Surrey Conservatives forced to scrap unnecessary £192K Cabinet Associate post

Liberal Democrat county councillors in Surrey have welcomed the news that the Conservative-administration at County Hall has finally agreed to scrap the 4 Cabinet Associate posts which have so far cost the tax payer nearly two hundred thousand pounds since they were introduced.

Liberal Democrats have consistently called for these posts to be scrapped and for the money saved to be used on front line services, rather than on excessive allowances for Conservative county councillors. The roles that will end are:

Cabinet Associate for Children, Schools & Families

Cabinet Associate for the Built Environment

Cabinet Associate for Adult Social Care, Wellbeing and Independence

Cabinet Associate for Community Safety Services

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said today:

"I am pleased that these posts have been scrapped but disappointed that it has taken several years for the Conservative-administration at County Hall to realise that these roles were a waste of money. At a time of tight financial constraints for the county council, it is vital that every penny is spent wisely and it was clearly not possible for the Leader of the Council to be able to justify the rationale for these posts any longer.

"The cost of the 4 cabinet associate posts was just over £50K in 2016/17, at a time when the Conservative-administration was cutting services, introducing fees for using the tip and raising council tax - no wonder only 39% of Surrey residents agreed that the county council provided value for money. Liberal Democrat county councillors will continue to hold the Conservative-administration to account over the next 4 years and highlight examples of wasteful spending and where we think efficiencies could be made".


A link to Cllr Watson's question on Cabinet Associate posts can be found here (page 14):

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Sharp fall in EU nurses coming to UK


There has been a sharp fall in nurses from EU countries registering to work in the NHS, new figures have revealed.

The Health Service Journal reports that monthly statistics show the number of EU nurses registering with the NMC to work in the UK peaked at 1,304 in July 2016, a month after the referendum, before falling to 344 in September 2016 and then to just 46 in April 2017.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said: “These figures are profoundly worrying and the possible implications for the NHS and patients cannot be underestimated. The government has to face up to the impact their refusal to guarantee EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit is having. It is a political choice they have made and it is going to harm our services, in particular the NHS.

“The government must now change this decision. The result of the election last week gives them the opportunity to change their mind, and they now must. Liberal Democrats are clear that EU citizens whose lives are now rooted in the UK must have the right to stay”.


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Your new team of Liberal Democrat MPs

Thank you for your support - this is your new team!


Thank you to everyone who has helped to elect these Liberal Democrats MPs:

Tom Brake, Carshalton
Vince Cable, Twickenham
Alistair Carmichael, Orkney and Shetland
Edward Davey, Kingston and Surbiton
Tim Farron, Westmorland and Lonsdale
Wera Hobhouse, Bath
Christine Jardine, Edinburgh West
Norman Lamb, North Norfolk
Stephen Lloyd, Eastbourne
Layla Moran, Oxford West and Abingdon
Jamie Stone, Caithness
Jo Swinson, Dunbartonshire East

In the next five years, Britain needs Liberal voices standing up for our place in Europe, for our civil liberties, for human rights and for an open, tolerant and united Britain.

Will you be part of what comes next and join us today?

Join the Liberal Democrats

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Lib Dems offer ‘father's month’ of paid parental leave for new fathers


As part of the coalition, I was proud to introduce the original Shared Parental Leave programme.

The Lib Dems campaigned hard for this transformational policy, that allows parents – instead of the Government – to choose how they share their childcare.

Parents across the UK have already benefitted from greater flexibility and freedom, marking a massive step towards equal parenting.

Now we’re going further. We want to build on the achievement of Shared Parental Leave and further recognise the vital role that fathers play.

The Liberal Democrats will introduce Father’s Month – an additional month of paid parental leave for fathers, to encourage greater sharing of parental responsibilities.

Research shows that fathers being more involved in their children's lives is good for the health of the whole family. That’s why more needs to be done to encourage dads to take leave, to bond with their kids during the early weeks and months of life.

“It is the Liberal Democrats who are standing up for fairness and flexibility for parents, where Theresa May never cared,” my colleague Susan Kramer, our Shadow Business Secretary, said today.

“Creating a fair system for parents everywhere not only benefits new mums and dads but also helps our business sector. Having a workforce that is both more flexible and more motivated will benefit UK businesses greatly.”

To add your voice to ours, to speak out for fathers and their nurturing influence on family life, vote Lib Dem on 8th June.

We are the only party with the power to change the direction of the country for the better.

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Ending an historic injustice in mental health care It's time to take mental health seriously - find out how we do that here:

Excellent healthcare is at the heart of our vision for Britain. As a leading liberal democracy, our public services should – and can be – the envy of the world. The Lib Dems are committed to making this vision a reality.

Last weekend, Tim Farron and I announced our five point NHS and care recovery plan, which laid out our health strategy for the next parliament – generating an extra £6bn funding boost.

Today, we are proud to announce that £1bn of this money will be ring-fenced and dedicated to 12 key priorities in mental health.

These priorities include improving waiting time standards for mental health care on the NHS, providing support for pregnant women, and trebling the number of people accessing psychological therapies.

You can read the full report here.

Why are we doing this? Because services have been stretched to breaking point under the Conservatives, and promises made under the coalition have been broken. Now people’s lives are at stake.

The Lib Dems believe that every progressive, future-facing country should prioritise the mental health of its people.

If you share this vision, support us today:

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National campaigning to remain suspended tomorrow – but local campaigning can resume

The party is advising candidates tonight that, while national campaigning remains suspended, local campaigning can resume tomorrow.

The  advice came in an email from Federal Campaigns and Elections Chair James Gurling who said:


Further to our advice this morning following the terrorist attack in Manchester, national campaigning will remain suspended tomorrow.

Like other parties we have agreed that local campaigning may resume with due sensitivity and at the discretion of local campaign managers.

We will continue to review the advice given on national and local campaigning.

So, take the lead from your local campaign manager and act accordingly.

We will have another quiet day tomorrow and resume normal coverage when the national campaign gets back underway.

This article was originally posted on Liberal Democrat Voice.

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Lib Dem Manifesto says Sack Southern Rail

Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell reveals that the party Manifesto, to be published on 17th March 2017, cites plans to sack Southern Rail.

Kelly-Marie Blundell, who has taken up the reins from ex MP Norman Baker, has led campaigns to help passengers across Lewes constituency.

Over the last year, residents in Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven and Polegate have suffered with reduced timetables, replacement rail buses and strikes impacting train services, leading to some people losing their jobs and even more suffering as a result.

Seaford resident Kelly-Marie Blundell said;

“In Lewes area we have put up with too much for too long. It's time for Southern to go – and the Lib Dems are committed to giving the contract to another company who can make sure the trains are run on time.”

“While things have settled somewhat since the strikes ended, people in Plumpton are faced with the last train back from London being 19:47 and those in Seaford and Newhaven being stuck with replacement buses weekend after weekend.

“I worked with residents locally to oppose plans to scrap the direct train from Seaford to London and handed over 3,000 signatures to the Prime Minister in December calling for Southern Rail to be sacked.

“This election is the chance for those of us who are blighted by Southern Rail problems to put an end to their contract and the ongoing problems by voting Lib Dem in Lewes.”

Norman Baker said;

I am delighted that Kelly-Marie Blundell has continued to champion the needs of rail passengers as I did when I was the MP, leading the Save Seaford Trains campaign and fighting on behalf of thousands of people in Lewes, Newhaven, Polegate and Seaford who have suffered as a result of Southern Rail's continued disruption.

“Like me, Kelly-Marie is committed to representing local residents properly, making sure their voices are heard and the continual disruption comes to an end.

“It is time once again that local people have an effective voice in Parliament, which sadly we have not done for the last two years.”

Notes for Editor:

Kelly-Marie Blundell

Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes


The Liberal Democrats will allow public sector bodies and mutual groups involving staff and passengers to bid for franchises. The party will continue the Access for All programme, improving disabled access to public transport as a key priority.

The party would establish government-run companies to take over the running of Southern Rail and Govia Thameslink, with a long-term plan to find more effective and sustainable ways of managing these franchises involving greater powers for local government.

The Liberal Democrats will contain a commitment in their manifesto to establish a government-run company to take over Southern and Govia.

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat chief whip, said:

“The lives of people in areas such as mine have been made a misery by quite unbelievable levels of disruption these last eighteen months while the government has sought to ignore their misery. It has disrupted family life and in some cases cost people their jobs.

“Much more must be done to improve services and measures must be put in place to ensure that underperforming train franchises are sanctioned or stripped of their responsibilities.

“The Conservatives only seem to stick up for big business and don’t seem to care about people struggling to work to earn a living.”

Liberal Democrat shadow transport secretary Jenny Randerson said:

“We need new rail franchises that include a stronger focus on customers, including a programme of investment in new stations, lines and modern trains. The current system simply can’t go on.”

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Our ambitious new plan for refugees Britain can and must do more for refugees - read this article to find out what - and why:

I passionately believe that the British people are open, tolerant and progressive. That’s what I love about us. But lately I’ve felt the country slide into a Britain I don’t recognise – a Britain that’s closed, insular and suspicious.

The Conservatives are largely to blame.

Their treatment of refugees – especially child refugees – is despicable and shameful. Faced with the biggest global trauma since the Second World War, Theresa May has torn up her promises and turned her back on the most vulnerable people in the world.

How will future Britons judge us?

The Liberal Democrats believe that as an advanced liberal democracy we must have compassion for those in need. The world looks to Britain as a leader in global business and a guardian of progressive values. We are proud of that.

That’s why, while visiting a refugee charity in Cheltenham today, I announced our plan to fly in the face of Theresa May’s callousness: we will take 10,000 refugees from Syria every year in the next parliament, and help find homes for asylum seeking children stranded in Europe.

This will ease some of the suffering caused by Conservative cold-bloodedness – going some way to redress the injustice of Theresa May’s repeated U-turns and broken promises on refugees. It’s the decent thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s the patriotic thing to do.

We want Britain to be an open-hearted and forward-looking world leader, not a provincial and miserly island on the fringes of Europe.

If you share this vision, support our refugee plan and vote Lib Dem on 8th June.

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Leaked manifesto reveals Labour won't give people final say on Brexit deal

The leaked version of the Labour manifesto has confirmed Jeremy Corbyn's Labour won’t give the people the final say on the Brexit deal.

This comes after Jeremy Corbyn made clear that Labour believes Britain must leave the EU whatever the agreement reached, in an interview with BBC Look North yesterday.

Former Liberal Democrat party president Simon Hughes said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has waved the white flag and given Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue a divisive Brexit.

“Now this leaked manifesto confirms they are refusing to give the British people the final say over the Brexit deal, no matter how bad it is.

“A better future is available. The Liberal Democrats will stand up to Theresa May’s cold, mean-spirited Britain and against a bad Brexit deal that will cost jobs and put up prices.

"We will give you the final say on Brexit – with the option to stay in if you don't like the deal on offer."

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£7 billion extra for schools under Liberal Democrat plans


I’m delighted to announce today that the Lib Dems will invest nearly £7bn more in schools and colleges over the next Parliament.

This funding would reverse cuts to school and college budgets, protect per-pupil funding in real terms, and ensure that every school gets the support it deserves. This goes further than Labour’s commitment to reverse £3bn of cuts to school budgets by 2020.

My colleague Sarah Olney – our Shadow Education Secretary – had this to say: "Children are being taught in overcrowded classes by overworked teachers – but Theresa May doesn't care.

“While funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation, billions are being spent on divisive plans to expand grammars and free schools. The Lib Dems’ extra £7 billion would ensure no school and no child loses out.”

Sarah’s right – the Tories are misdirecting and cutting funds to disastrous effect. Perhaps the saddest statistic is that – according the National Audit Office – up to 60% of school buildings are in urgent need of repair. How damning! Our schools are quite literally crumbling.

If you want to stop the continued degradation of our precious education system and prevent the Conservatives from bruising it further, vote Lib Dem on 8th June – the strong opposition that Britain needs.

Over the course of the parliament, we will:

• Protect per pupil funding in real terms in schools (£3.3bn)
• Protect further education per pupil funding in real terms (£660m)
• Ensure no school loses out from the National Funding Formula (£1.26bn)
• Protect the pupil premium in real terms (£415m)
• Invest in continuous professional development for teachers (£165m)

The £6.9bn includes £1.1bn of Barnett consequentials for devolved nations. 

These plans will be fully costed in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, which will be launched in due course and set all our spending plans out in more detail. This will include reversing the Government’s proposed funding for new grammar schools.

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