- He has lived in the constituency for 32 years and didn’t arrive just before the last election because he wanted to be an MP
- The best local person to look after Warrington’s interests with a strong track record of service to Warrington
- His expertise in urban policy has prepared him well to argue for a fair deal for Warrington which it hasn’t had under previous MPs
- The last thing the country needs is a radical swing to the left or right – Bob is committed to supporting measures that stick to the centre ground
- Warrington is a prosperous town yet it is still too unequal and unfair. Bob wants to spread the benefits of prosperity to everyone
- Bob can win in three way marginal Warrington South
By every independent measure Warrington is a very successful town. The annual Centre for Cities reports show it to have very high employment levels, relatively high wages, a vibrant business environment with high levels of start-ups and good educational standards give or take the odd stumble. Warrington has much to be confident about and because of major investments in housing and community hubs, secured under a LibDem led administration in the Town Hall, has weathered the recession much better than many surrounding areas.
However Warrington has been treated very unfairly since the late 1980s. By closing down the New Town Corporation the Conservatives stopped the development of the town in its tracks, despite the population more than doubling. Under Labour Warrington was deemed to be too wealthy and not deprived enough to get aid, instead money was taken from the town. This despite some inner wards with levels of deprivation in the nation’s worst 10%.
Warrington needs to make clear what sort of town, or city, the word doesn’t matter, it aspires to be. Cllr Bob Barr, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate says, “I want a clear vision for Warrington and to argue in Westminster that we should retain taxes generated locally through growth until that New Warrington vision is completed and our infrastructure matches our population. Warrington has the potential to be the Green Science City of the North West with high wages, a clean protected environment and good communications. But until somebody represents the town whose sole ambition is to achieve that, it isn’t going to happen.”
The North West requires substantial investment in a coherent transport infrastructure to become more competitive and become the “Northern Powerhouse”. Instead of further commitment to a Regional Growth Fund a series of disconnected vanity or token projects have become campaign issues in Warrington. The social and economic divide produced by the barriers of the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal need to be bridged both physically and metaphorically.
Yet, the national Labour Leadership, at a party rally in Warrington, have failed to commit to removing the tolls from the new Mersey Crossing for Warrington residents. A teacher who commutes to school in south Warrington expects the tolls to add more than £100 per month to his commuting costs.
“This is part of a pattern” says Bob Barr, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Warrington South. “By opting to finance the Mersey Crossing using the Private Finance Initiative the last Labour government went for the most expensive form of finance, for the most expensive new crossing of the Mersey possible, expecting drivers to pick up the costs through tolls. Insult has been added to injury by tolling the original Jubilee Bridge, this is the first time tolls have been introduced for an existing crossing in the last 100 years.
Labour has saddled this area with the hugely expensive Whiston Hospital Private Finance Initiative scheme, payments on which have threatened other hospitals in the area. This hospital, built by Labour, maximised the number of single bedded wards to allow private operations to take place.
Nearby the Fire Control centre at Lingley Mere stood empty for years, part of a Labour project that wasted £469m according to MPs and the National Audit Office.
HS2 remains hugely controversial, and again it was wildly over-specified for train speeds not yet feasible, or necessary, with a wasteful billion pound link to a proposed train works in Wigan.
Labour wants to be trusted with the economy, yet in our region they have privatised, overspent and under-delivered consistently saddling residents with the costs. Instead of delivering the infrastructure the North West badly needs to be competitive, Labour opted for wasteful privately financed vanity projects. When given the opportunity to put a little of this right by pledging the removal of tolls from this vital new crossing all they offer is a ‘future review’, a totally meaningless gesture.
What Warrington and the North West needs is a properly funded regional growth initiative to ensure that the infrastructure can sustain the economic development of the region, not a few expensive vanity projects.”
I am seeking election as Warrington South’s MP because I want to make this prosperous town a really special place to live and work. Having lived here for 32 years, and served on the Council for 9, I believe in the town and its people and that it can become a leader in the NW.
I was a lead member when Liberal Democrats ran the council from 2006-11.
During those 5 years I learned what a difference good leadership makes – setting clear aims and respecting our workforce attracted top quality officers and Warrington became a byword for good practice in the NW.
We tackled local problems left drifting for years under Labour. We introduced PCSOs,; introduced kerbside recycling; we enabled Golden Gates to become an independent Housing Trust unlocking £105 million to improve social housing and stopping tenants’ rents being used to subsidise housing in other towns; we introduced equal pay and staff restructuring with support from the unions; we attracted new business and set in hand the regeneration of the town centre.
At the same time we saved £50m while improving services. While the Labour administration like to deny it, their programme for the town is largely a continuation of the good start we gave it.
Professionally I am an urban geographer so I understand what makes a town successful and understand Warrington’s recent history well. I can see the challenges we face, sitting between the revived cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Warrington needs to carve out a clear identity as a town with high ambitions, quality jobs and homes, and a motivated and well educated workforce while preserving and improving the quality of our environment.
As your MP I would work to help the town retain more of the taxes it generates to complete the expanded / new town project that was cut short in the late 1980’s. We ended up with the population of a city but not the services or the infrastructure. That needs to be put right.
I want to be an MP solely to ensure that Warrington is properly represented and its interests are fought for. I am not just using Warrington to become an MP.
The Liberal Democrats recognise that we couldn’t deliver our policy on tuition fees – and Nick has apologised for this. The truth is that both Labour and the Conservatives supported higher fees, and as we did not win the General Election, we were unable to carry out our promise without backing from either of the two other parties.
Although that’s no excuse, we are proud that we made sure the system was as fair as possible. No student pays up front, and they only pay back once they’re earning over £21,000. And we’re already seeing positive results, with more young people going to university and more of them from disadvantaged backgrounds thanks to the safeguards we put in place.
How much does university cost?
Firstly, nobody pays a penny for university tuition fees until they have graduated and are earning over £21,000. How much you pay depends on how much you earn after.
People who earn more pay more. And all graduates repay less per month than under the old system. If you lose you job or earn less than £21,000, you pay nothing at all. After 30 years, any remaining debt is wiped off.
Can poor students still afford university?
Yes, definitely. Nobody has to pay anything before university – you only start paying once you have graduated and are earning over £21,000. And because of the way we have designed the system, the poorest 30% of graduates pay less overall than under the old system.
Liberal Democrats made sure the new system came with fee waivers, bursaries, a £50m National Scholarship programme and higher maintenance grants for people whose parents earn less than about £42,000.
How do students know if they’re getting a good deal?
Universities now have to provide much more information about things like contact time and the jobs that graduates go on to, so students can make an informed choice.
For young people who choose not to go to university, we are also expanding apprenticeships. So far 1.8 million young people have started an apprenticeship, more than ever before.
Why did Liberal Democrats allow tuition fees to increase?
Neither the Conservatives nor Labour agreed with our policy to end tuition fees. They both supported the Browne Review, which actually recommended unlimited fees. Given the state of the public finances Labour left us with, we therefore had to compromise with the Conservatives.
However Liberal Democrats worked hard to make sure we got the best deal for students, given the circumstances. We made sure that how much you pay for university depends on how much you earn after. Nobody pays a penny until they graduate and are earning over £21,000.
Have you apologised for breaking your pledge?
Yes. Nick Clegg made a public apology in a video. As a party, we have learned from our mistake and will never again make a promise the British people unless we are absolutely sure we can keep it.
Did you consider a graduate tax instead?
The new system is effectively a 30-year graduate tax, in that graduates repay 9% of their income over £21,000. If they lose their job or their income falls below £21,000, they will not pay anything. We did look at a full graduate tax, but we discovered foreign students or people who move abroad after university would be able to avoid repaying the cost of their tuition.
Bob Barr, a Lymm Parish Councillor since 2004 and a Warrington Borough Councillor since 2006, has been selected as the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Warrington South. Bob has lived in Lymm since 1982 with his wife Caroline. His daughters Sarah and Katie have grown up in Lymm and attended Cherry Tree Primary and Lymm High School. Bob’s first public role in the village was as a Parent Governor at Cherry Tree.
Bob is an academic geographer and has taught about Warrington since 1975, so feels he knows the constituency very well. He is an internationally recognised expert in geographical information systems and was awarded an OBE ‘for services to geography’ in 2008. He has been called on on numerous occasions to serve as an expert adviser to government in his field.
Currently Bob is Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Warrington Borough Council. During the LibDem led administration between 2006 and 2011 Bob was Executive Board Member for Planning, Housing and Regeneration. In that time he provided the political leadership to the initiative which saw Golden Gates Housing set up as an independent housing trust allowing substantial funds to be raised to improve the town’s housing stock. He has also been an independent director of the St Helens based Helena Partnerships Housing Trust since 2006. The two organisations are now joining together to form a new housing group that will build and manage new homes in Warrington and the surrounding area.
“I want to represent Warrington because it is a fascinating and successful town that faces many challenges” says Bob. “The project of integrating the New Town areas with the old town has never been properly completed. It is now more important than ever, with new powers and funds on offer to Manchester and Liverpool, that Warrington’s voice is heard.”
“I wouldn’t be interested in representing any other constituency. Having lived in Warrington South for half my life I want to be an MP to represent the town and to ensure that we get a fair deal from central government. I believe that I am very well qualified to do that. I am the only candidate from the three main parties with true roots here and a long record of serving the residents of Lymm and Warrington”
The 2010 election result saw Warrington South become a three way marginal, with the results for the three major parties closer than at any other time in the constituency’s history. “Voters in Lymm have the opportunity to make a real difference to the result of the next general election, because their votes will really count, any of the major party candidates could win this seat and that can lead to real influence in Westminster.” says Bob “I hope Lymm electors will look at my record and decide that I am the candidate for them”.
I am proud and pleased to have been re-elected for a third term representing Lymm on Warrington Borough Council. The results were close:
Bob Barr Liberal Democrat 1423
Kath Buckley Conservative 1305
Sean Chapman Labour 685
James Ashington UKIP 597
This was a very hard fought election campaign in what the Conservatives saw as a target seat in the local elections. David Mowat MP became directly involved in the campaign, meeting voters at one of the polling stations on the evening of the poll and, apparently, deploying Conservative supporters from a neighbouring constituency to get the Conservative vote out. Labour will have been disappointed by their vote almost halving after putting up a less well known candidate than in recent elections. James Ashington will be delighted to have doubled the UKIP vote, largely on the back of massive national publicity for his party’s charge at the European elections.
On the doorstep local issues and our local record played a large part in people telling us that they would support us in these elections. Getting a fair deal for Lymm, protecting our Green Belt, looking after the look of Lymm and parking and road safety issues were all mentioned as people’s top concerns.
I look forward to representing everyone in Lymm at Warrington and to continue meeting residents and hearing their concerns. Elections give us an excuse to knock on doors and hear people’s views but the Liberal Democrat FOCUS team is not just for elections, we deliver our newsletter and talk to residents whether there is an election or not. I enjoy casework and am happy to represent everyone in Lymm – so if you have any issues I can help with please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Warrington’s Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the Borough elections on 22 May. The launch took place at a recent meeting of party members from across the town.Group leader on Warrington Council, Cllr Ian Marks says, “Our vision is for a better Warrington that is ambitious, active and aspirational. We believe in ‘One Warrington’ with fairness across the town. Our strapline is ‘A stronger Warrington, a fairer Warrington’ which mirrors our national message that Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society.
We all know that Warrington is an important and successful town with a well educated and well paid population. It has suffered less than its neighbours from the recession and is showing stronger and faster signs of recovery. But there are neighbourhoods in the town that are amongst the poorest 10% in the country. They should be benefiting from our more favourable economy. Under the previous Lib Dem-led administration, a ‘Closing the Gap’ programme was put in place to focus on those areas identified as being deprived.
We are extremely proud of our record when we led the Council from 2006 to 2011 and we achieved a great deal. Much of the work carried out by the current Labour administration is a continuation of the groundwork and building blocks we put in place, such as most of the regeneration and development.
Our three priorities for a better Warrington can be summed up as a better environment, better communities and a better run Council. The financial climate is tough but it is surprising how often doing things differently can both save money and lead to better services for residents. Collaborative working across different public sector organisations such as NHS health and Council social care is the way forward.”
A full version of the manifesto may be downloaded from www.warringtonlibdems.org.uk
I was laughed at by the Labour Group at the last meeting of the Council in Warrington for being bothered about dirty signage in Lymm. They were much more concerned with passing political motions criticising the effect that cleaning up Labour’s economic mess is having on the vulnerable. The Lib Dems in the Coalition are doing their best to minimise the effect of welfare rationalisation on those in real need, so being told that we don’t care about the disabled doesn’t go down well with us, particularly when it comes from a party unwilling to say anything convincing or credible about what they would do if they won power or how they would pay for it.
So back to the signage. Anyone going around Lymm village cannot fail to be aware that there are a lot of signs that are damaged, worn out, covered in lichen or overgrown and difficult to read. Some signs are redundant, while other necessary signs are missing or wrong. Residents may believe, quite legitimately, that having paid their Council Tax the least they can expect is for signage to be maintained. Sadly with local government having suffered year on year cuts for most of the last decade, yes the Labour Government was cutting funding too, choices have to be made. Clean signage comes pretty close to the bottom of the pile for resources.
What can we do about that? Well I’ve chosen to clean some of the signs that I can get at safely. Some residents have already asked me what they can do. Most dirty signs only need a sponge or gentle scouring pad, some water and detergent and a few minutes of elbow grease to clean. Those with dried on lichen need a little more work and caravan cleaner has been suggested.
Safety is paramount, nobody should expose themselves to any danger. Don’t use ladders. Don’t touch any sign that has any exposed power cables (report those immediately to the Call Centre in Warrington on 01925 443322, drop me an email or leave a phone message on 01925 751817). Don’t clean signs that involve standing in the road. If you don’t want to do it yourself but a sign needs attention let me know.
Some signs, such as the GRAMMAR SCHOOL ROAD sign above have been vandalised and are harder to clean. This one took ages to clean, and still isn’t perfect, because it was “egged” some years ago. A moment’s thoughtless “fun” led to a dirty sign for years giving a poor impression of the road and the village to passers-by on the A56.
Lymm is generally a very well kept, and house-proud, village. This is why the street scene matters to residents. I will hold the Council to account for their responsibility for signs which need replacing or repairing and are beyond what the community can do for itself. Many of our damaged signs were vandalised or damaged in road traffic accidents where those responsible do not take blame for what they have done, leaving the community purse to pick up the costs. Wherever possible those who cause damage should be made to pay.
Another possibility, which we discussed with the Council some years ago, would be for the Parish Council to take control of the signage budget allocated by Warrington to Lymm and deal with signage locally. Signage is a policy area where a ‘one size fits all’ policy of equal neglect around the borough because of funding issues, may not suit individual communities. Such a devolved budget would be a proper approach to the localism agenda.
So for the time being I will clean signs, thank those who help, and report damaged signs to the Council. This is no one’s highest priority, not even mine, but it is a practical simple way to make life a little better for everyone in the village. Then we can start thinking about not dropping, or picking up, litter, but that’s another story.
Liberal Democrats have joined with local residents in expressing their delight at the refusal to grant planning permission for an extension to the Arpley tip.
Planning committee councillors accepted their officers’ recommendation to turn down a proposed extension of the operational life of the Arpley Landfill facility to 2025 at a special meeting held at the Parr Hall. For years residents and local councillors have battled against any extension of the site.
Great Sankey North Councillor Trudi Wood said, “I have been involved with this campaign right from the start. I support the officers when they say it would be an inappropriate development in the Green Belt and there are no special circumstances to justify it. The volume of traffic is completely unacceptable and has been a blight on local residents including those in my ward for far too long. The dust and smells from the tip have messed up the quality of life of people and we have to put an end to it.”
Whittle Hall Councillor Keith Gleave told the Committee, “For Whittle Hall ward, my main objections relate to traffic on Whittle Avenue. Twice lorries have turned over and emptied their loads on the highway and grass verges. The remains were never cleared up and just left to bury themselves, causing a danger to wildlife. Residents on the Avenue have frequently complained about noise and vibration from lorries.”
Cllr Bob Barr, a member of the Committee, expressed disbelief at the applicants’ apparent naivety. “They cannot have failed to realise that the people of Warrington would not tolerate any extension to the operation of the tip. When planning permission was originally granted for twenty-five years expiring in 2013, it meant precisely that – no extension.
Protests about the operation of the tip, the noise, the pollution, the traffic and the breaches of operating conditions must have been heard by the applicants who should have known that there were overwhelming planning reasons to refuse the application.
Yet they came to the meeting putting up a last minute legal challenge to some minor aspects of the handling of the application, rather than explaining how they would satisfy residents. That was because they knew they couldn’t persuade the people of Warrington to tolerate this noxious site anymore. I am delighted that the committee voted unanimously to reject the application.”