I’m saddened at Arctic medal decision

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I was very saddened by the recent news that the British government will not allow the Arctic Convoy veterans to accept a bravery medal from the Russian. It is outrageous enough that they haven’t awarded them a medal themselves.

This paper has long fought for a medal for the veterans in its unstinting backing for Commander Eddie Grenfell’s campaign and I have been proud to back that fight in parliament and as an MP for over a decade now. But the tragedy is that most veterans are in their 90s now and so if the government does not act quickly it may be too late. So I will redouble my efforts to get the government to both allow the Russian medal and award its own.

Last week also marked 100 years of council housing in the city. The News reminded readers of the appalling housing conditions that council housing began to remedy. A cholera epidemic killed 1,000 people with open drains spreading the disease in massively over-crowded conditions. For all our moans and groans today and much remains to be done, there has been great progress over the past hundred yeas in housing, health care and better living conditions generally and good council housing has been a considerable part of that. I am proud that the Lib Dem City Council has kept council housing and also recently built the first new council properties in some considerable time. However there is no doubt that the housing situation remains difficult in this country.

With a long waiting list for council and housing association properties, an expensive private rental sector and first time buyers struggling to afford to get on the property ladder. For my money the last Labour government, while they deserve some credit of introducing some schemes, did not do enough on tackling the difficult housing situation over 13 years. So it is good that the Coalition has built upon these schemes and brought in new ones but it also needs to do more.

The veterans of the Second World War and subsequent wars fought for our freedom and to build a better country. We owe it to them to honour them directly and also build upon their legacy in what are difficult times to find ways to improve housing, health care and build economic prosperity.