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Hugh Ashton 2019

2019 Voting oin Lichfield City South County Division boundaries (promoted and published for Hugh Ashton and Liberal Democrat candidates by K LePla 148 Chesterfield Road, Lichfield WS14 0AA)

Hugh Ashton candidate for the Lichfield City South division in the May 2021 Staffordshire County Council Election

Hugh Ashton spent much of his early life in Stafford, and moved to Japan in 1988, where he stayed until 2016 when he returned to live in Lichfield near his family. He has represented Garrick Road ward in Lichfield since 2019, works as a freelance writer and novelist, and has taken part in volunteer activities throughout the city, including helping with the Lichfield Emergency Night Shelter, and the COVID vaccination centre in the Cathedral.

Hugh writes:

"Making a fresh start with the Liberal Democrats

As we come to the beginning of the end of this traumatic period of our lives, it is time to look forward to a "new normal". We know that our lives are almost certainly going to be permanently changed by what has happened over the past year and more.

While the pandemic has certainly caused great hardship, loss and heartbreak to many, it has also been a time of learning. We have learned to appreciate people who were previously almost invisible - those who keep the wheels of society turning, whether it be keeping us healthy, keeping us fed, or keeping our streets and cities clean. In the first lockdown at least, we learned to appreciate clean air and birdsong, as the country went quiet and largely traffic-free.

What we also learned is that it is time for changes to be made. Changes to the decade of austerity imposed by the Conservatives which have made the rich richer and left the poor poorer. Changes to the crony system of government which rewards sycophantic incompetents with Cabinet posts, and party supporters with lucrative no-bid contracts.

What we do not need are changes to the NHS which seem likely to hand out even more cash to cronies or to American corporate interests. At the time of writing, an American company (Centene) has taken over a group of 49 GP practices, and the High Court has recently ruled on secretive contracts, some of which were no-bid "crony contracts" for PPE which have failed to deliver a usable item of PPE. A recent government White Paper has promised changes to procurement structures and practices - but eliminating the need for competitive bidding, and the proposed timescale will not allow for proper discussion and input from those at the sharp end of the process.

The Johnson government is promising that we will build back better - but like most of these promises, it's short on details of how this is to be managed. The LibDems have some clearer ideas, and what we have learned during lockdown has thrown them into sharp relief:

  • A greener future: we want to emphasise the role of clean public transport, and energy efficiency at all levels. Not only does this help mitigate the effects of climate change, a green revolution will create new jobs to replace those lost as a result of the Tories' hollowing-out of the economy.
  • Proper funding for social services, and those who work in them; the carers, and all others who have become properly appreciated during the pandemic. Closer integration at a local level between the social care and healthcare systems has been a Liberal Democrat priority for some time, and it is good to see moves towards this in the recent White Paper (though many questions remain here).
  • The same goes for NHS funding - and unlike other parties, the LibDems are not afraid to say that proper funding will cost the taxpayer - a ringfenced increase on income tax would help fund social services and the NHS.
  • An equality of opportunity, to level up the differences, not just between north and south, but between the different levels of society, to reverse the years of lost chances resulting from Tory policies.

One other lesson that many of us have learned from the lockdown is breadmaking, and anyone who's tried their hand at this knows that although only a small amount of yeast is needed to make bread, leaving it out of the recipe results in a solid inedible mess. In Staffordshire, we have 62 County Councillors. Of these, 50 are Conservatives. This is not representative of the county as a whole, and certainly not of the City of Lichfield, where the LibDems captured 29% of the votes in the last City Council elections in wards where their candidates stood. The result of these elections has been yeast added to the City Council in the form of eight LibDem councillors, with fresh ideas and points of view giving new life to what was previously a virtual monopoly. The same could be true of the County Council if only a pinch of yeast in the form of a few LibDem County Councillors is added to the mixture.

The pandemic has taught us some valuable lessons. Now is the time to put them into practice, and give the ideas of the Liberal Democrats a voice at County level.

see the above on video:

  • Miles Trent
    Article: Apr 27, 2021

    Liberal Democrat Councillors have been working hard for residents on Lichfield City Council.

    Miles Trent reports

    Eight Liberal Democrat councillors were elected to Lichfield City Council in 2019, effectively becoming the major opposition to the ruling Tory group. Since then they have worked actively on behalf of all Lichfield residents.
    - Lobbying the County Council to get Weston Road resurfaced and potholes fixed.
    - Playing a key role in the successful campaign to save the Friary Grange Leisure Centre - for the benefit of Lichfield citizens and to alleviate pressure on Burntwood Leisure Centre.
    - Taking action with regard to the Windmill pub leading to a Compulsory Purchase Order with construction now looking to start in 2021.
    - Continuing pressure to ensure the transfer of public open space at Darwin Park to the District Council to ensure regular ongoing maintenance. (Scheduled for completion by end March 2021.)
    - Working to support and improve Lichfield City markets. Cllr. Paul McDermott, as Deputy Chair of the cross-party Markets Working Group, has been heavily involved in ensuring the continued viability of the City's markets during what has been an exceptionally difficult time.

  • spilt cake
    Article: Apr 4, 2021
    By Cllr Hugh Ashton

    The elephant in the room - Bungling Boris has botched it

    by Hugh Ashton

    The current pandemic crisis has so dominated the news that our other ongoing crisis, the chaos and damage caused by this government's bungled exit from the European Union, seems to be almost neglected by the media. Far from having our cake and eating it, as PM Johnson claimed, we have dropped the cake on the floor, leaving us with an inedible mess. It's becoming increasingly clear that Brexit is far from DONE.