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“People’s Vote is only route out of this Brexit mess” and comment on food and medicines stockpiling 

Daisy Cooper, St Albans Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Candidate said:

Since the vote to leave the EU, Brexit has brought nothing but bad news. EU health workers have been leaving the NHS at an alarming rate, businesses are investing elsewhere and now we find out that the Conservative government’s deal would tie us to EU rules but without any influence to shape them or make deals with the rest of the world. Even more alarming are the Government’s plans to stockpile medicines and food in the event of a no-deal Brexit. As the deal gets ripped to shreds from MPs in every party including her own, it’s clear that the Prime Minister must now put her deal to a People’s Vote with the option to remain in the EU.

Responding to news of medicines and food stockpiling, Daisy said:

I recently asked the Government to publish the list of medicines to be stockpiled in the event of a no-deal Brexit so patients can plan their care, but the Government is refusing to publish it. It is almost incomprehensible that, despite being one of the richest country’s in the world, the Government is proposing to embark on a route that could lead to shortages in medicines and food. I have never known a more incompetent or reckless Government and yet some Conservative MPs insist on pursuing this path to a ‘blindfold Brexit’. Liberal Democrats demand better. The public should be asked to judge Theresa May’s deal in a People’s Vote so we can compare her deal with the deal we already enjoy.

Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrats Brexit Spokesperson spoke to St Albans Lib Dem activists on Thursday 15 November, on the same day that the government suffered seven cabinet resignations and rumours of a leadership challenge. Speaking to a packed room at Ayos restaurant he said: 

For two years, the Liberal Democrats have been the only party who have consistently fought to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal and now it’s in touching distance. The Conservatives have instead spent that time peddling a false choice between no-deal or bad-deal, but even the Prime Minister now admits that there is a third option: no Brexit at all. The Conservative government is in melt-down as Conservative MPs realise that every form of Brexit will leave the country worse off. After seven Cabinet-level resignations in one day, it’s clear that the Prime Minister cannot keep her cabinet together let alone the country. The tide of public opinion on Brexit has turned and the only democratic route is to put the deal to a People’s Vote and ask the public whether they want her deal or want to remain in the EU.

County Councillor Chris White comments:

This is not about some vague concept of sovereignty. The Hertfordshire Local Economic Partnership estimates that more than 5,000 jobs in St Albans district could be adversely affected by changes in international trade arrangements – which is precisely what  Brexit could mean, deal or no deal.

NOTES ON STOCKPILING 

Daisy is particularly concerned about the Government’s plans to stockpile medicines and food in the event of a no-deal Brexit – an option pursued by a number of hard-Brexit Conservative MPs, known as the “European Research Group”: 

Medicines stockpiling 

Daisy has asked the Government to publish the list of all medicines listed for stockpiling in the event of a no-deal Brexit, so that patients can plan their medical needs. The Government has admitted that it does hold that information but has so far refused to publish it. Daisy is appealing that decision.

FOI question and correspondence is here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/drugs_listed_for_no_deal_brexit_2?nocache=incoming-1239180#incoming-1239180 

Food stockpiling 

The maker of Mr Kipling, Premier Foods Plc which is headquartered in St Albans has announced it has started stockpiling in the run up to Brexit. Reported in the BBC here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46191729

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Conservatives high risk library strategy to be funded by tax cuts

At Thursday’s meeting of the County Council’s Education, Localism and Libraries Panel, Liberal Democrats voted against the Conservative Group’s proposals to set up an independent charitable organisation to run its Library Service. This new service should be viable only because it will not have to pay £1/2 million business rates, which would otherwise have in part provided income to all the District Councils in the County.

Using a competitive tendering process, any organisation will be able to bid to run the service as a Public Service Mutual organisation, which unlike the present Library Service will obtain charitable status. The risk is that while one bid will be spun off the existing service, the others will come from outside organisations. This could result in an organisation like Carillion which recently collapsed being trusted to run the service. Even if the provider remains solvent, and in spite of assurances to the contrary, there is a real risk that smaller or unprofitable libraries might be closed or services cut.

“It was a strange meeting” commented County Councillor Mark Watkin, Liberal Democrat and Opposition Spokesman for Libraries, “we had one paper spelling out an excellent vision for what the library service could grow into, which was fine. Then the next paper explained that this would be delivered by an unknown third party whose funding depends on saving Business Rates being able to raise charges substantially. There is deep uncertainty about the Government’s plans for business rates. If these were to be changed, the whole economic model on which this scheme is built might look very different. Raising charges may well disadvantage the most needy in society who could benefit most from what libraries offer. Not surprisingly, and reflecting the 41% of voters who, in the recent consultation, rejected this very high risk approach, Liberal Democrats opposed it.”

Links to paper:

https://democracy.hertfordshire.gov.uk/documents/g1233/Public%20reports%20pack%20Thursday%2018-Oct2018%2010.00%20Education%20Libraries%20and%20Localism%20Cabinet%20Panel.pdf?T=10

 

 

Meetings to update on plans for developing hospital sites

Note from the local NHS bodies

A series of meetings are taking place during October and November to provide an update on plans for developing hospital sites in west Hertfordshire.

The meetings, led by West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, are taking place in each locality. The details of the meetings are below:

St Albans & Harpenden

7-9pm

Wednesday, 24 October

Trinity Church Hall,  1 Beaconsfield Road, St Albans AL1 3RD

The meetings will highlight work that is taking place to progress our plans following meetings with national regulators, NHS England and NHS Improvement. There will be information on how we might organise future services, how we will involve local people and others in refreshing our plans and as well as an update on timescales.

There will also be an opportunity to put questions to executive officers and health professionals from the Trust and the CCG.

To help us cater for everyone who wants to attend, please email communications.hvccg@nhs.net to book onto this event.  Please state when booking if you have any particular accessibility needs.

Massive disruption in city centre in October

Note from county council

I am writing to notify you of the upcoming Major Utility works along the A1057 Hatfield Road, St Albans between the junctions of A1081 St Peters Street and Upper Marlborough Road.  Collaborative working has been arranged between Affinity Water and Fulcrum to connect their new services with the purpose of avoiding further disruption at a later date.

In order to create a safe working environment for the workforce and members of public alike, the works will be completed under a partial road closure.  A temporary one way restriction will be enforced in each direction (Eastbound/Westbound) consecutively in order to minimise disruption whilst maintaining traffic flows.

All Eastbound traffic will be diverted via: A1081 St Peters Street – B691 Victoria Street and Upper Lattimore Road and vice versa for Westbound traffic.

The works are due to commence from Monday 8th October  and programmed to take approximately 10 days to complete, weather permitting.

Some degree of disruption and delay can be expected as a result of these works and whilst we will make every effort to minimise these, please allow extra time for any journeys you have planned in the area whilst these works are in progress.

Liberal Democrats applaud PCC’s withdrawal of hostile takeover of Fire and Rescue Service

In a joint announcement issued today with Herts County Council, Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd agreed to abandon his proposal to take control of the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, leaving the service under the governance of the County Council.
 
Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat Councillor and Opposition Spokesperson for Fire Service, Barbara Gibson said: “This is long overdue, but very good news. How much time and money has been wasted by the PCC trying to railroad through his empire-building plan in spite of unanimous opposition from every county councillor, including those in the PCC’s own party? In addition, most district councils have passed motions opposing the move.
 
“The takeover bid should never have been submitted. Our sustained campaigning on this issue has saved the Fire Service from being asset-stripped and weakened. Lib Dems will continue to fight to put community safety first.”

Herts Tories short-change schools

Lib Dems were disappointed, but not surprised, when Hertfordshire Tories voted to enhance property developer profits by reducing the amount they have to pay to provide school places.

The change in policy, from the upper end of the range allowed in the regulations to the bottom end, was proposed by officers because it was ‘too difficult to argue’ after neighbouring authorities and the Government’s own agency, the ESFA, allowed developers to contribute the lowest possible amount or are building schools to the lower specification.

Paul Zukowskyj, Shadow Cabinet Resources Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats commented: “I want the very best for our children. Officers should ask for the standard that the County set just two years ago, because if they ask for less they most certainly won’t get more.

“It would probably surprise no-one that some of the developers, and the major shareholders behind them, who stand to potentially benefit from this change are also major donors to the Conservative cause.”