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It is with great sadness that Lambeth Liberal Democrats have learned former Mayor of Lambeth, and Liberal Democrat Councillor for 20 years, Daphne Kathleen Marchant BEM passed away in her sleep on Wednesday afternoon, 3rd February.
Daphne was elected as a councillor for Streatham Wells in 1994 and served until 2014. During that period, she was twice chosen as Mayor of Lambeth, a role in which she took immense pride and dedicated herself in the interests of both young and old in the Borough.
Today Lambeth Council has revealed that it has made financial provision for supporting EU nationals navigate the new Settled Status migration status created to replace Freedom of Movement rights. We welcome this move. The Lambeth Liberal Democrats have been lobbying the Council for sometime now to roll out provisions like other London or UK boroughs have done and whilst we would have preferred this to be in place in 2020, before the first cut-off deadline, now’s good as well.
We also suggested to the Council that further effort be made to inform EU and other residents about the requirement to obtain settled or pre settled status. We recommended that the Council send a further mail-out to all Lambeth households with this information and links to where to get further advice or support. It is disappointing that the Council has not decided to take up this suggestion as well. This is disapointing and we will lobby the Council to change its mind on this.
We look forward to seeing the money being provided urgently to the CAB, Southwark Law Centre and Indoamerican Migrant Refugee Organisation and that this money be spent urgently on providing enhanced advice services. We intend to check with the Council and these organisations to see how this money has been allocated and how effectively it has been used to support our EU residents needing help. We are particularly interested in finding out which organisations applied for support and if any were refused.
Check out our Settled Status Campaign if you wish to know more.
On 1 January 2021 the UK begins life fully outside the EU as the transition period ends. For many EU citizens living in the EU it marks the end of an era; a time to reflect on what has been lost and an uncertain future.
On Christmas Day, Florence Cyrot spoke to French radio station Europe 1 about her experience. Florence moved to London from France in August 2001 and is the Lib Dems' candidate for the Lambeth & Southwark constituency in May's elections for the Greater London Assembly.
Listen to the interview in French or read a transcript in English below.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is currently reviewing the ward boundaries for Lambeth.
According to the LGBCE’s website, the review will “mean each councillor will represent approximately the same number of voters… [and] ensure that the pattern of wards reflect the interests and identities of local communities as well as promoting effective local government.” Lambeth currently has 21 wards with three councillors in each.
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Over 50,000 people in Lambeth have already applied for Settled or Pre Settled Status, according to Home Office figures, but time is running out for our fellow Lambeth residents to beat the Brexit clock. The Lambeth Liberal Democrats are absolutely committed to doing what we can to help make sure people are both not left out in converting their status and that their rights and contribution are recognised and protected. We are concerned that despite good will, neither central nor local government is doing enough given the Pandemic and the possibility of the so called "Australian style" No Deal. We will not let that happen and are committed to campaigning as hard as we can to stop a disaster. Please check out our Campaigns Page!
Settled Status and Pre Settled Status refer to the new legal status created for EU nationals resident within UK and Northern Ireland. Applicants have till June 30 2021 to apply, but they must be in country by end of 2020 to do so. We believe that these statuses are not what was promised by the Leave Campaigns or indeed the UK government and this leaves our many EU residents in a weak position. Our specific concerns are: Hostile Environment, People missing out and EU family members of UK nationals who wish to return home.
Settled Status must be applied for - it isn't a basic grant. This means that if people do not apply for it, they will not get it. Even before the Pandemic, there was a real and material risk that many would miss out, due to a variety of factors, like being vulnerable adults or children, poor language skills, access to legal advice or basic information, lack of technological prowess (applicants must use a smartphone) or just bad luck with timing (like being overseas for a sudden emergency when a deadline passes). The Pandemic has made everything harder and Settled Status is no exception. Whilst it is easy to apply for compared to other immigration statuses, it still requires preparation and work. When people are distracted due to their safety, jobs, or mental health, they will not always be able to find out things they need to know.
Many people are now not even sucesfully obtaining Settled Status, which is worrying, as that means their status is going to be uncertain for some time. At the start of the Pandemic, 55% of applicants received Settled Status versus 45% Pre Settled Status. In November 2020 it is now 57% receiving Pre Settled Status and 43% Settled Status.
What can we do now?
We need to ensure that all EU nationals know about their new obligation and that they get Settled or Pre Settled Status. This means lots of work to meet people and communities to ensure they are aware. It is a numbers game. We Lib Dems are well known for flooding people with leaflets but this is exactly what needs to happen now. Both the UK government and Lambeth Council need to make repeated efforts to reach people, by regular mail outs and focused contact with at risk groups.
We also need to ensure that there is advice available. There are volunteer groups like Settled helping EU residents work through the process and of course the CAB and volunteer legal advice services, but given the scale we need specialist Settled Status advisors who are multi-lingual.
We have written to the Lambeth Council leader to ask him to redouble the Council's efforts on this matter over the next 6 months and we will report back on what we find.