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The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

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  • East West Rail Clearance 2
    Article: Jan 27, 2020

    HS2 could make an important contribution to the UK economy and to rail communications generally, perhaps with more realistic technical specifications - and especially with a lowering of the maximum design speed. There is a risk of course that it will just suck more jobs, businesses and prosperity out of the Midlands and engender a new breed of "super-commuters". Meanwile other projects suffer and there is a developing case for building HS3, an express cross-Pennine railway, independently. This would be cheaper and could provide significant regional development with less risk and greater cost-effectiveness.

    And then there is a long list of other simpler schemes, which could repair the "rail poverty" that blighted many market towns and communities after the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. Not only would these help to reduce dependence on cars but would bring prosperity back to areas currently hit by the wrong end of social and income inequalities.

    One such scheme would be the East-West rail project, which is a prudently costed venture that can proceed incrementally. The first stage is already completed with the upgrade of the line from Oxford to Bicester and then, with the replacement of a key curve and a new junction, via the Chiltern Line into London Marylebone, adding capacity to supplement the Oxford to London Paddington route.

    The second stage, however, is the restoration of the currently disused line through Bicester, then to via Winslow to Bletchley. To complicate matters the government decided this and the succeeding sections from Bletchley to Bedford and then over completely new track from Bedford to Cambridge, would involve a private company, noe set up and called the East West Railway Company which will oversee the establishment of a line from Bicester to Cambridge.

    However this second stage could be ready to start very soon. Network Rail submitted a Transport and Works Act Order application to the Secretary of State for Transport for the Bicester-Bletchley segment in July 2018. The Public Enquiry in connection with this ended on 1 May 2019 but since then, and up to now (January 2020) we have been waiting for a decision Department for Transport.

    If this section is to proceed then within four years we could have local services at least running between Oxford and Bletchley and Aylesbury and Bletchley, and then via the Marston Vale Line to Bedford.

    The picture shows the existing disused track between Bicester and Bltchley after the lineside vegetation was cleared away 6 years ago.

    And the whole line to Cambridge could be rebuilt anew for a tiny froction of HS2's ballooning costs.

  • Ballot Box
    Article: Jan 24, 2020

    . A spectacular by election success in the Alperton ward of London Borough of Brent on 23rd January:

    . LIB DEM: 1699 39.7% (+29.5)

    . LABOUR: 1304 30.5% (-25.6)
    . CNSVTS: 900 21.0% (-2.5)
    . GREEN: 373 8.7% (-1.4)

    LIBERAL DEMOCRAT GAIN from Labour. 27.6% swing from Labour to Lib Dems.

    Well done, Anton Georgiou and team!

    However in neighbouring wards, Barnhill (2 vacancies) and Wembley Central, where Lib Dems were less strong, Labour did hold onto those 3 seats. The Lib Dem vote dipped slightly in Barnhill (-3.2%) but in Wembly Central held steady.

  • Sky Lanterns Kill
    Article: Jan 22, 2020

    Hertfordshire County Council has now joined 80 others in banning the release of sky lanterns and balloons from land and buildings it owns or controls.

    Horses and cattle can be killed if they eat sky lanterns or balloons in fields or ending up in silage. The wire in the lanterns can perforate the stomachs and intestines of grazing animals. The balloons can cause them to choke to death.

    Smaller animals and birds can die after being caught in the lanterns or balloons on the ground or in hedges or trees. When they fall into water or into the sea they can also entrap small animals, fish or birds.

    They also cause fires and were implicated in two serious fires last year. One killed 30 apes and monkeys in a zoo in Germany and the second was a very considerable fire at a plastics recycling centre in the West Midlands. In the latter incident, 200 fire fighters attended, £6 million of damage was caused and the smoke reached 6,000 ft into the air.

    The initiative for this move came from an e-petition started by Plastic Free St Albans.

    Balloons released into the air contain helium, a scarce resource which is available only from underground sources as a result of radioactive decay over millions of years. Once in the atmosphere it escapes into space. However this element is essential to much science and engineering. For example it is an essential coolant needed for such equipment as MRI scanners.

    Lib Dem County Councillor for Tring & the Villages, Nick Hollinghurst said, "In common with the RSPCA, the Marine Conservation Society and the National Farmers Union I strongly support this ban of sky lanterns and balloons being released from HCC land. In fact I would also support a nationwide ban. As for the use of helium, I regard this as a strategic material that should only used for licensed purposes. It nearly all comes from the USA and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they started to introduce export restrictions of such a critical material."

  • Class230 waits at Bletchley
    Article: Jan 20, 2020

    Vivarail, whose innovative rebuilds of former District Line tube trains are proving popular economic solutions on lighter used lines, achieved a first on January 15th as an all-electric version of one of therir Class 230 trains travelled 40 miles on battery power alone.

    The new prototypes have been on extensive testing on the Bo'ness & Kinneil heritage rail line near Edinburgh.

  • Sally Symington with Campaign Team Berkhamsted
    Article: Dec 17, 2019

    In the context of the 2019 General Election, S W Herts was not a very important constituency. It was not a target seat and the result was expected to be a comfortable Conservative hold. Nevertheless, there was a chance that the Labour vote might weaken. The Liberal Democrats approach was therefore to run a reasonable campaign, consistent with providing support to St Albans - which was a Lib Dem target seat and which was in fact won. The aim in S W Herts was to improve the Liberal Democrat vote share as a foundation to future success.

  • Arriva st Tring Climate Event
    Article: Dec 16, 2019

    At the Tring Climate Event on the 26th October, Sally Symington, Liberal Democrat Candidate for the Southwest Hertfordshire Constituency, met with members of the Transition Town Movement during her Parliamentary Campaign got into gear. The purpose of the Climate Event, which was organised by Lib Dem Controlled Tring Town Council, was to explain how small towns can make big contributions in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and helping to mitigate Global Heating.

  • Sally Symington with Campaign Team Berkhamsted
    Article: Dec 15, 2019

    The Liberal Democrats - Independent of Big Business, Independent of Big Unions.

    This gives them the independence and freedom to promote their social values and to represent you and your community.

    But independence alone is not enough. To get things done in government, such as free school meals for under 7s and the 'triple lock' for pensions, you need the backing of an organisation and an effective political party.

    It is difficult to stand up against the twin monsters of the Conservative and Labour Parties. But an independent political party do so - and can get things done.

    When the Liberal Democrats were in government, they took 3 million people out of paying income tax.

    The Liberal Democrats also put in place measures that have already resulted in a greater increase in sustainable energy production for the UK than either Labour or the Conservatives. And over time these measures will continue to increase our green energy supplies - when finished next year the Horn Sea 2 will be the world's largest offshore wind farm.

    You can trust the Lib Dems to get things done in the national interest - to the benefit of all of us - not just the well-connected elite.

    Thank you for the support you gave Sally Symington and the Liberal Democrats on 12th December.

    The Lib Dems can stand up for local communities and local people because they are not in the pockets of the rich, nor dictated to by powerful unions.

  • Sally Symington Tring 20's Plenty
    Article: Dec 14, 2019

    "Twenty's Plenty in Residential Areas", say Nick and Sally

    Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Sally Symington was in Tring during the General Election campaign to meet the local county councillor, Nick Hollinghurst.

    As a local Dacorum Councillor herself - representing Berkhamsted West - Sally is keen to learn about new improvements within the Borough.

    Here Cllr Hollinghurst explains about the objectives and difficulties behind the introduction of the new 20 mph zone in the west of Tring.

    He said that this is a part of the town with a large number of young families, as well several blocks of flats for older people close to the High Street.

    The intention is to produce a quieter, calmer and cleaner environment in which people feel more confident about walking, cycling and crossing the road.

    Studies in places as diverse as Portsmouth, Glasgow and London have shown measurable improvements in social interaction, increased time spent outdoors and higher levels of exercise

    Sally supports zones like these in helping to improve the quality of life for everyone, and to reduce the burden of pollution and disturbanceacross the whole community.

  • Sally with Health Fair
    Article: Nov 12, 2019

    At the Tring Climate Event on the 26th October, Sally Symington, Liberal Democrat Candidate for the Southwest Hertfordshire Constituency, met with members of the Transitition Town Movement as her Parliamentary Campaign got into gear. The purpose of the Climate Event, which was organised by Lib Dem Controlled Tring Town Council, was to explain how small towns can make big contributions in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and helping to mitigate Global Heating.

  • Demand Better Education
    Article: Nov 12, 2019
    Responding to the publication last month (23/10/19) of the Education Select Committee's report on children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for South West Herts, Sally Symington, said:
    "Children with SEND have borne the brunt of the schools funding crisis. Teaching assistants and other support staff have been sacked. Meanwhile, parents struggle to get the support their child needs as schools, healthcare providers and local councils squabble over who should pay.

Nick Hollinghurst