A national tour by a red bus emblazoned with the slogan “Brexit to cost £2,000 million a week. Is it worth it?” reached St. George’s Square, Luton on Wednesday 28th February 2018.

Speakers at the Luton event included Luton South MP Gavin Shuker (Labour), former councillor Sid Rutstein (Lib Dem), former FT journalist Quentin Peel and Bob Wilkin from local organisation Bedfordshire for Europe.

Liberal Democrat councillor David Franks described the visit as an opportunity to explain the benefits Luton has enjoyed through Britain’s membership of the European Union and the concerns many local residents have about Brexit.

“EU funding has contributed towards many local projects including the development of St. George’s Square, Stockwood Discovery Centre and the support of many local voluntary organisations providing real benefits for the town. Many businesses employing thousands of Luton people rely on our membership of the EU. The Vauxhall van factory exports thousands of vans to Europe every year and London Luton Airport’s success has been built on growing airlines like Wizz & easyJet flying to European destinations.”

“The bus is a light-hearted attempt to draw attention to a very big issue. The Government’s own leaked analysis is that Brexit, even with a Free Trade Agreement, will cost us 5% of GDP after 15 years. At today’s prices, that means our country being £2,000 million a week poorer than we would have been if we stayed a member of the EU. To put this in context, that’s 80% of what we currently spend on the NHS across the UK”. – Cllr David Franks

Vote Leave’s bus falsely claimed that we send the EU £350 million a week. Now the Government’s own analysis shows the hit to our economy from leaving the EU will be ten times as great as the cost of staying in. Some people want us to leave without a trade deal at all. Again, the government’s own figures say that would cost us £3,200 million a week or sixteen times the cost of EU membership. More and more people are asking ‘is it worth it?’

A balanced and fully-sourced summary of the various likely Brexit scenarios is set out at www.isitworthit.org.uk.

During its tour, the bus is visiting towns and cities across the country at which there will be speaker events featuring local businesspeople, trade unionists, and politicians.

 

You can follow “Brexit: Is it Worth It?” on Twitter and Facebook


At last Luton’s ruling Labour councillors have admitted, via today’s Luton Borough Council News Release, what they have been denying for more than 12 months – they are going to introduce fortnightly black bin collections.

This was denied as recently as last Monday 19th February at a full Council meeting when Liberal Democrat Councillor David Franks asked Labour Councillor Andrew Malcolm whether his proposed £100,000 cut in the waste service budget was to include fortnightly black bin collections – he replied “no”.

Can you believe anything they say?

One of our members had this to say about fortnightly bin collections:

“The real problem comes with larger families. This was implemented where my son lives. He has four children and even with dedicated recycling they need a large industrial bin to manage for two weeks – this looks really nice in front of the house. In summer they have to be on watch for maggots in the bin – many people have this problem.”

Though we consider it important to increase the level of recycling in Luton, we do not believe Labour’s policy of reducing opening times of tidy tips and reducing the frequency of bin collections is the way to do it.

We would like to hear your views.


“The key question is, if they plan to recover £400,000 more next year than they did this year, exactly how much are they currently overpaying?”

– Liberal Democrat leader Cllr. David Franks.

Luton Council met on Monday (19th February 2018) to confirm a Council Tax hike of almost 6% and as part of the approved budget agreed that over the next 12 months, they will try to increase the amount they recover of Housing Benefit which has been overpaid to claimants by £400,000.

“It’s great that they plan to increase the amount of overpaid Housing Benefit they recover but they need to be reminded that this is tax payers’ money they should not have paid out in the first place”, says Liberal Democrat leader on the Council David Franks. “The key question is, if they plan to recover £400,000 more next year than they did this year, exactly how much are they currently overpaying?”

“Unfortunately, when I asked the question at the Council meeting no-one was able to give me the answer. Is this because they did not know or because the answer would be too embarrassing?”

“The other issue is that Housing Benefit is paid to people who cannot afford to pay their rent, so they are often people who are struggling. Unless they have deliberately and fraudulently claimed benefit to which they are not entitled they could well have difficulty in paying it back. All the more reason why more effort needs to go into making sure people are not overpaid.”

 


Local Liberal Democrat councillors (Peter Chapman, Diane Moles and Alan Skepelhorn) and local residents travelled to Letchworth to attend the Inspector’s hearings about the North Herts District Local Plan this week, to represent local residents opposed to the building of thousands of houses to the east of Luton.

In the week when Luton was listed as the fourth most congested town in Britain, they told the Inspector that our local roads and infrastructure just can’t cope with this level of increase in traffic etc and that better sites now exist nearer the M1.


The Century Park planning applications have been submitted and validated. 

There are two applications, which can be viewed on the Luton Borough Council planning website <link>:

  1. 17/02300/EIA seeks outline consent for a business park comprising office space (Class B1), warehouse and industrial space (Class B2 and B8), mixed employment space (Class B1/B2/B8), a hotel (Class C1), cafe space (Class A3); energy recovery centre (sui generis) and associated works;
    And full detailed consent for the construction of a 2km Century Park Access Road incorporating a new junction on the A1081, alterations to the existing Airport Way roundabout, alterations to Frank Lester Way, a newly created access from Eaton Green Road, demolition of buildings, provision of replacement car parking (temporary and permanent), associated works; the creation of new public open space; extension and alterations to Wigmore pavilion to provide cafe (Class A3) and additional community space; construction of a new skate park and children’s play area; and construction of a replacement airport technical services building and associated parking.
  2. 17/02219/FUL seeks permission for the moving of 331,400 cubic metres of spoil material within the site for the purposes of changing the ground levels.

It seems clear that the Council is intending to deal with these applications itself even though, for all practical purposes, they are both the Council’s own applications.  This is because the applications have been submitted by London Luton Airport Limited (the company that owns London Luton Airport), of which Luton Borough Council is the sole 100 per cent shareholder.

We would urge anybody concerned about the Council assessing its own planning application to write to Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government.

A template is provided below:

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Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid,

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government,

Department for Housing, Communities & Local Government,

2 Marsham Street,

London SW1P 4DF

 

Dear Sir,

We ask for Government intervention urgently because Luton Borough Council has submitted two very large and complex planning applications to itself. It will judge and decide these very large and complex planning applications by itself and for itself. Luton Borough Council is the Planning Authority for the area.

If approved and subsequently developed the proposals would have a massive impact on the town of Luton generally and on the immediate neighbourhood. Nothing in this letter should be interpreted as either support or objection to the actual proposals contained within the planning applications. My only reason for contacting you is concern about the way in which the applications are to be dealt with.

Whilst technically the applications have been submitted to Luton Borough Council by London Luton Airport Limited and not in the name of the Council, Luton Borough Council is the sole 100 per cent shareholder of London Luton Airport Limited, the company which owns London Luton Airport.

London Luton Airport Limited has no employees and all administration, accounting and executive management functions are carried out by Luton Borough Council employees. All of the directors of the Company are elected Luton Borough Councillors.

The two applications relate to an area to the East of the Airport known as Century Park. The land is owned by London Luton Airport Limited and was purchased by the Company using a substantial loan from its shareholder, Luton Borough Council.

The applications were validated and placed on the Council website on 3rd January.

Application reference 17/02300/EIA seeks outline consent for a business park comprising office space (Class B1), warehouse and industrial space (Class B2 and B8), mixed employment space (Class B1/B2/B8), a hotel (Class C1), cafe space (Class A3); energy recovery centre (sui generis) and associated works;

And full detailed consent for the construction of a 2km Century Park Access Road incorporating a new junction on the A1081, alterations to the existing Airport Way roundabout, alterations to Frank Lester Way, a newly created access from Eaton Green Road, demolition of buildings, provision of replacement car parking (temporary and permanent), associated works; the creation of new public open space; extension and alterations to Wigmore pavilion to provide cafe (Class A3) and additional community space; construction of a new skate park and children’s play area; and construction of a replacement airport technical services building and associated parking.

The second application, 17/02219/FUL, seeks permission for the moving of 331,400 cubic metres of spoil material within the site for the purposes of changing the ground levels.

It is clear the Council is intending to deal with these applications itself even though, for all practical purposes, they are both the Council’s own applications.

In view of the extremely close relationship between the applicant Company and the Planning Authority there must be serious questions about the ability of the Council to consider these huge applications with the necessary independence of mind, with absolute impartiality and to judge the applications in a truly unbiased manner.

You are requested to urgently call in these two applications for determination by yourself following careful consideration by your Planning Inspectorate.

Thank you for reading this letter,

 

Sincerely,

 

[Add your name & address here.]

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