Government Must Get to Grips with COVID19 to Prevent Further Deaths

Responding to the figures published by the ONS showing that there have been more than 44,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson, Munira Wilson, said:

"Hearing that the number or coronavirus-related deaths is now more than 44,000, including 9,980 deaths which took place in care homes in England and Wales, the British public will rightly be appalled. 

"The Government has failed to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society from coronavirus. For Ministers to keep trying to claim they put a 'protective ring' around care homes is not only false, but will be regarded by many as only adding further insult to all those grieving the loss of a loved one.

"Government Ministers must now be frank with the British public. They must not only explain how this was allowed to happen under their watch, but how they are going to ensure that we step up the level of protective equipment as well as the system to test, trace and isolate so that they can get a grip on the crisis and prevent further deaths."

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Liberal Democrats Urge Home Secretary to Stop Abuse Towards Chinese Community

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Home Secretary to set out what additional steps the Government is taking to prevent coronavirus-related hate crimes towards the Chinese community.
The call comes amid concerns about incidents of racially-motivated hate crimes against people in the Chinese community during the coronavirus pandemic, including a shocking 900% increase in content of that nature on Twitter.
In a letter to the Home Secretary from Christine Jardine MP, Daisy Cooper MP and Isabelle Parasram, Vice President of the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Home Secretary to use her public platforms to “condemn this pernicious new form of racism.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“Everyone should be free to live their lives without fear of discrimination, abuse or violence. Reports of Chinese people in the UK experiencing racist incidents linked to coronavirus are therefore deeply alarming.
“All of us with a public platform must stand up to those whose language spreads hate – whether on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or anything else. The Home Secretary must stand up and be counted by taking these concerns head on.”
Dr George Lee, speaking for the Chinese Liberal Democrats, added:

"British Chinese contribute enormously to the wealth and well-being of this country. As citizens we should be afforded the same rights and respect as any other citizen to live our lives without fear or discrimination.

"We look to the UK Government, politicians, the media and other public figures to show leadership and set the right tone during this crisis not of our making."

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Call me an optimist...

Who would have thought a trip to the supermarket could be potentially life threatening? What was once as easy as 123 is now an expedition. Queuing to enter the stores wearing gloves and a mask and avoiding other shoppers at all costs would have been unthinkable just a month ago.

We are living in unprecedented times. The new reality of the Coronavirus has completely changed our habits. In my day job as a teacher, managing the learning of 250 students online, although daunting at first, has become an exciting challenge, aided by some amazing technology. I think the experience will make me a better teacher when schools eventually return to their physical buildings. I certainly won’t be doing the same things as I used to.

As every day passes and the death toll increases, even though we all feel frightened and nervous, I am amazed by how resilient and how upbeat people are managing to be. On my daily exercise outing I am met with smiles, waves and friendly greetings. The huge response from our community with offers of help for the vulnerable has been overwhelming. Hopefully this positivity will continue long after the pandemic has passed.

Here are 5 things that I hope will come out of the Coronavirus pandemic.

1 A reduction in our carbon footprint

You may have seen images of the dramatic cuts to pollution levels as contemporary economic activity has been massively disrupted and unnecessary travel has come to a halt. We all recognise that we cannot sustain this disruption indefinitely, but nor should we assume that must simply go back to the previous model. We now know that a lot of our assumptions about how we work were wrong. Many of us have found that we can (often to our surprise) work from home, although I understand that some cannot. Our planet is the main beneficiary from this pandemic and a pause in our carbon emissions is a huge positive in our challenge to address the climate change emergency. We cannot afford to go back to the pre-Coronavirus era.

2 A community revival

We have been told that the digital age killed traditional communities but we can see that nothing could be less true. The pandemic has proved that community spirit is still alive and kicking. As councillors, we have been overwhelmed by the number of people willing to volunteer. We are also amazed at the support that local businesses have shown the community and their capacity to find new ways to operate in these difficult times. Technology certainly has its place too and people are finding new ways of reaching out to friends and family via platforms such as likes of Whatsapp, Skype and Zoom. The creation of local Corona support WhatsApp groups upon which many are now dependent has been fantastic as well. As we get to know our neighbours better, I hope we will continue to keep an eye out for each other.

3 The transformation of our towns

On my daily exercise rounds, Tunbridge Wells town centre has resembled a ghost town. One of my abiding memories of this period will be the sight of people strolling down the middle of Camden road with no cars in sight. Have you noticed how much more pleasant it is to go out for a stroll or a bike ride with less traffic around? One upside for Tunbridge Wells is that we are all breathing cleaner air thanks to the lock down. Once we come out of this the Coronavirus must give us the impetus for councils, such as Tunbridge Wells, to put people and not cars at the heart of our town. Indeed, we LibDems will continue to champion this greener agenda.

4 Healthier lifestyles for all

The obesity time bomb has been overshadowed by other issues. Recently, I have seen many people jogging, walking and cycling locally and really appreciating getting out of the house for a short while. People are finding ways to keep fit via the internet too and many of our brilliant local fitness instructors are running classes on line and doing their bit to keep us happy and healthy. I am as guilty as anyone for not taking time out of my busy schedule to look after myself properly in the hope that the calories I burn knocking on doors is doing the job, however recently I have rekindled my love of cycling. The Coronavirus lock down may just kick start a health revolution!

5 Long term sustainable funding for the NHS and Social Care

Finally, we also need to have a grown up conversation about the long term funding of our NHS. it is unacceptable that doctors and nurses are dying due to a lack of personal protective equipment. It is too easy to simply applaud the NHS staff on Thursdays at 8pm and then go back to allowing our health service to lurch from funding crisis to funding crisis. The Liberal Democrats want to introduce a dedicated health and care tax for long term sustainable funding which will also help us cope with the challenges of an ageing population.The current Conservative government’s plans for social care barely cover the country’s needs for one year, let alone the rest of this five-year parliament. We certainly need more cross-party discussion on this issue.

When we emerge from this crisis, the world will have changed. We will be presented with the huge challenge of rebuilding our economy and society. Yes, this is another burden, but it is also an exciting opportunity. We will have a lot of work to do whatever we decide. Rest assured that the Lib Dems will push for a radical and transformative agenda!

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Lib Dems Halt Campaigning During COVID-19 Pandemic

The World Health Organisation has declared that the COVID-19 virus is an international pandemic.

Under the directions of the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats in Tunbridge Wells have halted campaigning activity during the pandemic.

Rest assured that we will still be working on your behalf to create a better, more inclusive, environmentally sound town in Tunbridge Wells.

If you are having difficulty with your health, please refer to the latest advice from the NHS.

Self-isolating advice from the NHS can be found here.

Please see our contact page to reach your local councillor or one of our party officers if there is an issue you want to discuss.

We wish you, your family and loved-ones all the best at this difficult time.

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Improved Access at High Brooms

It is wonderful news that High Brooms station is at long last getting an upgrade that will hopefully provide much better access for all rail passengers.
Comfortable waiting rooms with toilets on both platforms would be the next step, as would more direct bus connections between Southborough, High Brooms station and Knights Wood, and electric vehicle charging points in the car park.
It is however very sad to see that Shopmobility could close in the RVP, despite all the sterling work done by Chris Jeffery and many local volunteers through organisations such as Mending the Gap. Let us hope that a reprieve can be agreed to keep this vital service open.
We must likewise ensure that all new buildings across the borough such as the Amelia Scott are fully accessible for all residents right from their first day of opening to the public.
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Liberal Democrats Support Shopmobility in Tunbridge Wells

On a cold and dreary Wednesday, steadfast campaigners pitched up to protest against the proposed cuts to Shopmobility, an important service in Tunbridge Wells, which provides a lifeline to those in need.
We sang and chanted, we made our voices heard, and exercised our right to protest peacefully. 
We garnered much attention from the attending councillors and Shopmobility volunteers, who were meeting to discuss the future of the service. 
We don't know yet what's going to happen, but Shopmobility isn't the first vital service to be in jeopardy- the budget for the Citizens Advice Bureau has been drastically cut already, which shows that austerity is unfortunately very much thriving in Tory-run Tunbridge Wells.
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