West Chesterton Liberal Democrats

Working for West Chesterton All Year Round since 1980

Huppert Takes Lead Role In Lib Dem Pre-Manifesto

Monday, September 15th, 2014 by Ian Manning

MP Julian Huppert has played a lead role in writing the Liberal Democrats’ pre-manifesto which will shape the party’s national campaign for next May’s General Election.

The pre-manifesto outlines the key issues that the party believes are crucial to Britain’s future success. They will be voted on by its members at the Lib Dem Autumn Conference in Glasgow next month.

Julian said: “This pre-manifesto gives a clear view of the issues that we believe are vital to make sure that everyone has a fair and equal chance in our society. We have achieved a great deal in this Parliament but there is still so much more we can do for the people of Cambridge and across the country as a whole.

“We have overturned 30 years of financial neglect in our schools, achieving an extra 23.2 million for Cambridgeshire and our pre-manifesto commits to a national fairer funding formula which would give our schools even more money.
“And we have invested in measures to give youngsters the best chance. Our Pupil Premium is helping disadvantaged youngsters keep up with their classmates and our younger children 15 hours a week of free nursery schooling. We would increase that even further to 20 hours in a new Parliament.

“We have also cut tax bills by £800 a year and lifted the poorest out of paying tax altogether; we would push that further to give workers back another £400, raising the threshold at which people start paying tax to £12,500. That’s a huge help for hard working families.

“We would also introduce a new Freedom Bill to protect citizens from excessive state powers and pass a Digital Bill of Rights. These Bills would make sure that the government would never have the power to intrude on anyone’s privacy as outlined in the so-called Snooper’s Charter that we killed off.”

Other proposals in the pre-manifesto include:

• Pushing forward with the Regional Growth Fund, which has already delivered 99,000 jobs with a £3.6 billion investment, to back growing businesses;

• A discounted bus pass for the under 21s so that they can afford to get to work or college. This would provide another boost for our young people following the success of the apprenticeship programme which has helped almost two million people;

• Cutting £50 from household energy bills and boosting competition among suppliers;

• Introducing a £250 Carers’ Bonus to give carers a proper break every year;

• Keeping house prices and rents affordable and boosting house building to 300,000 a year.

“Our economy is growing and more jobs are being created but there is so much more than needs to be done,” added Julian. “This pre-manifesto sets out those areas where we can make a difference.”

Area Committee changes reduce residents’ chance to have their say

Monday, July 14th, 2014 by Ian Manning

Cambridge Liberal Democrats fear sweeping changes to the City Council’s area committees could seriously reduce residents’ say in decision making.

 

The changes mean that the Labour ruling group intend to reduce the frequency of area committees by over 30 per cent a year.

 

Lib Dems fear this will severely impact on residents’ opportunities to hold their councillors to account.

 

Councillor Rod Cantrill said: “This is a backward step for the City Council. It will mean the loss of local decision making and more decisions will be taken behind closed doors in the Guildhall.

 

“Cllr Lewis Herbert, The leader of the Council indicated at the Council’s Annual Meeting that the Labour ruling group intended to ‘refresh’ Area Committees – this step highlights that the new ruling group intend to do the opposite and ‘suffocate’ Area Committees

 

“Area committees provide an environment for residents to speak without feeling intimidated which they sometimes feel when attending meetings at the Guildhall.”

 

Cllr Mike Pitt said: “Labour has wasted no time in making this move which will lessen residents’ involvement with the City Council. They have taken this decision without consulting residents who will be directly affected by these proposals.

 

“I hope that it is not a sign that Labour are being arrogant with the democratic power the residents of Cambridge have entrusted them with”

MANNING CALLS FOR OPEN THINKING ON COUNCIL TENDER

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Ian Manning
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For more info on open source, see: http://opensource.org/ Note: This site is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Open Source Initiative

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ian Manning is encouraging open source based tenders for the council’s future back end systems.

The move would build in flexibility and potentially save on expensive licence costs.

Cllr Manning, who represents Cambridge’s East Chesterton on the county council, became aware of the idea through his membership of the Local Government Shared Services (LGSS) joint committee which runs the council’s shared services collaboration with Northamptonshire.

Currently, the Councils in LGSS have several “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP) systems in place and are looking to upgrade and replace them all with one platform.

“It’s great that the organisation is consolidating its offering – which will take LGSS from strength to strength,” said Cllr Manning.

“I’m concerned about the overall cost of the current solution, and feel that open source alternatives could provide a better, cheaper, and more flexible alternative.”

Cllr Manning is spearheading the adoption of more open source software across the Council’s IT platforms, and is looking to hear from organisations that provide commercial level support for those systems.

Notes:

[1]  The tender can be found here:  http://www.sourcenorthamptonshire.co.uk/contracts/show/id/10097

[2]  Government policy encourages councils to adopt more open source software instead of commercial software

MINISTER CONGRATULATES HUPPERT’S “ROBUST CAMPAIGNING” AS SCHOOLS GET £20M BOOST

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Ian Manning

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has been congratulated in Parliament for his “robust campaigning” on extra funding for Cambridgeshire schools as it was announced that they will get an extra £20 million from next April.

Julian received praise from Schools Minister, David Laws who said that areas like Cambridge, which have seen an unfair amount of funding would receive the greatest boost.

Mr Laws’ congratulations came as Julian told Parliament that Cambridgeshire schools had been underfunded for 30 years and were “right at the bottom of the pile”.

“At last this government will do something about it where others haven’t,” said Julian, “and on behalf of all those campaigners, particularly the Schools Forum and the Cambridge News, which have campaigned for many years, thank you.

“Can I urge the Minister to make sure this actually happens?”

Mr Laws said: “I congratulate my honourable friend for being such a robust campaigner for these changes; hardly a week has gone by over the last few years when he hasn’t been lobbying me for fair funding for Cambridgeshire.

“I know there are schools within this county which are at the moment in vision distance of other schools in other authorities which are funded in a totally different way. That always was unfair and we are now addressing it.”

Julian, who has campaigned on this issue for over a decade, led a Westminster debate on the schools under-funding issue and has been pushing ministers to act, said the seven per cent increase was welcome news after schools suffered years of financial neglect under successive governments.

“The settlement is extremely welcome news because it means our schools will no longer be the lowest funded in the country,” he said. “Our children have been taught in schools that have been chronically short-changed for the last 30 years.

“There is no excuse for treating Cambridgeshire differently to other parts of the country. Our schools are doing a great job despite working against a backdrop of under-funding but they could do so much more for our children with a fairer settlement.”

Schools were receiving much less than the average – £600 per pupil per year less – putting them at the bottom of the nation’s financial league table.

The new settlement will give a two form entry primary school with 420 pupils an extra £275 per pupil per year from £3,950 to £4,225 That means the school will receive a total of £115,500 a year more.

There is now a consultation, and in a bid to make sure the extra funding happens Julian has launched a petition - http://bit.ly/CambsSchoolsFunding - calling on Mr Gove to implement the new settlement in full as quickly as possible.

The petition “Cambridgeshire schools deserve a fairer funding deal!” supports the extra funding and tells Mr Gove: “Please don’t leave our children short-changed any longer.”

Primary School admissions deadline: 15th Janruary

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 by Ian Manning

Parents:  if your child lives in, or is moving into Cambridgeshire, you will need to make an application through the Council for a school place at any maintained school, including academies.

If your child was born between 1 September 2009 and 31 August 2010, they are due to start primary school in September 2014 and you must apply for a school place by 15 January 2014. 

Full details are on the County Council’s website:

http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/childrenandfamilies/education/primary/apply-primary/

Lib Dems push for flexible working to witness the tour de france

Thursday, November 7th, 2013 by Ian Manning

Cambridgeshire Lib Dems want the county council to give their full-time staff flexible working to allow them to attend the Tour de France when it passes through Cambridge and South Cambs next summer.

As the race is due to visit the area on Monday, July 7, it could be difficult for full-time workers to take time off to watch.

Cambridgeshire County Council staff and managers should be given flexible arrangements to attend the event, they say. And they want the county council to encourage other businesses to do the same.

They have put forward their idea in a motion to the council recognising the “excellent working relationship” between the county council and Cambridge City Council which secured the third stage of the 2014 race for Cambridge and South Cambs.

Councillor Ian Manning, who represents Cambridge’s East Chesterton on the county council said: “This is a unique opportunity for the people of Cambridgeshire and it would be a real shame if they were to miss out on witnessing this historic event when flexible working could allow them to attend.

“I hope the county council and other businesses across Cambridgeshire will find ways to allow their staff to enjoy the event and be part of history in the making.”

Bike Revolution coming to a college near you

Friday, October 18th, 2013 by Amanda Taylor

Cambridgeshire County Council has teamed up with Ben Hayward Cycles of Cambridge and Outspoken to organize four ‘Bike Revolution’ events in sixth form colleges in Cambridgeshire, to promote safer cycling.

Students can take their bikes along for a free Dr Bike maintenance check and to get a set of discounted bike lights fitted. Other fun activities include pedalling your way to a fruit smoothie and competitions and challenges on bicycle related issues that aim to educate as well as entertain. Here is a picture of Harry, a Hills Road student, who kindly let me take a photo of him pedalling like fury to produce a delicious fruit smoothie.

The County’s Cycling Team was offering information and taking the opportunity to consult about the proposed improvements for the Perne/ Radegund Road roundabout, as well as canvassing for other suggestions of cycleways that needed improvement.

Next week, there will also be the chance to find out more about the 2014 Tour de France stage that is starting in Cambridge. Be outside the Senate House at 12 noon for an exciting announcement about the route!

Bike Revolution was at Hills Road VI Form College today, very busy. Next week it will be at Long Road on Tuesday and CRC on Thursday next week.

  • 16th October (10:30 – 13:30): Huntingdonshire Regional College
  • 18th October (11:00 – 14:00): Hills Road College
  • 22nd October (12:00 – 15:00): Long Road College
  • 24th October (11:00 – 14:00): Cambridge Regional College

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats: why we called in the Park & Ride charge introduction

Friday, September 13th, 2013 by Ian Manning
This week the Liberal Democrat group at Cambridgeshire County Council called in the Cabinet’s out-of-the-blue decision to introduce a £1 charge at the five Cambridge Park and Ride sites, on the grounds that there had been no public consultation, nor any assessment of potential adverse effects such as displaced parking in residential areas and a lower take-up of public and sustainable transport.
As a result the matter has now been debated by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by the Liberal Democrats, which in turn has recommended that Cabinet reconsider its decision.
Six key facts
1)  The Park and Ride facilities were designed to reduce traffic in Cambridge City, by encouraging people to ride buses and bicycles and leave their cars outside of town.
2)  The proposed parking charge would be on top of the bus fare, which is £2.40.
3)  Stagecoach pays £2 for each bus load that leaves Park and Ride. This ‘Departure Charge’ hasn’t risen since 2001, though the Stagecoach bus fare itself has gone up.
4)  The council is currently consulting the public on its flagship ‘Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire‘, which is geared to workable, sustainable transport networks in order to avoid costly gridlock congestion in and around Cambridge, as population rises.
5)  There has been no analysis of the use of the Park and Ride sites and their contribution to an integrated public transport network. Generally, it has been found that multi-ticketing on a single journey is a disincentive to using public transport.
6)  Coincidentally, the Guided Bus out-of-court settlement, which leaves the taxpayer with a £33 million bill, was announced a few days before the Park and Ride charging proposals were published. The parking charge proposals, which would raise £1 million per year, don’t apply to the Guided Bus Park and Ride facilities in St Ives and Longstanton.
If revenue needs to be raised from Park and Ride sites, we think the council should first be exploring retail options and looking at a greater contribution from the bus operator, which does well out of Park and Ride but is enjoying unchanged departure charges.

Julian Huppert: Why I voted against military intervention in Syria

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 by Ian Manning

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, writes:

“It is probably the most important decision an MP will ever make – should we take our country to war? It clearly has massive implications not only for those on the ground in the country under attack but also for the safety of our own military personnel and ultimately our own people.

There is no denying that the situation in Syria is absolutely horrific. Civilians are suffering almost daily atrocities. It is one of the worst humanitarian disasters, with around two million refugees. The use of chemical weapons on a civilian population has been terrifying.

But I am not convinced that going in unilaterally and launching a military attack would have been the right approach. Is it up to us to act as global police, without international agreement?

How could we take this course of action when it was certainly not obvious that bombing Syria would have prevented further use of chemical weapons or made life better for its people? Our action could have made things considerably worse, especially if we killed civilians ourselves. And there was always the risk that Britain’s involvement could lead to retaliatory action on the ground. That’s why I voted against the military intervention, to stop this happening.

I was pleased that both the government motion and the very similar Labour alternative failed. Both of them led on a path that would lead to military intervention without international approval, and both were dangerous. Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband treated the UN as a sideshow, making the same mistake that Tony Blair and Labour made over the Iraq war. 

The most important thing now is that Britain puts every possible effort into diplomatic attempts to end the civil war and, in particular, the use of chemical weapons. Bombing Syria is not the answer – ending the conflict is the way to go. “

Manning fights to give residents a greater say

Thursday, June 20th, 2013 by Ian Manning

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Manning wants to give residents a greater say by changing the rules governing petitions and public questions.

He claims the present rule, which mean petitions have to have at least 15,130 signatures before they can trigger a debate by Cambridgeshire County Council members, is stifling democracy.

Cllr Manning, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Resources wants the signature threshold lowered to 3,000 to promote open local government.

And members of the public raising questions in the council chamber should be entitled to a direct reply from a member rather than the promise of a written response he said.

“Since the rules were put in place restricting debate only on those petitions carrying 15,130 signatures or more there has never been a debate triggered by a petition,” he said.  

“How can this be good for democracy and open local government?

“When residents feel so strongly about an issue that they take time to collect thousands of signatures or raise a question in the council chamber we should be listening to what they have to say. Instead they don’t get a direct response from any member but the promise of a written one instead.

“Government guidance says that the number of petition signatures required should encourage rather than discourage petitions, but the system we have in place had done completely the opposite and needs changing.”

Cllr Manning is putting a motion to the full county council meeting on July 16 to change the rules.

When a member of the public raises a question, he wants the political party group leader or nominated party member to make a statement, of no more than 2 minutes, on their party’s response and all these responses to be published on the county council’s website.

The full motion reads as follows: 

This council notes:

 • The current procedures for public questions or petitions allows a member of the public to address the chamber but does not require a direct reply from any members, other than to commit to a written response

 • a threshold of 15,130 petition signatures is required to trigger a debate of an issue in council & no petition has reached this threshold since the rules were put in place

This council believes:

• These procedures are unsatisfactory for many petitioners or questioners, who have spent a long time collecting signatures, often speak passionately and expect rather more than to be told a response will be given in writing

• Further, it is unsatisfactory given the desire for more open local Government as the response is not published

• given that government guidance suggests the number of signatures required should encourage rather than discourage petitions, the current system is unsatisfactory.

Therefore this council will:

Change the current procedure & make the resulting changes to the constitution and/or standing orders such that:

• This council resolves to change the threshold of signatures on a petition required to trigger a debate to 3,000 signatures

• For public questions, each Group Leader, or nominated member from their party, will make a statement, of no more than 2 minutes, on their party’s response to the questioner(s), and all these responses will be published on the Council’s website

• Council authorises the monitoring officer to make any necessary amendments to the Constitution to implement these changes.

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