Get active with the opening of N E Lincs gym crèches

Customers of leisure centres in North East Lincolnshire can now enjoy some leisure or workout time while their children are being cared for in on-site crèche facilities

Lincs Inspire’s Cleethorpes and Grimsby Leisure Centres have joined forces with North East Lincolnshire Council’s Community Learning Services (CLS) in a bid to make it easier for parents to attend exercise classes, workout in their gyms or indeed enjoy some relaxation time in their pools.

The crèche facilities are currently in a trial period and are open from 8:45am to 11:45am on Thursdays at Cleethorpes Leisure Centre and at the same time on Fridays at Grimsby Leisure Centre.

Children aged 3 months to five years are welcome to attend the crèches so long as a parent or guardian is making use of the on-site leisure facilities. CLS staff are fully qualified and their services are OFSTED registered.

Cleethorpes Leisure Centre’s crèche facilities can be booked for a minimum of one hour at a cost of £4 per hour. On Thursday mornings parents can make use of the fitness suite, health suite, play badminton or squash or enjoy a swim. Exercise classes during the crèche’s opening hours are deep water aqua from 9:30am to 10:15am, yoga from 9:30am to 10:30am and salsa aerobics from 10:30am to 11:25am.

Grimsby Leisure Centre’s crèche facilities can be booked in half-hour slots at a cost of £2 per half hour. Those making use of the service on Fridays can use the gym, book a badminton court or swim from 11am.

An hour’s 20/20/20 exercise class from 9:30am consists of 20 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes resistance training and finally 20 minutes of strength. Other classes taking place during the morning, specifically arranged for those making use of the crèche, are a twenty-minute interval training session at 9:50am and a stretching and toning class from 10:20am to 10:40am.

To secure a place in the crèches or to register for any of the exercise classes, talk to a member of staff at the centres or call Cleethorpes Leisure Centre on (01472) 323200 or Grimsby Leisure Centre on (01472) 323100. For non-members, prices for fitness or leisure activities can also be supplied by the centres.

David Ward: The time for action on drugs reform is now

war on drugs not working lib dems manifestoNick Clegg has today confirmed the Liberal Democrat manifesto will contain the most far-reaching drug reform policies ever put forward by a major political party ahead of an election.

He made the announcement at an event at Chatham House alongside entrepreneur Richard Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Speaking at the event, Nick said:

“Drugs reform, like prison reform, is one of those issues that political parties always talk big about in opposition, only to fall silent and do nothing in Government. Not the Liberal Democrats.

“As part of the Coalition Government, we’ve continued to fight for change. We believe the time for action on drugs reform is now.

“I’m incredibly frustrated that, after five years in Coalition, we cannot take our work to its logical conclusion – just because the Tories are scared of being branded soft on drugs.

“It’s time for the Conservatives and Labour to realise that the world has moved on, reform is no longer a taboo subject and voters expect politicians to deliver results based on solid evidence, not overblown rhetoric.”

The plans include:

  • Adopting the approach used in Portugal, where those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use are diverted into treatment, education or civil penalties that do not attract a criminal record.
  • Legislating to end the use of imprisonment for possession of drugs for personal use, diverting resources towards tackling organised drug crime instead, as a first step towards reforming the system.
  • Continuing to apply severe penalties to those who manufacture, import or deal in illegal drugs, and clamp down on those who produce and sell unregulated chemical highs.
  • Establishing a review to assess the effectiveness of the cannabis legalisation experiments in the United States and Uruguay, in relation to public health and criminal activity.
  • Legislating to make the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs independent in setting the classification of drugs, while remaining accountable to Parliament and the wider public.
  • Enabling doctors to prescribe cannabis for medicinal use.
  • Putting the Department of Health rather than the Home Office in charge of drug policy.

Nick added:

“The first step is to recognise that drug use is primarily a health issue. That’s why, in our manifesto, the Liberal Democrats will commit to move the responsibility for drug policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health. Tackling supply is a matter for the police so that will stay with the Home Office. But reducing demand and minimising harm are questions of public health.

“Secondly, we will re-focus resources away from prosecuting people whose only crime is that they have used drugs, or are addicted to drugs. The international evidence very clearly shows that handing out criminal records to users does nothing to reduce overall levels of drugs use.

“We know that around one third of British adults have taken illegal drugs in their lifetime, with approximately one in five 16-24 year olds taking drugs in the last year alone. For many, it’s something you try when you’re young then grow out of.

“But, in this country, if you’re a young person – say out at a club with friends – and you get arrested for possession of a small amount of drugs, it’s likely you’ll end up with a criminal record. That means this stupid youthful mistake could damage your whole future – possibly stopping you from getting the job you want, whether it’s as a doctor, nurse, teacher or even taxi-driver.

“What would you do? If this was your child and you found those drugs would you go to a doctor or police officer to help them? I think nearly all of us would call the health expert. And, in the same way, I just don’t think it’s right for us as a society to write off these young people who haven’t hurt anyone else, just made the wrong choice, so early. We need to put an end to this ludicrous situation. Our focus should be on getting them the help they need, not punishment, so they can go on to realise their ambitions and make a positive contribution to society.

“That’s why the Lib-Dems believe these resources should instead be ploughed into smarter enforcement and greater availability of treatment.

“So we will develop diversionary programmes to take users out of the criminal justice system altogether, ensure that those who need treatment get it, and find more effective ways to reduce or end their drug use.

“I want a see a system where anyone who is arrested for possession of drugs for their own personal use gets either treatment (if they need it), education, or a civil fine.”

David Ward supports WWF campaign to protect the world’s Forests by marking Earth Hour

Bradford MP, David Wardhas signed up to support this year’s Earth Hour by making a special pledge by backing Green Laws Forest Environmentprotection of the world’s forests.

David Ward joined other Parliamentarians in attending a WWF-UK reception in Parliament to show their support for a responsible trade in sustainably-sourced forest products and to support WWF’s Earth Hour, which takes place on Saturday 28th March at 8:30pm.

Earth Houris WWF’s annual global grassroots movement where millions of people around the world come together to switch off their lights for one hour in a symbolic act of support to show they care about our brilliant planet. To find out more and register to take part please go to: wwf.org.uk/earthhour and join millions of people who are signing up to the big switch off.

WWF-UK’s forest campaign highlights the issue of illegally sourced timber and unsustainable forest management, and aims to make responsible forest trade the norm. WWF-UK is challenging business and the government to commit to responsible trade in wood and paper to help end deforestation around the world. Deforestation is having a devastating effect on the world’s last remaining natural forests, for example, in Indonesia, Central Africa and Far East Russia. The world has lost nearly half its forests, and only a tenth of what remains is protected. And global demand for wood for timber, paper and fuel is set to triple by 2050. For more information on WWF’s Forest Campaign visit wwf.org.uk/saveforests

Commenting David Ward said:

“Our planet is under pressure and we are facing huge environmental challenges includingillegal logging and unsustainable management of forests. Earth Hour is a chance for everyone to show the environment matters and help make a difference and it’s great that millions of people across the globe will come together on Saturday 28th March at 8.30pm and take positive action to protect our natural world.”

“For the same reasons, this is why the Liberal Democrats created The Big Tree Plant, the first government tree planting initiative since the 1970s, which has now planted more than a million trees since 2010.”

Commenting further Shareen Brown, Head of WWF-UK’s Earth Hour, said:

“Our natural resources are running out. We are already living beyond the limits of one planet, but by making small changes our daily lives can become more sustainable. Politicians play a vital part in helping to tackle the major conservation issues such as deforestation, so it’s great to have their support for Earth Hour. It’s a timely reminder that we all need to be doing more to protect some of our planet’s most precious wildlife and places.”

Additional information on Earth Hour

Last year over 9 million people in the UK took part in #EarthHourUK and 85% of those that signed up said they felt inspired to go on to live more sustainably beyond the hour (nfpSynergy 2014). Globally, the world’s first Earth Hour forest was created in Uganda and more than 100,000 people supported a petition on forest legislation in Russia.

Earth Hour, organised by WWF, is a worldwide grassroots movement uniting people to protect the planet. 2014’s Earth Hour was the biggest yet, with hundreds of millions of people taking part across a record 162 countries and 7,000 towns and cities alongside world famous landmarks from the Sydney Opera House to Times Square in New York. Earth Hour continues to have a real and lasting impact beyond the hour, from crowdfunding to help protect critically endangered species, to campaigns to protect The Great Barrier Reef. In 2015 Earth Hour will be held on 28th March 2015 between 8.30pm and 9.30pm.

Additional information related to the UK’s impact on forest trade and the EUTR

Being the fifth-largest importer of timber and wood-based products in the world consuming materials valued at over £14.4 billion in 2013, the UK is an important player in global markets for forest products. Forests are disappearing at a rate of one football pitch every two seconds, yet here in the UK we can still buy furniture, books, cards and other products made from illegally or unsustainably sourced wood.

In 2013, the EU introduced a Timber Regulation to prevent illegally logged wood being imported into Europe. However, due to some inconsistent and illogical loopholes, only half the value of all timber and wood-based products imported is covered. Fortunately there is an opportunity for change. In 2015 the regulation is being reviewed. WWF is seizing this opportunity to work to prevent all illegally-logged timber entering the EU by ensuring the loopholes in the current EU Timber Regulation are closed At the same time we are working with business, government and civil society to find and push for mechanisms to enable a market in 100% sustainably-sourced timber by 2020.

Delivering differently in N E Lincs

Last year North East Lincolnshire Council was one of 10 local authorities who were successful in securing support from the government’s Cabinet Office, through their Delivering Differently programme

The government office provided expert advice on the potential for services to move from local authority control into a mutual-type organisation, like a social enterprise.

The council already has a number of services delivered in a similar way by alternative providers, including Care Plus Group, Navigo, Focus and Lincs Inspire.

The Delivering Differently work has identified the potential to create a new organisation, which would provide affordable funeral services, linking the council’s cemeteries and crematorium service with a commercial funeral company, to create a combined service.

The council’s cabinet met today to consider the possible creation of this new organisation which could provide a full funeral director service as well as burial or cremation. These services are currently provided separately.

Take your next career step: Careers sessions at N E Lincs libraries

Regular careers sessions have been launched across all of Lincs Inspire libraries to coincide with National Careers Week (March 2 – March 6).

Advisors are on-hand weekly or fortnightly to help customers in searching and applying for jobs, writing CVs, interview techniques as well as further training opportunities and general careers advice.
Sessions are held from 9:30am to 11:30am at:

Grimsby Central Library every Wednesday;

Waltham Library fortnightly on Fridays (next session – Friday, March 13);
Cleethorpes Library fortnightly on Fridays (next session – Friday, March 6); and
Immingham Library fortnightly on Mondays (next session -Monday, March 9).

There is no need to book to see an adviser during these times, however if you would prefer to make an appointment contact the career team on (01472) 324587.

Help is also available via the National Careers Website at www.nationalcareerservice.direct.gov.uk. Alternatively call 0800 100900 between 8am to 10pm.

The National Careers Service is available free to every adult in England and has already helped millions of people improve their working lives.

Help to Buy: helping 88,000 buy a new home

 

Since the launch of the Help to Buy equity loan and mortgage guarantee schemes:

  • 80% of scheme completions have been made by first-time buyers
  • the average house price was £185,000, significantly below the national average
  • over 80,000 people have bought a home through the scheme
  • 94% of Help to Buy completions took place outside of London
  • over half of Help to Buy completions have been for new-build homes
  • all part of the government’s long term economic plan to help hardworking people get the keys to their own home

Help to Buy was created in 2013 to support hard-working taxpayers who could pay a mortgage, but couldn’t afford the high deposits demanded by lenders in the wake of the financial crisis.

Together with the government’s Help to Buy: NewBuy scheme – which offers 95% mortgages for those buying new-build properties, the number of new home owners has reached almost ninety thousand.

The scheme also continues to benefit first-time buyers overwhelmingly, with the vast majority of sales outside of London and at prices well below the national average.

Help to Buy is also ensuring the long-term health of the housing market by increasing housing supply, stimulating home building. Over half of the homes bought through Help to Buy are new-build properties, helping to contribute to the 37% rise in private house building since the launch of Help to Buy.

First-time buyers

As today’s statistics show, Help to Buy is helping people who need it most, with over sixty six thousand (66,661) households having bought their first home thanks to the scheme.

This is 80% of overall Help to Buy buyers, demonstrating that the scheme is successfully targeting those who need help getting on the housing ladder, despite only accounting for a small proportion of the mortgage market (3% for both mortgage guarantee and equity loan)

Helping people across the UK

Help to Buy is helping people throughout the UK achieve their dream of owning a new or bigger home.

With almost all completions outside London, the highest number of homes have been through the mortgage guarantee scheme in the North West region. The equity loan – a scheme for new build properties – is particularly high in the south-east region.

Figures for the mortgage guarantee scheme also show completions have been least concentrated in regions where house price growth is highest. In London the scheme makes up just 1.3 % of all mortgage lending compared to an average of 3% across the country.

Getting Britain building

Help to Buy is also supporting the country’s economy by getting Britain building again. Over half of homes bought under the scheme were new-build properties, contributing to the sharpest rise in house building orders since 2003.

And it has incentivised growth in the construction industry – which has now been growing for 21 consecutive months. Last year housing starts increased by 10%, and they up more than 80% under this government. Both annual housing starts and planning approvals are at a seven year high, with 537,000 new homes being built during this parliament.

Responsible lending

Help to Buy was designed to support responsible lending, and the Bank of England made it clear in October that the scheme is “not a material driver of house price growth.”

This is demonstrated by today’s figures: the average house price for both parts of the scheme, at £185,000 (£156,000 for the mortgage guarantee and £212,000 for the equity loan scheme), remains significantly below the national average house price of £272,000.

The average house price to income multiple under the mortgage guarantee scheme is just over 3.5x salary, and capped at a 4.5x ratio to ensure responsible lending.

Home Builders Federation Executive Chairman, Stewart Baseley said:

Help to Buy has helped tens of thousands of people onto the housing ladder who otherwise would have struggled to meet their ambition of home ownership. First time buyers in particular are taking advantage and the scheme is helping people in every part of the country. The resultant rise in demand is allowing builders to increase much needed house building levels. This is turn is creating tens of thousands of jobs and boosting local economies the length and breadth of the country.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

Help to Buy has now helped almost 90,000 homebuyers across the UK buy a new of bigger home as part of this government’s drive to create a fairer society. We have been able to introduce this scheme – which is just one of the many ways that we’re helping people across the UK – because we’ve got the public finances and economy on a stronger footing, as the fastest-growing economy in the G7.

Visit the Help to Buy website for more information.

View our infographic on the latest statistics.

Ed Davey: A strategy to end cold homes for good

Future governments will now, for the first time, be required by law to tackle fuel poverty by making the coldest, leakiest homes in England more energy efficient.

This new Fuel poverty strategy – the first for over a decade – outlines challenges and actions for the next 15 years to ensure future Governments take the right steps to tackle fuel poverty and get help to those who need it most.

A new legally binding target – in force since December 2014 – is at the heart of the new strategy. It requires a minimum standard of energy efficiency (Band C) for as many fuel poor homes as reasonably practicable by 2030.

Early measures to tackle the problem of fuel poverty and hit the new target include:

  • New regulations so from April 2018 private landlords cannot rent out energy inefficient properties (homes with Energy Performance ratings below ‘E’)
  • Tackling the problem of fuel poverty in off gas grid properties with a new £25 million fund to help people install central heating systems for the first time
  • Extending the successful ECO scheme to 2017, so that a further 500,000 properties will be made cheaper and easier to heat, building on the one million homes that ECO and the Green Deal have helped in the last 2 years

The strategy prepares the ground for future new measures with a series of pilots focused on priority areas, ranging from health aspects of fuel poverty through to specific housing types like off gas grid properties and park homes.

A £3 million pot for such pilots will see £1 million released immediately to scale up local ‘warmth-on-prescription’ projects to help primary healthcare professionals such as GPs play a much larger part in tackling fuel poverty. In the coming months up to £2 million more will be released to support innovation pilots, not just in health but also for off gas grid, park homes and community energy approaches.

Unveiling the strategy, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

“Today marks a crucial step towards a future free from cold homes and bloated energy bills in England. We now have a legally binding commitment to plug our draughtiest houses – adding to the 1 million homes we’ve made warmer and cheaper to heat.

“From tackling fuel poverty in the private rented sector to facing up properly to the challenges of rural off gas grid fuel poverty, this strategy marks a significant change from the old approach.

“Yet even as we implement new regulations and new spending priorities to make homes warmer, we are planning for the next phase of cutting fuel poverty, with a series of key pilots, especially into the link between improving health and cutting fuel poverty.”

Households in fuel poverty in the least energy efficient homes (Bands F and G) typically face energy costs that are £1,000 more than those in higher quality homes. To help focus support where it is needed most, the strategy introduces interim milestones to get as many as fuel poor homes as reasonably practicable up to a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band E by 2020 and Band D by 2025.

Minister for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd:

“We want the fall in levels of fuel poverty seen under this Government to continue – so that cold homes are gone for good.

“That’s the future we’re presenting, alongside our ambitious targets, so even more households can join the 1 million homes already reaping the benefits of lower energy bills and warmer homes this winter.”

Last month, the government laid draft regulations to introduce minimum energy efficiency standards that will see up to 1 million people renting from private landlords benefit from warmer and cheaper to heat homes. Many of the poorest tenants will benefit and, with government support, landlords can improve their properties at no upfront cost – and landlords will only have to make improvements that are cost-effective. This will be backed by a new law to give tenants the right from April 2016 to request consent for improvements that the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse.

Nearly 2 million heating and energy efficiency measures have already been installed across the country. With ECO being extended to 2017 an extra half a million people will be able to keep warm for less, including many low-income, vulnerable households. This is on top of half a billion pounds of investment in energy efficiency schemes over three years, including the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

Dr Tim Ballard, Vice-Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said:

“The Royal College of GPs welcomes this new fuel poverty strategy. It marks an important turning point in acting on what we have known for some time: that cold homes contribute to the most vulnerable people being unhealthy and can even be lethal for them.

“The new strategy provides a long-term framework in which the health sector has a vital role to play, in partnership with Government. The new funding for health-related pilot projects is especially needed and will help build the case for more investment to cut the cost of warmth and help reduce the burden of cold homes on the health service.”

Sign up for free warning of possible suspicious activity on property from Land Registry

The award-winning service provides an early warning of possible suspicious activity on someone’s property.

Tracey Salvin, Property Alert Service Manager said:

“The aim of Property Alert is to help people protect their home from fraudsters. There are many people who have no idea that someone could ‘steal’ their home from under them, but unfortunately it can and does happen. For example, someone may pretend to be you using forged documents and sell or mortgage your home. While this is not common, when it does happen it can have devastating consequences for the victim. Imagine finding out that someone else has sold or mortgaged your property without your knowledge and disappeared with the money, leaving you to pick up the pieces. That is why we’ve introduced a number of anti-fraud measures at Land Registry including Property Alert.”

Example where Property Alert helped to detect fraudulent activity

Ms Anderson (names have been changed) signed up for Land Registry’s Property Alert service and placed an alert on her property. She received an email alert the very next day saying that an application to transfer her property had been made. Ms Anderson knew nothing about this and contacted Land Registry’s property fraud reporting line.

On investigation, we found that the application had been made by Ms Anderson’s father and contained evidence claiming to show that Ms Anderson’s identity had been checked by a solicitor. Ms Anderson claimed she had never been to see this solicitor and denied signing any transfer of her property. She also alleged that her father was intercepting her mail and at one time had taken her passport.

When we contacted the solicitor concerned, he confirmed he had met someone claiming to be Ms Anderson but who, it turned out, must have been an imposter.

As a result of Ms Anderson contacting Land Registry, we formally notified Ms Anderson’s father of her objection to his application. As we didn’t receive any response from him, we cancelled his application. This allowed Ms Anderson to proceed with selling her property as she had planned to do.

What is property fraud?

Property fraud can happen in many ways. For example, fraudsters may steal someone’s identity and attempt to gain ownership of a property by using forged documents. The fraudsters may then raise money by mortgaging the property without the owner’s knowledge before disappearing with the money, leaving the owner to deal with the consequences.

Land Registry has stopped fraud on properties worth more than £70 million since 2009.

How Property Alert works

  1. You will need to set up an online account with Land Registry which is free
  2. You’ll be able to monitor up to ten registered properties in England and Wales. Email alerts will be sent when there is certain activity on the property – you can then judge whether or not the activity is suspicious and if you should seek further advice
  3. People who are not online can also sign up for Property Alert by calling 0300 006 0478

Most at risk

Properties most likely to be at risk from property fraud are:

  • tenanted properties – for example where the landlord lives elsewhere, a tenant might try to mortgage or sell the property without the landlord’s knowledge
  • empty properties – such as where the owner lives abroad or is in a care home
  • where there are family disputes. For example, in a relationship break-down someone could try and mortgage a property without their partner knowing
  • properties without a mortgage

Other measures

To help protect yourself against property fraud, make sure:

  • your property is registered. If you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer financial loss as a consequence, you may be compensated
  • once registered, ensure Land Registry has up-to-date contact details so we can reach you easily. You can have up to three addresses in the register including an email address and/or an address abroad
  • owners can make a request to have a restriction entered on their property. This is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring a solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner

More property fraud advice is available and you can watch our video.

David Ward MP questions behaviour at weekly Parliamentary “Punch and Judy” Show

At Prime Minister’s Question Time, Bradford MP David Ward, questioned the Prime Minster about politicians behaviour at PMQs and whether this was damaging people’s perception of Parliament.

David Ward MP was selected out of the weekly ballot to pose a question to the Prime Minister, at the weekly Prime Minister Question Time (PMQs).

David met with students from Bradford College on Tuesday 3rd March who told David that they were less than impressed by the conduct of David Cameron and Ed Miliband shouting at each other in a room filled with adults behaving in a manner that would not be tolerated in any classroom or work environment.

David asked the Prime Minister:

“Does the Prime Minister believe his own behaviour, and that of the Leader of the Opposition within Prime Ministers Questions, either enhances or damages the image of the Houses of Parliament and indeed Politicians in the eyes of members of the public”

Responding to David, the Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron said:

“What I would say to the honourable gentleman is that it is inevitably a robust exchange there are always ways I’m sure which we can improve Prime Ministers Questions but I would say it does have an important function which is it does make sure that we have accountable Government in our country where people can ask the Prime Minister anything they want.

Commenting, David Ward MP said:

“Most people in the real world, outside of the Westminster bubble, think that Prime Minister’s Questions is pathetic and is the manifestation of all the things which are wrong with politics at the moment.

“People in Bradford see politicians evading simple and often important questions, being loud, boisterous and frankly just looking like a bunch of out of control public school children. No wonder people get apathetic about voting when they see how this lot carry on in the weekly “Punch and Judy” show.

“The behaviour of most politicians at Prime Minister’s Questions is inexcusable and we need the system to change if real scrutiny of the Prime Minister and his Government is to take place and bring back some form of integrity to the weekly questioning of the Prime Minister.”

The time for action on drugs reform is now

Nick Clegg has today confirmed the Liberal Democrat manifesto will contain the most far-reaching drug reform policies ever put forward by a major political party ahead of an election.

He made the announcement at an event at Chatham House alongside entrepreneur Richard Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Speaking at the event, Nick said:

“Drugs reform, like prison reform, is one of those issues that political parties always talk big about in opposition, only to fall silent and do nothing in Government. Not the Liberal Democrats.

“As part of the Coalition Government, we’ve continued to fight for change. We believe the time for action on drugs reform is now.

“I’m incredibly frustrated that, after five years in Coalition, we cannot take our work to its logical conclusion – just because the Tories are scared of being branded soft on drugs.

“It’s time for the Conservatives and Labour to realise that the world has moved on, reform is no longer a taboo subject and voters expect politicians to deliver results based on solid evidence, not overblown rhetoric.”

The plans include:

  • Adopting the approach used in Portugal, where those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use are diverted into treatment, education or civil penalties that do not attract a criminal record.
  • Legislating to end the use of imprisonment for possession of drugs for personal use, diverting resources towards tackling organised drug crime instead, as a first step towards reforming the system.
  • Continuing to apply severe penalties to those who manufacture, import or deal in illegal drugs, and clamp down on those who produce and sell unregulated chemical highs.
  • Establishing a review to assess the effectiveness of the cannabis legalisation experiments in the United States and Uruguay, in relation to public health and criminal activity.
  • Legislating to make the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs independent in setting the classification of drugs, while remaining accountable to Parliament and the wider public.
  • Enabling doctors to prescribe cannabis for medicinal use.
  • Putting the Department of Health rather than the Home Office in charge of drug policy.

Nick added:

“The first step is to recognise that drug use is primarily a health issue. That’s why, in our manifesto, the Liberal Democrats will commit to move the responsibility for drug policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health. Tackling supply is a matter for the police so that will stay with the Home Office. But reducing demand and minimising harm are questions of public health.

“Secondly, we will re-focus resources away from prosecuting people whose only crime is that they have used drugs, or are addicted to drugs. The international evidence very clearly shows that handing out criminal records to users does nothing to reduce overall levels of drugs use.

“We know that around one third of British adults have taken illegal drugs in their lifetime, with approximately one in five 16-24 year olds taking drugs in the last year alone. For many, it’s something you try when you’re young then grow out of.

“But, in this country, if you’re a young person – say out at a club with friends – and you get arrested for possession of a small amount of drugs, it’s likely you’ll end up with a criminal record. That means this stupid youthful mistake could damage your whole future – possibly stopping you from getting the job you want, whether it’s as a doctor, nurse, teacher or even taxi-driver.

“What would you do? If this was your child and you found those drugs would you go to a doctor or police officer to help them? I think nearly all of us would call the health expert. And, in the same way, I just don’t think it’s right for us as a society to write off these young people who haven’t hurt anyone else, just made the wrong choice, so early. We need to put an end to this ludicrous situation. Our focus should be on getting them the help they need, not punishment, so they can go on to realise their ambitions and make a positive contribution to society.

“That’s why the Lib-Dems believe these resources should instead be ploughed into smarter enforcement and greater availability of treatment.

“So we will develop diversionary programmes to take users out of the criminal justice system altogether, ensure that those who need treatment get it, and find more effective ways to reduce or end their drug use.

“I want a see a system where anyone who is arrested for possession of drugs for their own personal use gets either treatment (if they need it), education, or a civil fine.”