Keith Baldry spoke out at the Lib Dem regional conference against any more money being spent on HS2. He said there was a much greater need for investment in rail infra structure in regional areas. He said such a major expenditure as proposed for HS2 was not good value for money. The conference called for inclusion in the Party’s election manifesto a promise to review the rail and transport of South West England.
At the Regional Liberal Democrat held in Exeter, Keith Baldry appealed to members not to forget basic Lib Dem principles of protecting those on low incomes and the deprived. He said that the Party in government had rightly spoken proudly of its success in raising the rate at which people to £10,000. But they should not ignore those on too low an income to pay tax and pensioners who did not benefit from the tax changes. He hoped the neglect was not because those at the bottom often do not vote. After a vote in support of Keith’s views they will be sent forward for consideration by the Party’s national policy makers.
At the November South Hams Scrutiny Panel meeting, Keith Baldry presented a paper on the health risks of closing public lavatories. He was congratulated on the research he has done. The committee decided by 4 votes to 3 that it was not the right time to recommend that South Hams Executive abandons plans to close lavatories. The committee want to look again in January.
After the meeting Keith said: “I am of course disappointed by the decision. Our Victorian ancestors saw the availability of public lavatories as the civilised thing to do. I felt that the evidence I presented on health concerns was very strong. The amount of money the council will save is relatively small. The potential risks to health are great. I will fight on”.
Despite a further appeal by Cllrs Julian Brazil and Keith Baldry South Hams Council is going ahead with winter closure of some of its public lavatories. A threat to health, Keith told the Council. A threat to tourism said Julian.
South Hams District Council is proposing winter closure of a number of public conveniences. At the September Council meeting Keith Baldry quizzed the Executive Member about whether he had taken into account possible health risks. The Executive member said there were none. Keith Baldry argued there was a risk. He quoted Age UK: “Lack of public toilets is a significant contributor in the isolation of older people…” Keith also drew attention to the expert opinion of Marion Shoard, writer on Ageing. “Many people’s route around is dictated by the presence – or a absence- of lavatories”. “Changes to the kidneys mean that we all need to urinate more frequently as we grow older”.
After the meeting Keith added: “The more public lavatories we close, the less civilised we become as a country. The winter closure of lavatories is giving a message that parts of the South Hams do not welcome visitors all the year round, especially older people”.
The car park on Market Street is owned by South Hams District Council. It is free and encourages people to park and shop in the village. The Executive Committee of South Hams Council at its meeting on 18 July approved for Yealmpton car park:
“8.4 It is recommended that the area be added to the Parking Order, so that effective management may be undertaken, and that consideration is given to generating income from this car park, by a Pay & Display scheme or alternative.”
How stupid. As you would expect I pointed out to the Executive that this is a small car park with 15 spaces.? I told them that I could not see how it would be worth the capital cost of installing parking meters and then collecting the money and monitoring the car park.? I stressed that all that would happen is that people would park on neighbouring roads free of charge. It might have been expected for the Executive to have checked this out before their meeting.
At every opportunity Keith Baldry continues to protest at Council meeting. There have been two meetings between the Parish and District Councils which Keith has attended. The latest meeting on 14 February. Despite stressing the problems which the charging will cause, the introduction of charges will go ahead in the Spring.