Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Dombey’

Ed Davey’s Renewable Energy

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 23rd June, 2012

Keeping warm is not usually a major consideration at a midsummer Garden Party even in England, but conditions were distinctly chilly for once at Sutton Liberal Democrats’ annual event this afternoon. As the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, spoke about insulation, lagging and other matters pertaining to energy conservation and cosy homes not a few of us were thinking we could have done with a bit of personal insulation in the garden. At least the rain kept off. Ed acquired his job when Chris Huhne had to step aside, pending the outcome of legal action, and Ed paid full tribute to Chris’s groundbreaking work in the role. Ed says he now spends a lot of time talking to his counterparts in France and Germany, in particular, as energy supply is increasingly an issue dealt with transnationally. There should be some way of taking greater advantage of the solar potential of southern Europe, he argued, as well as the wind and wave potential of the North, as part of the drive to use more renewable sources of energy. He was particularly pleased to have helped  broker a collective deal for energy consumers who switched suppliers en bloc, thus benifiting from a lower tariff. However he caused unease among some LibDems at the garden party by declaring that nuclear energy cannot be ruled out as a possible component of Britain’s future eneregy strategy, employing a new generation of reactors that create less hazardous waste. The mention of waste inevitably led to a question about the proposed incinerator project at Beddington, which has caused a lot of concern locally. The current landfill site is almost full. Ruth Dombey, who has recenty taken over as Leader of Sutton Council, says she has an open mind on the subject while she studies the implications. But she stressed that recycling would still receive the greatest emphasis from the Council that now has the largest LibDem majority of any in the country.

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London Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 22nd October, 2011

From 1979 onwards, Britain endured 31 years of centralising government, but since May 2010 a new doctrine has been in place, as yet little referenced by the political commentariat, bedazzled as they are by distractions such as the putative EU referendum. With Eric Pickles, no less, the Minister in charge, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government has espoused the philosophy of Localism: bringing decision-making down to an appropriately lower level (something the EU’s principle of subsidiarity also promotes). This was the key theme of today’s London Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference, held at the University of West London in Brentford. Former local councillor Andrew Dakers reminded those of us who were present of some of the ideology and analysis behind Gordon Lishman and Tony Greaves’s mantra for Community Politics a generation ago. And a session moderated by Terry Stacy, Leader of the Opposition on Islington Borough Council, provided us with some examples of best practice from places such as Sutton (Ruth Dombey) and Liverpool (Richard Kemp). Dr Mark Pack also added his weight and experience to the subject. Listening to speeches about both localism and the London Mayoral and Assembly elections brought to my mind Chairman Mao’s dictum about walking on two legs — in this case one local, one regional. Team London, the concept that London Liberal Democrats successfully launched last year and is now integral to regional activity, understands the wisdom of that two-legged strategy — and also manages to keep one eye firmly focussed on May 2012 and the other on the borough council elections in 2014.

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