Following new revelations that a garden party was held in Downing Street in May 2020 during a national lockdown, Liberal Democrat candidate for South Cambridgeshire Pippa Heylings says enough is enough.
"The silence from our MP Anthony Browne on this is deafening. I have already received a flurry of messages from local people who are rightly distraught and furious about this.” Speaking personally she added “Like many elderly people in hospital and care homes, my Mum suffered terribly from social isolation, prevented from seeing her loved ones because of lockdown rules”.
“Anthony Browne, the local Conservative MP, must denounce the actions of Boris Johnson and illegal Downing Street parties which took place in the middle of a national lockdown. It is a kick in the teeth for everyone in South Cambridgeshire who has sacrificed so much during the pandemic, from those who weren't able to visit loved ones in hospital to nurses left wearing bin bags as PPE.
“South Cambridgeshire will be a close two horse race between a hard working local Liberal Democrat team and a Conservative party that acts as if there is one rule for us and one for them. So many people are bitterly disappointed with the constant sleaze and scandal coming out of Downing Street. Our residents deserve better.”
On Small Business Saturday, local Lib Dems are calling for small businesses in Cambridgeshire to be given a tax cut, saving them an average of £5,000. This tax cut would help businesses across the country including local restaurants suffering from Christmas cancellations following new Covid restrictions, and businesses which figures reveal are set to be hit by the National Insurance tax rise.
Local Liberal Democrats have backed the proposals which would benefit 14,500 small businesses and entrepreneurs in Cambridgeshire from cafes and restaurants to high street shops. The proposed tax cut would save small businesses an average of £5,000 a year by aiding them with staff costs. It would be achieved by quadrupling the Employment Allowance to £16,000 for a period of two years. This would allow a small business to employ five people on an average salary without paying any National Insurance contributions. 1.1 million businesses would be eligible for this tax cut, which would save them an estimated £5.5 billion next year.
It comes as a record number of small businesses say they are struggling with rising costs whilst new Covid restrictions loom, according to a recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses. Local restaurants have also reported a surge in Christmas bookings being cancelled, setting owners back thousands of pounds.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have announced small businesses will have to pay more National Insurance contributions in the new year, despite facing a tough winter. Research by the House of Commons Library has shown the Conservative plans are set to hit an estimated 13,000 local businesses in Cambridgeshire with a £32.6 million tax bombshell.
In South Cambridgeshire some 2,100 small businesses would benefit from the proposed cut, whilst 2,000 are set to be adversely affected by the Tory NI rise with a £5 million hike in tax. The Lib Dem run South Cambridgeshire District Council is also providing a welcome boost for South Cambs businesses with a Christmas Market on Sunday 5th December, giving people a great opportunity to support their local businesses this festive season.
It's the most wonderful time of the year - we're launching the South Cambs Lib Dem Christmas Draw!
It's a brilliant way to raise money for your local party, and with the first prize of £1,500 cash this year, there's never been a better time to get involved. Your ticket purchases will help us to prepare for the 2022 District Council elections where we are seeking to retain control of the council so as to continue serving the people of South Cambs for another four years.
The response last year was astonishing - we sold out of tickets before the draw! We strongly recommend you get in sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.
The draw will be held at 20:00 on Thursday 9th December. Tickets will be available until 1 hour beforehand - unless we sell out! You can purchase your tickets by clicking below.
Lib Dem-run South Cambs District Council released its preferred options for the next Local Plan to make this area greener and fairer.
The plan provides affordable housing while protecting the rural character of villages. Residents have told the Lib Dems how important reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment is.
Only 4% of the homes would be in rural areas; the rest are on the Cambridge fringes or part of larger existing settlements.
You will be able to have your say on these plans in November. Watch this space.
Don't forget. Last time, the Conservatives’ plan resulted in rampant, unplanned development.
The last Local Plan was messed up by the Conservatives who then ran the council. It resulted in several years when developers could build, speculative developments in inappropriate places. Many villages across our area have been badly affected and some are only now seeing the damage of planning permission being given for housing in the wrong places.
In the recent Local Government Association (LGA) elections, South Cambs Cllr Pippa Heylings was elected to be the national Lead Lib Dem for the Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board where she becomes Deputy Chair.
See below for the link to the first in a series of zoom meetings with Pippa about this role.
Pippa is one of three Cambridgeshire Lib Dems to have been successful in the elections. Cllr Lucy Nethsingha was re-elected as Lead Lib Dem for the Children and Young People Board and Cllr Bridget Smith was elected to become a Deputy Chair of the LGA.
Ian Sollom, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for South Cambridgeshire, has accused Anthony Browne, South Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MP, for abandoning his election commitment on international development spending by voting to maintain the UK’s cut on foreign aid spending, which will endanger the lives of people around the globe.
In the 2019 General Election, Conservative MPs including Anthony Browne stood on a manifesto promise to “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”.
This week, the Government won a vote in Parliament to continue their recently announced annual £4bn cut of Britain's international development spending from 0.7% to 0.5% GNI for at least 5 years.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for South Cambridgeshire, Ian Sollom, has written to Anthony Browne saying that Anthony has broken a promise to his constituents and to the world’s poorest.
South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have criticized the proposed Free Trade Deal with Australia, as local farmers and animal welfare charities have raised concerns about the deal.
The deal, which has been agreed in principle, would immediately allow vast quantities products like beef and lamb into the country, that aren’t produced to the same high standards as the UK.
District Councillor and 2019 Parliamentary Candidate, Ian Sollom, has been talking to local farmers since the deal was announced to understand more about the concerns. David Walston, who farms in Thriplow told him:
“The government seem to want to eventually allow unlimited imports of beef and sheep into the UK, even if it is produced using techniques that aren’t allowed here, such as using growth hormones. It sets a terrible precedent for future deals with other countries, for a measly 0.02% GDP gain, from the government’s own figures.”
John Jefferies, who farms near Little Gransden, agreed that the lower standards are a problem. He said:
“35 years ago the use of growth hormones in cattle and the potential risks to consumers was something the public was aware of as a ban was debated – I even wrote my treatise about it at agricultural college.
“Hormones were banned in the UK in order to protect consumers, and there is now less awareness of the risks. Will people realise they are eating hormone treated beef? Most of it will go into the processing industry, so it seems unlikely that many will realise what they are eating.”
The RSPCA has also raised concerns over lower animal welfare standards in Australian food production. Former South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, who now works for the charity as a strategic advisor, pointed to this comparison of farm animal welfare standards between Australia and the UK that the RSPCA have produced. Among the things banned in the UK but legal in Australia are barren battery cages, sow stalls, hot branding of cattle and mulesing, the practice of cutting skin away from the buttocks of sheep.
The Liberal Democrats are challenging the Government to deliver on promises of high standards in imported food through proper scrutiny of the deal. Ian said:
“The Conservatives have serious questions to answer about how they have reached an agreement that would appear to immediately allow substandard food to flood into the UK.
“It fails both farmers and consumers to allow food that isn’t produced to our high standards into the country, and for next to no benefit to the UK economy.
“It’s difficult to take promises of high standards seriously when there is so little on it in this agreement and while the Trade and Agricultural Commission, which we were promised would scrutinize and advise on the deal as it was being negotiated – to protect British agriculture and British consumers – hasn’t even been set up!
“MPs won’t even get to vote on the final deal.
“The Government is in such a rush to prove Brexit a success, they are giving Australia everything they want and are failing to deliver on their promises of proper scrutiny. In doing so they are setting dangerous precedents for future trade deals."
Liberal Democrat, Labour, and Independent Groups on Cambridgeshire County Council have hammered out an agreement for a Joint Administration to run the Council.
Cambridgeshire bucked the national trend in last week’s local elections, with the Tories losing control of the county council after the Lib Dems won seven previously Conservative divisions.
We have triple local elections taking place in Cambridgeshire on Thursday 6th May, for the county council, the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
In addition, there are by-elections taking place in four South Cambs wards for district councillor positions: Girton, Harston & Comberton, Melbourn, and Milton & Waterbeach.
Cllr Hazel Smith, longstanding Liberal Democrat District Councillor for Milton and Waterbeach, has announced her retirement from the Council, triggering a by-election for the seat in May.
Hazel was first elected for the ward of Milton in 2004 and served as councillor for Milton and then Milton and Waterbeach for 17 years. For the last three years, Hazel has been the Lead Cabinet Member for Housing in the Liberal Democrat administration at South Cambridgeshire District Council.
Hazel Smith said,
“It has been a very fulfilling experience serving Milton and then more recently also Waterbeach and Landbeach over the last 17 years.
“Thanks to the people of Milton and Waterbeach for putting their trust in me over the years. And thank you to all those parish councillors and the clerks for their support and help.
“I have said my fond farewells to the Housing Department, for which I have been Lead Cabinet Member for the last 3 years. I'll follow their progress with interest. Seeing new council houses handed over to tenants was one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
“I know I'm leaving South Cambs in good hands. We have a very capable group of councillors who have now served together for 3 years. The candidate to succeed me, Paul Bearpark from Waterbeach, is a passionate campaigner and will work hard for our residents.”
Aidan Van de Weyer, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said,
“It has been a privilege to serve alongside such a dedicated councillor. Hazel has always put the best interests of the residents of her ward and of South Cambridgeshire first, ensuring that the council engages with all parts of the population.
“In her time in charge of housing, Hazel has done some fantastic work. She has laid the groundwork to double the number of council houses that we are building, put in place the scheme to welcome vulnerable refugees to the district and developed a new housing strategy focussing on genuine affordability across the full range of housing types.
“The people of Milton and Waterbeach can be confident that Paul Bearpark, our candidate at the by-election, will represent them as effectively.”
The pandemic has seen an increase in goods traffic through the villages of South Cambridgeshire, from small delivery vans to large articulated lorries. This has coincided with more residents taking up cycling and walking, increasing the safety risk on our roads. It has also come about at a time when the government has proposed abolishing the current vehicle weight restrictions.
As well as making our local roads less safe for pedestrians and cyclists, the rise in HGV traffic has contributed to air pollution, and stress for residents who are regularly subjected to noise and vibrations from the vehicles.
Rural roads were not built for HGVs and surfaces have suffered from the increase in traffic. Moreover, where weight restrictions are in place, they are often ignored and the police have indicated they are not able to enforce the limits.
The motion, tabled at February’s full council meeting by Lib Dem councillor Claire Daunton (Fen Ditton & Fulbourn), proposed that the district council request the county council to facilitate measures that encourage:
- local communities to report HGV infringement of restrictions
- the police to take action against persistent offenders
- satnav companies to incorporate the County’s advisory freight routes into their systems
- delivery companies to switch to hybrid or electric vehicles
- the installation of appropriate 20mph speed limits, along with physical highway restraints, in the areas worst affected
The motion also called for the Leader of South Cambs District Council to write to the Secretary of State for Transport, to request that the government fully take into account the effects of HGV traffic on rural communities when considering changes to current regulations on vehicle weight.