The death of Shirley Williams is heartbreaking news for the whole Liberal Democrats party.
Since the sad news was announced, Liberal Democrat members and figures from public life have been remembering Shirley and paying tribute to her.
We've collected a few of those memories here.
You can also share your memories of Shirley and add your name to the book of condolence
Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby 1930-2021
Your Lib Dem candidates for the upcoming East Sussex County Council elections and the Hampden Park & Sovereign by-elections.
Polling Stations are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday, 6th May. Please check your polling card carefully as there may be changes to polling station locations owing to Covid measures in place this time. Please also choose your timing carefully as there is likely to be a one-in, one-out policy. Please feel free to take your own pencil! Masks are obligatory.
Thank you for supporting your Liberal Democrat candidates!
Today, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has offered his condolences to the Queen and the Royal Family after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
As a mark of respect for the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen and the Royal Family, the Liberal Democrats are suspending the local and national election campaign today.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:
“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country. We will always be grateful for his amazing service, not least the powerful legacy he leaves to millions of young people who have taken part in his unique Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
“His quiet and steadfast counsel and support of The Queen, is perhaps his greatest if unquantifiable contribution to our nation’s history.
“At this sad time for millions, we should never forget Prince Philip was a much-loved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. So our thoughts must be with the whole Royal Family, but in particular with The Queen at this difficult time."
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Last week, Peter Diplock County Councillor Candidate for Meads challenged Brighton & Hove City Council after they moved hundreds of homeless people to hotels in our town.
Peter said, "it was only because of the good work of Eastbourne Borough Council and their partners in the latter part of last year that we discovered this policy, as Brighton had not informed us. Worse, the support that these vulnerable people need (and which Brighton is resourced for), was not being provided."
As a direct result of Brighton’s policy, 17 people who were previously living in supported accommodation ended up sleeping rough on Eastbourne’s streets. I
Peter added, "I wanted to make sure these vulnerable people had the support they deserved. Green-run Brighton council have received over £6m from the government specifically to tackle homelessness in the city (more than Manchester and Birmingham). I also wanted to make sure Brighton worked quickly to return people to their own support networks and connections within their own city. I am pleased to report that following questions from myself, colleagues, and the Borough’s intervention, homeless placements here from Brighton have fallen from 350 to around 150 - still too high, but moving in the right direction. Eastbourne works hard to tackle homelessness, and I am proud we are such a caring town. But that’s no excuse for Brighton to take government money and shirk their responsibilities."
Another sunny weekend recently brought more noise and disruption to Meads residents with antisocial driving and speeding cars causing danger and nuisance. This remains an issue along the seafront and in Meads village.
Your councillor candidate Peter Diplock says, "I have spoken with local police, explained the issues faced by residents, and have requested increased patrols, particularly along the seafront and around the Beachy Head car parks. I will present a case to East Sussex County Council asking for speed reduction measures to be introduced in key areas. In the meantime, I ask that you report these things whenever they happen as this will help with building that case."
You can report online to Sussex Police or on weekends between 6pm and midnight to local ASB patrols on 07785 372050.
Ever mindful of your best interests, councillor candidate Peter Diplock has been observing the changes to shops in Meads...
"As we begin to emerge from lockdown, please remember your local high street. Like many of us, I’ve done a lot more shopping online over the last year, but we are blessed in Meads to have several local shopping parades, all of which need our support. Whether it’s the fish and chip shops or Favoloso on Carlisle Road; the sewing shop or grocers on Compton Street; or our many wonderful shops on Meads Street, the message is ‘go local’! With the double whammy of Covid and the County’s increase in parking charges, we need to do our bit and support them now. Doing so will ensure those businesses will continue to survive in the long term."
The deadline for registering to vote by post is fast approaching. Polling stations will be operating on a one-in, one-out basis, so there are likely to be queues on election day 6th May.
Councillor candidate Peter Diplock says, "Over the last year, my team and I have defended the NHS Walk-In Centre at the station, got many potholes and pavements repaired, opposed the County parking charge increases, and continue to fight for a better deal for our carers. But whether you vote for me or not, it's important to have your say."
If you would like to vote by post, you can email the Electoral Services team at the Town Hall via [email protected]; download and complete the form yourself via The Electoral Commission; or via the Lib Dem website
The deadline for applications in Eastbourne is 20th April.
Meads County Council Elections Candidate, Peter Diplock, continues to work to ensure repair and improvement to pavements and roads in Meads.
Peter says, "Following recent reports from residents, I got several large potholes repaired on Carlisle Road, one of which had caused a young cyclist to fall a few days earlier. It’s still disappointing that County adopt a ‘patching’ solution which can often mean that holes reappear. But when, as the County Council have done, they allocate more money to marketing and communications than to pavement and road repair, this short-term approach is not much of a surprise. I’ll continue battling the county to ensure our streets are safe."
In recent weeks we have seen a steady decline in the number of Covid cases which has helped to give us all a bit of a boost. Given this I hate to sound a note of warning but the risks are not over yet. Following the return of children to school there has been an increase in cases in some parts of the country. Here in Eastbourne the number of new cases in the past 7 days has gone up from 13 to 23, which is mercifully low but nationally around 5000 new cases are reported daily. The Chief Medical Officer has said that what happens here tends to be about 2-3 weeks behind France, which has seen another increase in cases and as a result introduced a daily curfew from 19.00-06.00. A difference is that our vaccination programme is far more advanced and I hope that will protect us from yet another lockdown, but clearly we need to remain cautious.
One of the biggest challenges for the Borough Council is housing. The Government has made a commitment to increasing housing supply and sets each local council targets for the number of houses to be built in their area each year. If the council fails to meet these targets, they face the prospect of seeing their planning powers reduced or removed. This makes things difficult for areas such as Eastbourne where the building targets are high but where there is little development land available. The need for affordable rented accommodation is very real, as average house prices are around 10 times the average salary in the town and many local people are finding it almost impossible to get a mortgage. The Council is therefore looking at brownfield (previously developed) sites in order to create a new housing development programme, to address this need.
With the County Council elections taking place in May, we are now entering what is known as a period of purdah, where, quite rightly rules apply to press coverage given to all political parties to ensure that none receives an unfair advantage. As a result, this will be my last column in The Herald until May. I look forward to being back with you again then and hope that by that time we will have seen the worst of the pandemic. In the meantime
It feels as if life is improving this week. The daylight hours are getting longer, the sun has been shining and the rollout of the vaccination programme appears to be going well, with reports that more than 20 million people have had their first jab and that this is having a significant impact in terms of reducing both the numbers being admitted to hospital and more importantly, the number of deaths. As I sat down to write this column the post arrived and brought a letter inviting me to book my first jab, so hopefully by next week this will have taken place and I will be able to say how it went and whether I experienced any side effects.
It is almost a year now since the first lockdown began and the Prime Minister has published what he describes as the roadmap for the release from lockdown. This is a staged approach, which makes sense. Starting on the 8th March when schools return and we are able to meet one person from outside of our household outdoors. The roadmap (which can be found at www.gov.uk) then publishes the earliest dates for further changes, leading to a planned removal of all legal restrictions on social contact no earlier than the 21st June.
This plan brings hope of a more relaxed summer this year with the ability to enjoy more freedom, but there is no guarantee that the rollercoaster ride that we have been on for the past 12 months is over. The PM made it clear that the roadmap is not irreversible and with new variants of the virus appearing it is important that we remain cautious. As a Council we are therefore exploring what events we might be able to stage this year, which will not attract too big an audience and where we can continue to maintain a degree of social distancing. The Towner Gallery has already announced a planned reopening date of the 18th May and plans are in place for an autumn season of live theatre. All events will operate within the Government guidelines established to reduce Covid transmission and hopefully this gradual return to a pre-covid world will help us to avoid the need for any further lockdowns.