Lib Dem wins mean Conservatives lose overall control of Mole Valley District Council

Liberal Democrat wins in Leatherhead North and Bookham South mean that the Conservatives have lost overall control of Mole Valley District Council. The successes of Emma Cussell in Leatherhead North and Elizabeth Daly in Bookham South mean that the new 41-member Council comprises 20 COnservatives, 14 Liberal Democrats and 7 Independents.

Click here for the full results

                  

Emma Cussell - new Councillor for Leatherhead North      Elizabeth Daly - new Councillor for Bookham South

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SAVE THE EAST SUSSEX MUSIC SERVICE

Tthe budget cuts just keep rolling in from County Hall, and they're now planning savage reductions to our music services across East Sussex.

The absolutely brilliant East Sussex Music Service is celebrating its 84th year; it delivers music lessons to around 7000 children in schools across the county every year and around 1000 children, aged between 4 and 18, attend area music centers each week.

Despite this shining success, the county council has announced that plans are being made to close the music instrumental service by 2019. This will result in the loss of valued music provision for many children and destroy a service which has introduced thousands of Eastbourne children to music over the decades.

I believe such proposals are unnecessary, wrong and shortsighted. I have also been told that staff believe savings can be made without slashing such a valuable and much-loved music service.

We need County Hall to pause, listen to the people they serve - us - and to go back to the music staff to ask them how the circle can be squared, rather than just propose a decimation of the entire instrumental teaching provision. A decision which if it goes through, will be horrendously difficult to reverse!

So will you join me in signing the petition below?

Thank you.

Click here for the petition

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Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon frustrated the Prime Minister didn’t bring the government’s case for military action in Syria to parliament last week!

I was frustrated the Prime Minister didn’t bring the government’s case for military action in Syria to parliament last week, so we could examine the evidence, debate the issue and vote on whether or not the government should take action on our behalf. The precedent which has been in place since 2003 is that our government unless the U.K. is under direct immediate threat, should secure consent from parliament for military action, so it’s disappointing Theresa May wasn’t prepared to do so. Not least as I believe, like the Father of the House, Ken Clark MP, that she would have won the vote. This would have made our case stronger and, I believe, secured the majority support of the British public. We all understand that chemical weapons, which have been illegal to use since mid-1920’s20’s, are beyond the pale and that President Assad’s use of them demanded a response. I fear though the PM going ahead without securing parliament's support could be problematic for us down the road. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

 

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Santander's intransigence could see a local couple lose their home!

As I flagged with you last week, I have been working on a troubling issue for a constituent for over a year now, which seems to have an obvious resolution but despite this, I keep banging my head on the brick wall of corporate intransigence. It’s on behalf of a local couple who have an interest-only mortgage with Santander Bank. No problem with their monthly payments but the issue is the bank doesn’t allow for interest-only mortgages to people over the age of 75, and as this particular couple have reached that age, and for circumstances that are perfectly understandable, unable to settle the whole debt. Santander is seeking a court order to possess their house. I think this is a shocking decision. Not least as with so many of us living longer than in the past, there will be numerous other couples in the same situation - according to the House of Commons library they’re over 130,000 people of retirement age with interest-only mortgages - so you’d think it would make sense for Santander to be flexible in response to changing times. And some other high street lenders are doing so such as the Nationwide who recently announced they’d be carrying over interest-only mortgages to 85 in recognition of our longevity, so why not Santander? I raised the matter in Treasury Questions and have secured a meeting with the minister to discuss the problem. I’ve also tabled an Early Day Motion deploring Santander’s actions and asked they respond to the changes in our aging society. I hope the Bank can be persuaded to do the right thing. 

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Government Cuts to School Budgets

I was dismayed when, in the run-up to the snap-election last year, it was announced that this Government was going to make such devastating cuts to the budgets of our local schools. Findings from the school cuts coalition of unions (NEU, NAHT, ASCL, UNISON, GMB, and Unite) shows that the average per-pupil income for schools in Eastbourne & Willingdon is set to be £4,210 by the year 2019/20. This represents a drastic cut, on average, of £105 per pupil per annum. A considerable amount of money bearing in mind some schools in the town have over 1,000 students! These latest figures reveal that schools in our town are set to lose up to £337 per pupil by 2020, in comparison to when I was last your MP in 2015.

 

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Lib Dems win another seat off the Conservatives in southern England: from 0% last time to 56% this time

Rogate ward on Chichester Council was fought by Kate O’Kelly, already a county councillor and making her the first Lib Dem candidate in the ward since 2007 after four contests without one since. And it was certainly worth her standing as she continued the run of Lib Dem gains from the Conservatives across southern England:

Rogate (Chichester) result:

LDEM: 55.8% (+55.8)

CON: 40.1% (-27.3)

LAB: 2.6% (+2.6)

GRN: 1.5% (-18.2)

LDem GAIN from Con.

Cllr Kelly said: “This is a fantastic result not only for the Liberal Democrats but also for the people of Rogate and the surrounding villages.

“They felt abandoned when their previous councillor was elected as an MP and stopped attending parish and district council meetings. “It is a strong message to the Conservatives that they cannot be complacent and treat their constituents with such disregard.” It is the first time in 11 years that the Liberal Democrats have contested the seat, which has been held by the Conservatives for the last three elections.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of Gillian Keegan, who was elected a Conservative MP in 2017.

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Mid Sussex Liberal Democrats select Robert Eggleston

Mid Sussex Liberal Democrats have selected Robert Eggleston to be their new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC). Robert’s work background is in asset finance, helping businesses invest in essential equipment. In recent years he retrained and qualified as a solicitor and now works as an in-house corporate lawyer.

Robert has council experience, having previously served on Burgess Hill Town, Mid Sussex District and East Sussex County Councils. He has been an active member of the party since joining in 1973 when he was sixteen. He is currently Chair of the Burgess Hill Lib Dem Branch.

Robert said on being selected,

My Liberal Democrat vision for Mid Sussex is for a place which values education and vocational skills, and encourages enterprise in a modern connected economy. It is green and manages development in a way which protects communities. It provides properly funded health and social care. It is open, tolerant and outward looking, embracing international partnerships and obligations.

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Eastbourne and Willingdon MP, Stephen Lloyd urges Minister from the department of health to publish the timelines for when a new bowel cancer test is to be rolled out!

 

Tuesday, 21st March saw health questions debated and I pressed the Minister from the DoH to publish the timelines for when a new bowel cancer test is to be rolled out. It’s called FIT and to quote Public Health England they’ve stated: “FIT is a more sensitive test, so we will find more polyps and prevent more bowel cancers”. Clearly the sooner the NHS start the programme nationally the sooner more lives will be saved, so I’m keen to pin the department down to a precise start date. Whilst I didn’t get that I did get the minister committing, on the floor of the House, that a rollout announcement would be “very imminent” which is excellent. The initial catalyst for this important, life-saving campaign is a local resident called Lauren Backler. It was her initial drive in setting up a petition to reduce the age of bowel cancer testing when her dear mum passed away in only her mid-fifties, that deserves the credit over these important upcoming initiative.

To get things done in politics involves a lot of pushing, nagging and reminding ad nauseam; in short persistence! Not very glamorous perhaps but it’s very important to ‘never’ let up on the issue and as folk in Eastbourne know; I don’t...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Chancellor's 'Spring Statement' - what a disappointing non-event it turned out to be!

We had the Chancellor's 'Spring Statement' in Parliament and what a disappointing non-event it turned out to be. Growth raised by .1% to great acclaim by the Conservative backbenchers. Yeh right. This still puts us at the bottom of the G7 and very near the bottom of the whole G20.....wishing on a prayer is a phrase that springs to mind!

Ahead of the announcement to the House, I called on Mr Hammond to 'fix' a couple of the key issues surrounding Universal Credit and WASPI. 

The whole point of Universal Credit is to make work pay, which it did before the Conservatives cut its funding after the Lib Dem’s left government in 2015. The then Chancellor, George Osborne, immediately and stupidly in my view, took an axe to UC's work allowances, slashing them by a shocking £3 billion pounds per year, thus reducing substantially the amount people can earn in low-income work. A genuinely bad decision which the government are having to contend with every day in parliament as UC is rolled out.

I also called on the Chancellor to step up with a transition payment for WASPi women who have been let down so badly by successive governments.

Although he did not meet these calls or, frankly, offer any serious changes, I will continue to lobby the Treasury ahead of the budget in the Autumn. 

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Stephen Lloyd MP and Residents try to save Langney Library from Conservative Closure

I was at County Hall in Lewes on Tuesday to make a final plea to the Council cabinet on behalf of Langney Library. I also supported the Residents Association Chairman, John Pritchett, in his eloquent request that Willingdon is spared as well. Alongside us were representatives from Polegate library and Ringmer. We all reiterated how important libraries are in the community, acting as a hub, how they offer access to the internet and PC’s for those seeking employment. In Langney’s case, it’s position in the heart of the shopping centre makes it doubly valuable as a community resource. Supported by local schools such as West Rise, as well as many elderly residents, some of whom will struggle to get into town to the main Eastbourne Library.

Sadly. All that we said fell on deaf ears. One of the Conservative councillors even talked about the ‘community value’ brought by libraries; what community value do they bring if he and his colleagues choose to close them?

In a bizarre statement, another said the Council "can provide computers (to any of the closing libraries reopening as community libraries under their own steam) so long as there is NO COST to the County Council" ?!?!?!

Meanwhile, we hear that in Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s constituency, Hastings, East Sussex County Council went over budget in refurbishing the library by £720,000. Shutting all seven libraries this week saved them £650k. Not a good look frankly!

The fact is the Conservative controlled County Council yesterday closed a full quarter of our library network along with the mobile library. All because the government (also Conservative) have ignored their lobbying and savagely cut their grant.  I am bound to ask, therefore, what’s the point of them as they obviously have so little clout with their own Tory colleagues in government?

Library users, the broader community, - all of us - across Eastbourne, Willingdon and the county were let down this week.

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