Friday, October 07, 2016

John Alderson

The "thinking man's copper", one of the last candidates for the old Liberal party, and a pioneer of community policing, died five years ago today.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boundary Commission recommendations

These are the recommendations regarding Wales of the Boundary Commission set up as as result of the government decision to reduce the number of Westminster constituencies to 600 at around 75,000 electors each. The proposals affecting Neath, Port Talbot and adjacent areas are shown below.

It seems to us that the Boundary Commission has paid insufficient attention to one of its rules, namely special geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency; local government boundaries as they existed on 7 May 2015 and any local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies.

Local Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed the break-up of natural communities purely in the interest of electoral arithmetic. At the previous Boundary Commission review we asked for the Coedffranc wards (including Skewen) to be moved back into the constituency of Neath of which they naturally form part. On that occasion we were unsuccessful, but at least Coedffranc remained within a constituency contained within the same (Neath Port Talbot) local council area. It seems to us that the current proposals unnecessarily break the local government/constituency link (e.g.
Skewen merged with Swansea East, Port Talbot and Margam with Ogmore).

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kirsty Williams rules out grammar schools for Wales

Wales’ Education Secretary Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams ruled out a return to 11-plus in Wales and said: “It seems that some terrible ideas just won’t go away.

“The Tories in England and Wales seem determined to bang this tired old drum. For them, this is all about dogma and doctrine, rather than looking at what actually works for our young people.

“The facts show that grammar schools do nothing to improve social mobility. The Sutton Trust found that less than 3% of grammar school pupils were on free school lunches, compared with 20% across the country.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in opportunity for all, which is why under no circumstances will Wales be seeing an expansion of grammar schools.

“As Education Secretary, I will be guided by evidence so that we have a schools system that is modern, innovative and rooted in optimism about the potential of all our children.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Farron: we must have a referendum on final Brexit terms

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron writes:

This morning I’m setting out our party’s plan for Britain in Europe. Our key demand is simple – we demand the British people have their say on the final deal in a referendum.
The simple fact is, voting for a departure is not the same as voting for a destination. The British people deserve a real choice over what comes next, to guarantee that it is the right decision for them, their families, their jobs and our country.
In the meantime, our party has another vital task, to fight for an open, tolerant and united country, to hold the Conservative Brexit Government to account and the guarantee the best possible deal for Britain.
We will hold Theresa May’s Government to account over Brexit, expose the lies that Boris Johnson, David Davis and Michael Gove told during the referendum and make sure any deal they do is good for Britain.
Nobody else will do this job for us. Labour cannot be trusted to do their job as the opposition and Plaid are only interested in using Brexit to push for independence.
Our policy on Europe is simple: we want to stay. We wanted that the day before the referendum and we still want it today. We want to stay because Britain is stronger, safer and more influential at the heart of Europe, than outside it.
So let me be clear: I don’t believe there is any deal that Theresa May can do that will be better for Britain than being a member of the European Union. So when people are given that choice, we will make the case loudly and clearly that we believe Britain should stay in the European Union.
Thank you,
Tim Farron MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The EU does something which single states cannot

From the EU Commission's press release:

The European Commission has concluded that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple. This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Member States cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules. The Commission's investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years. In fact, this selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1 per cent on its European profits in 2003 down to 0.005 per cent in 2014."

Following an in-depth state aid investigation launched in June 2014, the European Commission has concluded that two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple have substantially and artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991. The rulings endorsed a way to establish the taxable profits for two Irish incorporated companies of the Apple group (Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe), which did not correspond to economic reality: almost all sales profits recorded by the two companies were internally attributed to a "head office". The Commission's assessment showed that these "head offices" existed only on paper and could not have generated such profits. These profits allocated to the "head offices" were not subject to tax in any country under specific provisions of the Irish tax law, which are no longer in force. As a result of the allocation method endorsed in the tax rulings, Apple only paid an effective corporate tax rate that declined from 1% in 2003 to 0.005% in 2014 on the profits of Apple Sales International.

This selective tax treatment of Apple in Ireland is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it gives Apple a significant advantage over other businesses that are subject to the same national taxation rules. The Commission can order recovery of illegal state aid for a ten-year period preceding the Commission's first request for information in 2013. Ireland must now recover the unpaid taxes in Ireland from Apple for the years 2003 to 2014 of up to €13 billion, plus interest.

In fact, the tax treatment in Ireland enabled Apple to avoid taxation on almost all profits generated by sales of Apple products in the entire EU Single Market. This is due to Apple's decision to record all sales in Ireland rather than in the countries where the products were sold. This structure is however outside the remit of EU state aid control. If other countries were to require Apple to pay more tax on profits of the two companies over the same period under their national taxation rules, this would reduce the amount to be recovered by Ireland.

How it worked: picture EN

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Clean up Neath Port Talbot Streets

For years now, Neath Port Talbot Council has allowed our streets and our residential areas to look more and more shabby and unkempt.

The build-up of rubbish and weeds that choke our streets and lanes makes our communities look and feel decaying and unloved. We used to have regular patrols to deal with problems like litter and weed growth. That seems to have been allowed to drift over recent years. For a county with the second highest principal council tax rate in Wales, that is just not good enough.

It is not only bad for the people who live here, it is bad for the economy of the county borough, too. How can we persuade people that Neath and Port Talbot are good locations in which to invest, to start a new business or to call their home in the midst of this neglect?

We want Neath, Port Talbot and their towns and villages to fulfil their potential and we want them to be good places to live in. That won’t happen while our Labour Council sits back and watches as the mess piles up around us.
Please support our petition calling on Neath Port Talbot Council to clean up our streets. Please help to take good care of our community.

Sign our petition here:

Monday, July 18, 2016

LibDem net gains in council by-elections

Liberal Democrats made net gains of four seats in principal council by-elections in the three-month period up to 5th May. The next quarter, which includes post-Brexit successes like these, is expected to show further improvement.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peter Black to be part of Mark Williams' team

Councillor Peter Black, former AM for South Wales West, has been named by Mark Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in his team of spokespeople. Peter will speak on Finance and Local Government, Heritage and Housing.

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats congratulate Peter on his appointment.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Liberal Democrat response to Chilcot

Sir John Chilcot has published his report into the Iraq war. Responding, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
“Blair was fixated in joining Bush in going to war in Iraq regardless of the evidence, the legality or the serious potential consequences.
“Daesh has arisen from the complete absence of any post conflict planning by the government.
“Charles Kennedy’s judgment has been vindicated in every respect. I hope those in the Labour and Conservative parties who were so forceful in their criticism of him and the Liberal Democrats at the time are equally forceful in their acknowledgements today that he was right. An absence of scrutiny by the Conservative party opened the door for Blair and the Labour Government to pursue a counter-strategic, ill-resourced campaign.
“I hope Sir John Chilcot’s findings can in some way provide comfort to the families of the British servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives [including 14 from Wales], and to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives and a generation has been shaped by this illegal war.
“Far from being Bush’s passenger, Blair was his co-pilot in taking this catastrophic decision which has destabilised Iraq, provided the hotbed for Daesh and tarnished Britain’s reputation around the world.“
Liberal Democrats consistently opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003
Liberal Democrats consistently opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Fifteen thousand new members

More than 15,000 new members have joined the Liberal Democrats since the result of the EU Referendum was announced. With over 74,000 members, we now have more members than we’ve had in over a decade!
These new members have joined us because they share our values and principles. They know that we are the only party who can now speak for those who believe the UK is best when it’s tolerant, outward-looking and compassionate.
There are still many of you who are looking for someone to give them a voice in the wake of the referendum result. If you are not yet a member, you can join locally - see the sidebar on the right - or you can sign up via Twitter, Facebook or by clicking here.

Friday, July 01, 2016