Lib Dems launch manifesto – but what does it mean for Norfolk and Waveney?

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson during the launch of her party's manifesto - but what do their p

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson during the launch of her party's manifesto - but what do their pledges mean for Norfolk and Waveney? PIC: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Liberal Democrats have set out their bid for Number 10. But what do their policies mean for the voters of Norfolk and Waveney?

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson launching the Lib Dem general election manifestoPIC: PA

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson launching the Lib Dem general election manifestoPIC: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The first manifesto from one of the three main parties has dropped.

But how does it match up to the Eastern Daily Press' Manifesto for Norfolk?

At the beginning of the election campaign the EDP published a list of 13 demands that would have a huge, positive impact on Norfolk and Waveney - and the people who live here.

They ranged from the desperate need to dual the A47 to parity of esteem for mental health. The EDP also wants more affordable housing and protection for our farmers post-Brexit.

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The Lib Dems key policy is to stop Brexit. Because the EDP is fiercely non-partisan that is not something which made it on to the Manifesto for Norfolk.

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But there are some other key policies where this newspaper's demands have been recognised.

Jo Swinson's party has long backed adding 1p to income tax to create a cash boost for the NHS. Their manifesto pledges an extra £7 billion a year which they claim would help treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health.

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There are also pledges to spend more on solving the social care crisis.

On education the Lib Dems have pledged an extra £10.6bn a year to hire 20,000 new teachers. This is an ambitious target but it would go some of the way to meeting the EDP's demand for longer-term commitments ensure our children get the very best education.

On transport though it is a mixed bag. This manifesto is not car friendly. The Lib Dems want to reduce car travel so any specific pledge towards building roads was always going to be a big ask. Perhaps not surprisingly there is no mention of the A47.

But the party is determined to improve Britain's trains. Although there is no specific mention of East Anglian services commuters are promised a freeze in fares for a whole parliamentary term "while we fix our railways".

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This promise to invest in public transport mirrors our demand to reduce carbon by making buses and trains more attractive.

Further promises are also made on revolutionising the franchising system, improving stations and even reopening disused ones.

There is also good news for people living on the erosion-threatened coastline. The Lib Dems have promised to "launch a National Fund for Coastal Change, to enable local authorities to properly manage their changing coastlines".

And on broadband they have pledged "a programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK - with a particular focus on connecting rural areas".

And if the Lib Dems did pull off a major shock and win on December 12 Norfolk and Waveney's 45,000 WASPI women - those affected by changes to the state pension age - would be "properly compensated".

Commenting on his party's manifesto Broadland candidate Ben Goodwin said: "Central to the manifesto is a pledge for a fairer Britain that works for everyone.

"For a kind of politics that is based on evidence, not ideology and exaggeration. The Liberal Democrats are the only party that brings government, the private sector and community together to work collaboratively towards real solutions."

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Karen Ward, the Lib Dem candidate in North Norfolk, added: "I am pleased that the Lib Dem manifesto recognises the unique challenges faced by rural and coastal communities like North Norfolk.

"And also that this is the only fully-costed manifesto of the election, not based on empty promises like the Tories and Labour. The £50 billion 'Remain Bonus' has been independently reviewed and is a cautious assessment. So we are confident our policies will not drive us into debt.

"Mental health investment is vital to ensure we have parity with physical health. This is particularly critical here in North Norfolk as performance is currently so below par. Something Sir Norman Lamb has campaigned hard for."

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson added: "This manifesto is a bold plan to build a brighter future for our country, and that starts with stopping Brexit.

"Labour and the Conservatives can't offer the country a brighter future because they both want Brexit. We know that will be bad for our economy, bad for our NHS and bad for our environment.

"Our politics has been dominated by the two, tired old parties for too long. This election provides an opportunity to change the future of our country and build a brighter future with the Liberal Democrats."

The Eastern Daily Press' Manifesto for Norfolk and Waveney

- Demand parity of esteem for mental health and finally get the mental health trust out of special measures

- Pledge to fight for full dualling of the A47

- Fight for more sustainable cash for our councils so crucial services can be provided

- Solve the social care crisis to improve care for our vulnerable and older people

- Increased scrutiny of rail performance, appropriate investment, better east/west links and pledge to make Norwich in 90 minutes the norm

- More funding to protect our erosion-threatened coastline

- An end to poor mobile phone coverage and better broadband to boost rural connectivity and business

- More affordable housing to be built while protecting Norfolk and Waveney's character and a guarantee of adequate provision where there are new builds

- Pledge to drive down carbon emissions by investment in public transport and cycling lanes

- Stamp out the scourge of county lines drugs gangs by increasing investment in a dedicated team of police officers

- Money for the 45,000 women in Norfolk and Waveney affected by changes to the state pension age

- A longer-term promise is needed to ensure classrooms have resources with a particular focus on children with special educational needs

- Norfolk and Waveney's farmers must get a commitment from government to a post-Brexit trading regime which prevents a flood of cheap imports

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