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North Shropshire Liberal Democrats

  • May 26, 2020:
    • DVSA unfairly penalising learner drivers

      The DVSA is unfairly penalising learner drivers - Clive GearyNorth Shropshire Driving Instructor and Lib Dem campaigner, Clive Geary today condemned the Driver & Vehicle Licencing Agency's treatment of learner drivers during the pandemic. Learner drivers are mainly young people.

      Mr Geary said: "I cannot express enough how disappointed I am with the way young people are being penalised through no fault of their own by the DVSA's policy at this moment in time.

      "The Driving & Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) appear to be profiteering from the crisis. There are no driving tests and it would appear this will be for at least 3 months. But they will not extend anyone's theory test certificate.

      "The DVSA profess to make it cheaper to learn to drive as substantiated by a reduction in the cost of the theory test in the not too distant past."

      Clive Geary is a driving instructor based in Weston Rhyn, North Shropshire. He is concerned that the DVSA's inconsistent approach is unfair.

      Due to the Coronavirus, the DVSA has extended the validity of MOT certificates by 6 months. An MOT test is a safety check on a vehicle's roadworthiness. Mr Geary ponders: "Should a vehicle suffer a brake failure and injuries result who might be at fault? This is generous, if risky. With regards to learning to drive, the DVSA has chosen to be less generous."

      Learner drivers who have passed their theory test are given a certificate which is valid for 2 years. Learner drivers have 2 years in which to book and pass a practical driving test.

      All theory tests are currently suspended until the 31st May 2020. All practical driving tests are suspended until at least 20th June 2020, unless you are a critical worker.

      Clive explained: "Assuming matters get back to a near-normal, you will not be able to book a practical driving test until at least October/November 2020, although you have paid for and passed a theory test you have not actually got a certificate that is valid for 2 years.

      "It seems to me that the DVSA are profiteering from the ongoing crisis as they will not extend the validity of theory test pass certificates."

      If you have a similar issue of inequality during lockdown please contact us

      The post DVSA unfairly penalising learner drivers appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • May 25, 2020:
    • The Prime Minister must terminate Cummings' contract

      Millions of people are worried for their loved ones. They have made heartbreaking sacrifices every day since lockdown, including missing family gatherings like weddings and funerals.

      People are rightly angry about Dominic Cummings' behaviour. It cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else

      It cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else

      Cummings' refusal to have the decency to apologise - and the Prime Minister's support for him - is an insult to us all.

      It reveals the worst of their elitist arrogance. The bond of trust between the Government and the people has been broken.

      The buck stops with the Prime Minister and his judgement is now in question. He must come clean about what he knew and when, and terminate Dominic Cummings' contract.

      Each minute the Prime Minister fails to act is another minute the Government is distracted from upscaling Britain's testing capacity, securing PPE for frontline workers and preventing the tragic deaths in our care homes.

      All Conservative MPs must stop defending the indefensible and put the health, wellbeing and economy of our country first by calling for the Prime Minister's scandal-hit spin doctor-in-chief to go.

      "When we need really strong clear public health messaging

      on #COVID__19, the government's messaging has been completely confused by Dominic Cummnings' behaviour, and that's why he must go."- @EdwardJDavey

      Sign our petition to sack #DominicCummings 👇https://t.co/SVDBi7edGppic.twitter.com/qVe5magKxp

      - Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 26, 2020

      It is now clearer than ever that, once we are through this crisis, there must also be an independent inquiry to review the Government's actions, so we can learn lessons.

      Some of the key questions that need answering:

      There must be an independent inquiry to review the Government's actions

      ●Why is the level of testing so low compared to some countries? What is the Government doing to increase testing to prevent a surge in infections as the lockdown is eased?

      ●Why is there a lack of protective equipment for frontline workers? What is the Government doing to get them the kit they need, now?

      ●Why are so many people dying in care homes? What is the Government doing to make sure all care home residents and staff get the testing they need, now?

      The Government is asking a lot of the public during this crisis, and the British people deserve clear, honest answers in return.

      The post The Prime Minister must terminate Cummings' contract appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • We must oppose Beijing's power grab.

      We cannot allow coronavirus to blind us to the injustice that is unfolding on Hong Kong.

      Beijing's new national security law is a naked power-grab. It bypasses Hong Kong local law-making processes and demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration. Clearly China no longer cares for the 'one country, two systems' agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

      We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms. The international community should be standing up for the people of Hong Kong. Above all, the UK has a moral and legal duty to act.

      Liberal Democrats are clear on this issue: we stand with the people of Hong Kong. As part of our campaign, I am laying a bill to re-open the offer of British National Overseas (BNO) passports for Hong Kong citizens and extend the scheme to provide the "right of abode". This would allow a person from Hong Kong to live or work indefinitely in the UK.

      But we must get the message out further.

      We are going to put pressure on the UK Foreign Secretary to fulfil the UK's moral and legal obligation to the people of Hong Kong through my Bill. Will you help build our campaign by sharing it on social media?

      Share on Facebook

      Share on Twitter

      The post We must oppose Beijing's power grab. appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • May 24, 2020:
    • Open Letter to Owen Paterson MP for North Shropshire

      Open letter to Owen Paterson MP for North Shropshire, requesting a response to the Prime Minister's press conference this evening.

      Dear Mr Paterson,

      This evening I have watched the Downing Street press conference. As you can imagine I am angered and frankly frightened about the damage the Prime Minister has inflicted on the country in such a short time.

      He has effectively endorsed breaking the law, avoided legitimate questions about his own knowledge of Mr Cummings' trips, and lied outright, not least by asserting that Mr Cummings was in need of childcare when it is known that this was not the case.

      It is deeply insulting to those of us who have endured the lockdown for the greater good. Loved ones have died and been buried alone. Fathers have been unable to attend the births of their babies. Elderly relatives have been isolated from their adult children and their grandchildren.

      More worryingly, it shows that Mr Johnson does not value the rule of law. He has lied to the nation in a live public broadcast, without conscience. Trust in the government will be undermined after this shameful display, and meaningful enforcement of public health measures could be very difficult. It is my belief that continued support from our MP is untenable.

      I would be grateful if you could address the most concerning elements:

      Number 10 Downing Street issued a statement which accused Durham Police of lying about speaking to Mr Cummings' family. However Durham Police have confirmed that they indeed spoke to Mr Cummings' family. At a time when public trust in the Government guidance is critical to save lives, are you comfortable with the Prime Minister's office issuing statements that are apparently false?

      In Saturday's evening press conference, the Transport Secretary suggested that the guidance had always been open to personal interpretation. However, experience shows the vast majority of the British public, and evidently Durham Police, felt that the guidance, 'if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus, do not leave your home for any reason' was unequivocal. Are you comfortable with the guidance being retrospectively twisted to save the career of an unelected bureaucrat, unaccountable to the British people?

      In light of the immense community efforts taking place across the country, it is simply not credible that Mr Cummings' family could not find the support that they needed in London. In the unlikely event that they are friendless, have no family in the area, and were unable to find paid support, there are community groups who would have helped them with their food shopping during the period.

      In backing Mr Cummings, Mr Johnson has undermined public trust to an extraordinary degree, and now threatens the public health initiative. The country desperately needs this to be effective, so that life can return to normal as soon as possible.

      Democracy ends with 'one rule for the people and another for the elite' and the public will rightly not accept it. I am extremely concerned that social distancing, already fraying, will now become unenforceable, risking a very damaging second wave of the virus. There is a risk that thousands of people will lose their lives, and many thousands more will lose their jobs and businesses. This issue could not be more serious.

      Mr Johnson has shown breath-taking arrogance and contempt for the public sacrifice made over recent weeks. You have made no public comment regarding the matter. Your constituents deserve to know whether you will be continuing to support him in light of the weekend's dramatic developments.

      I look forward to the publication of your response.

      Yours sincerely,

      Helen Morgan

      Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for North Shropshire
      07508 550361
      CC: North Shropshire Liberal Democrats, Shropshire Star, Oswestry and Border Counties Advertiser, Whitchurch Herald, BBC Shropshire, ITV Central News, Oswestry Chronicle

      The post Open Letter to Owen Paterson MP for North Shropshire appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • May 23, 2020:
    • Eid Mubarak to all those celebrating!

      I would like to send warm wishes to Muslims in the UK and around the world celebrating Eid al-Fitr.

      Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan - a month of prayer, personal reflection, and self-denial.

      I'm sure that this Ramadan must have felt unusual and I know that observing a socially distanced Eid will not be easy either.

      I'm sure that this Ramadan must have felt unusual and I know that observing a socially distanced Eid will not be easy either.

      This year, I joined some of our MPs and party members in fasting for one day of Ramadan and this culminated in a Lib Dem Iftar - the first for our party. The fast was challenging at times, but I'm so proud that we were able to do this one small act as a symbol of our solidarity with British Muslims at this time.

      I want to thank the doctors and nurses who have sacrificed their lives in the battle against COVID-19. We will always remember them, and we must never forget that many of them were British Muslims. A thorough investigation into why BAME communities have been disproportionately impacted by this virus is needed now more than ever.

      Of course, Eid is known as "the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast". It's usually a time to come together with loved ones to enjoy festive meals and share gifts but instead, people will remain isolated in their homes, going out only for essential food and brief periods of exercise. Though this will be tough, I'm sure that the sacrifices we all make now will reduce the impact of this virus.

      So to everyone celebrating Eid, I wish you joy and peace. Eid Mubarak!

      The post Eid Mubarak to all those celebrating! appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • May 21, 2020:
    • UK must stand up for Hong Kong

      It has been confirmed that Beijing is introducing a resolution that would bypass Hong Kong local law-making processes in order to impose a new 'national security law' on the territory.

      We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms.

      It is clear that China no longer cares for the 'one country, two systems' agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

      We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms. We are urging Dominic Raab to take decisive action.

      Alistair Carmichael, our Foreign Affairs Spokesperson and Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong said:

      "This is a naked power-grab by Beijing, demonstrating a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration.

      The Chinese government have reneged on the promises made to protect and enhance their rights and freedoms.

      The UK has a moral and legal duty to act. The Conservative government must reopen the British National Overseas (BNO) Passport scheme and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK. "

      We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong. Liberal Democrats are urging Dominic Raab to take decisive action. #StandwithHK

      Stand with the people of Hong Kong👇https://t.co/ZELgzEWHNH

      - Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 21, 2020

      The UK has a legal and a moral duty to act

      That's why we tabled a Bill that would re-open the offer of a British National Overseas (BNO) passports for Hong Kong citizens and extend the scheme to provide the "right of abode", allowing a person to live or work indefinitely in the UK.

      We are calling on the Government to support our Bill, which will have its second reading in Parliament on 11th September 2020.

      The post UK must stand up for Hong Kong appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • May 20, 2020:
    • Government must increase support for asylum seekers

      The latest Immigration Statistics, published this morning, show that 51,906 people are waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claims, an increase of 33% since last year. 31,516 have been waiting for more than six months, a 68% increase.

      People who've come to the UK having fled war or persecution should welcomed, not trapped for months on just £5.39 a day

      Currently, asylum seekers are banned from working while they wait for a decision and forced to rely on asylum support payments of only £37.75 a week - just £5.39 a day.

      All of our MPs have written jointly to the Home Secretary urging her to increase asylum support by £20 a week during the coronavirus crisis - in line with the increase to Universal Credit. This matches calls from charities Refugee Action, the Salvation Army and others.

      In the letter, we also called for asylum seekers to be given the right to work if they are waiting for a decision for more than three months.

      This would allow them to fill essential roles during the pandemic, as well as to support themselves, integrate in their communities and contribute through taxation.

      Our Home Affairs Spokesperson, Christine Jardine said:

      "The coronavirus crisis is leaving the most vulnerable in our society at risk. We must ensure no one is left behind.

      People who've come to the UK having fled war or persecution should welcomed with compassion and enabled to contribute to our society, not trapped for months on just £5.39 a day - especially now during this pandemic.

      The way the Home Office is treating these vulnerable people is appalling and unacceptable. The Government must urgently increase support for asylum seekers in line with the emergency increase for people on Universal Credit.

      Ministers should also finally give asylum seekers the right to work, allowing them to fill essential roles during the pandemic, as well as giving them a sense of dignity, more money and the ability to contribute to the economy."

      The post Government must increase support for asylum seekers appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • May 19, 2020:
    • The Government must extend the Brexit transition period

      Today we have introduced a Bill to require the Government to seek a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

      To choose a No Deal Brexit and crash out, when the option to extend the transition is possible, would be an act of national self-harm - especially when our NHS, economy and food supply chains are already stretched and struggling.

      To crash out of the Brexit transition period when our NHS & economy are already stretched due to COVID-19, would be unthinkable

      Speaking ahead of the Bill's presentation, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

      "It is clear the government have not made nearly enough progress on the Brexit trade talks.

      To crash out of the Brexit transition period when our NHS & economy are already stretched due to COVID-19, would be unthinkable.

      It is time the Prime Minister did the right thing. That is why Liberal Democrats are today presenting legislation that would enable the government to seek an extension to the transition period."

      To crash out of the Brexit transition period when our NHS & economy are already stretched due to COVID-19, would be unthinkable.

      While Gove has admitted there will be checks on goods going from Britain to NI, there is still significant detail lacking in these documents.

      With just weeks to go until the deadline, the Government must extend the transition period as a priority. https://t.co/I8z6e5laPm

      - Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 20, 2020

      European Union Withdrawal (Implementation Period) Bill:

      A Bill to require Her Majesty's Government to seek a two-year extension of the implementation period under Article 132 of the Withdrawal Agreement; to repeal the prohibition on agreeing to such an extension under section 33 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020; and for connected purposes.

      The Presentation Bill will face its second reading on 12th June 2020. However, the extension request has to be made by the UK before the end of June.

      With just weeks to go until this deadline, it is clear that the Government must extend the transition period as a priority.

      The post The Government must extend the Brexit transition period appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

    • New Liberal Democrat leader elected this August

      Last week, we published the frank independent review into the 2019 general election. It rightly received plaudits in the media for its candour.

      This review challenges us to change as a party and to change the country for the better.

      We now need to get on with that work - and that's what we've done with a set of key decisions by your Federal Board.

      We've set a timetable for electing our next party leader - running from June through to August. With the widespread use of online hustings and online voting, we can make this work even if some elements of the lockdown are still in force. What's more, with online hustings we can experiment much more with formats, topics and ways for members to get involved.

      You can learn more about the leadership election and the new timetable here.

      That new leader will be in place in time for our autumn conference - which we've confirmed we want to run online in the biggest event of its sort in British politics. There are some important details to sort about what will be technically possible. But we're aiming big, including speeches, policy, training and fringe meetings. We want more members than ever before to take part in our annual showcase.

      We also need to get our strategy right and in a democratic, grassroots-led party that means it needs to be driven by our members. So we'll shortly be kicking off a consultation, which will then feed into detailed strategy work when we have our new leader in place. (They may have a thing or two to say on that too!)

      We've also agreed on the next steps in improving the party's technology - a vital task to give us the modern tools we need and to give you more ways to get involved and stay informed. The first project will be around the party's website, and we'll then be consulting widely on the steps after that.

      Alongside all that, we won't be forgetting last week's review. The Board has commissioned a detailed implementation plan and will be regularly returning to the topic. It's vital we get this right.

      All in, this is an ambitious plan of work - electing a new leader, our biggest ever conference, involving you in a new strategy and modernising our systems.

      But as the election review showed, it's what we need to do.

      Get it right, and our future can be bright.

      The post New Liberal Democrat leader elected this August appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.

  • May 18, 2020:
    • What's in our plan to improve mental health support for health and care staff?

      COVID-19 will leave a deep scar on ourhealthand care workforce, who have gone above and beyond to tackle this dreadful virus. Thousands have lost colleagues, endured serious illness, or faced significant trauma.

      Whilst we can hope to get a grip on COVID-19 in the coming months, thementalhealthimpacts will last a lifetime.

      That is why we're proposing a series of measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of thementalhealthimpact of this crisis emerges.

      What is in our plan to improve mental health support for health and care staff?

      1. 24/7 mental health support for health and social care workers.

      • Make the Covid-19 support phone hotline 24 hours per day and extend it to social care workers.

      The Government's current hotline is only available to NHS staff and operates 7am - 11pm seven days a week in NHS England.

      • Guarantee a universal mental health support service that can be accessed by all health and social care workers.

      The Practitioner Health Programme is a Government funded programme for doctors and dentists across England with mental health illness and addiction problems. It's known to be excellent and trusts often refer their doctors to it to support their mental health. The principles of this should be extended to the universal support available to all health and social care staff.

      This support would mirror that provided to our frontline military personnel (MAPS), through a separate specialist service that every individual staff member in the NHS and Social Care can access.

      • Create a signposting service for all health and social care workers, to make it clear what services are available.

      The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams.

      2. Protect the NHS and care system. Guarantee NHS and social care staff get the mental health support they need.

      • Remove the use of the Bradford Factor and other HR practices that reinforce a culture of presenteeism.

      The Bradford scoring system rates workers based on the number of days they've had off absent. This can affect their interview prospects, which can make NHS workers anxious to take a day off for their mental health.

      People must not be penalised for mental health conditions. Employers and employees should be given transparency on what information on sickness is appropriate to be included in references between employers and what is not.

      • Introduce an 'occupational health passport' so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas when they change jobs.

      The NHS has an occupational health department in every trust. When workers move trust, they have to repeat an occupational health test before the job. This can be unnecessary and burdensome on staff, particularly if they move trusts multiple times a year. It's a waste of resources to do repeated tests and staff should not have to repeat traumatic experiences every time they move trusts.

      Some parts of the country have set up an 'occupational health passport' which trusts share when necessary with workers' permission. This means they don't have to repeat assessments.

      The passports must be standardised and input from bodies including RCPsych, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the BMA, alongside NHS Employers will be vital.

      3. It's ok to not be ok; creating a culture of support in care

      • Ensure every health and social care worker has access to Balint/Swartz groups to help prevent longer term ill mental health.

      A Balint/Swartz round provides a structured forum for clinicians to meet regularly to discuss the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare. There is evidence they improve the psychological wellbeing of participants and they are frequently used in psychiatry settings for healthcare workers. This should be rolled out across other settings, with staff given protected time each month to take part.

      • Encourage every setting to have a qualified mental health first aider.

      Every NHS and health care organisation should encourage staff to become mental health first aiders just as they do for physical first aiders.

      With so many deaths in care homes, care staff are suffering a constant cycle of bereavement & many are struggling with their mental health.

      We're encouraged that Matt Hancock has said he would look at our proposals.

      Find out more about our plan 👇 https://t.co/pxGgT6RMjRpic.twitter.com/XAjSG1SImF

      - Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 19, 2020

      The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams. If adopted, the proposals will improve access to mentalhealth support for all those working in health and care settings.

      The clap for carers is not just a gesture - people want to see those on the frontline supported right through this crisis and beyond.

      Ministers must get on top of thementalhealthimpact of COVID-19 by backing our measures to support our vital NHS and care staff when they need it most.

      The mental health impacts of COVID-19 will last a lifetime.

      That's why we are proposing measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of the mental health impact of this crisis emerges.#MentalHealthAwareness#MentalHealthAwarenessWeekhttps://t.co/xCjnbFFGAF

      - Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 18, 2020

      The post What's in our plan to improve mental health support for health and care staff? appeared first on North Shropshire Liberal Democrats.