Happy New Year!

Will Howells over at LibDem Voice reminds us that today is Distaff Day when housework traditionally resumes after 12th night marks the end of the Christmas break. For me it’s the other way round: the end of a more domestic time and back to the full-on focus on campaigning – and this blog.

Not that we stopped altogether over Christmas. My fantastic team were out in all weather between Christmas and New Year delivering our latest leaflets. It was lovely to be greeted by supporters in the streets as we went round.

And I’ve enjoyed lots of community events over the holiday period, including the Canonbury Society Christmas drinks, the NO2ID Christmas party and carol-singing at St Mary’s church and at the N1 Centre.

Just before Christmas, we had the festival and opening ceremony for the new public open space at City Road Basin. I’ve backed the Basin redevelopment ever since it was mooted, so it was a great pleasure to be alongside Council Leader Terry Stacy as he cut the ribbon.

A highlight was the highly successful 10-years-on Islington Lib Dem Christmas party at the new Islington Museum. The Museum used to be housed in the old Assembly Hall at Islington Town Hall, which has now been refurbished as a new fully accessible meeting space. I attended the first event there, a meeting with Transport for All and Disability Action In Islington, about the threat to the Freedom Pass.

The snow has made us all realise how tough life gets when transport and travel are difficult. For people with disabilities, travel is a year-round challenge. With the Labour government taking subsidy out of London’s Freedom Pass, putting more of a cash demand on the boroughs, it’s important that the Freedom Pass does not get cut back to the statutory minimum.

I was delighted that Terry Stacy pledged that under the Lib Dems, Islington will continue to fund the Freedom Pass in full. (The Labour group leader, despite cries of ‘answer the question!’ from her own supporters, was unable to do the same.) Without government backing that could lead to pressures on other social services spending. So it’s still important to sign the petition to Save the Freedom Pass.

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