Lib Dems top poll in Two Horse Race

As the first Seaford council results come in from Seaford town Council by elections the Lib Dems top the polls, electing Dr Maggie Wearmouth as the new Seaford town councillor. 

Lib Dem Candidate and local business man Eleas Hussain narrowly missed out to Conservative Terry Goodman, who  defected from UKIP.

Retired Paediatrician and GP Maggie Wearmouth was pleased with the vote, saying; 
"I'm delighted and honoured to be elected to represent the people of Seaford. I'm looking forward to standing up for people in Seaford Central on local health and transport issues".

Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell, who was at the count, welcomed Maggie to the Town Council, saying "The Lib Dems in Seaford continue to work hard to represent the town, and the result shows we are the only alternative to the Conservatives locally. "Maggie was a fantastic candidate and will be an even better Councillor,  holding the council to account on health, housing and transport links. "Seaford is the biggest town in the district and yet we receive the lowest support in terms of health and transport. The Lib Dems are the only party standing up for residents of Seaford and demanding we get the services we need." 

 

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MEP voices concerns for air quality as third runway at Heathrow announced

The government today has given a third runway at Heathrow the green light.

 

The decision has seen Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith stand down signalling a by-election in the Richmond Park constituency.

Catherine Bearder MEP, lead Liberal negotiator on European air quality legislation, commented:

“I am furious with the government for ignoring the concerns of many of my constituents.

“There is very little desire in the South East for airport expansion at either Gatwick or Heathrow – the impact on pollution would be severe and will mean London continues to breach vital European air quality standards.

“That’s why my party is against airport expansion in the South East – if there is a real need for expansion we believe it should be elsewhere in the UK – at Manchester or Birmingham - which could also help to build a northern powerhouse.

“The Liberal Democrats offer a clear choice for voters opposed not only to airport expansion in the South East but a party also opposed to the hard Brexit to which the government seem hell-bent on dragging us and our economy into.”

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Tories break their promise on Heathrow say Surrey Lib Dems

The Conservatives have broken their promise to Surrey residents not to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow, after the government backed the option recommended by the Davies Report today. The Tory U-turn is in direct contradiction to promises made by David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, who said in 2009 that ""The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts." The Conservative manifesto of 2010 promised no third runway at Heathrow, and Surrey residents have been clear in their opposition to airport expansion at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

Cllr Ian Beardsmore, Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Sunbury Common & Ashford Common said:

"Liberal Democrats recognise the importance of both Heathrow and Gatwick to the economy of Surrey, but have consistently backed a "no expansion" policy for both airports as we do not see how Surrey's infrastructure or environment can cope with such an increase in noise, air pollution and traffic congestion. This decision is a kick in the teeth for Surrey residents who trusted the former Prime Minister David Cameron's promise of no third runway at Heathrow. It will make the quality of life for the people we represent much, much worse and harm the natural environment of Surrey, one of the greenest counties in the UK.

We remain opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted, and any new airport in the Thames Estuary because of huge concerns over air and noise pollution. Whereas the Tories have caved in and let down millions of people who voted for them on the basis of their opposition to a new runway at Heathrow, the Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose and campaign against this disastrous decision".

Cllr Hazel Watson, Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Dorking Hills added:

"I am delighted that the government have decided not to proceed with an additional runway at Gatwick. However, the airport has recently announced that they are considering going ahead with a second runway regardless. I will continue to oppose a further runway at Gatwick due to the detrimental impact on Surrey residents and the Surrey countryside".

ENDS

Notes to Editors

- The government's announcement on Heathrow can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-decides-on-new-runway-at-heathrow

- Details of Surrey Liberal Democrats motion to Council in October 2012 can be found here:

https://surreylibdems.org.uk/en/article/2012/0620239/lib-dems-call-for-end-to-airport-expansion-around-surrey

 

 

 

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The Witney by-election: everything you need to know

Last night's Witney by-election was a fantastic result for Liz Leffman and the Liberal Democrats - find out why:

Last night saw the results of the Witney by-election - we started the campaign in 4th place as 50/1 outsiders and thanks to the relentless, positive campaign we ran, dented the Conservative majority and secured one of our best by-election results in decades. This is what you need to know:

1: If this result was repeated across the UK, the Tories would lose their majority

With a 19.3% swing to the Liberal Democrats, we’d take 26 seats from the Conservatives - that would easily cost them their Parliamentary majority - even with the Labour party in freefall.

2: This was the biggest swing to the Lib Dems in a by-election since 1997

The Witney by-election saw a swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems of 19.3% - that’s the biggest by-election swing to the Lib Dems since 1997’s Winchester by-election.

We achieved a 19.3% swing to us last night

3: Labour can’t take on the Tories

Tonight, we leapfrogged the Labour party and beat them into second place - their vote was significantly down on 2015 and this is a damning indictment of the ability of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to win seats from the Tories.

4: We’re back

Tonight’s result saw our vote go up by 23.4% - that’s the biggest increase in the Lib Dem share of the vote since the Romsey by-election in 2000 and it clearly shows we’re back in business - our campaign took us from 4th place to 2nd - and it clearly shows that we can take the fight to this Conservative Brexit Government.

lizresult.png

5: The voters of Witney sent Theresa May a message

Last night, the voters of Witney sent a message to Theresa May - that she can’t ignore - they voted against a hard Brexit, they voted against coming out of the single market and they voted against the Conservatives reckless, divisive agenda.

6: If you voted remain, you need to join us

Last night's result shows that we are the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government - but to do this in a general election, we need you.

We need you, to join us and build a movement of remain voters who will be the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government - and win.

Join us today >>

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Emily Fermor is the Lib Dem General Election candidate for Maidstone and the Weald

There are still four years to go before Britain is due to hold another General Election, but the Liberal Democrats have already announced their candidate in the battle for Maidstone and The Weald.

She is Emily Fermor.

Miss Fermor lives in Heath Road, Coxheath, and attended Boughton Monchelsea Primary School and Invicta Grammar School where she was deputy head girl.

She read history at Oxford University and is currently a consultant at Bell Pottinger in London where she advises on public affairs and digital communications strategy.

She was the campaign organiser for Jasper Gerard, the party’s candidate in 2015, who lost out to Conservative Helen Grant and who now works at the party’s HQ.

Miss Fermor was elected as the ward councillor for Coxheath and Hunton at the Maidstone Borough Council elections this May by the narrowest of margins. She beat the Tory candidate Ron Leagas by one vote.

She said: “I am incredibly proud to have been selected as the candidate in my home town. It would be a huge honour to represent the people of Maidstone.

“I am proud of our County Town and I believe we need a local person representing us, with energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to the area – something we have not had for a number of years.”

She said: “I have lived in Maidstone all my life and have a knowledge and understanding of our local town and villages that can’t be taught.

“I relish the opportunity to prove myself in the coming years.”

Despite her party only having eight MPs in the current Parliament she said the Lib Dems were well placed to fight the next election.

She said: “Nationally the country is in crisis. Both the Conservatives and Labour are focused entirely on in-fighting while the economy worsens, threatening jobs, public services and our efforts to build the houses that Britain so badly needs.

“The Liberal Democrats have made 18 gains in local elections since May with several spectacular wins over both Conservative and Labour candidates.

“We have a new army of committed activists who will be joining me on the doorstep, making the case for a strong local campaigner who will fight for Maidstone and The Weald.”

Miss Fermor can contacted on FermorEmily@gmail.com

 

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We must fight to keep Britain open, tolerant and united - Tim Farron's speech to Conference

Tuesday, 21st September 2016, Tim Farron delivered his leader's speech to Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Brighton in it, he talked at length about where we, as a country go from here, about Brexit and the politics of fear, division and hate Read more here:

Today, Tim Farron delivered his leader's speech to Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Brighton in it, he talked at length about where we, as a country go from here, about Brexit and the politics of fear, division and hate.

He also spoke about the refugee crisis, the NHS and how we ensure it cares for everyone, how to improve our children's education, attacked the Labour party for failing to stand up to the Tories and set out how our party will "do a Trudeau".

Read all the highlights from the speech here:

Tim began with a story from just after the referendum...

At the start of his speech, Tim spoke about a meeting held in Preston - the town he grew up in and learnt his values in - to talk about the referendum and the realisation he'd had there:

The people in that church hall in Preston, they'd voted differently to me but I thought, you know what, we're on the same side here.

We see a London-centric no, Westminster-centric approach from politicians and the media. Treating the provinces as alien curiosities.

Those people in Preston and Sunderland and Newport see a divide between those who win and those who lose. When the country is booming, they don't see the benefit. And when the country is in decline they are the first to be hit.

Those people ... wanted, quite understandably, to give the powerful a kicking. So they did.

At that meeting they talked about low wages. About poor housing. About strains on hospitals and schools. Their problems weren't caused by the European Union, they were caused by powerful people who took them for granted.

By politicians who have spent decades chasing cheap headlines and short-term success for their political careers, and never acting in the long-term interests of the whole country.

So those people in that room, like millions of others, wanted, quite understandably, to give the powerful a kicking. So they did.

...he then set out how he wants to reach out to Leave voters...

I wanted Britain to remain in the European Union and I still do. But we have got to listen, to learn and to understand why millions of people voted to leave. We can't just tell them they're wrong and stick our fingers in our ears.

So I want to do two things.

I want to persuade those who voted leave that we understand and respect their reasons, that we are determined to take head on the things about today’s Britain that have left so many people feeling ignored and I want to give them their say over what comes next.

...next, he turned to Theresa May and her "plan" for Brexit...

Theresa May – tell us what Brexit really means. You've had three months. You are the Prime Minister. Stop dithering. What is your plan?

The Liberal Democrats have a plan. We know what we want and we know where we want to take our country. When Theresa May does agree a deal with the EU, we want the people to decide.

Not a re-run of the referendum, not a second referendum, but a referendum on the terms of the as-yet-unknown Brexit deal.

...he then turned to the refugee crisis...

The biggest crisis facing our continent since the Second World War. They did nothing to help right until the point they thought it was in their short-term interest to act, when a photo of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi face down in the sand was on the front page of every newspaper.

The people were shocked, heartbroken, they demanded action and the Tories did the bare minimum. But since the front pages have moved on, they have barely lifted a finger.

Now there are some on the centre left who are squeamish about patriotism, but not me. I’m proud of my country; I hate it when my government makes me ashamed.

I hate it when my government makes me ashamed.

...and told a story from Lesbos...

We'd helped to land a flimsy boat of desperate refugees, I was handing out bottles of fresh water and a few yards away was an aid worker from New Zealand, who knew that I was a British politician.

She looked at me and shouted, 

stop handing out bottles of water and take some f***ing refugees

Because that is how Britain is seen. Mean and not pulling its weight. And maybe that doesn’t bother some people, but it bothers me.

Because I am proud of who we are – always a sanctuary for the desperate, the abused and the persecuted; and I will not stand by and watch my country become smaller, meaner and more selfish.

That is not Britain. We are better than that.

...he then turned to the NHS and social care in England...

For years, politicians have chosen to paper over the cracks rather than come clean about what it will really take – what it will really cost – not just to keep the NHS afloat but to give people the care and the treatment that they deserve.

And that means, finally, bringing the NHS and the social care system together.

...and laid out why improving social care matters to him...

In my Grandpa’s journey through Alzheimers, he had good care in the home he spent his last couple of years in. But when he first became ill after the death of my Grandma, the place he was put in was despicable.

Lonely, unclean, uncaring. It's a few years back, but as I fought to get him out of that place and into somewhere better, it occurred to me that this was a standard experience for too many older people and their loved ones.

Maybe some people can just shrug and accept this, well I can’t.

I’ve seen enough terrible old people’s homes. And I’ve seen enough people who’ve had to wait forever for treatment – particularly people who don’t have someone to fight their corner. It’s not civilised to let people slip through the net.

It’s not civilised towards the people who love them, who go out of their way to try and make their lives easier when everything else is making their lives harder. It’s not civilised and it’s not good enough.

...and proposed a solution to improve social care and make our NHS fit for the future...

We need to face the hard truth that the NHS needs more money – a lot more money– not just to stop it lurching from crisis to crisis but so that it can meet the needs and the challenges it will face in the years ahead. So that it can be the service we all need it to be for the long-term.

That means having the most frank and honest conversation about the NHS that the country has ever had. What Beveridge did for the 20th century, we need for the 21st century.

We need to face the hard truth that the NHS needs more money – a lot more money

In Norman Lamb we have the politician who is most trusted and respected by the health profession – and deservedly so. And Norman and I are clear, we will not join the ranks of those politicians who are too scared of losing votes to face up to what really needs to be done.

We will go to the British people with the results of our Beveridge Commission and we will offer a new deal for health and social care, honest about the cost, bold about the solution. If the only way to fund a health service that meets the needs of everyone, is to raise taxes, Liberal Democrats will raise taxes.

...Tim then turned to our schools...

Governments have designed an education system especially at primary school level that is focused not on developing young people for later life, for work or for further study, but on getting them through the wrong kinds of tests.

It's not about whether kids can solve problems, or converse in other languages - or even their own. It's about statistics. Measurements. League tables.

Instead of building an education system, we have built a quality assurance industry.

Instead of building an education system, we have built a quality assurance industry.It's no wonder so many teachers are so frustrated. No wonder so many leave the profession.

...and laid out a plan to reduce testing and give teachers freedom to teach...

I want our schools to be places where our teachers have the freedom to use their skill and their knowledge to open young minds, not just train them to pass exams.

I want them to be places where children are inspired to learn, not stressed out by tests.

So I want to end the current system of SATS in primary schools that are a distraction from the real education that professional teachers want to give their children; that weigh heavy on children as young as six and add nothing to the breadth of their learning.

...and then launched a blistering attack on grammar schools...

What are we doing, in 2016, threatening to relegate 80% of our children to education’s second division by returning to the 11-plus? Every parent wants to send their kids to a good school. But more selective schools are not the answer.

We need better schools for all our children, not just those who can pass an exam at the age of 11. We can’t just leave children behind.

...he then turned to his problem with Jeremy Corbyn...

My problem with Jeremy Corbyn is that, for him, holding the government to account is not a priority. Winning elections is a bourgeois distraction – unless it’s his own leadership election.

It is baffling to see the Labour Party arguing about whether or not they should even be trying to win an election.

Can you imagine that? The Liberals and Liberal Democrats spent decades out of power and then when the opportunity finally came – in incredibly difficult circumstances, when the easiest thing in the world would have been to walk away – we chose to take power because we knew the point of politics is to put principles into action. To get things done. Not just to feel good, but to do good.

It is baffling to see the Labour Party arguing about whether or not they should even be trying to win an election.

So we took power … and we got crushed. So you could forgive us for thinking twice about whether power is really worth it.

But of course it's worth it.

Having fine principles but no power is just turning your backs on the people who need you the most, its letting someone else win the day.

...and had a message to everyone who wants a real opposition to the Tories..

Whichever party you supported at the last election, we all know that Britain needs a decent, united opposition. So if Corbyn’s Labour has left the stage, then we will take the stage.

Britain needs a strong opposition. The Liberal Democrats will be that strong opposition.

...Tim then set out his plan to build a Britain that's open, tolerant and united...

So here is my plan. We will dramatically rebuild our strength in local government, deliberately, passionately, effectively.

Winning council seats is our chance to shape, lead and serve our communities to put liberalism into practice.

Liberals believe in local government, I believe in local government, every council seat matters to me.

So my challenge to you is to pick a ward and win it, and my commitment to you is that I choose to build our party’s revival on victories in every council in the country.

And my plan includes continuing to grow our party – our membership is up 80% in just 14 months – but that is merely a staging post, we will continue to build a movement that can win at every level.

I will lead the Liberal Democrats as the only party committed to Britain in Europe, with a plan to let the people decide our future in a referendum on the as yet non-existent Tory Brexit deal.

I will lead the only party with a plan for our country’s long-term future. Green, healthy, well-educated, outward-looking, prosperous, secure.

I will build the open, tolerant, united party that can be the opposition to this Conservative government. On NHS underfunding, on divisive grammar schools, on its attacks on British business.

I want the Liberal Democrats to be ready to fill the gap where an official opposition should be. I want the Liberal Democrats to be the strong, united opposition.

That is my plan. I need you to join me to fight for it.

Join us

...Tim then set out the biggest threat to the Tories...

Well, look, no one believes, whether boundary changes happen or not, that Labour will gain a single seat from the Tories. The SNP could only possibly take one seat off the Conservatives. But there are dozens of Tory seats in our reach.

Which means that the only thing standing between the Conservatives and a majority at the next election is the revival of the Liberal Democrats.

...he gave a warning about Brexit and coined a phrase...

When Conservatives talk about a ‘hard Brexit’, this is what they mean. A Brexit that cuts us off from our neighbours, no matter what the consequences for people’s jobs and livelihoods.

A Brexit that toys with the lives of hard-working people who have made Britain their home, paid their way and immersed themselves in their communities, just as more than a million Brits have made their homes on the continent.

A Brexit that will leave us poorer, weaker and less able to protect ourselves. But we will not let Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain win. To coin a phrase. I want my country back.

...and Tim closed with this note of hope for our party.

Together, we must fight to keep Britain open, tolerant and united. Together, the Liberal Democrats must be the real voice of opposition. Together, we must win.

 

 

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18 year old activist selected to fight for Strood South

The Medway Liberal Democrats have chosen Isabelle Cherry, an 18 year old activist, as their candidate for the Strood South by-election.

Isabelle Cherry, an 18 year old activist, has been chosen to lead the charge for the party. The Strood South ward has significantly high levels of income deprivation compared with the average for Medway - the proportion of children living in poverty in the area stands at over 25%.

Isabelle Cherry says, "Over the last 10 years we've seen Labour, Conservative and UKIP councillors in Strood South and I believe it is time for a change. Not only has child poverty risen under their leadership, but GCSE attainment in the ward is more than 20% lower than the Medway average! This is unacceptable."

Miss Cherry, who has lived in Medway all her life and has worked passionately with the Liberal Democrats and other campaign groups for the last few years, says education, employment and transport are her key campaign issues.

"I am especially passionate about ensuring fairness for young people and families in the area. For example, the young person's bus travel pass offered by Kent County Council is much better value than the Medway Youth Pass. This cost is then passed on to families as most young people using the pass are not old enough to work. - I would campaign to change this."

Isabelle's positive campaign for Strood South is centred on the following pledges:

1) Campaigning for each primary school in Strood South to be good or outstanding by 2020 and for Strood Academy to be outstanding in at least 2 out of 4 areas of inspection. Where necessary to achieve this, I will support trusts and school boards in the area.

2) Work with other councillors, local residents and the council services to reduce litter in Strood South, an issue which has been highlighted by local residents.

3) Improve fairness and effectiveness of public transportation services and costs for local residents.

Isabelle Cherry continues, "This election represents an opportunity for local people to vote for change, to say that the status quo and current leadership is not working, and to show their support for families and young people in the area."

References

  1. http://www.localhealth.org.uk/GC_preport.php?lang=en&s=113&view=map11&id_rep=r03&selId0=1883&nivgeo=ward_2015 (requires Flash)
  2. http://medway.gov.uk/pdf/demographic_profile_-_strood_south.pdf

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LIB DEMS SELECT KELLY MARIE BLUNDELL FOR LEWES CONSTITUENCY

Kelly-Marie Blundell has been selected as the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lewes constituency.  

The Liberal Democrats are now ready to fight a general election, selecting candidates across the country in areas with a proud liberal tradition like Lewes.

This follows reports that the new prime minister might take the country to the polls early, before a possible recession and to take advantage of Labour in-fighting.

As a long time campaigner for the Lib Dems, Kelly-Marie has a strong record of fighting for people; having campaigned for our National Health Service, for better services for older people and to give European citizens the right to remain in the UK.

Kelly-Marie Blundell said: “I am really proud to have been selected. It would be a huge honour to represent this truly beautiful area.”

“I am looking forward to working with our excellent local councillors and delivering for the people of Newhaven, Polegate, Lewes, Seaford and the villages."

“Nationally the country is in crisis. Both the Conservatives and Labour are focused entirely on in-fighting while the economy worsens, threatening jobs, public services and our efforts to build the houses Britain so badly needs.

“The Liberal Democrats are well placed to fight a general election whenever it is held and I am raring to build on our local tradition of delivering for local people. Since the referendum we have signed more than 17,500 new members nationally including a large number across Lewes constituency.

Norman Baker, former Lib Dem MP for Lewes, said: 

"I am delighted that a candidate with the depth and commitment of Kelly-Marie has been chosen to fight the Lewes seat for the Lib Dems. Every day I meet people who tell me they again want an MP who will be effective in Parliament and will respond properly to casework. Kelly-Marie is that person. They don't have one at the moment.

"And every day people who voted Labour or Green in 2015 tell me how bitterly they regret their vote: it was like drinking champagne on election day and then getting a five-year hangover. The sooner we have an election to return another Lib Dem MP, the better."

Kelly-Marie works as a consultant with national charities to improve fundraising and communications, and was formerly an advisor to the Citizens Advice Bureau. 

Kelly-Marie Blundell continued with a strong case for growing the national support of the Lib Dems:

“Only the Liberal Democrats are an open, optimistic and united party committed to spreading opportunity for the next generation and focus on re-building the British economy to protect jobs and services.” 

Note to editors:

1. Photo shows new Lib Dem PPC Kelly Marie Blundell (centre) with fellow Lib Dem members after the hustings meeting at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes.

2. Although the Boundary Commission have published a series of proposals which could affect the Lewes seat, these proposals, if accepted, would not come into effect until 2018 in any case and the Liberal Democrats were keen to have a prospective parliamentary candidate in place as soon as possible to help fight for our local communities.

 

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Lord Rennard speaks out about how the Boundary changes are not a democratic reform

Commenting on the Boundary Changes, South East Lib Dem Peer and Co-chair, all-party parliamentary group on democratic participation Lord Rennard said:

Your report about forthcoming Westminster constituency boundary changes (Constituency review 'will hit Labour hard', 29 August) suggests that only existing constituencies outside the new quota range are under threat. In fact, all constituencies (apart from the island exemptions) are under threat because changes to any constituency boundaries may have significant knock-on consequences for other seats in a region. It is not the case that seats within the quota range are necessarily going to be "saved" while others are "abolished". All seats may be subject to significant reorganisation.

What parliament did not know when it approved the process in 2011 was how many people are missing from the electoral registers. The 2 million people added to the registers for the Europe referendum, for example, were included too late for inclusion in this review. The Electoral Commission has suggested that electoral data for boundary reviews should be based on voters registered at election times, as opposed to a date in between elections when registration levels are particularly low. Much more needs to be done to improve electoral registration, particularly of young people.

The process of constituency boundary reorganisation is now to take place every five years. This means that nobody elected in a general election can be sure that their constituency will exist again on the same boundaries. Nor will they know what those boundaries will be until early in the fourth year of a five-year parliament. The political and constitutional reform select committee in the last parliament made many sensible suggestions to improve the process, including greater flexibility over the quotas to enable more sensible constituencies to be created and then preserved.

But the only reform that would make all votes of equal value would be adoption of a voting system based on proportional representation. The failure of Tony Blair's government to deliver the promised referendum on a PR system when it had a big majority in the House of Commons after 1997 is one reason we are left with this mess now.

 

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Catherine Bearder MEP report on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=465jraThOLM

Catherine Bearder MEP presented her report on the EU's Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking to the European Parliament's Environment Committee.

While praising the Commission's Plan, Mrs Bearder also came forward with her own suggestions including the introduction of a dedicated Wildlife Crime Unit at Europol, a Wildlife Crime Coordinator at the European Commission and legislation to protect species that are illegal to seize in source countries, but are not part of the CITES framework.

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