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  • Article: Mar 4, 2015

    Liberal Democrats have launched their latest PPB, which outlines how we can work together to build a stronger economy and a fairer society for everyone.

    In the broadcast, Nick says:

    "We want to talk to you about what we can do for you, and for your family, in your street, in your community.

    "So that together we can build a stronger economy and a fairer society, where everybody has the opportunity to get on in life.

  • Article: Mar 4, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Stephen Williams is urging people to safeguard their local pubs by listing them as a community asset.

    As part of the recently expanded Community Rights, people can nominate buildings or blocks of land as 'assets of community value', giving communities a greater say in how their areas develop.

  • Article: Mar 4, 2015

    Nick Clegg has today confirmed the Liberal Democrat manifesto will contain the most far-reaching drug reform policies ever put forward by a major political party ahead of an election.

    He made the announcement at an event at Chatham House alongside entrepreneur Richard Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

  • Catherine bearder
    Article: Mar 4, 2015

    In a landmark judgement, the EU's General Court has annulled plans by the European Central Bank (ECB) to require companies handling large trades in euros to base themselves in the eurozone, ruling that this would go beyond the ECB's competence.

    The case was brought by the UK government, following concerns that the proposals could threaten London's status as Europe's financial capital and undermine the EU's single market.

  • Cycle For Freedom and OXCAT in Oxford
    Article: Mar 4, 2015

    Commenting on the Oxford Serious Case Review, which found that between 2005 - 2010 there was almost no understanding of child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire and high numbers of young girls had been found to be sexually exploited, human trafficking campaigner, Catherine Bearder, said:

    "We should all be really concerned to hear the results of the serious case review, unfortunately I'm not shocked. Human trafficking is far more widespread than many of us would care to admit, and it happens in every community. The big issue here is how long it went on with vulnerable girls being abused for so long without recognition by those who should have been protecting them.

  • key_waste_(800x450).jpeg
    Article: Mar 4, 2015

    Liberal Democrats have announced plans to tackle industrial fly tipping and protect the environment for future generations.

    As part of our plans to introduce Five Green Laws in the next Parliament, Liberal Democrats have unveiled proposals for a Zero Waste Bill.

    The Bill is intended to boost the number of organisations prosecuted for illegal dumping while also introducing a higher, more consistent level of fines for fly-tippers who damage Britain's environment.

  • Article: Mar 4, 2015

    Writing in the Guardian, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg and Richard Branson describe the war on drugs an "abject failure."

    Nick and Richard write that it is time for fresh thinking and ask politicians to embrace the call for reform.

    You can read the article in full below.

    By any standard, the global war on drugs has been an abject failure.

    Since the 'war' was declared by President Nixon in 1971, we have spent over a trillion US dollars trying to eradicate drugs from our societies. Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organised crime.

    We devote vast police, criminal justice and military resources to the problem, including the incarceration of people on a historically unprecedented scale.

    In many parts of the world, drug violence has become endemic. On the day that Mexican president Nieto is visiting the UK, we should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico alone since 2006.

    Yet tragically, the sum total of enforcement efforts against drug supply over the past 40 years has been zero. Efforts at reducing demand have been similarly fruitless.

    Here in the UK, one third of adults have taken illegal drugs and the gangs are doing a roaring trade. The problem simply isn't going away.

    It's no wonder that countries around the world are rethinking their approach. Former prime ministers and presidents are now admitting the mistakes of the past and pushing for change, through the Global Commission on Drug Policy and other bodies.

    Serving politicians are increasingly speaking out, with President Santos of Colombia leading the way. Senior law enforcement officers are starting to question the idea that we can arrest ourselves out of this.

    Perhaps the most startling change has been in the United States, the country that invented the drugs war, where four states have recently voted to tax and regulate cannabis sales.

    Closer to home, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Denmark have all introduced reforms aimed at reducing harm and cutting crime, ranging from heroin prescribing to decriminalisation.

    The West is undergoing a tectonic shift; but the UK seems oblivious to it.

    And yet we desperately need better solutions in this country. One in six children of school age are still taking drugs; 2,000 people die each year in drug-related incidents; the use of unregulated 'legal highs' is rampant.

    At the same time the police are stopping and searching half a million people a year for possession of drugs, prosecutions of users are close to record levels, and prison cells are still used for people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted.

    This costs a lot of money - money which could be better spent on treatment and on redoubling our efforts to disrupt supply. And it wrecks the lives of 70,000 people a year who receive a criminal record for possession and then find themselves unable to get a job.

    As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.

    The idea of eradicating drugs from the world by waging a war on those who use them is fundamentally flawed for one simple reason: it doesn't reduce drug taking.

    The Home Office's own research, commissioned by Liberal Democrats in government and published a few months ago, found that "there is no apparent correlation between the 'toughness' of a country's approach and the prevalence of adult drug use".

    This devastating conclusion means that we are wasting our scarce resources, and on a grand scale.

    The standard political response to this is to say that we must stay the course - that if we arrest a few more people, seize a few more shipments, then 'victory' remains in our grasp.

    And conversely, that if we dare to do anything differently then we are playing Russian roulette with people's lives. The gulf between the rhetoric and the reality could not be greater.

    The status quo is a colossal con perpetrated on the public by politicians who are too scared to break the taboo.

    So what is the alternative? For this, we should look to Portugal which removed criminal penalties for drug possession in 2001. Portugal's reforms have not - as many predicted - led to an increase in drug use.

    Instead, they have allowed resources to be re-directed towards the treatment system, with dramatic reductions in addiction, HIV infections and drug-related deaths.

    Drugs remain illegal and socially unacceptable, as they should be, but drug users are dealt with through the civil rather than the criminal law.

    Anyone who is arrested for drug possession is immediately assessed and sent for treatment or education. If they fail to engage, they have to pay a fine.

    The Portuguese system works, and on an issue as important as this, where lives are at stake, governments cannot afford to ignore the evidence.

    We should set up pilots to test and develop a British version of the Portuguese model. The evidence suggests it will be cheaper, more effective at reducing harm, and would allow the police to focus their attention where it should be, on the criminal gangs that supply the drugs.

    Now is the time for politicians of all parties to count the costs of four decades of failure, and embrace the call for reform. If we really want effective solutions to drug markets and to the harm caused by drug use, it will take political courage and fresh thinking.

    Nick Clegg MP and Richard Branson

  • Article: Mar 3, 2015

    Liberal Democrats have set out 17 policies designed to tackle inequalities faced by Britain's ethnic minorities.

    The proposals formed under five key themes covering social and economic issues are collectively called the Liberal Democrat Race Equality Plan. They are designed to sit alongside the party's existing policies to tackle race inequalities.

  • Article: Mar 3, 2015

    Liberal Democrats have announced plans to introduce a new Green Homes Bill which would insulate up to 10 million homes by 2025.

    Under the plans set out for the next Parliament, homeowners would also be offered a Council Tax discount of at least £100 a year for ten years for making their homes greener.

  • key_cycling_invest.gif
    Article: Mar 2, 2015

    Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced £115m in funding for cycling projects across the UK.

    The money will be split between eight major cities, with each using the money to improve the safety and accessibility of their cycle routes.

    This covers:

    • £22m for Birmingham, with plans to build the infrastructure needed to double the number of cycling journeys made there by 2023.
    • £19m for Bristol, with a proposal to improve the city's cycling network and routes across urban areas and Bath.
    • £6m for Cambridge, with plans for new bridge over the River Cam, segregated cycling routes in the city and more links in South Cambridgeshire.
    • £22m for Leeds, with plans to expand its current cycle superhighway and improve links to Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and York.
    • £22m for Manchester, with plans to develop more than 45km of new or improved cycle routes as phase two of its Cycle City plan.
    • £10.6m for Newcastle, intended to make it easier for cyclists to get to work from in and around the city.
    • £8.4m for Norwich, with plans to redesign 31km of key cycle routes.
    • £3.m for Oxford, intended to provide better links between the city centre and south east of the city.