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The Northern no.

46
October

Democrat
2009

The newsletter for Liberal Democrats in the North of England

lLib Dem Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable praised the


progress of the party in the North when he spoke at the
regional conference on 17th October at Gateshead. He
promised to come back again in the near future. More
about the conference on page 2.

I’ll be
back! Produced, printed and promoted by Jonathan Wallace, 7 Laburnum Grove, Sunniside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE16 5LY
Vince draws in the crowds
to Gateshead conference
The North East regional conference saw record
attendance when it was held at Gateshead
Civic Centre on Saturday 17th October.
Guest speaker was Vince Cable who praised the
work of the region in building up from a small base
to a successful position able to challenge Labour.
Vince also went on to give a comprehensive
view of the state of the economy, the financial crisis
and the banks.
He also promised to return shortly to the region
to boost local campaigning.
Vince’s full speech can be seen on the YouTube
channel of Northern Democrat editor Jonathan
Wallace. Go to www.youtube/jonathanwallace.
The conference also saw the retirement of North
East regional president Nigel Martin and regional
secretary Judith Fletcher.
The new officers of the region are:
President: Suzanne Fletcher
Chairman: Frank Hindle
lVince Cable addresses the regional conference at
Deputy Chairman: David Freeman Gateshead, chaired by Berwick MP Alan Beith.
Deputy Chairman: Charles Jevon
Deputy Chairman: Trevor Peel
Treasurer: Ian Barnes
Secretary: Anne-Marie Curry
Membership: Alan Lewis
Disability Co-ordinator Jean Walters
Conference Committee Chair: Diana Maddock
Candidtes Committee Chair: Doreen Huddart
Candidates committee: Maelor Williams
Candidates committee: Philip Latham
Candidates committee: Chris Foote Wood
English Council: Trevor Peel
English Council: Jean Walters
English Council: Nigel Martin lAbove: retiring regional president, Nigel Martin, is
English Council: Frank Hindle presented with a bottle of whisky by regional chair Frank
Hindle. Left retiring secretary Judith Fletcher is presented
with flowers.

An evening with Ros Scott


Northern Durham Liberal Democrats invite you to an
evening of fine food, good company and the inspiring
company of Baroness Ros Scott, President of the
Liberal Democrats.
Chapters Restaurant, Derwentside College,
Front St, Consett
7.30pm, Thursday 26th November
£20 a ticket
To buy tickets, contact Owen Temple
Tel 01207 505564 email owen@oltemple.f2s.com
Northern by-elections
Goldstar for Redcar
Lib Dem candidate Steven Abbot came close to
winning Labour’s safest seat in Redcar and Cleveland
on 17th September in a by-election for the South Bank
ward.
With just 88 votes separating Labour and Lib Dems, party
campaigners will be looking for a gain in the ward in the
next elections.
The result was:
Sue Jeffrey (Lab) 442 (43.6%; -6.3%)
Steven Abbott (Lib Dem) 354 (34.9%; +12.8%)
Vince Smith (Ind) 102 (10.1%)
Martin Gordon Bulmer (UKIP) 69 (6.8%)
Joan Bolton (Con) 47 (4.6%; -0.1%)
Turnout 21.3%
lSteven Abbott (third left) with some of his
Majority 88 campaign team after the count that saw the Lib
Lab hold Dems come close to winning Labour’s safest
9.55% swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats seat in Redcar and Cleveland.

Lib Dem gain in Eden North East ex-pat now


In Cumbria, the Lib Dem onward march continued Mayor of Bedford
when Elissa Robinson picked up a seat from the The victor of the by-election for Mayor of
Indies on Eden Council. Bedford, Dave Hodgson, is something of a
The result was of the by-election for Penrith West, held North East ex-pat, the Northern Democrat can
on 8th October, was: reveal.
LD Elissa Robinson 387 (51.7; +51.7) Dave lived and worked in the North East in the
Con 157 (21.0; -17.6) mid 1980s when he was active in the Young Social
BNP 102 (13.6; +13.6) Democrats.
Ind 58 (7.8; -37.5) Northern Democrat Editor Jonathan Wallace
recalls a few house parties attended by the both of
Lab 26 (3.5; -12.7)
them in their travels around the country for the
Green 18 (2.4; +2.4) former SDP’s youth wing.
Majority 230 Dave was also the organiser for the Alliance in
Turnout 31% Durham City for the 1987 general election.
LD gain from Ind The Mayoral by-election in Bedford was held on
Percentage change 15th October. He gained the position from the
is since May 2007 Independents in an area the Conservatives were
hoping to pick up.

Lib Dems carry the torch for North East Olympic hopes
North East Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign to bring the Olympic flame to our region as part
of the UK celebrations in 2012.
Led by Berwick’s MP Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrats from around the North East have written to Lord Coe
as Chairman of the London Organising Committee asking for the flame to visit the region.
Other signatories are Fiona Hall MEP, Newcastle City Council Leader Cllr John Shipley, Leader of
Northumberland County Council Cllr Jeff Reid, Ron Beadle, parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle North;
Greg Stone, parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East; Carol Woods, parliamentary spokesman for Durham
City; and Ian Swales, parliamentary spokesman for Redcar.
Alan said, “The Olympics is a wonderful opportunity to encourage many people to get involved in all kinds of
sporting activity. Bringing the Olympic flame to the north east will remind people that although the focus of the
Games is London, we can all get involved.
“The Lib Dem team presented Lord Coe with a letter inviting the Olympic Flame to the North East at an event to
promote London 2012 at the recent Lib Dem party conference in Bournemouth.”
Bournemouth Conference report
Nick: turn to the Liberal Democrats
In a passionate speech that reached out to
the people of Britain, Nick Clegg used his
speech at the Bournemouth Conference in
September to urge Britain to back change
by voting Liberal Democrat at the general
election.
“If you don’t agree with our policies, ff
you don’t want big change in Britain, then
don’t vote for us,” said Nick
“But if you like what you hear, if you
share our vision for a different kind of
future then go with your instincts; vote
Liberal Democrat.
“Elections are decided by your cross on
the ballot paper. Power is not any party’s to
be inherited. Power is yours to give to
whoever you choose.
“So don’t turn away, don’t stay at home,
don’t vote Conservative just because you
think it’s the only option.
Make no mistake: the Liberal Democrats
will do things differently in Britain.
Nick then outlined 3 key reasons to vote Lib Dem: lThumbs up from Nick to
Carol Woods and fellow
l Tax cuts for ordinary people, paid for by closing loopholes for the very rich. candidates on the platform
l The right to sack your MP if they’re proved corrupt. after Nick Clegg’s speech
l Personal attention when children start out at school in classes of just 15. at Bournemouth
Nick went on to say, “Labour is lost. They haven’t the ideas, energy or vision to start again. If you voted for them in
the past, you have a choice.
“You can give away your vote to a fringe party. You can stay at home in despair. Or you can join with the Liberal
Democrats and make the difference.
“If you supported Labour in 1997 because you wanted fairness, young people to flourish, political reform, the
environment protected or you simply believed in a better future, turn to the Liberal Democrats.
“The choice at the next election is fake change from the Conservatives or real change from the Liberal Democrats.
“At a time like this, a time of real crisis, Britain cannot afford to be taken in by David Cameron’s illusion of change.
Britain needs leadership from a party with real passion, and it’s the Liberal Democrats.
“There is hope for a different future, a different way of doing things in Britain, if we are brave enough to make a
fresh start. So let today be the first day of the future of British politics.
“It may be only the beginning but it is the beginning. The beginning of real change in Britain.”

Liberal Democrats back plans to reform MPs’ expenses


Conference backed radical plans to reform MPs’ expenses. The plans include:
l All MPs who have deliberately broken the rules to be subject to investigation and, where justified, criminal
prosecution
l Any future gains made by the sale of second homes to go back to the public purse
l All MPs to commit to implementing the recommendations of Sir Christopher Kelly’s independent inquiry
Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Paul Burstow said, “The MPs’ expenses scandal is a symptom of our failed
politics. Only the Liberal Democrats offer a real alternative to our failed politics. We have an opportunity to create a
different kind of politics in this country, one that isn’t tainted by the scandal over MPs’ expenses.
“The Liberal Democrats have consistently spoken and voted for reform of MPs’ expenses, and have been calling
for greater openness for years, even when both Labour and Conservative MPs opposed change.
“We need these proposals to really clean up Westminster and stop Labour and Tory MPs from going back to
business as usual.”
Bournemouth Conference report
Call to scrap rail franchise system
Conference called on the Government to scrap its
failing rail franchise system and replace it with one
that puts passengers first.
Members passed a motion calling for:
l The present franchise system to be replaced
with one that will prioritise quality of service,
passenger experience and, where possible, fare
reductions;
l Annual rail fare rises to be no more than
inflation;
l The Government to retain the East Coast
franchise until the end of its term.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary,
Norman Baker said, “Rail passengers in Britain
already put up with the most expensive fares in Europe
and the Government plans to continue with inflation lNorth East Liberal Democrats took a slow train to
busting price rises by pushing more of the costs of rail Conference to protest against the failure of Labour and
travel on to the passenger. the Conservatives to include the North East and
“The Government’s failing franchise system demands Yorkshire on the proposed high speed rail network.
high profits not passenger satisfaction and has already led to two train companies struggling to afford the East Coast
franchise.
“The Government needs to learn that short franchises going to the highest bidder will not provide the best service for
passengers.
“We need a new franchise system, offering longer, rolling franchises for firms that meet tough passenger satisfaction
requirements and invest in improving the network.”

Protecting the environment shouldn’t


be the hardest choice – Farron
Conference backed ambitious plans to protect and enhance the UK’s biodiversity and natural environment in
the policy paper Our Natural Heritage: Policies on the Natural Environment.
Proposals agreed include:
l An Anti-Waste & Resource Efficiency Act to set up an independent committee to recommend binding targets for
reducing consumption
l Reform of Ofwat, including tougher leakage targets and a new pricing regime for water companies that fixes a
profit ceiling on the income they get from every home
l Intelligent product design standards so that people benefit from goods that are made to last
l The protection of Green Belts, while prioritising brownfield land for development
l Action at EU level to require sustainable timber procurement
l Plans to give people more influence over local planning decisions, ensure accessible green space, cut noise
and light pollution and take tougher action against those who flout laws protecting the environment
Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Tim Farron MP said, “The natural
environment is being degraded in many ways, not only locally but also through the UK’s massive ecological impact on
the rest of the world. It is clear that we all need to live in ways that put less stress on the planet’s resources.
“That means compelling companies and public bodies to manage scarce resources more efficiently and giving
more power to people to shape the decisions that affect the natural world around them.
“Protecting the environment shouldn’t be the hardest option. The Government must make it easier for households
to makes choices that benefit the environment. Health and well-being can be enhanced if planning law promotes
green spaces that are accessible to all.
“We must work with our European partners to take urgent action to reverse the destruction of the world’s
rainforests, which are home to a richness of biodiversity as well as being a significant carbon sink.
“These policies are an important measure of our ambition to safeguard the natural environment for future
generations both at home and abroad.”
Bournemouth Conference report
Nick Clegg puts children at heart of manifesto
Nick Clegg has pledged to put children at the heart of the party’s General
Election manifesto.
Conference will voted on A Fresh Start for Britain: Choosing a Different,
Better Future, which sets out the principles that will form the basis of the
General Election manifesto. This includes a pledge to give every child the
very best start in life.
Nick said, “Giving children the best possible start in life is at the heart of
everything the Liberal Democrats believe in.
“In this time of financial crisis and massive uncertainty, there is a risk
that those who are most blameless will be the ones who suffer the
harshest consequences. The next generation must not pay the price for
Alex Folkes/
mistakes made today.
Fishnik
“Only by focusing on children, through policies like cutting class sizes, Photography
can we tackle the entrenched disadvantage we have in Britain today.”

Bournemouth photo gallery


Northern Liberal Democrats at Conference
Bournemouth photo gallery
Northern Liberal Democrats at Conference
Goverment failure on Teeside
chemical and steel industry - Swales
Failure by the Government to back Teeside’s chemical
industry has sparked an angry response from Liberal
Democrat prospective MP for Redcar Ian Swales.
He said: “I am shocked that the Government is doing so little
to protect this country’s vital strategic industries. Lord
Mandelson’s reply [to appeals] amounts to an insult when we’re
talking about such a big slice of the national economy.
“This is not just about jobs although that is absolutely vital for
Teesside. It’s also about security of supply for the important
materials that our society needs. I worked at Wilton and
Billingham for over 20 years. I can’t believe that the
Government would allow the chemical infrastructure here on
Teesside to collapse.
“The suggestions from the industry looked very sensible and
no less than companies will be getting elsewhere. With so
much of our industry now foreign owned, companies will
choose which plants to keep and where to invest based on
many factors. A supportive political climate both locally and
nationally is absolutely key.
“With its failure to back both our steel and chemical
industries and failure to move Civil Service jobs here it looks as lIan Swales met Nick Clegg at Bournemouth
though the Government is quite content to see Teesside Conference to discuss concerns about the
become an industrial wasteland with mass unemployment.” steel and chemical industry on Teeside.
Ian also took the Save Our Steel campaign to the recent Liberal Democrat conference where he raised his
concerns with Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg.
Nick said “ I am very concerned that our Government is not working with other European Governments to
ensure a level playing field for our steel industry.”
Ian said, “We have to get as many people as possible behind the campaign to save the local steel industry. I
was fortunate to be able to state the case to so many parliamentarians at the Conference.”

Clocking up the hits on councillor’s website


Cllr Barrie Crowther (Cramlington Eastfield) writes from Northumberland
Before the Northumberland County elections
last year, Councillor Andrew Tebbutt said how
many “hits” his Castle Morpeth District Council
website received.
I got the message. So, when Northumberland
created web sites for councillors I jumped in and
tried to lead on it and develop a popular web site.
There is nothing fancy about it I just regularly
give the news what I do and what is happening in
my area. The site started in May and I had 1000 hits
by July. by 13th October it stood at 3000!!
I have been so encouraged by this that I have
volunteered to run the Northumberland Liberal
Democrat website which has been dormant for over
a year. Can I encourage others to develop websites.
Believe me it becomes addictive.
Lets have Lib Dem councillor or other league
tables which list hits and let’s share good practice. The next election must be fought at all levels. We must
exploit the e-technology!!
By the way just type in Barrie Crowther in Google and the web site is the first entry. It helps to have a
“unique” name. Being called John Smith is not helpful.
Lib Dems lead battle for carbon cuts
LIBERAL Democrat councillors in Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland have been leading the call for councils
to cut their carbon footprint by signing up to the 10:10 commitment. But the initiatives have met with different
responses on the two authorities.
By signing up to 10:10, signatories are committing to reduce their
carbon footprint by 10% in 2010. Climate Change Secretary, Ed
Miliband himself called on Labour Councils to sign up when he spoke at
the Labour conference in September.
But Labour run Darlington rejected the call to sign up when Lib Dem
Mike Barker proposed a motion calling for the Council to make the
pledge.
Afterwards, Mike said, “I actually think that 10:10 is already becom-
ing a major initiative which people will recognise and want to get on
board with. Darlington may become one of the few Councils across the
country not to sign up to it. What message will that give our residents?”
The news along the Tees Valley was a bit more encouraging. Liberal
Democrats on Redcar and Cleveland Council successfully persuaded
the Council to make the pledge.
A motion committing the Council was moved by Councillor Irene
Curr . After the meeting she said, “I am pleased that the Council has
agreed to give a lead on carbon reduction. 10% will be a tough target lReducing your carbon footprint.
to achieve, but if the Council has the will to do it I am sure it will be Liberal Democrats in the North East are
possible.” leading the call to cut your carbon
Her colleague, Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Carling, who footprint by 10% in 2010. (Simon
seconded the motion, said, “I hope that many local residents and Hughes MP and Robert Adamson at
businesses will also sign up to the 10:10 Campaign. Bournemouth Conference.)
“In these tough economic times it makes sense, not only for the environment, but in cutting fuel bills too.”

Councillors asked to get in touch


Liberal Democrat
Councillors newly elected
to the Local Government
Association’s Safer
Communities Board are
calling on members of
councils in the North to
pass on their views about
important issues.
Duwayne Brooks from
Lewisham, Daisy Benson
from Reading and Anita
Lower from Newcastle are
keen to know what
councillors see as their
priorities.
“We would welcome the
opportunity to speak to
portfolio holders, groups or
individual councillors,” said
Anita. “We would be willing to
go to them.
“We have an away day in
January to set priorities and
all views would be welcome.”
You can contact Anita by lLib Dem Councillors elected to positions at the Local Government
emailing her at Association. Councillors in the North are encouraged to contact LGA board
anita.lower@newcastle.gov.uk. members before the groups away day in January with concerns and priorities.