Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010 Your Community
Liberal Democrats believe in strong communities, where local people can come together to meet local needs, enjoy a pleasant local environment, and feel free from the threat of crime.
rebuilding security, opportunity, homes and hope
Liberal Democrats believe in strong communities, where local people can come together to meet local needs, enjoy a pleasant local environment, and feel free from the threat of crime. We want every community to be safe and fair, and offer opportunities to people of every background.
Under Labour and Conservative rule, communities have been let down. Governments have talked tough on crime but failed to take effective action. Lack of affordable housing has driven many young people out of the communities where they were born. Public transport is expensive when it is there at all. Key local services like the Post Office have declined dramatically.
Liberal Democrats will put thousands more police on the beat and make them work more effectively to cut crime. We value Britain’s open, welcoming character, and will protect it by changing the immigration system to make it fi rm and fair so that people can once again put their faith in it. We will invest in public transport and cut rail fares, as well as providing more affordable homes and protecting people from unfair repossessions. We will keep post offi ces open, and will protect and restore the natural environment.
cutting crime with more and better police
We will focus on what works to cut crime. We will support more positive activities for young people to stop them getting involved in a life of crime. Labour and the Conservatives posture on penalties, which do not deter criminals. What does deter them is increasing the chances of being caught. That is why more police are needed on the streets – to provide a longer arm for the law. And we need to help the police to be more effective at catching criminals, spend less time on bureaucracy and more time preventing crime, reassuring the public and helping keep everyone safe.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Pay for 3,000 more police on the beat, affordable because we are cutting other spending, such as scrapping pointless ID cards.
• Reduce time-wasting bureaucracy at police stations with better technology that can be deployed on the streets.
• Give local people a real say over their police force through the direct election of police authorities. Authorities would still be able to co-opt extra members to ensure diversity, experience and expertise.
• Give far more power to elected police authorities, including the right to sack and appoint the Chief Constable, set local policing priorities, and agree and determine budgets.
• Strengthen the Youth Service by making it a statutory service, and encourage local authorities to provide youth services in partnership with young people and the voluntary sector.
• Reform the police, with a full review of the very restrictive terms and conditions for police officer employment.
• Turn the National Policing Improvement Agency into a National Crime Reduction Agency with a wider remit to test what policing techniques and sentences work and spread best practice across police services and the criminal justice system.
practical steps to make you safer
We will do all we can to prevent crime with practical measures that we know will make a difference and keep people safe.
• Make hospitals share non-confidential information with the police so they know where gun and knife crime is happening and can target stop-and-search in gun and knife crime hot spots.
• Bring in stop-on-request for night buses. You should be able to ask the driver to let you off between stops, so you’re as close to home as possible.
• Require better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded.
• Ensure that financial resources, and police and court time, are not wasted on the unnecessary prosecution and imprisonment of drug users and addicts; the focus instead should be on getting addicts the treatment they need. Police should concentrate their efforts on organised drug pushers and gangs.
• Always base drugs policy on independent scientific advice, including making the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs completely independent of government.
making the justice system work to rehabilitate criminals and reduce crime
Liberal Democrats believe that once a criminal has been caught, it is vital that the punishment they are given helps to turn them away from crime, and set them back on the straight and narrow.
Too many politicians have talked tough, meting out ever-longer prison sentences, but doing far too little to tackle reoffending and to stop crime happening in the first place. As a result, the government is spending more and more on prisons, but those released from them are as likely as ever to commit more crimes.
• Make prisoners work and contribute from their prison wages to a compensation fund for victims. As resources allow, we will increase the number of hours prisoners spend in education and training.
• Introduce a presumption against short-term sentences of less than six months – replaced by rigorously enforced community sentences which evidence shows are better at cutting reoffending.
• Move offenders who are drug addicts or mentally ill into more appropriate secure accommodation.
• As a consequence of these changes, be able to cancel the Government’s billion-pound prison building programme.
• Give people a direct say in how petty criminals and those who engage in anti-social behaviour are punished by setting up Neighbourhood Justice Panels (NJPs), like the one run by Liberal Democrats in Somerset where 95 per cent of offenders have been turned away from further crimes.
• Champion restorative justice programmes, like NJPs, which make offenders confront their behaviour and are more successful at reducing crime than traditional forms of punishment.
firm but fair immigration system
Britain has always been an open, welcoming country, and thousands of businesses, schools and hospitals in many parts of the country rely on people who’ve come to live here from overseas. It would be wrong to try and end immigration completely but we have to manage migration so that it benefits Britain and is fair for everyone.
The immigration system is in chaos after decades of incompetent management. The Government has failed to plan properly for new migrants, making it harder for people to integrate. No-one has any idea how many people are here illegally, and there aren’t even exit checks at all ports and airports to ensure that people here on temporary visas go home on time.
We will create a fair system that works and promotes integration.
• Immediately reintroduce exit checks at all ports and airports.
• Secure Britain’s borders by giving a National Border Force police powers.
• Introduce a regional points-based system to ensure that migrants can work only where they are needed. We need to enforce any immigration system through rigorous checks on businesses and a crackdown on rogue employers who profit from illegal labour.
• Prioritise deportation efforts on criminals, people-traffickers and other high-priority cases. We will let law-abiding families earn citizenship. We will allow people who have been in Britain without the correct papers for ten years, but speak English, have a clean record and want to live here long-term to earn their citizenship. This route to citizenship will not apply to people arriving after 2010.
a safe haven for those fleeing persecution
Britain has a responsibility to welcome refugees fleeing wars and persecution around the world. Liberal Democrats will abide by Britain’s international obligations and restore confidence in the asylum system by making it firm and fair.
• Take responsibility for asylum away from the Home Office and give it to a wholly independent agency, as has been successful in Canada.
• Push for a co-ordinated EU-wide asylum system to ensure that the responsibility is fairly shared between member states.
• Allow asylum seekers to work, saving taxpayers’ money and allowing them the dignity of earning their living instead of having to depend on handouts.
• End the detention of children in immigration detention centres.
Alternative systems such as electronic tagging, stringent reporting requirements and residence restrictions can be used for adults in families considered high flight risks.
• End deportations of refugees to countries where they face persecution, imprisonment, torture or execution and end the detention of individuals for whom removal is not possible or imminent, except where there is a significant risk of absconding.
better and more affordable homes
In a fair society, everyone should have the right to a decent home, but this is not the reality of Britain today. There should be quality social and private rented housing available for those who need or choose it. And it should be easy to keep your home warm without harming the environment; British houses are frequently poorly insulated, wasting money and contributing to global warming.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Make sure that repossession is always the last resort by changing the powers of the courts.
• Bring 250,000 empty homes back into use with cheap loans and grants as part of our job creation plan.
• Begin a national programme to insulate more homes paid for by the savings from lower energy bills.
• Make sure every new home is fully energy efficient by improving building regulations.
• Investigate reforming public sector borrowing requirements to free councils to borrow money against their assets in order to build a new generation of council homes, and allow them to keep all the revenue from these new homes. Over time, we will seek to provide a greater degree of subsidy as resources allow to increase the number of new sustainable homes being built.
• Scrap burdensome Home Information Packs, retaining the requirement for homes to have an energy performance certificate.
public transport you can rely on
Britain needs a well-run, efficient transport system. Public transport is an important part of a fair society and the best way to cut carbon emissions from transport without trying to limit people’s opportunities to travel.
We want to improve the experience for the traveller and cut carbon emissions.
• Switch traffic from road to rail by investing in local rail improvements, such as opening closed rail lines and adding extra tracks, paid for by cutting the major roads budget.
• Cut rail fares, changing the contracts with Train Operating Companies so that regulated fares fall behind inflation by 1 per cent each year, meaning a real-terms cut.
• Make Network Rail refund a third of your ticket price if you have to take a rail replacement bus service.
• Overhaul Network Rail to put the interests of passengers first and bring it under the Freedom of Information Act to make it more open.
• Set up a UK Infrastructure Bank to invest in public transport like high speed rail.
• Give councils greater powers to regulate bus services according to community needs so that local people get a real say over routes and fares.
• Include the promotion of safer cycling and pedestrian routes in all local transport plans.
restricting aviation growth
The emissions from rising aviation are a serious problem in the fight against climate change. But in some more remote parts of the country, flights are a vital lifeline, and aviation is important for the economy as a whole. Liberal Democrats believe that we should do all we can to ensure people use alternatives where that makes sense.
• Replace the per-passenger Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane duty (PPD), so capturing freight movements by air for the first time.
• Introduce an additional, higher rate of PPD on domestic flights for which alternative and less polluting travel is readily available.
• Cancel plans for the third runway at Heathrow and any expansion of other airports in the South East.
a fair deal for motorists
Our planned expansion of public transport will provide much-needed alternatives to private cars, and cut carbon emissions. However, in many places there will always be a need for car travel, so we need to ensure that it is as environmentally friendly as possible.
• Work through the EU for a zero emissions target for all new cars by 2040 and extend targets to other vehicles.
• Undertake preparations for the introduction of a system of road pricing in a second parliament. Any such system would be revenue- neutral for motorists, with revenue from cars used to abolish Vehicle Excise Duty and reduce fuel duty, helping those in rural areas who have no alternatives to road travel. Some of the revenue from lorries would be used to fund further extensions of high speed rail through the UK Infrastructure Bank. Introduce a rural fuel discount scheme which would allow a reduced rate of fuel duty to be paid in remote rural areas, as is allowed under EU law.
a green and pleasant land
The beauty of Britain’s natural landscape is vital to the quality of life of those who live there and to visitors. Liberal Democrats will change the way the environment is protected so everyone has fair access to clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We’re the only party that takes seriously the responsibility of protecting our natural inheritance and ensuring access for all.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Increase the general right of access to the countryside, along the lines of the model introduced by the Liberal Democrats in Scotland.
• Abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return decision- making, including housing targets, to local people. We will create a third-party right of appeal in cases where planning decisions go against locally agreed plans.
• Set targets for ‘zero waste’, aiming to end the use of landfill. That means less packaging, more recycling, and a huge increase in anaerobic digestion to generate energy from food and farm waste. We will also improve resource efficiency and reduce waste through requiring better design and durability product standards and reducing excess packaging.
• Introduce a new strategy to bring the UK back on target to halt the loss of habitats and species and as far as possible restore biodiversity by 2020.
• Protect greenfield land and our built heritage by reducing the cost of repairs. We will equalise VAT on new build and repair on an overall revenue-neutral basis. This will also help to reduce the costs of repairs to historic buildings.
• Make National Parks more democratically accountable, allowing a proportion of the Park boards to be elected.
• Create a new designation – similar to Site of Special Scientific Interest status – to protect green areas of particular importance or value to the community. We will aim to double the UK’s woodland cover by 2050. We will stop ‘garden grabbing’ by defining gardens as greenfield sites in planning law so that they cannot so easily be built over.
manage water for everyone
Britain has real problems in managing its scarce water resources. Some people face devastating floods, while others have drought conditions most summers.
• Stop major new housing developments in major flood risk areas.
• Crack down on waste from the water companies and introduce compulsory smart meters in areas of shortage.
• Introduce landscape-scale planning policies with a specific remit to restore water channels, rivers and wetlands and reduce flood risk by properly utilising the natural capacity of the landscape to retain water.
a fair deal for the countryside
Liberal Democrats are proud that we represent a large part of rural Britain. We believe a fair society is one where people can afford to work and live in the countryside with accessible public services.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Give local authorities the power to set higher Council Tax rates for second homes and the option to require specific planning permission for new second homes, in areas where the number of such homes is threatening the viability of a community.
• Through our policy on Capital Gains Tax, ensure that those who use second homes as speculative investments will pay tax on enhanced capital value at the same rate as on earned income, not at 18 per cent as at present.
• End the post office closure programme to keep post offices open in rural areas where they’re the lynchpin of community life, improve access to banking and help secure the future of the Post Office through a PostBank.
• Promote schemes for affordable homes like equity mortgages and ‘Home on the Farm’ which encourage farmers to convert existing buildings into affordable housing.
• Refund VAT to mountain rescue services.
fair trade for British farmers
It is important to Britain’s future security that the country has a sustainable farming industry. We will build on that strength and ensure that farmers get the fair deal they deserve, are able to earn a living wage and also help to protect our natural environment and heritage.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Create a legal Supermarket Code and a powerful independent regulator of Britain’s food market.
• Introduce a minimum level for the Single Farm Payment and concentrate future reductions on the highest claims so that big landowners get less, and the money goes to working farmers who need it, not people who farm one field as a hobby.
• Use the money freed by our reform to Single Farm Payments to provide extra support for hill farmers, cheap loans to help farmers invest in environmentally friendly biogas digesters and a new Farming Apprenticeship scheme.
• Work within Europe for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, while continuing direct support for farmers, especially in upland and less favoured areas. We believe that a greater proportion of that support should be targeted at conservation, the environment and tackling climate change, as well as at providing food security for a rapidly growing world population. Organic and reduced-input foodstuffs should be encouraged.
• Help consumers to choose foods with the least environmental impact, through clearer labelling, and work with the EU to make sure country-of-origin labels identify the source of the products, not where they are packaged. We will use government procurement policy to expand the market for sustainable and fair-traded products.
supporting the voluntary sector
As Liberal Democrats, we are committed to handing power back to local communities. We believe that society is strengthened by communities coming together and engaging in voluntary activity, which sets people and neighbourhoods free to tackle local problems.
Liberal Democrats will support the voluntary sector by:
• Introducing ‘easy giving accounts’ at publicly-owned banks to allow people to operate charitable giving accounts alongside their current accounts.
• Reforming Gift Aid to operate at a single rate of 23 per cent – giving more money to charity while closing down a loophole for higher rate tax payers.
• Reforming the process of criminal record checking so that volunteers need only one record that is portable, rather than multiple checks for each activity.
Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010 : 4 Steps to a Fairer Britain
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