Motions passed at the 2010 Liberal Party Assembly

VAT and Fuel
Modern Language Teaching
Campaigning Strategy
Coalition Cutbacks
Drug Policy
Leasehold Reform
“The Big Society”
Multiple Occupancy Houses
NHS White Paper
Tuition Fees

VAT and Fuel

The Liberal Party notes with concern that the pending increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20% will hit the poorest sections of the community.

Assembly notes that VAT on domestic fuel remains, for the time being at 5%, however, increased levels of VAT will reduce the disposable incomes of the poorest in the community and erode even further their quality of life, making it harder for many within our society to keep their homes warm.

This will effect many citizens who’s properties do not have any or inadequate home insulation, be they in the public or private rented sectors.

Assembly therefore calls upon the Government to ensure finance is made available to allow local councils to begin to roll out a nationwide home insulation programme, which will ensure many families maximise their energy and in so doing allow the poorest in the community to minimise the impact of the Government’s increase in VAT.

The Government should also demand financial assistance for this programme from the energy companies themselves, given their vast profits.

Furthermore it should be noted that any such scheme will also create jobs and stimulate many local economies.

Assembly requests that Liberal Councillors promote this at local level via motions to their respective councils and for activists to lobby their Members of Parliament to support this campaign through there local press and other media.

Modern Language Teaching

Assembly believes that the appalling fall in foreign language teaching in our schools, as evidenced by this year’s GCSE and A Level results will seriously harm both the competitiveness of the UK economy and also the employment prospects of our brightest young people in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Assembly calls on HMG to take urgent steps to reverse this trend and encourage the teaching of MFL in our schools, this could include raising the bar on the basic GCSE qualification to include 5A* to C including Maths, English and a Foreign Language.

Campaigning Strategy

Assembly recognises that after a period of slow decline, the Liberal Party is firmly on the fringe of mainstream politics.

However it also realises that the entry of the Liberal Democrats into a Conservative dominated government with a reactionary economic agenda gives the party an opportunity to grow, unparalleled since 1988. Assembly resolves:

1. to emphasise the differences in Liberal and Liberal Democrat party policy, especially those of an economic nature. Specifically the Party, while accepting the need for some spending cuts, should flag up that it believes that the shortfall between public income and expenditure could be made up to a greater extent than the Coalition avers by taxing the better off and the implementation of a wealth tax and to continue to lobby Lib Dem Elected Representatives whilst exposing the Lib Dem Party’s hypocrisy voting for the level and extent of cutbacks at the election they said they would oppose;
2. Request the NEC support local Liberal Party members fight local and parliamentary elections, giving weight to recognise the advantage of a local organisation to build up membership contacts as in the Ryedale by election and the need to avoid derisory election results and spending monies frivolously;
3. to ensure that as many Liberal Democrat members, Councillors, MPs and Peers know of the existence of the Party and that it stands for pure Liberal principles.

In light of the continuing defection of former Lib Dem Councillors and Members and deep unpopularity of the cutbacks imposed by the coalition amongst voters Assembly further:

a. welcomes the E mail appeal initiative to Lib Dem Cllrs by Merseyside, Yorkshire, Wyre Forest, Bedford and other Liberal Party Officers;
b. welcomes The Liberal Party support to the TUC and NUT demonstration against cutbacks in Liverpool outside the Lib Dem Conference;
c. urges all Liberal Party branches work with Trade Unions and Civic organisations to protest over the size and extent of the proposed cutbacks;
d. request the NEC register the party description “Liberal Party – against the Coalition Cutbacks”.

Coalition Cutbacks

Assembly believes that the ‘condem’ Government is misleading the public when it claims to have had no previous knowledge of the perilous state of the country’s finances.

As opposition political parties they were allocated considerable sums (short money) to fund their role as an effective opposition. They also had access to detailed information as they shadowed the cabinet. To now claim ‘no knowledge’ as an excuse to renege on pledges, in particular, the Lib Dem pledge (publicly signed) not to increase tuition fees. There is no doubt that this pledge contributed to election victories This Assembly therefore believes that the only honourable course now is for this Government to resign and call a General Election.

Drug Policy

Assembly notes the existing party policy in relation to the misuse of drugs.

Assembly re-affirms its commitment to the de-criminalisation of illicit drugs to the extent of personal possession.

Assembly wishes to clarify the existing policy to the extent that we would wish to see the supply of illicit drugs remain a criminal offence as per current legislation and sentencing policies.

Assembly envisages that the legal supply of drugs will be targeted at helping those with an existing drug problem rather than the ready and open supply of drugs to the public. It is further envisaged that the supply of such drugs will be channelled through existing treatment bodies and medical agencies.

Leasehold Reform

Long term low rent leasehold

Assembly notes the leasehold reform motion passed at the 2009 assembly and the hope which was expressed that such a motion would be the start of a wider review of leasehold tenure in England and Wales. Assembly now proposes that:

i. in ‘new build’ long term low rent leasehold blocks of flats and apartments the free hold of the building can bought and owners of the long term lease obtain a freehold of their own property where, upon the sale of the last flat or apartment, a simple majority of the long lease owners vote purchase the freehold, with one vote applying to each property;
ii. in existing long term low rent leasehold properties the freehold can be acquired by 75% long lease owners vote to acquire the freehold and upon payment of compensation to the existing freehold owner or owner of the reversion equating to the value of the reversion.

In both cases those owner who do not wish to obtain the freehold to their property automatically become the tenants of the freehold owners.

In both cases the freehold owners will be obliged to set up a management company to maintain any common parts and the structure and exterior of the property, as well as to act as landlord to those who did not wish to acquire the freehold.

In both cases the freehold owners will be subject to a rebuilding obligation and will be required to insure the property for such purposes.

In both cases any rent charged and the level of service charges will remain subject to the jurisdiction of the leasehold valuation tribunal.

Registered Social Landlords – Starter Tenancies

Rather than being an option assembly believes that all new lets by Registered Social Landlords should be on a starter tenancy basis (based on two six month fixed terms of an assured shorthold tenancy) regardless of the nature of the tenancy which is ultimately envisaged.

Further assembly would empower local authorities to require Registered Social Landlords to commence possession proceedings against tenants where the local authority had received complaints of a real and substantive nature which alleged anti-social behaviour against those tenants and those otherwise lawfully residing at or visiting the property.

Assembly believes that such a step would go some way to reducing the ongoing problems of anti-social behaviour in public sector rented accommodation.

“The Big Society”

Assembly resolves to use the Coalition Governmentrsquo;s “Big Society” policy to campaign for the established Liberal Policies of subsidiarity and grass

Assembly believes that only if the “Big Society” is to be more than political hype and a meaningless PR exercise it must be rooted in democratic principles will it have any public credibility.

Assembly therefore resolves to campaign for the devolution down to Parish and Neighbourhood Groups; all possible First and Second Tier Local Authority Services, along with their budgetary share, and for Councillors at all levels to take a leading role in such groups in accordance with their role as Elected Community Leaders.

Multiple Occupancy Houses

The Liberal Party recognises that the last government acted in the public interest when it reduced the threshold for houses in multi-occupancy needing planning permission from 6 to 3 distinct householders being in the said property

The Liberal Party calls on all Liberal Party members and Councillors to campaign against the abolition of this regulation by the Tory led Coalition This party believes that these regulations protect communities from excessive concentration of houses of multi-occupancy many of which can be unregulated hostels with minimal or no social car support.

The Liberal Party believes the reduced planning threshold ensured modest health and safety measures were put in place to protect vulnerable residents

The Liberal Party urges our councillors to work with others to ensure councils use any opt out opportunities from this abolition, such as Article Four Directives.

NHS White Paper

This assembly endorses the submission by Cllr Radford to the Government White Paper “Liberating the Health Service” reiterating:

1. Urge that the new Heath Watchdogs should be in all respects a restoration of the Community Health Councils. In those areas of County Councils, the County Council nominate no less than one third the Health watchdog membership, in other areas the Unitary Authority or authorities nominate no less than one third membership;
2. welcome the integration of public health promotion into control of councils and co-ordinate with our current education, environmental health, supported living and community engagement work;
3. our belief that the NHS management structure would be strengthened throughout by the accountability to local elected councillors complementing clinic and heath professionals

Furthermore Assembly:

4. questions if it will be cost effective to fragment the current commissioning activities into smaller GP consortium, in effecting loosing economies of scale and some of the current expertise;
5. recommends that those PCTs considered high performing (such as Liverpool PCT) be excluded from the GP consortia proposals and that the current excellence be allowed to evolve with greater elected members input rather than be fragmented, in keeping with the principle of local choice.

Tuition Fees

Assembly notes that the desire that ‘…none shall be enslaved by ignorance, poverty and conformity’ appears in both the constitution of The Liberal Party and the ‘Liberal’ Democrats.

Assembly believes that the proposals of the Coalition Government in respect of university tuition fees are like to foster at least two of the above social maladies, if not all three.

For this reason, amongst others, assembly is resolved to fight the government’s proposals by all means available.

The Liberal Party restates its belief that higher education tuition fees should be free to students and funded out of general taxation.

Assembly is fully aware of the present economic climate, however, it believes that the education of future generations should not be fettered by the ability to pay or pay back tuition fees but rather should be prioritised ahead of spending billions on nuclear weapons, ahead of cuts in corporation tax, and ahead of bankers’ bonuses.

Assembly condemns the continued expression of the above desire in the constitution of the LibDems as being wholly inconsistent with the actions of their leadership, and further condemns the breaking of their direct pledge to the electorate not six months after obtaining a share in government.