Lib Dem Transport Minister Baroness Kramer was in Wiltshire today (30 October 2014) to see for herself how the county is preparing its towns for plug-in vehicles.
Supported by a £225,000 government grant, Wiltshire County Council is installing rapid chargepoints across the county which can top up a plug-in car or van in just 20 minutes.
The units are at key sites near major routes in Salisbury, Warminster, Melksham, Trowbridge, Corsham and Chippenham and the council has provided match funding of £75,000 towards the project.
The network was officially opened by Baroness Kramer at the Corsham chargepoint.
Lib Dem Baroness Kramer said:
More and more people are switching to plug-in vehicles, with more than 5,000 sold in the last 3 months. We need the right infrastructure to keep building that momentum. Providing charge points like these means people can be confident that they can charge their car when they are out and about.
All new vehicles are expected to have some kind ofULEVelement by 2040. There has been a steady rise in the number of people taking up low emission vehicles, as more models become available and the nationwide network of charging points continues to expand. Driving costs are as low as 2p per mile, and working towards a greener infrastructure for the future and a stronger economy.
Lib Dem Wales Minister, Baroness Randerson welcomed news that the National Citizen Service (NCS), a life-changing youth movement that hundreds of young people, from Rhondda, Cardiff, Swansea and Carmarthen, are getting involved in.
With activities and workshops which build their confidence, and teach them a range of useful new skills the young people really grow during the programme. This culminates in them giving something back to their communities, making a positive difference to a cause that really matters to them.
Welsh NCS is being delivered by Swansea based Enageg4Life, who have been delivering the programme in England since its pilot phase in 2011.
CEO Gareth Holohan said:
As a Welsh company, we are incredibly proud to be bringing NCS to Wales. The power of the programme is incredible, and we have witnessed first-hand the inspirational change in the young people who have taken part.
This summer the young people who took part in the programme with us in England raised over £28,000 for local charities and causes in just 3 weeks – truly inspiring.
The programme kicks off today (30 October), as all the participants head to the Urdd activity centre in Llangrannog, where they’ll participate in a series of activities such as abseiling, gorge-walking and high-ropes that help to build confidence, ignite team-work and develop leadership skills.
They’ll then be back in their home communities on Friday (31 October), with Swansea and Carmarthen taking part in a day of activities at the Liberty Stadium, while the Cardiff and Rhondda contingent spend the day at the Cardiff Opera House.
Saturday (1 November) will then see them all brought back together for a Business & Innovation day at the awe-inspiring Celtic Manor, with some truly fantastic Welsh speakers in the form of Professor Marc Clement and Professor Meirion Thomas.
Sunday (2 November) will then see the participants all converge on the landmark Millennium Stadium for a day, hearing from inspirational sporting figures, taking part in music & film workshops, and engaging with charities and third sector organisations, both national brands and those from their local communities.
They’ll then go back into their communities, fired up and inspired by the experiences they’ve had, confident and passionate about making a difference to a cause that matters to them. There have been some truly magnificent projects on the programme in England, with participants organising festivals, painting community centres and running triathlons, all for a good cause. With the excitement levels already building amongst the young people there should be some great projects to look forward to over the coming weeks.
Lib Dem Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson said:
The Welsh NCS is a fantastic programme that gives young people across Wales a real opportunity to learn first hand how working with others and constructive partnerships can bring results.
I’m sure the hundreds of young people taking part in the activities and workshops this week in Wales will learn many valuable skills which will give them the confidence they need to help fulfil their potential and make a positive change to their community.
I’m delighted we are supporting the NCS in playing their part in helping to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.
With the Green Party announcing they are targeting 12 seats including a number of our key seats, and the Labour party acknowledging the threat they pose by appointing Sadiq Khan to lead the fightback, Green votes could make the difference between winning and losing – as we sadly saw with Graham Watson MEP. So as our Environment Spokesperson in the House of Lords I’ve been keen to get out and help our candidates promote what we have achieved in Government and champion our 5 Green Bills which we’d introduce in a future Parliament. Over the summer I spent two days visiting the Great Heath Project in Mid Dorset & North Poole with the Wildlife Trust and our parliamentary candidate, Vikki Slade.
This weekend, I was down in West Cornwall in Andrew George’s St Ives constituency. On the Friday night Andrew and I addressed a packed public meeting in St Ives. 6.30am the next morning I saw 16 badgers from 7 setts being vaccinated at the first community-led badger vaccination trial in the UK, led by Andrew and the Zoological Society of London. With many local farmers badly affected by bovine TB it’s an important project bringing together animal welfare volunteers and farmers to work together to respond to the challenges this awful disease poses to wildlife, farm animals and the farming community.
Today in the House of Lords, Baroness Joan Walmsley and the Lib Dems secured an agreement from the Government on the Serious Crime Bill, for a major consultation on introducing rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse.
At our recent Federal Conference in Glasgow, Liberal Democrats passed new Party policy in support of requiring those who work with children and vulnerable adults to be required by law to report to the authorities if they have any suspicion that abuse is taking place. However, despite debates on this and other amendments concerning child abuse being debates, Ukip members of the House of Lords failed again to participate in this work.
Ukip’s hypocrisy is breath-taking. They issue a photograph of a girl withthe headline‘There are 1400 reasons why you should not trust Labour again’ in Rotherham, but their record on tackling serious child abuse issue is disgraceful.
The only record of Lord Pearson of Rannoch (the former Leader of UKIP & their leader in the Lords) asking a question on child abuse is on 13 October this year, after the Police and Crime Commissioner by-election was called.(Link here.) He has been in the House of Lords since 1990. Even this question is focused entirely on the Ukip obsession with Muslims, ignoring the fact that child abuse happens in all areas of the country and is not exclusive to any culture, community, race or religion.
And, once again, when we discussed child abuse in the Lords today, no Ukip peers were present.
More than three dozen Shia Muslims have been killed by terrorists in Pakistan this month, pushing the number of victims over three hundred so far in 2014. This epidemic of suicide bombings, bomb explosions and targeted assassinations against the Shia community has extended to Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Quetta, Peshawar, Kohat, and Gilgit, together with the main pilgrim routes.
Since 2008, extremist terrorists have openly declared on the social media that they intend ultimately to exterminate the whole Shia population of the country, numbering between 17 and 30million – unless they convert to the fundamentalist brand of Sunni Islam the terrorists espouse. Thousands have been murdered already, and their properties and places of worship destroyed. This campaign of religious cleansing also extends to other minorities, strikingly similar to what the Daesh are doing in Iraq and Syria. Its time the international community joined the dots, and recognised that we have to contend not only with the territorially based pseudo-caliphate in the Middle East, frightening as that is to all civilised people, but also with its metastasising growths in other vulnerable states, of which Pakistan is the main example.
Lib Dem Wales Minister Jenny (Baroness) Randerson has paid tribute to Dylan Thomas on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Speaking about the poet, Jenny said:
Dylan Thomas is without a doubt a Welsh Great and we have reason as a nation to celebrate his life and works. His legacy comes in two forms.
Firstly, there is his literary catalogue, from the delightful ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’, through the moving ‘Do not go Gentle’ and ‘These Five Kings’ to the unrivalled delights of ‘Fern Hill’ and, of course, the masterpiece that is ‘Under Milk Wood’.
Secondly, he has put Wales on the map as a tourist destination. Tourism is vital to the Welsh economy and is worth £2.4 billion annually to the Welsh economy. Thousands come annually to visit his home, the boathouse in Laugharne. Millions have heard of his home city, the ‘lovely ugly town’ of Swansea, through his works.
Famously, even former President Bill Clinton came on a pilgrimage to Laugharne to visit the home of his favourite writer even though, equally famously, he failed to find it.
Wales is today (27 October) celebrating the centenary of the birth of a Welsh icon, a literary giant and one who has done more to boost Wales than he would ever have imagined in his lifetime. Happy birthday, Dylan Marlais Thomas.
The Wales Office, in partnership with Swansea University, will next week (3 November) be home to the Dylan Thomas International Prize at its London office, Gwydyr House. Jenny Randerson will host the event and announce the shortlist.
I have a lifelong affinity with Clacton. It was the nearest seaside resort to my hometown of Sudbury, but more relevantly I was parliamentary candidate for the Harwich division, as it was then called, which included Clacton, in the General Election of 1970 (albeit for Labour – I saw the light three years later!)
On the face of it one should want to forget all about the Clacton results as quickly as possible. But there are some bright spots, and some insights which may be worth sharing.For a start, our candidate, Andy Graham, was admirable. He knew he was on to a hiding to nothing, but he persisted with a positive story about the party and the coalition. What is more, although the time and place were basically hostile to Lib Dems, it was often skin deep and susceptible to fact and reason.