AS at May 2021, the Liberal Democrats was a 20-strong group which is the Official Opposition to the Labour administration.
Individually they represent 8 of the 26 wards in the city (see separate pages for Castle; Dene and South Gosforth; Fawdon and West Gosforth; Gosforth; Manor Park; North Jesmond; Ouseburn; and Parklands)
Leader : Cllr Nick Cott
Deputy Leader : Cllr Colin Ferguson
Chair of Scrutiny Committee : Cllr Anita Lower
Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee : Cllr Dr Wendy Taylor
For reports on some of the contributions of Liberal Democrats councillors to meetings of Newcastle City Council :
* You can find agendas and papers HERE
* and videos of the whole proceedings of Full Council HERE
Independent review of Children's Social Care is a valuable opportunity for reform say Newcastle Liberal Democrats.Article: May 24, 2022The long awaited review Independent Review of Children's Social Care (the McAlister Report) just published is impressive and offers an excellent opportunity to reset systemic failings in children's services. It sets out a clear plan to address the crisis in children's social care capacity to support looked after children and tackle persistently poor outcomes for children in care, says the Liberal Democrats Opposition spokesperson for children and families on Newcastle City Council Cllr Christine Morrissey.
Bus and Metro cuts and price rises threats - Labour's failure to agree puts public transport across the region at risk. Joined up thinking in short supplyArticle: Jan 30, 2022
You may not be familiar with the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC). It oversees public transport and infrastructure from Berwick to Barnard Castle, and administers capital and revenue budgets including that of Nexus, which funds Metro, many bus services, and the Shields Ferry, alongside arrangements for public transport in Northumberland and Durham. Its membership is limited to council leaders and deputy leaders (mainly Labour), without any opposition to challenge or ask questions.
Investing in Newcastle's road and pavements - the Liberal Democrats proposals to clear "unacceptable" backlogArticle: Jan 13, 2022
In a recent report to Council, Labour's Cabinet Minister acknowledged that the highways network is the most valuable asset of the City Council, that Newcastle currently has a maintenance backlog of £184 million (roads £75 million and footpaths £109 million) and that over 200 streets in Newcastle have more than 80% of the length needing treatment. That is simply unacceptable, Cllr Wendy Taylor from Newcastle Liberal Democrats told a Council meeting on 12th January. (She's pictured just before it started)
Article: Dec 15, 2021
The North East is one of the leading regions for booster jabs. Two Liberal Democrats Councillors who had theirs recently have urged others to follow suit to protect us all as Christmas approaches.
Councillor Ali Avaei, who is a community pharmacist who runs a Covid vaccination clinic on Sundays at Adelaide Terrace in Benwell, administered one to his colleague Cllr Helen Laverick (Both pictured here). He said " We have enough supplies for appointments and walk-ins to take us through the New Year. So I urge all adults to get their jabs - including those who haven't yet had first or second ones. Our main line of defence against Covid and variants is a fully vaccinated and boosted population. The data shows that the vaccines are helpful against all variants - even if you catch covid, it's likely to be a lot less severe and less of a burden on the NHS if you've had all 3 shots."
Article: Nov 15, 2021
The COVID-19 crisis powerfully illustrated how unpredictable life can be and how essential it is that the social security system functions as a true lifeline when people need it the most.
However, instead of supporting the people who need it most, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has acknowledged that low-income households will feel "real pain" as the cost of living is set to increase faster than benefit payments. It looks like we are now being hit with a perfect storm of the cut in universal credit, the end of furlough, inflation and energy bills increases.
Article: Nov 13, 2021
As more cuts and council tax hikes are set to whittle away residents' services for another year, the release of the Council's budget proposals have branded as "Groundhog Day" and "Labour's cuts, Labour's choices" by Opposition councillors in Newcastle ,
Under more than a decade of Labour rule, the residents of Newcastle have watched their City struggle to deliver the services and support they expect. Opposition councillors remain concerned that the Labour administration remain focused on the impact of the Government's funding cuts, and neglect to look at how their efforts compare to neighbouring authorities.
Clean Air Zone fudge is a major missed opportunity on clean air and sustainable transport alternatives in Newcastle say City's Liberal DemocratsArticle: Sep 18, 2021
Opposition Liberal Democrats on Newcastle City Council have described the final plans for the city's first Clean Air Zone charging scheme as a fudge resulting in the burden of charges falling on essential vehicle use and a major missed opportunity to drive down emissions and congestion and improve air quality and public health.
Article: Sep 11, 2021
Councillor Robin Ashby proposed a motion to Newcastle City Council on 1st September 2021 on this topic, the full text of which is below
Afterwards he said : "I proposed this motion not because Newcastle City Council has done nothing about the Government's proposals on further changes to the planning system - I shudder to use their word "reform" because in my view such a word implies improvements, many of which are illusory.
It has. It has made a detailed submission already.
But we need to keep key matters at the forefront of public debate, and ensure that local people understand what could be taken away from them.
There is a One Core Strategy in place for Tyneside up to 2030, which was subject to an extensive public enquiry at Gateshead Civic Centre, and offers some safeguards. But what happens after that expires?
The proposals, which may be confirmed as a Bill in the autumn, are causing huge concerns to residents in areas of major construction like Great Park, and in villages like Hazlerigg fearing encroachment. Just east across the A1 in my ward of Parklands 168 houses have been built where formerly there was agriculture, and long term residents fear there will be a grab for another large field to the south.
This will add to the hollowing out of Newcastle's central areas and puts yet more pressure on roads already heavily trafficked, schools with shrinking catchment areas and other facilities. The City Council's joint venture Tynexe, on whose Board I am one of your representatives, is doing some valuable brown field development, but reclamation costs are significant and delaying. It's so much easier for building companies to dig up fields on the fringes of the City.
What's being discussed will reduce the voice of local people in the face of development conglomerates who will have a greater presumption that their plans will be implemented. They are currently turning in vast profits - almost a billion pounds a year in one case of a company which is active here. And they have a significant voice in the corridors of power.
It's proposed that the 20 biggest cities in the country, including Newcastle, will have to boost their housebuilding permissions by over a third. Local plans, established locally and subject to democratic debate and scrutiny, take into account housing need, as we currently do here. An arbitrary increase of 35%, as is being discussed, does nothing for us except the loss of carbon-absorbing green belt and local control. And yet there are already vast swathes in the north of the city under construction - but without much supporting infrastructure.
Upper, Middle and Lower Callerton have, or have in the pipeline, planning permissions for 3650 new homes. That's a significant increase in the case of Upper Callerton, and it's reported that there will be a new primary school and potentially a GP's surgery. There is already pressure on the schools under construction on the Great Park, which have taken many years to materialise.
97 hectares - 240 acres in the old money - will go from what was our green belt.
Note that word "potentially". There has been potentially a GP's surgery on the Great Park for years, but it's still not there. There's potentially been a town centre for more than a decade, but only a handful of units are occupied. The rents are sky high. I wonder if there's some cause and effect here, including a desire to for change of use.
So if the Conservative ministers have been listening to their dinner companions at Party fundraisers, there'll be many more houses built on green fields in future. Little is said about rehabilitating or repurposing housing stock in areas that already have shops and schools and medical facilities and public transport.
There are an estimated 1 million homes nationally that have already been agreed but which remain unbuilt. It is not the councils or the communities that are at fault, it is the developers and landowners who have been allowed to inflate their prices to create undeliverable schemes or sit on land for an increased resale value. They can game the system by submitting planning applications they know will fail, as a way of establishing, through the appeal system, what's the most they can get out of the process. They then blame "the system" for the inevitable delays.
One of the ideas being discussed is to do away with Section 106 agreements which have been of some offsetting value for infrastructure. The Liberal Democrats would support moves to reduce the ability for the hoarding of land by introducing some form of land value capture, which would benefit the local community whilst still allowing a profit for landowners.
It is believed that the Tories will use the platform of their Party Conference next month to parade their "developers' charter". So I invited Council again to send them a clear message - "listen to the people".
Article: Sep 9, 2021
The result of the Castle Ward to elect a successor to the late Cllr Anita Lower declared tonight was :
Thom Campion - Liberal Democrats - 1306 votes ELECTED
North East Party 89
Immediately after the result was declared, Cllr Thom Campion said : "I'd like to thank the electors of Castle for putting their trust in me. I will repay that trust with service and action in the best traditions of the Liberal Democrats in the great city of Newcastle upon Tyne."
Article: Sep 1, 2021
The Labour Party has agreed to support a Liberal Democrats motion on Afghans at the City Council tonight (see bottom)
Cllr Robin Ashby will move it, saying :
Lord Mayor - I am delighted that this is a cross party motion and that Cllr Karen Kilgour, who is also the City Council's Armed Forces Champion will second it. This sends a very important message to our armed forces and the Afghan people we are welcoming - including the collection that you have agreed to be made tonight for refugees.