The Northern

no. 61 February 2012

The newsletter for Liberal Democrats in the North of England

It’s just a month away

It’s only a month to go before the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference comes to Tyneside. The party will be arriving in force to debate the issues of the day in the Sage, Gateshead. Not only is this a great chance to showcase the region, it is also an ideal opportunity for many members throughout the North of England to attend conference and find out how the Liberal Democrats make policy and shape the programme of the government. For information on how to apply to go to the conference, go to page 2.
Published and promoted by Jonathan Wallace, 7 Laburnum Grove, Sunniside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE16 5LY

Northern Democrat February 2012 Contents
Page 2 Conference in our region Page 3 Beith welcomes Youth Contract Page 4 New Lib Dem Euro MP Page 4 Tough action promised to protect egg farmers Page 5 MEP fights to save seafood jobs Page 5 Extra social care funding for Northumberland Page 6 Swales welcomes Post Office deal Pages 6 Beith welcomes uturn on local broadcasting Pages 7 Ed Davey tackles feed in tariff

Editorial: please send material for inclusion to the editor, Jonathan Wallace, phone 0191 4883190 or email

Conference in our region
Andrew Wiseman, Chair of the Federal Conference Committee, which oversees the running of conference and decides what’s on the agenda, writes to members in the North East about the decision to come to Gateshead on 9th - 11th March. The national party is really pleased that this spring, for the first time, conference comes to the North East. For many years those wanting to attend conference from the North East have had to travel round the country. Now it will be on your doorstep! We believe that The Sage Gateshead, which occupies a splendid glass and stainless steel building, with its many fringe and training rooms and modern auditorium, is an ideal venue for us. Conference will be held there from 9 - 11 March 2012. We hope that those members who have never been to a national conference will come along. Conference comes at a particularly important time. We will have been in government for almost two years and it offers us a great opportunity to look forward. We hope to debate some exciting and varied motions. The coalition is presently undertaking its Mid-Term Review, a program to identify which goals in the Coalition Agreement have been met and where further policy development is needed. Conference is a great place for Local and Regional Parties to feed into that. As well as discussing policy motions, there will be a Q&A session with Nick Clegg, set piece speeches from both Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, a full programme of training as well as a wide and varied fringe programme. There will also be a number of popular Andrew Wiseman ministerial surgeries where members can raise issues directly with our ministers. But most importantly, it’s a fantastic opportunity to network, socialise and catch up with fellow members from across the country. Online registration is now open. Rates start at just £21 for a one day pass and concessionary rates are available too. To find out more and to register, go to: Do come along and support conference coming to the North East. I look forward to seeing you at The Sage Gateshead.

Andrew Wiseman, Chair, Federal Conference Committee

Northern News February 2012
Beith welcomes backing for Youth Contract
Business leaders have backed the £1bn Youth Contract, announced by Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg in November, which aims to ensure that all jobless young people are earning or learning again before long-term damage is done. Britain’s four biggest employer organisations, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), have formally backed the Youth Contract and will also urge their members to back the initiative. Starting next April, the Youth Contract will provide at least 410,000 new work places for 18 to 24 year olds into work over the next three years. This includes 160,000 wage subsidies and 250,000 new work experience Sir Alan Beith MP - pleased with placements. Youth Contract A new programme to will help 16 and 17 year olds who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs). This will help the most disengaged young people get back to school or college, onto an apprenticeship or into a job with training. In addition, there will be at least 20,000 more incentive payments to encourage employers to take on young apprentices in England. Sir Alan Beith MP said, “Youth unemployment is an economic waste and a slow-burn social disaster. If young people are out of work, the consequences of that will be felt for decades afterwards. We need to ensure young people do not have a false start. “That is why it is excellent news that Britain’s four biggest employer organisations are backing the scheme. I look forward to working with local employers to make sure the Youth Contract is a success so that we won’t lose the skills and talent of our young people – right when we need them most. “As a Liberal Democrat, I am proud that the Coalition Government is working with business to do the right thing to prevent another lost generation.” Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said, “Supporting people into work is my priority for 2012 and helping young people get proper lasting jobs is especially important. “The Youth Contract will make sure every unemployed young person starts earning or learning again before long term damage is done. “But government can’t do this alone, we need businesses to play their part too. That’s why the support of the Confederation of British Industry, British Chambers of Commerce, British Retail Consortium and Federation of Small Businesses is such good news.”

Nick Clegg on a visit to Newcastle in 2009 to look at training opportunities provided by the City Council, then in Lib Dem control. In government, the Lib Dems have created the Youth Contract which will help hundreds of thousands of young people to get work experience, training and into jobs.

Northern News February 2012

New Lib Dem Euro MP
Liberal Democrats in the North of England have a new Euro MP following the resignation of Diana Wallis from the European Parliament. Rebecca Taylor, 36, has become the new Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. Under the proportional representation list system used to elect memebrs of the European Parliament, a by-election is not needed when a vacancy arises. The next person on the list becomes eligible to take the seat. In this instance, Stewart Arnold was next on the list. He is the husband of Diana Wallis but opted not to take up the Euro seat, meaning Rebecca, 3rd on the list, was entitled to become the Euro MP. Rebecca is the daughter of former Todmorden Mayors, Dr Michael Taylor and Dr Elisabeth Wilson. She went to university in Sheffield and Leeds. Her father, brother and niece still live in Todmorden and her mother in Slaithwaite. Rebecca, 36, has worked in the health sector for more than 10 years including working with patients to help improve NHS services, carrying out health policy research and helping health sector organisations with their communications. She is currently in the process of completing a master’s degree in public health. “It is a great privilege and honour to serve the people of Yorkshire and the Humber in Europe as a Liberal Democrat MEP,” said Rebecca. Rebecca Taylor: new Euro MP for Yorkshire and “It has been quite a shock to find myself in this position. Humber Above all I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity and determined to do everything in my power to promote jobs, growth and prosperity in the region, and help to improve health services. “I know lots of families in Yorkshire and the Humber are really feeling the pinch at the moment and I look forward to doing my bit to help as an MEP committed to fighting for the region.”

Tough action promised to protect UK egg farmers
Euro MP Fiona Hall has secured an assurance from the European Commission that it is prepared to take legal action against Members States that do not comply with the ban on battery hens. While UK farmers have invested in ensuring their facilities meet new standards which came into force this month, they fear their business being undermined by cheap imports from countries flouting the rules. North East Euro MP Fiona Hall said, “UK egg producers who invested heavily in new enriched cages to replace battery cages must not suffer from illegal competitors who can undercut their prices through animal cruelty. “I welcome the Commission’s determination to hold non-compliant Member States to account. The Commission must also support countries such as the UK that are using every means at their disposal to try and ban illegally produced eggs from entering their markets.” Batteries not included: the European According to EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli, Commission will take action against inspection teams will start their investigations in targeted Member member states that allow battery hen States as of January 2012 to collect evidence of non-compliance to farming to continue. back up the prosecution when it goes to court. In the UK, Defra has revealed that 30 UK farms still use battery cages for up to 500,000 laying hens. However, the Government announced that it expected full compliance with the new hen welfare law by February and would prosecute any non-compliant egg producers after this date.

Northern News February 2012

MEP fights to save seafood jobs
North East MEP Fiona Hall has called on the new owners of a seafood factory in Seaham, Co Durham, to give the 360-strong staff a fair chance to save their jobs. When Cumbrian Seafoods went into administration last month it was immediately bought by Young’s. Initial optimism over the takeover has been dampened by the new owner’s decision to conduct a 90 day consultation on the factory’s closure. Fiona spoke to Pete Ward, the boss of Young’s, and impressed on him the importance of keeping the Seaham plant open. Fiona said, “With 360 jobs at stake, it is vital that we do everything possible to keep the factory open. Responsibility for the collapse of Cumbrian Seafoods seems to lie with the previous owners. It would be grossly unfair if the shop floor workers paid the price for that. “I made the case to Young’s that they should give Seaham the opportunity to prove its worth. The plant has received considerable investment in recent times, including public money, and I would like to see moves to get it running at full Fiona Hall MEP capacity rather than shut it down. “I have been assured that no decisions have yet been made and that workers will be given a fair chance to save their jobs. I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that happens and have been promised a further update before any action is taken.”

Extra social care fundingto benefit Northumberland
Nearly £1 million extra funding for social care in Northumberland will mean people can leave hospital earlier and receive better care at home. This comes from an extra £150m announced by the Coalition Government last month to be spent on shortening hospital stays across the country during the busy winter period. Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the cash can be used to access various preventative services such as better home care support, crisis response teams and specialist equipment for people in Northumberland. This is on top of the £648m already given to Primary Care Trusts this financial year to support social care services, and the cash is due to savings made in the Department of Health’s budget. “At this time of year it is of particular importance to do everything we can to ensure people are cared for at home in a safe and familiar environment, with their Councillor Jeff Reid family and friends close by,” said Leader of Northumberland County Council, Jeff Reid. “The Coalition is already doing the right thing and providing an extra £7.2bn in social care funding over the next four years. This extra cash for Northumberland further shows how the Liberal Democrats recognise that we all prefer to be out of hospital, receiving care in our own home.” MP for Berwick upon Tweed Sir Alan Beith said, “By reinvesting these savings in social care we can offer more help more support to older people leaving hospital. “It is absolutely crucial that the NHS and local authorities work together to help people leave hospital when they are ready. The benefits are on all sides – patients get to go home with the support they and their families need, and hospital beds are freed up. “This money will help cut the delays in getting the equipment and adaptations that people can need to enable them to live independently at home – saving them from an unnecessary stay in hospital or going into residential care.”

Northern News February 2012
Swales delighted at post office rescue deal
The future of Post Offices up and down the country have been secured by the Liberal Democrats in Government brokering a deal that will ensure they are safe for the next 10 years. Labour closed over 7100 post offices, with many of our communities really feeling the loss of these vital services. The new deal gives additional certainty to postmasters all over the UK that the full range of post office services will now be safe. “This adds to the other measures such as new national and local government contracts, new models to transform post offices and improvements to financial services offers. ‘’Labour have shamelessly closed thousands of post offices including many in Redcar,” said Ian, “so it is excellent news that this coalition government, with a Liberal Democrat postal affairs minister, have been able to ensure the post office has a sustainable future. Post offices are a vital part of our communities, with more than 20 million people a week visiting them.’’ ‘’Our plan means that we will never see the mass closure plans that we saw under a Labour Government’’ Ian Swales MP - welcomed moves by The Post Office deal was arranged by Ed Davey MP and was one Lib Dem ministers to ensure Post Offices of his last duties as Business Minister responsible for Post Offices have a secure future. before being promoted to the Cabinet as Energy Secretary. “A year ago I set out a radical plan to transform Post Office’s future, with £1.34bn of Government support and investment but without any closure programmes,” said Ed. “Since then the Post Office has made good progress to become more competitive, building on its strengths. While it will take several years to turn round the Post Office’s finances, it’s increasingly clear the reforms are beginning to work. ‘’ “The 10-year deal struck between Royal Mail and the Post Office will give sub postmasters and others greater confidence. The signs are extremely encouraging for the future of the Post Office.”

Beith welcomes U-turn on BBC cuts to local broadcasting
Berwick’s Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith has welcomed news that the campaign to protect the BBC’s regional broadcasting in the North East has been successful. BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten announced in January that he had asked BBC bosses to look again at their cuts to BBC local radio and regional shows like Inside Out. This comes after lobbying by Sir Alan to protect the BBC in the North East. In his speech Lord Patten has asked the BBC to replace the cuts planned for local radio stations with extra efficiency savings across the BBC. This is estimated to be around £10 million. Lord Patten also said that the BBC will be asked to rethink the plans to shift investigative journalism from its existing regional structure to three “super-regions”, a move opposed by Sir Alan. He has written again to Lord Patten today asking for an urgent meeting to discuss how the efficiency savings will be made and what if any impact they will have on BBC broadcasting and investigative journalism in the region. Director General Mark Thompson said in an email to BBC staff that: “Staff in BBC local radio newsrooms are to be staffed at their current levels” Under the BBC’s Delivering Quality First plans there will still be programme cuts, staff redundancies and a lot of belt tightening throughout the organisation but many observers think news of the reprieve is a lot more optimistic than previously thought. Sir Alan said, “I am pleased that the BBC have listened to people throughout the north east and agreed to safeguard BBC broadcasting in the region, and to be making new plans for the work of its investigative journalists. “My job now is to look at the detail and make sure it isn’t just a cut by the back door. I am asking for an urgent meeting to go through the plans with BBC bosses to make sure we continue to enjoy the distinctive broadcasting and high quality investigative work, such as that seen on Inside Out, from around the north east. “It is vital the investigative journalism is carried out by the BBC in regions like the north east, both for the audience within the region and to ensure that the BBC’s national output reflects life beyond the M25.”

National News February 2012

Davey tackles feed in tariff
Following the resignation of Chris Huhne from the Government, the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, has pressed ahead with the Liberal Democrats’ ambition to make this the greenest government ever. Ed said, “My priorities are very simple: green jobs, green growth and getting the best deal for energy payers.” One of the first issues in the new Secretary of State’s intray was the feed in tariff paid to people with domestic solar panels who generate their own electricity. The issue has become complicated recently because of a successful court challenge to the recent decision to cut the tariff for new solar panel Ed Davey MP installations. Ed Davey has now set out to reform the tariff and make it more widely available. To kickstart consultation on the changes he aims to make, he sent the following message to Liberal Democrats. Some things in politics are symbolic. For dyed-in-the-wool environmentalists like the Liberal Democrats, solar power is one of these things – indisputably clean, green and cutting edge technology. The sort of thing Liberal Democrats in a government that aims to be the greenest ever should be unequivocally behind. Our commitment to the environment was why I joined the party in the first place. That’s why I want solar power to be as widely available as possible. As it stands, the Feed in Tariffs scheme that helps people to install solar panels in their homes or businesses reaches too few people. By lowering the tariff we can extend it to more people – making clean, green, renewable energy available to the many, not the few. That’s why I am announcing a consultation to look at exactly how we reform the tariff to make sure as many people as possible take advantage of it. I want more solar panels installed and more carbon emissions saved than under the old scheme. I want the returns you get from solar power to be predictable, sustainable and attractive. And I want to give a real boost to micro-combined heat and power, which allows people produce clean, green electricity in their homes. I am proud of the big, ambitious green measures the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government have undertaken: • The Green Deal which will lead an energy efficiency revolution in our homes • The Green Investment Bank to kickstart green businesses and green jobs • The most ambitious climate change targets a country has ever set • And real progress at Cancun to get international agreement on climate change I don’t believe that fighting climate change and rebuilding our economy are mutually exclusive. I believe green jobs are the key to our recovery. And I don’t believe going green means hitting people in the pocket. Energy efficiency, our reforms of the energy market and giving consumers more information will help bring down bills. I am determined that this will be the greenest government ever. I’m up for that challenge and I’m sure all Liberal Democrats feel the same.

Ed Davey MP

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