Further to Merton Council's announcement: "New parking charges for a new decade set to reduce pollution in Merton."
Speaking in response to the above announcement, Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Anthony Fairclough said: "None of the evidence presented by the Council supports their claims that the proposals will actually improve air quality.
"The scheme looks like it’s purely about raising revenue, mainly targeted at people who live in areas that don’t tend to elect Labour councillors – Wimbledon and Raynes Park – where the new charges will be highest.
"Instead we want them to look seriously at schemes where the worst polluting vehicles pay more, where support is given to help people change to greener vehicles, and where other positive action is also taken to improve air quality.
"Furthermore, in August the Council's plans were knocked back by a cross-party committee of councillors due to a failure to follow proper equalities procedures. It was identified that there had been a failure to consult with groups representing people with disabilities, pregnant women and those who’ve just given birth, and those on low incomes - over the potentially disproportionate impact of the plans on these groups. Sadly, despite this Labour Council bosses are still pushing on."
Almost 5,000 Merton businesses have closed in past three years.
Figures released by the Liberal Democrats today on Small Business Saturday (Saturday 7 December) have revealed that 4,715 Merton businesses closed over the last three years, in the clearest sign yet of a Brexit hit to local high streets.
The rate of business closures in the borough has spiked since the 2016 EU referendum, with 29% more closures in the three years between 2016 and 2018 than in the preceding three years.
Across the UK one million businesses have closed their doors between 2016 and 2018, an increase of almost a third compared to 2013-2015.
The Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon, Paul Kohler, has blasted the Conservatives for their failure to protect local businesses. “These figures are a damning indictment of the Conservative Party’s attitude towards local businesses”, said Paul Kohler.
Local Lib Dem Paul Kohler is running to be the next MP for Wimbledon.
This election is Wimbledon’s chance to stop Brexit and address the real issues facing our country.
Paul Kohler saved Wimbledon Police Station when others said it was impossible. Now he wants to stop Brexit, and tackle the issues that caused it.
Recent polling by Deltapoll and featured in the Observer shows that Wimbledon is a two horse race between the Conservative candidate and local Lib Dem Paul Kohler. Labour are way back in third place and cannot win here.
There is only one candidate in Wimbledon who will commit to stopping Brexit and backing Remain in all circumstances.
The Green Party has chosen to step aside in Wimbledon as part of an agreement in which Paul Kohler was designated by the cross-party Unite to Remain group as the remain champion in Wimbledon.
The former Green Party candidate for Wimbledon, Sonja Timpson, has endorsed Paul’s campaign:
With Wimbledon set to be a key battleground at this election a number of tactical voting groups are recommending a vote for Paul Kohler and the Lib Dems as the best chance of beating the Conservatives and ensuring that Wimbledon has a Remain MP.
Among the groups recommending a vote for Paul are:
Best for Britain
Wimbledon is currently a two horse race between Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and local Lib Dem Paul Kohler. Only Paul can beat the Conservatives here and ensure that Wimbledon has an MP who will stop Brexit.
Want to help Paul Kohler win in Wimbledon on 12 December? Join his campaign today.
The former Labour Councillor for Cannon Hill, Mark Kenny, has announced that he has defected to the Lib Dems and endorsed Paul Kohler’s campaign to be the next MP for Wimbledon.
Mr Kenny resigned as a Labour councillor in May this year. In the by-election held to choose his successor the Lib Dems won an historic victory, with local champion Jenifer Gould overtaking both the Conservatives and Labour to win.
Mr Kenny cited the Lib Dems’ unequivocally anti-Brexit stance and Paul Kohler’s reputation as a hard-working and effective local champion as key factors in his decision.
“Having seen Paul at work as a Merton councillor I know he will be a fine MP for Wimbledon working for the benefit of us all”, said Mark Kenny. “His spearheading of the successful campaign to keep Wimbledon police station open displayed many of his qualities: his hard work and attention to detail, his persistence and his determination not to give up.
“I have the utmost respect for him as a person of honesty and integrity and fully endorse his campaign to become our Liberal Democrat MP.”
“I know it isn’t easy to turn your back on your old party, but at this election we are seeing huge numbers of former Labour and Conservative voters coming over to the Lib Dems - not just because we are the only Remain party standing in Wimbledon, but because we are putting forward real solutions to Britain's most pressing problems”, said Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler. “I want to thank Mark for his brave decision and his generous endorsement.
“Recent polling shows that the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can beat Boris Johnson’s Conservatives here in Wimbledon - Labour are simply too far behind.
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and tackle the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency. I hope more people will follow Mark’s example and back me so that Wimbledon can have the strong pro-EU, anti-Brexit voice in Parliament it deserves.”
Mark Kenny’s endorsement comes on the back of Paul Kohler’s selection by cross-party anti-Brexit campaigning group Unite to Remain as the official ‘Remain Alliance’ candidate in Wimbledon. As part of the agreement the local Green Party stood aside in Wimbledon, while the former Green Party candidate Sonja Timpson has given her backing to Mr Kohler.
“I am stepping aside as Green Party parliamentary candidate in Wimbledon as I would like to be able to give voters a clear choice between a Remain candidate and candidates whose parties are either pro-Brexit or unclear in their position”, said Sonja Timpson.
“I will be voting for Paul Kohler because of our parties’ shared commitment to Europe and to voting reform, and also because I feel that this is our best chance of squashing any potential Tory majority.”
Want to help Paul Kohler win in Wimbledon on 12 December? Join his campaign today.
The first specific poll of voters in Wimbledon shows a two horse race here, with the Conservatives holding the slimmest of leads over local Lib Dem, Paul Kohler.
It shows that 38% of Wimbledon residents said they would vote Conservative, with 36% currently intending to vote Lib Dem. The Labour Party are trailing in third place.
The poll was conducted by Deltapoll and paid for by non-party aligned individuals to provide objective data for the constituency.
“This poll reflects everything we’ve been hearing on the doorstep”, said Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler. “Former Labour and Conservative voters are coming over to the Lib Dems in droves - not just because we're the largest anti Brexit party, but because we are putting forward real solutions to Britain's' most pressing problems.
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and tackle the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency. Wimbledon deserves an MP who will stand up for the rights of EU citizens and fight for Britain’s place in the EU.
Local Lib Dems have welcomed the decision of the Green Party to stand aside at this election.
The cross-party anti-Brexit campaigning group Unite to Remain, will endorse the Lib Dem candidate Paul Kohler as the champion for anti-Brexit voters in Wimbledon. As part of the agreement the Green Party will not field its own candidate.
The announcement spells trouble for Wimbledon’s incumbent Conservative MP Stephen Hammond. Recent projections by the Best for Britain group predict a tight race in Wimbledon between the Liberal Democrats, who are pledging to ‘Stop Brexit’, and the pro-Brexit Conservatives.
Speaking following the announcement, Cllr Paul Kohler said:
“This election is our chance to stop Brexit and address the real issues facing our country, such as the climate emergency.
“Wimbledon’s current MP voted for Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit deal and has repeatedly refused to give his constituents, who are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit, an opportunity to have the final say.
“As the official Remain Alliance candidate in Wimbledon I am best placed to beat him and ensure Wimbledon has a Remainer MP that it deserves.
“I am grateful to the Merton Greens for standing aside in this election”, Cllr Kohler added. “We share a determination to end the catastrophe of Brexit and a strong commitment to protecting our precious planet from the damage being done by climate change, and with the support of local people I can win Wimbledon and stop Brexit.”
Sonja Timpson, the Green Party’s former candidate for Wimbledon, said:
“I am stepping aside as Green Party parliamentary candidate in Wimbledon as I would like to be able to give voters a clear choice between a Remain candidate and candidates whose parties are either pro-Brexit or unclear in their position.
“I will be voting for Paul Kohler because of our parties’ shared commitment to Europe and to voting reform, and also because I feel that this is our best chance of squashing any potential Tory majority.
“Merton Green Party is a growing force and we have worked hard over recent years to promote affordable housing, to highlight the problems with outsourcing and to tackle the ongoing litter problem in the borough. Our members are active in a number of local environmental groups and we played a key role in persuading the council to pass a cross-party motion to declare a Climate Emergency. We trust that Paul Kohler will look at prioritising some of these issues as Wimbledon’s Member of Parliament.”
Liberal Democrat candidates Sarah Olney, Munira Wilson, Ed Davey and Paul Kohler are writing to the South Western Railway and the RMT rail union to demand that they stop the planned strikes immediately.
Members of the RMT will walk out for 27 days throughout December, causing chaos to commuters, to businesses and to people travelling for Christmas.
Following reports that more than half of the 25,000 EU nationals living in Merton have not yet been given settled status - while around a third nationally have had their applications rejected - the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon, Cllr Paul Kohler, slammed the government for refusing to guarantee every EU citizen’s right to stay in the UK after Brexit.
“I am extremely concerned for the thousands of EU citizens here in Merton who are facing uncertainty over their futures, and I fully support Merton Council’s efforts in urging all EU nationals to apply for settled status as soon as possible.
“However, there is no point ignoring the real issue here: this Conservative Government is actively making it as difficult as possible for EU citizens who have made their homes here to stay.
“This is a callous act from an immoral government, and one which runs totally contrary to Britain’s liberal values of openness to all.
“As it stands thousands of people here in Merton - some of whom have lived in the borough for decades, raised families here and made significant contributions to their local communities - could find themselves at risk of being told to leave the UK as a direct result of this government’s actions.
“I call on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do the decent thing and immediately guarantee every single EU citizen’s right to remain in the UK.”
A meeting of Merton council last month passed a Merton Liberal Democrat motion to cut engine idling to promote cleaner air.
The Liberal Democrat motion, which was passed unanimously, aims to improve air quality in the borough by introducing `No Idling' zones, particularly near schools.
Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Kohler, said:
"Cutting air pollution is a public health issue, as well as an environmental one. Evidence shows that air pollution has links to various health conditions, and shorter life expectancy. That's why we must improve air quality in the borough, particularly round local schools.
"I'm delighted that our motion passed with cross-party support, and I look forward to Merton Council taking real action against idling to improve air quality."
A cross-party committee of councillors has blocked Labour’s plans to hike parking charges by up to 130% due to the Council’s failure to follow proper equalities procedures.
Wednesday evening’s special meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission was arranged after the Lib Dem and the Conservative groups each submitted separate motions to ‘call in’ the Council’s proposals to raise the costs of parking permits in Wimbledon and Raynes Park.
During the crunch meeting Cllr Anthony Fairclough, proposer of the Lib Dem call-in, challenged the plan for its failure to follow the Council’s set equality assessment process. The Council’s analysis of the plan identified potential disproportionate impacts on people with disabilities, pregnant women and women who’ve just given birth, as well as some people on low incomes.
In his submission, Cllr Fairclough showed that the Council had failed to consult people from the relevant groups appropriately over ways to minimise any negative impacts - contrary to the Council's published process. He also challenged the Council over the total lack of evidence to support claims that the charges would lead to a reduction in car ownership, and thereby improve air quality:
“When considering groups protected by our equality laws, the relevant principle is ‘no decision about us, without us’.
“That clearly did not happen here. I am pleased that councillors from all parties on the Commission were able to hold the Council to account for failing to follow its equality process.”
The Commission voted to refer the proposal back to the Council cabinet to carry out a proper equality assessment. The Liberal Democrat call-in can be seen on Youtube here.