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  • Article: Oct 14, 2019
    By Julian Donald

    In response to today's Queen's Speech Wolverhampton Lib Dem Chair Julian Donald said:

    "That was a fantasy Queen's speech with as much red meat that Boris Johnson could throw to keep his backbenchers at bay.

    "To be fair I do feel for the Queen, being made to read out the first draft of the Tory manifesto for the upcoming election.

    "Boris Johnson's plans are going to be flushed as his plans will be rejected by MPs. I wouldn't let him run me a bath, let alone run the country."

  • Article: Oct 14, 2019

    Today, Her Majesty The Queen opened the new parliamentary session. But we have exactly the same problems as we did in the last session: a government with no majority, no leadership and no realistic plan for our country.

    I used my speech in Parliament today to give a warning to my fellow MPs.

    Here's my speech in full:

  • Article: Oct 13, 2019

    I know it's tempting fate and that I shouldn't really, but this week I have not been able to resist the temptation to think what life might be like if I were to win the Presidency.

    So I decided to think what a week might be like in this possible future, combining my job as MP with the job of President.

  • Article: Oct 13, 2019
    By Nick Machnik-Foster

    Nearly 6000 pensioners have been discharged from hospital in the middle of the night - Wolves Lib Dems

    • 5845 elderly patients, some 85 years of age and older were ejected between 10pm and 6am
    • Practice continues after damning report saying it can lead to deaths and NHS advice to curb it
    • Lib Dems urge Hospitals told not to discharge elderly in middle of the night as latest part of their NHS SOS campaign

    Nearly 6000 patients have been booted out of hospitals in the middle of the night over the past year - despite fears it could be dangerous for vulnerable elderly people according to figures unearthed by Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats.

    The data released to Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats under the Freedom of Information Act shows that 5845 patients over 65 years old were discharged from hospital in the middle of the night in the last year.

    In April 2012 the then NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh called on hospitals to cut down on overnight discharges following a series of cases where vulnerable patients had been left to make their own way home.

    In 2016 a "damning" report, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee also said discharges between 11pm and 6am had led to the deaths of some vulnerable patients. At the time, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman boss Julie Mellor said: "We see too many cases where discharge from hospital has gone horribly wrong, particularly for older, frail people who often don't have the right support in place at home to cope on their own."

    The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust discharged 426 elderly patents were between at night. 83 of the elderly discharges were pensioners over the age of 85 years old. 168 patients discharged were between 75 and 84 years of age and 175 patients were between 65 and 74 years old.

    Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust discharged the most at 2190 elderly people. 607 of them were over 85 years old at night.

    Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust discharged 1407 pensioners, 800 of whom were over 85 years of age. 101 patients were sent home to their place of residence in the middle of the night.

    The party have called on local hospitals to end the practice of night-time discharges for elderly patients. This is the latest part of the city Lib Dems NHS SOS campaign to defend and extend health services in the city.

    Commenting, Wolverhampton Liberal Democrat campaigner Natasha Allmark said:

    "Discharging patients often elderly and vulnerable late at night is totally inconsiderate and unacceptable and displays no compassion or thought for the individual patient.

    "Hospitals may think it is convenient for them to ask people to leave in the middle of the night but is it convenient and safe for a patient who may well have been in hospital for a considerable amount of time, to go home without any warning to an empty cold house - how patient centred is this?

    "Imagine this was your gran or grandad. It is a totally unacceptable practice in what is supposed to be a caring environment. It needs to stop."

    Ends

    Notes to Editors - If you use this research please cite Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats as its source. Night-time is classed as 2200 until 0600 the next morning.

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  • Article: Oct 13, 2019
    By Nick Machnik-Foster

    New 'W' logo is a 10 grand waste says Lib Dems

    The Liberal Democrats have uncovered that Wolverhampton Council has created another logo that has cost the taxpayer £10,000.

    The council stated to the party that the logo design, brand guidance and promo video cost £10,000. The party today offered some 'brand guidance' to the council for free - this new logo is a colossal waste of money. And the cash could have been spent on ten thousand other more deserving projects.

    In their Freedom of Information request the party also asked to see the designs that the council had rejected and was shockingly told that 'we have not retained copies of the hard-copy pitch books.'

    The new £10,000 logo is a 'W' design, which council chiefs believe reflects Wolverhampton's 'heritage and culture'.

    The new logo was given alongside the video and the brand guidance to one business as a single contract.

    City Liberal Democrats have said if the council leader likes the logo so much he should pay for it out of his own cash rather than just wasting more of taxpayers more money.

    Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Machnik-Foster said:

    "The council has again thrown ten thousand pounds of taxpayers money down the drain for a design that could have been created by any computer literate 14-year-old for about fifty quid.

    "Wolverhampton council do not seem to care and just love to waste our cash. The council bleat on about not having money but then get caught out wasting our cash like this.

    "Would the leader of the council spend ten grand of his own money on this logo? If so, maybe it's time he reached into his own pocket."

    Ends

    Notes to editors - Please find the response from Wolverhampton Council attached. If you use this Freedom of Information request please mention Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats as the source.

    The original story launching the logo can be found here: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/wolverhampton/2019/09/03/logo-to-help-boost-wolverhamptons-image

  • Article: Oct 13, 2019
    By Nick Machnik-Foster

    Unpaid carers save economy almost £600 million each year - Lib Dems reveal

    Unpaid carers save Wolverhampton's economy nearly £600 million a year, suggests figures uncovered by Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats.

    The council admitted to the City Liberal Democrats that the financial impact of unpaid carers in the city is £594 million a year.

    Around 27,000 people in the city acted as informal carers according to official figures. The numbers of hours that people provide care is given as:

    • 15,450 provide 1 to 19 hours p/w (6.2% of the population)

    • 4,278 provide 20 to 49 hours p/w (1.7% of the population)

    • 7,408 provide 50 hours or more p/w (3% of the population)

    Often carers will help the person they care for with everyday tasks such as helping someone to bed, getting them to up in the morning, helping them to wash and dress, making of meals and help with toileting.

    Adult carers often experience loneliness and isolation, poor health and financial hardship. Younger carers may find it harder at school and beyond and it could impact on their mental health.

    Women are more likely than men to be informal carers, with women making up 59% of carers.

    The party are urging carers in the city to take up all the benefits they are owed like the Carer's Credit. This comes after news came to light that fewer than one in 10 carers who could claim free annual credits to boost their state pension are doing so, official figures reveal.

    The Government is being urged to do more to get people signed up after it emerged just under 17,400 applied last year nationally, out of around 200,000 who are estimated to be eligible.

    The party have also called on the council to double to budget the budget for carers services in the city.

    Commenting, Liberal Democrat campaigner Leyla Abbes said:

    "Unpaid carers prop up our entire social care system in the city but have for decades been taken for granted by the council.

    "More and more of us are providing care for an older, disabled or ill loved one, yet even a few hours caring a week can result in having to cut down hours or give up work, bringing devastating and irreversible consequences for long term financial security.

    "As our population ages, growing numbers of people will be juggling work and care, particularly in later life and society and public services must adapt to support them,"

    Ends

    Notes to editors - Details on the carers credit can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/carers-credit/how-to-claim

    The document given to the City Liberal Democrats after questions on council assessments of the financial impact of unpaid carers on the city is attached.

    If you use the data please cite Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats.

  • Article: Oct 13, 2019
    By Nick Machnik-Foster

    NHS SOS: 6,000 patients are being readmitted to hospital in an emergency, NHS figures show

    The number of people being readmitted to hospital in an emergency in Wolverhampton is over 6,000, NHS figures show.

    Patients are being sent home to care for themselves too soon in order to free up beds for others, Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats have claimed today. The warning is the latest part of the parties NHS SOS campaign to defend and extend health services in the city.

    Hundreds of thousands of patients were readmitted to hospital as an emergency last year within 28 days of being discharged.

    The data shows that 359 young people were readmitted, and 5,677 adults were taken back into hospital.

    All this, the Liberal Democrats believe shows more burden being placed on an already-stretched health force.

    The trust released the data as part of their 'Quality Account, for 2018/19. The Quality Account is a report about the quality of services provided by an NHS healthcare service.

    A hospital readmission is an episode when a patient who had been discharged from a hospital is admitted again within a specified time interval. Readmission rates have increasingly been used as an outcome measure in health services research and as a quality benchmark for health systems.

    The trust stated in the report that to try and rectify the situation they will continue to work with local residential and nursing homes with regards transfer of patients back to their care and strengthening discharge planning at pre-operative assessment and at the point of admission.

    Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat campaigner Leyla Abbes said:

    "These figures show the impact that a lack of beds and social care is having on emergency departments.

    "Many patients have to be unnecessarily readmitted as they do not have the assistance they need to look after themselves after they have been discharged.

    "It also looks like the lack of beds means that some patients may be discharged too soon. It just becomes a vicious cycle that puts even more strain on our creaking NHS."

    Ends

    Notes to editors - The Quality Account report can be found here: https://www.royalwolverhampton.nhs.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=11683 The relevant section is on page 77-78 of the document.

  • Article: Oct 13, 2019
    By Nick Machnik-Foster

    Eleven local drivers 'rack up' 280 penalty points uncover Lib Dems

    A motorist from Rugeley has been allowed to continue driving despite having 36 penalty points on their licence. This driver is one of eleven 'selfish' people in our area who have racked up a colossal 280 penalty points.

    The data was uncovered by the Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats under the Freedom of Information Act to the DVLA. The DVLA admitted that 860 people have 12 points or more on their licence with 60 drivers in Shropshire, 224 in Staffordshire and 576 in the West Midlands.

    The Rugeley driver was caught on two occasions both using a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle and using a vehicle with defective tyre. On three occasions they also failed to give information as to identity of driver.

    A driver from Wednesbury on four occasions received 6 points for failure to give information as to identity of driver and then was given 6 penalty points for exceeding speed limit on a motorway.

    The figures also reveal that someone in Oldbury has 25 points on their licence. They have gained those points due to being in charge of a vehicle while alcohol level above limit and on five occasions they exceeding the speed limit.

    DY08 driver from Dudley has 30 points and a driver from Willenhall has 24 points

    A driver from the B11 postcode in Sparkhill in Birmingham racked up 24 penalty points. Someone from WS03 has 22 points on their licences.

    Also two drivers in Coventry racked up 24 and 22 penalty points. Someone from the B92 postcode in Marston Green has 24 points on their licence. And finally a driver, on a provisional licence in Stoke has 22 points for using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks on three occasions.

    Racking up penalty points costs UK drivers more than £132million a year in higher insurance premiums, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

    Commenting on the news, Wolverhampton Liberal Democrat campaigner Natasha Allmark said:

    "It is outrageous that these selfish, repeat offenders are being allowed to continue driving.

    "I believe that allowing these drivers to continue on the road makes a mockery of the system. It is time for courts to crack down on these irresponsible individuals.

    "The penalty points system is supposed to be in place to protect the public from dangerous repeat offenders and it's appalling that these risky repeat offenders are allowed to keep driving."

    Ends

    Notes to editors - Please find the Freedom of Information Act request attached. If you use the data please cite Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats.

  • Article: Oct 13, 2019
    By Nick Machnik-Foster

    Shock empty homes figures 'destroys' case for Seven Cornfield development say Lib Dems

    • The party have urged the councils to bring these properties back into use rather than 'destroying the green belt'.

    Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats as part of their campaign against the 1300 home development on the Severn Cornfields have uncovered figures that show that 2,431 empty homes in the three council areas bordering the site. The party believe this has 'destroyed' the case for the development.

    Government figures show that South Staffordshire has 345 empty properties, Dudley has 1038 and Wolverhampton has 1048. The party have said this destroys the case for the development as we have enough housing stock in the city already.

    These properties are already in the heart of communities and won't require extra services or will stretch our roads, schools and GP practices to breaking point.

    This shocking news after 6,300 people have signed a petition created by Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Machnik-Foster against the plans. Campaigners have revealed that they plan to try and garner 15,000 names to the petition with 5,000 signatures each in Wolverhampton, Dudley and South Staffordshire. This would help trigger debates or council responses to the campaigners demands in each of the three affected authorities.

    From April, 2020, the party is proposing that any property empty for between five and 10 years will be charged triple their usual council tax.

    Commenting, Liberal Democrat campaigner Nick Machnik-Foster said:

    "It angers me we are having to fight tooth and nail to oppose these plans all the while we have double to number proposed already built and just lying empty. These figures utterly destroy the case for this development. These figures are another nail in the coffin for the development; we've shown that the shortfall could be made up from houses already built.

    "I have always said the Liberal Democrats will strain every sinew to fight these plans and twe are putting politics aside to fight for our much loved green spaces.

    "I believe it is time the councils stopped talking about bringing empty homes back into use and actually did it. I've read more press releases from the council than seen actual homes they've brought back into use.

    "When there are so many young families in need of their first home and so many homeless people on the streets of Wolverhampton who need a roof over their heads, the Labour council need to do much more to bring these homes back into use."

    Ends

    Notes to editors - The figures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants. The relevant table is 615. Table 615: vacant dwellings by local authority district: England, from 2004

    The petition opposing the development was created by Nick Machnik-Foster and it can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/south-staffordshire-district-council-save-the-seven-cornfields

  • Article: Oct 13, 2019
    By Nick Machnik-Foster

    Deaths of homeless people is a 'stain on our national conscience' say Lib Dems

    Almost 250 homeless people died on the streets in the West Midlands, according to official figures published this morning. Wolverhampton Liberal Democrat campaigner Natasha Allmark called the figures a 'stain on our national conscience'.

    The figures, released by the Office of National Statistics, show that since 2013 there have been 233 identified deaths of homeless people in our region. The body also estimate that 287 died in total.

    There were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales registered in 2018, the highest year-to-year increase (22%) since their time series began.

    Two in five deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning in 2018 (294 estimated deaths), and the number of deaths from this cause has increased by 55% since 2017.

    Commenting on the figures release, Liberal Democrat campaigner Natasha Allmark said:

    "What's striking about these figures is how different they are to the general population.

    "Around half of the deaths of homeless people are related to drugs, suicide or alcohol, also known as the diseases of despair, compared to just 3% of deaths from these causes among the general population.

    "In Britain, in 2019, no one should be sleeping rough or dying on our streets. These figures are a stain on our nations conscience."

    Ends

    Notes to editors - The data, released by the ONS this morning can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/deathsofhomelesspeopleinenglandandwales