Many of our libraries have had to close, which has impacted on many who enjoy the service. The Lib Dems want to keep Libraries open as they feel they offer an important service, so Leo Montague has been finding out what the librarians were doing during lockdown. “The library staff have been very busy helping with essential services such as taking calls from vulnerable residents to make sure they get food parcels. We want to thank them, as many residents contacted us needing help.” In the meantime, the Click and Collect service is available free, so you can ask for any book to be delivered to your local library to collect.
As MK grows, we have to make sure that school places keep up. Whilst most of us were working from home the builders of Watling Academy continued to make sure the school was ready on time. Peter Cannon visited the site to check on progress. “We are blown away at the scale of this project, it’s fantastic. The team have worked miracles, getting materials, and keeping everyone safe on site. The school will be amazing, and I’d like to thank them for the hard work”.
Many of our young people need stable housing. The YMCA are now offering homes to young people with the most problems. Marie Bradburn chairs the Corporate Parenting Panel and went along to see the service. “It’s fantastic and offers a real start for our most vulnerable young people. We have to continue to support such projects. As councillors we are acting as parents to children in care. I’ve launched the Champions model to encourage councillors to get more involved in their education, health, and well-being. This year has been so bad for young people: we need to support their mental health too.” Jenni Ferrans, who has been appointed as the Young people’s champion says “Recently we got Council support for a Lib Dem motion to provide more help for children as they leave Council care. Now we’re looking at why so many other young people also end up homeless. It has to stop.”
When residents asked for wheelie bins the Lib Dems listened and pressed for a trial. The pilot is operating in several areas across Milton Keynes and some village areas. The results will be published later this spring but the aim is to increase recycling, reduce landfill, but also reduce ripped bags by animals and rubbish being spread across public areas. Vanessa McPake, Lib Dem spokesperson for waste, spoke about the pilot. “We listened to residents and pushed for this pilot, so we want to hear how it’s going. What goes in the new bins is a little different, so please read the instructions carefully.”
We asked what options were available for elderly or less mobile residents. Vanessa explained “Bins and boxes are available, so if you are having problems, please let us know. Anyone unable to manage the bins or boxes can ask for an Assisted Collection.”
Emergency help, Foodbank Xtra, housing the homeless, keeping buses running, controlling outbreaks, and much more has cost MK Council and the country extra during COVID. Income from businesses, parking charges and more people needing to claim beneﬁt discounts so the council is under pressure. It will all have to be paid for eventually, probably in higher taxes or cuts in services. Councils face the most uncertain budgets ever over the next few years.
The Lib Dems want to protect services for our children, like nurseries and children’s centres, and also help for the homelessness, hardships grants and return to work training. We interviewed Robin Bradburn, Lib Dem spokesperson for finance, who said. “This year, the Government has frozen Council funding, but the Government has given us no idea what funding we might get in future years, and have said they want to reduce it, so we’re having to look at every service. We’ll make cuts to the oﬃce admin, but some services are likely to be cut too, so what would YOU protect? Leisure centres and libraries, grass cutting and street cleaning, or public transport? Could we charge more for garden waste collection or parking in CMK?” Tell us what’s important to you.
Have your say on what should be protected overleaf, by completing our survey at www.tinyurl.com/mkldbudget.
Many families are struggling, with the numbers using community fridge and food bank projects doubling, meaning now more than ever we need to end Child Poverty. The Liberal Democrats secured more money to help with holiday meals and the Child Poverty Commission is a major Liberal Democrat commitment. Marie Bradburn updated us on progress. “We care about the future for all our children, so we listened to families. They tell us they need local support, so we want to keep family centres open and help local projects. It’s a big job, but the community has come together, and we want to thank everyone for their help. Together we can do it, so no child goes to bed hungry.” The Child Poverty Commissions report will be published shortly. The Liberal Democrats are committed to standing by all the recommendation. Cllr Leo Montague adds “It will be a big commitment, but this is serious, we are serious. Our children are going hungry. This is not just an issue for the city: our village families are suffering too. This pandemic has been very cruel to so many but the problem goes way beyond that to high rents and low benefits for families with children”.
Normally we’d knock on hundreds, if not thousands of doors each year to find your issues and views. But this year, we can’t do that because of COVID restrictions, so please take our survey to let us know what you think needs doing. Thank you.
Homes For The Future
All rough sleepers were oﬀered homes during lockdown, and MK Council continues to house them, but with high rents and lost jobs the number are going to increase. Jenni Ferrans, Lib Dem spokesperson on Housing has been talking about what is happening in MK.
Jenni says “We have managed to house everyone and keep them safe, and we are supporting the few who refuse to come in or to obey basic rules to keep people safe, and now we’re moving to provide longer term help and accommodation for those whose mental health problems etc. need more work. But the homeless keep coming – with family homes overcrowded during lockdown, the stress of the pandemic causing relationship breakdown, and some landlords still evicting people. So the work goes on.
“For people who have homes, rents are so high, they are causing poverty, even among those who are still in work, so we have to work with landlords to help keep them down. This is essential to help reduce Child Poverty and improve mental health for everyone. “We’re also building more council housing and I’m pleased the Liberal Democrats are supporting new building projects, but it is the tip of a very big iceberg. We will keep the pressure on to get people a roof over their head and one they can aﬀord to keep. We need developers to build the sort of homes MK people need and can aﬀord” Jenni added.
Jenni Ferrans got bins at Queensbury Lane flats cleared after it became a very smelly problem! Please report any missed collections promptly on the Council website and leave your bins out for a day or two for SERCO to empty them.
Vanessa McPake has fought hard to retain our bus services at present, but if passenger numbers don’t recover, the Council will be forced to make cuts. Subsidies are costing MK Council £3M a year. Vanessa says “Our local bus companies are enforcing the precautions and buses are pretty safe – sometimes safer than taxis – so please use them if you can – and wear a face covering!”