Climate Change is too important for gesture politics

Doing more in Liverpool to capture solar, water and wind energy must be an important consideration for our City Council debate

Of all the issues which face the people of the World by far the most important is climate change. The planet is on a countdown to fundamental changes in our eco-systems that could well mean the extinction of our species within centuries if not sooner.

Everyone accepts this apart from a handful of deniers, whose principal cheerleader is Donald Trump who just cannot see the evidence in front of them or choose to ignore it. They see valid scientific evidence from thousands of scientists from a range of disciplines and ignore them because they want to believe a handful of cranks with pseudo-scientific theories.

I think that the actions of school pupils in having a day off school to gather at public places and challenge the establishment to take action is absolutely marvellous. Their passion, knowledge and enthusiasm has shamed many an old bloke like me. I too bunked off school occasionally to campaign for a cause I believe in. I believe that (unlike me perhaps) those young people will spend their lives doing great things to motivate and enthuse people to take up good causes of which environmental concerns will be at the forefront.

I am not so sure about the eco-warriors continually taking action in London. Their action is too extreme and simply puts many people off their cause when they need to be engaging with people to convince waverers not only of the facts of climate change but the need for urgent action. Stopping people from getting home by efficient public transport systems is unlikely to achieve this. If your journey home has been doubled by such actions it will be too easy for many to say, “why should I listen to these people”. The knee jerk reaction will either be that they are wrong or that they are simply making a fuss.

We have a similar situation in Liverpool where the Green Party are desperate to get the Council to agree a motion which includes the Council declaring a “State of Climate Change Emergency”. In fact, it has seven other items some of which may be a good idea as part of a major plan but in the form that they are currently proposed are just gesture politics.

Instead the Mayor and I have agreed a different and more productive way forward (we do sometimes agree!0. We are proposing that the Council devotes the whole of a council meeting in July, apart from statutory business that we have to get through, to a 2.5-hour debate solely on climate change. Not only Councillors will speak but also people from our Universities, green groups and, I hope, a representative of the Young Climate Change activists.

We will do so against a background of a report which will have been prepared by our officers and others and discussed beforehand by our Regeneration and Environment spokespersons. At my suggestion the report will, after a description of the effects of climate change on Liverpool, focus on three key areas:

  1. What do we need to persuade the Government to do?
  2. What won’t the Government try and prevent us from doing?
  3. What can we start doing tomorrow?

At the conclusion of the council meeting a summary of key actions will be provided and officers instructed to work on bringing forward a series of hard actions for political approval and sign off.

In some ways the last of these three is the most important. It is too easy, to do as the potential Green motion does, to implore others to take action without having committed ourselves to firm action.

Liverpool Council can be a mover of opinion and actions not only in Liverpool but could also set an example to the rest of the UK if we are prepared to go forward together to take the hard actions which are within our power or influence. If we do the right things now, we can change things for the better within the UK but it will take nerve and determination because it will need to do some things that are going to be unpopular.

We will need to look at:

  • Cars and bus use in the City Centre
  • No traffic zones around schools
  • Tree planting programmes
  • More effective environmental uses of some of our green spaces
  • Reintroduction of more bus lanes
  • The development of better cycling facilities and more cycle lanes
  • Working with retailers on packaging reduction campaigns
  • Education programmes in schools
  • More food production inside the City and City Region
  • The use of the Cruise Terminal by liners using heavily polluting bunker fuel.
  • More effective rail connections.

There will, of course, be some political disagreement about some of these and in particular the priority which the Council will place on doing them in the light of our poor resource situation. Somehow, however, we need to get as much political agreement as possible on a wide range of initiatives that together will make a fundamental difference in Liverpool.

When we have done that, we can lecture others. But perhaps we will not need to. I want my City to inspire the Country and the City by being the best in tackling the worst problem we face – climate change.

So, let’s declare a climate change emergency in Liverpool but only do so when we have shown not only that we can talk the talk but that we can walk the walk.

Details of our environmental and other proposals can be found in our 2019 Local Election Manifesto – “Liberal Democrats Demand Better” at http://www.liverlibdems.org.uk. We are still the only Party to produce a manifesto for this election.

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Action now on New Build Housing in Liverpool

This block in Norfolk Street is unlikely to ever be finished but many were built using fractional investment and other funding mechanisms. The Council’s actions over Fox Street have raised questions about all apartment blocks built since 2010

For the 5 years that I was member of the planning committee I asked question after question about the quality of new build apartments in the City. For a variety of reasons many of the new build units built since 2010 have been built to lower specifications that those built before the property slump of 2008. They have also been sold to an increasing number of unsophisticated investors who wanted to enter the buy to let market with false promises of high yields.

That is why I am delighted that my colleague, Cllr Kris Brown, who is our housing spokesperson has written to the Chief Executive of the Council asking him to take further the excellent action on the Fox Street Development where there are clearly breaches of acceptable building standards causing a major health and safety problem for tenants and owner occupiers alike.

As you can see from the letter below Cllr Brown is asking the Council, along with the Fire Service, to look at every block built since 2010 both to ensure that the buildings have been properly developed and to ensure that proper evacuation drills are undertaken.

Our advice to all people thinking of investing in residential property in Liverpool is DON’T. There is a major imbalance in the market at present with a massive overhang of unsold properties and far too many properties where the resale value is hugely below the original sale value with owners taking a consequent huge loss.

Cllr Brown’s letter to the Chief Executive is reproduced in full here.

Dear Tony,

I hope you are well?

Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Council on the decisive actions it has taken in respect of the Fox Street Village Development. The Council has shown that by doing this is it is prepared to take hard action to protect the safety and possibly even the lives of Liverpool residents. Hopefully, this will send a strong message to potential developers in the City. Just as good would be the adoption of a similar hard ball regime in other cities.

The Liverpool Echo has greatly assisted with this by giving maximum publicity to the Council’s actions. In doing so concerns have been raised by other occupiers of blocks, some built through the fractional investment model and some by more traditional methods, built since 2010.

Three things have happened since 2010:

1. The Government relaxed methods of checking the quality of new buildings by allowing developers effectively to ‘self-certificate’ that they were meeting approved building standards.

2. New developers have entered the market who do not have the long-term desire to build a brand and a reputation but rather want to make as much money as quickly as possible.

3. A new model of funding has brought into the development world unsophisticated investors, many from overseas, who have failed to make adequate checks on what they were buying for either investment or own use purposes.

I believe that the time has come when the Council should take its great work on Fox Street even further. I am, therefore, asking the Council to establish a team of building surveyors; environmental health officers and staff from the Fire Service to inspect all new housing and office blocks erected or converted since 2010 with a view to:

1. Inspecting the building materials used to ensure that they are both of the right quality and installed properly; and

2. That all residents are fully aware of the effects of alterations and actions within their own flats and the emergency evacuation procedures that are both in place and practiced for the blocks as a whole.

I believe that if we do this, we can ensure the peace of mind of thousands of residents and send a strong message to developers that if something is to be built in Liverpool it must be built to the highest possible safety standards.

I would be pleased to discuss this with you or your staff.

Best wishes,

Kris

— 

Cllr Kris Brown 

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Woolton Ward, Liverpool City Council

07742 144 107

www.liverlibdems.org.uk

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No Mr Assange in this Country no-one is above the law

As has been said elsewhere this man is not the Saviour; he’s not even a naughty boy. He’s just a narcissistic person pre-occupied with himself and his own self-importance

In the past few days I have been absolutely amazed by the support that has been given to Julian Assange by Jeremy Corbyn and other leading members of the Labour Party including Diane Abbott.

For 7 years Assange has hidden himself away in the Embassy of Ecuador costing that poor Country £4.6 million in costs. Why was he there? Because he had skipped bail granted by an English Court and was therefore subject to an arrest warrant.

Why was he before an English Court? Because a European arrest warrant had been issued to bring him to justice in Sweden to answer charges of rape against two quite traumatised young women.

Corbyn works on a principle that an enemy of my enemy is a friend of mine. Assange is considered to be anti-American but what about America is he anti? His leaks seriously damaged Hillary Clinton. His leaks therefore seriously helped Trump. Does Corbyn like Trump’s America? Does he prefer it to a Country led by Clinton and a Democrat Party?

He has a whole host of information about problems in Russia in connection with the Ukraine. He chose not to deploy that information when Russia is clearly acting as a major aggressor against a NATO member. Does Corbyn prefer Russia to a shakily democratic Ukraine? Does he really not support the NATO organisation that has done so much to help Europeans live in peace.

But if we look at where all this started it’s all about a rape case in Sweden. I cannot believe that the vast majority of decent Labour members throughout the UK will feel anything other than the shock that I feel that Diane Abbott tried to brush away this serious issue because he had not yet been charged. Of course, he has not been charged. The Swedish Police could not interview him or charge him because for 9 years he has kept himself beyond their reach. One of the cases has now expired because of their Statute of Limitations although it could be brought back under these circumstances and the other may now be pursued.

Haven’t Corbyn and Abbott got any concern for either of these women who not only have to see their alleged attacker escape justice but also seem him gloating about it and parading his virtue through the world media.

Rape cases anywhere are notoriously difficult to prove. The ‘normal’ exposure of potentially wronged women is always a huge hurdle which often stands in the way of justice for them when cases come to court. Just think what these women are feeling and they must be wondering whether after all this time and the media scrum that would happen if they were to proceed to trial is now worth it.

I don’t know whether or not he committed these offences. I do know that he ought to participate fully in a legal system which is one of the fairest in the entire World. He is not too important to be dealt with separately or preferentially he should be treated just like anyone else.

But enough of this narcissistic parasite. What it shows to me, yet again, is the lack of judgement on the part of Corbyn. He proves himself as an ageing student union agitator. Good at demos; passionate about things that few other people believe are important he blunders on and demonstrates why in 40 years in Parliament he was never made a Minister or Shadow Minister and why Parliament as a whole has never made him Chair of a select Committee.

Corbyn is a joke. The best thing for the Lib Dems in Liverpool would be that he became Prime Minister because the Country and then his own Party would rapidly fall apart and we would scoop votes by the buck full. But that is not what our City or our Country needs. So, we will continue to campaign for sensible, radical and pragmatic ideas which will reject the extremism of both Corbyn and May. Starting, of course on May 2nd with the Council elections and continuing on 23rd May with the European elections.

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Liberal Democrats Demand Better

Our manifesto for the 2019 local elections in Liverpool

This time last year Liverpool Lib Dems produced a detailed manifesto for the 2018 local elections. Nothing surprising about that you might think because that is what political parties should do before an election. The surprise, however, was that no other Party produced a manifesto at all. Even more surprising was the fact that the media didn’t use it because they thought it unfair as the other Parties would be disadvantaged apparently by their own contempt for the electors of Liverpool.

This year we have again produced a manifesto much of what is the highlights from last years but updated. We could do this because despite our efforts much of the manifesto is undelivered. Two matters are those which are occupying the minds of Liverpool residents:

  1. The abolition of the posts of City Mayor and Police Commissioners. We called an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council and Labour voted to a man and a woman to keep these positions in place which sucks money away from front line services.
  • Protection for our Parks & Green Spaces. Again, we called an Extraordinary Council Meeting and again Labour to a man and woman supported a wrecking amendment which stopped the prevention happening. Although you might not think that from the tweets of some Labour councillor who have, apparently, been in favour of green space preservation. Its just that they didn’t vote that way.

The start of a new Municipal Year means that we can, and will, raise these issues again.

So, in our Manifesto for the 2019 local elections, “Liberal Democrats Demand Better”, we have set out a series of demands for our City and indicated how they should be met. We demand on your behalf:

  • proper safeguards for our Parks and Green Spaces;
  • proper safeguards for our World Heritage Status and all listed buildings;
  • stronger controls over the built environment to drive up standards of new build offices and homes;
  • better governance for the City and the abolition of the posts of Elected Mayor and Police Commissioner;
  • major improvements to our low schools’ standards;
  • the development of high quality, well paid local jobs;
  • the ending of council spending on prestige projects rather than bread and butter services;
  • the creation of 3 residential care homes for the elderly to reduce time spent in hospital;
  • action to reduce the health inequalities in our city;
  • the development of realistic actions to deal with the appalling air quality in our city;
  • action to protect or High Streets to make them places to visit for a range of activities;
  • the establishment with other Liverpool Region councils of actions to maintain a high and positive profile to attract industry, commerce, tourists and students.

Details of these and other policies can be found on our website www.liverlibdems.org.uk. You will also find on that site details of the candidates for every ward in the city.

Next year we will have a very complex manifesto indeed. On the first Thursday in May 20120 there are elections for 30 councillors; an Elected Police Commissioner; an Elected City Mayor; an Elected Liverpool City Region Mayor. We think that will finally show to the people of Liverpool the waste of having so many layers of politicians and bureaucrats.

I hope that you find the manifesto useful. Should you meet a politician from another Party between now and May 2nd. You might ask them where their manifesto is. If they haven’t got one you might ask them why not. The point of democracy is that people like us present to the people we want to elect us the policies that we would seek to implement. No putting those ideas forward is a basic breach of due democratic process.

At least with the Liverpool Lib Dems you know what you are voting for or perhaps even what you are voting against!

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It’s those b****rs down there that I can’t stand!!

It’s because the EU is so important to us that Liverpool Lib Dems are raising BREXIT issues as part of our local election campaign. This is on our newspaper going through 50,000 doors.

Over the past few months I have called at literally thousands of doors in Liverpool. I was, of course, calling about the local elections but amazingly what people have talked to me about time and time again is BREXIT and in particular the behaviour of most of our parliamentary representatives.

Typical was a call I made to a house in Mossley Hill yesterday. The lady knew who I was and immediately said as she opened the door, “I don’t want to talk about BREXIT”. We then spent the next 10 minutes before I could get away talking about BREXIT! She was a Leaver and respected the fact that I am a Remainer. But as in countless conversations I have had the issue now is not about leaving or remaining but about how Parliament has behaved in the 1000+ days since the referendum.

Typically, the conversation begins either, “I know you are a Remainer and I am not but…” or “I know you are a Remainer and I voted Leave but….” From either beginning the rest of the sentence leads on to, “but why can’t they sit down and talk to each other. What people are particularly complaining about now is the failure of both Labour and Tory Parties to try and develop a series of scenarios that could be sensibly discussed with each other and with the people of the UK.

It could be possible to create a deal which minimises the drastic effects of Brexit. It would not be as good as remaining but it would depend on a serious discussion of four aspects of trade and commerce:

  1. What does sovereignty mean when so much of our commerce is conducted via the World Wide Web? Neither we or any other democratic country can control thought, movements and ideas in the way that we once could. Information does not stop at our borders. It flows globally within mini-seconds.
  • What will we always have to do to trade with other Countries? Around the world countries have different views of what is safe and what they require from products which are used in their Country. If we want to sell cars to Europe, for example, we will always have to meet their safety and environmental standards. We now contribute to those standards if we were to leave the EU, we would still be bound by them but have no say in their making.
  • Where does trade take place? Most trade takes place in Countries that are nearby. There is an obvious reason for that – cost and time. Even now when China is at the heart of international trade flows UK companies are starting to once again manufacture because of the time delay in producing and delivering products especially in time critical fields such as fashion.
  • What is our place in the World? Does the Commonwealth pine for us to return to our rightful place as the Leader of the ‘Empire on which the sun never sets’ or do they want to work with and trade with Countries with clout and adjacency? I must tell my readers that whatever we do now our position in the World has been massively reduced by our behaviour as a nation. We are now being mocked by Countries who once thought that we had the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ and the strongest legal system in the World.

If we had honestly and fairly looked at these issues, we would have had a decent debate but in both the other Parties such a debate has been spurious. Before I turn to them let me have a go at my own Party and my fellow Remainers in other Parties. We too have been guilty of a failure to engage either on these questions and give good answers to them or to a further question, “what sort of Europe do we want?”

I believe that we do need to make some changes to a system which can appear sclerotic to many outsiders (or even insiders!) What should the relationship be between the Parliament and the Council and members states? At what points do we stand together on international opportunities and threats. Who represents who and where do they do it?  As someone who believes in the European way forward and who knows that I wake up every day in Liverpool and in Europe I feel strongly our failure to address these issues.

But this problem is nowhere near as bad as our opponents:

The Tories believed that all these complex issues outlined above would be, “the easiest trade deal in history. Sorted out in an afternoon and finished with a nice cup of tea” These were the comments of the first Brexit Secretary who later bemoaned how complex the issues are. These people had an over inflated idea of our own importance and a belief that every other nation would run around and ignore all the rules which we had been insisting on for years as a Member State.

Labour are just confused. This is largely because they are a Remain Party led by a Leave Leader. Corbyn’s antipathy to the EU is well known and has been well documented over the years. Labour’s pretence that they don’t want THE Customs Union but A Customs Union is farcical. They haven’t spelled out what they want for a deal that would take about 3 years to negotiate but have put a block in the way of any deal. They want to end the free movement of Labour. No Customs Union deal with the EU is possible without such free movement.

So why am I talking about this when, some might say, I should be concentrating on the local elections? It is because these decisions will have a huge effect on our Country; our City; and our Council. Who knows what problems we will face if we leave without a deal or even with a poor one? They are just unquantifiably huge. How will all these affect what we need to spend money on and how much money will we have? No-one knows.

So unusually I am asking the people of Liverpool to look at international issues at this set of local elections. Electing more Lib Dem councillors in Liverpool will have two effects:

  1. It will help the resilience of our City by having more people elected that understand the need to answer questions like those above and who can plan, with our partners, local solutions for the problems which will beset us; and
  • It will send a message to the b****rs in London that enough is enough. The Mother of Parliaments is a disgrace to us all. We can’t chuck Tories out In Liverpool – it’s 25 years since they elected a Councillor in this City. We can chuck out Labour councillors who support a Party whose Leader nationally is acting as Theresa may’s little helper in bringing us to the edge of a no deal precipice which would set our nation back decades.
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Lib Dems field strong candidates in every seat in Liverpool for May 2 elections

Me with Barbara Mace (Woolton); Alan Tormey (Childwall); Rob McAlister-Bell (Mosley Hill); and Norman Mills (Cressington) after our adoption as candidates last year.

For the second year running Liverpool Lib Dems are contesting all of the 30 seats up for election and this is one of the strongest teams we have put before the Liverpool electorate for many years.

These seats were last fought in 2015 when Richard Kemp was one of only 2 opposition councillors to get elected which means that the Lib Dems are defending 1 seat; Greens 1 and Labour are defending 28. Since 2015 the number of Lib Dem Councillors has risen from 2 to 8 and they are, once again clearly the only real opposition to Labour.

The Lib Dem team is:

  • a good mix of young and old with 4 candidates being under 27.
  • a mix of experienced campaigners such as Barbara Mace seeking to return to the Council in Woolton and Norman Mills in Cressington and Cllr Richard Kemp in Liverpool.
  • highly educated with no less than 4 Doctors standing led by Dr Fiona McBride in Allerton Hunts Cross but also Chris Collins in St Michaels, Jo Slupsky in Fazakerley and Wiebke Ruterjans in Speke-Garston.
  • experienced in industry and commerce with Rob McAlister-Bell (Mossley Hill) being a senior manager in one of the Country’s largest retailers and Alan Tormey whom is standing in Childwall being human resources manager for a large North West Based Company.
  • Musical with self employed musician and composer Alex Cottrell fighting in County Ward
  • Fielding some brand-new faces including Sean Robertson, standing in Clubmoor, who was a Labour member for 30 years and Graham Hughes who quit Labour to stand as an independent in the 2015 General Election and then joined the Lib Dems.

Other new faces include includes James Madine in Anfield who is a new member, Jenny Goulding in Tuebrook & Stoneycroft, Susan Kennaugh-Dyson in Everton and Dewi John in Greenbank Ward

  • Inclusive of a celebrity. Graham Hughes is a leading anti-Brexit campaigner, travels the country and holds the Guinness world record for travelling to all the countries in the world without a plane.

Cllr Richard Kemp, Liverpool’s Lib Dem Leader said, “I am delighted that we are once again fielding a full team across the City and it’s a Premier League team that can take Liverpool back to national and international glory.

Every vote given and every seat gained will hasten the end of Joe Anderson as this City’s Leader. It is a highly varied team which will enable the city to withstand the head winds that will be caused by the aftermath of BREXIT and the introduction of a new financing system for local government which will discriminate against our City.

Cllr Kemp can be contacted on 07885 626913

Allerton and Hunts Cross       Fiona McBride

Anfield                                    James Madine

Belle Vale                               Steve Atkinson

Central                                    Sam Buist

Childwall                                Alan Tormey

Church                                    Richard Kemp CBE

Clubmoor                               Sean Robertson

County                                    Alex Cottrell

Cressington                            Norman Mills

Croxteth                                 Bill Barrow

Everton                                   Susan Kennaugh-Dyson

Fazakerley                              Jo Slupsky

Greenbank                             Dewi John

Kensington and Fairfield        Pat Moloney

Kirkdale                                  Mike McAllister-Bell

Knotty Ash                              Graham Hughes

Mossley Hill                            Rob McAllister-Bell

Norris Green                           Angela Hulme

Old Swan                                Norman Darbyshire

Picton                                     Steve Brauner

Princes Park                            Tom Sebire

Riverside                                 Anna McCracken

Speke-Garston                       Wiebke Ruterjans

St Michael’s                            Chris Collins

Tuebrook and Stoneycroft     Jenny Goulding

Warbreck                                Gerard Thompson

Wavertree                              Graham Hulme

West Derby                            Paul Parr

Woolton                                 Barbara Mace

Yew Tree                                 Jackie Wilson

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I’m still angry so I’m standing again on May 2nd

After a mere 36 years as a Liverpool City Councillor I am standing once again at the elections on May 2nd! I am doing so because I love Liverpool and feel that I still have something to contribute towards its improvement as part of the Lib Dem team

A personal message to the people of Church Ward

Today I have submitted my nomination papers and can confirm that I will be seeking re-election for the Council in May. As I have gone around meeting people in my Church Ward of Liverpool in the past few months, a number of people have asked me in a very friendly way, “why after 36 years as a councillor are you standing again?”

The idea of standing down after all those years has been a little tempting but that is not the answer that I have given. My response is actually very simple. “I’m standing again because I am still so angry about the way both the City and the Country that I live in are run locally by Joe Anderson and nationally by Theresa May”.

Locally, we pour money away on a spare mayor and a police commissioner whose name and role most people are totally unaware of. We buy buildings and make a loss on them and our green and physical heritage are under serious threat by a council that just does not care.

Nationally, we are seeing the realities of Brexit. Whether you are for or against you can unite behind my statement that national politicians have behaved disgracefully and that the debates in Parliament and the Country have been farcical.

But it does not have to be this way. I believe in a politics which starts with people and goes via the Town Hall to Parliament. Too many politicians believe that power goes the other way. It starts with Parliament and bits can be given to councils and even smaller bits to people.

Locally, I heard what you said about Calderstones Park and have been proud to work alongside those people who raised £40,000 and got 53,000 names on a petition to fight the plan. The fight is not yet over. We must continue to be vigilant for all green space in the South Liverpool Green wedge and beyond as Mayor Anderson appeals against the Judicial Review decision. I campaign for better roads, with proper junctions along Menlove and Mather Avenues as clear priorities.

We need a cleaner environment and tighter controls on the way your taxes are spent.

Every month my colleagues and I issue to you all a Focus or a newspaper which tells you what is going on and what we are doing about it! Every month my colleagues Liz and Andrew Makinson and I stand in the open at the Allerton Road Farmers Market where anyone can nobble us about any issue. Every year we try and call at every house for a chat about local issues.

Liverpool faces a very uncertain future. We have no idea what money we will get from the government next year as the system of funding local government is subject to major change. It won’t be good news though. The Government is reducing the importance it gives to councils fighting poverty.

Liverpool will be buffeted by the headwinds of Brexit no matter what the final result is of the parliamentary shenanigans. High quality jobs have already been lost in the car and other industries and more will follow.

After 36 years as a Councillor (I am the longest serving Liverpool Councillor) which have included 8 years as the national Leader of Lib Dem Councillors and 10 years representing UK local government on the World Stage I have experience and contacts which I deploy daily not only for Church Ward but as Leader of the main opposition party on behalf of the City as a whole. I believe that experience is badly needed in a council that is often almost as bad as the House of Commons!!

Unlike many others I am always available at my home in the ward at 16, Dovedale Road, at my e-mail address richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk or on 07885 626913.

You will already know that May 2nd election is election day and I hope that those of you who live in Church Ward will, for the 5th time, re-elect me as your Councillor. If you do that I pledge, as always, to work to the very best of my ability for the community that both you and I live in.

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