North Somerset Lib Dems Slam Tory Planning Power Grab

The Liberal Democrats have condemned the Conservative Government’s plans to reform the planning system, arguing that proposed changes will do nothing to alleviate the housing crisis in North Somerset.

The Liberal Democrats believe the Conservatives’ proposals will not help those who are stuck on waiting lists and express concern that zoning plans risk “leaving whole areas behind”. Instead, the Party is calling for “an urgent house building programme”, with proposals to build 100,000 social homes for rent every year.

A motion accepted at the Party’s Autumn Conference, making it official party policy, lays bare the risks of the Government’s proposals, which the Party argue amount to a Government “power grab” that will reduce investment in affordable housing urgently needed in our towns and villages.

North Somerset Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson, Cllr Robert Payne said  “People living locally are the people best placed to make sure planning decisions shape our communities for the better. But this Conservative Government’s planning reforms will strip away local people’s ability to shape those decisions and is a developer’s charter.

"With nine out of ten planning proposals approved nationwide, it's certainly not the planning system that is causing problems.

"Liberal Democrats here wholeheartedly object to these proposals, which do nothing to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing, undermine our climate commitments and put our local heritage at risk.”

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North Somerset Council Executive Changes

Councillor Don Davies, Leader of the Council, announced changes to North Somerset Council's senior political leadership at the most recent meeting of the Executive (21 October 2020).

Cllr Mike Solomon, independent member for Hutton and Locking, has been appointed as executive member for communities, tourism and leisure and takes up his role immediately: "I am delighted to be joining the Executive and leading the council's work in this important area of responsibility. I have lived locally all my life and my family's background is in the local hotel and restaurant trade, so I'm well-placed to represent these responsibilities."

Cllr Solomon

Cllr Solomon replaces Cllr Caritas Charles who is standing down from his executive member role due to new work commitments, but will continue to serve his community as an active ward member for Portishead East.

Cllr Davies also announced the appointment of two new assistant executive members to support the work of the Executive. 

Cllr HollandCllr Richardson

Cllr Nicola Holland, independent member for Portishead West, is the assistant executive member for community engagement, supporting Mike Solomon in his role, while Cllr Geoff Richardson, Liberal Democrat member for Clevedon West, takes up the role of assistant executive member for highways and transport, supporting Cllr James Tonkin.  

Cllr Davies said: "Our efforts to respond to the pandemic this year have meant that resources have been diverted to focus on coronavirus while also trying to deliver our normal business. But we have an ambitious agenda for the area which we can deliver at a faster pace with more involvement from councillors to support key areas of work.   

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Caritas for all his work as an executive member since last May and wish him well with his new job. Mike, Nicola and Geoff have all contributed greatly to our administration since being elected last year and I am pleased that they will now have the opportunity to play key roles in helping us achieve our goals for the communities of North Somerset."

The annual allowance for an assistant executive member is £7,000 and this year's costs will be met through an underspend in members' allowances. Future costs will be budgeted for as part of the council's medium term financial planning process.  

WTO ditches Fox: North Somerset still has an MP

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has been unsuccessful in his bid to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.  The leadership election has today (Wednesday 7th October 2020) narrowed down to two candidates Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea. Dr Liam Fox, representing the United Kingdom, was ditched on the last hurdle and therefore eliminated from the race

Liam Fox, who as Secretary of State for International Trade said a trade deal with the EU after Brexit would be "the easiest trade deal in history", oversaw the four-year gridlock in implementing a UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and Trade Deal before being removed as a Cabinet Minister. 

On Friday 18th September 2020 WTO members indicated that the five candidates who should advance are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.

The leadership election, which has been going on since July, has caused some upset within the constituency that Dr Liam Fox has let his eyes off North Somerset whilst residents were dealing with the deadly Coronavirus pandemic. Staff at the North Somerset MPs Office were left unable to reply to constituent Sarah Kenhard’s emails, telling her "I am not sure when he will be back in the UK".

Hopes for Liam Fox’s director-general appointment quickly fizzled out after the Hungarian Government, with whom Liam Fox had extensive meetings behind closed doors, went back on their word offering their support for his candidacy. Financial Times Journalist, Alan Beattie commented “So have Hungary been trolling the EU or Fox? Hard to tell.”

It is unclear whether Dr Fox will continue to stay as a backbench MP serving his constituency or will leave for a job he finds more fulfilling, which would trigger a parliamentary by-election in the seat. 

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Fox 'surpised everyone' by making WTO Shortlist, says Hunt

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has reached the next stage in a race to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation - in the event that he is successful this could lead to him resigning as a member of parliament and triggering a parliamentary by-election in the seat. If successful it is likely that he would stand down and there would have to be a by-election, this would be a great opportunity to elect a new MP (hopefully a Liberal Democrat!) to truly represent the people of North Somerset.

On Friday (18th September 2020) WTO members indicated that the five candidates who should advance are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.

Upon hearing the news former Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that Dr Fox "surprised everyone by getting into the second round".

The second phase of consultations will begin on 24 September and run until 6 October. During this time, members will be asked in the confidential consultations to express two preferences to the facilitators with an eye to bringing the number of candidates from five to two. Following this process, Ambassador Walker will call another Heads of Delegations meeting at which the results will be announced to the WTO membership. The timetable for the third and final round of consultations will be announced at that time.

The ultimate objective of this measured and clearly defined process is to secure a consensus decision by members on the next Director-General.

The process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on 14 May when former Director-General Roberto Azevêdo informed WTO members he would be stepping down from his post one year before the expiry of his mandate. He subsequently left office on 31 August.  

Liam Fox, who as Minister for International Trade said a trade deal with the EU after Brexit would be "the easiest trade deal in history", oversaw the four-year gridlock in implementing a UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and Trade Deal before being removed as a Cabinet Minister.

Dr Fox became infamous after the Adam Werrity International Trade Scandal, after which a report by then cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, found that Fox exposed himself and government officials to security risks by giving private businessman, Adam Werrity, access to his diary, and repeatedly leaving foreign powers with the impression that Werritty was part of the UK government, or was working for Fox in an official capacity.

Baroness Sarah Ludford, Lib Dem Peer, said: “Former UK trade sec Liam Fox is expected to be announced as Britain’s official nominee to run the WTO... a Brexiter with strong connections to the US Republican party. Mr Fox is regarded as a no-hoper among many in trade circles, especially in Brussels”

With all current elections delayed until next May due to Coronavirus, this could mean a long campaign period and North Somerset being without an MP for over 6 months. There's no need to wait for a by-election though, you can get involved in campaigning with the Liberal Democrats and donate to our fighting fund today.

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North Somerset's Local Plan, and why it should matter to Young People

Author: Huw James is a North Somerset Councillor and a young person's champion within the district, you can get involved in the Local Plan Consultation here: (Stage Two Ends December 14th) 

North Somerset Council are working on creating a new Local Plan. A policy document that provides people across North Somerset the opportunity to tackle the issues that affect us daily. The Local Plan will shape how North Somerset grows between 2023 and 2038. It’s a document that decides the future of North Somerset. The first stage of Local Plan consultation focuses on the challenges we believe we face in North Somerset and the issues the plan needs to address. You can read the full Challenges consultation document here.

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