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Welcome to North Bedfordshire Liberal Democrats

Welcome to the website for the North Bedfordshire Liberal Democrats for information from the party and the latest news from the Council.

You can also find out how to contact your local Lib Dem Councillor, their surgery details and information about work they are doing for you. You can also follow us on twitter @BedfordLibDems

For news from the directly elected, Lib Dem Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson- please click here.

Recent News

  • The new Bedford Bus Station in operation
    Article: May 6, 2015

    Despite the council's unprecedented financial pressures, Mayor Dave Hodgson has a remarkable record of getting things done for Bedford Borough, with key transport projects promised for decades turned into a reality. Meanwhile, roads maintenance, local bus services and cycle provision have all been improved. Here are the facts:

  • Dave Hodgson
    Article: May 6, 2015

    Since the day he was first elected as Mayor in October 2009, Mayor Dave Hodgson has prioritised economic growth and jobs for Bedford Borough. He has retained the Economic Development portfolio personally throughout his time as Mayor, and has worked tirelessly to attract new investment and create a supportive environment in which existing businesses can succeed. Here are the facts on jobs and the local economy:

  • Mayor Dave Hodgson in the Bedford Borough Mobile Library
    Article: May 6, 2015

    In the face of unprecedented reductions in the council's funding from government and massive financial pressures, Mayor Dave Hodgson has a striking record on saving local services in Bedford Borough, with no libraries, leisure centres or children's centres closed, with weekly collections protected and with bus services maintained and expanded. Here are the facts:

  • Pile of coins
    Article: May 6, 2015

    With the crucial mayoral election approaching on Thursday 7th May, this is the first of a short series here setting out the facts on a number of key issues and looking at the remarkable record of Mayor Dave Hodgson in getting the best for Bedford Borough.

    Despite unprecedented reductions in the council's funding from government and massive financial pressures, this is Mayor Dave Hodgson's record on council tax:

  • Article: May 4, 2015

    I support a humane and sustainable farming system with high standards of animal welfare, and I want to see further development of the laws we have in place to protect the wellbeing of farm animals.

    Animal welfare is of key importance and should not be compromised. Animals should not be kept in cramped confined conditions, and I support the moves that have been taken to prevent their use.

    The EU introduced a ban on battery cages on 1st January 2012, which was fully supported by Liberal Democrats in Government. Hens should not be kept in such cramped conditions, and the Government has worked hard with farmers, retailers and the food service industry to discourage the use of battery-hens and protect UK consumers from purchasing battery-hen eggs unwittingly.

    An EU ban on sow stalls has also been in force since January 2013. Although sow stalls have been illegal in the UK since 1999, they were not banned in all EU nations, and the UK Government successfully pressed the European Commission to ensure this ban is properly enforced in all EU member states. EU rules to improve welfare for animals at the time of slaughter have also been in force since January 2013, designed to prevent animals from experiencing unnecessary pain or suffering.

    There are also significant animal welfare implications during the transport of live animals, and the EU rightly has rules in place to regulate it. Regulations are in place about maximum journey times, minimum rest periods, and access to food, water and adequate space. Individuals who are transporting live animals must be properly trained and authorised, and the vehicles used must be approved for long-distance journeys.

    Liberal Democrats in Government have worked hard to improve farm inspections, taking steps to ensure that they are better targeted at thefarms that are most likely to have animal welfare problems. Farming needs to be more environmentally sustainable and we need to help farmersand consumers cut down on meat waste.

    Progress is being made on improving animal welfare laws both domestically and throughout Europe, but proper enforcement of these rules is also vital. Farm animals should have sufficient freedom to roam and explore their natural environment, and I will support measures for a humaneand sustainable farming system where animals are granted all the space they need to enjoy a decent quality of life.

  • Bedford Hospital entrance
    Article: May 4, 2015

    The NHS is a public service that we need to support and protect as much as possible. That's why I'm delighted that Liberal Democrats have committed to increasing spending on our NHS funding by £8 billion a year by 2020, which is the funding the NHS needs to cope with our aging population.

    I do not want to see the NHS privatised and I will always resist any attempts by other parties to do so. The NHS should always remain free and be based on patients' needs and not on their ability to pay.

  • Pile of coins
    Article: May 4, 2015

    Liberal Democrats believe that the success of our growing UK economy must be shared among all workers including those on low wages. We're proud of our achievements with record numbers of people in work, and helping low paid workers has been a priority for Liberal Democrats in government.

    I'm proud that Bedford Borough Council, under Liberal Democrat Mayor Dave Hodgson, is paying all employees the Living Wage. I support the principle of increasing the minimum wage to be equivalent to the Living Wage, but in order to do this we need to improve our nation's finances and reduce unemployment. I want to build a cross party consensus for policies to achieve full employment in the UK.

  • Article: May 4, 2015

    I want a tax system that is simple, progressive and fair. The vast majority of people and businesses in our country pay their taxes in full, but there are always some who try to get away without paying their fair share. This is ethically unacceptable and damages our economy and public finances.

    Liberal Democrats in government have made tackling tax avoidance a top priority and have made progress on many of the issues you raise. Since coming into Government in 2010 the government has led a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion that is closing loopholes and making more people pay up. We have already made over forty changes to the law to close loopholes and make big strategic changes to the way tax is collected to ensure fewer people slip through the net.

    The changes we have made include the introduction of a General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR); strengthening the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime; introducing a tougher monitoring regime and penalties for high-risk promoters of tax avoidance schemes; giving Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs the power to collect disputed tax bills up front (thus removing the incentive for tax avoiders to delay and frustrate efforts to settle disputes); and clamping down on Stamp Duty tax avoidance with a new range of measures.

    Another big change was to invest almost £1bn in Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to tackle tax avoidance, recruiting 2,500 extra members of staff to work on tackling tax avoidance and opening a new Large Business Directorate last year to deal specifically with the tax affairs of the 2,100 largest firms in the UK. Part of their work will be to enforce the new Diverted Profits Tax, which will counter the use of aggressive tax planning methods used by some big firms to divert their profits to areas with very low rates of tax. We hope this tax will yield an extra £1.35bn over the next five years.

    We have also worked internationally to tackle tax avoidance and this was one of the main goals of the UK's presidency of the G8 group of nations. During our presidency, we won G8 agreement on transparency on the real owners of businesses, as well as getting the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to develop a country-by-country reporting template for multinationals to report profit and tax information. Over 90 countries are signed up to the new International Comprehensive Report Standards, closing down options for tax cheats, while around £2bn in previously unpaid tax has been brought in from our new agreements with Switzerland and Lichtenstein alone.

    There is clearly much more to do at home and abroad to close loopholes and force tax cheats to pay their fair share. But thanks to the steps we have taken, the tax yield for this year will be around £9bn more than when we came into Government in 2010.

    Going forward, Liberal Democrats are determined not to let up in the fight against tax cheats. If we are in Government again our aim is to make progress on this agenda in every Budget and Autumn Statement of the next Parliament. We will continue to invest in Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, as we have done in Government, to enable them to do more to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. We will also introduce a range of other measures, including a General Anti-Avoidance Rule, which goes much further than the current anti-abuse rule. We will extend the requirement for country-by-country reporting from banks and extractive industries to cover all UK listed companies. The majority of these proposals will be introduced through the annual Finance Bill, allowing us to take regular action throughout the Parliament.

    I was disappointed but not surprised to hear media reports that HSBC helped thousands of wealthy clients avoid tax from countries all over the world. Since 2010, the Government has closed many of the loopholes exposed in the report and specifically taken action to get back money lost in Swiss bank accounts. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has systematically worked through all the HSBC data that it has received and has brought in more than £135m in tax, interest and penalties from tax evaders who hid assets in Swiss HSBC accounts.

    If elected I will work to bring in tough sanctions to prevent banks, and other financial institutions, from offering schemes to very wealthy individuals aimed at avoiding paying the same tax rates as everybody else in the country. This will not be an easy task - the role of money in our political system means those who want to maintain the status quo are able to make huge political donations, distorting the democratic process. But it is a problem which we need to fix.