Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has officially launched the Liberal Democrats Local Elections campaign in England. He has called on voters to back a Liberal Democrat local champion in May.
Liberal Democrats have announced plans for a fairer, greener more caring country where there is opportunity for all. The party announced plans for a locally-led green transition, backed by £48bn pounds of investment. Leader Ed Davey also called on the government to help struggling small businesses by slashing national insurance contributions (NICs) for small firms by quadrupling the employment allowance from £4,000 to £16,000.
Ed Davey delivered a speech at the Liberal Democrats digital launch where he said: “This has been a truly dreadful year. So many loved ones lost. So many families bereaved. So many businesses closed. Coronavirus is a word that chills the heart. An invisible enemy, that’s attacked the country we love, and damaged the world we treasure.
But as we start to look forward – as we dare to hope that the worst of this pandemic has passed – we will go to the polls on May 6th, to choose a new direction for communities across the country. A vision for how they can recover and rebuild in the wake of this terrible crisis.
I know that the Liberal Democrat vision – of a fairer, greener, more caring country – is possible. More possible than ever, because of the one positive that has shone through in these dark times . Community. The power of community. The spirit of communities everywhere. Our rediscovery and re-connection with our local community. How people across our country have met neighbours in their community, they’d never met before. How people cared for others in their street, who they’d never spoken to before. How people discovered walks and green spaces, they didn’t know existed before.
This last year has taught us what community really means.
The question facing every voter at these local elections, in every community, across our country is this: do you want to keep hold of this precious rediscovery of community? Liberal Democrats do. Because Liberal Democrats have always been about community.
We’ve always tried hard to listen to the communities we work in. Community politics is what Liberal Democrats are known for. And Liberal Democrats remain strong in so many communities. There are over two and a half thousand Liberal Democrat councillors already serving their communities. Wonderful people. Who go the extra mile for their communities – to get things done, for their communities.
Delivering prescriptions to people self-isolating. Distributing smartphones to care home residents so they can stay in touch with loved ones when in-person visits are impossible. Getting laptops to disadvantaged children so they could continue to learn when they weren’t at school. Volunteering at COVID vaccination centres.
So this Liberal Democrat election campaign is all about your community. How we can help your community build back. How we can help local businesses on your high street, closed for months, to re-open, survive and thrive. How together we can make your community fairer, greener and more caring.
If the Conservatives were really committed to rebuilding local communities, they should be giving small businesses a tax cut to take on more staff and radically reforming business rates. But only the Liberal Democrats have clear plans to do that.
If the Conservatives were really committed to cleaner, greener communities for our children, they would have launched a bold new investment partnership plan for a green recovery with every local community. But only the Liberal Democrats have set out plans for a locally-led green transition, backed by forty-eight billion pounds of investment .
So, on May 6th, people have a fantastic opportunity to back their community, by backing people who believe in their community, people who will act for and with their community – their Liberal Democrat candidate.
Liberal Democrats are all about giving power back to communities, and power back to individuals within their communities. That’s what strong local democracy does.
When Conservative Ministers made shocking mistakes in managing this pandemic, it was because they ignored local communities and excluded local councils.
The Conservative Government adopted a “we know best, top down” approach. They tried to run it all from the centre – and they spoke to their friends in certain firms. The result? Thousands of avoidable deaths. Billions of pounds wasted. But looked what worked. Contact tracing by local government. Efficient and effective. The Tories’ centralised tracing system? An expensive disaster. Local councils stepping up to provide free school meals, without a fanfare. National government willing to let children go hungry – until a celebrity football player shamed them.
Even the successful NHS vaccination roll-out is so much down to local GPs and community volunteers. Liberal Democrats treasure this community action. Conservatives happily trash it. Trashing it with central Government cuts to local council budgets, hitting communities hard. But it’s not just money. It’s the environment.
One of the many reasons Liberal Democrats care about the environment, is because local people and communities care about their environment. One of the amazing positives from this dark time, has been how so many people have re-engaged with their community’s environment.
Wildlife. Clean air. Green spaces. People know, better than ever, that a healthy local environment keeps us all healthy – physically healthy. Mentally healthy. In the fairer, greener, more caring society Liberal Democrats are all about – we will always treasure the environment – local, national and global.
Now you might say – the Conservatives care about all that too. But if they do, why are they silencing the role of communities in protecting green spaces? Taking away people’s rights to object to a development proposal, as part of their damaging planning reforms?
Liberal Democrats in Government developed Local Neighbourhood Plans – to allow a community-led planning system. Where people have a voice. Conservatives in Government are ripping up Neighbourhood Plans – giving their property friends a developer-led planning system. Where people’s voices will be silenced.
These are big differences. And the Conservative record on the environment in council after council is shockingly poor. Opposing recycling. Cutting public transport. Even voting against climate emergency declarations.
So if you’ve rediscovered your local environment during the pandemic. Or if you’ve always loved nature. Parks. Trees. Rivers. Clean streets. These council elections should matter to you. And you should vote Liberal Democrat. Because, unlike Conservatives and Labour, Liberal Democrat councillors have always made the environment a top priority.
The highest recycling rate in the country? Lib Dem run Three Rivers Council.
New action on air pollution to protect people’s health? Lib Dem run Bath and North East Somerset.
Tree planting champions? Lib Dem run Chelmsford.
Government should be backing local communities everywhere, to take the environment seriously. In the £150 billion green economic recovery programme I proposed ten months ago, nearly a third – £48 billion – was funding for councils and communities to invest in improvements for their local environment.
So when people cast their vote on May 6th, I say this: the future of your community is on the ballot. The future of your environment is on the ballot paper.
If you vote Conservative, you’re voting against your community. And against a healthy local environment.
If you vote Labour, you’re voting for a party that rarely listens to the community. And isn’t standing up to this Conservative Government.
But if you vote Liberal Democrat, you’re voting for your community. For your environment. For a party with a real vision for a fairer, greener, more caring country.”