A united front will keep the pressure on to fix the Missing Link

Local county councillors have joined forces to ask more people to show their support for the A417 Loop solution.

Cllrs Nigel Robbins and Paul Hodgkinson (right) are backing urgent action at the Air Balloon.

Cllrs Nigel Robbins and Paul Hodgkinson (right) are backing urgent action at the Air Balloon.

In May next year central government will make its decision on funding for the A417 Loop, Gloucestershire County Council’s solution for the ‘missing link’. Local county councillors, Paul Hodgkinson, Robert Vines and Nigel Robbins are backing the campaign and reminding anyone who travels this route that there is still time to pledge their support.

Earlier this year the ‘missing link’ was added to a Highways Agency list of roads in the south west that need major improvements because of capacity, safety and environmental issues.

The road’s appearance on the list means it is one step closer to finding funding when the Government allocates cash, but more pledges are still needed to make it known how much local support there is for the scheme.

So far, more than 5780 people and businesses have signed up at www.a417missinglink.co.uk.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, local county councillor for Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach said, “I urge you to join the Gloucestershire residents and businesses who’ve already signed up to finally fix this controversial road. If we join together, we can make the difference.”

Cllr Nigel Robbins, local county councillor for Cirencester Beeches said, “With more than 34,000 vehicles a day, it’s a bottleneck which holds up commuters and business on a daily basis; let’s get it fixed once and for all. Please pledge your support today.”

Local business owners and commuters are encouraged to show their support for the A417 Loop by signing up and pledging their backing at www.a417missinglink.co.uk.

 

Shock figures reveal Cotswolds homes crisis

A new set of figures shows the mountain people face when buying a house in the Cotswolds.

Houses like this are out of the reach of many younger people in the Cotswolds.

Houses like this are out of the reach of many younger people in the Cotswolds.

The National Housing Federation’s latest report on housing in the South West shows the Cotswolds as the most expensive place to live in the region.

The average house in the Cotswolds will set you back an eye £336,935 whilst the average salary in the area is just £18,762 a year.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for the Cotswolds, says the figures are alarming:

“The Cotswolds is often seen as a playground for the rich and famous, but the reality is very different. With wages well below the national average and the average house price twice that of nearby Gloucester the affordability gap is getting bigger and bigger. We have to find a way to build small scale affordable developments in line with what local villages and towns want.

“The problem is made so much worse by Tory-run Cotswold District Council’s dreadful lack of an up to date Local Plan as developers are simply ploughing ahead in a totally unplanned way.

“To add insult to injury, the Council’s administration has permitted thousands of holiday homes over the last decade. I’m astonished that Conservative bosses can be so out of touch with the reality of the situation for so many people living in our area.”

“Instead of concreting over the Water Park with thousands of holiday homes, the Council leaders should be sorting out small scale developments of affordable homes in villages and towns which need them.

“For those aged under 40 in particular the Cotswolds is fast becoming off limits for housing – that is an intolerable situation.”

Call for hospital’s future to be secured

A call has been made to safeguard the future of Cirencester Hospital.

PaulHospital

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson – Prospective MP for the Cotswolds – made the call following a statement issued by the Clinical Commissioning Group in Gloucestershire which launched a review into whether the hospital could be used more.

Mary Hutton, Accountable Officer at the county’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“A Cirencester Hospital project group, with representatives from the Clinical Commissioning Group, Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and the South Cotswolds GP Executive Group, has been set up.

“The review aims to fully understand the health needs of people living in the South Cotswolds and how more patients could, where appropriate, be treated at Cirencester Hospital rather than at the main hospitals in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Swindon. The review will take some months to complete.

Cllr Hodgkinson is looking for a positive outcome to the review: “Following on from the disappointment over the reduction in A&E services in Cheltenham, people will be wary of the word ‘review’. However, if this latest move leads to people in the Cotswolds being able to make more use of Cirencester Hospital this has to be a good thing.

“Cirencester Hospital is a gem – it provides a really good service for minor injuries and illnesses. Given the journey times to Cheltenham or Gloucester for residents, an expanded service in Cirencester would make sense.

“I want the Hospital to have a secure future as people value it. It could also take some pressure off Cheltenham.”

Extra buses get thumbs up

Extended times to a well used bus service has been given a warm welcome by residents in the Cotswolds.

Paul Hodgkinson with Jenny Forde (centre) and Isobel Walker at one of the stops on the route

Paul Hodgkinson with Jenny Forde (centre) and Isobel Walker at one of the stops on the route

The 51 route from Cheltenham to Cirencester and onto Swindon attracts alot of customers. Linking villages like North Cerney, Rendcomb and Coberley to the towns, it has previously run in daytimes only and not on Sundays.

Now, after lobbying over a number of years, bus bosses have announced an improved service.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) has been an advocate of more buses to link villages to the towns:

“This is a good service, but residents have told me often that they wanted to be able to get to the towns in the evenings and on Sundays. I’ve called for an extended service and now it’s happened!

“At a time of cuts, this is really good news.  People can now leave work later if they want to or shop in Cheltenham or Cirencester on a Sunday and get the bus home. This kind of new flexibility is a real bonus, especially for those who rely on public transport.”

For full details of the new bus times, go to: http://www.stagecoachbus.com/uploads/51.pdf

 

 

#DangerousA40

 

Anyone who drives along the A40 regularly in the Cotswolds will know that at times it can be a dangerous experience.

Laura Watts and Paul Hodgkinson are campaigning for a safer A40

Laura Watts and Paul Hodgkinson are campaigning for a safer A40

The well-used highway which connects Cheltenham and Oxford has a high accident record. Recently, there was a fatal crash near Northleach.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson and local campaigner Laura Watts are calling on Gloucestershire Highways to consider solutions to make the road safer.

Paul says: “You see drivers checking their phones in turnings, and cars overtaking at junctions. This dangerous driving has led to numerous accidents.”

Is the lack of dual carriageway on the A40 in either direction to blame? Or is it that drivers need have a better understanding about the dangers of this particular stretch of road?”

Laura Watts lives with her family in Aldsworth and uses the road every day:

“How do we make this road safe? Better road markings and improved signage at junctions? Or maybe orange signs like you have in Oxfordshire announcing the number of casualties in so many years?”

We are keen to hear your views on the A40. Please get in touch or follow our campaign on social media using #DangerousA40.

 

Bring on Le Tour Cotswolds!

Two leading county figures are calling for a Cotswolds stage in a future Tour De France.

Le Tour Cotswolds

With the country gripped by cycling fever as the famous race winds its way around Yorkshire, a bold bid could mean we see the same scenes in Gloucestershire soon.

Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood has joined forces with Lib Dem Leader in the Cotswolds Paul Hodgkinson in writing to Tour organisers. They are inviting cycling bosses to consider having a Cotswolds leg of the Tour in the next few years.

Cllr Hodgkinson, would-be MP for the Cotswolds and a keen cyclist, says the area’s unique scenery would provide a perfect backdrop to the race:

“My vision is for the Tour to start in Chipping Campden, racing down the Fosse Way through Moreton, Stow and Bourton before going through the historic towns of Northleach and Cirencester. Moving on to Tetbury and the hills of Minchinhampton what a superb advert for the Cotswolds this would be.

“The potential for tourist business is enormous. Shops in Yorkshire have already seen takings going through the roof whilst 1.5 million people lined the route. There’s no reason why we can’t replicate and better what is happening so successfully in Yorkshire right now.”

Mr Horwood feels Cheltenham would be a fantastic location to end the race:

“The Promenade lends itself to a great sprint to the finish line. Can you imagine the boost to the town it would give? The TV images would provide a real show case for the area and be a great event for us all to enjoy.

“With 3 billion TV viewers tuning in it could give the county a tremendous boost and really show off its character.”

In the letter to Tour organisers, the two men will invite them to see the area for themselves and understand the benefits of ‘Le Tour Cotswolds’.

Call for County Council to boost apprenticeships

On the back of a record number of apprenticeships across Gloucestershire, the County Council is being urged to go one step further.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with successful Cirencester apprentice Jordan McKenna

Paul Hodgkinson (right) with successful Cirencester apprentice Jordan McKenna

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton and Northleach) is recommending that the Council should create a cross-party task force, which would work with businesses in the county encouraging them to recruit more apprentices.

The council itself recruited 20 new apprentices, with plans for additional recruitment scheduled for later in the year.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday, 25 June, Cllr Hodgkinson will present a motion calling for a special Task Force to be set up to boost apprenticeship. He will reference recent figures which show that Gloucestershire has benefitted from 15,560 new apprenticeships since 2010.

Cllr Hodgkinson said: “The continued growth of the number of apprentices across Gloucestershire since the Lib Dems came into Government shows our commitment to building a stronger economy in a fairer society.

“In the Cotswolds area alone 1,860 new apprentices have been started. However, more can be done to make sure that this number continues to grow across the county.

“Apprenticeships can be a great alternative to university for people, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to get a foot in the door with a local employer.

“By bringing county councillors from all parties to talk with employers, apprentices and schools, we can make sure that those young people who want a way to gain a skill have as many opportunities to do so as possible.

“That’s why I am calling for a new task force to really promote apprenticeships across Gloucestershire.”

Unanimous Support Given to Call to Improve Ambulance Response Times

A Liberal Democrat motion calling for urgent improvements to ambulance response times was debated and supported unanimously at Gloucestershire County Council yesterday.

ambulance rushing

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s (SWASFT) continual failure to meet their 75% target in responding to ‘Red’ calls within 8 minutes in four out of six districts in Gloucestershire prompted the debate.

Commenting, Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson (LD: Bourton-on-the-Water & Northleach) said:

“The latest figure for Gloucestershire shows that the 8 minute response target is being reached across the county in 69.4% of cases.

“This figure however masks a real divide in what could be argued as a two tier service. Cheltenham and Gloucester show 88% and 87%, but Stroud, Tewkesbury and Forest of Dean ambulance response rates are much lower with the Cotswolds being just 46%.

”Lives depend on an effective and efficient ambulance service. No one doubts that getting to an incident in more remote areas is more challenging but if a target is set surely the service should be structured so that it is achieved?

“I am pleased that we got cross-party support over this very important issue and that both the Leader and Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council will now write to the CEO of the Trust calling on the Service to improve the ambulance response times.”

Also, commenting about the Ambulance Trust’s latest announcement of an additional £700,000 of resources for Gloucestershire to improve performance, Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson said:

“The extra resources is very good news. I am delighted that the Trust has finally seen that there is a real need to act on improving performance. I look forward to seeing how these additional funds will impact the Cotswolds.”

 

Council makes £10 million profit from parking charges

The campaign against Cotswold District Council’s high parking charges gained fresh impetus this week from new figures showing that the Council has made millions from motorists in the last few years.

Pounds

In answer to a question to Cabinet Member Barry Gibbs about parking income and expenditure, shocked opposition councillors heard that the authority had made a profit of almost £10 million from charges since 2006.

The total income from the district’s car parks came to £14,634,000 in the period 2006-2013 whilst parking costs came to £5,245,000.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group (Churn Valley) said he was staggered by the new figures:

“These numbers are eye watering and people will be rightly angry that they are being hit hard hit by these charges whilst the Council’s administration refuses to cut them substantially.”

He warned that, if the charges continued, the impact on the economy of local market towns would be dire:

“Council parking charges can either encourage or choke off economic development,” he said. “If councils want people to visit their towns and villages, stay a while to shop and perhaps eat at local restaurants, then they should cut charges.

“If they want their towns to compete with out-of-town shopping locations which have ample free parking, then they should provide the ability for people to park cheaply in town centres for short business and shopping visits.”

“I want places like Cirencester, Stow and Tetbury to maintain their role as centres for the surrounding rural areas, from which travel by car is the only convenient means of transport. That means the Council should recognise this and stop milking the motorist.”

Previously, petitions against the charges – presented to CDC in 2011 – have topped 2,000 signatures.

Cllr Joe Harris (Cirencester Park), who challenged the Council’s Conservative administration to stop using parking charges as a cash cow, accused them of riding roughshod over local opinion:

“People have told us on the street that increased parking charges have influenced where they shop, with some people deserting the towns in favour of places with cheaper or free parking.

“We demand an end to these excessive profits from car parking in the Cotswolds.”

Air Balloon upgrade to be ‘taken very seriously’ by Government

A notorious traffic blackspot has been seen first hand by the Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister.

CleggKramerPaul

Prospective MP for the Cotswolds Cllr Paul Hodgkinson invited Nick Clegg and Susan Kramer to see for themselves the ongoing issues at the Air Balloon A417 junction last Friday.

Following the latest death in the area 2 weeks ago, Cllr Hodgkinson said that urgent action must happen without any further delay:

“There have been 5 deaths in this location in the last 6 months. Such a sad waste of life is coupled with dreadful congestion and pollution problems. Politicians have been to Westminster to get a solution but I’ve asked Westminster to come to the area to see first hand why this has to be fixed.”

A campaign to get the ‘Missing Link’ on the A417 solved with a dual carriageway has gained momentum recently. Now, Mr Clegg has pledged that the Government will look at the issue “very seriously” after seeing the problems caused by the notorious stretch of road.

Mr Clegg was presented with the compelling argument by Paul Hodgkinson in favour of replacing the road between the Cowley roundabout and Brockworth with a new dual carriageway. The Transport Minister Susan Kramer also heard from residents the issue of rat- running through local villages as a result of gridlock on the A417.

Cllr Hodgkinson added, “My call for a commitment from Government to get this blackspot fixed has a better chance than ever before of turning into real action. This is having a real impact on the regional economy and I won’t rest until this is sorted out.”

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Paul Hodgkinson

Photo of Paul Hodgkinson
Corinium House
Perrotts Brook
Glos
GL7 7BL
T: 01285 651122
E:

Paul has lived in the Cotswolds since 1989 and is the Liberal Democrat prospective MP for our area.

He is Director of his own successful business which has been running for the last 10 years. Paul was elected to Cotswold District Council for the Churn Valley Ward in May 2007. He was re-elected in May 2011. In May 2013 he was also elected to Gloucestershire County Council for the Bourton & Northleach division. His priorities in the Cotswolds are:
  • Protecting our countryside from over-development, fighting for a stronger economy by cutting parking charges and boosting local services like post offices and faster broadband, campaigning for safer roads and better public transport through our towns and villages.