Another great week in Council by-elections

Fresh off of our fantastic November, with no less than SEVEN council by-election gains, we've had a great final week of by-elections for the year - holding both of the seats we were defending and gaining another seat in Waveney from nowhere!

Those fantastic results mean that at the end of 2017, we're the ONLY major political party to make net gains in Council by-elections - racking up a tally of +15!

The Liberal Democrats, under Vince Cable, are winning seats up and down the country and against all opposition parties.

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Our local campaigning is second to none, and the hard work of Lib Dem councillors and activists is being recognised in surges of support in by-elections across the country. So, without any further ado, onto the results!

💪 A stunning win from nowhere

Godalming Central & Ockford (Waveney) result:

LDEM: 37.8% (+37.8)
CON: 35.0% (-6.5)
LAB: 21.5% (-4.6)
GRN: 5.7% (+5.7)

No 'Something New' party (-17.0) and UKIP (-15.4) as prev.

📈 Holding AND increasing our vote

Watcombe (Torbay) result:

LDEM: 57.5% (+14.4)
CON: 31.1% (+7.9)
LAB: 10.6% (-8.4)
GRN: 0.8% (-5.3)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.

No UKIP (-8.6) as prev.

🌠 A brilliant hold

Handside (Welwyn Hatfield) result:

LDEM: 52.4% (+16.7)
CON: 32.8% (-9.3)
LAB: 12.3% (-3.5)
GRN: 2.4% (-3.9)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.

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Helen Rujbally wins Westway By-election

On Thursday, 30/11/2017 Helen Rujbally won a decisive victory in the Westway by-election for the Liberal Democrats, called following the resignation of popular Caterham councillor Caroline Warner.
Helen won both the District and Parish council seats that she contested, winning the District Council seat with over 50% of the vote, and beating local Conservative Councillor Eithne Webster to win the Parish Council seat.


Helen Rujbally says “I would like to say thank you to everyone that has supported and voted for me. I am over the moon and ready for the next chapter for both myself and Caterham on the Hill.”
“The biggest issue I found on the doorstep was the issue we have with street lighting. People don’t understand why huge amounts of money can be given to an art gallery, but there is not enough money for streetlights, and to be honest, neither can I. People need to know that these are the choices that the Tories are making.”
George Dennis, Liberal Democrat Parish Councillor for Westway Ward says “it brilliant to have such a hard-working addition to the team. I look forward to working with Helen on the many challenges we all face together here in Westway".”

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Maidstone, North Ward By-Election Victory

Liberal Democrats Gain Maidstone's North Ward from the Conservatives.

Liberal Democrats have gained the North Ward seat on Maidstone Borough Council left vacant by the sudden resignation of a Conservative Councillor. Councillor Rob Field's return to the Town Hall seals a Liberal Democrat clean sweep of all three seats in the ward.

Leader of the Council and Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr. Fran Wilson commented: "The trust placed in Rob by the residents of North Ward is a vote of confidence in the Liberal Democrats philosophy of working all year round not just at election time. Rob's victory proves once again communities who have experienced the effectiveness of Lib Dem representation stick with it."

Newly elected Councillor Rob Field added: "I would like to thank local people for their support and pledge to work tirelessly to tackle the many challenges facing North Maidstone."

Result

💪 Gaining from the Conservatives

North (Maidstone) result:

LDEM: 51.4% (+20.0)
CON: 26.0% (-6.0)
LAB: 19.3% (+8.0)
GRN: 3.4% (-2.1)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative. 

No UKIP (-19.9) as prev.

 

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Lib Dems win clean sweep of by-elections

The Liberal Democrats won all four of the council by-elections that were held last night, gaining seats from the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP.

The sweep of victories means that the Liberal Democrats have gained seven council seats in November, significantly more than any other party.

The Liberal Democrats, under Vince Cable, are winning seats up and down the country and against all opposition.

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Our local campaigning is second to none, and the hard work of Lib Dem councillors and activists is being recognised in surges of support in by-elections across the country.

💪 Increasing our vote

Westway (Tandridge) result:

LDEM: 53.5% (+17.5)
CON: 26.5% (-2.5)
LAB: 13.1% (-2.8)
UKIP: 6.9% (-12.2)

Liberal Democrat HOLD.

💪 Gaining from Labour

Bridgemary North (Gosport) result:

LDEM: 57.9% (+57.9)
LAB: 22.9% (-49.0)
CON: 19.2% (-8.9)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from Labour.

💪 Gaining from the Conservatives

North (Maidstone) result:

LDEM: 51.4% (+20.0)
CON: 26.0% (-6.0)
LAB: 19.3% (+8.0)
GRN: 3.4% (-2.1)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative. 

No UKIP (-19.9) as prev.

💪 Gaining from UKIP

Torrington (Torridge) result:

LDEM: 60.2% (+60.2)
IND: 15.5% (+15.5)
CON: 13.6% (-6.0)
GRN: 6.5% (-15.9)
UKIP: 4.2% (-16.8)

Liberal Democrat GAIN from UKIP.

No (other) Ind (-24.6) and Lab (-12.4) as prev.

What's next?

With the 2018 local elections just around the corner, the Liberal Democrats have never been more up for the fight.

Your support today could make the difference in those elections. Contribute today to help us win in May, by clicking here

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Eastbourne & Willingdon MP, Stephen Lloyd speaks up for WASPI Women!

I spoke this week in Westminster during an opposition day debate brought by the SNP on the issues affecting WASPI women. These are women who were born in the 50’s and whose pension age has recently been equalised with men. Though it was only an opposition day debate and an SNP one at that, the Chamber was pretty full as it’s an issue which affects many hundreds of thousands of women across the UK.

There was a considerable amount of humbug thrown around the Chamber as all sides appeared to profess complete ignorance of their own party’s culpability. A point I made forcefully in my own contribution; we are all culpable and we all let these WASPI women down. The Tories for not properly communicating the impact years ago when they introduced the pensions act in 1995, the Labour government who agreed with the changes for their 13 years of government but singularly failed to tell the women about what was coming down the track, the coalition for speeding up the age to be impacted and, from what I gathered during the debate, the SNP because they have the powers in Scotland to do something but prefer instead to just blame everyone else. Not an edifying sight frankly.

I went on to urge the government to pay WASPI women a proper transition payment to make up for their loss. It’s the least the government can do (it’s the least all of us can do frankly) and it would also be the right thing. This generation of women, our wives, our mothers, our friends, have been treated shoddily so less humbug and more honesty from all politicians I suspect would be appreciated. I will keep actively pressing the WASPI case in parliament.

CLICK THE BELOW to watch Stephen's speech from Wednesday's debate.

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Council slams ‘completely unacceptable’ delay to rail service linking Maidstone and central London

The full introduction of new rail services from Maidstone into central London has been delayed by up to a year, the Whitehall spending watchdog has said.

A metro-style timetable linking the county town to the capital was scheduled to be in place by the end of next year, but the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed this has now been pushed back until December 2019.

The Thameslink services were set to run via London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras and on to Cambridge with journey times to London Bridge expected tp be between 53 and 55 minutes, running half-hourly all day, Monday to Saturdays.

Most of the trains would terminate at Maidstone East ensuring passengers starting their journey to the city would be assured of a seat.

However, the delay was announced this week after the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail failed to make adequate arrangements to manage the launch of the new services, the NAO said, with Maidstone Borough Council leader Fran Wilson left furious.

“This is extremely disappointing news and I will be lobbying this issue on behalf of our residents and businesses,” she said.

“Despite being the county town of Kent we appear to be the last town on the train service list.

“I am certain everyone in the borough will join me in saying this is completely unacceptable.”

The DfT approved a proposal it had requested from Govia Thameslink Railway - which operates trains on the affected routes - to increase services more gradually in order to “manage the risks of each service change”, the report stated.

There has been a £474 million increase in the total budget for Network Rail’s infrastructure works to £5.5 billion as part of the £7 billion Thameslink programme, according to the watchdog.

A DfT spokeswoman said: “We welcome the NAO’s findings that the Thameslink programme will deliver significant benefits for passengers and supports the recent decision to gradually introduce new services to protect passengers from disruption.”

Chris Gibb, chairman of the Thameslink Programme Industry Readiness Board, said: “By phasing the introduction of the new timetable in this way, we have front-loaded the benefits for passengers and then spread further changes in such a way that they can be more reliably introduced.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “The Thameslink Programme is transforming north-south travel through London to provide more frequent, more reliable journeys to new destinations for passengers and upgraded stations including the landmark, entirely redeveloped London Bridge.”

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Campaigners organise protest walk to save Langney Library

The Save Langney Library Campaign is holding a protest walk from West Rise Schools, along Sandpiper Walk, Heron Walk and Kingfisher Drive on Friday (December 1)

The walk, which will be led by Stephen Lloyd MP and Langney County Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, is to demonstrate against the proposal for East Sussex County Council to close the Langney library along with six other libraries and the mobile library service.

Councillor Alan Shuttleworth said, “People of all ages will be affected, and the walkers will include local residents, including parents and children from West Rise Schools. Many have already signed the petition to Save Langney Library.

“We invite all members of the community to join the Walk, and send out a clear message that Langney Library is a vital part of the Langney community. If the library were to be closed it will hit the youngest and most elderly people the hardest.

“I have had really productive meetings with the Langney Shopping Centre management. I hope that East Sussex County Council will listen to our representations.”

To find out more and to comment on the proposals before December 14, visit: http://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk/economy-transport-environment/draft-strategy/.

 

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Stephen LLoyd's Early Day Motion calling on the Treasury to reduce the VAT burden on the Hospitality industry

I submitted an Early Day Motion this week calling on the Treasury to reduce the VAT burden on the Hospitality industry. The motion calls for the Chancellor to reduce Tourism VAT to 5% across the UK. The industry lies at the heart of the British economy. But what the UK Visitor economy urgently needs is to become more competitive relative to its European counterparts. That means reducing the high rate of VAT on tourism, allowing the industry to compete on its merits with France, Germany, Ireland and Spain. This is as true in Eastbourne as it is across every seaside town in the UK.

 

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STEPHEN LLOYD'S REACTION TO THE GOVERNMENT'S BUDGET

Eastbourne & Willingdon MP, Stephen Lloyd, has welcomed news that the Chancellor has listened to calls for a freeze on the duty paid on beer and fuel, topics the MP has been campaigning on in Westminster, but has labelled the changes to Universal Credit as just tinkering around the edges.

Stephen Lloyd MP said:

"There is some good news in this budget but a real fudge in other areas.

"I'm glad that Mr Hammond has paid notice to areas I've been campaigning on, including recently delivering a letter to his Treasury calling for a freeze on Beer Duty, which will help local pubs.

"I am however disappointed that the Chancellor has pinned his colours to pushing ahead with the roll-out of Universal Credit whilst tinkering around the edges. This was an opportunity for him to reinstate the money that George Osborne gutted from the new system, but instead, he shortened the 6-week wait for first payment, to 5 weeks. Still not good enough.

"There was also no commitment to properly fund schools. I'm of the opinion that 5,000 Head Teachers can't be wrong about the budget cuts their schools are facing, and I defy anyone to tell them they don't know what's going on in their own schools."

"There was also audible shock in the Chamber as he announced that the economic forecasts for the next five years have been slashed. It's going to be bumpy for UKplc and this was certainly no game-changer of a budget!"

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Stephen Lloyd - Universal Credit!

Regular readers of my e-Newsletter will know I have some concerns about the government’s new(ish) welfare benefits project, Universal Credit. It launched in Eastbourne last month. This week I got an opportunity to press the government twice on at least two of the elements of UC which I think need fixing. The first was on Monday during the Work & Pensions debate where I pointed out to the minister that UC’s design worked against people who were self-employed.

Basically, as claimants update their details on a monthly basis this then fixes the following months UC but, and here’s the rub, doesn’t allow for the income fluctuations the self-employed often experience. If your income for one month is, for instance, £1,500 but then a lower £1,000 the next month, the amount you get in benefit won’t make up the shortfall of the lower amount in the same way that someone on a regular PAYE £1,000 per month would. This may sound a bit techie but I’d point out that there are an awful lot of self-employed people out there who will lose out as a consequence of being on UC unless the anomaly is fixed. Failure to do so also penalises the very aspirational people UC is supposed to encourage, which is simply wrong in my view. The minister confidently stepped up to the despatch box, and didn’t answer my question!

My second concern around UC I decided to raise directly with Theresa May when I was called during PMQs on Wednesday. The reputable charity, Child Poverty Action Group, recently published a report where they had extrapolated from government figures just how much of an impact the cuts in 2015 to UC are having on single parents with children.

The figure is genuinely shocking; the average single parent family will lose a staggering £2,380 per annum. I believe most people simply aren’t aware yet of how deep that income drop will be for the 2m single-parent families in the UK.

So I asked the PM a direct question; now that she and her government knew the impact of this savage reduction in income for single parents, did she feel “a sense of shame?” Her disappointing answer was to respond to a completely different question which I hadn’t actually asked. Rest assured I will keep the pressure up on this government, challenge them and hold them to account for their actions because that is how it should be in a democracy.

I am reminded sometimes though when I am up in Westminster that the utterly peerless television programme from years ago - Yes Minister - wasn’t so much a comedy, as more of a documentary!

Below you can watch Stephen Lloyd MP putting the PM on the spot.

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