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Chalk must vote to protect vulnerable refugees

Max Wilkinson has called on local Conservative MP Alex Chalk to this week vote in favour of safe and legal routes to sanctuary for vulnerable refugees.

In a letter to Alex Chalk, Cheltenham Liberal Democrat spokesperson Max Wilkinson argued that safe and legal routes are the best way to “combat people smuggling and human trafficking” and to prevent “dangerous attempts to cross the Channel.”

This Wednesday [04/11/2020] Alex Chalk will have the power to protect vulnerable refugees by backing an amendment to the Immigration Bill, just days after four people, including children, tragically lost their lives trying to cross the Channel.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

"Within just the last few days, yet more people have tragically lost their lives trying to cross the Channel. It is utterly heartbreaking, especially for the friends and families left behind.

"It’s hard to imagine how desperate people must be to climb into these boats in search of a better life. It just isn't right that vulnerable people are left no choice but to make these perilous attempts.”

Max Wilkinson added:

"Our priority must be to save lives, and that means providing safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK for refugees.

"For Alex Chalk, that means doing the only decent thing and voting to maintain the rights for refugees in Europe to be reunited with their families and ensure that unaccompanied child refugees can be resettled in the UK.“Our MP is a patron of GARAS but his voting record hasn’t been in support of helping refugees. It’s about time he did the right thing.“I’m proud that Cheltenham has such a strong record of supporting refugees and I hope our MP will match the town’s commitment.”

Support our call to protect vulnerable refugees? Sign the petition


Max slams Chalk on 'heartless' child hunger vote

Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham Max Wilkinson has criticised the town’s Conservative MP for a ‘heartless’ vote on child hunger.

Max reacted angrily after Alex Chalk voted on Wednesday night against extending the free school meals scheme. The Lib Dems have joined Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford in calling for more help to end child hunger.

“People across Cheltenham will be staggered by their MP’s heartless actions in parliament,” said Max.

“Chalk has visited our town’s food banks and told the press that he knew life was a struggle, but yet he still can’t bring himself to vote to lessen the pain felt by hard-pressed families – even in a national emergency.

“I’ve visited local foodbanks and spoken to struggling local families, so I know how hard they have it.

“Our MP has shown a complete lack of sympathy for the most vulnerable people in our town and it’s a total disgrace.”

The opposition amendment was voted down by Conservative MPs. If successful, the scheme would have seen 1.4million disadvantaged children in England given £15-a-week food vouchers during school holidays until Easter 2021.

In the South West of England, 13.3% of children in nursery and primary school settings rely on free school meals - along with 11.4% of young people in secondary schools.

Click here to sign the Liberal Democrat campaign to end child hunger

Max Wilkinson Calls On Alex Chalk to Defend The Cheltenham Hospitality Industry

Ahead of a crunch vote in the House of Commons next week, the Liberal Democrats have teamed up with pubs, restaurants and community clubs across the country to launch a “Keep the lights on” campaign in protest at the 10 pm curfew.

Local Lib Dem spokesperson Max Wilkinson recently joined Lib Dem leader Ed Davey at local independent restaurant Bar and Wok for a meeting with TURF, a local independent hospitality business collective, to discuss the impact that new COVID restrictions are having on businesses in Cheltenham.

Venues across the country are being urged to flash their lights in an 'SOS' Morse Code pattern in the minutes after the enforced shutdown on Friday and Saturday. The campaign is supported by both the Campaign for Real Ale and the Night Time Industry Association.

While Labour Leader Keir Starmer has also ruled out opposing Boris Johnson’s curfew next week, the Liberal Democrats want to see a return to staggered leaving times instead of a 10 pm closure that has seen mass crowds on the streets and public transport.

With rates on the rise in some parts of the country, Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Government to guarantee that furlough remains available to businesses that are put into lockdown while not penalising those that can open with the arbitrary 10 pm curfew. 

You can read the full text of Max's letter to local Conservative MP Alex Chalk below.

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Letter to Baroness Berridge: School places in South Cheltenham

Thank you to everyone who has signed my petition in support of building the new school in Leckhampton, providing vital school places for young people across the south of Cheltenham and beyond. If you haven't signed the petition yet, you can find it here.


I was disturbed to learn that there are moves to call for a judicial review that could delay a much-needed new school in Leckhampton.

Thousands of families across the south of Cheltenham are desperate for local school places for their children. After years of back and forth, we finally have the opportunity with this new development in Leckhampton to provide those places and secure the educational future of young people across Cheltenham for years to come.

A new development in the south of Cheltenham can help cut the number of unnecessary car journeys across town, giving young people the chance to safely walk and cycle to school. We’ll keep fighting for sustainable transport solutions across town, including around schools. 

My colleague Cllr Iain Dobie and I have written to Baroness Berridge, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System, asking her to do all she can to bring about a swift resolution to this issue.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

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Max Wilkinson calls for rail fare freeze

Cheltenham Liberal Democrats call for a rail fare freeze

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the annual increase in rail fares to be cancelled, a move which would save commuters in Cheltenham around £175.55 next year, according to the Party's analysis.

£175.55 annual saving on a 2021 rail season ticket between Cheltenham Spa and London Terminals. Cheltenham to Bristol Temple Meads commuters would save £49.66 on an equivalent ticket.


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Max Wilkinson joins council cabinet to fight climate change in Cheltenham

Plans to tackle the climate emergency and Covid-19 recovery have been strengthened today, Tuesday 1 September with two new roles announced in the borough council’s cabinet.

Council leader Steve Jordan has assigned two new posts, economy and development, and, climate and communities to two new cabinet members: Cllr Victoria Atherstone and Cllr Max Wilkinson.



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Local homelessness figures demand eviction ban extension, Cheltenham Lib Dems warn

Local homelessness figures demand eviction ban extension, Lib Dems warn

The Liberal Democrats in Cheltenham have urged the Government to extend the eviction ban as official figures reveal that 28 Cheltenham families in private rented accommodation were deemed at risk of homelessness.


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Max Wilkinson calls on Alex Chalk to to resist Dominic Cummings’ assault on the rule of law

Max Wilkinson, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Cheltenham, has called on local Conservative MP and justice minister Alex Chalk to “pledge to defend the rule of law against any attempts by Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings to undermine it."

It follows the Conservative Government’s announcement of an Independent Review of Administrative Law, with the aim of restricting the ability of individuals to seek judicial review of government actions.

This could prevent people challenging the Government in the courts, as they did when the Ministry of Defence sent soldiers into combat in Iraq without the proper equipment; when excessive Home Office fees denied children their rights as citizens; and when patients died from substandard care at Stafford Hospital.

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Removing barriers to active travel on the Honeybourne Line

Today I wrote to the Managing Director of GWR to encourage him to unlock the benefits of the Honeybourne Line for active travel. View my full letter below:

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Max joins disability campaigners to learn more about accessibility

Max joined charity campaigner Steve from the Royal National Institute of Blind People and Dave who lives at a Leonard Cheshire care home, who took him on tours of the town centre to experience an hour in the life of blind and partially sighted people, and wheelchair users.

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