Labour’s plan to close Willenhall Police Station

September 20th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted September 20, 2014

News is emerging that Willenhall Police Station has been earmarked for closure under plans drawn up by the Police Crime Commisioner for the West Midlands, Labour’s David Jamieson in order to raise £500,000 and cut £170,000 a year in running costs. Under the plans most operations at Willenhall’s John Street station will be transferred to Darlaston.

Commenting on Labour’s plans for local Policing, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ian Shires said “Obviously I am disappointed to hear that there are plans to close Willenhall’s Police Station. But the real issue is the way in which this decision has been arrived at. I’m a local councillor and the first I heard of this was via the Express and Star! It’s no wonder people feel divorced from the decision making process!

“Willenhall has an Area Partnership (one of six across Walsall) currently under Labour control. Yet not once has the Labour Police Crime Commisioner (PCC) sought to put options to the people of Willenhall on the future shape of Policing across the area.

“Over the Summer, Liberal Democrats in Short Heath and New Invention have carried out a Summer Survey through their regular FOCUS newsletters. Concerns highlighted in the many responses we had put crime and the fear of crime top of most people’s list. Closing Willenhall’s Police Station in this fashion does nothing to calm those fears.”

So the answer is ‘No’

September 19th, 2014 by danielbarker
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So what next?
Hopefully it means that devolution in England is back on the agenda. What we don’t need is devolution that misses anyone out. We in the Liberal Democrats believe that no-one should be a victim of their post-code, yet if you are English at the moment, you are! The last exercise in devolution done by the last Labour Government devolved power in Scotland & Wales but left out England – that was a mistake and had led to a rise in far-right nationalist groups across England.

There has been talk about devolving power to cities or city ‘regions’ – is that word back on the agenda considering its been banned ever since Tory Ministers got into power? I think this kind of devolution would be a mistake if anyone was excluded from its benefits. We need to learn the lessons from what has gone before – giving more power exclusively to cities could lead to the economic decline of towns and other urban areas, and will create a justified outcry in rural areas – what about us? And even if such areas are covered within ‘city regions’, a lot of people will rightly say, ‘are we defined by our nearest biggest city?’. I can’t see the people of Walsall taking kindly to being part of Greater Birmingham! Sorry to those who have this idea, but you’ve got to respect local differences when it comes to devolution.

No, we need to get regional devolution back on the agenda. Currently Walsall sends 3 MPs to London and each MP’s journey is a cost to the taxpayer – the cost must be far worse for MPs from say Northumberland! Its time to be arguing for sending just one MP to Westminster, and keeping 2 back in the region to sit in a West Midlands Parliament. They would spend less time travelling and more time in Walsall seeing what’s actually going on.

Let me know if you think this is a good idea.

Thanks,

Dan Barker
Cllr for Short Heath

Parking issues in Coltham Road…..

September 18th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted September 18, 2014

Parking problems in Coltham Road flaired up again recently prompting residents to contact the Liberal Democrats in the area.

Liberal Democrat Focus Teams in the Short Heath earea have been made aware of further problems in the past few days concerning parking in Coltham Road. They have asked for a report on the causes of the latest incident in order to see what short term action can be taken whilst a more in depth survey continues to look for more long term solutions to this ongoing problem.

For the sake of sport – don’t go!

September 17th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Yes, there are arguably more important reasons for Scotland to remain part of the UK, such as the negative effect separation would have on the British economy, but these are matters of dispute. One thing that can’t be disputed is the fact that creating a dis-united Kingdom would devastate our national sporting achievements. Think of all the golds we won in the 2012 Olympics – take Scotland out of the equation and the figure would have been much less. And our Davis Cup Team won’t be winning many tennis matches over the next few years if Andy Murray is rendered a foreigner by Thursday’s vote.

I believe the main reason no football team from the British Isles has won the World Cup since 1966 is because we are already dis-united at national and league level in our supposedly ‘national sport’. Yes, England won in 66, but the evidence of every world cup since suggests this was a one-off. But imagine how well a UK team in the 70s would have done boasting the likes of George Best, Kenny Dalgleish and Kevin Keagon! Imagine how many more goals Alan Shearer would have scored in Euro 96 if Ryan Giggs had been there, tirelessly supplying inch-perfect passes. And imagine how well a UK team could do today joining the best of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with the Welsh wizardry of Bale and Ramsey. My dream is that one day, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will put aside their traditional colours and agree to the formation of a UK team bedecked in red, white and blue.

Sport shows us that we’re better together. I hope and pray that the Scottish people realise that when they go to vote tomorrow.

SME confidence at record levels

September 16th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Confidence levels among small businesses are at “record levels”, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. The northeast has shown the greatest improvement in sentiment compared with a year ago, and the southeast remains the most confident region overall. The FSB said every sector was positive about its trading prospects over the next three months. However, confidence among Scottish SMEs fell in the past three months chiefly over concerns about the impact of a Yes vote in this week’s independence referendum. Elsewhere, high streets saw a fall in visiting shoppers leading to calls for ministers and local councils to help high streets and shopping centres to attract shoppers in the run–up to Christmas by removing obstacles such as high parking costs.

HGVs and the A462

September 15th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted September 15, 2014 Comments(0)

The speed of heavy goods vehicles through the New Invention and Short Heath area, and in particular concerns from those living along the A462, figured highly in responses to our FOCUS Summer Survey.

Much of this route follows narrow twisting roads which were never designed to carry the quantity and size of vehicles on their way to hubs within the Black Country. As a result drains and manholes along the route are taking a pounding adding to already high road noise.

There are particular “pinch points” which were singled out by those responding to the survey, Cannock Road being one of them. Here as well as the A462 being narrow and twisting it negotiates its way past New Invention Infants and Junior Schools and New Invention Health Centre all in close proximity to each other.

The number of complaints your Lib Dem FOCUS Team receives on this issue has increased since NightFraight became D-EX though the problem is not exclusive to them. The team has contacted the Council along with Police and is seeking talks with local operators to see what can be done to reduce the problem.

Clegg backs English devolution plan

September 13th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Nick Clegg has said more power must be given to the English regions so they can truly “stand on their own feet”. He argued such a move would be needed after the Scottish referendum, with new powers promised for Holyrood if there is a No vote. While the focus in the past decade had been on devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, he said England was “the forgotten part of the puzzle”. Speaking in Sheffield, Mr Clegg endorsed a report by the IPPR North think tank proposing a new wave of combined local authorities headed by directly elected “metro mayors”. He said councils were already able to retain more of their own income from business rates, but they should gradually take control of budgets for skills and job development. “If ever there was a time to push for action on decentralisation, it’s right now,” he stated.

What the Lib. Dems. have to say on the Scottish Referendum

September 12th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Home Rule journey

The three parties campaigning for Scotland to stay in the UK have said that a ‘No’ vote on 18 September will be the start of change.

The Lib Dems have set out a timetable for the next stage of Scotland’s Home Rule journey.

This timetable starts the day after a ‘No’ vote, with a draft bill published by the end of January, giving Scotland major new financial powers, including over income tax and social security.

This shows Scots can have the best of both worlds, real change without irreversible separation and the risks to jobs and future prosperity.

The Liberal Democrats were the first to set out our plans for a stronger Scottish Parliament.

Now all parties have put forward ambitious plans for further devolution to Scotland. They differ in detail but share much common ground on tax and welfare.

•Tax: The priority is further devolution of tax powers, in particular income tax, to increase the financial autonomy and accountability of the Scottish Parliament.

•Welfare: There are advantages to devolving certain benefits, such as housing benefit. But the core of the welfare state should continue to share resources across the UK.

We are setting out a clear plan to give Scots certainty that change is coming.

Referendum

We want the best for Scotland. We believe Scotland is better off in the UK and the UK is better off with Scotland in it.
It is a choice between opportunity and security of staying in the UK or leaving forever – without the pound, without the UK’s influence in the world and one that puts jobs and pensions at risk.
As part of the UK, Scotland has economic security, international influence and the best of both worlds.
We have a great future together – a United Kingdom with a united future.

Risks of Independence

The real risk of a ‘Yes’ vote has already knocked billions off the value of Scottish companies and led to warnings of the impact of separation on jobs and pensions.

In contrast, the announcement of a clear delivery plan for further devolution has shown that a vote for ‘No’ is a vote for change.

Earlier this week Scottish companies, employing over 40,000 people in Scotland, lost nearly £3 billion in value – hitting pensions.

While the value of the pound fell to its lowest level in ten months, taking billions out of our economy.

We’ve also seen warnings from a wide range of businesses about the impact of independence on jobs, wages and prices.

“Please don’t go” says Tim Farron

September 11th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted September 11, 2014

‘Cumbria can play a key role in keeping the union together’ says Tim Farron‘

In the final few days of the Scottish independence referendum campaign, Tim Farron MP is urging northerners to make sure their voice is heard that the UK is Better Together.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, who is also President of the Liberal Democrats, is asking people to contact friends, colleagues and family members in Scotland and tell them that we are better together.

The idea is based on what happened in Québec in 1995 in their independence referendum. In that case, thousands of Canadians contacted people in Québec and urged them to say no to separation.

Tim Farron said:

“In the final few days of the independence debate our voice could be key. I’m urging northerners to get in touch with friends, family, colleagues and tell them that we love Scotland and we want them to stay.”

Pothole app released

September 10th, 2014 by danielbarker
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The RAC has released a new app for reporting potholes. The Report Pothole app allows users to send information from a smartphone directly to the local authority if they spot a nuisance. An insider said the app, developed with website Street Repairs, was already forcing councils to move more quickly to fix problems spotted by keen-eyed locals.

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Daniel Barker

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Walsall
West Midlands
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