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
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.
Protecting the public's say in the planning process - Liberal Democrats to propose motion to Newcastle City CouncilArticle: Aug 28, 2021
Councillor Robin Ashby will propose to the next meeting of Newcastle City Council that :
· The publication by Government of the White Paper, 'Planning for the Future' on 6 August 2020, which set out proposals on reforms to the planning process for the future.
· That the vast majority of planning applications are given the go ahead by local authority planning committees, with permission granted to around 9 out of 10 applications.
Article: Aug 27, 2021
Councillor Morrissey will propose that
"Council notes that:
Newcastle City Council is committed to making our City a place where all children are valued and have the opportunity to reach their potential
1. Recent headline figures suggested 31% of Newcastle families are living in poverty
2. Figures for families relying on state benefits are even higher
Failing the Afghan people - Liberal Democrats propose motion to next meeting of Newcastle City CouncilArticle: Aug 26, 2021
Councillor Robin Ashby supported by Councillors Ali Avaei, Christine Morrissey and Doreen Huddart will propose:
Council notes :
1. As a City of Sanctuary, Newcastle is proud to have been able to receive some of the interpreters who served with the U K Armed Forces in Afghanistan, and their families.
2. Local families are still grieving the loss of relatives who gave their lives in the service of their country in the attempt to free ordinary Afghans from oppression.
3. As the Taliban have taken most of the country in breach of their agreement with the US and Afghan Governments, which enabled UK training forces to be withdrawn, millions of women and girls are facing the prospect of a new era of injustice, inequality, brutality, forced marriages, loss of freedoms and oppression.
4. The UK has failed to meet its moral obligation to all of those interpreters and others who risked their lives supporting our troops, while the Conservative Government's international development spending in Afghanistan has been slashed.
5. Taliban domination of Afghanistan must inevitably have an adverse effect on Pakistan, which may become a first destination to those fleeing, and those people of Pakistan origin who have made Newcastle their home.
6. Local authorities will have to carry the heaviest responsibility in relocating and housing Afghan refugees. Therefore, although this is done willingly, it is vital that the Government provides emergency funds now to ensure this can happen successfully and that these funds are not taken from the international aid budget or related humanitarian funding streams.
Article: Jul 3, 2021
It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of our friend and colleague Anita Lower. She will be sorely missed by many in local government, in Newcastle and further afield, and by her constituents who she has served with great commitment over many years.
Cllr Anita Lower was first elected to the Council in 1994, serving continuously as a councillor since then until her death. She was councillor for Blakelaw ward for 10 years and then councillor for Castle ward from 2004 to 2021. Anita held many important roles in the Council, including serving in the Council's cabinet during the years of the Liberal Democrats administration between 2004 and 2011. She also held the post of Leader of the Opposition between 2013 and 2020. Anita had been serving as chair of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee, a role which won her great respect across the Council, for her ability to work constructively in ensuring that council decisions and decision-makers were open and held to account.
Newcastle's Liberal Democrats call on Council Leader to issue a public statement amid talks about a new North East Mayor planArticle: May 19, 2021Liberal Democrats in Newcastle are calling for Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, to make a public statement, after it emerged that talks are resuming with the Government about replacing the current North of Tyne authority and Mayor, with a new directly-elected Mayor across the authorities covering the so-called 'LA7', including Northumberland, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham, as well as Newcastle.
Leader of Liberal Democrats launches local election campaign : Praises Newcastle Liberal Democrats for their record of achievement, service and actionArticle: Apr 6, 2021
The Liberal Democrats are fighting for a fairer, greener and more caring country where everyone has a chance to get on in life. In a message to Cllr Nick Cott, who leads a 20-strong group of councillors in Newcastle, Ed Davey MP (pictured here with Nick last year in Newcastle) said:
" I know that local people who vote for Liberal Democrats on May 6th in Newcastle upon Tyne will get strong local champions who will get things done in your important city.