Mark's campaign notepad and other stuff

Notes from the writer/LibDem parliamentary candidate for Somerton & Frome

Election Day -18: Housing (Third in a series of four policy statements)

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In a fair society everyone should have the opportunity to have a decent home at a price they can afford. This is the Westminster Liberal Democrat vision for housing. To make this a reality, Liberal Democrats would bring 250,000 empty homes in England back into use through a grant and cheap loan scheme. This is an inexpensive, green alternative to building new homes that will lead to regenerated neighbourhoods.
The recession provided an opportunity to invest in more affordable homes so as to build a fairer society and a more sustainable economy. Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised 3 million new homes by 2020 to ease the housing crisis. Very little action has been taken to achieve this. Tory Mayor Boris Johnson promised to build Londoners 50,000 new affordable homes by 2011. He at least admits that this promise will not be kept!
In Westminster the average house price is a staggering £744,586, making it impossible for anyone to get on the housing ladder. Families on modest incomes are forced to pay exorbitant rents in often overcrowded conditions. The Council has promised to build a further 500 affordable homes over 4 years, but some 5,600 more homes are needed. Some regeneration programmes have been promised in the areas such as the Church Street neighbourhood and the Brunel estate, but the Council’s intentions remain unclear.
Westminster Liberal Democrats would look to bring some several thousand empty homes back into use, including over 400 council properties lying empty in the borough. We would undertake a major investment programme to insulate homes, making them warmer and more energy efficient, saving both the planet and the money in people’s pockets. Finally we would ensure that local residents have a key role in determining the housing needs for their area.

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Written by markblackburn

April 18, 2010 at 9:17 pm

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Election Day – 19: Transport (Second in a series of 4 policy statements)

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Liberal Democrats believe our transport system is too slow and expensive in getting us from ‘A’ to ‘B’. There is too much traffic on the roads, trains and tubes are expensive and overcrowded, and buses are too few and far between. Transport should be affordable and reliable so people can have a real choice about how to travel. That’s how we can cut pollution and make it easy for people to leave their car at home.

 

Our Tube system is a shambles, especially at weekends, with many lines and stations within the borough closed, and works over-running by unacceptable margins. We would hold London Underground and TfL to account, and ensure they give contractors the opportunity to do the work at the least inconvenience to the passenger.
Only the Liberal Democrats have costed plans to put the passenger first, with plans for a rail renaissance, reopening closed railway lines and new stations. We also want local people to have a say on bus fares and routes. We want to cut the number of lorries on our roads to reduce congestion and cut exhaust fumes.
Only the Liberal Democrats have been honest with the public about exactly how we will pay for our public transport improvements. Our Future Transport Fund will provide ring-fenced funding for the improvements that future generations need if we are to cut our carbon emissions. These plans will shift freight from road to rail, cut carbon, and improve mobility.
We will reverse Labour plans to expand Heathrow Airport and oppose Boris Johnson’s proposals for a new airport in the Thames Estuary. Unlike the Conservatives we oppose all airport expansion serving London and the South East and so would block expansion at Stansted and Gatwick as well.

The full party manifesto can be found here.

Written by markblackburn

April 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

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Election Day -20: The Health of the Nation (first in a series of 4 policy statements)

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Liberal Democrats believe passionately in the NHS. It represents values which unite us as a nation – a comprehensive health service, which treats all people equally, and is free when we need it.
We’ve all experienced moments in hospitals that change the course of our lives. Liberal Democrats know how important the NHS is and that’s why we will ensure that the NHS provides high quality care and the best possible service long into the future.

A lot of money has been invested in health in recent years but too much of that has been wasted on bureaucracy rather than investing in frontline services. Doctors and nurses are forced to spend too much time trying to meet government targets rather than caring for patients. And government ministers make decisions about closing local services from the comfort of their offices rather than facing the people it affects.
Locally, we will be keeping a close eye on the Imperial Healthcare NHS, which runs St Mary’s in Paddington as well four other hospitals, which has been criticised for blunders costing it £6 million.

Liberal Democrats believe that patients must come first and that services would improve if local people had a say in how the NHS is run.
We believe in fairness with entitlements to healthcare guaranteed. We believe access to personal care should be based on need not the ability to pay. We will scrap central targets and guarantee that you get your treatment on time. We will give people the power to stop hospital closures in their area through elected local health boards. And we will put doctors and nurses back in charge of their hospitals and wards.

The ‘Your Life’ section of the manifesto contains more detail of Liberal Democrat health policy.

Mark Blackburn
Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate, Westminster North

Written by markblackburn

April 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

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Election Day -21: The Leaders’ Debate

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What a display by Nick Clegg! I can barely cope with the new supporters and volunteers coming forward – but I will! In the meantime, I will be posting over the next four days key areas of Lib Dem policy and how this applies to Westminster, as is appearing in weekly editions of the Westminster Chronicle.

Written by markblackburn

April 16, 2010 at 10:57 am

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Election Day – 23: Westminster Council facing £50m lawsuit

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Mmm, been a bit remiss on the intended daily blogging. First we had a wedding in Italy to attend and then a general election seems to have been called! So been rather busy since I got back.

But the latest fiasco with Westminster’s mismanagement of its parking demands attention. I was appalled to see in the local papers that Westminster City Council face a £50million lawsuit over their messed-up tendering process for the Borough’s parking contract. I have been highly critical of the Council’s parking policies (see previous blogs), but this tops it all – if the Council were to lose this case, the sum of £50million would dwarf even the £17million at risk after their investment in Icelandic banks.

Also, if there really is £50million in lost profits at stake, then why is this being outsourced to foreign companies anyway? The obsession with outsourcing takes profits away from council tax payers, out of the local economy and puts the money in distant, private hands.

The Conservative monopoly over Westminster City Council’s gone on long enough, time for real change.

Written by markblackburn

April 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm

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Election Day -31: yes, ELECTION DAY -31!

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Looks like I was right then. Along with about half a million others…

Written by markblackburn

April 5, 2010 at 9:29 pm

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Election Day -32: Westminster Recycling – a Trashy Performance

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Westminster City Council makes a lot of noise about its recycling – it has promised to increase the amount of residents’ waste it recycles (Area Forums) and puffs up its own performance in its glossy Reporter magazine (paid for by us, the council tax payers) – “Westminster City Council …. celebrate the news that all residents will now benefit from a full recycling service”.

How disappointing then that Westminster’s been named and shamed in Parliament as one of the 21 local authorities during 2008-09 which didn’t meet its own target for recycling. Despite setting itself a very modest rate of 25% of waste to be recycled, it only managed a meagre 23.04%. Yet again Westminster, must do better.

(Thanks to Stuart B)

Written by markblackburn

April 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm

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