South Glos Tory MPs break promise to their constituents over unfair tax hike

Tax Form

South Gloucestershire's Liberal Democrats have slammed their three local Conservative MPs' choice to break their promise to the electorate and vote for a 1.25% rise in National Insurance.

The changes, which go against the Conservatives’ manifesto promise not to raise taxes, will mean hard-pressed local families and small businesses will be left paying hundreds of pounds more in tax each year.

Luke Hall, Jack Lopresti and Chris Skidmore were amongst the 317 Conservative MPs to support the plans. Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the government plans, arguing that they fail to fix the ongoing social care crisis and will fall disproportionately on the young, the low paid and small businesses.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a cross-party agreement on social care, to find a long-term solution to funding high-quality care for everyone who needs it.

Commenting, Claire Young Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on South Glos Council said:  

Hall, Lopresti and Skidmore stood on a clear promise at the last election not to raise taxes, including National Insurance. Now they have voted to break that promise by hitting hard-pressed families and small businesses in South Glos with a tax hike at a time many are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.

“The people of South Gloucestershire deserve better than this. They need MPs who they can trust and who will fight for a fairer deal for our area.

“The Liberal Democrats opposed these unjust plans in Parliament. We have been clear about how to fix the social care crisis in a fairer way, instead of hiking taxes on those who can least afford it.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP added: 

“The Tories have gone from being the party of low tax to the party of broken promises.

“Conservative MPs have shown that they can’t be trusted and are taking people for granted. It’s little wonder that voters around the country and across the Blue Wall are turning to the Liberal Democrats instead.

“We want to see cross-party talks on how to fund social care in a fair and sustainable way, along with urgent action to fix the staffing crisis in care homes and give unpaid carers the recognition they deserve.”

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Charfield station not yet a done deal warn Lib Dems

Charfield station

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have given a cautious welcome to the news that the local council has submitted a business case for reopening Charfield station to the regional authority.

Commenting on the announcement, Liberal Democrat councillor for Charfield John O’Neill said:

“I welcome the news that the potential reopening of Charfield station has taken a step forward – Liberal Democrats on South Gloucestershire Council and on Gloucestershire County Council have been leading the campaign to reopen Charfield station for decades.

“Having been campaigning on this issue for a long time, I warn the current administration that submitting a business case and securing funding for the reopening of Charfield station are not the same thing. The tone of the administration’s recent publicity makes it sound like the reopening of the station has been given the go-ahead, whereas in reality there will be many more challenges to overcome before we can be sure that the station will be reopening.

“However, submitting a business case to the West of England Authority is a key milestone and I would like to pay tribute to the work of two former Liberal Democrat Councillors: Eddie Gadsby (one of my predecessors representing Charfield) and former Gloucestershire County Councillor for Wotton under Edge, John Cordwell. Without Eddie and John’s work over decades, it is unlikely we’d be where we are today."

Councillor Adrian Rush, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure on South Gloucestershire Council added:

“As always the administration talks a good game – but now we have to wait and see if they will deliver on their promises.

“Delivering Charfield station has to be a key transport priority for South Gloucestershire Council and I hope we’ll be hearing definite news that funding has been secured and that the station will be reopened before too long and that South Gloucestershire will finally be delivering on this long-held aspiration.”

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Afghan refugees are welcome in South Gloucestershire

Afghan Refugees

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to make a more ambitious commitment to resettle refugees fleeing the Taliban, and to give South Gloucestershire Council extra funding to house and support them here.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s commitment to resettle just 5,000 Afghan refugees across the UK over the next year, saying it “falls woefully short” of what is needed in response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

The party also highlighted that 55 people have been resettled in South Gloucestershire since 2014, under the previous Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme for refugees of the conflict in Syria.

Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group on South Gloucestershire Council, said:

“South Gloucestershire has a proud record of providing sanctuary to those in need. We have given a new home to 55 refugees fleeing the awful violence in Syria, and I know local people will welcome those escaping the Taliban now too.

“The Government must live up to its obligations by giving South Gloucestershire Council and local authorities across the UK extra funding so we can house, support and integrate these refugees properly.”

Alistair Carmichael MP, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, added:

“It's now or never to save innocent people from the terror of the Taliban. The Government must step up urgently and offer safe and legal routes to the UK for Afghan refugees who’ve been forced to flee their homes.

“A humanitarian crisis is unfolding before our eyes, and Priti Patel’s promise to resettle just 5,000 refugees over the next 12 months falls woefully short of meeting that challenge. I know the UK can do far better than that.”

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We're Hiring! - Campaigns and Volunteer Officer

Campaign Launch

Building upon recent strong by-election results, both locally and nationally, South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats are focussed on taking back control of our Council and local Westminster Constituencies in the next round of elections. The appointment of a full-time paid - up to £26K - Campaigns and Volunteer Officer is a key element of our strategy. 

Working closely with an experienced and enthusiastic campaign team, the successful candidate will be responsible for mobilising our volunteers, upskilling branches, helping develop our social media campaigning, and managing our campaign hub. Good communication and organisational skills are essential. Based at our campaign hub they will need to be a self-starter who can cope with lone or home working. Access to a car and the ability to work flexibly - with some evening and weekend working - will be necessary.

A full job description is available here. To apply, please send a CV and Covering Letter (including contact details for two referees, one of whom should be your current or recent employer) to [email protected]. Your application should describe your relevant skills, experience and understanding of political campaigning, and how they would make a real difference to our communities.

Closing date for applications: 25th August 2021. Interviews will be held in early September 2022.

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Raj Sood meets council engineers to discuss Hambrook Lights design

Raj Sood with South Glos Engineers at Hambrook Lights

Local campaigner Raj Sood met with South Gloucestershire Council Engineers this month to discuss the design of the Hambrook Lights junction, and its impact on public safety, traffic congestion and associated pollution. Discussions also took place with several cyclists using the crossings at the time, who described dangerous incidents they had witnessed or experienced. The engineers provided a detailed briefing on the current design, the choices and compromises that have been made, and legal and other constraints. Topics covered included:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of separating pedestrian and cycle crossings, and the impact of this on traffic flow
  • Possible sources of confusion and misinterpretation of signalling, and possible mitigation features if/when mistakes occur
  • Whether all pedestrians and cyclists are using the crossing correctly, and whether changes could be made to make safer use more intuitive and convenient
  • The likely impact of the proposed changes to other junctions on the Bristol ring road on the Hambrook Lights
  • Whether a radical redesign - such as the provision of a pedestrian/cycle bridge or underpass - would improve safety and reduce congestion

The StreetCare team emphasized that they are keen to engage with the Public and local political activists, which they feel helps refine scheme design and inform political policy. Raj Sood said:

"I want to thank South Glos StreetCare for such a useful meeting. The issues surrounding the Hambrook Lights are something that the residents of South Gloucestershire, but especially those locally in Frenchay & Downend, care a great deal about. This meeting we help me and my team develop our ideas for improvements in the future."