Cutting through the Conservative smokescreen

Despite all the hype, Theresa May’s government is just not taking any notice of Cornwall, and we are getting a poor deal compared to the rest of the country.

We know you are unlikely to support us in the General Election, but please take a moment to hear us out.

Cornwall has 6 Conservative MP’s who seem to be failing to represent Cornwall effectively, the most recent example being the Growth Deal funding failure.

And for whatever reason the Conservative councillors seem in disarray, with many changing their colours to “independent” for this election because they are worried about saying they are Conservative, another exposed this week over supporting the English Defence League, and inexperienced and uninterested “paper” candidates put up for key areas to which they have no connection whatsoever.

Despite the wild claims made by one or two Conservative councillors, the Lib Dem record in Cornwall has been of prudent safe financial management, with funding solutions found to keep libraries open, toilets open, roads repaired, social care functioning, and leisure centres open with an annual saving of £3.5m compared to the last Conservative administrations flawed scheme which saw little or no investment in the pools.  

We have also saved the tax payer £1.67m on the cost of running the airport, and the “passenger tax” has been scrapped, leading to more airlines returning to the airport and opening up routes new destinations.

We have ensured that the Business Rate money stays in Cornwall, and that the money from any sale of public buildings doesn’t go straight to Westminster, but is used for local services instead.

We have already identified £34m of savings in the 17/18 budget, with more to come, while still maintaining services. Since 2013 we have saved £167 million. The net debt has also been reduced by a massive 25% of the total, down £120 million. £8 million of the £12 million consultants’ bill has also been slashed.

But it isn’t all cuts: for 17/18 we have a cash increase to social care of £11m, council staff are now being paid the minimum recommended by the Living Wage Foundation, helping in a small way to change Cornwall being the 2nd lowest pay area in the country. And we have been able to invest over £700 million in capital projects that bring additional investment, jobs, services, and long term gains to Cornwall.

Through our efforts Cornwall now produces 32% of its electricity from renewable energies, and we have provided £10 million in community benefit contributions, funding things like park improvements.

 

Central cuts

And all of this against a backdrop of 71% cut in central government funding, and with only small Council Tax rises.

Many people don’t realise that Cornwall receives well below the average of central government funding per head, so here’s the figures:

-          England average per head:              £331.51

-          London:                                            £510.55

-          Other cities:                                      £407.90

-          Cornwall:                                          £307.40

We know Conservatives portray themselves as the party of prudent safe financial management, and that may be true elsewhere (although we would argue not) , but the reality is that in Cornwall it is the Lib Dems delivering financial efficiency.

 

Conservatives vote against economic development

So what have the Cornwall councillors been up to? What we think are power plays within the Conservative group led recently to an attempt to block the budget with an amendment that would have seen Cornwall’s economic development plans jeopardised.

Had they been successful this would have directly affected schemes that are helping Cornwall be more than a low-pay holiday and retirement destination, for example:

-          Liskeard cattle market development

-          St Austell Market House

-          Workspace in Penzance (the Place Shaping project)

-          Agri-food hub in Bodmin

-          An Innovation centre in East Cornwall (£11m economic boost alone)

-          Newquay Aerohub / Spaceport development

-          Strategic transport links (e.g. A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross and St Austell Link Road)

 

City of Culture bid – £170,000, not £500,000

“But what about the wasteful City of Culture bid for Truro?” we hear people ask.

The fact is that the £500,000 figure is grossly over stated and incorrect, and this has been accepted by the Conservative group, although some still use the figure to try to claim we can’t manage finances. So here are the facts:

-          The current “cost” to the council tax payer is less than £170,000 and reducing as more partners come on board.

-          The Council has underwritten £336,000 (not spent  £500,000), which is mainly to put on events in Cornwall in the summer and autumn for people to enjoy (Man Engine perhaps).

-          So far HALF of this £336,000 has been raised from partners and businesses, so the underwrite is currently less than £170,000.

-          As a direct result of the bid, Cornwall will get £500,000 from the Arts Council over the next 3 years which will help investment in our important creative industries.

-          The idea was proposed by the Secretary of State with the promise of £100k of central funds to help the bid, and championed by an Independent councillor, so in fact it was a Conservative idea.

-          It has nothing to do with the EU – it is the Council of Europe – a very different institution.

-          A UK town will win, it is the UK’s turn, so why not a Cornish town rather than Leeds, Milton Keynes or Dundee?

-          Such bids are proven, even as bids, to generate more than is spent on them for local economies and if successful the positive impact for Cornwall will be significant.

One or two Conservative councillors seem hell bent on rubbishing Cornwall and our creative industries to score political points. This approach is simply not in Cornwall’s best interests.

So what next?

So where does that leave us? (and thanks for reading)

Simply, we are asking you to put Cornwall’s needs first, for proven prudent financial management, from a team with a good track record, and are asking you for this election to vote Lib Dem.

Whether in favour or against Brexit, Cornwall is a special place with unique needs: unfortunately we are ignored by central government, and the local “conservative” councillors just aren’t up to the job. We have more cuts coming.

We appreciate you will vote Conservative in a General Election, but in this Council Election will you trust us, now you know the facts, to continue?


Tories and Labour are failing young people

First Brexit, then the cut to housing benefit, what will it be next?

The Tories are dismissive about people under 25 because they tend not to vote, and Labour are failing to stand up for them too. It’s almost as if they don’t exist, but young people are our future and need to be represented too.

Last week in Manchester Sir Vince cable, the former Business Secretary attended a drop-in session for young people to discuss careers and training at a community centre in Manchester. He commented:

"Young people are seeing their future opportunities robbed from them by this Government's drive for a hard Brexit.

"Many of those I spoke to today are worried about what the future holds and how much harder it will be to find a decent job if the economic situation worsens.

"Labour are failing these young people by refusing to stand up against a hard Brexit and fighting amongst themselves instead of providing a decent opposition.”

Two weeks ago Tim Farron MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats, announced the Cornwall Lib Dem’s pledge to build 1,000 fair rent homes for local people, and spoke at length with one young person about the difficulties of getting on the housing ladder.

“It’s so hard when you have low wages and high house prices, which is why affordable homes for young local people to rent is so important to Cornwall, and why this plan to build 1,000 such homes is a start to redress the balance”

The Lib Dems have long fought to give young people a fair deal; our record is good:

-          The only party fighting a hard Brexit and the future opportunities it robs from the younger generations

-          Promoting the Living wage Foundation wage rates for all from 17, rather than the government’s lower “living wage” from 25.

-          Creation of 1.8 million apprenticeships nationally.

-          Support lowering the voting age to 16 because we have confidence in young people and a desire to listen to their voices and opinions.

-          Raising the tax threshold, taking the lowest paid, generally the young, out of tax.

-          Affordable homes to buy in Cornwall, for people with a local connection.

-          A firm pledge to build 1,000 fair rent local homes in Cornwall.

The election on May 4th, and the postal vote next week, is your chance to have a say – in Cornwall it is a two horse race between the Tories, who have shown their contempt for young people time and time again, and the Lib Dems.

Can we ask you to vote for us, to send a message to Theresa May that enough is enough, and to ensure the Tories don’t control Cornwall?


City of Culture bid – £170,000, not £500,000

“But what about the wasteful City of Culture bid for Truro?” we hear people ask. 

The fact is that the £500,000 figure is grossly over stated and incorrect, and this has been accepted by the Conservative group, although some still use the figure to try to claim we can’t manage finances. So here are the facts:

-          The current “cost” to the council tax payer is less than £170,000 and reducing as more partners come on board.

-          The Council has underwritten £336,000 (not spent  £500,000), which is mainly to put on events in Cornwall in the summer and autumn for people to enjoy (Man Engine perhaps).

-          So far HALF of this £336,000 has been raised from partners and businesses, so the underwrite is currently less than £170,000.

-          As a direct result of the bid, Cornwall will get £500,000 from the Arts Council over the next 3 years which will help investment in our important creative industries.

-          The idea was proposed by the Conservative Secretary of State with the promise of £100k of central funds to help the bid, and championed by an Independent councillor, so in fact it was a Conservative idea.

-          It has nothing to do with the EU – it is the Council of Europe – a very different institution.

-          A UK town will win, it is the UK’s turn, so why not a Cornish town rather than Leeds, Milton Keynes or Dundee?

-          Such bids are proven, even as bids, to generate more than is spent on them for local economies and if successful the positive impact for Cornwall will be significant.

One or two Conservative councillors seem hell bent on rubbishing Cornwall and our creative industries to score political points. This approach is simply not in Cornwall’s best interests.


Cornwall Lib Dems' record of success

In any election there are claims and counter claims, innuendo, and falsehoods. It's time to set the record straight.

One irrefutable fact is that Cornwall Lib Dem’s have prudently managed Cornwall’s finances and prevented services being cut over the past 4 years, despite the  Tory 71% funding cuts,  the assault on NHS and social care budgets by the government, and 6 Tory MP’s failing to stand up for Cornwall.

Of course the Tories will tell you they are the only people who can run things efficiently, but in Cornwall their record is appalling, and after the last Tory administration it was down to us to put things right, so we did.

We hear time and time again “what have you done?”, so here is a short (ish) list of the highlights:

 

Services

  • Toilets kept open (most forget the closures came under the Tory administration)
  • Libraries kept open – Tories time and time again attacked the service
  • Leisure centres kept open - the previous Tory administration planned to close Camelford Pool before the local community stepped in to save it. They then signed a flawed contract for the other centres that has seen standards drop and little or no investment, with some of the facilities literally falling apart. The new deal, with a new partner, has savings of £3.5m a year and planned investment in the centres to renew them and keep them open.
  • Increased kerbside recycling collection
  • Fixed the waste collection problems
  • Stopped plan to merge Cornwall Fire Service with Devon and Somerset
  • Maintained weekly rubbish collection, unlike most of the country, and will continue to do so until at least 2020 under the current contract.

 

Planning & Housing

  • Local plan finished – helping to ensure homes are built where needed, not where developers want to speculate. No one could work out why the Conservatives dragged their heels on it for so long.
  • Prevented developers overturning St Ives’ 2nd home controls and residency policy
  • Prevented speculative and unwanted housing development, improving the “appeals win” rate from the Tories 60% to over 90%, saving our green spaces and a shed load of council money.
  • 3rd highest provider of affordable homes in the UK In 2014/15, providing 1033
  • Last year we delivered the highest number of affordable homes in the country – 719
  • Have used Council land to build affordable homes – 11 sites across Cornwall – with money re-invested to buy new sites.
  • Pledged to build 1,000 fair rent homes for locals

 

Finances

  • Identified £34 million of savings in the 17/18 budget, with more to come, while still maintaining services.
  • Since 2013 saved £167 million.
  • Reduced the council’s net debt by a massive 25% of the total, down £120 million.
  • Devolution deal commenced, with Cornwall £4m better off this year as a result of Business Rates remaining here.
  • Slashed Tory consultant spend from £12m to £4m
  • Prevented the wasteful Tory “Mayor of Cornwall” proposal
  • Saved the tax payer £1.67m on the cost of running the airport
  • Cancelled the Tory ill-fated and toxic deal with BT to deliver council services
  • Ensured Cornwall received £5m from DCLG from the stamp duty on 2nd homes, with more to come.
  • Council staff now paid the minimum recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.
  • Invested over £700 million in capital projects that bring additional investment, jobs, services, and long term gains to Cornwall.
  • Commenced the City of Culture bid with the council underwriting under £170,000 of potential cost, not the Tory reported £500,000 – for the full facts on this go to www.cornwalllibdems.org.uk/cityofculture

 

NHS & Social Care

  • Found ways to keep it running, despite the cuts
  • Additional £11m of hard cash for 2017/18 for social care
  • Scrutiny of the Tory NHS transformation plan, with the outline business case being thrown out as “not fit for purpose”

 

Economy & Development

  • Continued to invest in economic development projects
  • Stopped the Tory plan to halt development funds for :
    • Liskeard cattle market development
    • St Austell Market House
    • Workspace in Penzance (the Place Shaping project)
    • Agri-food hub in Bodmin
    • An Innovation centre in East Cornwall (£11m economic boost alone)
    • Newquay Aerohub / Spaceport development
    • Strategic transport links (e.g. A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross and St Austell Link Road)
    • Airport “passenger tax” has been scrapped, leading to more airlines returning to the airport and opening up routes to new destinations.
    • Provided £10 million in community benefit contributions, funding things like park improvements
    • Superfast Broadband rollout

 

Environment

  • More beaches designated as bathing waters
  • Adopted the first Environmental Growth Strategy of any local authority in the U.K.
  • Banned harmful pesticides from council owned open access land
  • Created a pollinators action plan to protect bees
  • Instigated a balloon release ban
  • Cornwall now produces 32% of its electricity from renewable energies
  • Investments commenced or budgeted for:
    • Smart energy and storage solutions in Indian Queens, Cornwall Airport, Marine Renewable Business Park,
    • Marine energy generation in Hayle
    • Geothermal heat and power projects in Redruth and St Austell, with a heat only scheme in Newquay and Heat networks in Porthleven, St Just, Camelford, Camborne, Redruth and Pool
    • Development of a Low Carbon Heat Enterprise Zone

 

Central cuts

We also need to present the facts about just how badly Cornwall has done  with the Conservatives in central government, and 6 Tory MP’s supposedly representing us.

There has been a 71% cut in central government funding, with Cornwall receiving well below the average of central government funding per head:

-          England average per head:              £331.51

-          London:                                            £510.55

-          Other cities:                                      £407.90

-          Cornwall:                                          £307.40

 

We know Conservatives portray themselves as the party of prudent safe financial management, , but the reality is that in Cornwall it is the Lib Dems delivering financial efficiency and improving services.

Don’t be fooled by the Tory claims.

And please don’t let them take back control in Cornwall on May 4th.


Are you letting Tories win in Cornwall?

Voting Labour or Independent is a statement of belief. But what if your choice had unintended consequences? An outcome that was completely opposite to your beliefs and values?

In the Cornwall Council election on May 4th the harsh reality is that it is a two-horse race between the service cutting Tories who seek to slash and burn, and the Liberal Democrats, who have shown they can retain services and be a safe prudent pair of hands in Cornwall.

There are a lot of false claims about our record, especially from the Conservatives, but they would do that wouldn’t they.

The fact is that 62 seats are needed for a majority. Labour, for whatever reason, are only fielding 58 candidates in Cornwall (10 fewer than last time), so if every one of them wins they would still not have a majority, and in the last election a mere handful of Labour candidates were successful.

Lib Dems stand for openness, tolerance and fair play, giving a voice to all. Many lifelong labour voters have similar values.

So this weekend, ahead of the postal vote next week, we are asking you to consider whether a vote for Labour or Green or MK or Independent  is going to do anything other than help the Tories take control in Cornwall.

We have already seen how little 6 Tory MP’s do for Cornwall, being the mouthpieces of Theresa May rather than the representatives of Cornwall. It has been reported in the past week that at least one Tory candidate holds rather unsavoury views supporting the English Defence League. And we know that a number of former Tory candidates and councillors have changed their flag to “independent” to avoid the backlash against their party. We also know their record in Cornwall on service closures, consultant spend, council debt, expenses etc. from their last stint in control. 

So please, before you cast your vote, consider whether you can vote Lib Dem this time, a practical tactical vote to keep the Tories out.

The Tories are at the door – will you let them in again?

 


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