Monday, 26 March 2012

Car doors and cyclists

Last Friday, I was supposed to meet a friend for a drink, but he was unable to make it as his girlfriend had been knocked off her bike thanks to a driver opening their car door without looking. He went with her to hospital, where luckily it turned out she didn't have any broken bones, but one of her knees was badly swollen, and she was unable to walk very well. I don't know if she was mobile enough to be able to go to work this morning. 

I have been cycling to work and using my bike to get around in my free time for several years (in Brussels and London) and intend to continue doing this after I move to Leeds (at Easter). The only time I've been knocked off my bike in London was also as a result of a car door. In my case, I was cycling very slowly up a quiet residential street, so I wasn't badly hurt, although it did make me very nervous around parked cars for several weeks after that.

I wonder how many other cyclists have encountered this car door problem? I also wonder whether car drivers realise the potential danger, especially as more people cycle to work in our cities.

Of course, the most serious threat to cyclists are lorries, which are a common cause of serious and fatal accidents involving cyclists. When one of their journalists was seriously injured in an accident involving an HGV, the Times Newspaper began a "cities fit for cycling" campaign.

Other European countries like the Netherlands and Germany seem to be better at making it easier and safer for people to cycle around. I wonder what we could learn from them?

Interesting links:
European Cyclists Federation
UK National Cyclist's Association
Times newspaper "Cities fit for cycling campaign" 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The budget is good news for Yorkshire and the Humber

Today, the Coalition government announced the budget, which contained good news for the Yorkshire and Humber region, the most relevant being:

  • Increase in the personal tax allowance - people on typical Yorkshire and Humber incomes will see their personal tax allowance increase to £9,205 next year. This will take 74,000 in our region out of income tax altogether and provide a tax cut for a further 1.8 million. This is good news for ordinary working people* and goes a long way towards achieving the Liberal Democrat key manifesto commitment of a £10,000 personal tax allowance. 
  • Investment in transport infrastructure - Yorkshire and the Humber will benefit from the £130 million to be invested in the Northern Hub rail scheme, which will improve rail links between major cities in the North of England.

  • Investment to stimulate growth and jobs - a further £23.7 million has been allocated to local enterprise partnerships in the region. Good news for economic development : )

  •  Improving broadband - Leeds and Bradford will become "super-connected cities" and as such will benefit from investment of £14.6 million to develop ultra fast broadband.

For more information, please see the Liberal Democrat website.

* Higher rate (40%) taxpayers get smaller increases in their tax free allowance and those earning over £100k get no tax free allowance.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Jeanette Sunderland - fighting for Bradford

I've just spent the morning delivering leaflets on behalf of my fantastic regional colleague Jeanette Sunderland, who is the Liberal Democrat candidate in the parliamentary by-election in Bradford West. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of the former Labour MP due to continued ill-health.

Born and raised in Bradford, Jeanette Sunderland has been a councillor in the city for 18 years and has a strong track record of getting things done; just the kind of person people want as their MP, someone prepared to fight to get the best for the people of Bradford.

Working with David Ward, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, Jeanette helped secure £17.5 million of government funding for Bradford, which among other things will help get the Westfield shopping centre project off the ground. Jeanette has also been working with David Ward to tackle the issue of car insurance, the cost of which has gone through the roof for many careful drivers in Bradford just because of their postcode.

There is just over one week to go until polling day (Thursday 29 March) and I for one am hoping that Bradford West gets the kind of MP it deserves!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Almost there....

Most people probably do not realise that becoming an MEP following a resignation is not instantaneous. There are a few administrative hurdles to be overcome first. And for the Eurosceptics out there thinking "EU bureaucracy" I would hasten to add that almost all of these hurdles are on the UK side of the channel not the Belgian side : )

I have thus spent some time during the last 2 months explaining on the 'phone or via e-mail that I was not yet an MEP and (until Friday 2nd March) was still actually working in a full-time job unrelated to the European Parliament/the Liberal Democrats (a big thank-you to my former employer hanover for their understanding during this time).

However, the becoming-an-MEP process is almost finished now. Yesterday I filled in and signed a variety of forms at the European Parliament in Brussels* and received my MEP ID badge. On Wednesday 28 March, I am due to be officially sworn in.

* The eagle-eyed among you may note that this week was in fact a Strasbourg plenary week for the European Parliament; I was not able to attend this plenary due to not officially being an MEP yet. 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Job Advert: Parliamentary Assistant

Title: Accredited Parliamentary Assistant

Location: Brussels

Details: Liberal Democrat MEP Rebecca Taylor is seeking a Parliamentary Assistant to provide support for her work on the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee. Applicants must have:
· a legal background (qualified lawyer/degree in European law)
· excellent English (native speaker or equivalent) plus another EU language
· a minimum of 2 years professional experience in EU affairs, ideally including time spent in one of the EU institutions.
The ideal candidate would be a self-starter, able to work independently and as part of a team, and would have affinity with Liberal Democrat values. Knowledge of the Yorkshire and Humber Region would be an advantage.

Salary: In-line with European Parliament pay-scales and depending on experience.

Contact: Please send CV and application letter to Rebecca Taylor

In your application letter please explain how you meet the three essential criteria. Applicants not meeting the three essential criteria will not be considered and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Closing date/Start date: The deadline for applications in 9am on Monday 19th March. Interviews will take place in late March/early April.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Lib Dem conference in Gateshead

Am now back home after Lib Dem Conference. The Sage Gateshead was a fantastic venue and it was lovely to run on the sunny banks of the Tyne on Saturday morning.

I had a busy conference catching up with Yorkshire and Humber activists, having dinner with my (LibDem) grandparents and attending some interesting training sessions (on social media and engaging with young people).

I also attended the event "Championing the North" organised by my European Parliament colleague Edward Mcmillian-Scott. Edward, along with Councillor Kath Pinnock, leader of the LibDems on Kirklees council, Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the LibDems on Sheffield Council, Bradford East MP David Ward and Redcar MP Ian Swales, reminded those present of the positive attributes and the potential to harnass them for a bright future for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber. We were also cautioned that it was our job as Liberal Democrats to talk up the good work being done and to push for more. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

Hello & welcome to my blog

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Rebecca Taylor and I have just become (this week...) the Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament (MEP./Euro MP) for Yorkshire and the Humber. I replace Diana Wallis who stepped down in January.

I grew up in Yorkshire; I was born and raised in Todmorden and went to University in Sheffield and Leeds. My immediate family all still live in Yorkshire and within a month or so, I will too (I'm moving to Leeds at Easter). 

I also worked in Brussels for a number of years, so I know my way round the Brussels corridors. I hope this combination of local roots and Brussels experience will serve me well and enable me to do a good job representing the people of Yorkshire and the Humber in the European Parliament.

I am currently setting up my offices (in Brussels and Hull) and hope that this will be done by the end of the month. If you would like to contact me in the meantime, please e-mail me on Any job vacancies for my offices will be publicly advertised on this blog and on other appropriate websites/media.

I'm now in Gateshead for the Lib Dem party conference, so I'd better go and pick up my registration pack.

Best regards,