The Torbay Liberal Democrats have slammed a campaign that seeks to ‘name and shame’ so-called fake homeless people in Torquay.
The campaign – spearheaded by local businessman Ashley Sims – involves taking pictures of those who are begging and claim to be homeless.
The controversial campaign was launched with the backing of the Torbay Chamber of Commerce chair Susie Colley and Ellie Waugh of Humanity Torbay.
The police and local homeless charities have condemned the campaign, which has already mistakenly named a genuine homeless person as ‘fake’. There are also fears that the campaign could stoke vigilantism in the area.
Cllr Nick Pentney – who represents the Torbay Council ward of Tormohun that includes the town centre – slammed the campaign. He said: “This is a cruel and callous campaign that absolutely needs to stop now.
“Have its proponents thought for one second what the consequences of this campaign could be? In these freezing conditions, what happens when a genuinely homeless person is driven from public view into a discreet alley where no one can see or indeed help them?
“When you start hounding people away into hidden corners then the consequences are always going to be bad.”
His ward colleague, Cllr Mandy Darling, added: “I am disgusted that – at a time of severe ice and snow – people can think it’s a good idea to harass beggars on the street in the hope that they’ll simply go away.
“Torbay Council cut the ‘supporting people’ budget which used to help people back into accommodation.
“People should be campaigning for properly funding public services rather than targeting unfortunate individuals!”
Over 500 homes in Torbay have been sitting empty for 2 years or more, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. 40 Homes have sat empty for over 10 years.Scandal of Torbay's Empty Homes
What to make a difference for your community?
Stand as a local candidate with the Lib Dems in 2019
In May 2019, Torbay will elect 36 people to the new Council. The current elected Mayor model was rejected in a referendum so the new Council will consist of 36 members who will elect a Council Leader and a Cabinet. In reality the Leader will come from the Party with the most seats and he or she will largely choose the Cabinet members. Both will have to be formally endorsed by the Council.
If the Liberal Democrats have the most seats or are the largest Party we will propose a move towards a Leader and Committee system at the earliest opportunity where every Councillor gets to have a say in the decisions of the Council.
The challenge facing Torbay is acute. For 24 of the past 30 years the Conservatives have had policy control of Torbay Council. Theirs’s have been years of failure to change the economic direction of the bay and the spending priorities that have worsened the finances of the Council, not helped by inadequate funding from central government.
This has limited the ability of the Council to meet community needs, but we can and will do better than this.
We can do better!
We want to run a team of local champions that can show residents in our towns and communities how Torbay can be different. A team that represents all sections of our communities, who work hard, listen and deliver results. Could you be part of that team?
Who can win?
An important question anyone considering standing for election needs to ask is can they win?
At the last local elections in May 2015 the following Councillors were elected.
Torquay: 12 Conservative, 4 Liberal Democrat, 0 Labour, 1 UKIP.
Paignton: 9 Conservative 3 Liberal Democrat, 0 Labour.
Brixham: 4 Conservative, 3 Independent, 0 Labour.
Since then there have been 3 local council by-elections - real votes in ballot boxes from Torbay residents.
Liberal Democrats 2,877 (56%)
Conservatives 1,123 (22%)
Ukip 473 (9%)*
Labour 518 (10%)
Green 126 (2.5%)
Ind Socialist 27 (0.5%)**
*Only stood in two of the three contests
**Only stood in one of the three contests
When residents want to defeat Conservative candidates in Torbay they back the Liberal Democrats to do it.
This is not to put off anyone from standing, just a reality check that only the Liberal Democrats can beat the Conservatives in Torbay and form a more caring, environmentally conscious resident driven administration.
Who can be a Lib Dem local candidate?
If you want to run for the Liberal Democrats in the 2019 local elections you must:
- Be a member of the Liberal Democrats at the time you apply for approval – if you're not currently a party member, you can join now and apply in time for the application process that begins on February 1st 2018.
- Be a British citizen, a citizen of a Commonwealth Country or an EU citizen
- Be registered to vote in the area or have lived, worked or owned property there for at least 12 months before the election date
You cannot stand for us if:
- You work for Torbay Council, or for another local authority in a political restricted post
- Are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order
- Have been sentenced to prison for three months or more (including suspended sentences) during the 5 years before election day
- Have been convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice by an election court
What kind of candidates do we want?
We are looking for people:
- of all backgrounds, ages, beliefs, genders and experience who reflect our fantastic area
- who are motivated to fight and deliver change for their local area
- with community links and experience that they can draw on
- with an open and tolerant outlook who believe in communities working together, not turning inward
- who are team players that will support other candidates and aren't only in it for themselves
- In short people who want to do something, not be someone.
If you want to know more about what Liberal Democrats stand for, you can read about our values here.
- All selected candidates will be asked to put aside time to campaign from the date of their selection up to polling day
- Campaigning takes many forms from collecting petitions, knocking on doors, making phone calls, producing literature, delivering leaflets, writing letters, lobbying decision makers.
- The earlier you start and the more you do, the better your chances of winning
Resources and support
If you're interested in running as a candidate but would like support there are lots of resources available to help you decide whether to run and to help you with your application, selection, campaigning and in your role once elected.
- Read this guide on standing as a Liberal Democrat Councillor, prepared by the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and the Local Government Association.
- See the Be a Councillorwebsite for a wide range of general information on what's involved in being a councillor
- Watch a videowith Lib Dem Councillors and activists talking about why they got involved in local community politics
- The Liberal Democrats offer lots of training opportunities for council candidates and elected councillors at our two Party Conferences, regional away days and local events: local champions and party groups offer additional support and guidance for women and BME members.
- Once elected, Councillors are entitled to an allowance to cover their time preparing for and attending meetings and other duties of around £8,100 a year. If you are asked to take on additional responsibilities this is recognised in a special responsibility allowance and these are currently around £4,000 or £8,000 depending on the responsibility.
Your next steps
- If you're not a party member Join the Liberal Democrats today
If you need guidance on your application, please email the Chair of our Local Government Committee, Cllr Steve Darling: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him on 01803 328778
Adrian Sanders who was Torbay's MP for 18 years between 1997 and 2015, has announced he will not be contesting the election on 8th June and has thanked constituents for their past support.
"I have been genuinely touched and surprised at the enormous number of messages of support and offers of help, both physical and financial, to encourage me to stand for election and win back Torbay from the Conservative Party
"It was the greatest honour and privilege to represent my home town in Parliament for 18 years and I thank the voters for allowing me that opportunity. After 73 years in the hands of Conservative MPs, I got elected with a majority of just 12. Not being a career politician I never expected to serve more than one term.
"In total I won 4 elections, helped change laws, won extra resources, new services and infrastructure for Torbay, and helped thousands of constituents with their problems. In fact, it looks like the Conservative Party had to cheat at the last election to defeat me!
“The Electoral Commission found the Conservative Party guilty of offences at the last election that were so serious they fined the Party the maximum allowable under law, and passed their files to the Metropolitan Police to investigate whether there were any criminal offices.
“Now before all of the individual seat allegations into the Conservative Party's conduct at the last election have concluded Mrs May has put her Party before the country and called an election three years early.
“It had been widely reported that it was my intention, had I been re-elected in 2015, not to contest the election that should take place in 2020.
“The 2015 result changed all that and some of the things I was planning on doing post 2020 I am already engaged with. I have discovered a good work life balance and rediscovered what a weekend is, although I still carry out and enjoy a Councillor surgery on a Saturday morning every few weeks.
"The Tory MPs elected in place of the Liberal Democrats from the South West last time have failed to stand up for their constituents and our region. They have not used their numbers that exceed the Government's current majority to stop the u-tun on promised rail investment, to ensure funding for health and social care meets local need, and for our schools to be adequately funded so that many are not now facing cuts. Instead they were falling over themselves in the division lobby to back budgets that cut taxes for the super-wealthy and not tax corporations that enjoy billions of sales in the UK.
“In just two years under a Conservative majority Government, enthusiastically supported by a Conservative MP from Torbay, it appears in Torbay we are going to lose our magistrates court, Paignton's hospital - that stole my tonsils when I was 10 - The women's ward and other beds at Torbay Hospital, direct rail services linking Torbay with the rest of the country, and we have ended up with fewer bus services covering fewer roads than ever before.
“Torbay needs an MP who will stand up for the people of the bay in Parliament. Not one who votes for cuts and policies at Westminster and then complains about their impact on local people when he visits the bay.
“The Torbay election will be a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in Torbay as it will be across most of the seats in the South West. Labour, Green and UKIP votes will only help Mrs May increase her majority and hold on power. That can only mean more cuts to the services so many local people rely on.”
A few of my achievements
Won 4 elections in a row.
Longest serving non-Conservative MP in the history of the Parliamentary seat.
Past Party spokesman on Housing, Local Government, Tourism
Deputy Chief Whip – 2006-2015
Following the Literal Democrat case in the 1994 European Election I helped change election law to allow Party logos on ballot papers and prevent doppelganger candidates.
17 years chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Diabetes helping to obtain pen needles on prescription, no rationing of test strips, no blanket driving ban, annual testing rather than demotion or redundancy for emergency services staff diagnosed with diabetes, changes to the Childrens' Bill to ensure no child with diabetes (or other chronic condition) can be excluded on grounds of their medical condition.
I helped change the law in relation to leaseholders’ rights to obtain their own insurance. Had private member’s bills become law to ensure councils provide play equipment for children with disabilities, and to ensure all rented properties have working fire alarms to save lives.
Within the policy making processes of the Liberal Democrats I helped win support for the idea of a Pupil Premium, an additional sum of money for schools based on the number of pupils in receipt of free school meals - a win win policy for an area with low incomes like Torbay. I was delighted to see it included in the Coalition Programme for Government (even though I didn't vote for the Coalition) and the extra millions it gave Torbay's headteachers to help pupils from poorer families catch up.
Helped win a rebate for South West Water customers after years of paying the highest charges in the country.
Lobbied for and won super-fast broadband covering 97% of all business premises by the end of 2014 giving Torbay a competitive advantage ahead of other areas.
Secured Government funding for the A380 South Devon Highway that might still be on the drawing board had it been left in the competition for regional Transport funding rather than being taken direct to Cabinet through the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister following my appeal.
Enjoying a second term as a Torbay Councillor, after a 30 year gap, having secured 69 per cent of the vote in a five cornered contest in November 2015 – the start of the Liberal Democrat fightback.