Local Lib Dem councillor hits out at revelations that the Government are going to end free parking for NHS staff.
During the coronavirus crisis, NHS staff have been able to park at Wakefield's Pinderfield Hospital and other hospitals across the region without having to pay.
The charges were dropped so that nurses, cleaners and other hospital staff could get to work without extra charges or hassle.
But now the Government is set to end the free parking, arguing the coronavirus crisis is easing.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat councillor for Knottingley & Ferrybridge, Tom Gordon, said:
"Our NHS staff and social care workers in Wakefield & across the Five Towns have been putting themselves on the front line every single day to protect us. It is absolutely right that they shouldn't be punished for parking at work, especially when it isn't as safe as usual for them to be using public transport.
"Even if this Covid-19 crisis was close to being over, scrapping free parking for NHS staff shows that the Government have learned nothing. We have been clapping for carers over the past few months - but we must match that with real action to improve things for NHS and care workers.
"That's why extortionate parking charges for NHS staff should be axed, and why health and social care workers deserve a decent pay rise. Sadly, it doesn't look like the Government will give them either."
Over 8800 pupils could benefit from Summer Learning Fund under Lib Dem plans
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to commit to a Summer Learning Fund that would support over 8800 disadvantaged children across Wakefield District to get ready for returning to school.
Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran, who welcomed the Government’s u-turn on free school meals, warned further action was needed to “ensure no child is left behind.”
The intervention comes after official figures published last week reveal 1,440,777 pupils across England could benefit from free school meals this summer, following a campaign by Liberal Democrats and others.
The Liberal Democrats have now set out a package of measures to support children and open schools safely. The Party is urging Ministers to create a Summer Learning Fund, which would give every child on free school meals free places at summer learning camps in their community.
The scheme would help Wakefield Council run such groups to help pupils learn and prepare them for returning to school.
Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:
"The Government’s plan would have left many vulnerable children to fall through the cracks at a time when people are really struggling.
“I am grateful to Marcus Rashford and all those campaigners who have helped force the Prime Minister to rediscover his conscience, but it should never have been needed.
"The Government must now work cross-party and with parents, teachers and local governments to do more. We must ensure no child is left behind.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Gordon added:
“Parents and teachers locally are concerned that pupils, especially the most disadvantaged, are not getting the education and care they need to get on in life.
“That is why the Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to do more by combining the free school meals voucher scheme with an emergency uplift in child benefit during the crisis and a Summer Learning Fund that supports the most disadvantaged children.”
The Liberal Democrats are calling for greater powers for Wakefield Council to take action on carbon emissions as figures show progress to cut emissions across the UK has stalled since 2016.
In Wakefield emissions have fallen from 2115.1 to 2072.5 (kt CO2) - not fast enough to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050.
Highlighting the need for “action now, not promises”, the Liberal Democrats are calling for more powers for those who are “best-placed to tackle the climate emergency in their areas”: local authorities.
Tom Gordon, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Knottingley & Ferrybridge said:
“The Liberal Democrats are fighting to tackle the climate emergency, and that includes here at Wakefield Council. We have a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045, but - as things stand - we’ll struggle to even meet the 2050 deadline.
“Local authorities are best placed to tackle the climate emergency in their area. We are calling for the Government to give local authorities more powers to take action on carbon emissions. This means powers to tackle congestion, invest in public transport, insulate our homes, and create new green jobs."
Say NO to Labour's Expensive West Yorkshire Mayoral Stitch Up
Wakefield Liberal Democrats are urging local residents to reject plans for a Leeds City Region Mayor. A consultation is presently underway on introducing a Metro Mayor in time for next year’s Local Elections.
Lib Dems Councillor Tom Gordon said: “In these difficult times local people don’t want to be forking out extra Council Tax for a Mayor nobody wants. Many people are really struggling and this extra bill will be a real hardship.”
Plans for the new Leeds City Mayor were signed off in March between the five Labour Council Leaders of West Yorkshire and the Government. There is now a consultation ongoing and the Lib Dems are urging local people to make sure their voices are heard.
Lib Dem Councillor Tom Gordon said “This is a bad deal and is just another Labour stitch-up. Residents in our area rejected the idea of an elected Mayor, in a referendum back in 2012, yet somehow now we are likely to have one imposed upon us. This isn’t meaningful devolution, it’s an undemocratic stitch-up with the five Labour Authority Council Leaders having the power to veto and amend the Mayor’s budget. SO even a non-Labour Mayor will have to fall in line.”
Concerns have also been raised about the possible replacement of the elected Police and Crime Commissioner with what would presumably be a party political appointed by the Mayor.
Councillor Gordon added: “I don’t see why Yorkshire can’t have a proper devolution deal like Scotland and Wales. We want Yorkshire to have proper power, not this shabby Labour stitch-up. I’m therefore asking people to oppose the deal in the consultation.
The consultation can be completed online at:
Liberal Democrat Councillor calls on MPs to back a motion to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy.
In an letter Councillor Tom Gordon has urged Yvette Cooper, Member of Parliament for Normanton, Pontefract, and Castleford, to back a motion Layla Moran's Early Day Motion, which would make LGBTQ+ conversion therapy illegal.
Over two years ago, then Prime Minister Theresa May said that the Government would bring forward legislation to ban the practice but the Government has yet to act. Over 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for conversion therapy - aimed at changing a person's sexuality - to be made illegal.
Councillor Gordon said:
“All major UK therapy professional bodies, charities, and even our NHS being in total agreement, that there simply is no moral or scientific basis to allow the continuation of this barbaric practice.”
“Every single day that goes by is another in which individuals can legally be subjected to this harmful ordeal. I am sure that equality and mutual respect is a goal that we share and one which we must be willing to fight for. I hope that you choose to back this motion and support the members of the LGBTQ+ community across Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford, Knottingley & Ferrybridge, as well as the rest of the United Kingdom”
Councillor Gordon has also called on his fellow Wakefield Council colleagues to lobby their respective MPs to support this motion.
Full text of the letter can be found below:
The Liberal Democrats have called out the Government’s “ill-thought-out” decision to reopen schools amidst the COVID-19 crisis, as new statistics from an NEU survey show that a large proportion of primary schools remain open only to children of key workers.
In Yorkshire and the Humber some 48% of primary schools remain closed to all except the children of key workers, despite the Government’s attempt to reopen schools to more year groups at the start of this week.
The Liberal Democrats are calling on Ministers to ensure that parents, teachers, headteachers and governors are fully prepared for a phased return and have the support they need to reopen safely, taking into account specific school contexts.
To help facilitate social distancing, the Liberal Democrats have put forward plans for the creation of “spare space registers” at a local level, which would open up office space, community halls, sports-grounds and more to allow schools space for social distancing, with the Government stepping in to cover associated costs.
Cllr Tom Gordon Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford parliamentary constituency said:
“It’s no surprise 48% of primary school headteachers and governors in across the Yorkshire & the Humber region have not yet been able to open their doors to more pupils, given confusion around the Government guidelines and the immense challenges social-distancing presents in many school contexts.
“The vast majority of people in our towns want to see pupils back in the classroom, but safety is paramount. Where it's been possible, many teachers, headteachers and governors have bent over backwards to safely reopen to some year groups. However, not all schools have the facilities or means to do so - the Government must recognise that no two schools are alike.
"Ministers must also learn from this that schools must have more time to prepare for future changes. Ministers must ensure all schools have greater support if they choose to move towards the next phase of reopening.”
Lib Dems urge Bauer Radio to rethink Ridings FM shutdown
Liberal Democrat Councillor has criticised Bauer Radio’s decision to close Ridings FM, saying that the move will “erode Wakefield’s regional identity on the airwaves”. In an open letter to Bauer Radio, Councillor Tom Gordon opposes plans to merge Wakefield’s local independent radio station with seven other stations across Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Ridings FM, which currently serves Wakefield, Pontefract, Castleford, Featherstone, Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, is set to be replaced by the region-wide Greatest Hits Radio, in a move which has been reported will put 80% of presenters’ jobs at risk. Cllr Gordon and the Wakefield Liberal Democrats have started a petition and hope to gather enough signatures to show that enough residents support Ridings FM for it to remain viable.
Commenting, Councillor Tom Gordon said:
“This move by Bauer Radio endangers Wakefield’s regional identity on local independent radio. Local presenters will soon be replaced by national programmes produced in London”.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has proved just how crucial local coverage is, with residents across the district relying on Ridings FM for the latest public health guidelines and news about local businesses, services and transport. Region-wide coverage will not be able to replace this with the level of detail that residents depend on”.
“Radio Today estimates that 80% of presenters will face redundancy because of this rebrand, whilst Bauer Radio has given no assurances over the state of jobs for off-air support staff and producers. As Wakefield recovers economically from the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses should be making attempts to protect jobs, not to cut them”.
Make sure you sign our petition to keep Ridings FM on the airwaves, just click here.
Knottingley’s Lib Dem Councillor is calling on Wakefield Council to recognise a resident who saved a toddlers life after rescuing them from the Knottingley Canal on Sunday.
While walking near the canal Knottingley resident Ryley Ferguson witnessed an unaccompanied toddler fall into the canal from the opposite bank below Foundry Lane. Without hesitation he raced to the scene, stripped off some clothing, dove in and swam across and saved the toddlers life.
Following his lifesaving actions coming to light, local Councillor Tom Gordon has called on the Mayor of Wakefield Council to ensure that he receives recognition for his act of bravery.
Commenting, Cllr Gordon said:
"After hearing about what happened I contacted the Mayor to inform him. I do hope that we can find a fitting way of acknowledging his brave and selfless actions”
“Our town is extremely fortunate to have a lad like Ryley. He’s a hero and he deserves to be recognised as such.”
The Liberal Democrats are calling on Government to pick up the bill for council tax payments in order to ease the financial pressure people are facing as a result of the coronavirus.
According to the Liberal Democrats, their proposals would save residents in Wakefield district an average of £395 over the next three months.
The party's proposals include a complete moratorium on payments for all households in Bands A to E, and a 50% reduction in payments across other bands. The Treasury would make up the shortfall in tax revenue with direct payments to councils.
The Liberal Democrats would like to see these measures implemented for a minimum of three months, with an option to extend the scheme as required.
Liberal Democrat Communities, Housing and Local Government spokesperson Tim Farron said:
"Millions of people are facing financial hardship as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. More must be done to ease the pressure on families facing financial hardship. Scrapping council tax bills before they kick in again in April is one such step.
"Councils and local authorities provide vital services and, of course, they must be able to continue that work. That's why Liberal Democrats are calling on Government to foot the bill until the current crisis passes and people can start to rebuild.”
Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Gordon added:
"Many residents have already told me that they struggle to pay ever increasing council tax bills and across our towns people in Bands A-E are being asked to pay an average of £1581 in council tax this year. As the coronavirus crisis escalates, thousands face the prospect of simply not being able to pay, and may fall into arrears if steps are not taken to suspend payments. Rapid action is needed, or many more families will be under unbearable financial pressuring in the coming weeks.
"Councils have been hit hard by government funding cuts over the last five years. Every penny is now vital to ensure Wakefield Council can continue to operate. Under these proposals, councils would receive equivalent funding from central government, to make sure they can continue to provide the services that people rely on."