View more tweets

Bourton primary school cuts the ribbon on improved facilities

Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy has made the most of county council funding for much needed expansion work at the school in the Cotswolds.

The new school facilities mean more space for learning and modern cooking, serving and dining areas for children. The school can return one of the rooms being used as a dining area back into a classroom thanks to a hall extension with a new kitchen and servery. The entrance to school has also been remodelled allowing for better flow of pupils, staff and visitors in and out of the building.

Funding was granted last year. The money comes from ‘section 106’ money from developers of nearby housing. This kind of funding can be used in the local area for things like school expansions, community facilities or road improvements. The school has also been successful in bidding for further funding from the Department for Education.

Gloucestershire County Council is managing the project alongside the school and developer Speller Metcalfe. A special event on the 20 September showcased the improvements. Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy invited a whole host of guests to join in with the celebrations.

There was a local celebrity in attendance, BBC’s Countryfile presenter and Cotswold Farm Park owner, Adam Henson was there to cut the ribbon and open the doors to the new expanded facilities at Bourton Primary Academy.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, local member for Bourton-on-the-Water, said “It is excellent news that the expansion work is happening, Bourton Primary Academy is a popular and expanding school and I’ve been working with parents and staff to get this in place. It’s really good for the local area.”

John Jones, Headteacher for Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy said “Our school environment has been totally transformed and I’m very proud to be opening our new spaces to pupils and families. The new areas allow us to dedicate more space for our children’s learning now and in the future”.

Work is to be completed and the site is to be clear this week.

Pavement fixed in Bourton

A broken pavement which was causing problems for pedestrians has been fixed.

The footway, along Victoria Street and heading toward Letch Hill Drive, is well used but was a challenge for elderly people in particular.

David Hind, who lives along the road, got in touch with Cllr Paul Hodgkinson earlier this year. He had spoken to Gloucestershire Highways about the damaged pavement but nothing had been done.

Now, after Paul got involved the offending surface has been sorted out.

Paul said: “I have a small pot of money each year for local highways projects so I used a bit of that to get some action for Bourton on this issue. The pavement was resurfaced last month and residents are delighted. It means it’s safe and will now last for years.”

 

New proposal to get Old A40 reopened

After 3 years left of being closed due to a land slippage, the Old A40 near Northleach has been given the chance for a brand new lease of life. A proposal by Highways would see traffic being allowed through in one new lane near to the slippage area whilst the rest of the road would have two way traffic.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson says he supports the re-opening of the road and led a petition 2 years ago to do so which got 500 signatures:

“The new proposal by the County Council means that the £55,000 must be pieced together. I’ve already committed at least £12,000 from the small Highways Local fund I get each year. GCC will put in up to £23,000 if local town and parish councils contribute the remaining £20,000.

“Recently Northleach Town Council discussed the proposal with me and will make a decision on whether to fund some of the scheme at its September meeting.

“To gauge opinion I asked residents to fill out a short survey online. So far 150 people have done so with 85% in favour of re-opening and 15% against. We’re faced with a lower cost solution to get the road open again and we should seize it otherwise I’ve been told the road will be closed ‘for many years.’

Northleach resident Tony Dale also wants the road re-opened: “This is one of the safe crossing points across the Fosse Way for any parents and commuters travelling to and from Northleach. Opening this road after too many years of delays would instantly lighten the traffic passing down ‘All Alone’ and by the primary school.”

National recognition for broadband coverage in Chedworth

The Connected Britain awards have recognised the work undertaken in the Gloucestershire village of Chedworth by Gigaclear, under the Fastershire project, in the Community Improvement award.

The awards that took place in London recently aim to promote the innovation and achievement of those companies who are at the forefront of Britain’s digital transformation.

Gloucestershire County Council’s Fastershire Broadband Project, in partnership with Herefordshire Council, is funding the delivery of faster broadband to homes and businesses across the two counties.

Gigaclear were awarded the Fastershire delivery contract for the Cotswolds in 2015 and have provided ultrafast broadband to premises across the Cotswolds, of which Chedworth was one of the villages enabled. Gigaclear specialise in transforming digital communications in rural communities by installing a new pure fibre broadband network offering speeds from 50 through 1000Mbps.

County councillor, Paul Hodgkinson, said, “Broadband access is vital for a rural community like Chedworth and the parish council, residents and I have long petitioned for improved broadband speeds.

“We’re delighted that Chedworth is not only accessing faster broadband but is now amongst some of the best connected communities in the country.”

To find out if your property can already access faster broadband or where your property sits in the Fastershire rollout, visit www.fastershire.com and use the address checker.

 

Councils ‘not winning the battle’ against potholes

News has broken today that councils are “not winning the battle” against potholes, as related vehicle breakdowns between April and June reached a three-year high.

These latest figures come from a report by Neil Lancefield which states that a total of 4,091 call-outs were received by the RAC which was the most for the second quarter of a year since 2015.

Incidents included damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels. The period followed severe weather in February and March which saw widespread snow and ice.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Our roads are still in a poor state of repair after the damage caused by the Beast from the East and the generally harsh late winter conditions the country experienced.

“Councils have been working hard to fix potholes and general road surface degradation, but despite further emergency funding from central government their budgets are even more stretched than in previous years.

“Our figures demonstrate they are not winning the battle and as a result the safety of too many drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists is being put at risk.”

Responding, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said:

“It is incredible that we are still talking about potholes while we are sweltering in the hottest summer for 40 years.

“The fact is that many of our county’s roads are still in a poor condition despite the winter being over for months. It is taking an age to properly repair some of our main routes. ‘A’ roads like the Fosse Way in the Cotswolds are appalling in parts, while some of Cheltenham’s roads can only be described as embarrassing. It’s the same all over Gloucestershire.

“There just isn’t enough investment going into the county’s roads and pavements and it is all too clear to anyone driving, cycling or walking on them.”

Meanwhile, Gloucestershire remains in the bottom half of a league table, compiled by “we are cycling UK”, of local authorities and their rate of fixing potholes.  GCC is currently sitting in 121st place out of 214.

Another pedestrian crossing for Bourton?

The pedestrian crossing on Station Road by the School is almost 5 years old. Many children cross the road each day and residents have felt safer going across this busy road out of school hours. Now, another crossing is being planned after lobbying from local residents.

Station Road has been a dangerous spot in the village. Back in 2012, as she was on maternity leave with her third child, local resident Ginie Moss decided to start petitioning for a crossing. Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, a passionate campaigner for road safety, contacted Ginie and offered his expertise and support. With the help of the local postmaster, both schools and the Parish Council, the petition gathered momentum with 1,100 signatures. Ginie and Paul then presented the petition to the County Council.

In 2013, after a year and a half of strong campaigning, the 24/7 feature on one of the village’s busiest roads was installed. Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said, “This all started with Ginie’s enthusiasm and her determination to get something done to make the road safer for pedestrians”.

Five years on, Ginie Moss feels a peace of mind when her children walk to and back from school on their own. She said: “I’m delighted to hear that residents in the Furrows estate may soon get another crossing near to them. It’s very difficult crossing the road there and people have raised this issue repeatedly. The County Council are in the early stages of planning the new crossing.”

Scouting for success

Cubs and scouts in the Cotswolds have just benefited from a grant from the County Council.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson gave £1,000 to the Northleach scouts and cubs last year as part of the Council’s ‘Children’s and Young People’s Activity Fund’.

He says that helping local voluntary organisations is vital:

“I’ve worked with parish and town councils over the last 12 months to get funding to specific groups and activities. The cubs and scouts are thriving in our area and the cash helps promote healthy lifestyles.”

Tony Dale, Commissioner, North Cotswold District Scouts, is delighted with the grant:

“We allocated the money to a new Patrol Tent – full canvas, lasts 25 years, sleeps 10 scouts. We also bought support equipment including tables and were able to support a Community Camp in 2017 to invite a wider, more diverse group of parents and children into scouting.

“This was very successful and we now have a new Beaver Colony in Northleach with 10 beavers; two new ‘BaME’ recruits in scouts and cubs – and across Northleach scouting we now have an almost 50/50 gender balance in the children and amongst the leaders. I am so pleased that this taxpayer money has achieved a real difference!  Scouting grew by 8% in this District during 2017 compared to 4% in Gloucestershire and 1% nationally – so we are doing well!”

The Council’s cutting out plastics and here’s how

An albatross unwittingly feeding plastic to their young. A sea turtle hopelessly ensnared in floating debris. The most celebrated and watched programme of 2017 was also the most sobering.

‘Blue Planet II’ brought to life the staggering impact that our consumerist, throwaway culture is having on our seas.  It’s estimated that 9 million tonnes of plastic waste enters our seas and oceans every year, causing huge damage to marine life and the environment. Single-use plastics (SUPs), such as straws, plastic bottles and disposable coffee cups are not widely recycled, and can take up to 900 years to degrade, breaking into fragments that enter the food chain.

At the county council meeting last week, Lib Dems and Greens joined forces in calling for Gloucestershire County Council to become a SUP-free council by 2019, ensuring that all items such as bottles and cutlery are replaced with sustainable alternatives.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach), who seconded the motion, said, “The prevalence of plastic in our seas and oceans is an incredibly important issue. The success of the ‘plastic bag levy’, brought in during the coalition government, was a relatively minor move that has led to an 85% reduction in disposable plastic bag usage.

“I was really pleased to support Cllr Eva Ward on this issue but was saddened that the Conservatives chose to push the timescales back so that in effect GCC won’t become fully SUP-free until 2025. They should have been braver.

“Still, at least we got some action and the journey to less plastic pollution started here!”

‘Cut your speed’ say Bourton residents

Residents in Bourton are hoping a new road feature will help slow down speeding drivers.

A speed gate now greets motorists as they enter the village along the Rissington Road following ongoing concerns for residents who live along that stretch of highway.

There have been regular speed checks by the ‘Community Speedwatch’ team which show a large but persistent number of drivers exceeding the 30mph limit.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson first discussed these issues with residents a year ago at an on site meeting and agreed to fund a set of gates at the end of the village. These are a feature of some other villages in the Cotswolds and the aim is to alert drivers to the fact they’re entering a village environment and a lower speed limit.

The gates have been funded by Paul with the small pot of money he gets each year to fund highways projects:

“This is really good news. Since we all met last year, a really good Speedwatch team has been set up in the village and a 20mph zone has been installed in the central village area. Of course, these individual measures help promote road safety but I know a lot of villagers feel strongly about this and want to feel safer as they cross the roads, walk on pavements with children and cycle.”

Thumbs up to Missing Link consultation

A 6 week consultation has started into 2 options to solve the A417 Missing Link at the Air Balloon.

Paul Hodgkinson (centre) with local councillors Iain Dobie and Nigel Robbins.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the County Council Liberal Democrats (Bourton & Northleach), represents part of the A417 and attended the launch of the Missing Link options consultation at the Star College last week:

“After years of campaigning it was a sweet moment to see real options on the table at last to fix the gridlock, pollution and accident record at the Air Balloon.

“The Liberal Democrats in Gloucestershire are totally committed to solving this decades old issue and to get us all moving again at the blackspot. It impacts on all parts of our county. Both of the options being presented are do-able and I’m now going to speak to residents and parish councils about their views. It’s important to note that the consultation states that construction will not start until mid 2021 – we will do our bit to ensure the Government doesn’t let this slip.”

You can look at the detailed options and give feedback on the proposals before 29 March 2018 here: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a417-missing-link/