Lord Alton Gets it right on Problem Gambling

David Alton
(Lord) David Alton is absolutely right about Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. The Government must act.
Over the past few days I have received a number of  briefings about the ‘crack gambling habit’ provided by Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). I have no problem with gambling although I never gamble myself. However, there are more than 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK with problems that affect their careers, wealth, family and health. FOBTs are one of the major problems with this allowing gamblers to lose their entire salaries and then go into debt in minutes.
This area of activity needs better regulation and more action. Currently the levy  on gambling companies is woefully inadequate and is not even paid in full.
I was going to do a blog about this but my old Friend (Lord) David Alton came up with a  cracker of a speech in the House of Lords earlier this week. David, of course, sits as a Cross Bench (Independent) peer but I agree with his sentiments and practicalities so instead of doing my own blog I am cheating and posting David’s speech in full.
I hope that you too will agree with it
Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, I too warmly welcome this debate and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Belmont, on his speech and on initiating the debate. I wholeheartedly agree with and endorse his remarks, along with those of the other preceding speakers.
In preparing for the debate I have been struck by the fact that the problem gamblers I have spoken to are also passionately against the two-tier system referred to by the noble Lord. One of them, Justyn Larcombe, emailed me this morning, giving me permission to quote him. He said:
“I am at a loss to understand why the Gambling Commission would have settled for this approach. Given that some companies own multiple sites, it doesn’t take a genius to work out why the industry might have pressured the commission into this bizarre arrangement … When you want to self-exclude, you are desperate and, by definition, you want to cut yourself off from all gambling opportunities. The idea that anyone reaches that point and wants to cut themselves off from bet365, but not Paddy Power, is farcical”.
Endorsing a point that we have heard in preceding speeches, he adds:
“It is in the middle of the night that the most destructive online gambling takes place. If it could be shut down overnight in the UK, as in Finland, that would really help increase protections for problem gamblers”.
I will return to each of Mr Larcombe’s points in my remarks.
For 25 years, as a city councillor or Member of the House of Commons, I represented inner-city neighbourhoods in Liverpool. Time and again, I saw the destructive effects of various forms of addiction. Addictive gambling had a corrosive and pernicious effect, with men in particular gambling wages or benefits that their wives and families desperately needed to keep hearth and hope together.
Fast forward to today and into the world of anti-social media; and as the Gambling Commission reminds us, the overall prevalence of at-risk gambling is at its worst among those who are enticed into online gambling. That tears lives, families and communities apart—and we should all reflect on the sometimes tragic consequences, which include suicide and other well-documented mental, physical, and emotional consequences, as we have heard. We have been reminded of tragic cases: the 23 year-old trainee accountant, Joshua Jones, who in the summer of 2015 leapt from the ninth storey of a London skyscraper to his death because his gambling debts had risen to £30,000; the 18 year-old, Omair Abbas, who committed suicide in 2016, having accumulated just over £5,000 of online gambling debts; and the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, reminded us of the death of a young man in Fermanagh who had accumulated staggering debts. This waste of life, full of promise, is desperately unnecessary. Gambling addiction destroys lives, but it can also destroy communities.
Fast forward again to 2017 and visit our hollowed-out high streets, where the dominating prevalence of charity shops and betting shops tell their own story of modern Britain. In a telling and sharp contrast, as local communities are disfigured and struggle for resources, the Local Government Association is right to remind us that the gross gambling yield from fixed-odds betting terminals rose from £1.05 billion in April 2008 to £1.73 billion in March 2016—an increase of 65%. Those figures hardly suggest that the Gambling Act has struck the right balance between the needs of local communities and the rights of multimillion-pound businesses. I particularly agree with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, who told us that we ought to enforce many more restrictions on gambling advertising.
The fact that our laws lack balance is also illustrated by the findings of the Gambling Commission, which tells us that the UK now has the largest regulated online gambling market in the world. In one recent year, the remote gambling sector generated a gross gambling yield—defined as the amount retained by operators after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of costs—of a staggering £4.5 billion. That is a 32% market share of an even more staggering £13.8 billion generated over the same period by the gambling industry as a whole. Again, it was the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, who reminded us of the obscene levels of remuneration by some of the captains of this industry.
Problem gamblers in Great Britain—defined as those who gamble to a degree that compromises, disrupts or damages family, personal or recreational pursuits—are estimated to comprise some 430,000 people, mainly men, with a further 2 million deemed “at risk” of problem gambling. To combat that, the commission says that we can harness technology to provide some degree of protection; in particular, it points to the online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, mentioned by noble Lords in the debate, scheduled to be in place by 2018. However, again, as Justyn Larcombe told me:
“I am at a loss to understand why the commission would have settled for this approach”.
The Gambling Commission licence conditions and codes of practice, in paragraphs 3.5.4 and 3.5.5, appear to suggest that individual sites should continue to run their own self-exclusion system in addition to MOSES. I am underlining the point of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, which is extremely important. I can see that the Minister may be tempted to suggest that having two systems is better than one; in some situations there can be wisdom in a belt-and-braces approach, but not here. The existence of two systems is likely to generate confusion, whereas problem gamblers, such as Mr Larcombe, want to be able to self-exclude from all legal sites at the same time. I very much hope that we are misreading paragraphs 3.5.4 and 3.5.5 and that GAMSTOP will replace all individual online self-exclusion provisions. However, if it does not, I must ask what evidence the Gambling Commission and the Government have from genuine problem gamblers that there is a desire for a two-tier system. I hope the Minister will reflect on that.
As others have done, let me say something about the statutory levy. I particularly endorse what my noble friend Lady Howe said to the House a little while ago. I raised the issue of the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in another context with the Minister who will reply to the debate. I find it quite extraordinary that, without a hint of irony, at the conclusion of page 16 and beginning of page 17, the paper states:
“While the Secretary of State has the power in legislation to bring forward a gambling levy, in practice the sector provides voluntary contributions and support. The majority of these voluntary payments go to GambleAware, a leading charity in Britain committed to minimising gambling-related harm”.
Reading that, it sounds as if the Government are relaying a good-news story of successful self-regulation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The industry is supposed generously to contribute 0.1% of gross gambling yield, £14 million, and yet it cannot manage even that. Last year, it managed only £8 million, sufficient to enable GambleAware to fund treatment for 8,000 people. Yet there are 430,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. The Secretary of State should use the regulation-making powers afforded to her by Section 123 of the Gambling Act to give effect to the statutory levy. In my judgment, it should be at least at the level of the problem prevalence figure: 0.8% of gross gambling yield.
Justyn Larcombe also told me:
“It is in the middle of the night that the most destructive online gambling takes place”.
He referred to the situation in Finland. To deal with this challenge will necessitate legislation requiring gambling sites not to accept bets between midnight and 6 am, and financial transaction providers not to process gambling transactions between those hours. As well as reducing the hours during which people can gamble, I hope the Minister will consider reducing maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals—B2 gaming machines—to just £2. The current maximum stake of £100 is significantly out of line with the maximum amounts that can be staked on other types of gaming machines. There is also credible evidence that these machines may be addictive particularly to problem gamblers and therefore pose a greater risk to them, as well as being linked to anti-social behaviour and crime in betting shops.
Then there is the role of the commission. The commission notes, as others have observed, that in 2008 public confidence and trust in gambling stood at 49%. Today, it stands at just 34%. The commission needs to ask why there has been that decline in public confidence. Along with others in your Lordships’ House, I think that we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Browne, for giving us the chance to raise these points and ask these questions today.
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Labour wants the Tory Government to impose planning policy in Liverpool

Norfolk Street

It’s because Labour are rabidly following Tory housing policy in Liverpool that we are stuck with sites like this that have seen no building work for 12 months

I have today written to the Head of the Paid Service of Liverpool Council demanding immediate action to recruit a City Planning Officer after the post has been left unfilled for 18 months. My move comes days after the Government announced that Liverpool, along with just 14 other councils, would face intervention because of the Council’s failure to produce a Local Development Framework which is now 6 years overdue.

In my e-mail to the Head of the Paid Service I have made clear the scale of the problem. This document should have been produced in 2011 and indeed we were on track as a council to meet this deadline. Instead the date has been pushed further and further back. This has already had effects on our land allocation and building development. When we have tried to resist things in the planning committee we have been told that we cannot because we are relying on a document that was effectively completed in 2001. Much has changed since then.

I believe that there is a hidden agenda here. I believe that Mayor Anderson wants the Tory Government to decide land use policy in the City because at the end of the day the Labour administration in Liverpool is delivering Tory housing policy. From the partnership with Redrow to complicity in the sale of dodgy developments to investors throughout the World; from shoddily built student accommodation to the building of yet more flats on land zoned for industry and commerce Joe Anderson has been doing what the Tories want. Wouldn’t it be easier for him politically if he could blame the Government for doing what he wants to do all along?

Of course, there could be a simpler solution – Labour just doesn’t know how important the LDF is because it doesn’t understand it. We got two clues about this last week.

Firstly, in Council Cllr Small quoted an Echo front page article of something that I had said about housing need in 1981. He claimed that as I was saying something different today the motion that my colleagues had moved trying to get the council to support Jeremy Corbyn’s housing policy was hypocrisy. Well the fact is that I do ask for different things today than I asked for 36 years ago because the housing situation and the way society works has massively changed in those 36 years. It would be ludicrous for me to be saying the same things now as I said then. It is just as ludicrous to have a land use policy which stared to be developed in 1992 and which was signed off in 2002.

Secondly, the Deputy Mayor, no less, went onto Radio Merseyside saying that this problem was all of the Government’s making because the Government had not given the council enough money for housing. Of course, we don’t get enough money and in practice today’s announcement from the Chancellor will make little difference because of the way it will be doled out. But what we are able  build on land today or in the short term has little to do with how we allocate land. Cllr O’Byrne was making her usual phony baloney excuses which are falling on increasingly deaf ears.

So, whether Liverpool is in the mess it is in because of stupidity or complicity is somewhat irrelevant. We need a Chief Planning Officer with vision and drive to produce a document which will save our green spaces; save industrial and commercial land for development and ensure that housing is put on the brownfield land which, in most cases was formerly housing.

Otherwise it will be Mrs May and her apparatchiks who will decide what will be built where and I cannot believe that any true Scouser wants that to happen.

This is the full message to the Head of the Paid Service in Liverpool

XXXXXXX  XXXXXXX,

Deputy Chief Executive & Head of the Paid Service,

Liverpool City Council

Dear XXXXXXXXX,

I am extremely saddened to hear that the Government are to intervene in Liverpool because of our abject failure to produce a Local Development Framework (LDF).

The LDF is a vital council document as it controls the land supply for Liverpool and ensures that there is a proper mix of land allocation for housing; commerce; industry and public-sector operations such as schools and hospitals.

This document should have been produced in 2011 and indeed we were on track as a council to meet this deadline. Instead the date has been pushed further and further back. This has already had effects on our land allocation and building development. When we have tried to resist things in the planning committee we have been told that we cannot because we are relying on a document that was effectively completed in 2002. Much has changed since then.

The purpose of writing to you is simply to demand that you, as Head of the Paid Service and Deputy Chief Executive take immediate steps to begin the process of recruiting a City Planning Officer. Not only is our LDF delayed but there is clearly a lack of leadership in planning which detracts from so much valiant effort by most of our planning staff.

Unless we act the Conservative Government will decide what the planning polices for Liverpool are. That is not good enough. A city with all the developments that are going or at least talked about, needs a fully functioning planning department.

I would be grateful if you would let me know as a matter of urgency what You and the Council intend to do to recruit a high calibre Chief Planning Officer and get our planning strategy back on track.

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,

Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

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90 MPs from all Parties get together to fight for the NHS

AllPartyNHS

This is the letter that 90 MPs sent to the Prime Minister last week. We need all-Party action like this if we are to save the NHS

At the end of last week, a highly important development took place when 90 MPs from all Parties got together to write to the Prime Minister demanding action on the NHS.

They believe, as do I, that if the NHS is to be saved and kept true to its original ideals then this can only be achieved by trying to reach a none-political, none-Party consensus. Remember, this was how the NHS was established in the first place. It was a Labour Government that set it up but the programme that was used was created by Beveridge, a life-long Liberal.

Changing the NHS is not just about money, although money is needed. The NHS has not adapted to the massive demographic changes in our society. It has not, organisationally, caught up with many of the advances made by its own doctors, clinicians and researchers.

No further comment from me is required as I believe that the letter, reprinted in full above, speaks for itself. I think that this is an important contribution to the debate about the NHS. What do you think?

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Disgraceful Scenes at Liverpool Town Hall as Labour vote down motions on Academic Freedom; sodium valproate; Safe Parking & supported Redrow Homes domination of Liverpool housing

LpoolTH

Liverpool Town Hall was again seen as part of a ‘demockery’ than a democracy as Labour voted down very reasonable Lib Dem motions and the Mayor used sexist language

There were disgraceful scenes in Liverpool Town Hall last night as Labour voted against four Lib Dem motions on four areas of vital concern to the people of Liverpool. As usual the Mayor of Liverpool let himself and his Party down by accusing Cllr Juarez of being a fishwife and then telling the Liverpool Echo that this was neither sexist or an insult! We will be reporting him to the Council’s Standards Committee.

The first defeat we expected. Labour voted against a very reasonable call to end the partnership with Redrow Homes and build homes that people want; that fights the scourge of shabby leasehold deals and which would increase the revenue into the Council. What we did not expect was the two remaining Labour councillors for Allerton& Hunts Cross and one of the Labour councillors for Woolton vigorously defending Redrow. This is what Labour voted against:

Housing Policy by Councillors Mirna Juarez and Andrew Makinson

Council believes that Jeremy Corbyn is right when he says that good housing should be for the “Many and Not the Few”.  Accordingly, it requests the Mayor of Liverpool to end the Partnership with Redrow Homes and advertise all land suitable for housing in the Council’s ownership to all builders producing more modest and affordable homes which would keep more of our young people in the City after their first move from apartments and by having a higher density would bring greater council tax revenues for the City.

Further it calls on council land to be sold for housing only if the freehold is sold to the house purchaser as part of the original sale.

They then went on to a motion which we had naively expected to get all-Party support for because it relates to concerns about mothers and their unborn children and what could happen to them if Sodium Valproate is used during pregnancy. We don’t know why they voted against it because the motion was not debated:

Sodium Valproate by Councillor Mirna Juarez

Council notes that sodium valproate carries a high risk of abnormalities in unborn babies if the drug is taken during pregnancy by epileptic bi-polar and migraine patients. Campaigners reckon that as many as 20,000 children in the UK could have been harmed by the drug.

When sodium valproate is taken during pregnancy it can affect how the baby develops in the womb and cause birth defects, including:

·      ‘minor malformations’ (such as small fingers and toes) and

·      ‘major malformations’ (such as spina bifida or a cleft palate, which may need surgery to correct them).

When sodium valproate is taken during pregnancy, it may also affect the child’s development and learning after they are born and as they grow up.  These problems can include –

·       delayed walking and talking;

·       poor speech and language skills;

·       memory problems; and

·       lower intelligence than other children of the same age.

Children exposed to sodium valproate in the womb are also more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder. 

To avoid unplanned pregnancy, women and girls of child bearing ages need to be aware of effective contraception if taking sodium valproate to control epileptic seizures as the drug can affect the efficiency of contraception methods.

Due to severe harm that this drug can cause to unborn babies, that this Council will conduct a public health campaign aimed at childbearing women in the city that will highlight the severe effects of sodium valproate.

Labour then sided with a Tory whip who sent letters around to try and dig out information about the work being done by Universities and their lecturers. This failure to support academic freedom is an absolute disgrace. Again, this is the motion that Labour voted down without a vote:

Academic Integrity of our Universities by Councillors Malcolm Kelly and Richard Kemp, CBE

Council recognises that our Universities in Liverpool are among the best in the UK and that Liverpool Universities are among the best in the World. It believes that one of the reasons for this is the academic integrity of our universities and the respect that this gives them which enables them to attract students at all levels and research.

It therefore regrets that a senior Conservative MP has tried to find out the names and course content of lecturers in political or European Studies dealing with issues relating to Brexit.

It believes that Liverpool needs all the information it can get on a Brexit which will cause major problems for our industry and commerce. It therefore supports the Vice Chancellors of Liverpool; Liverpool John Moore’s and Liverpool Hope Universities in resisting the request for information and asks them to continue to provide properly researched and academically rigorous papers which outline the effect of Brexit on our City Region.

Lastly, they voted against a self-financing way of improving road safety in the City. Anyone who goes into any of our district centres like Allerton Road; Woolton Village; Old Swan and Allerton Road know that people park dangerously; disrupt the flow of traffic for other car users and push pedestrians, especially those with prams and mobility problems, onto the street. Why did Labour oppose this very reasonable request? We don’t know because there was no debate. This is the motion:

Parking and safety on our Streets

Council notes the significant issues throughout the city caused by inconsiderate parking. These include risk of injury to pedestrians and danger to other road users, together with a cost to the council in repairing damaged pavements, and tripping claims. These issues led the previous Liberal Democrat administration to decriminalise parking enforcement in Liverpool in 2004, and set up a team of 60 Parking Enforcement Officers.

Council notes that the current number of Parking Enforcement Officers has now fallen to 38, despite the service being self-financing, and consistently generating a surplus which is invested in highway safety measures.

Council further notes the continuing demand from communities across Liverpool for adequate parking enforcement, especially around schools, and that the resolution unanimously agreed at the council meeting on 20thSeptember 2017 to crackdown on pavement parking will result in even further demand on overstretched enforcement team.

Council therefore calls upon the Cabinet Member for Highways and City Services to urgently seek to restore the parking enforcement team to their previous levels, and examine whether this number will be adequate to cope with their planned additional responsibility to deal with pavement parking.

So just to recap Labour like Redrow but do not care about Pedestrian Safety; the safety of unborn children or academic freedom. We hope that the people of Liverpool will remember this callous behaviour when they come to vote next May.

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Lib Dems welcome Mayor Rotheram’s report back session

Rotheram      anderson

Two Labour Mayors for Liverpool but one is playing in a different league. It’s time for the spare Mayor to realise this and go

Liverpool Lib Dems have welcomed yesterday’s report back session on Mayor Rotheram’s first 6 months. Which I was pleased to attend along with my Lib Dem colleague from the  Wirral, Phil Gilchrist and .Tom Crone the Green Leader in Liverpool. Noticeable absentees were any member of Joe Anderson’s Labor Cabinet in Liverpool and of course Joe Anderson himself.

The openness and transparency of Mayor Rotherham is in stark contrast to the behaviour of the Mayor of Liverpool. Mayor Anderson is the only political leader in the U.K. who cannot be challenged anywhere in the governance process by the people who have been elected by the people or the people themselves.

We don’t agree with everything Steve has done but he has already shown himself to be in a different league from Joe by being transparent, thinking long-term and involving the other Parties in his work.

When it comes to the detail of what Steve announced Lib Dems agree with most of it. This is because most of it was In Carl Cashman’s manifesto for the election  and not that of Labour.

After six months Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has finally announced his plans for the Liverpool city region. Some of those plans you may already be familiar with.

Steve Rotheram announced ‘plans to “re-brand and remodel” the current Walrus card that is used on across the Merseytravel public transport network. The aim will be to make access to public transport more “streamlined” and “customer friendly” with a new-look system of smart ticketing more like the Oyster card used in London.’

This may remind you of one of Carl Cashman’s Pledges: ‘Expand the Walrus card system, creating an ‘Oyster-like’ system across the region, to include buses trains, ferries, tunnels and bridges. Unifying our transport network into one single contactless payment.’

The similarities don’t stop there. Steve Rotheram’s policy announcement on Mersey tunnels will also be familiar, as he pledged to “Make cross-river transport and movement easier and more affordable by creating a more affordable Fast Tag for Mersey Tunnel users.” 

Carl Cashman’s pledge: “Reduce the Mersey tunnel tolls for commuters to and from the Wirral and lobby government to make the tunnel tolls free like that of London.”

On the digital economy Steve Rotheram has pledged to ‘Support the Region’s digital economy and work with leading technology businesses to turn the Liverpool City Region into the UK’s premier digital hub’. That may sound eerily familiar to those who have read Carl Cashman’s manifesto, as that is a word for word identical pledge to the one proposed by Carl.

Developing a tidal lagoon is also a policy promoted by the Liberal Democrats during the metro mayoral election. Yesterday Steve Rotheram announced “The appointment of respected industry leader, Brent Cheshire, until recently UK Chair of Dong Energy, as the man who will spearhead plans to harness the power of the River Mersey.” 

Carl Cashman’s Pledge: “As a Liberal Democrat mayor I will promote and aid in the development of a tidal energy lagoon off Southport and promote the use of innovative renewable solutions.”

On brownfield sites Steve Rotheram announced that “Plans will be put forward to adopt a “brownfield first” approach to new housing developments across the city region. This will be done by creating the first ever City Region Brown Field Register.

This may remind you of the Liberal Democrat plans to “launch a Brownfield Development Cooperative to work in conjunction with a new Merseyside Land Commission to ensure Brownfield sites are brought forward for development and to protect our Green Belt.”

Lib Dems have worked with residents from every corner of the region to develop a vision that would have a real positive impact on people’s lives and our communities. We work towards that vision with every councillor we elect and every candidate we put forward.

The Liberal Democrats have the most ambitious vision for the Liverpool city region – and it’s clear from yesterday’s announcement that the Liverpool Labour Party agree with us.

After the meeting I reiterated the offer from Lib Dems across the City Region to work with him. Given the similarity of our policies and the terrible problems that will be created by BREXIT it is important that we minimise our differences and maximise our similarities. Mayor Rotheram accepted that offer yesterday and I will be making arrangements to meet him with fellow Lib Dem leaders in the near future.

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Lib Dems Urge Liverpool Council to back Corbyn’s housing policy

Corbyn

It would appear that the Lib Dems are more supportive of Jeremy Corbyn’s housing policy than his own colleagues in Liverpool led by Mayor Anderson

At Wednesday’s Council Meeting my Lib Dem Group colleagues Mirna Juarez and Andrew Makinson are asking Council to back Jeremy Corbyn’s housing policy of “for the many -not the few” and ditch the housing partnership with Redrow Homes.

I am delighted that they are exploding the myth that the Partnership with Redrow is delivering neither the homes that we need to improve our housing stock and communities nor the money to invest in social homes. As Andrew and Mirna are arguing what they are building is not what the local communities require and the money that it is producing is producing no more capital for the Council than if we sold the land to any developer. It is also producing less council tax to keep our services going because of the low density of the build.

It would appear that in Liverpool the Liberal Democrats are more in tune with the housing ambitions of the national Labour Leader than is the local Labour Leader Joe Anderson with his great desire to build Redrow palaces!

In moving the motion Lib Dem Cllr for Allerton & Hunts Cross Mirna Juarez will say, “the current partnership with Redrow Homes is failing to deliver the housing that Liverpool needs. Instead of a handful of high priced homes the South Liverpool area where Redrow likes to build needs more 3 bed semis and two bed flats.

In the council’s own figures in Woolton, Church, Allerton, Cressington and Mossley Hill wards there are 4,459 people living alone, many of them in substantial houses. They need two bedroomed flats to move to in the areas where they live. This would release big homes to young families. At the same time the starting price of £300,000 up to £650,000 on the Redrow Homes is way beyond the reach of young families who are continuing to leave our City”.

The motions’ seconder Cllr Andrew Makinson will add, “this is not a good financial deal either. The latest figures are that the cash received from Redrow to date has only assisted with the provision of 96 social homes. This is no more than would have been received in land sales and section 106 planning agreements than from any other developer and we would probably have got more for the land if separately tendered. Because so few houses are built on the land our council tax take is a lot less than if we had agreed a larger number of smaller homes”.

Leaving aside the Redrow Partnership the motion also addresses the problems highlighted in local media of the sale of the freeholds of properties to greedy speculators who then hold residents to ransom with a string of charges. The motion asks for an agreement on the sale of any land by the Council that it be subject to the sale of the freehold of the land to the resident being included in the initial sale. If that is not possible the freeholds should be held by specific companies owned by the freeholders of the estate. Liberal Democrats believe that the council should not support a system whereby unsuspecting home-owners are held to ransom by greedy profiteers.

ENDS:  Cllr Juarez can be contacted on 07954 434476

Cllr Makinson can be contacted on 07939 220336

Attached below the full text of the motion

Cllr Mirna Juarez    Cllr Andrew Makinson

Housing Policy

Council believes that Jeremy Corbyn is right when he says that good housing should be for the “Many and Not the Few”. Accordingly, it requests the Mayor of Liverpool to end the Partnership with Redrow Homes and advertise all land suitable for housing in the Council’s ownership to all builders producing more modest and affordable homes which would keep more of our young people in the City after their first move from apartments and by having a higher density would bring greater council tax revenues for the City.

Further it calls on council land to be sold for housing only if the freehold is sold to the house purchaser as part of the original sale.

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Tomorrow I will wear my red poppy with pride and respect

rbl-logo-222

I’ve bought my poppy and a wreath and I will wear and carry them both with pride tomorrow at Liverpool’s Cenotaph

Tomorrow, as I have done for the past 6 years, I will represent my Party and its supporters at the Liverpool Cenotaph at St George’s Place on Remembrance Sunday. I will do so and lay a wreath which my Party has paid for and will feel honoured to be one of the first people to lay such a wreath.

Why am I bothering to tell you this as most people will take it for granted that I and thousands like me will be doing that tomorrow? It’s because some people have tried to defile the nature of the remembrance event and its powerful poppy symbol. They think it appropriate to wear a white poppy or just condemn the whole activity as delighting and rejoicing in war. That’s not me and I doubt that it is any of the people that will gather around war memorials nationwide to remember.

I am not that bothered about the white poppy idea. If people feel that is the best way to remember and think about the occasion so be it. I will wear a red poppy for two reasons. Firstly, because the flowers of Flanders were red poppies. Secondly, as they have the colour of blood they most accurately commemorate the ultimate sacrifice that millions of people all over the world paid in conflict after conflict.

I do not believe that all those conflicts are justified or honourable in the terms of those who started them. For example, I believe that the first Iraq War was justified as Iraq had invaded a friendly country. I believe that the second Iraq war was not justified because it was based on a lie – a lie that was easy to spot unless you were a jingoistic Labour PM or a jingoistic American President.

I believe that the major conflicts of the 20th Century were justified. There was a clear aggressor basing their actions on a vile ideology. They oppressed Jews, Gays, trades unionists and the mentally ill in their own Country and exported their violence to other Countries. The UK could have stayed out of both wars and perhaps reached an accommodation with an Imperialist Germany which would have dominated the whole of Europe and world affairs. But not for long. That would have been a position of subservience that would acquiesce to the gas chambers and the shootings. I would have signed up for the armed forces  for either of those wars had I been alive at the time

But even if I did not approve of the wars I would honour those who fought for this Country with valour and distinction. “Theirs not to reason why – theirs but to do and die” go the words in the Charge of the Light Brigade and that’s what people did. My Dad enlisted in the RAF and I have tremendous pride in reading the letters that he wrote to my mother particularly as he went out in an early ship (he was in radar) and described his feelings. In particular I see that he honoured his opponents. He knew that most Germans were, “good chaps just like us”. They had fallen foul of a loathsome regime but they too heard their Country’s call.

My mum left Liverpool at the age of 20 and joined the WAAF, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She met dad on a gun and radar emplacement on the East coast near Skegness where she was a plotter. I think of here every time I walk along Whitehall and see the monument to the work and deaths of the Women in wars and the sacrifices they made to keep our Country going.

I think of these things when I walk past the Nerve Centre of the Convoys at the back of the Town Hall. Tens of thousands of Scousers died at sea and have no grave. Hopefully we capture the names of the men who died in such a way in WWI in the Chamber of Remembrance which is the anteroom to our Town Hall Chamber.

I think of these things every time that I pass the Bombed-Out Church where we commemorate all the civilians who died in Liverpool and elsewhere and we also remember the Irish Famine victims who came to Liverpool in search of a new land but who ended up buried here in their thousands.

I know I am right every Remembrance Sunday because in front of where the Party Leaders stand is where the Royal British Legion assemble their marchers. To see their backs stiffen as the bugles stand is a privilege. To see them stand proud as their standards are lowered along with the Union Flag reminds me of one thing – that wars are not fought on computer screens but by real people who risk their all for their Country. I hope that all parents will talk to their children about Remembrance Sunday and observe the 2-minute silence with them.

The number of people who have fought for us is declining along with our reduced role in the world. When I was boy I knew loads of people who had fought. That made war real to me. Our children do not have such first-hand knowledge and that is why children should be made aware of war and its realities and why as many as possible must make the trip to the death fields of Flanders and the horrors of the Dachau and Auschwitz.

“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them”

 

 

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