Local Tory MPs have thrown British farmers on the scrapheap

Stephen Williams (right) on a Somerset farm, standing up for local food and farmers

Stephen Williams, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of the West of England, has told six local Conservative MPs, including our three South Gloucestershire MPs, that they should “hang their heads in shame for betraying their party’s promise to protect British farmers”.

The Tory MPs all voted against changes to the Agriculture Bill which would have ensured that Britain’s excellent food and animal welfare standards are guaranteed in any future trade deals. 

The South Gloucestershire MPs who voted against protecting our farmers and our food were Luke Hall (Thornbury & Yate), Jack Lopresti (Filton & Bradley Stoke) and Chris Skidmore (Kingswood).

They all opposed measures to protect British farming and food standards from inferior imports.  They did so despite over a million people signing a National Farmers' Union petition calling for the UK Government to put laws in place that prevent imports of food that is produced in ways that are illegal here in the UK.

The Liberal Democrats have committed to continuing the fight to protect British farmers, including exploring further amendments to the Trade Bill.

Stephen Williams added:

“The Conservatives promised to protect British farmers, but today they have betrayed that promise. 

“We now risk seeing foods that are currently illegal in the UK - like hormone treated beef, and fruit and vegetables produced using banned pesticide - making it onto our supermarket shelves.

“The six local Tory MPs should hang their heads in shame. They have let everyone in the West Country down by putting loyalty to Boris Johnson ahead of the interests of farmers and consumers.”

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson said:

“Unlike the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats back British farming. We want the Government to work in partnership with UK farmers to protect our world class food and animal welfare standards, cut greenhouse gas emissions and support the recovery of our natural environment.”

Image: Stephen Williams (right) on a Somerset farm, standing up for local food and farmers

Stephen Williams' website

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Claire Young questions council leadership over Frampton Cotterell rave

Frampton Cotterell Councillors Tristan Clark, Claire Young, & Jon Lean

Claire Young, Councillor for Frampton Cotterell and Leader of the Liberal Democrats on South Gloucestershire Council has asked a series of questions of the Council’s Chief Executive and Leader, following the illegal rave which took place on the Stover Road Trading Estate, in the Frampton Cotterell ward over the weekend.

Frampton Cotterell ward is represented by Councillor Claire Young, along with two other Liberal Democrat Councillors: Councillor Tristan Clark and Councillor Jon Lean.

At Monday afternoon’s South Gloucestershire Cabinet meeting, Councillor Claire Young asked the following questions:

  • Will you impress upon the police the need to communicate clearly to the public how those involved are being dealt with?
  • What involvement will this Council have, if any, in making sure that the surrounding area is cleaned up quickly and thoroughly, to reduce fears about the risk of infection?
  • What is this council doing to work with the police on plans to prevent future illegal activity of this sort in this area and across South Gloucestershire?

Speaking at the meeting Councillor Young also said:

“Local people are understandably angry and concerned, it’s a real kick in the teeth to all those who have been trying so hard to stick to the rules to keep our area as safe as possible. How this is dealt with will set the tone for the coming weeks.”

Councillor Jon Lean, Liberal Democrat, who also represents Frampton Cotterell ward commented:

“I was appalled by the flagrant violation of the law exhibited by the organisers and attendees of this event, especially given the ongoing public health crisis. Their actions put all of us at risk. We will be questioning officials to find out about the plans to prevent this sort of illegal activity in the future.”

Councillor Tristan Clark, the third Liberal Democrat Councillor for Frampton Cotterell added:

 “This was myopic, selfish behaviour that utterly disregarded the threat super spreader events pose to our communities.”

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No Child in South Gloucestershire Should Go Hungry

School meal

As local schools break up for half term, South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have slammed the decision of the area’s three Conservative MPs to vote against continuing to fund free school meals in holiday time.

Reacting to the news that Luke Hall (Thornbury and Yate), Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) and Chris Skidmore (Kingswood) all voted against an opposition motion to extend the free school meals programme, Cllr Claire Young, Leader of South Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrat Councillors said:

 “It seems amazing that, in 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, in one of the richest countries in the world, saying that no child should go hungry simply because they are not in school, should be controversial. But all three of our MPs seem to think that allowing children to go hungry is acceptable.

 “I sincerely hope that the Conservative members of South Gloucestershire Council will show more compassion than their colleagues in Westminster.

 “We will be asking the council’s leadership to use what influence it has with its own party’s Government to support an extension of free school meals during the holidays. If that fails, we will be asking the council to act locally, to ensure South Gloucestershire school children do not go hungry during future school holidays.”

4,212 children in South Gloucestershire are eligible to receive free meals when attending schools, but are left without support outside school term time. During the Coronavirus lockdown this was replaced with a voucher system in term time which (following a high-profile campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford MBE) was extended into the summer. The Government has now decided not to extend the scheme into further school holidays.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for:

  • Free school meals to every pupil whose parents or guardians are in receipt of Universal Credit
  • Food vouchers for every one of those pupils in every school holiday and during any period of lockdown
  • Free school meals to pupils from low-income families whose parents or guardians have no recourse to public funds and destitute asylum seekers
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South Glos MPs vote to block physical proof of right to remain

European Flags

The Liberal Democrats have warned that all three South Gloucestershire Conservative MPs are risking a “new Windrush-style scandal”, after they voted to refuse to offer EU citizens physical proof of their right to stay in the UK.

On Monday (19th October), Tory MPs overturned a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Immigration Bill, which passed in the House of Lords just weeks ago. The amendment would require the Home Office to give EU Citizens physical proof of Settled and Pre-Settled Status, rather than the digital-only system the Home Office is currently pursuing.

Conservatives in the House of Commons rejected the amendment by 331 votes to 260. Luke Hall, Jack Lopresti, and Chris Skidmore were among those voting to scrap the amendment, while Liberal Democrat MPs and MPs in all other parties voted to retain it.

The latest Home Office figures show that, as of the end of June, 10,880 people in South Gloucestershire have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme for the right to stay in the UK after the Brexit transition period ends. 5,950 have been granted Settled Status so far, while a further 4,170 have been granted temporary Pre-Settled Status.

Following the vote, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

“The Conservatives’ decision to overturn this Liberal Democrat amendment shows how empty their promises to guarantee citizens’ rights after Brexit really are. Their Hostile Environment is, sadly, alive and well.

“The Windrush Scandal showed the devastating impact of the Hostile Environment on people who cannot easily prove their rights. By denying EU citizens physical proof of Settled Status, the Government risks making them the victims of a new Windrush-style Scandal.”

Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on South Gloucestershire Council, said:

“EU citizens in South Gloucestershire are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. They have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long.

“By refusing to provide EU citizens with physical proof of their rights and forcing them to rely on a digital code and an online Home Office database, our MPs are putting them at risk of discrimination.

“Liberal Democrats are fighting for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, with physical proof of their status.”

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Liberal Democrats welcome South Glos Council’s decision to oppose Government planning changes

House Building

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have welcomed the decision of the Council unanimously to pass a motion opposing the Conservative Government’s proposed decimation of the planning system.

Described as a “developers’ charter”, the newest proposals from the Conservative Government would tear up planning rules and give developers virtual free-reign to build what they like where they like.

South Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrat councillors proposed a motion last night and asked fellow councillors from the Conservative and Labour Parties to support it.

Following negotiations, both the Conservative and the Labour groups agreed to support a revised version of the Liberal Democrat motion, which was passed by the council unanimously yesterday.

The motion, proposed by Councillor Jayne Stansfield, Liberal Democrat Lead Member on the Development Management Committee, calls on South Gloucestershire Council to make representations to the Government’s consultation on its, “Planning for the Future” White Paper.

Moving the motion, Cllr Jayne Stansfield described the Government’s proposals as, “a serious threat to a democratic and transparent planning system” and asked that the Council raises concerns with central Government.

Cllr Jayne Stansfield, proposer of the motion said:

“I would question many of the assumptions made in this white paper – there is the idea that councils are reluctant to grant planning permission, but here in South Glos we grant 93% of planning applications. According to the LGA there are over 1million houses with planning permission which have not been built.”

 “I am very concerned that the Government appears to be proposing tearing up so many safeguards contained within the current planning system.

 “These proposals remove most of the power of local councils to decide what gets built in their area, they remove the power of the public to have a say on what happens near them, they will massively reduce the amount of affordable housing and vital infrastructure that gets built and they pay little attention to the climate emergency. It is difficult to see anything in these proposals which deserves to be supported.

“We need to make sure that we’re keeping the public involved in the planning process for as long as possible, but these proposals reduce the ability of members of the public to have their say, to something that happens at a very early stage, possibly decades before anything get built.”

Cllr Adrian Rush, Liberal Democrat Lead Member for Planning, Transport and Strategic Environment said:

“We are facing a housing crisis, but the planning system is not the problem. Across the country over a million houses have planning permission but haven’t been built. The Government now wants to loosen the rules so much that developers will be able to build practically whatever they want. We need to tell the Government that these proposals will be a disaster for South Gloucestershire.”

Cllr Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on South Gloucestershire Council added:

Up and down the country, councils of all political persuasions have been passing similar motions, opposing these deeply worrying proposals. They would massively reduce the power of councils and the local communities they serve, to decide the future of their local areas.

“I am pleased that the Labour and Conservative groups agreed to work with us to support a motion which reflects the very real concerns that councillors of all parties have about what the Conservative Government is threatening to do to the planning system.”

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