View more tweets

Lib Dems will invest £56 million to protect school funding across Hertfordshire as local schools face serious cuts under Conservative plans

Nigel Quinton with copies of letters from three local Headteachers

The Liberal Democrats have announced they will invest £55.8 million more in schools and colleges in Hertfordshire over the next parliament.

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

£6.3 million of the £56 million funding would be spent on protecting the Pupil Premium, introduced by the Liberal Democrats to help the most disadvantaged children.

Nigel Quinton, LibDem Parliamentary Candidate in Welwyn Hatfield, said:

“In what is fast becoming a local and indeed national scandal, Headteachers across our area are being driven to write to parents alerting them to the state of school funding.

“We have seen letters from at least four of our local secondary schools pointing out that they simply won’t be able to continue to offer the level of support for pupils that they would like. They report a 35-45% cut per pupil since 2012, despite costs rising due to unwanted changes in the courses for GCSE and A-levels forced on them by Mr Gove.

“Under the Conservatives, funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation, while billions of pounds are being spent on divisive plans to expand grammars and free schools.

“This extra £56M of funding in Hertfordshire would ensure no school and no child loses out.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

“A landslide for the Conservatives would allow Theresa May to take parents across the country for granted and cut our schools to the bone.
“We will reverse crippling Conservative cuts to school budgets and invest to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.

“Vote for the Liberal Democrats and you can change Britain’s future.”

Lib Dems to give £770 boost to 17,170 pensioners in Welwyn Hatfield

17,170 pensioners living in Welwyn Hatfield will receive at least an extra £772 per year under Liberal Democrat manifesto plans to protect the ‘triple lock’ for state pensions.

Thanks to the triple lock guarantee, secured by the Liberal Democrats when they were in government, the basic state pension has risen in each year by whichever is the higher of earnings, prices or a rate of 2.5%. However, the Conservatives have refused to guarantee whether the triple lock will continue, raising fears it could be scrapped.

The Liberal Democrats have committed today to keeping the triple lock, meaning the state pension would be worth at least £137.15 a week by 2021, up from £122.30 in 2017, or an extra £772 a year.

This would be paid for in part by restricting perks such as the winter fuel allowance so they are no longer paid to the wealthiest pensioners.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Nigel Quinton said:

“Protecting the triple lock will mean an extra £772 a year by 2021 for the 17,170 people receiving the state pension in this constituency.

“The Liberal Democrats are making a clear commitment to older people in Welwyn Hatfield, unlike the Conservatives who have repeatedly refused to give this guarantee.

“The triple lock has succeeded in lifting thousands of pensioners out of poverty, but many are still struggling to get by.

“An important test of a civilised society is the way in which it cares for the elderly. This commitment will ensure older people are able to meet their basic needs and that their living standards will be protected, especially with prices set to rise in the coming years.”

Lib Dems penny for NHS would raise £126.6million extra for Hertfordshire

The Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign.

The tax would raise an additional £126.6million for Hertforedshire, with £82million for the NHS and £44.6million for social care each year.

This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats manifesto will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services in their manifesto.

At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra 1p in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, an ITV poll found last October (link).

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield Nigel Quinton said:

“Having attended today my first briefing as a new County Councillor it is clear just how much the additional funding for social care especially is needed. Right now in Hertfordshire we are seeing urgent operations being cancelled and the elderly being denied the care they need, and beds being blocked due to the lack of community and social care available.

“The Liberal Democrats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all, especially those who can afford it most, need to chip in a little more.

“A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services and ensuring the elderly receive the care they deserve.

“This Conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded – and while the crisis gets worse they just don’t seem to care.

“We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so.”

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:

“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.

“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.

“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term.”

GREAT RESULT FOR WELWYN HATFIELD LIBDEMS

Elected Cllrs – Barbara, Paul, Nigel (L-R)

Another fantastic Election Day for Welwyn Hatfield Liberal Democrats saw them gain a third County seat, come within 50 votes of smashing the Conservative grip on Panshanger Ward in the By-Election, and beat Labour into third place overall, both in number of seats and in the popular vote.

The three happy candidates were Paul Zukowskyj in Hatfield South, who successfully defended the seat he first won in 2009, gaining over 50% of the votes; Nigel Quinton, who gained 48% of the votes taking over as County Councillor for Handside & Peartree from Malcolm Cowan; and Barbara Gibson, standing in her first ever election, who stormed through from third place to win Haldens from the Conservative incumbent by 98 votes with 37% of the votes.

Ayesha Rohale, who stood in the Panshanger By-Election came just 53 votes short of Conservative ex-WH Times editor Terry Mitchinson, with Labour a long way back in third.

Welwyn Hatfield now has three LibDem county councillors, three Conservative, and two Labour.

Speaking after the Count, they had this to say:

Nigel Quinton: “I’d just like to thank Malcolm for all the work he has put into being a County Councillor for the past 12 years. My majority of 818 votes is entirely down to his efforts on behalf of the people of Handside & Peartree and I just hope I can live up to his example.”

Paul Zukowskyj: “I’m absolutely delighted to continue as the Councillor for Hatfield South, and I’m very humbled by the resounding endorsement residents have given me.”

Barbara Gibson: “In Haldens Division, this election was about residents being fed up with not being listened to by their elected representatives. People are tired of monopoly-like behaviour and fake consultations that ignore their concerns. They sent a clear message that it’s time for a change, and I’m looking forward to championing their issues.”

Labour fails to select candidate in Welwyn Hatfield with just weeks until election

Parliamentary candidate Nigel Quinton

Labour has failed to select a candidate in Welwyn Hatfield with the general election just weeks away. The news is revealed on Labour’s own website, and has been called out by the Liberal Democrats, who say that it shows Labour has “given up”, even in some of its former strongholds.

There are over 340 constituencies Labour has still not selected for in England, whereas in contrast the Liberal Democrats have selected 92% of their candidates in England. Labour has not selected a single candidate in any of the eleven Hertfordshire constituencies. They have even resorted as recently as last Friday to advertising via Twitter.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Nigel Quinton said:  

“It seems that Labour has simply given up on places like Welwyn Hatfield. On the doorstep their support is crumbling away and they are widely tipped to lose at least one if not both of their County seats in Welwyn Hatfield on May 4th.”

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, and who can blame them? They see a leader who is ineffective and a party that is too divided to stand up for local people.

Says Nigel: “Every government needs to be held to account and the Liberal Democrats are rapidly emerging as the real voice of opposition to Mrs May’s Hard Brexit, austerity government.

“If you want to ensure our country has a positive future, the Liberal Democrats are the only choice in Welwyn Hatfield.”

Pressure from Lib Dems to increase Affordable Homes on Shredded Wheat site

Lib Dems vow to hold the Council and Spenhill to account on Phase 2

Cllr Malcolm Cowan and Nigel Quinton

Last Thursday, 30th April, Welwyn Hatfield Council gave approval to Spenhill (the property arm of Tesco) to develop the old Shredded Wheat site next to the train station. In many ways this is a cause for celebration – the scheme is for high quality urban architecture in a strategic position in the town centre that will provide 850 new homes and will extend the retail and evening economies into Peartree Ward. The developer will also fund £4M of highways work and £3.5M towards educational needs, mostly towards a new, larger, Peartree School, which we very much welcome.

However, in one very important respect the scheme is hopelessly deficient. Only 50 of the 850 homes (less than 6%) are to be affordable homes, despite the Council’s own policy that at least 30% of homes in this development should be affordable. That it was as many as 50 is only because pressure in the past week from our comments in the press has forced the issue. Only in the eleventh hour, on the day before approval, was the number of affordable homes increased from 35 to 50.

The developer was allowed to get away with this by convincing the Council that the scheme was ‘not viable’ if affordable housing was included. The committee accepted the advice of officers on this point, despite it being pointed out that the advice from the Council’s own advisors, Colliers International, was that the scheme was viable with or without affordable housing. In fact the scheme is forecast to generate profits of at least £86M, and probably a lot more.

Nigel Quinton, who is standing for election in the County Division that includes the site, and who spoke to the committee last night to stress the case for more affordable housing, had this to say:

“Whilst I very much want this development to go ahead, it absolutely has to include 30% affordable homes, and I am disappointed that the Council has given in on this point when the case on viability has not been made. The additional 15 affordable homes announced at the meeting are welcome, but are not enough.

“The silver lining, and one that the Council and committee are clearly clinging to, is that the scheme has two phases, the first is for 350 homes, the second for 500, and Spenhill still need final approval for the second. At that stage they have to demonstrate the lack of viability all over again. If they cannot, then we believe that they would have to make the affordable component up to the full 30% of the total.

“We intend to make sure Spenhill, and the Council, do not shun their responsibility to provide the affordable homes our town so desperately needs.

“There are other issues that we will continue to press the Council to address – the lack of communication with Network Rail about the rail bridge and the potential impact of the new restaurants and bars on the remainder of the Town Centre economy. Also, while we welcome the inclusion of some community and leisure facilities in the scheme it is some way short of the Swimming Pool we had campaigned for and which was included in the Planning Guidance and which the Town still lacks – this site has the capacity to deliver huge profits for the developer, and the Council should be ensuring a greater amount of benefit to the community.”

Lib Dems: This is a chance for voters in Welwyn Hatfield to forge a better future for the country

Nigel and team campaigning in Handside

Voters in Welwyn Hatfield should vote for the Liberal Democrats to change the direction of the country and ensure Britain has a decent alternative to the Conservatives’ Hard Brexit, the party’s local candidate Nigel Quinton has said today.

The Prime Minister has called a snap General Election to be held on the 8th June, which was approved by Parliament today.

Liberal Democrat candidate Nigel Quinton commented:

“This election is a huge opportunity for voters in Welwyn Hatfield to change the direction of our country – and only the Liberal Democrats can offer a coherent and progressive alternative to the Conservatives’ harsh policies on the NHS, on funding for schools, and on the environment.

“Many in this area may have voted to leave the EU (by just 1% more than the national average), but I’m not sure many of them voted for the extreme form of Brexit that Theresa May has imposed on us, and which Labour has backed. Whichever way you voted last June, if you want to protect our local economy by staying in the Single Market and ensure that the people have the final say, this is your chance.

“In the local elections on May 4th we expect to poll very well indeed and it will be clear that the Liberal Democrats are the clear challenger to the Conservatives here, while Jeremy Corbyn’s hard Brexit supporting Labour party are in disarray.

“By the time we get to the General Election in seven weeks’ time, I believe more and more will recognise that the Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.”

HS2 – is it really too late to think again?

I’ll start with a confession – since hearing it proposed at a LibDem conference fringe meeting back in 2008 or thereabouts I have been a fan of HS2 – or at least the concept that the UK needs a high speed rail network. So throughout the debates about routing and costs I have generally followed the advice of people I know who have researched this more deeply, and gone along with the ‘consensus’ that this is a ‘good idea’.

However, I have never been persuaded that the specifications are appropriate, and have always been concerned that there was too much emphasis being put on speed rather than connectivity. I also believe that the costs should be challenged and that the timescale is too slow. Surely there was a better alternative?

Well this week I recieved an email from ‘High Speed for All’ – an organisation that (I have to admit) had not appeared on my radar previously. They have developed the alternative that might be the answer. It certainly grabbed my attention, and not just because it avoids the Chilterns’ Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but mostly because it talks about a High Speed Network, and not just a High Speed Line. And they have apparently researched it meticulously, mapping the entire new network at 1:25,000 (although they don’t publish these) and calculating a significant cost saving over HS2/HS3 (although I would take any such estimates with a pinch of salt until audited).

You can follow the links here for more information. It certainly deserves consideration in my view and if elected I will be calling for this to be given greater priority.

Legal Experts Point up LibDem focus on Green Energy

City lawyers BLP Law have issued a briefing note on the energy policies of each of the parties. Here is what they say about the Liberal Democrat policies:

Liberal Democrats: 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030

They have really focused on winning “green” votes and their manifesto focuses very much on decarbonisation, emissions reduction and renewables.

They have created the “Green Magna Carta” – five new laws to fight climate change.

They are the only party (other than the Greens) who specifically refer to biomass, and they are also in favour of both onshore wind and nuclear power.

They refer to a £100 billion investment in low-carbon energy infrastructure by 2020 but there is no mention of how that sum will be raised or how energy will compete with their many other spending priorities.

It is a fair summary and shows just how committed we are to tackling climate change and developing a modern green economy in the UK. The answer to the last point comes mainly from the Green Investment Bank which has already delivered £6billion of new investment (both public and private) into green technology. Ed Davey’s Energy Act has paved the way for significant private investment into this sector.

Energy Bill Revolution gives LibDems five star rating

Energy Bill Revolution gives LibDems five stars for Energy policy

The Energy Bill Revolution is a pressure group set up to end fuel poverty. It is fair to say that have not been 100% supporters of the coalition. But when they look at the Party’s manifestos, it is the LibDems and Greens that come out on top. (Both UKIP and the Tories score Zero Stars by the way. Null points. Nada.)

Here’s what they say:

Liberal Democrats

EBR Rating:  5 Stars

EBR Comment: The Liberal Democrats have committed to both an ambitious new policy framework to deliver whole house retrofits to low income households and a new infrastructure revenue stream to meet ambitious targets, backed by legislation. Strong targets, high standards and new investment. Full marks.

Liberal Democrat Pledges:  

  • make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and use capital infrastructure funds to help finance the programme
  • insulate 10 million homes over the next 10 years and 4 million by 2020 with the targets enshrined in a Green Buildings Act
  • zero interest loans for the able to pay for energy efficiency retrofits
  • bring all low income homes up to a high standard of energy efficiency by 2027 (EPC Band C)
  • to bring all social and private rented housing up to a high standard of energy efficiency by 2027 (EPC Band C)

Read the full report here