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.”
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.Read more
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."
Claire Young, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group on South Gloucestershire Council, has called on the region's three Conservative MPs - Luke Hall, Jack Lopresti and Chris Skidmore - not to vote to abandon the UK’s 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) international development spending target, and thereby break their election commitment.
In the 2019 General Election, Conservative MPs stood on a manifesto promise to “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”.
The Government announced plans in 2020 to cut the development budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI.
On Monday 7 June, if selected by the Speaker, a vote will be held in the House of Commons on whether to reinstate the 0.7% target. South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Claire Young, has challenged Hall, Lopresti and Skidmore to follow through on their election pledge to support the 0.7%, and vote to retain the target.
Councillor Young said:
“South Gloucestershire needs MPs who will keep their word. When our three Conservative MPs stood for Parliament in 2019, they pledged to support the 0.7% target on aid spending. Now they have an opportunity to deliver on that promise.
“If they fail to support the target, they will be breaking a promise to the people of South Gloucestershire and the world’s poorest. Every vote will matter - so their decision could have a huge impact on the millions of people around the world that need our help.
“The Liberal Democrats have supported international development spending for over sixty years and enshrined the 0.7% target into law in 2015. It is the right thing to do, both for the UK, and those who need our help. On 7th June, Luke Hall, Jack Lopresti and Chris Skidmore must vote to reinstate the 0.7% target.”
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:
“The Conservative Government’s decision to cut development spending has done extraordinary damage to Britain’s reputation with our allies and partners from across the globe. Now is the time for leadership - but instead, the Conservatives want Britain to hide from its responsibilities during a global pandemic.
“Every Conservative MP stood on a manifesto commitment to the 0.7% target. If they vote to cut the development budget next week, they will be breaking a promise to their constituents and to the world’s poorest.
“Liberal Democrats will vote to reinstate the 0.7% target, which we enshrined in law. International development spending protects the most vulnerable people around the world and gives them a better chance at life.
The Liberal Democrats successfully forced South Gloucestershire Council to pass a motion at this week’s Annual Council Meeting, calling for a significant increase in rural bus services, to be paid for with funding from Central Government.
Responding to a report by CPRE: the countryside charity – highlighting the poor state of the rural bus network, South Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrat Group proposed a motion welcoming the report and calling on the Council’s Leadership to take action, working with the newly elected Mayor of the West of England and the Department for Transport.
Disappointingly, the Conservative majority on South Gloucestershire Council refused to consider proposals for bus franchising, which the Liberal Democrats have been advocating, and insisted on amending the proposed motion to exclude bus franchising and remove the requirement that the Leader of South Gloucestershire Council takes any action to actually improve local bus services locally.
Speaking to propose the original motion, Liberal Democrat Councillor Jayne Stansfield said:
“This motion is asking for South Glos Council to work with the WECA mayor and Department of Transport to deliver an effective network of buses throughout South Glos. Ideally we would like to see a bus every hour to every village above 300 people in South Glos, as proposed by CPRE.
“This is ambitious but it can be done.
“We have declared a climate emergency here is South Glos and need to cut our CO2 emissions dramatically. Private cars account for 20%, according to the ONS, and 55%, according to carbonbrief.org, of the greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Whichever figure it really is, getting people to swap their cars for buses would be a good start to reduce emissions.
“But this isn’t going to happen unless a reliable system of public transport is in place first!”
Continuing, Councillor Stansfield said:
“Many of our villages only have a bus every 2 hours, or none at all. According to the LGA (Local Government Association), only 80% of rural residents live within 4 km of a GP surgery compared with 98 per cent of the urban population. In other words, to live in the country you need to have a car or be prepared and able to walk or cycle considerable distances.
“This motion is asking for our Council leader and Cabinet member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure, amongst others, to work with The WECA mayor and the Department of Transport to get an effective, reliable, low carbon network of buses and most importantly regular service across the whole of South Glos. We would ask them to aim high – to aim for a bus every hour to all villages of 300 or more residents.”
Speaking after the meeting, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council’s Liberal Democrat Opposition, Councillor Claire Young said:
“I am please that, thanks to the work of the Liberal Democrat Group, we have forced this issue onto the agenda and got the Conservative administration to acknowledge that our rural bus network is in dire need of investment.
“However, I am disappointed that, as is so often the case, the administration decided to play silly political games at Wednesday night’s meeting rather than work with councillors from other parties.
“We have genuine policy differences over, for example bus franchising which the Liberal Democrats advocate and the Conservatives oppose. It is ironic given that the Conservative Transport Secretary has just announced that rail services are going to be run in a more coordinated way, that locally South Gloucestershire Conservatives oppose doing something similar for buses, but they do.
“Unfortunately, it was not the issue of bus franchising, where we could have had a debate, that the Conservatives decided to focus their contribution, but on a wholly confected argument about carparking charges – which the Liberal Democrats oppose when we ran the council, have opposed in opposition and continue to oppose.
“The CPRE report lists a suite of different options for how improving the rural bus network can be paid for, we have been very clear that we believe diverting money from roadbuilding towards public transport is the option we favour.
“The Conservative Group will doubtless be relieved that, owing to “technical issues” members of the public have not been able to watch Wednesday’s Council meeting – as it was a prime example of the childish tactics and level of debate offered by the ruling Conservatives.”