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  • Bedford Hospital
    Article: Jul 22, 2016

    Severe concerns that Bedford Borough is being marginalised by a major review of local health services which could affect the future of Bedford Hospital were raised by Mayor Dave Hodgson and councillors at a full council meeting this week.

    Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) for the future of health and social care are being developed across the country. This is a different process from the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review by the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups. This has proposed a downgrade of Bedford Hospital including an end to maternity services in Bedford, including no more hospital births locally. The Healthcare Review is currently 'paused' with the future direction still unknown.

  • Suzanne Fletcher, Chair of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary (LD4SOS)
    Article: Jul 22, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government for slipping out an announcement that Cedars pre-departure accommodation is to close.



    It raises the prospect of children once again being held in immigration detention centres - a practice ended by the Liberal Democrats in Government.



    Liberal Democrats in Coalition established the centre to end the detention of children, and the Conservatives have used the final day of the Parliamentary session to reverse the move.



    Prior to 2010, thousands of children were being detained in prison-like conditions. During Labour's last 5 years in government, over 7,000 innocent children were held in adult detention centres, sometimes for weeks and months at a time.



    The establishment of the centre was driven by Sarah Teather and Nick Clegg and following the news of its closure the Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary have set out 10 questions the government must answer.



    Aside from scrapping the centre the Conservatives have failed to offer any assurances on what will replace it, the emotional support that vulnerable children will be given or any preparations that will be made for them ahead of their return to a country that many of them may not even remember.



    Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman Alistair Carmichael said:



    "Ending the detention of children for immigration purposes was one of the first priorities of Liberal Democrats in government. It is the mark of our society how we treat the most vulnerable and it is disgusting that the Conservatives are now rolling back such an important measure.



    "It is outrageous they slipped out this announcement on the last day of Parliamentary business, and they must now set out what exactly is going to happen to children in the future. We cannot have a return to the days of children being locked up in immigration detention centres, as happened under Labour. The Government has a lot of questions that remained unanswered."



    Chair of Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary, Suzanne Fletcher, who has visited Cedars, and been part of an Independent Monitoring Board until the change of Government last year said:



    "Cedars provided an oasis of care and calm at a very traumatic time for those families with children who very sadly were being sent against their will back to their country of origin. , and our Government should be ashamed of such a backward step."

  • A pair of wedding rings (Jeff Belmonte. Licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.)
    Article: Jul 22, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats have branded the Conservative's Flagship Married Couples Tax Allowance policy a 'pathetic failure' after figures revealed that only a fraction of eligible couples had bothered claiming the allowance.

    Only 330,000 people have taken advantage of the allowance, equivalent to 8% of those eligible.

  • Dr Alan Bullion
    Article: Jul 22, 2016
    By Alan Bullion

    This should be combined with a commitment to quality trade deals, even if these take a bit longer than 'quick and dirty' agreements, experienced hands from Australia and New Zealand advised today (July 18) at a Policy Exchange event in London.

    "The more I look at the post-Brexit outlook for the UK on trade deals under the World Trade Organisation, the more complicated it becomes," said Dr Geoff Raby, former Australian ambassador to China and the WTO.

  • Article: Jul 21, 2016

    Coming to the Liberal Democrat conference? If so join us at our fringe meeting. Scheduled for Saturday 17 September 2016 from 8.15pm until 9.30pm in the Sandringham Room, Hilton Metropole, Brighton.

    How is the International Community reacting to the UK electorate's decision to leave the European Union (EU)? How will the Article 50 process and recasting our trade relations with EU members evolve? How will Brexit affect the UK's political and security relations with neighbours, in particular Ireland? What are the implications for the UK's economy and inward investment?

  • Child in prison cell mental health
    Article: Jul 21, 2016

    Alistair Carmichael has demanded the government rule out the prospect of children being kept in prison cells.

    This follows the government slipping out an announcement of the closure of the Cedars facility, which supports families who are being returned overseas by the Home Office. Ending child detention was a major Liberal Democrat achievement in the coalition government. The facilities were described as "exceptional" and their closure has also been attacked by Barnardo's.

  • Article: Jul 20, 2016
    By Michal Siewniak

    Our huge efforts paid off! Our annual Peartree Fun Day was, without a doubt, probably the best so far.

    At least 800 people came to the Woodhall Community Centre to enjoy a rich variety of games, stalls, entertainment and sports demonstrations.

    Former borough councillor Michal Siewniak, the principal organiser, said: "We have planned and delivered one of the best, if not the best, Peartree Fun Days ever. The place was truly buzzing. People had so much to do, inside and outside. Mobile stadium, Irish School of Dancing, Holwell and Our Lady's Primary Schools, raffle prizes, fencing and martial art demonstration meant that the event had so much to offer.

  • Article: Jul 20, 2016
    By Cllr Helen Quenet

    On Monday 4th July, newly elected Cllr Helen Quenet attended her first Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

    As someone used to working with statistics, after 16 years of client work in the NHS and also as a local secondary school governor of 6 years standing, she was very surprised that the reports given to Councillors are far below the standard she would have expected.

  • Homeless youth
    Article: Jul 20, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats at Tuesday's County Council meeting called for the Conservative administration to think again about its proposals to cut support for people with homelessness problems.

    Lib Dem spokesperson County Councillor Ron Tindall said: 'The homeless in our society are not voters, they often exist in the twilight of our communities, isolated, and often difficult to reach.

  • Dad's Army Boat on Parade at the Bedford River Festival
    Article: Jul 20, 2016

    After a busy weekend down on The Embankment and in Russell Park, everything is packed away and Bedford looks back on the River Festival 2016.

    People travel from all over the world to attend Bedford's biennial River Festival, which has been running since 1978. The 2014 festival saw visitor numbers reach an amazing 250,000 and although official figures are still to be announced there is no doubt that the River Festival 2016 was the busiest and most popular yet. Early estimations put this year's visitor figures at least 300,000!