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Same sex marriage - a simple question of equality for all

The London Assembly today threw its weight behind government proposals to allow same-sex couples to have civil marriage ceremonies.

Building on the Assembly's long-standing record of support for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, members approved a motion calling for the introduction of legislation in parliament to make same-sex marriages a reality.

Caroline Pidgeon AM, who proposed the motion, said:

Paralympics 2012 - thanks for the warm up

Writing in 31st August's Liberal Democrat News, Caroline says:

The 15th Paralympics is now underway.

4,280 athletes, from 166 countries, participating in 20 different sports. Just as with the London Olympics these athletes will dazzle and often inspire us as they demonstrate excellence in so many different sports.

However, it is worth remembering how the Paralympics is in so many respects a new development. The first Paralympics to be held in the same city as the Olympics were held in Seoul in 1988. The very first Paralympics were held as recently as 1960, (although their genesis was of course the International Stoke Mandeville Games held eight years earlier).

In so many respects the development of the Paralympics marks the rapid change in attitudes towards disabled people. Within the lifetime of anyone barely over the state retirement age so much has changed. Just sixty and seventy years ago our society routinely excluded most disabled people.

Olympic cycling legacy must be a bold, permanent change

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on the Mayor’s proposals for London’s Olympic cycling legacy, said:

“A two day world class festival of cycling next year is clearly welcome and will be a great addition to Skyride.

“However the Mayor has merely re-announced existing plans. Incredibly the proposed event will now also be smaller than what was first proposed back in January.

“Today’s rehashed proposals expose the Mayor’s lack of vision. A real cycling legacy for the capital must include far more than just a two day festival.

High Court ruling on Addison Lee is welcome

Responding to the announcement that the High Court had rejected Addison Lee’s call for minicabs to use bus lanes Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group said:

"This is a very welcome decision. Taxis have access to bus lanes due to their special status allowing people to hail them down in any location.

Assembly says no to revival of third runway at Heathrow

The London Assembly today made clear its continuing unanimous opposition to the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Following recent reports that the prospect of an expanded Heathrow could be revived, Assembly Members backed a motion urging Mayor of London Boris Johnson to join the Assembly in lobbying London MPs to oppose a third runway and to work with government to find alternative solutions to airport capacity issues in London and the South East.

Caroline Pidgeon AM, who proposed the motion, said:
“In 2010 the Government was right to axe plans for a third Heathrow Runway and the same arguments against expansion still hold good today.

Victory for road safety campaign in Dulwich

Transport for London have backed down with their plans to remove vital pedestrian safety railings along the south circular following the petition of local residents by Cllr Lewis Robinson presented to City Hall last week.

TfL had posted notices to remove pedestrian safety railings outside the entrance to Belair Park, West Dulwich train station, and the traffic junctions outside Dulwich College last month.

Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee added her support to the campaign and asked Boris Johnson, London Mayor to confirm that the railings outside Belair Park will be kept to protect local school children. In his written answer, the Mayor has confirmed that the railings by the entrance to Belair Park will now not be removed. Any other proposals in the local area will be subject to full consultation with local stakeholders.

Mayor overestimates revenue from Barclays sponsorship

Dave Hill at the Guardian writes about the Mayor's exaggeration of the benefits of the cycle hire sponsorship contract with Barclays, pointing out Caroline Pidgeon's questioning that highlighted the true figures:

"Barclays," proclaimed the Mayor, has "saved Londoners about £50 million" through its sponsorship of cycle hire and superhighways. The key word in that assertion is "about."

As in the past the Mayor appeared at best unclear about how much money Barclays has and eventually will transfer to London's savings account in return for his inviting it to carpet brand its streets.

Met's loss of expertise is a serious concern for London's policing

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and deputy chair of the Police and Crime Committee, commenting on the sudden departure of both the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, said:

“It is shocking that two public servants with such vast experience should be departing so quickly from the Met when the Deputy Mayor for Policing is so clearly not up to speed with the key policing issues facing the capital.

Assembly launches investigation into cyclist safety in London

With 16 deaths on the capital’s roads last year and injuries also on the rise, where is London going wrong on cyclist safety? What more needs to be done to make Londoners safer on their bikes? And what could the capital learn from cities with good cycling records?

The London Assembly Transport Committee has recently launched an investigation aimed at drawing together issues around cycling in the capital, assessing how effectively improvements are being delivered, and identifying further solutions.

The Mayor is evasive and misleading on Murdoch links

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on reports that Boris Johnson failed to declare to the London Assembly a dinner he attended at Rupert Murdoch's home just days before the Metropolitan Police launched a new inquiry into phone hacking, said:

“Boris Johnson failed to declare the hospitality he received from Rupert Murdoch in both his monthly report to the London Assembly, and in the GLA's Register of gifts and hospitality. In addition to this evasiveness he then provided a misleading written answer to a London Assembly Member.

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