April comment from Cllr Howard Sykes, LGA Lib Dem Group Leader

The local election campaign is now underway - a busy time as active councillors in all parties will know. As I write, we have just seen confirmation that there are many more Liberal Democrat candidates standing this time than when these seats were last contested in 2014. 

We recently had our local election campaign launched by Vince Cable at Watford’s football ground, and it was good to see him highlight the hard work and achievements of Liberal Democrat run councils.

In particular, a key issue of the launch was around the supply of affordable housing. Councils including South Lakeland, Watford and Three Rivers are working with partners in housing associations to provide this, while others such as Sutton and Colchester are building new council houses. 

Our authorities are taking innovative steps in housing supply. For example, South Lakeland District Council was faced with a developer claiming a site would not be viable if they also built the promised affordable housing. The council insisted. The developer went to appeal but lost the case. 

And down in Eastleigh, permission was granted for a housing development. Building work stalled as the developer could not be sure that they would sell the homes being planned. So the council introduced a “guaranteed purchase” model. The work went ahead and all the homes were sold at no cost to the council. 

Of course, as the article about helping homeless people in the last edition of First from our councillors in Cambridge pointed out, you don’t need to be part of a controlling group to get things done in your area.

And let’s not forget the hard work in other areas too. This includes Admiral Nurses in Sutton, supporting people with dementia; a multi-million pound investment being made by Bedford Council for new school buildings; the commitment to renewable energy from councils such as Eastbourne and Colchester and the air monitoring being carried out in York.

We look forward to promoting many new examples of good practice in years to come.