NEC Statement – Small energy suppliers in the UK

The Liberal Party notes with concern this announcement that Brilliant Energy has now entered administration.

The company will be the 10th small energy provider to have done so in the last 12 months, which included Spark Energy Supply Limited in November 2018 amongst others.

Although the regulator Ofgem will ensure no customer is left without a supplier, customers risk finding themselves matched to an energy provider at short notice with no opportunity to find an optimum tariff.

The failure of so many suppliers illustrates the difficulties new entrants have in the domestic and business energy markets and the difficulty of breaking the stranglehold of the 6 largest providers.

The Liberal Party believes that only the expansion of choice within the UK  energy market will lead to better price competition to the benefit of consumers.

Liberal Urge Support for Town Shopping Centres

The Liberal Party welcomes the news that the Parliament’s Treasury committee will investigate the issue of Business Rates in this country.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers in this country face a perfect storm of rising business rates, unrelenting competition from online retailers and declining footfall.

The party welcomes the government previous undertaking of business rates relief for half a million small retailers, whose business premises have a rateable value of £51,000 or less, but this fails to assist larger retailers and chains.

These face a multiplier on their rates equivalent to a 50 percent tax on their properties in the next financial year.

Cllr Jenny Roach RIP

It is with great sadness that we share Cllr Jenny Roach passed away after a short illness.
Her loss will be felt so many people in different ways, she was a staunch champion of Liberalism, In Mid Devon Council she was renowned for asking the awkward questions and was known as the one woman opposition.
She was devoted to improving the lives of older people in Devon and the new Health and Well Being Centre in Silverton will be a lasting tribute to her commitment and vision for the people of her ward.
For so many of us, we have lost a true loyal friend who would always be there to encourage and guide us.
Cllr Steve Radford

News from Devon

Lloyd Knight was elected to Cullompton Town Council in a tightly fought by-election in November 2017.

Lloyd is the Town Council Deputy Mayor and their representative on the Devon Association of Local Councils. He is committed to giving a voice to the people of Cullompton at both the Town and District level.

We are delighted Lloyd will be contesting Town and District seats for Southward Cullompton this May if you can help please email him on lloyd.knight@hotmail.co.uk or telephone 01884 563 462.

Why Brexit Draft – Article 132 must be deleted

Article 132 provides an instrument for the EU to extend the transition period for the UK’s departure from the EU to 20XX. Whilst the XX is not defined or limited, it could mean we are stuck in the EU until 2099 if negotiations are frustrated.
During the transition period, we would not have a voice in the EU parliament, we would not have a right of veto, we would continue to contribute to the EU budget at a value that has not yet been defined and we would be unable to invoke trade deals.
Liberals believe that this article is against natural justice and would give an enormously powerful negotiation advantage to the EU. If Article 132 is not deleted the Liberal Party will oppose the Brexit plan.
The people are fed up with divisive discussion and continued uncertainty and now call for Brexit to be brought to a close.

Sustainable Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

The Liberal Party welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report’ Global Warming of 1.5°C, which gives stark warnings about the impact we are having on the earth’s climate and the consequences for human and other life systems if we fail to take radical and immediate actions to cut risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty.

With the IPCC report in focus, the Liberal Party calls upon government to implement an immediate ban on all expenditure which supports new fossil fuel initiatives, both at home or overseas. To report and publish all funding already committed to support fossil fuel initiatives both at home and overseas and to review if those projects are consistent with our climate commitments.

Further we call on government to establish an All-Party Working Group, with assigned expert advisers from each potentially viable source, to define alternative non fossil based energy strategies, solutions and funding requirements to meet 100% of UK energy needs by 2030.

In-line with our demand for non-fossil fuel energy solutions, we call for an immediate ban on all Shale Gas exploration and the full restoration of land already impacted by the industry.

Leasehold Reforms

As Liberals we believe in fairness and protection for people living in leasehold and those in shared ownership properties.

We attach a copy of a motion which was unanimously agreed by Liverpool City Council at the November 2018 council meeting and we encourage members serving on other authorities to move and seek approval of a similar motion.

Fair Deal for Leaseholders.

This Council expresses its severe dissatisfaction with this Government’s failure to adequately regulate the sale of leasehold properties within the UK and tackle the onerous terms of existing leases.

It notes its concern for the financial burdens suffered by homeowners, due to unregulated developer practices, and the unacceptable terms of leases.

It notes concern for residents, who find themselves unable to sell their homes, except for a considerable discount, following the public’s increasing awareness of the struggles affecting leasehold homeowners.

It welcomes pledges to address the matter; however, expresses frustration regarding the extent of this Government’s plans, and its commitment to support those already affected by unfair practices, and charges.

This Council resolves that this Government takes urgent action to address: –

  1. The soaring ground rent charges that existing leaseholders are obliged to pay to developers, or the companies to which the freehold has been sold;
  2. The disturbing practice of freeholders selling the freehold to third parties, without the knowledge of the existing leaseholders, and without first offering the leaseholder the option of purchasing the freehold;
  3. Increasingly unaffordable estate maintenance charges levied against the leaseholders, and spiralling costs;
  4. The unclear, and in many cases, excessive cost of the purchase of freeholds by leaseholders;
  5. The unfair systems of administration charges imposed via the lease, to the hindrance of (for example) leaseholders who wish to make alterations to the property;
  6. The actions of freeholders who continue to claim administration fees, following transfer, through the wrongful practice of including restrictive covenants in transfer deeds, to in an attempt to replicate these shameful terms of the lease.
  7. The requirement of existing leaseholders to have owned the lease for a minimum period, before being eligible to purchase the freehold;
  8. The lack of advice and adequate compensation schemes available to leaseholders who believe they have been mis-sold, and/or their lease contains onerous conditions.

The Council requests that (the authorised person,) writes to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to express its concern regarding the above issues, and request further, pressing action is taken not only to restrict the development of further leasehold homes, but to provide appropriate support and means of redress for existing leaseholders and those in shared ownership schemes.

We also ask all Liberal Party Councillors ensure that when councils sell land, they use their influence to ensure that land sold for houses is predominately freehold.

Northern Ireland Border Motion

The Liberal Party supported BREXIT in response to the referendum. Liberals believe that for the Northern Ireland question of the border, a camera system should be installed, similar to the London Congestion Charge system and using a trusted trader status run from DVLA. This would be supported by up to 85% of the people in Northern Ireland, according to the latest survey.

With regard to the present arrangements, there is a physical border, the police on both sides and technical borders consisting of VAT, Corporation Tax and personal tax, all working amicably. This is part of the free travel area since 1922. The major concern is smuggling, and the camera system above should help.

Time to Replace the House of Lords

We in the Liberal Party have consistently called for the House of Lords to be abolished as it is and replaced by a predominately elected Senate.

We had a policy that at least 2/3 should be elected and that there should be provision for elected representation from our overseas territories such as the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and Falkland Islands.

Data compiled by the Electoral Reform Society found 455 lords claimed more than the average take-home pay in the UK during 2016/2017 despite the House of Lords sitting no more than 141 days in that year.

In 2016/17 the allowance and travel costs for the House of Lords came to over £19 million.

It is estimated 33 inactive peers collected £462,510 tax-free.

Of the current peers, 109 peers had not spoken in one year with claims exceeding £1m.

The most active peers numbering 300 accounted for 84% of votes cast in the House of Lords.

Liberal Party members meeting in Birmingham voted for the option proposed by the Electoral Reform Society for a 100% elected Senate of 300 members. Plus additional seats for overseas territories

We also voted that their income should be subject to income tax akin to any other UK resident.