10k Skills Wallets for Lifelong Learning

I’m delighted to see my party, the Liberal Democrats, taking life-long learning and training to the heart of our Education policy.

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Boris' Brexit deal is bad news

A study from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has found that Boris Johnson's Brexit deal will leave the UK £70bn worse off than if it had remained in the EU.

Responding to the news Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Exiting the EU said: 

“These figures come as no surprise. We know that there is no deal which is as good as the deal we have currently as members of the EU. That is why the Liberal Democrats will keep fighting to stop Brexit. 

“The Tories' obsession with Brexit at any cost puts our future prosperity at risk. It is unconscionable that any Government would voluntarily adopt a policy that would slow economic growth for years to come. Boris Johnson’s eagerness to push for such a damaging deal is shocking. 

“This General Election will decide the future of our country for generations. Liberal Democrats will be fighting to end this Brexit chaos. We are the strongest party of Remain and will be standing on a manifesto to stop Brexit by revoking Article 50.”

Nick Coates, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, added:

"After joining the LibDems in 2015 I launched myself into the 'Remain' campaign across North East Somerset. As a political novice at that time I was shocked at the deceit and misinformation being spouted by the 'Leave' campaign. There is still time to elect a sensible, centrist government, led by Jo Swinson, and to stop Brexit. Join me in my campaign".

Government leaves EU citizens in the lurch and worse

Earlier this week I met a young couple from Italy. They, along with nearly 600,000 others, have been given Pre-Settled Status, which only gives them Limited Leave to Remain in the UK for five years. Then, as they told me, they “will have to re-apply and we’ll see what happens”!


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What's happening with Brexit?

The Prime Minister is ‘negotiating’ a new Withdrawal Agreement. Note this is not a deal about anything which really impacts our future relationship with the EU. 5 to 10 years of further negotiations would be required to resolve other co-operation and trade arrangements. And Mr. Johnson appears to planning to either buy off the DUP or sell out over Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.

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No-deal Brexit could cost lives in North East Somerset

As we approach 31 October we appear, once more, to be lurching towards ‘no deal’.  Does this still pose problems for medical supplies? The answer, worryingly, is ‘yes’.

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Revoke Article 50 - not a surprise

At the Liberal Democrat conference we passed a motion which committed us to Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU. Commentators expressed surprise.

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Survey finds majority of North East Somerset residents oppose Bristol Airport Expansion

Increased air pollution and effects on climate change cited as the main concerns from opponents.

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Airport - just a car parking business

Bristol airport makes most of its profit from car parking and its retail franchises. It's no wonder then that its planning application to expand the airport, scheduled to go before North Somerset Council's planning committee later this month, includes nearly 4,000 extra car parking spaces. It's more shocking that, in order to protect its car parking monopoly, it has submitted an objection to a planning application for a private operator to build a car park near the M5.

Nick Coates, parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, said 'the airport has tried to dress up its application on the basis that it benefits economic growth in the region. That argument is shot to pieces by the recent New Economics Foundation report into the airport's business case challenging both assumptions and projections'. He goes on to say 'The airport is just a car parking business. At a time when we are facing a climate emergency and breathing increasing amounts of polluted air this is shameful and should be stopped.'

The airport often quotes a YouGov poll which cites 73% of 271 residents backing proposals to expand the airport. This igmores the more than 3,000 objections on the North Somerset Council planning portal.

Nick Coates has carried out his own survey of 281 residents from neighbouring North East Somerset, much of which is on the flight path. The key findings are:

  • There is a clear majority opposed to Airport Expansion. 39% strongly oppose and 16% oppose (total 55%) the expansion of the airport while 21% strongly support and 16% support (total 37%). The remainder neither oppose nor support.
  • Respondents from the Chew Valley are the most likely to oppose the expansion (80%).
  • The dominant reason for supporting was making it easier to fly overseas.
  • The dominant reasons for opposing were environmental – air pollution and climate related.
  • Very few (11%) people travel to Bristol Airport by public transport.
  • Nearly all the respondents (93%) fly to go on holiday. The business travellers were a higher (26%) percentage than expected given other independent measurements.

Given the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions (of which aviation’s contribution is projected to be the largest) and tackle air pollution, Nick Coates goes on to say:

'There should now be a moratorium on all airport expansion throughout the UK.

'I understand why people want to fly. My opposition is not to the airport or to flying. However, there is no substantive evidence that, if airport expansion does not proceedis, tourism will be negatively affected or this will inhibit economic growth – apart from anything else the effect of air pollution on our health and environmental pollution also has a significant cost.

'I will fight for air we can breathe in North East Somerset by continuing to oppose the expansion of the airport.'

Dangerous undermining of parliamentary sovereignty

When Rees-Mogg travelled to Balmoral as the leader of a small group of privy councillors on Wednesday to request the Queen prorogue Parliament he shows his total contempt for British democracy. This is no longer an issue of remain or leave, his actions have set a dangerous and alarming precedent, rightly receiving universal condemnation across all political parties. It is vital we allow Parliament a say in our country's future.
Rees-Mogg's contempt is underlined when he called the outrage, demonstrated right across the UK, 'confected'. Nick Coates, LibDem parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset said:
'I was out on the streets with others on Wednesday evening. There was no confected outrage. There was alarm, concern for our democracy. Wera Hobhouse spoke passionately about her experience in her early life the other side of the iron curtain.'
Mark Francois, another member of the ERG is right when says 'It is now the people versus the establishment and - for the sake of democracy - the people must win' although it is also obvious that he, Mogg and Johnson are the establishment and the people, who are already on the streets, will be fighting to protect democracy.

LibDems target developers who try to wriggle out of housing obligations

Developers who try to wriggle out of building social and affordable housing will have to come back to planning committee, thanks to new rules introduced by the Lib Dems running B&NES Council.

Larger housing projects usually come with a quota for the provision of social and/or affordable housing for rent or sale. Some developers try to avoid this by demonstrating that the development as a whole would not be ‘viable’ were they required to build some less expensive units.

Councillor Tim Ball (Twerton), Cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said:

“In recent years we have seen an increasing trend of developers trying to game the system, using so-called ‘viability assessments’ to avoid building the social and affordable housing required by their planning consent.

“We feel that, in these cases, it’s only right that the studies should be examined by the Planning Committee, in public, rather than behind closed doors.

“Likewise, if a developer has received permission for a major project, but then comes back wanting to make significant material changes, the Committee should be able to revisit the application. We intend to publish for public consumption all the details of viability assessments and other changes so that the public can question what is proposed.

“The Planning Committee is the right place for these issues to be decided. This isn’t just about openness and better decision making, this is about making sure we get the right sort of development for our area.

“The Lib Dems are committed to building and enabling more social housing and truly affordable housing for local people. These changes to planning procedures will help hold developers to their promises and  deliver the homes that are so desperately needed.”

Nick Coates, parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, added:

"Residents raise this issue with me on a regular basis so I am delighted that the new LibDem administration has moved quickly to close the loopholes that allow developers to wriggle out of committments particularly using viability assessments". 

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