib Dem Council Group Leader Claire Young said: “This is a terrific set of results for the Lib Dems in the South West and I’d like to offer my huge congratulations to Caroline Voaden and Martin Horwood, our new Lib Dem MEPs. While Nigel Farage’s party held onto the 3 MEP seats UKIP won here last time, the Lib Dems were the big gainers of the night, winning two seats in the SW for the first time. Labour and the Conservatives were both wiped out. Taken together with our huge national gains in the local elections earlier this month, it is clear that the Lib Dems are back in a big way. This is a huge credit to Sir Vince Cable and his clear-headed leadership. He will be a hard act to follow.
“The public are clearly not satisfied with the bad deal negotiated by Theresa May’s Conservatives or the muddled fence-sitting of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. Labour suffered their worst national election result since before the Second World War and the Tories their worst since before the Napoleonic Wars! This is reflected in South Gloucestershire where for the first time ever the Tories came fourth and Labour fifth, receiving fewer votes than the Lib Dems between them.
“It’s also clear that there is no mandate for a No Deal Brexit, with the anti-Brexit Lib Dems and Greens together gaining more votes than the Brexit Party. We are very clear that No Deal would be an absolute disaster for the country, for jobs, and for our NHS. The only way out of this political quagmire is a People’s Vote on the final deal. The Liberal Democrats will keep fighting to give the people, not politicians, the final say on Brexit.”
Liberal Democrats hit out as Tory-run South Gloucestershire Council votes to use council taxpayers’ money for party-political publicity
South Gloucestershire Lib Dems have reacted angrily to a decision by the Council’s ruling Conservative group to provide publicity for Conservative MPs using council taxpayer funded staff.
The Conservatives, who recently had their majority on the Council cut by the Lib Dems at May’s local elections, pushed through the change as part of the council’s new media protocol. It says that the council’s press officers will now not only have to publicise the council’s activities but also the work of the area’s Conservative MPs, when they are invited to events by Conservative councillors.
Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Claire Young said: “This is a clear abuse of power and council resources by a Conservative administration which has no respect for what is right or proper. When residents pay their council tax bill, they don’t expect it to go on subsidizing party-political publicity for the Conservative Party.”
Cllr Mike Drew, Lib Dem spokesperson for Resources said: “Why should this council provide media support for Conservative MPs, when these are the people who are going to Westminster each week and voting to cut council services, and funding for our struggling local schools? They don’t support local government so why should local government support them?”
Cllr Tony Davis said: “The council’s press office is supposed to be called Corporate Communications, not Conservative Communications. This is further politicising what should be a council service for residents, not just a service for the political party running the council. It stinks.”
The Liberal Democrats have unveiled their shadow cabinet on South Gloucestershire Council following their Annual General Meeting last night.
Newly re-elected group leader, Claire Young (Frampton Cotterell) said: “I’m delighted in our new frontbench that we have a great balance of experienced returning councillors and new councillors bringing fresh ideas. I know that this will be a really dynamic team who will do a great job of holding the Conservative-run Council to account.”
Along with Cllr Young, also returning to the shadow cabinet are Maggie Tyrrell (Thornbury) as Deputy Leader and Shadow Executive Member for Adults and Public Health, along with Mike Drew (Yate North) who stays on as Shadow Executive Member for Corporate Resources.
Adrian Rush (Chipping Sodbury & Cotswold Edge), who returned to the Council after defeating former Conservative Cabinet Member Rob Creer earlier this month, will lead for the Lib Dems on Planning, Transport and Strategic Environment. While Louise Harris (Dodington), who joined the Council last year after her by-election win will take on the Community Services and Tourism brief, which covers services as diverse as libraries, leisure centres and recycling collections.
Two first time councillors, elected in May, will also take on shadow cabinet roles. UWE student James Arrowsmith (Stoke Park & Cheswick), who at 23 is the youngest member of the Council, will take on the Children & Young People’s portfolio. While lecturer and former teacher, Jayne Stansfield (Thornbury), becomes the new Lib Dem lead member for Schools, Skills and Employment – and will lead the fight against Conservative SEND cuts and chronic underinvestment in local schools.
The full set of Lib Dem lead members, is as follows:
Leader and Shadow Executive Member for the Local Economy and Devolution: Claire Young
Deputy Leader and Shadow Executive Member for Adults & Public Health: Maggie Tyrrell
Shadow Executive Member for Corporate Resources: Mike Drew
Shadow Executive Member for Children and Young People: James Arrowsmith
Shadow Executive Member Schools, Skills and Employment: Jayne Stansfield
Shadow Executive Member for Community Services & Tourism: Louise Harris
Shadow Executive Member for Planning, Transport and Strategic Environment: Adrian Rush
Co-chair of Scrutiny: Maggie Tyrrell
Lead member on Health Overview & Scrutiny: John O’Neill
Lead member on Spatial Planning and Strategic Sites Delivery: Mike Drew
Lead member on Development Management: James Arrowsmith
Lead member on Regulatory: Tony Davis
Lead member on Public Rights of Way & Commons Registration: Pat Trull
Lead member on Audit & Accounts: John O’Neill