Lib Dem manifesto - one thing you should know

Today we launched the fully-costed Lib Dem election Manifesto - here it is!

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CarlGroup.jpgThe one thing? We think this is a manifesto that puts freedom and opportunity at its heart.

We think the highlights are:

  •     Extra investment for apprenticeships
  •     £7bn more for education - key to boosting opportunities in life
  •     A plan to help more people own their own homes through rent-to-buy.

But don't take our word for it, have a look yourself here.

We know that Labour and Conservative plans just don't stack up because they're leading us to a hard Brexit. Nothing is more important to our children’s future than Brexit.

A bad Brexit deal, with Britain outside the Single Market, will damage that future for our children. We must support the trade, jobs and taxes that keep our health and social care systems running.

We'd love to hear what you think about our manifesto, drop us a line at hello@mertonlibdems.org.uk. And if you can help us fight for this, please sign up to the campaign here.


Lib Dems will invest nearly £29 million to protect school funding across our area

The Liberal Democrats have announced they will invest £28,919,151 more in schools and colleges in Merton over the next parliament.

The funding would reverse cuts to front-line school and college budgets, protect per pupil funding in real terms and ensure no school loses out from changes to funding arrangements.

£1.2 million of the funding would be spent on protecting the Pupil Premium, introduced by the Liberal Democrats to support schools in helping children from the least well-off families.

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60 young people in Merton stripped of housing benefit

At least 20 young people in Wimbledon, and double that number in Mitcham & Morden, will be affected by the Conservative Government’s decision to strip 18-21 year olds of housing benefit, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has shown.

In total 18,000 young people across the country expected to be affected. The Liberal Democrats have committed to reverse the cuts, which came into force at the beginning of April.

As anyone walking through Wimbledon will testify, Merton is already suffering from increasing levels of homelessness, with official figures showing that the number of rough sleepers in the borough almost doubled in 2016. Charities have warned that stripping 18-21 year-olds of housing benefits could push more young people onto the streets while research has shown it is likely to cost taxpayers more than it saves.

Wimbledon's Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Carl Quilliam commented:

"The heartless decision to strip under-21s of housing benefit risks pushing young people in Wimbledon onto the streets.

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Will there be a Labour General Election candidate in Wimbledon?

Eu_Sat.jpgLabour has no Wimbledon candidate with just a few weeks until the General Election.

Labour has yet to find anyone willing to stand in Wimbledon with the General Election just weeks away. The news has been revealed by the Liberal Democrats, who say that it shows Labour has “given up”, even in seats like Wimbledon, where it has previously had an MP.
 
There are over 340 constituencies Labour has still not selected for in England, including 28 in London.

In contrast the Liberal Democrats have selected 92% of their candidates in England.
 
Liberal Democrat candidate Carl Quilliam said:  
 

“It seems that Labour have simply given up on places like Wimbledon.

“This election is now clearly a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats and the hard Brexit Conservatives.

“Labour claimed to be prepared for a General Election, but many of their approved candidates are simply refusing to run under Jeremy Corbyn's banner. Labour's candidate in Wimbledon for the last two elections told The Guardian newspaper: "It is obvious from my experience that the policies espoused by Jeremy Corbyn only appeal to a small minority of the electorate." I agree with him!

“By backing the Tories on Brexit, making the UK poorer, Labour are letting us down on the NHS, local services and education.
 
“Every Government needs to be held to account and the Liberal Democrats are the real voice of opposition - nationally and here in Merton.
 
“If you want to ensure our country has a real opposition, the Liberal Democrats are the only choice in Wimbledon."


A chance for Merton's voters to prevent a hard Brexit

key_Claire_Mathys___Carl_Quilliam.jpgIn a joint statement, the Lib Dem parliamentary team for Wimbledon and Mitcham & Morden have said that only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a hard Brexit and protect the local economy.

The Prime Minister today [Tuesday] called a snap General Election to be held on the 8th June.

The Liberal Democrats are standing on a clear platform to prevent a hard Brexit by staying in the Single Market, and to give the British people the final say on the Brexit deal through a referendum.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Wimbledon, Carl Quilliam commented:

“This election is a huge opportunity for voters in Merton to change the direction of our country and prevent a disastrous hard Brexit.

“People across Merton - and Wimbledon particularly - voted decisively to remain in the EU. They certainly did not vote for the extreme form of Brexit that Theresa May has imposed on us after being backed by Labour. The amazing Lib Dem victory in the Richmond Park by-election in December shows that people do not want this and will vote against it.

“In Wimbledon, our Conservative MP has left his "Remain" voting constituents voiceless - voting against our membership of the Single Market & against the rights of EU citizens living & working here.

"The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Hard Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united."

Claire Mathys, Parliamentary spokesperson for Mitcham & Morden added:

“For all those who want to protect our local economy by staying in the Single Market and ensure the people have the final say over what comes next, this is your chance.

"Britain needs an Opposition that will really stand up to the Tories. Labour is simply not up to the job."

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Parking permit renewals and the diesel levy

Because of the new scheme for charging diesel owners more for their parking permits (the diesel levy), Merton Council is asking existing permit holders to follow the “new application” process when renewing their permits after 1 April 2017.

This is so they can re-check proof of ownership documents. New applications attract normally a £25 administration fee, but you shouldn’t have to pay this if you’re renewing.

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New Merton housing company will miss 40% affordable housing target

Merton' Labour administration has released details of their proposal to set up a housing development company, which will be discussed Wednesday's Council meeting.

Despite the desperate need for cheaper housing in the borough, and Merton's stated 40% target for affordable housing, the Council are not proposing to meet their own target with their own housing company. Merton’s social housing stock is already amongst the lowest in London at around 14% of all homes in the borough and there are nearly 9,000 households currently on the housing waiting list.

Instead, the proposals for the first 4 development sites list only 26% of them will be affordable. This is because Merton Council are trying to maximise income, and so are proposing to lend money to the housing company at 3-4.5% more than their own borrowing costs – making the Council a profit but cutting the new company’s ability to build affordable homes.

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A world free of nuclear weapons (Mar 2017)

Let's Talk Merton is our monthly informal political discussion, which takes place on the 2nd Monday of the month.

In March, the theme was a world free of nuclear weapons - and the future of Trident. See below for the full review of the meeting.

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The Brexit challenges facing the creative industries

The Liberal Democrats have published a paper setting out the challenges facing the UK’s creative industries as a result of Brexit.

The Power of Creativity and Brexit paints a testing picture for the industry, with potentially huge impacts from changes to freedom of movement, loss of investment and funding and less access to markets after Brexit.

The creative industries are of huge importance to Britain’s economy - the music industry alone contributes £3.8bn to the economy.

The value of exports to the EU across the creative industries is £19.8bn, and these products are not fully covered by WTO rules - a future option the government has failed to rule out.

6.1% of the creative industries workforce and 10% of the design, publishing and advertising workforce are EU (non-British) nationals.  Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond has consistently refused to back guarantees for EU citizens rights after Brexit.

Baroness Bonham-Carter, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport said: “Liberal Democrats have always been proud to back the fantastic creative companies and individuals who are based in Britain. We will stand up for them as the government pursues a hard-Brexit that poses a real risk to their future prosperity. The Government have rightly recognised the impact of changes to market access for banks and financial services but they must think about other industries and sectors too."

Read the creative industries paper here.


New franchise awarded for South West Trains

The government have recently announced the award of a new franchise for South West Trains, to commence on 20th August 2017 and run for the next 7 years.

As part of this contract, the franchisee will have set targets for improving passenger satisfaction with stations.  Raynes Park and Motspur Park stations are, unfortunately, not specifically mentioned for improved access.  However, an annual £2.6 million fund will be available for improvements to facilities and services from 2020, and local campaigners will continue to push for improving accessibility to our stations as soon as possible.


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