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Business backs Lib Dem plan for Greener Britain

Jenny Willott has today said protecting the environment is in the Liberal Democrats DNA as she welcomed the publication of an open letter backing the Lib Dem green economy vision signed by business leaders, investors and philanthropists.

The letter praises the Lib Dem record in Government and emphasises the need for them to be part of the next Government.

The open letter highlights how the Lib Dems have delivered on the green agenda since 2010, including:
• Securing £37 billion investment in renewable electricity
• Establishing the world’s first Green Investment Bank
• Leading Europe to agree a new more ambitious EU-wide climate change target
The letter says this was achieved in the face of battles with Conservative opponents.

Commenting, Jenny Willott, Parliamentary candidate for Cardiff Central said:

“Protecting the environment is in Liberal Democrat DNA. In government we have forced through green policies in the face of furious opposition from Tory dinosaurs who simply don’t care about the environment.

“The message that this letter sends to people who care about the environment is clear: if you want a stronger, greener economy for Wales then you need to vote for the Liberal Democrats.”

Liberal Democrat Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey added:

“In Government we have a proud record of delivery – from nearly tripling electricity from renewables, to making more than 1 million homes warmer and cheaper to heat and securing an ambitious EU-wide agreement on tackling climate change.

“We’ve delivered in the face of almost daily battles with the Tories on everything from onshore wind to keeping climate change in the geography curriculum.”

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Welsh Lib Dems launch Montgomeryshire manifesto

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams joined local candidate Jane Dodds to launch her party’s general election manifesto for Montgomeryshire.

The manifesto builds on the party’s UK and Welsh manifestos with additional priorities and policies relevant to the people of Montgomeryshire. The front page contains six priorities, which are:

• A £400 Income Tax cut for 27,500 local workers
• Campaign for a local Urgent Care Centre
• Ensure fair pay for all farmers, especially in the dairy industry
• Invest up to £450m extra in the Welsh NHS
• Commit to services at Bronglais and Shrewsbury Hospitals
• Press the Welsh Government to deliver the new Dyfi Bridge

The manifesto was launched on a visit to Patisserie 13, a small business in Newtown.

Following the launch, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM said:

“Few people suspected that any of the policies in our 2010 manifesto would be enacted, yet 75% of them formed the backbone of the Coalition Government. Flagship policies like cutting tax for low and middle income workers, and extra support for our poorest schoolchildren to catch up with their peers, are now making a huge difference across Montgomeryshire.

“It’s clear there will be no overall winner from this election. This means there is a clear and present danger that Britain may be sleepwalking into a right-wing Government made up of an alliance of Tories and UKIP.

“We can’t let that happen. Britain needs the Liberal Democrats anchoring the government in the centre ground. The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one. Only we will keep Britain on track and make sure our recovery is strong, stable and fair.

“I know Jane will fight tooth and nail for all the policies in this local manifesto, especially protecting local health services which I know is a vital issue on the doorstep here. Jane has been a fantastic local champion over the past few years and I know every vote for her will be one for a dedicated, hard-working local MP.”

Jane Dodds, the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for Montgomeryshire, added:

“This manifesto reflects one of the key principles of the Liberal Democrats: localism. These pages build on our UK and Welsh visions for a more liberal society with truly local priorities.

“A key priority for me is improving the state of our local health services, bringing an Urgent Care Centre to our area and halting the erosion of services at Bronglais and Shrewsbury.”

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Liberal Democrats to create a Veterans Commissioner

The Liberal Democrats will create the post of a Veterans Commissioner to help ensure that veterans get the support they will need, the party has announced today.

Roger Williams has said the party will ‘serve those who have served’ by working with armed forces charities and homelessness charities to ensure veterans do not fall between the gaps in services and get the help they need to get back on their feet.

The purpose of creating a Veterans Commissioner is to improve co-ordination and prioritisation for veterans across government departments.

Roger Williams, Parliamentary candidate in Brecon and Radnorshire, said:

“We ask our armed forces to put their lives on the line for our country. Therefore it is only right that as a country we support them for life, whether they remain in the armed services or after they leave.

“The Liberal Democrats want to serve those who have served and ensure they get the right help.

“Veteran groups continue to experience difficulty in having their voices heard: there is a lack of co-ordination across ministerial departments in addressing, for example, the myriad outstanding welfare issues. We will change that.

“We will improve co-ordination and prioritisation for veterans across government by creating a post of Veterans Commissioner. The purpose of this commissioner would be to knock heads together in the Department of Work and Pensions, the Ministry of Defence and all other departments to get veterans the help they need.”

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Apprenticeship plan welcome, but must be open to alL

Welsh Lib Dems believe apprenticeships are an important way for people of all ages to learn new skills whilst earning a wage too.

Sadly we’ve seen massive cuts to the number of apprentices in Wales by the Welsh Labour Government, which has made training and learning new skills difficult, with apprenticeships currently only available to those aged under 25. We need to make sure that some of these new apprenticeships are ear marked for older adults who want to train and retrain, and we need to invest in other, more flexible further education opportunities for those who want to develop their skills part-time whilst also working.

In England the Liberal Democrats have helped create and fill more than two million apprenticeships, while under Labour the number in Wales has steadily fallen.

I am pleased that the Welsh Government has now set in place plans to reverse this fall, but they still need to ensure that apprenticeships are accessible and seen as an attractive option for people of all ages. We are calling on the Welsh Government to establish a schools liaison programme to promote the benefits of an apprenticeship to school leavers as a credible alternative to university which is often seen as the only choice for school leavers today.

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Jane Dodds demands apology over cross-border care comment

Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt should apologise for his inflammatory comments on cross-border healthcare last year, Welsh Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds has said.

During a row over the NHS in October 2014, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams wrote to Mr Hunt over comments regarding the number of people from Wales using health facilities in England, which she said had made many people in mid Wales feel unwelcome at English hospitals. Mr Hunt did not bother to respond to the letter.

The Health Secretary yesterday visited Newtown to discuss the issue of cross-border healthcare with local campaigners.

Jane Dodds, the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for Montgomeryshire, said:

“It’s appalling that some Tory MPs have described Welsh cross-border patients as ‘refugees’.

“Jeremy Hunt has the cheek to visit mid Wales and talk about cross-border healthcare, yet he’s failed to apologise for making the people of Montgomeryshire feel unwelcome to use English hospitals – even when they are perfectly entitled to do so. In fact, it is his abrasive comments and his treatment of our NHS as a political football that is putting strain on cross-border health services.

“Welsh Lib Dems have always held the Welsh Labour Government to account for their NHS failings, but have always done so by putting patients and staff first. We would welcome positive action to improve waiting times for patients from mid Wales in Shrewsbury, Telford and Gobowen for example, where some people have been waiting nearly a year for treatment.

“The Tories’ attitude towards our NHS is letting patients down and demoralising hardworking staff. I think the first thing they’d want to hear from Mr Hunt today is an apology.”

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Clegg accuses Tories of wanting to take £1bn out of Welsh economy

Figures show that over £1bn would have been taken out of the Welsh economy had the Liberal Democrats not stopped the Tory’s plans for regional pay.

As Chancellor, George Osborne asked pay review bodies to look at the case for ending national pay deals in the public sector so that public sector salaries were brought down to the level of the private sector in each region. However, Liberal Democrat Ministers fought against these plans and ensured they weren’t taken forward.

This comes on the same day that Nick Clegg has said the Liberal Democrats in Government would issue guidance to public sector pay review bodies to ensure pay increases at least in line with inflation in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Under the Tories’ plans, approximately 370,000 public sector workers in Wales would have seen their pay reduced. The pay differential between public and private is £3,750. This means around 370,000 workers would have their pay reduced by £3,750, if the Tories had implemented their plans for regional pay.

Slashing public sector salaries by this much would have taken around £1.4 billion out of the Welsh economy.

Speaking on a visit to Montgomeryshire, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said:

“The Tories wanted to pay people less just because they work in Wales – we stopped them.

“Without the Liberal Democrats in government, the Tories would have taken over a billion pounds out of the Welsh economy with public sector workers having their wages slashed.

“Regional pay fails the economic test and it also fails the fairness test. It would only serve to further engrain regional inequalities and that is why we fought to stop it.

“Let’s not forget that Labour’s hands are dirty on this issue. They introduced regional pay by bringing it into our courts system. We made sure the coalition didn’t repeat Labour’s mistakes.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats played a key role in stopping regional pay. They led the campaign from the beginning and deserve credit for standing up for the people of Wales.

“The way to build a stronger economy and fairer society, where everyone has opportunity to get on in life, is not to punish public sector workers outside of London and the south east.”

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