Tribute to the late Angela Studd

It is with a sense of sadness that I write this tribute. I have known Angela for many years. I first met Angela through politics , but soon found out she had many more strings to her bow. Angela was happiest when she was meeting people and doing whatever she could to help others. Many in the party will know she took an active interest in what the local and national Liberal Democrats were doing and contributed to discussion. Angela was well respected across the political spectrum and this week I have had conversations with people from all of the parties, expressing their warmth and respect for her. However many of us will remember Angela for her baking skills and her warm friendly, hospitality when we visited. A cup of tea and a home made bun was always at hand. Her house was often open for fund raising socials and many have enjoyed sitting in Robin and Angela’s garden on a sunny day.

Despite being a busy person, her family were a top priority for her, she made herself available at great personal cost to drive up and down the motorway to York and Bath to look after her grandchildren and visited her much loved daughters. Her family in America were slightly further away but she was in constant contact with them, and my last conversation with Angela was about how she was looking forward to seeing them in America in the Spring. If it was a school holiday we knew where Angela was, she was looking after her family. Angela was a member of the North Staffs play Council and was a critical friend there, giving support and any advice she could. Maybe her love of children generated from her being a nurse and latterly a midwifery tutor. I sometimes met Angela at the hospital, she was always at hand to guide and be a friendly face when it was needed without being overbearing.

Having lived on the campus of the university and latterly in the village, Keele was very much her home, and so for many Angela will be known for her interest in village and university life. She was a member of the PCC, and active in church life, including being a church warden at Keele Parish church for some time.  To both roles she brought her energy and enthusiastic personality .

Many will miss Angela and deep holes will need to be filled.

Marion Reddish

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Angela Studd – In Memorium

It is with great sadness that I share the news that one of our dear friends, supporters and staunch Liberal Democrats had sadly passed away.

Angela Studd was an excellent supporter of the party locally and will be greatly missed.

Angela could always be relied upon to care for and support the Newcastle Under Lyme Liberal Democrats in any way she could, regularly hosting us with her husband Robin at their Keele home for social events, executive committee meetings and party business, as well as organising events for us.

Angela was always a friendly face, caring ear and supportive arm for all in the community that needed her.

It’s with great fondness I’ll remember her ability to ensure all were welcome into her home. Her unique ability to embody the gift that is hospitality will be sorely missed and her caring spirit which would always emanate through a meeting or campaign group will live on as we cherish our thoughts and memories of her.

We have lost much as a party with Angela’s passing and our thoughts and well wishes are ever present with Robin and the Studd family at this very difficult time.

Aidan Jenkins (Chair Elect)

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Letter to the Sentinel (14 Oct 2021) re. Israel and Palestine

A letter in the Sentinel attacking the LibDems is riddled with falsehood, especially regarding the party and people of faith and the party’s latest conference motions about Israel and Palestine. So here are some truths.

LibDems welcome people of faith and do not exclude those who disagree with any party policy for religious reasons.

On Israel and Palestine, the September party conference re-iterated its support for the state of Israel and condemned human rights violations by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in particular, as well as by Israel. Its call for labelling of goods so people can choose not to buy from the occupied territories is not simply against the Israelis who have gone to live there; it is because they are harming the rights and livelihoods of Palestinians. The permanent occupation of the West Bank by the Israelis, like its previous take over by Jordan, is illegal and its methods are brutal.

Nigel Jones

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Comments on the Local Plan Consultation Document in autumn 2021

First of all I cannot pay justice to 2 lengthy reports without boring you to death! I will make some general comments but I strongly advise you all to look at the full reports on line, entitled ‘Local Plan Issues and Strategic Options’ and ‘Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report’. Both can be downloaded from here.

These two reports form the framework for years to come around housing supply, types of housing required, and employment requirements. Development with character but balanced with growth and conservation. Together with protecting the green belt, enabling growth of our university, maintaining open space and supporting our rural villages.

Potentially there is sufficient employment land to sustain proposed growth, the issue is it in the right location and the right type and quality of land? We have built new offices, warehouses etc but at a cost of existing space being lost where some would say houses could be built. Do we have enough industry in Newcastle or do we in order to increase prosperity and job creation need more? Do we need more houses to support a higher population and more diverse labour market? What option for growth is the most appropriate to use? Over to you to officially respond to the consultation process!

What are we doing to protect the green belt?

National policy  does give great importance to protecting green belt land in order to prevent over spill into rural areas, but the dilemma is, have we enough brown field sites within the Borough to develop to meet our needs. Most would say no but it is up to you the public to identify sites which could be built on to protect the green belt. We as Liberal Democrats want to protect our green spaces, rightly so, but do we want growth as well? The Council are wanting to exhaust non green belt sites first and are now starting to look at decontamination of land in order to use it. A call for sites process is now in operation. Planners are wanting us to give an opinion on what sites can be made available for developing and what sites we the public want saving in the green belt. My advice is we do need to be objective if we are naming a site not to be developed, and there are some, we need to also look at alternative suggestions. Infrastructure around the sites is a consideration, schools, retail, health centres, transport options and exploring the optimum possibilities around walking and cycling etc. Off balance between larger sites being a bigger blot on the landscape; and concentrating development in one place. The greenbelt does encompass a significant proportion of the Borough’s land. I quote Audley as an example, it is entirely in a  Greenbelt area. To release its land from the Greenbelt may well mean potential heritage problems and does it meet the preserving of rural area character? Does Audley have the transport mechanism and supporting services around the area to sustain development? Should development in the rural area be spread equally across the rural centres. If not how should growth be distributed in the rural area? Likewise should the Keele University growth corridor be included in our plan with the rationale behind our thoughts.

For you to decide!

Gypsy and Travellers are part of our community, do we as a Borough have sufficient sites for them? Do we have suggestions for potential sites which are deliverable if we deem we do not have sufficient sites already?

Affordable housing. What is our expectation? Do we meet government targets, should the local plan set an alternative target and how would we justify that.  How do we address the needs of the growing elderly population in Newcastle and the needs of the disabled?

What are our thoughts on development boundaries? Where do we draw the line between development and preserving the countryside? Where do village envelopes start and finish? Should boundaries be reviewed and should this be part of the Local plan?

Retail and Town Centre Regeneration. How do we address the continuing competition between face to face shopping and on line shopping? What are the alternative uses for premises which are no longer needed for retail? What do we want to see on our high streets, where does out of town shopping fit in?

Where do our recreational faculties fit in across the Borough, and what do we want? How are we going to put heart back into areas like Chesterton, Kidsgrove, Knutton? What are our suggestions to be included in the plan?

How do we address pollution, water and environmental air quality issues, as a result of any proposed development or even existing ones? As part of the local plan what do we want included?

Do we want a local policy on heritage, what should it contain? Do we include conservation areas, listed buildings, archaeology? How do we address issues with sites at risk? Do we consider the setting of historic buildings and the wider historic landscape? What measurers are most appropriate to sustain, enhance and avoid harm to the significance of heritage assets?

How do address flood risk measurements in this document? What policies do you want to see to mitigate against residual risk, improved emergency planning and flood awareness?

What recommendations need to be addressed with regard to our adopted Open space strategy and green infrastructure strategy? How do we want to manage our land? What do we want to see as part of open space provision in new developments?

Transport Network. What do we want to see included with regard to electric charging points? Is a policy required to contain the best approach to effectively promoting sustainable transport? Should anticipated parking standards be included, should the role of key routes and motorway networks within the borough be made explicit?

Finally, what would you like to see in a plan on renewable energy, for example should large developments be expected to provide a certain proportion of its energy via renewable or low carbon technology? What other carbon reducing measures do we want as a party?

Enough here to think about! As I said earlier please look at the entire document to get a better idea and please do respond to the consultation in the Autumn.

Marion Reddish.

Liberal Democrat Councillor in Newcastle.

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Will this Conservative government lead us into a fairer society? August 2021

Talk of levelling up and supporting our schools is talking the talk and far from walking the walk.

Jonathan Gullis, Conservative MP for Stoke North, has written about the good work being done by a local charity, the Hubb Foundation, providing food and activities for children in school holidays.  He presents this as if he and the government are supporting people.  He says nothing about why these children need this help, because this government is not interested in structural changes that will redistribute wealth. Recently in Newcastle under Lyme, the Alice Charity was reported being sad about the growth in demand for their work to help families. The Trussell Trust reported 74% rise in food parcels in the year before the pandemic took hold and keeps saying they want  “a UK without the need for food banks”. On behalf of Church Action on Poverty, a group of 4 academics spent three years researching “Life on the Breadline” and concluded this year that charities “should not simply fill the gap but encourage policy to develop structural reforms”. An all-party charity called ‘Feeding Britain’ has called for “systemic change to eliminate hunger in the UK”.

With cuts to Universal Credit, increases in fuel costs, increases in other prices (due to Brexit and Covid), and inadequate government support for affordable rented accommodation, this government’s policies are making matters worse.

Conservative MPs all voted against a motion to provide for children in school holidays; they correctly say “it is the role of the school to educate, not to be the welfare state”, yet are not in favour of proper welfare.  In spite of Boris’ words, this government has still to provide properly for better youth services, just one of many factors causing lack of achievement in school by some of our children. One report (as well as 2 others) in 2019 by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said that factors outside the school account for nearly 90% of the lack of achievement of pupils. So when are we going to get the systemic change to prevent children from living in poverty and under-achieving  in our schools ?

Nigel Jones (August 2021)

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