Thank you for 70 years of service! We would like to congratulate Her Majesty on her Platinum Jubilee and seventy years on the throne. There are several events planned across Sandwell, and we have enjoyed seeing the preparations in several local streets, including the West Bromwich Street Party on Saturday.
Over the last seventy years, much of our green space has been lost to development with little thought for replacing the green lungs that are being lost. This has meant loss of the greenery that helps combat Climate Change, and steep declines in biodiversity and wildlife. So, we would also encourage people to join campaigns to plant trees as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Whilst Chancellor Rishi Sunak' has announced further help with energy bills, he is also still levying a £22.4 bn tax bill:
- £13.8 bn in personal tax rises this year - through the National Insurance rise and the freezing of Income Tax thresholds
- £8.6 bn in extra VAT due to inflation this year
There are 28 million households in the country. This means the £22.4 billion amounts to a total tax hike of £800 per household.
According to the latest Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast from March 2022, the Government will raise an additional £13.8 billion from personal taxes in 2022-23. This comprises £2.9bn from the freezing of Income Tax thresholds and £10.9bn from the National Insurance increase. This takes into account the increase in NI thresholds announced at the Spring Statement.
The additional £8.6bn VAT hit is based on the latest forecasts for VAT receipts from the OBR, compared to its previous forecast published last year. VAT receipts forecasts are taken from the OBR's Economic and fiscal outlooks for March 2021 and March 2022. The difference between the March 2021 and March 2022 forecasts amounts to an additional VAT hit of £8.6bn in 2022-23.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw a sharp fall in the numbers of passengers using local buses, as we were all forced to stay at home. Although most restrictions have now been lifted the number of people using buses has still not recovered as people are still nervous about being in crowded places.
This means that many bus routes are under threat, such as the 424 service in Great Barr.
Sign the petition urging Transport for West Midlands to keep these vital links on remote estates.
Sign the petition
Sandwell's Conservative MPs voted AGAINST an urgent cut in VAT
This change would have saved 96,000 households in Sandwell £57,600,000 an average of £600.
Liberal Democrats had proposed a cut in VAT to help local families struggling with the cost of living. A VAT cut from the current 20% to 17.5% for one year would save 25,700 households in West Bromwich East, 27,000 households in West Bromwich West, and 23,800 households in Halesowen and Rowley Regis an average of £600 each. Back our petition to force a U-turn.
However, Sandwell's three Conservative MPs voted against this temporary cut in VAT that would have helped 96,000 households in our community as food, petrol and energy prices skyrocket.
Thank you to everyone who voted this May. And particular thanks to those of you who chose to support local Liberal Democrat candidates.
Sandwell remains controlled by the Labour Party. We very much hope that they will take opportunities to work with the Commissioners the Government have sent in.
Nationally the Liberal Democrats were successful, gaining the most Council seats. In Sandwell our vote improved. Our colleagues in Birmingham and Solihull made very welcome gains.
We plan to continue to work with you on local issues here in Sandwell and we are grateful for all the contacts you have made with us and with those of you who have become members or official supporters of the LibDems. We will continue to keep in touch.
If there are any others who would like to be involved, you will be most welcome to join us.
Honorary President, Sandwell Liberal Democrats
In our manifesto, we outline how the Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for our six towns and be ambitious for the borough.
We are fighting for improved local services, greater accountability, developing a strong local economy with more local jobs, and making Sandwell a great place to live.
We are making commitments that will provide more support and more activities for young people, better services for the elderly and vulnerable, quality and affordable housing for families, and action on protecting our environment.
Read our plan below and the full manifesto here.
View the Manifesto
- Local Liberal Democrat candidate calls on Nicola Richards to sack Boris Johnson
- Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey says “It’s time Conservative MPs did their patriotic duty”
Responding to Sue Gray’s update on parties being held in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns, Liberal Democrat candidate for West Bromwich East, Andy Graham, said:
“This is a damning moment for Boris Johnson
“The Conservative MP for our area cannot hide behind lame excuses any longer. We all know whilst people in West Bromwich made terrible sacrifices during lockdowns, Boris Johnson and his team were partying in Downing Street.
“We all have painful memories of that lockdown, from not being able to see dying relatives, to being separated for months on end from our friends and family.
“It is time for Nicola Richards to sack Boris Johnson. No more ifs or buts.
“It is an insult to everyone in our area to see the local Conservative MP refusing to sack a Conservative Prime Minister who broke the law and lied about it."
Breaking news: Commissioners sent in to run Sandwell
The government has sent Commissioners in to run chaotic Sandwell Council (at the Council’s expense), on 22 March. (This is an update on our story posted at the end of January.)
Changes of leadership in both the Labour and Conservative groups over the last year means it was almost inevitable that "independent" Commissioners would be sent in. You can read about this decision at the link below.
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council: Directions under the Local Government Act 1999
Residents in Sandwell deserve a more stable Council
• Labour has had 6 leaders in six years
• The Conservative group is on its third leader since last May
• There is a lack of trust between senior officers and elected Councillors
The last auditor’s report highlighted long standing problems which have got worse since there has been no serious opposition asking awkward questions as LibDem councillors used to do. It also cited the lack of trust between Officers and the political leadership, but noted ‘some improvement’ recently. It seemed inevitable that officials would decide that the Commissioners should be sent in given the lack of stable leadership in both the ruling block and the opposition. However, considering this announcement had been expected in late-February or early-March, this smacks of political opportunism by Tory Ministers to give their squabbling local Councillors some help.
LibDems stand ready to address the needs of Sandwell residents facing the grim challenges of heating or eating amid rising prices, feeling safe in our environment and the mental health issues that come with that. These are things we understand.
You can read the auditors' report here:
- 11% more burglaries of homes over the Christmas period than in the rest of the year.
- 90% of Christmas burglaries go unsolved by the police in the West Midlands.
- 44,220 burglaries committed in October to December last year were closed without a suspect being identified.
New analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed an 11% spike in burglaries over the Christmas period, five in six of which go unsolved by police with our local West Midlands Police bottom of the league with over 90% going unsolved.
In the last five years, police recorded an average of 5,290 domestic burglaries per week in October, November and December, compared to 4,751 a week over the rest of the year.
The Liberal Democrat analysis also shows that domestic burglaries committed over the festive period are more likely to go unsolved. 84% cases recorded in the last three months of the year are closed with no suspect identified, compared to 81% of those recorded in the rest of the year. Last year, that meant 44,220 unsolved burglaries in October to December.
The period between Christmas and New Year can prove particularly fruitful for burglars, with homes full of new presents left empty as occupants visit family elsewhere.
The top police forces with the worst unsolved burglary rates over the Christmas period are the West Midlands Police (90.1%), Metropolitan Police (89.7%) and Surrey Police (88.8%), with around nine in ten burglaries going unsolved.
Councillor Jon Hunt, Lib Dem candidate for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
"Liberal Democrats campaigned this year for a return to community policing in our region - and in previous decades pioneered it in Birmingham. The government needs to give the police the resources and the guidance and the flexibility to get effective police teams back into our neighbourhoods."
The West Midlands now has a Lib Dem MP again! Congratulations to Helen Morgan and the team for a brilliant campaign. This by-election was caused after Boris Johnson's failed attempt to change the rules after the Tory MP was found guilty of breaching anti-corruption rules. Well done to all of our local members who went to support the effort in North Shropshire!
In her victory speech, Helen said:
"Tonight, the people of North Shropshire have spoken on behalf of the British people.
"They have said loudly and clearly: 'Boris Johnson, the party is over'.
"Your government, run on lies and bluster, will be held accountable. It will be scrutinised, it will be challenged and it can and will be defeated."
In Sandwell, we are working hard to regain seats on the Council and hold our equally inept and corrupt Labour-led Council to account.