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.
Lib Dems in the House of Lords have welcomed today’s Government amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that criminalises the sharing of revenge porn.
The revision, which makes it an offense to publish a private sexual image of another identifiable person without their consent, was tabled by Lord Faulks, Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy.
The amendment was tabled following a meeting between Lord Faulks and Lib Dem Peers Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, Baroness Grender, Baroness Brinton & Baroness Barker.
The proposal follows a hard fought campaign by the Lib Dems including Julian Huppert MP, who previously highlighted the issue in the commons and campaigned for a change in the law.
The amendment is expected to be debated on 22 October 2014, during the report stage of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
Revenge Porn Campaigner Hannah Thompson said: “I am so pleased that after campaigning for so long the Government is now listening.
“I was turned away by the police. I would not want anyone else to go through what I did, I hope that now victims can feel that they can be, as they should always have been, protected by the police.“
Julian Huppert MP said: “I am glad to see the Government has accepted the case we Lib Dems made and have brought forward an amendment to ban revenge porn. It is a great success for all of us and will help to protect victims of this heinous crime.
“I hope that peers will ensure this much-needed change in the law happens.”
Baroness Grender said: “We have made great progress on this issue and I am pleased to see that the Government is now doing the right thing. It is now vital that we work in Parliament to make these changes law.”
Lib Dems in the House of Lords have moved one step closer to criminalising the sharing of revenge porn following the tabling of a new amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
The revision, which makes it an offense to publish a private sexual image of another identifiable person without their consent, focuses specifically on the distress caused to the victims.
The amendment was tabled by Lib Dem Peers Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, Baroness Grender, Baroness Brinton & Baroness Barker.
The proposal follows a hard fought campaign by Lib Dem MP, Julian Huppert, who has previously highlighted the issue in the commons and campaigned for a change in the law.
The amendment is expected to be debated on 22 October 2014, during the report stage of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
Revenge Porn Campaigner Hannah Thompson said: “It made me really ill to see that my ex-boyfriend had published pictures of me online.
“I remember thinking at the time that this must be illegal. When I found out it wasn’t I started my campaign to ban revenge porn but I never thought anyone would listen to me.I was so pleased when the Lib Dems picked it up in the House of Commons. The law needs to be changed and I am glad to see that we have a real chance to make this happen.”
Julian Huppert MP said:“I have campaigned vigorously to make a criminal sanction available when people share indecent images in the knowledge that consent would not have been given.
“Without these measures more people will unfairly suffer at the hands of malicious former partners.”
Baroness Grender said: “It is vital that we act in the House of Lords to criminalise revenge porn and protect that victims of this heinous practise. Ultimately this isn’t about the sexual nature of the images but about the embarrassment and shame felt by those that have their privacy breached in this way.
“I am grateful for the work my Lib Dem colleague Julian Huppert MP has been doing in the Commons to both raise awareness of this issue and lead the fight for it to be criminalised.
“I must also congratulate Hannah Thompson who was brave enough to get in touch and ask Julian and I to change the law.”
In the discussion about the campaign of air strikes against ISIL guerrillas in Northern Iraq three key issues have not been fully addressed:
First, Turkey, the one Muslim state that is a member of NATO, must be helped to cope with the massive flow of refugees from Iraq and Syria, not only financially, but if the Turkish Government agrees, also, by volunteers with experience in the work of caring for them.
Second, the rules of engagement for forces involved in air strikes should make it clear that civilians must be protected as far as possible. More air strikes against people already terrorised by ISIL, such as the Kurds in Northern Iraq, will alienate those whose support is crucial.
Third, the US, the UK and France, along with Turkey and Jordan, must raise through diplomatic channels the need for Arab allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to cease support for the Jihadis, whether through supplying arms to them or through madrasses training boys and young men to become recruits.
Lib Dem Peer Lord Loomba has announced that his international charity, the Loomba Foundation, will be providing sewing machines to help empower women in India. The project, which will provide sewing machines to help 5,000 widows, has been supported by the Punjab Chief Minister and regional government.
The women will undergo training for 2 to 3 months and will each receive their own sewing machine so they can make garments.This partnership means that the widows can earn money, become self sufficient, educate their children and lead a life of dignity.
The project also includes the set-up of a Rapid Advisory Group (RAG) in local bodies that will seek to address the problems that widows face such as violence and dealing with issues relating to inheritance rights. The RAG will provide counselling where necessary and assistance for approaching law enforcement agencies if deemed necessary.
Lord Loomba said:
“Having been born in Dhilwan, District Kapurthala and studying at the D.A.V. College in Jallandhar, I have always been connected to the soil of Punjab, no matter where my destiny has taken me. Even though I am a parliamentarian in the UK, and my Foundation works actively to bring widows out of abject poverty in different parts of the world, nothing gives me more joy than to see my own home state joining hands for this worthy cause.
“We celebrated India’s 68th Independence Day last week, but we are yet to ensure financial independence for millions of our widows. I hope that this partnership with the Punjab Government proves to be just the beginning of a long relationship that aims to completely eradicate the stigma and the hardships associated with widowhood across Punjab and the entire country. I therefore hope that other states in India will also come forward and join hands with The Loomba Foundation to empower widows.”
Government talk of returning jihadis and ‘western values’ won’t keep us safe. We need a coordinated international strategy to defeat those who threaten us
It is always easy to persuade frightened people to part with their liberties. But it is always right for politicians who value liberty to resist attempts to increase arbitrary executive powers unless this is justified, not by magnifying fear, but by actual facts.
On Friday, the government announced that the imminent danger of jihadi attack meant Britain’s threat level should be raised to “severe”. Then, from the prime minister downwards, Tory ministers took to every available airwave to tell us how frightened we should be and why this required a range of new powers for them to exercise. For the record, the threat level in Northern Ireland has been “severe” for the past four years – as it was in all Britain for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA threat was at its greatest.
I say this not to deny the threat from returning jihadis – though as the former head of counter-terrorism for MI6, Richard Barrett said on Saturday, this should not be overestimated. But rather to make the point that this is not a new threat. It is one we have faced before and one we know how to deal with – effectively, without panic and without a whole new range of executive powers that could endanger our liberties. Indeed, when it comes to facing threats, it was surely far more difficult to cope with IRA terrorists slipping across the Irish Sea than it is to stop jihadis returning from Iraq?
Lib Dem Wales Office Minister Jenny Randerson is today visiting Portmeirion, the beautifully-crafted Italianate village and hotel in Porthmadog.
The village attracts visitors from across the globe – more than 200,000 in 2013 – and has a cult following from its role as the setting for television series The Prisoner.
The Minister will then visit the majestic Plas Newydd on the Menai Straits to tour the house and see its revolutionary marine source heat pump.
The innovative system pumps a small amount of sea water from the Menai Straits through pipes from a heat exchanger, up 30 metres of cliff face into the mansion’s boiler house. The system, installed earlier this year, will save the property around £40,000 a year in heating bills.
Baroness Randerson said:
Plas Newydd and Portmeirion are leaders in their fields and offer tourists a glimpse of something very special in the areas of architecture and science. They both draw visitors to this splendid area of Wales.
We need to encourage those visiting Wales for the NATO Summit to take the opportunity to explore all we have to offer. I look forward to promoting these and the many other fantastic venues across Wales to those I’ll be meeting at the forthcoming NATO-related events.
Car clubs are set to receive a £500,000 boost to drive forward their work, Lib Dem Transport Minister Baroness Kramer has announced.
As part of a wider visit to Norfolk today (28 July 2014), the minister announced that the Department for Transport will provide the funding to support 2 pilot programmes which will promote much wider access to car clubs.
Baroness Kramer said:
Car clubs cut congestion, reduce carbon and save people money while still giving people the freedom and flexibility to use a car when they want to. Interest in car clubs is already gathering pace and we want to give that interest added momentum.
This funding will highlight their many advantages to even more people and help take car clubs up a gear.