Councillor Liz Smith: Latest

Liz Smith has been a Liberal Democrat councillor for Claines for many years and it will have come as a shock to many to hear of the spinal stroke she suffered at the Cap N Gown pub on Monday 9th March just before she was about to take part in a hustings. 

She was unfortunately paralysed for the waist down and remains at Oswestry hospital but has sent her best wishes to Claines residents and to the many who have sent messages.

She says:

“I would like to say thank you to the very many people across the city who have wished me well, and I hope to be back in Worcester in a few weeks”

She remains in good spirits and has sent us the picture below

Liz in Oswestry

If you wish to send her a message, do get in touch.

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5 Key Questions: Federica Smith to the Worcester News

Here, the Lib Dem PPC for Worcester Federica Smith answers 5 key questions put to her by readers of the Worcester News:

How do we solve the city’s congestion problems?

I am surprised that, with the population of the city and with it being served by two motorway junctions and various main roads (including bus lanes) running through it, the city currently has no large-scale park and ride scheme in operation.

In order to change people’s habit and lifestyle, public transport needs to be accessible, including in financial terms, and operate seven days a week for long hours with commuters being able to park out of town.

Congestion is also apparent during the school run, so improved and subsidised transport to schools could also assist in alleviating the problem.

Reopening of the Perdiswell Park and Ride scheme would look to alleviate the commuter and visitor-caused congestion, though other initiatives need to be implemented, including better cycle routes and cycle storage facilities to allow a sustainable alternative.

What is your biggest concern for Worcester?

The biggest concern that I see for Worcester is the large- scale developments planned without the necessary infrastructure to support them.

By implementing mass housing development without holistically looking at the whole picture and the impact that this has on services (traffic, schools, healthcare services, etc), this development will have a detrimental impact on the current residents.

While housing will increase the population and look to grow the local economy, and while bearing in mind that there are areas for commercial development within the plan, one must be wary that the city does not become sedentary and just a commuter development for other cities, e.g. Bristol, Birmingham.

The city should be proud of its heritage and what its individual selling point is.

It should attract business to the area so that jobs are created in the city, and it should develop the high street so that it has a unique selling point with a mixture of national retail and independent shops.

All this would allow the city to thrive.

Is the answer to Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s challenges an upgrade of A&E?

The staff at A&E are doing the best job that they can do in a building that was never designed to see the number of patients that are currently using the facilities.

An upgrade of A&E is only part of the answer, but would help to alleviate the strains that are currently being faced.

However, this needs to go hand in hand with other healthcare initiatives around the city and surrounding region.

Investments in GP surgeries, so more unsocial hours are covered so that individuals can see their GP for minor ailments, and minor injuries facilities in locations throughout the city would both assist in helping to tackle the challenges.

Is it worth campaigning over Worcester’s Northern Link Road?

The development of the Northern Link Road is estimated to cost more than £100 million and it has to be considered whether the cost of implementing such a scheme would alleviate the problems of congestion and would it be the best use of such a large sum of money.

For this reason, I support the current emphasis on improving the southern bypass first.

A Northern Link Road would impact many people’s lives, cutting through large swathes of land, altering the countryside surrounding the city and having an impact on the environment.

All of this would, of course, need to be weighed up against what it is ultimately trying to achieve.

Is there – and should there be – an alternative to the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP)?

Any development plan will have contentious issues in it for the residents directly affected.

However, a plan needs to be in place so developers are not completely left to their own control and not allowed to build just anywhere, and so that the growth of the city is managed from a bird’s eye view, with infrastructure put in place to support it.

Article taken from Worcester News

For more info on the Liberal Democrats locally and nationally follow us on twitter @worcesterlibs and on Facebook – the page is Worcester Liberal Democrats

Greens Don’t Care About Congestion In Worcester

There is no doubt that one of the biggest problems Worcester faces in the coming years is congestion.

With many new housing developments such as the Grove Farm development to the west of the city, the new properties on the former site of Worcester City’s St Georges’s Lane or the controversial Gwillams Farm development in Claines it is clear that the problem is going to get worse and not better.

On top of this, Worcester has an incredibly antiquated road system with little room for road widening projects or new roads to be built in the centre. Many solutions have come up over the years. These include:

1) Duelling the Southern Link Road

2) Building a New Bridge

3) Completing the Northern Link Road.

Whilst 2 and 3 would be fantastic for the city and do a lot to address the issue, in the current economic climate with cuts to local authorities it is not plausible for the time being.

The possibility of duelling the southern link road however has seen some progress. There is a proposal for a £70 million investment into the project which would see it come to fruition.

Whilst this is blatant pork-barrel politics from a Worcester Conservative party who were struggling in the local polls at the time, it is none the less a welcome announcement and has seen a cross-party consensus develop between all parties – except the Greens.

On Monday at the Cap N Gown Hustings, Green Party PPC for Worcester Louis Stephen said that the money could be ‘better spent elsewhere’.

Whilst I agree that the project will not solve the city’s congestion problems entirely as some are suggesting, it is no doubt a part of it and a move in the right direction. It seems as thought the Greens are simply disagreeing with everyone else for the sake of it – so they seem different to what they call the ‘indistinguishable’ Westminster parties.

If we are to solve our congestion problems, we need to come up with a long term approach that involves all three of the points mentioned earlier. Of course two of them are currently unfeasible but that does not mean that they will remain so in the future.

Mr Stephen is right when he says public transport needs to be beefed up and the closure of the Perdiswell Park and Ride was a mistake but this cannot be the only solution. If we are to really address the issue we need to have multiple projects planned over the long term as one project alone cannot do so.

Liberal Democrat Disability Manifesto

Below is an article taken from the BBC News website about the launch of new funds helping carers, some of the hardest working people in our society. 

The Liberal Democrats will launch a disability manifesto on Thursday pledging a £150m support package for carers.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will promise a raft of benefits for carers including a £250 holiday bonus.

One in eight adults across England and Wales provide unpaid care for family or friends, official figures show.

Mr Clegg said more must be done to reward the “unsung heroes of British society”.

Other measures to be announced at the launch in Brecon, Powys, include increasing from £110 per week to £150 the amount people can earn without losing their carer’s allowance.

Under the plan, the NHS will have a legal duty to identify carers and a new “carer’s passport” will offer privileges such as free hospital parking, gym sessions and cinema tickets.

The party would also consult with businesses to offer five days’ paid “care leave” a year.

The annual holiday bonus would start at £125 in 2017/18 and would be paid for by a levy on tobacco firms’ profits. It would rise to £250 by 2020 in line with economic growth.

The money is aimed at easing costs for people looking after family members needing weekly support of 35 hours or more.

The Lib Dems expect the measures to benefit more than a million people, costing the government £150m a year in 2017-18, rising to £300m a year by 2020.

Mr Clegg said: “More needs to be done to help carers get the support they deserve.”

He added: “Our new £150 million Carer’s Package will ensure society pays back the service that carers give to their loved ones and the community”.

For more on the Worcester Liberal Democrats follow us on twitter @worcesterlibs and on Facebook – the page is Worcester Liberal Democrats.

Q and A with Federica Smith, Liberal Democrat PPC for Worcester

Here is the second of our Q and A’s with our local and national candidates for the upcoming 2015 elections. Here Federica Smith tells us a bit about herself and why she is a Liberal Democrat

Federica

1. When and why did you become a Lib Dem?
I have been an activist in the party for over 15 years, firstly assisting my mum with delivery and telling and then I undertook my work experience with Jackie Ballard (MP for Taunton at the time). Since then I have continued to help the party through all manner of differing roles and joined officially whilst at University.  In looking at why i became a Lib Dem, its something i have always felt that I am, I share the common values of the party in looking to want to help all people in society and make the country a better place. It is just something that I am rather than what I have become and feels a natural part of me.
2. Which Lib Dem policy is most important to you?
I genuinely believe in all of our policies however if i were to pick one, i would say that it is our early years funding policy that is most important to me. Even before I had children, i have always valued the education that our state schools provide and the role that a good education has for being successful and given each child the opportunity to reach their own individual potential. However it is our early years funding that goes that further step by looking to help our children achieve what is required ready for when they start primary school, it is looking to provide every child regardless of their background, the same opportunity though given funding to the most disadvantaged children, where research has shown, have fallen behind by the time they start school. This in a generation will look to further Britain’s success by more of our children reaching their own potential and giving them a positive start to their learning experience.
3. What do you like about the Worcester constituency?
In the several visits that i have had to the constituency since being selected, I am impressed by the political engagement of the residents and organisations within the city along with the interest that the media play. This ensures that more residents have the chance to interact with the candidates and form opinions on the individuals that would like to represent them.
The city itself is beautiful and I am enjoying learning about its rich history. It has many attributes to celebrate with a dynamic and prosperous shopping facilities in the centre with a lovely mix of chains and independent stores (Something i enjoy doing in my spare time), great leisure and sports facilities and lovely countryside nearby and green spaces to relax in
It feels very much like where i grew up with a slightly bigger and more economically successful centre yet still warm and inviting with great character.
4. What will you do if you are elected?
If I were elected, i would firstly want to meet more of the residents of the city as my priority is being an approachable MP that listens but also takes action.
I would look to attend as many events as I can, supporting residents, organisations, schools and businesses within the city as well as looking to represent you in parliament, ensuring that the voice of the city is heard in London.
For more info on the Liberal Democrats locally and nationally follow us on twitter @worcesterlibs and on facebook – the page is Worcester Liberal Democrats

Q and A with Mel Allcott – City Council Candidate for Claines Ward

The deadline for election nomination passed last Thursday and Claines resident Melanie Allcott was confirmed as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the ward.

Below is a Q and A about why she got involved with her local Liberal Democrat party and why wants to make a difference in her area.

1. When and why did you become a Lib Dem?  
A supporter of the Liberal Democrat Party for some time I became a member in 2010.  I joined to participate in a fair, sensible and well balanced party, offering a real alternative to the extremes of the right and left.  Unable to trust the Labour Party with the economy or the Conservative party with Health or Education, I knew the Liberal Democrat Party was the right for me.
2. Which Lib Dem policy is most important to you?
The most important policy to me is A Stronger Economy in a Fairer Society.  A sustainable and balanced economy is key to the success of the United Kingdom; we need to create job opportunities for all, within both the Public and Private sector.  The 2010 Liberal Democrat policy of increasing the Personal Tax allowance, has been a real success, delivering an actual tax cut, for millions.  The Liberal Democrat manifesto plans to further build on this, increasing the allowance from £10,600 to £12,500, by the end of the next parliament.
3. What do you like about the Claines Ward?
Claines is a delightful ward to live in.  Both urban and rural, it has a unique feel, benefitting from a range of public and private facilities and important green spaces.  There is a real sense of community here. Residents are kind, thoughtful and always prepared to help each other out.  I love the way I can look out of my front window and see either someone I know walk by, a car drive by or a couple of horses and their riders trot by!
4. What will you do if you are elected?
I want to keep Claines the delightful unique, pleasant and safe area that it is, for current and future generations.
I will work hard to preserve both the Green Belt and the green open spaces.  The Green Belt to the North of Worcester is in place, to maintain the rural environment around the edge of city, preventing urban sprawl with other nearby towns and cities.  Green spaces include areas such as The Lodge on Northwick Road.
I will object to speculative development where existing infrastructure and services are not in place, to meet the increased demand.  It is important that development follows a structured, realistic plan, to meet the needs of new and existing residents.  The South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) is the relevant planning document to Claines Ward, covering all areas of Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council and Malvern Hill District Council.
Thinking about sport and recreation, I will support both the provision of a new swimming pool plus a move back home, for Worcester City Football Club.  Gheluvelt Park has been much improved over the years and is a real asset to the area, enjoyed by many, I will support the continued good upkeep plus further enhancements to the park.
In terms of employment and infrastructure I will support local apprenticeships and employment opportunities within the area, also looking to improve and maintain the condition of footpaths and roads as necessary.
A genuine, local resident, I will be on hand, to help residents as required.
If you would like more information on our candidates and the Liberal Democrats both locally and nationally, you can follow us on twitter @worcesterlibs and on Facebook – the page is entitled ‘Worcester Liberal Democrats.

Letter to Worcester News – Published March 2015

Below is a letter published on the Worcester News website a couple of weeks ago. Written by Adam Warner it highlights the positive contribution made to government by the Liberal Democrats.

The Conservatives don’t seem too keen to promote their record in government – hence the highly negative campaign. Liberal Democrats are proud of their record in government and will continue to highlight this over the course of our positive general election campaign.

Sir – Over the last government, the Liberal Democrats have been much maligned. The coalition with the Conservatives and the tuition fees saga has damaged the party’s reputation. However, it cannot be denied that they’ve made a worthwhile contribution over the last 5 years.

Only now are we seeing the true extent of the Tory’s plans. £30bn of cuts; £13bn of which from welfare will do unnecessary damage to those most vulnerable. This would have happened already had it not been for the Lib Dems, anchoring Cameron and Osborne to a more central position.

Additionally, the party have punched above their weight in terms of passing legislation. With only 9% of the seats in the legislature you would think it would be a small percentage of Lib Dem policies becoming law.

Not so – from the pupil premium to raising the tax threshold for the lowest earners and ensuring equal funding for mental health, the Lib Dems have done well.

Some of these are long-term policies – ones of which we shall bear the fruit of in years to come, but for me a moderating influence in Britain is required. That is why the Lib Dems should be given a chance in May.

Follow us on twitter @worcesterlibs and like our facebook page – Worcester Liberal Democrats.