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  • Article: Jul 22, 2016
    By Cllr. John Howson
    The Education Secretary, Justine Greening, has announced that the new National Funding Formula for schools won't now come into force next year, but in 2018-19 at the earliest. It will be introduced then only after a consultation sometime in the autumn.
    This is bad news for Oxfordshire schools that might have expected to be winners out of any new formula. The government shouldn't have raised hopes by starting a consultation process this spring that they couldn't finish within the announced time scale.
    Cllr. John Howson, Spokesperson for Education says "Raising hopes only to see them dashed won't win the Tories many votes, especially as the announcement was slipped out at the end of term in a written answer. Lib Dems believe that our schools in Oxfordshire need proper funding"
    Cllr. John Howson
    Lib Dem spokesperson on Education
    Oxfordshire County Council
  • Suzanne Fletcher, Chair of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary (LD4SOS)
    Article: Jul 22, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government for slipping out an announcement that Cedars pre-departure accommodation is to close.

    It raises the prospect of children once again being held in immigration detention centres - a practice ended by the Liberal Democrats in Government.

    Liberal Democrats in Coalition established the centre to end the detention of children, and the Conservatives have used the final day of the Parliamentary session to reverse the move.

    Prior to 2010, thousands of children were being detained in prison-like conditions. During Labour's last 5 years in government, over 7,000 innocent children were held in adult detention centres, sometimes for weeks and months at a time.

    The establishment of the centre was driven by Sarah Teather and Nick Clegg and following the news of its closure the Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary have set out 10 questions the government must answer.

    Aside from scrapping the centre the Conservatives have failed to offer any assurances on what will replace it, the emotional support that vulnerable children will be given or any preparations that will be made for them ahead of their return to a country that many of them may not even remember.

    Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman Alistair Carmichael said:

    "Ending the detention of children for immigration purposes was one of the first priorities of Liberal Democrats in government. It is the mark of our society how we treat the most vulnerable and it is disgusting that the Conservatives are now rolling back such an important measure.

    "It is outrageous they slipped out this announcement on the last day of Parliamentary business, and they must now set out what exactly is going to happen to children in the future. We cannot have a return to the days of children being locked up in immigration detention centres, as happened under Labour. The Government has a lot of questions that remained unanswered."

    Chair of Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary, Suzanne Fletcher, who has visited Cedars, and been part of an Independent Monitoring Board until the change of Government last year said:

    "Cedars provided an oasis of care and calm at a very traumatic time for those families with children who very sadly were being sent against their will back to their country of origin. , and our Government should be ashamed of such a backward step."

  • A pair of wedding rings (Jeff Belmonte. Licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.)
    Article: Jul 22, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats have branded the Conservative's Flagship Married Couples Tax Allowance policy a 'pathetic failure' after figures revealed that only a fraction of eligible couples had bothered claiming the allowance.

    Only 330,000 people have taken advantage of the allowance, equivalent to 8% of those eligible.

  • Child in prison cell mental health
    Article: Jul 21, 2016

    Alistair Carmichael has demanded the government rule out the prospect of children being kept in prison cells.

    This follows the government slipping out an announcement of the closure of the Cedars facility, which supports families who are being returned overseas by the Home Office. Ending child detention was a major Liberal Democrat achievement in the coalition government. The facilities were described as "exceptional" and their closure has also been attacked by Barnardo's.

  • Nick Clegg (The Guardian)
    Article: Jul 20, 2016

    Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has returned to the Liberal Democrat front bench as the party's European Union spokesperson in order to hold the Government to account over its plans for Brexit.

    Nick Clegg is uniquely well placed to challenge the Conservatives on their plans for Brexit. Not only did he sit around the cabinet table with Theresa May, Liam Fox and others, he was also a leading Member of the European Parliament and a trade negotiator in the European Commission under Leon Brittan. During the coalition years he established himself as the highest profile pro-European voice in British politics and is well known and respected in capitals across the continent.

  • Article: Jul 18, 2016
    By Cllr. Jean Fooks in The Oxford Times

    At the County Council meeting on April 1st 2014, Cllr Jean Fooks proposed a motion asking the Council to make reducing pollution by traffic a priority . It was supported by all Liberal Democrats, Labour, Green and Independent councillors - though most Conservatives just sat on their hands! Public Health officers were very pleased to have Council approval for working on this issue and the latest version of the Local Transport Plan (LTP4) has a new chapter detailing the work to be done to reduce the risk to health. In September 2015 at the full council meeting, Cllr. Jean Fooks' amendment was finally accepted and resulted in this separate chapter to the new plan. This recent version of LTP4 was voted through unanimously by all councillors at the full council meeting in July.

  • Article: Jul 13, 2016
    By Cllr. Richard Webber

    At the full Council meeting of Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday 12th July, the Liberal Democrats amended motion on Children's Centres was passed unanimously.

    The motion as amended is below:

    Council continues to supports the general principle that those in greatest need should have the highest priority. However, Council regrets that it has been compelled to abandon the concept of universal provision offered by our Children's Centres in Oxfordshire as a result of the Government's cuts in Local Authority funding. In the meantime, Council is aware that, as a result of the focus on the most needy children and families in our County, there will be large areas- particularly in the West which now have no Children Centre buildings - the same areas likely to suffer most from rural isolation as the Council removes bus subsidies. Ensuring that there was some compensation for these areas was a key statement agreed by Council in its February budget.

  • Article: Jul 13, 2016
    By Cllr John Howson
    According to a report published in 'Schools Week', the Country's only European-branded state school is at risk of not being able to offer its flagship qualification following an administrative foul-up. The Europa School UK (ESUK), is based in Culham in Oxfordshire. Go to the link: http://schoolsweek.co.uk/free-school-waits-for-morgan-to-approve-its-european-exam/
    County Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education Cllr John Howson said, "This issue needs to be sorted out and quickly. Although I am not a fan of free schools, this is a particular and unique school serving a specific purpose and important to attracting staff to work in the science community in Oxfordshire from across Europe. Any issue with the International Baccalaureate should be sorted out quickly to avoid uncertainty for parents and students".
  • Article: Jul 12, 2016

    Following Andrea Leadsom's withdrawal from the Conservative leadership race Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has called for an early General Election.

    A coronation of Theresa May as Prime Minister carries no mandate.

    Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat leader said:

    "Just 13 months after the last election the Conservatives have plunged the UK into chaos. It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned Prime Minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country.

  • Article: Jul 11, 2016

    Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has written to 7 Prime Ministers in fellow liberal sister parties throughout Europe, including the influential Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, asking for their support for a proposal to allow UK expats to reside freely in Europe even with Brexit.

    Tim was the first party leader to call for the UK Government to agree that EU nationals be able to remain in the UK after the referendum. Politicians from across the political spectrum bar Home Office Ministers seem to agree with this and they have been savaged by MP's.

    Next Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake is proposing a bill to offer protections to EU citizens.

    The Liberal Democrats have now called for foreign governments to do the same for UK expats living abroad.

    Tim is also calling for the EU governments to not even look at plans to hike taxes on Brits with property or businesses abroad as a 'revenge' for Brexit.

    The top destinations for British expats in the European Union are Spain (host to 319,000), Ireland (249,000) and France (171,000)