Monday, May 05, 2008

The King is dead, long live the Queen!

the odd couple...
0r, out with the old, in with the new...

I see that following Vinson's defeat, the Lib-Dems have adopted Councillor Jill Baston as their new leader. I wish her good luck- in my opinion she is going to need it. If the results in Southampton were bad for Labour, they were truly dreadful for the Lib-Dems. They lost their leader, all their sitting councillors and won no seats out of 17. Their overall share of the vote fell from 24% to 19%. In Bevois the Greens came third, beating the Lib-Dems into fourth place as my friend Chris Rowland points out.
Extraordinarily, all the evidence is that Councillor Baston has learnt nothing from the Lib-Dems' crushing defeat.
In The Echo, Baston is quoted as saying, "A lot of their (Tory) literature seriously misrepresented us. They said things about our future plans which were not true - for instance plans for a fortnightly bin collection. They are aware that changes in waste collection are unpopular and put it out in a deliberate attempt to mislead and they misrepresented the car parking issue."
Bizarre!!!! They put the fortnightly bin collection in their budget and it is on the official local Lib-Dem website HERE .
They are also moaning about us campaigning about parking charges. It seems the Lib-Dems and Labour are trying to now say they don't want to charge for residents parking permits- actually they did, it is current council policy (but won't be for long now we are in control!) and the Cabinet report could not be clearer.
On the 17th March, the Lib-Lab cabinet unanimously adopted a paper A19 'Adoption of a Strategic Level Parking Policy for the City'. This was largely based on a policy paper from a consultant called Halcrow that was circulated to all members of the Environment and Transport Scrutiny Panel in December 2007. Williams & Baston both got copies.

Appendix 2 , Para 2.12 reads
"Finally, there is a clear recognition that the provision and availability of parking facilities has a value, and that users should expect to contribute towards their provision, maintenance and management" (the bold is the report’s emphasis, not mine!).
Para 3.2
"The provision and management of parking facilities creates a significant level of cost to the Council and users should thus pay for there use in recognition of the benefits they provide. Charges should be set at levels that reflect the value of the facility and that act as an incentive to consider the use of other modes of travel- this provides the basis on which the council charges for the use of …parking permits".

The killer is section 4(b)(ii)
· All types of permit should attract a fee, albeit on a sliding scale.
· The objective should be to make Residents’ Parking Schemes self-funding

Below is the link to the official record of the decision.
If I were her, I would reflect that it was policy mistakes by her party that largely lost them seats.
another interesting point. As The Guardian notes today, "in southern seats, where the Conservatives are stronger, such as Southampton Itchen, the Liberal Democrats have been squeezed as voters have rallied to the Conservatives".
In Southampton, I believe an additional factor came into play. Lib-Dem voters switched to the Conservatives to keep the Lib-Lab pact out. As a vocal supporter and member of the pact, Councillor Baston was, in part, architect of her party's destruction.
If I were her, I would now embark on a complete review of the the Lib-Dems policies. Why pick a fight with the whole of Swaythling (over the gypsy site), Portswood (over alternate weekly bin collection) and Bedford Place (over traffic regulations for gods sake!) to name just three examples.
Finally, if I were her, I would re-orientate my party politically. As William Rees-Mogg writes today in The Times today, "these local elections show anti-Tory tactical voting is dead and buried". You would never know it reading Lib-Dem literature in Southampton. As Wednesday showed, working closely with Labour is electoral death. The Conservatives are not the unpopular party in Southampton as the elections proved- Labour are the bad boys now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

which one is the queen

11:48 am  
Blogger The Liberal Party Soton said...

They go from one mistake to the other.

Before long Cllr Baston will be leader of a very small band of fellow Lib Dem cllrs.

If the Lib Dems want to regain the trust of the people of Southampton the need to have decent policies and new ideas.

5:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you know who is in the liberal party Matt

1:06 pm  

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