Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Update From Catherine Bearder Member of the European Parliament for South East England

Member of the European Parliament for South East England

It was great to get to Birmingham last week and see so many of you all at our Federal conference. Nick Clegg made a great speech setting out what we have already achieved in Government and re-emphasising the core principles of our party.

When comparing the conferences of the main parties I’m always struck that ours is the only one that decides on its policy in the public and democratic way of debating motions on the floor (there were some heated motion debates this year as always!) These policies are not decided by a small group in a smoky room in Westminster they are openly and fairly debated and the best bit is we are able to see policies debated and voted for at previous conferences now being implemented in government.

Many in the media were hoping for a depressing conference and perhaps some infighting but I’m happy to report that they were left very disappointed. I heard that Andrew Bolton and the Sky News team left early because there were too many happy Lib Dems!

Conference season isn’t over yet though and there’s more information about our regional conferences and a special conference I’m hosting below.

Fight Human Trafficking in Your Area

In the last newsletter I spoke about a human trafficking case where I live and the community group that has emerged fighting trafficking in Oxford.

As part of my campaign to Stamp Out Trafficking at Our Olympics and to coincide with EU anti-trafficking day I am hosting, with the Women Liberal Democrats, an event in Reading for people to learn about human trafficking and find out what they can do in their area.

As well as raising awareness of the problem our goal is to help bring people together who want to see trafficking stopped.

Trafficking is happening all over the country, it could even be happening down your street. Would you like to learn how to do something about it?  If so please attend our free conference, listen to our expert speakers and gain the tools so that you and your community can work together to make a difference.

It’s on Saturday 15th October from 9.30- 4.30 at the Penta Hotel in Reading. To register for this event please email women@libdems.org.uk or call 020 7227 1208

This is a completely open, non-political event so please pass this on to information on to anyone you feel might be interested.

UKIP Seek to Fill Their Coffers from Sale of Lion Trophy

September is not only the conference season for the Lib Dems and this month I joined conservation charity LionAid in condemning the decision of the UK Independence Party to list a lion trophy in its fundraising auction at their party conference.

The trophy, listed as: “Lot #12. The skin, with head, of a lioness shot in Zimbabwe. (Reserve £200). Donated by Geoffrey Clark (who did not shoot it!). Current bid stands at £250” is placed alongside several items in UKIP’s Gala Dinner Prize Auction to raise money for Nigel Farage’s party.

Buying trophies stimulates the market for more lions to be hunted. This sale demonstrates complete disregard for animal conservation. We have heard that the lot was withdrawn thanks to the pressure placed on them but I think it demonstrates the backwards world that Nigel Farage and the rest of his party are living in.

I’ve begun working with LionAid to campaign for the sale of trophies such as this to be banned. I’ve questioned the Commission on the effect of trophy hunting to the conservation of a species to find if they would consider closing the loop hole that allows stuffed animals, or trophies, to be imported into the EU.  This encourages Europeans to hunt lions – and always the large males with no thought for the impact that this has on a now threatened species.  When a large breeding male is removed from a pride the incoming male will kill off all the cubs in the pride in order to give his own offspring a better chance.  This means that the death of one male can cause the death of many more lions, so trophy-hunting is a real threat to the animals that most people think of first when they think of Africa.

 Conservative and Labour MEPs threaten the economic stability of the UK

This week my colleague in the South East Sharon Bowles accused our fellow Conservative and Labour MEPs of undermining the economic stability of the Eurozone and UK for their refusal to back tighter fiscal rules for euro members.

We voted in Strasbourg on six pieces of legislation on economic governance, the so-called “six pack” and Sharon was one of the key negotiators securing big improvements to the package

She said: “The UK is not an island in economic terms. Our economic fate is closely linked to what happens to the Euro.  It is in the UK’s interest to make sure that economic policy coordination across the Eurozone improves and quick and automatic sanctions are put in place for euro members flaunting fiscal rules.”

“I’ve just returned from the IMF where there was fear of a global meltdown similar to that following the collapse of Lehman brothers, if the Euro crisis is not solved.  Against this background Labour and Conservative MEPs who refused to back this common sense package have acted in a very irresponsible manner. Threatening the stability of the Eurozone is threatening economic recovery, and worse, in the UK.”

What’s more, the decision made by the Tory MEPs to vote against the new rules means they are actively undermining the UK Government, which strongly supported the package adopted in Parliament. We need to be thankful that the Lib Dems are not only keeping the Tories in check in the UK, but in Europe as well.

 Celebrating Volunteering in Newbury

Last week I visited Newbury to continue my tour of the region highlighting that 2011 is the European Year of Volunteering and visit two organisations that depend on volunteers.

“WEBCAS” (West Berkshire Citizen Advocacy Service) are a local self advocacy network who share experiences and support each other. The members learn about their rights and listen to what people with learning disabilities say. The group can then speak up to local services about what is important to the learning disabled community.

WEBCAS have a fantastic team of committed volunteers who are making a great deal of difference to their local community.  I think it’s fantastic that everything they do is member led. Members are involved in everything they do and make all the big decisions.

I also visited Newbury’s Community Furniture Project, where I joined the team for their locally grown lunch.  This is a charity selling good quality re-used furniture and household goods at affordable prices to everyone – with special discount prices to those in need.

As well as helping the environment by saving unnecessary landfill, they also provide a range of volunteering and accredited training opportunities. This project is a great example of what volunteers can get out of their work as well as providing a valuable service to the community.

This Month’s Euromyth!

I have recently been made aware of a Euromyth published in The Express last year and it’s so ridiculous I thought I had share it with you!

EU’s plan to liquify corpses and pour them down the drain

This myth falls into the category of the EU forcing its evil will on us but you’ll be glad to hear that it’s completely unfounded.

It appears that the confusion stems from suggestions made by ‘Belgium’s Flemish Association of Undertakers’, not an organisation associated with the EU at all.

Whatever Belgian undertakers decide regarding funeral arrangements is a matter for the Belgian authorities. Just like it’s a matter for the UK authorities in this country. The EU has no competence in this matter and to suggest otherwise is not only misleading but irresponsible as it creates fear and distaste, particularly on an issue as emotive as this.

For more myth-busting, have a look at the Euromyth section on my website. Hopefully our responses to these myths will help all of you if you’re challenged about them in a heated European debate!

Now on to Whitstable and Eastleigh…

Following on from our hugely successful Federal conference it’s also time for our regional conferences. As the Euro region I represent is so massive it has to be split into two regions by the party so I will be attending both but I hope you can join me at one (or both if you’re really keen!), particularly if you were unable to get to Birmingham this year.

First in the calendar is the South East conference in Whitstable which boasts Transport Minister Norman Baker and our Deputy leader Simon Hughes on its speakers list (as well as Sharon and myself!). It’s on the 22rd of October and you can register here.

Two weeks later, it’s off to Eastleigh for the South Central conference with the speakers list headed by our Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne. It’s on the 5th of November and you can download a registration form here.

I look forward to seeing you in Whitstable or Eastleigh! 

I will be keeping these newsletters coming out regularly to keep you all up to date with our work in the European parliament and the region but if there’s anything you want to see in these pages or any issues or problems you feel I should be looking at then don’t hesitate to contact me at catherine@bearder.eu.

With best wishes,

Catherine Bearder

Member of the European Parliament for South East England