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Reports on some of the contributions of Liberal Democrat councillors to meetings of Newcastle City Council.

You can find agendas and papers HERE

and videos of the whole proceedings of Full Council HERE (about 2 weeks after the event)

  • Newcastle Civic Centre
    Article: Nov 20, 2017

    You can complain about the Council's performance to your councillors (and you often do!) or

    • By phoning the Corporate Complaints Office on 0191 211 5180
    • By email to complaints@newcastle.gov.uk
    • Online at newcastle.gov.uk/complaints
    • By filling in a form in the "If you have a complaint" leaflet, available at all council offices
    • By letter to the Complaints Office, Newcastle City Council, Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE99 2BN
  • Grit bin
    Article: Nov 17, 2017

    Liberal Democrats councillors have been assured that existing grit bins will be filled. This work has just started and should be completed within the next couple of weeks, we are assured.

  • Vince Cable, Greg Stone
    Article: Nov 1, 2017

    Newcastle City Council's Liberal Democrats Opposition will table a motion at tonight (Wednesday's) city council meeting calling for the council to support growing calls to halt implementation of the Universal Credit single payment scheme.
    Universal Credit is high on the political agenda, with recent calls for the Government to ensure that the UC helpline is made free for users, after reports that some people were facing long delays in getting through whilst incurring high bills due to the helpline's call cost per minute.
    The Government has now acted on this issue, but significant problems and delays continue to be reported as recipients are being forced to wait for more than the target 6 week date for processing new claims, leading many to face financial desperation and driving many to need to use food banks. Housing organisations are also reporting significant increases in tenants getting into rent arrears due to the delays in receiving UC payments, which replaces housing benefit.
    The Lib Dem motion, proposed by Cllr Greg Stone, will call on the council to support calls to Government for greater flexibility and assistance to applicants for the benefit whilst their claims are being processed, and to pause the implementation of a planned acceleration of the introduction of Universal Credit. This has given rise to fears that many people face the prospect of waiting up to three months for their first payment, and having no income until well after Christmas.
    Although the principle of combining numerous benefit payments into the unified Universal Credit, and of allowing people to receive Universal Credit whilst returning to work is widely seen as being worthwhile, with all main parties having indicated broad support for its introduction, it is increasingly clear that the implementation is leading to significant difficulties for many people who are waiting far longer than stipulated for their payments to be set up.
    Housing provider Your Homes Newcastle estimates that as many as 58% of its tenants receiving UC are now in rent arrears as a result of these delays. Nationally, one in nine recipients have faced waits as long as 10 weeks for payment, and in some parts of the country, the average waiting time is as high as 12 weeks. 57% of recipients are believed to have had to borrow from friends or family to bridge the gap, and there are fears that some have had to resort to "payday lenders" or loan sharks.
    Newcastle has been one of the first major cities to take part in the transition to Universal Credit and the council and YHN know that this is causing real problems for benefits customers in the city. It's clear that the Government needs to act and needs to do more to ensure that people get genuine help in the shape of 'advance' temporary payments, options for frequency of payment, and improving advice and online support rather than expecting people to wait for hours for phone calls to be answered.
    The situation is made worse by reports that some benefits recipients are being encouraged by DWP and Job Centre Plus to make an early switch to the new Universal Credit system without it being made clear that this is likely to mean them receiving lower total payments than at present. The Lib Dems believe this is misleading and unacceptable and want this practice to be reviewed and if necessary stopped.
    Cllr Greg Stone said
    "The principles behind Universal Credit are valid. It can simplify a currently very complicated social security system, help incentivise people back into work, increase take up and income for people who rely on it, and can help to reduce fraud and error. However, it is increasingly apparent that the roll-out by Government is deeply problematic and the delays in payments are causing financial misery to thousands of people.
    There is growing pressure on Government to delay forthcoming phases of the Universal Credit roll out until it has got a grip on the problems that are causing delays. It cannot be right that people have to wait up to three months to receive their benefits, and it is increasing poverty and stress for people who are literally left with nothing for food and housing."
    The Lib Dem motion also calls on the Government to reconsider other aspects of its welfare reforms, including reversing recent cuts to the 'work allowance' component, introducing a second 'work allowance' for couples receiving Universal Credit, abandoning the two child cap on benefits, and ending the freeze on working age benefits which is affecting some of the people in Newcastle on the lowest incomes.
    Cllr Stone said:
    "The Lib Dem Opposition is slightly surprised the Labour council administration has not spoken out sooner on these issues. The Lib Dem general election manifesto made commitments to reverse Conservative benefit cuts, and we hope that Labour will join with us in the council chamber this evening to support our calls to Government for a pause in extending Universal Credit to new beneficiaries, and for a rethink on cuts to some of the poorest people in Newcastle

  • Shut up
    Article: Jun 30, 2017

    Frightened Newcastle residents called liars and told to "Shut Up!" by a leading Labour councillor.

    At this week's city council meeting Newcastle residents, scared for their safety in council owned high-rise buildings after the events in London, came to seek assurances from the council. The reception they received was less welcoming.

  • Article: Jun 21, 2017
    Sticky wicket for Newcastle council as offer of 6 free artificial pitches is snubbed
    Opposition Liberal Democrats councillors in Newcastle have called on the city council to explain why it has declined to take up an offer of six new artificial cricket strips for the city's parks and recreation areas.
  • John Dobson Street ANPR cameras
    Article: Jun 2, 2017
    Following an Adjudicator's finding in favour of some motorists who appealed against their fines for using the bus lane on John Dobson Street in the City Centre, Liberal Democrats Group Leader Councillor Anita Lower said:
    • Although the system was not designed for entrapment, it has had that effect
  • Beecham 50th
    Article: May 19, 2017

    Newcastle Liberal Democrats were delighted to invite Cllr Jeremy, Lord Beecham, to a reception tonight to celebrate his 50 years continuous service as a councillor (and latterly in the House of Lords too). Pictured here (l-r) John, Lord shipley ; Jeremy Beecham; Cllr Anita Lower (current Leader of the Liberal Democrats Group); Peter Arnold (former Lord Mayor) and Cllr David Faulkner (former Leader of the Council)

  • Article: May 4, 2017

    Later today : Talk at Newcastle City Library on Friendship Force and the day President Jimmy Carter came to Toon. Exhibition too. See http://newcastlefriendshipforce.com too

    If you were outside the Civic Centre on 6th May 1977, or on the first or any subsequent Friendship Force visits, and would like to join a commemoration at the Civic Centre Council Chamber on 6th May, email jimmycarternewcastle@gmail.com to book a place

  • Housing office move
    Article: Apr 24, 2017
    Housing Options Saville Row office in Newcastle City Centre closes on Friday 28 April. They're still contactable via phone / email during the move to the City Library - see graphic.
  • Article: Apr 10, 2017

    Liberal Democrat councillors led the way as Newcastle City Council congratulated all those associated with the charity which has provided more than £2.5m in grants to young talent, sports clubs and events in our city.

    Its special anniversary appeal aims to raise £50,000 for the specific purposes of developing young female football coaches, mentoring and development of basketball coaches, expanding the Deaf Rugby Programme in the city and a one year Introduction to Sports Coaching programme for Year 12 and 13 for those young people who currently support Hat-Trick as volunteers in the more disadvantaged parts of the city.