Nigel Jones has signed up in support of SIMPOL

SIMPOL is an international Association of Citizens, formed many years ago to get people and governments across the world to work to develop policies on global issues in ways that are cooperative and mutually beneficial rather than competitive. Among the issues are Climate Change, Sustainable Business, Mass Migration, Nuclear Disarmament, Tax Avoidance and Tax Competition, and Financial Market Regulation.

These require global solutions in order to avoid global competitive destruction.

It requires long-term thinking and development and it aims to develop policy on each issue which is wide-ranging; this should avoid the narrow focus on single items that sometimes bedevils the working of the UN.  The latter approach often fails or becomes extremely limited, because on any single proposal there are often those countries who feel they would be disadvantaged by it.

Simpol complements organisations such as the EU and likewise complements the need for people to engage in their local communities and local government.

Further information is on simpol.org (the global site) or for the UK organisation go to uk.simpol.org

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INVESTING IN FURTHER EDUCATION AND LEARNING THROUGHOUT LIFE

The Education motion at conference stated  “The UK faces a serious skills deficit”.

That is an understatement. Take for example what happens when young people fail GCSE Maths and English and move on to sixth form or college.

When I taught at a general FE College, I remember a group of 17 year old girls, who aspired to be nurses. I had to spend time, for example, teaching them quadratic equations when they really needed much more time improving their understanding and application of decimals, percentages, and ratio relevant to their career.

Force-feeding young people to resit GCSE Maths and English which they have just failed and hated is bad education. Statistically, results show it does not work. On average 25% pass; in Maths this year only 20% passed and can we claim that even these have sufficiently improved, with a pass mark around 20 out of 100, so was it relevant to their career?

This approach can even be dangerous; on more than one occasion in my lifetime a baby has died because the decimal point in a drug prescription was in the wrong place.

Our party motion makes clear that young people need to develop their Maths and English in a free course that is suited to their needs.  Functional skills qualifications have this year been improved, so there is no excuse.  Colleges at the moment are constrained by strict funding rules. We will give colleges the freedom and resources to judge the best way to improve basic skills for everyone at age 16+.

In this country skills and ‘vocational’ learning have  not been given the  attention they need for decades. Note these points.

 First, the department for Education Skills Index, shows since 2012 the contribution of skills to the nation’s productivity declined by 27%. Second, we have now the lowest on record of adults pursuing any form of education. Third, the new T-level courses due to start in September 2020 look like being under-resourced.  Fourth, the new apprenticeships while welcome  are failing at the lower levels; companies who pay the levy have reduced their other training provision.

So, with all these recent failures to deal with the skills deficit, what does Boris Johnson do ?  He removes the post of Skills Minister.

This follows a period when Michael Gove distorted the whole Education curriculum by his obsession with academic learning and theoretical testing. Under the veneer of improved exam results, many feel the harmful consequences of that and those at the lower end are not catching up.

So we have yet another reason for booting out Boris and Michael.

This government has little understanding of the FE and Skills sector and even when it tries (like Sajid Javid has done) to entice people with a temporary hand-out for 16-19 yr olds, it has given absolutely nothing for Adult Education and Life-Long Learning. 

Our policy provides for each of these three.

The Personal Education and Skills Accounts (PESAs) not only provide financial help for people aged 25 to 55, but does it in the right way; it puts the person who needs the learning at the centre. That’s a typical Liberal Democrat approach.

     ———————————————————————————

 Nigel Jones, Chair LDEA

Chair, Newcastle under Lyme Liberal Democrats and PPC

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Recent letters from Nigel Jones (LibDem PPC, Newcastle under Lyme) to The Sentinel

These letters have recently been published in The Sentinel.

  1. Support for Boris

It was sad to hear some of the comments today from people in our area. I understand how many may feel if they want to quickly leave the EU, but they are wrong to be seen to be supporting an unelected Prime Minister who has broken the law to avoid debate and scrutiny.

Sir Nicholas Soames (respected former Conservative) said on TV last night that Boris cannot say that the Supreme Court is wrong. Today others in government have joined in strong support of Boris.  Their view for Brexit is blinding them to the harmful consequences for democracy of what Boris continues to do. I think ordinary people who are supporting Boris at the moment need to think about that too or else they could find themselves complicit in bringing about government actions that break the law and harm democracy.

Boris was completely wrong today when he said that the judges have interfered in politics; they have not.   They have kept out of any arguments for or against Brexit or about the referendum, but simply, clearly and strongly pointed out that the shutting down of Parliamentary debate is unlawful.  As the President said of Boris’s actions “the effect on the fundamental democracy of our country is extreme”.

Nigel Jones

Liberal Democrat PPC, Newcastle under Lyme

2. Ten reasons for a second vote

Brian Silvester expresses joy at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit; he’s among the few. On Thursday night a former editor of the Sun newspaper said if Brexit happens on 31 October, that is when the real trouble will start.

Let me express my joy should there be a public vote to remain.

1. No more years of hassle, expense and uncertainty for business in relationships with the closest, biggest market in the world.

2. No loss of government income to run our public services.

3. No worry about loosing funds for skills training while continuing access to a pool of people as necessary to run our public services.

4. No need for time, effort and expense to negotiate different regulations with loads of other countries that must be approved by all 164 nations in the World Trade Organisation.

5. No need to worry about more risks to our employment rights, jobs, working conditions and human rights.

6. The strength within Europe to stand up to the might of the USA, China, India, Russia and Brazil and against exploitation by multi-national corporations.

7. The ability to influence the EU and make it better, rather than be on the sidelines affected by their power.

8. The ability to do more to tackle world issues, such as the environment, from a position of strength rather than feeling alone.

9. Continued free access to vital information on criminals who might come here or escape from us.

10. No further risk to peace in Northern Ireland and being at the table should any risk to peace arise across Europe.

What a relief not to go out into the cold.  We can then get on with improving our society and democracy for the benefit of everyone.

Nigel Jones

Liberal Democrat PPC, Newcastle Under Lyme

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Nigel Jones has been selected as the Liberal Democrats prospective parliamentary candidate for Newcastle under Lyme Constituency.

Says Nigel: “I am pleased to be chosen to represent the voice of the Liberal Democrats in this constituency. The Liberal Democrats believe the best for Britain is to remain in the EU, for our economy and our position of power and influence in the world. However, given the current political difficulties we need a people’s vote in order to see what the people of our United Kingdom still feel.   The other key issue for our nation is to begin to tackle head on the inequality in our nation, which is not only about money in people’s pockets, but a range of public services, locally delivered.”

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Comments from the Liberal Democrat Group Leader on the Council, August 2019

There is a saying, that it is quality and not quantity that matters. That is certainly true both here in Newcastle and nationally. Well done to Brecon and Radnorshire on their excellent parliamentary election result. It is good to know that another ardent Brexit member has been defected and replaced by Jane Dodds, a Liberal Democrat, who  will do all in her power to stop Brexit happening. Another referendum needs to take place. Will Boris call an election unless he has to? I doubt it, with a majority of only one it would be risky for him.

So for local politics, it is just as difficult some times. A group of three has to be heard however, and we are! The Borough Independent group are far from independent, and the Tories rely on them to vote with them, which they do every time, which does give the Tory administration the majority vote. However we have our say in debate, and as promised, vote on the merit of the proposals before us from either side of the Chamber. Our Liberal Democrat voice is heard particularly forcefully at committee level.

Issues which we have spoken on recently include

  •  New Recycling proposals. Newcastle Liberal Democrat Councillors have always been a strong voice where recycling is concerned. Under Liberal Democrat portfolio administration, the Council won many national awards. What the Tory administration is about to implement will undo many years of hard work by us. It is their intention to reintroduce bags for cardboard and paper, collected fortnightly, and then one BLUE bin for the other recycling products which will also be collected fortnightly. The blue bin is in addition to the grey bin which will continue to be collected fortnightly as at present. Food will remain separate and will be collected weekly. Co mingled recycling has never been our option as the value of materials is always less when sold. Over £3k being spent on re modelling our present system, this is the second new system in three years. I am very disappointed that the Tory Cabinet did not listen to resident concerns over the problem of bags last time, or the advisory panel set up to look at options for improvement. Options could have included a review of how the present system could be improved by operational changes, rather than a totally new model.
  • June, Ian and myself as your councillors, are very concerned that the old Civic Offices are still empty with no immediate buyer coming forward. What a shame the opposition parties did not listen to us when we suggested a clause be put into the contract of the then potential buyers, preventing them withdrawing very easily. Not sure retail on the site is the answer. More and more I am being told by developers that their preference is out of town sites. For example Dunhelm coming to Wolstanton, despite us trying hard to encourage them to the town centre. Internet shopping does not help either. We intend to keep asking questions about the way forward for this site.
  • Our group was disgusted about the underhand way the Mayor was chosen this year. The Tory and independent group decided to break with protocol and not elect the Deputy Mayor to the Mayoral position, this has not happened before. The Mayor is a non political appointment, but the Tories made it political, because numbers for voting are so tight, they wanted the Mayors casting vote. They outvoted the deputy on the night without much warning. Not a fair way to treat a Councillor who had not done anything wrong apart from being in the wrong party at the wrong time.
  • Many will have read recently that the new Council offices are not fit for purpose and many areas not usable due to flooding. What a waste of money! Whilst the Council is seeking compensation it should never have happened. Better inspections should have taken place before the building was handed over to us.
  • We are asking questions about the half built student accommodation block in town and what we need to do to rectify the problem.
  • We have heard this week that the auditors will not sign off our accounts, due to not sufficient information. The officer responsible has retired recently having given notice a long time ago, surely the Tory administration should have foreseen the problem and acted quickly and got the information they needed, before a long earned retirement was taken. We will now have to pay more money to the auditors to rectify the problem.
  • Defects in the Jubilee 2 health suite are being looked into, together with proposals to improve budget deficits. Where does it end! The Tories blame Labour for the inefficiencies in their period of administration and vice versa. Pity they don’t put the people first and get on with solving the issues we now have across the Council.
  • A lack of traders in town and a declining market is a concern. The Council are looking at the possibility of a young traders market at the moment, we would support that. Maybe a record fair will come shortly to town for a day, will look forward to that!
  • Marion, June and Ian will be encouraging the Council to reduce their use of single use plastics, something dear to our hearts. We hope by 2023 single use plastics will be completely eliminated from within the building. We hope our partners will follow suit.

Newcastle deserves better treatment than it is receiving at the moment, the present administration is not serving us well, but Labour did no better! Under Liberal Democrat coalition we were an awarding winning Council, we must strive for that again. Nationally there are real signs that the party is recovering after a disastrous few years. Maybe the public realise we are the only party who have consistently wanted to remain in the EU,  and we were a stabilising influence in the previous coalition with the Tories Hopefully we have learnt the lessons we made then, and we are a stronger party who will move forward. I look forward to seeing more Councillors being elected in our next local elections in Newcastle, but that will only happen if we remain a family working together.

Marion Reddish

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