Ukraine plane crash

July 29th, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

We have been clear that the shooting down of MH17 was totally unacceptable.

The evidence suggests that pro-Russian separatists were responsible. If this is the case, then this tragedy is a direct result of Russia destabilising Ukraine, violating its territorial integrity, and training and arming thuggish militias.

If Putin stops supporting the fighters in eastern Ukraine and allows the national authorities to restore order, this crisis can be brought to an end.

Of course, there must be proper protections for Russian-speaking minorities but the overriding need is for Russia to cease its support for violent separatists.

We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action. Action to find those who committed this crime and bring them to justice.

We must do what is necessary to stand up to Russia and put an end to the conflict in Ukraine before any more innocent lives are lost.

The EU has now agreed to draw up lists of additional people subject to sanctions and to do so in the next couple of days

At the same time it is looking at broader ranging sanctions, including arms embargoes, access to capital markets, financial services, and high tech goods.

LibLink: Charles Kennedy: Why our destiny must lie with the F word

July 28th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted July 28, 2014

The Independence Referendum campaign continues to be depressing. The only really good things associated with it tend to come from Liberal Democrats and most especially Charles Kennedy. He’s written a thoughtful and persuasive article in the Herald about the dilemma facing Scotland beyond 18th September as, whoever wins, we’ve all lost out from increasing centralism to Edinburgh in recent years.

He outlines the problem:

In the pre-devolution days of one- party Tory domination there was much legitimate railing against the excessive concentration of power within Whitehall. The centre accrued and amassed while the periphery lost out. Holyrood represented an emphatic emancipation from the power of centralisers. Yet look at the Scotland that has been developing and ask: where lies that aspiration today?

Our emergency services have been made national, more centralised and less regionally accountable. Consider the furore over armed police and wonder if that (unstated until unveiled) policy would have got so far under previous, more localised structures. Ponder the plight of our so-called local authorities and reflect upon the extent to which frozen council tax concordats with central government serve to enhance local accountability and diverse innovation more tailored to community needs.

The chain of command is top down, the culture target-driven. The derivatives, from the tick box methodology to the growing Leviathan of key performance indicators holds sway. And too much of what I hear and read of the independence version of Scotland’s future seems predicated on still further imposition by the “new centre” on the rest of us, individuals and communities alike.

It’s not going to be easy to sort this out in an independent Scotland, especially when the Yes campaigns assertions are, shall we say, a little inconsistent with each other.

The wider Scotland should retain its critical faculties where the prospect of an independent Scotland is concerned. Throughout this campaign, whenever policy trickiness has arisen, the Yes campaign has been keen to stress that it is not the SNP; a bit like the Catholic Church suggesting it has no responsibility for the latest Papal utterance. Time and again, the refrain that the future political governance of our land will be decided solely by Scots voting freely in an independent country has become conflated with a menu of supposedly desirable policies that seem guaranteed come what may. These twin assertions do not add up.

It’s different if we vote No, though..

A post-referendum Westminster, with Scotland a continuing participant, must try to encourage if not ensure that the further transfer of powers to Holyrood does not stop there; that at least within the Better Together parties there must be a will to win the argument that pursuing a rolling back reaches beyond Edinburgh to our other great cities, regions and islands. Indeed, the islands’ authorities have lit the torch. regardless of the outcome, they seem likely to anticipate a greater say in their own day-to-day decision-making. Let that principle be given practical effect for the rest of the mainland.

And where should we get to in the end?

All of which leads to the F-word: federalism within and across Scotland; federalism throughout the wider, developing UK. That is where we are heading, in fits and starts, in a very British way

Today is last day for project funding bids in the voluntary sector in the Willenhall area

July 25th, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted July 25, 2014

Important information for Voluntary Organisations in Willenhall

The cut off date for applications for funding bids as detailed below is today – Friday 25th July, any applications that are not received by 4pm cannot be included in this round of funding.
If you have sent in an application and are unsure whether it have been received please feel free to call the numbers below to check.

Following the cut off today 2 sessions will be run next Tuesday 29th July From 130pm-330pm and Wednesday 30th from 11am – 1pm at Willenhall Library where you can pop in and have your say on the applications that have been submitted and vote for your favourite.

Aaron Holmes

Area Support Officer

Area Partnerships

Communities and Public Protection

2nd Floor, Civic Centre

Darwall Street

Walsall

WS1 1TP

[email protected]

Telephone: 01922 653707

Mobile: 07985 702398

www.walsall.gov.uk

http://www.walsallpartnership.org.uk/wp-index/wp-area_partnerships.htm

Birmingham chosen as HS2 hub

July 24th, 2014 by danielbarker
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The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has revealed that Birmingham will become the construction headquarters for the High Speed 2 rail line, in a move which will create 1,500 jobs. Birmingham City Council said thousands more jobs would be created as it presses ahead with plans for a regeneration company to oversee the building of a new rail terminus. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership has said it will invest about £30m to support infrastructure improvements linking the site with the rest of the city. Elsewhere, Brian Groom in the FT reflects on comments from George Osborne about creating a “northern powerhouse” to rival London. Mr Groom speculates on what this means for Birmingham, whose unofficial “second city” status has, in many eyes, been forfeited to Manchester in recent years.

Labour backs free school meals

July 23rd, 2014 by danielbarker
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Posted July 23, 2014 Comments(0)

Over the weekend, Labour agreed to back the Lib Dem proposals for free school meals.

After pressure from the party’s grass roots at the National Policy Forum, Labour agreed to endorse the policy which was announced by Nick Clegg last year.

Free school meals are expected to benefit 1.5 million children between the ages of four and seven, greatly improving their health, behaviour and results.

Thanks to Lib Dems in Government, the policy will take affect in September and will become one of the most important changes in our education system for a generation.

Hundreds call ChildLine over FGM

July 21st, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

The Times reports that almost 300 people have called ChildLine this year to warn that a girl they know may be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). More than a third of the cases were considered serious enough to refer the call to police or children’s social services. Separately, Nick Clegg will set out a package of measures to tackle FGM at a summit tomorrow. He will reveal that teachers, doctors and social workers will all be given extra training to identify and help girls who might be at risk of becoming victims of FGM.

Israel and Palestine

July 19th, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

The recent escalation in violence is tragic and a ceasefire agreed by both sides is urgently needed.

There can be no justification for the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza against the Israeli civilian population.

And it is deeply disturbing that so many Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in this latest violence – the majority of them civilians, who bear no responsibility for this crisis.

Though the people of Israel have the absolute right to live without constant fear for their security, the people of Gaza also have the fundamental right to live in peace and security.

Around 400,000 people in Gaza currently live without access to electricity, and stocks of fuel and medical supplies are running dangerously low. International humanitarian law must be upheld and Israel should lift its blockade of Gaza to ease this human suffering.

The only hope of breaking this cycle of violence is a return to peace negotiations and towards a two-state solution.

LibLink: Danny Alexander: We want a fair housing benefit system for every tenant

July 18th, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

Posted July 18, 2014

Published on Liberal Democrat Voice By Caron Lindsay | Thu 17th July 2014 – 9:45 am

People wonder why Liberal Democrats (in Parliament) supported the Bedroom Tax in the first place. Well, I spent 4 years sitting beside a Liberal Democrat MP when maybe 5 families a week would come to us and say that they were stuck in a house that was way too small. Their kids had nowhere to study or play. That was what was foremost in their minds when they agreed the Bedroom Tax. They wanted to make it easier for those families. That was their motivation even though I think the logic of the system they chose was always flawed.

When the evidence showed them that it wasn’t working, they have very quickly changed the policy. That, to me, is sensible and something you don’t often see in a Government. I have spent long enough trying to get government organisations to fix stuff when it is clear that they have made a mistake. They just don’t admit it and stonewall you. I find it very refreshing that, within 48 hours of the report being published, Liberal Democrats have looked at the evidence and changed their approach. The party is not so hard-wired into the establishment that it thinks it gets everything right and won’t admit mistakes.

I put up Danny Alexander’s email to party members last night but he has also written for the Mirror on what the Liberal Democrats want to happen now:

Our revised proposal is that new tenants in the social rented sector would receive housing benefit based on the number of rooms they need.
But those already in the social rented sector would only see a reduction in benefit if they are offered a suitable smaller home and, crucially, turn it down.

Disabled adults should be treated the same as disabled children, by permanently exempting them.

And we would introduce new measures on social landlords to manage their stock more effectively so more people get put into the right home.

The Liberal Democrats will make the case for these new fairer rules, seeking to get them in place during this Parliament.If we can’t convince our Conservative coalition partners, we will commit to these reforms in our 2015 manifesto.

I want everyone to have the chance to live securely in a decent home. That’s why I’ve driven through measures that will deliver record numbers of affordable homes to help tackle the root cause of our housing problem, lack of supply. And it’s why our manifesto will set out plans to go further and deliver 300,000 new homes a year.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron’s Musings

Lib Dems will make ‘bed-room tax’ fairer

July 17th, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

17 July, 2014

The Liberal Democrats have said they plan to significantly reform spare room subsidy rules.

The plans will see those already in the social rented sector only lose their benefit if they are offered a suitable smaller home and turn it down.

It would also permanently exempt disabled adults.

It comes after a government report published this week showed changes to how housing benefit is paid are not delivering the outcomes we had hoped despite Discretionary Housing Payments

Commenting Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:

“As a Liberal Democrat I want everyone to have the opportunity to have a secure and decent home.

“We brought in changes to how housing benefit is calculated in the social housing sector with the best of intentions.

“However, a recent report shows people are having to cut back on household essentials despite the help offered through Discretionary Housing Payments.

“Therefore, we have reviewed our position so only those already in the social rented sector who turn down suitable smaller homes will see a reduction in their benefit. These commitments will be in the Lib Dem manifesto and we will push for it as government policy right away.

“This change, combined with a commitment to build 300,000 houses a year in the next Parliament, will build on the progress we have already made to address Britain’s housing problem.”

Editorial comment: This shows that the lobbying done by local Lib.Dem parties up and down the country has forced a change, which shows that we do have a democratic party. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Tories. Unless they agree to change the policy nationally we are going to have to fight for reform at the ballot box.

Vigil for Gaza – Walsall Coalition for Palestinian Rights

July 16th, 2014 by danielbarker
Comment?

The Walsall Coalition for Palestinian Rights is a newly formed body initially supported by Aisha Mosque, Friends of Al Aqsa & Walsall Kobar Friendship Association

Vigil and Rally
Walsall Town Centre
Friday 18th July

This rally is being held in recognition of the horrific escalation of racism and violence as Israeli occupying forces continue to pursue a strategy of collective punishment in Gaza. This ongoing action has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of many innocent men women and children. Please show your support:
Meet outside ‘The Crossing at St Pauls’ between 5:00 & 6:00 pm
A two minute silence will be held at 5:30 to remember those whose innocent lives have been taken in this conflict

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