Representing Liberal Democrats in Havering, including Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster.
Havering Liberal Democrats News
- Renewable Gaz & Leccy
If I were to say to you; switch your gas and electricity supplier, and they’ll donate £50.00 to the Liberal Democrats, you probably wouldn’t do much about it. If the deal was to get your gas and electricity probably at the same price that you are currently paying, that the electricity you use will only come from renewable sources (that’s fossil and nuclear free) and that the gas you use will be frack-free, and of course the Liberal Democrats get a donation, you might be inclined to reach for the tablet and investigate further.
As a political party we do not of course, promote or endorse the products or services of particular companies but we would support those ethical companies that share our values and help make a difference. As such, mention should be made of an increasing number of independent green energy suppliers in the UK, offering gas and electricity from renewable sources.
This particular offer (to donate £25 per fuel type) is from Ecotricity. 100% of their electricity is made from the wind and the sun. They want to harness customers’ energy bills to build new sources of green energy in Britain. Other independent energy suppliers that hold similar aims include Good Energy and Solarplicity (to name only a few).
Britain went without coal power for a whole day in April 2017, the first time in more than 130 years. According to the Office for National Statistics, renewables accounted for 30% of the electricity generated in the third quarter of 2017*. While we cannot predict when we’ll no longer need to burn fossil fuels to generate energy, these green energy records are the latest in a string of milestones that demonstrate how dramatically and quickly the UK’s energy mix is changing. By purchasing your energy from renewable energy suppliers, you are hammering another nail in the coffin for fossil fuels.
- King George’s A&E
Havering Liberal Democrats welcome the decision to review the closure of King George’s A&E Department. Whilst we strongly believe that it should remain open, we caution that it is too early to celebrate given the Conservative Government’s spending plans on the NHS. Phillip Hammond’s Autumn budget outlined plans for the Conservative’s to continue to under-fund the NHS, this means that there is still an uphill battle for the future of King George’s A&E.
In response to the budget, Jo Swinson, Lib Dem MP & Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, pointed out that “Simon Stevens (NHS England Chief Executive) had asked for £4 billion next year, but the Chancellor’s response does not come close. The new revenue peaks at £1.9 billion next year and then drops to £1.1 billion. As I say, Liberal Democrat Members appreciate that hard choices need to be made, and if we want to resource our NHS and social care properly we need to look at how to find the funds. That is why we have proposed an increase in income tax of one penny in the pound specifically for the NHS and social care. It is worth noting that social care was something the Chancellor did not even think worth mentioning in his remarks”.
The development planned for Havering over the coming years in the borough’s local plan needs to be underpinned by the adequate provision of health services and retaining King George’s A&E is essential to do that. Even in the short term, the closure would cause a surge in the demand for A&E services at Queens Hospital. As local people that are passionate about our local area, we know that local residents of Havering will suffer if King George’s A&E closes”.
- Crime and Police in Havering
Havering Liberal Democrats are deeply concerned about inadequate response times of the tri-borough East Area Command Unit and the proposals to close Hornchurch and Rainham Police Stations along with seven Safer Neighbourhood bases. Havering Liberal Democrats strongly support the committed work of Police Officers throughout Havering. We call on the Home Office and the Mayor of London to provide additional resources to the Met Police to keep our communities safe.
We believe that the Conservatives lost the 2017 General Election over concern from the electorate that cuts to public services had gone too far. Theresa May’s record as Home Secretary was called into question with successive cuts to Police funding eventually resulting in increasing crime and our communities feeling less safe. We believe local Conservative Councillors and MPs have no credibility in opposing the proposals to close the Police Stations in the borough when they have been in Government since 2015 and until last year controlled the Mayor’s Office.
According to Metropolitan Police Crime statistics, overall reported crime in the 12 months to August 2017 in the borough has increased by 4.1%. The figures are particularly concerning for the calendar year 2017, with reported crime incidents increasing from 1,348 in February 2017 rising to 1,606 in August 2017. This is after reported crime peaked in May 2017 at 1,671. The fiasco of the appalling response times to priority calls at the start of the tri-borough pilot are deeply troubling. This pilot would not be necessary if adequate funding for the Police across the three boroughs was available. We are concerned that crime is growing in the borough with residents feeling increasingly unsafe. With this in mind we believe that closing two Police Stations is totally unacceptable.
- Calling for the Council to Lead the Way on Electric Vehicles (EV’s)
It is now accepted that EVs are the future for the car. The government has made clear that EV’s are its primary solution to emissions and air quality problems from transport, and with over 90,000 on UK road’s already, EV’s are becoming mainstream.
But now consider EV’s for the day to day work of local government. EV’s would not only encourage others by setting the example, but would save money. If the Council had a fleet of EVs for staff to use on journeys (instead of their own cars), it would save £ thousands in staff car allowances. Furthermore and most intriguingly, if electric cars are seen as mobile battery assets they could be used to sell power to the grid at premium rates.
Image the EV’s charged up overnight ready for Council journeys between 9am – 5pm, such as planning officers. With EV batteries getting better with longer ranges, with over 100 mile ranges, it could mean that there is a residual charge in the battery at the end of the day. Imagine now these EV cars are plugged in to discharge their remaining power to the grid.
Putting power back into the grid during the evening peak means the Council will be paid premium rates. Once peak hours are over, the cars can then be charged up again, using off peak power in the middle of the night at low cost, so that the EV’s will be fully charged ready for the next morning.
A key issue is the price of the EV cars. Clearly Havering Council acting on its own, will have little effect, but think if all London Borough’s grouped together to procure electric vehicles for their local fleets. If Havering took the lead and a consortuim of London Borough’s procured EVs together, they could achieve a massive discount on the cars.
EV’s bought at a discount, with revenue generated from putting power back into the grid, not only is good for the environment but makes for a great financial return.
- The Challenge of Popularism
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that politics has taken on a distinctly populist flavour. It could be argued that some populist opinion is, racist, sexist and myopic. Huge wealth accumulated by a few and the collapse of the economy, has allowed populist parties to widen cracks in society, through a combination of uncertainty, agitation and fear.
The populist approach to politics using phrases like: ‘standing up for the people against the elites’, and ‘the voice of the common man’, hand in hand with us being tired of ‘so-called experts’ gives power to the populist’s rhetoric, by identifying with the interests of the people.
So what do we do about it? What we need to do is to offer counter arguments to the populist challenge. We need to say, ‘We’ve got a better offer’.
Talk of the benefit of liberal institutions such as the separation of powers, the neutrality of state institutions, the defence of political pluralism and the freedom of speech, probably won’t cut it. However, we know we live well and in peace and prosperity, all things that liberal institutions have delivered.
We need to elevate arguments around the quality of life for society as a whole, the standard of living we all enjoy, our open, multi-cultural values delivered by our tolerant way of life. Democracy must defend itself in order to endure; it needs to deliver direct blows by continually countering populist charges. The suppression of knowledge and learned thinking is the last thing society needs in a time of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’.
The world has never needed us ‘liberals’ more than it does now. At our local level, we would like you to share your thoughts on how we can deliver the fightback. Please let us know.
Stay with us to ensure you are part of this and ensure a strong liberal legacy for future generations.
- Sharing the Benefits of the Energy Revolution
Renewable energy is now undoubtedly an essential part of our energy mix. Renewables accounted for 28.3% of our energy mix according to the government’s own figures (see Fuel mix disclosure data table). Indeed so familiar are we all now, of the surreal shapes of wind turbines and PV on roofs and fields within our borough.
So hats off then to Havering Council for looking at the feasibility of harnessing the power of the sun (to produce free electricity) by developing solar parks on council land. Further, if developed correctly the proposed solar parks will also have a positive impact over their 25 years, on local biodiversity by enhancing the habitat for a range of plant and animal species such as wild flowers, butterflies, bees and birds.
Headlines though; ‘Havering to make money from Solar Parks’ (Romford Recorder 02 August 2016), doesn’t sit well with our community ethic. If the Council wants to generate significant extra income for the borough by developing renewable energy options, why can’t the local community benefit from a sharing ownership of the solar park. After all its not the Council’s land, but our land held in trust by the council
Havering Council could not only lead the transition to cleaner energy sources that is happening around the UK but also play a critical role in empowering local people. Community ownership of solar farms not only produces clean energy but also real community benefit in the form of community contribution, interest and involvement.
We call on the Council to make the next step and allow community ownership of the solar parks that they are developing. Community ownership will not only offer a good return for local share holders but also add considerable local community benefit. Community owned solar parks would be a focal point for pride locally owned assets and funds generated could be reinvested in local energy efficiency schemes, enhancing the local environment, the well-being and safe guarding of our future.
National and Regional Liberal Democrat News
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