Last week’s by election was phenomenal, the Liberal Democrats took the fight to the Conservatives in their deepest heartlands – and we won comfortably. Overturning a whopping 23,000 vote majority and leapfrogging Labour from 3rd in the process.
In fact, turning Mid Dorset & North Poole orange again would require less than half the swing we just witnessed in North Shropshire. A seat that has elected Conservatives for 200 years with the 2nd largest swing ever to the Liberal Democrats after Christchurch in 1993. If we were to replicate only half that swing at the next election, 57 seats would fall to the Liberal Democrats from the Conservatives – including Mid Dorset & North Poole.
In an utterly shocking turn of events, the government presented a 3-line whip to MPs this morning to back an amendment that would spare one of their own, Owen Paterson, from the pathetic 30-day suspension handed to him by the Common’s Standards Committee. Rather than accept this incredibly lenient consequence for a man who broke the rules to collect 3 times his £80,000 salary in undeclared paid lobbying fees, they inexplicably chose to use their majority to reject this decision and choose their own panel to review the case consisting of mostly Conservative MPs.
Last week, Mid Dorset & North Poole MP Michael Tomlinson voted against an amendment that would have stopped water companies pumping sewage into our rivers and seas. Within 24 hours there were “no swim” warnings at 17 popular Dorset beaches because of the levels of raw sewage in the water.
Last Saturday saw a demonstration against a tragedy that should never have been allowed to happen. Callum Baker-Osborne’s family still in mourning from the 18-year old’s devastating passing made the long trip back down to the source of their grief. They did so not to invite the pain it would undoubtedly cause, but to perhaps one day spare another family their agony.
With heads held high, proud of Callum’s heroic actions in saving the life of his niece, they protested the inadequate safety equipment available and lack of visible signage of the dangers of swimming off the beach at Rockley Point. There was nothing to indicate past near-misses and the signage about rip-tides had not made the danger clear.
There was shock that, even since Callum’s passing, there had been a further incident of children being suddenly swept away by currents whilst in the water.
Following this demonstration Callum’s family, local councillors, activists and those who had nearly experienced tragedy themselves at Rockley Point agreed to a petition calling on BCP Council to take action and upgrade the signage and safety equipment, to work with Haven, the RNLI and the Harbour commission and to prevent something like this ever happening again.
Four days later it was launched online and in person along Poole Quay. Within the first 24 hours we had collected 150 signatures online and a further 300 in person. Almost 25% of the way to the required 2000 to have the petition presented at full council.
Cllr Vikki Slade, one of those supporting and organising the petition said “I’m simply lost for words with the way this has taken off just a few days after the idea was born and 24 hours after launch.
The people of Poole felt this tragedy and I’ve never seen such a willingness to take action, it is truly heartwarming to see the eagerness with which people approached us, determined to prevent something like this happening yet again.”
Pauline Ferrick-Squibb who organized the gathering on Saturday and who is helping to run the petition said “My own daughter had to be rescued at this location several years ago and those of us who know the beach cannot understand why steps haven’t already been taken to better communicate the dangers and risk following the tragic events of the summer. I hope this momentum continues so we can have the petition presented to the Council, so they cannot ignore the calls from so many people to Make Rockley Point Safe”
The petition can be found on the BCP Council website by searching ‘petitions’ or via this link
Michael Tomlinson was one of the 317 Conservative MPs to support the plans. Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the government plans, arguing that they fail to fix the ongoing social care crisis and as the tax rise applies only to incomes under £50,000 - will fall disproportionately on the young, the low paid and small businesses, and those who has suffered the most during this pandemic.
Under the proposal 90% of the expected revenues WILL NOT even be going toward social care for the first three years, but dealing with the crippling NHS backlogs that have existed for years and been exacerbated by the pandemic. Unless the PM expects us to believe he will cut billions from the NHS just before the next election, this money will never be used to fund social care. Yet no one in the Conservative Party seems to want to be honest about the fact that these tax hikes will continue to leave Social Care an under-funded and growing problem, hoping to instead pass on the costs and criticism to local Councils once again.
In another indication of the rising cost of living crisis affecting so many people across the UK and South West , BCP because the UK's 3rd highest council area for those struggling to afford food shopping. A staggering 24% of residents now worry about their financial ability to buy food. This is the result of the pandemic and a lack of government and council support for those hardest hit by the pandemic and subsequent recession.
In the latest series of non-sensical and inexplicable moves by BCP Council's Conservative administration - it was revealed that crucial public amenities remained unusable on the hottest days of the year so far. Namely the public toilets on Dolphin Quay that have been closed for months - without any confirmation as to why they cannot be opened to the public especially during the extreme weather we are currently experiencing and two children's paddling areas in Hamworthy and Redhill.
BCP Lib Dems will be submitting a motion at the full council meeting tonight, calling on the Conservative administration to write to the government on behalf of residents to challenge these figures and assess the feasibility of meeting these targets as a coastal area surrounded on multiple sides by ocean and protected heathland. You can read the motion at www.middorsetlib dems.org.uk/housing_motion
It was a privilege and a joy to be back in Chesham and Amersham again on polling day last week to play a small part in the historic win for the Liberal Democrats, over-turning a Tory majority of 16,000 into a Lib Dem victory of more than 8,000!