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Thursday June 23rd - What Was The Question Again?

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Debates in community centres, pubs and work places all over the country have highlighted that the vote on 23 rd June is something a lot of people are taking very seriously and are desperately trying to work out the ‘right’ answer. Exaggerated statements from both Remain and Leave have infuriated a public looking for solid facts amongst the spin. Economic models that are good enough for politicians to plan government budgets suddenly become only ‘matter of opinion’ to the same politicians. Amongst all this heated debate has the actual question being asked on 23rd June become confused?

The question on the ballot paper will be ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’ That is it. There are no additional questions about why you vote to remain or leave. You are NOT being asked if you want sovereignty back (whatever that term means). You are NOT being asked if you want an additional £160 million a week spent on the NHS. You are NOT being asked if you want an Australian points system for immigrants. All these ideas have been floated by the Leave campaign but none are part of the question on the ballot paper.

Whatever the outcome of the vote on the Friday 24th June you will wake up and there will still be a Conservative government in power, one that is spilt virtually down the middle on whether to Remain or Leave. None of the above ideas were part of its manifesto in the general election – they can quite easily claim that there is no mandate for their government to implement one or any of these ideas. The referendum merely reflects the will of the British people in whether they want to remain or leave the EU, not what policies a government should implement if the British public do vote leave. Only at a general election could each party set out its manifesto on what it would do, only then would the British public see how many, if any, of the ideas become policy and for which parties. The next general election, barring the majority Conservative government losing a vote of no confidence, is set for 2020.

The outline of what a negotiated leaving of the EU would look like would be in place by 2019. The current Conservative government would lead the negotiations and decide how Britain left the EU, what model we would follow and the shape of the policies. This could mean that the British public has the chance to vote on remaining or leaving the EU but never has a chance to vote on what the shape and policies of the exit. In the meantime the Conservative government can follow its policy of extreme austerity, cutting any public services it thinks it can get away with and hollowing out beloved British institutions like the NHS through creeping privatisation.

For all Labour voters who think voting remain means supporting a neo-liberal project to exploit workers I have a question. How does leaving the EU help the cause of working people? The EU, imperfect as it is, at least tries to protect human and worker rights as well as the environment. Leaving the EU puts everyone in the hands of a British Conservative government with a clear aim of creating a neoliberal utopia where such protections become a distant memory.

Lib Dem sets up Facebook Group to tackle West Street parking issues

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Parking is always a major problem in a Havant and West Street is no exception. Prospective local councilor for Bondfields, Catherine Billam, isn't waiting for the council to help out, she believes in community action and has taken the initiative by setting up a closed Facebook group for residents, called West Street Havant PO9. This will enable residents to get together to campaign for better parking on West Street.

Using this Facebook group as a focus, Catherine wants local people to come together digitally to share their concerns and help each other out. A closed group will give local residents the confidence that what they say will stay within a trusted group.

If elected, Catherine will set up local Facebook groups covering the whole of Bondfields so that local residents have a rapid way to contact her and each other with their concerns.

Catherine Billam stands as Lib­ Dem candidate for the vacant council seat in Bondfields, West Leigh

Thursday 18 February 2016

Havant businesswoman Catherine Billam is standing as Liberal Democrat candidate for Bondfields ward, West Leigh, Havant, in the Havant Borough Council by­election on 3rd March. The by­election follows the sad death of former Bondfields Councillor Frida Edwards shortly before Christmas.

Lib Dem Cllr, Faith Ponsonby, said "Catherine would make an excellent councillor. She has the expertise and ideas to cope with the pressures on Council services caused by the Conservative Government cuts, and the energy and time to help residents and build the community."

Catherine said "I've known Havant and Havant people all my life. As a local resident I want Havant to be a great place to live, work and relax. For that to happen there has to be good housing, parking, transport, jobs, shops and social amenities. It's great that we're getting more housing and more business in the centre of Havant, but these put pressure on parking and other services. I believe we need a parking policy that balances the needs of visitors with residents and people who work here.

"Bondfields ward, West Leigh, hasn't got its own Community Centre. Residents have told me that they would love to have one and I agree we should have one.

Green issues are important to me. I have an allotment in Durrant's Road, and I'm keen to see Havant improve its recycling rate. In particular I’d like to see kerbside glass collection. East Hampshire has it, so it should be possible for us.

I've worked as a management consultant in London for Ernst & Young and now run my own company, so I know how to manage change and make things happen. I'd love to have the chance to work on behalf of the people of Havant as a Borough Councillor."

Catherine grew up locally and attended Wakeford's School (now Havant Academy) and afterwards Havant College. As a management consultant she worked for Ernst & Young, where she specialised in change management. She was Head of human resources for AST Europe Ltd and she worked for BP Information Systems Services in business analysis, marketing, and finance.

Catherine has an MSc in Organisation Development from Sheffield Business School, a BA (Hons) in Economic and Social Studies from University of Manchester and is a qualified coach. She has sailed the Atlantic in a 32-foot yacht and is qualified as a Scuba Dive Master. Aged 54, Catherine lives in Havant with her partner, writer and journalist Richard Milton.

Catherine can be contacted via email at

Bed-blocking costs NHS over £11m per month

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Shocking figures just released show that on on a single day last October, across England, there were 5,328 patients spending the day in hospital despite being well enough to be discharged or transferred to social care. In Hampshire (including Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Southampton) 247 people were stuck, ready to go home or into 'step-down' social care.

The cost of this to the NHS must be enormous. In England, during the whole month of October 2015, 160,094 bed days were taken up by people who could have gone home. If this is costed at the rate of about £500 per week (probably an underestimate of what it costs to keep a patient in hospital, excluding treatment) this is costing the NHS nationally over £11m per month. Locally in Hampshire, 7856 bed days were not available for other patients that month, probably costing over £500,000.

However it is not just the cost, but the knock-on effect on people waiting for operations or other treatments. We are approaching the busiest time of the year for emergencies as cold weather comes, and people on the waiting list to go into hospital may get the dreaded call “Sorry, we don't have beds available” and finding they have to bear the pain of a bad hip for weeks longer.

Cllr. Faith Ponsonby said "When I was in QA with a broken leg several years ago, I could have gone home 2 days earlier if the new plaster cast had been put on sooner and the various medications from the pharmacy sent up promptly. It was really frustrating for me and several other patients on the ward in the same boat, who were longing to get home. I have a friend now waiting to go into hospital for a scheduled operation in March, who is fearful that she may have to wait even longer if there are no beds."

"I would not want patients sent out of hospital before they are ready, but often they are held up because there can be delays within the hospital, or care is not there at home to support them while they are convalescent. We need much more 'joined-up thinking' between the different departments in the hospital, and also with social care agencies. We need to set up this commission to think again about how best to care for residents from the cradle to the grave."

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Norman Lamb, called for a national cross-party commission to tackle this crisis. He said "The NHS and social care face an existential crisis. Demand for services continues to rise year on year but funding is failing to keep up. The position in social care is perhaps even more serious."

"Growing pressures on services are so severe that all parties must come together to fundamentally re-think how we can guarantee the future of the NHS and social care services. The Government cannot avoid this issue any longer. Establishing this commission will show they are serious about protecting these vital public services."

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