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LIB DEMS SECURE WINS FOR TRANSPORT AND PUBLIC HEALTH

After an eventful budget setting day at Shire Hall, Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats managed to secure £649,000 of amendments to Gloucestershire County Council’s budget.

More cash for bus services was one of the positives from the Lib Dem budget

Successful changes to the budget included more money for local highway priorities, £150,000 to subsidise public transport, significant extra funding for public health priorities and a cancelling of cuts to services for people with physical disabilities.

The full breakdown of Liberal Democrat successes is:

  • £265,000 additional funding for local highway priorities
  • £150,000 to subsidise public transport that isn’t self-supporting
  • £134,000 of cuts to services for people with a physical disabilities, scrapped
  • £50,000 of funding to train more people in suicide prevention
  • £50,000 to promote sexual health testing

Speaking on a successful day at the office, Cllr Hodgkinson, Lib Dem Group Leader, said:

“I am delighted that we have secured a raft of changes to the Conservative budget which will make a real difference to people’s lives. With huge year-on-year cuts to the Public Health budget, I am particularly pleased that we will be investing an additional £100,000 into key priorities; training frontline staff in suicide prevention and promoting sexual health testing.

“It is, however, disappointing to see that the Conservatives could not bring themselves to row back on ill-judged decisions on recycling centres and permit parking. I am sure the residents of Gloucestershire will make their dissatisfaction known in years to come.”

“Show us your potholes!”

Responding to the public’s dissatisfaction with the state of Gloucestershire’s roads, the Liberal Democrats are looking to get the worst potholes fixed fast by bringing these straight to the Highways Team.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has regularly campaigned for improved funding for our county’s roads and pavements, bringing a motion to the council back in May 2018 calling for the national government to fund the county’s roads properly.

While continuing to campaign for more money for Highways, the team are also looking to solve residents’ outstanding pothole issues. In addition Paul’s also keen to hear about any problems with footpaths, cycle lanes or bus services.

To let us know about the highways issues that matter to you, please visit our feedback page.

Paul said:

“Speaking to residents on the doorstep it is clear that despite the Conservative’s spin on road repairs, or even the Brexit chaos facing our country, the state of our roads is still one of the biggest concerns to local people.

“Residents across the county are sick and tired our potholed roads; they are sick of the damage hitting a pothole can do to them, their bikes or their cars.  That’s why we are launching our “Show us your potholes” campaign to help residents get  potholes sorted by bringing these straight to the Highways Team at Gloucestershire County Council.

“Take part in our online survey or tweet us with #ShowUsYourPotholes to get involved.”

Serving up healthy lunches at North Cerney Primary School

A 2013 study, written by the Insitute for Fiscal Studies, the National Centre for Social Research and the Brysom Purdon Social Research, showed that universal free school meals “had a significant positive impact on attainment”, as well as easing the pressure on household budgets.

Packed lunches are less likely to meet nutritional standards, according to a 2010 study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, which found that just 1% of packed lunches met the nutritional standards set for school lunches.

This month saw the 25th National School Meals Week.  Organised jointly by the school meals industry and the Soil Association’s Food For Life campaign, it celebrated all that is great about school food. 14 November was also Roast Dinner Day.

As part of the Silver Jubilee activities, Cllrs Paul Hodgkinson and Jenny Forde were invited to North Cerney Primary School on Wednesday to join the pupils for a roast lunch they themselves prepared.

Speaking at the lunch, Cllr Hodgkinson (Gloucestershire County Council, Bourton and Northleach) said:

“I was delighted to be invited to join the students at North Cerney Primary School for a delicious roast dinner.  Eating a nutritional lunch – either prepared by the school, local caterers or homemade – is shown to be critical for a child’s educational attainment and for tackling the growing challenge of childhood obesity.

“The introduction of free school meals for all children, in reception to year 2, in 2014, highlighted the values of the Liberal Democrats in government – of ensuring that every child has the best possible start in life.”

Cllr Jenny Forde (Cotswold District Council, Chedworth & Churn Valley) remarked:

“It’s no surprise that there’s a direct link between inadequate nutrition and low concentration levels, often the school lunch can be the only sit-down meal that children get. What we put in their bellies is almost as important as what we put in their heads!”

 

Reverse the recycling centre cuts!

All county-run recycling centres are now closed one day a week on the following days:

  • Tuesdays: Fosse Cross (Cirencester) and Oak Quarry (Coleford)
  • Wednesdays: Pyke Quarry (Horsley near Stroud) and Wingmoor Farm (Bishops Cleeve)
  • Thursdays: Hempsted (Gloucester).

The centres have also had their opening hours reduced by more than three hours a day. Previously they were open from 9am to 6:15pm, however this has now changed to 10am-4pm – a reduction of more than 35 per cent each day!

All this has been decided with no consultation with the public or with the six district councils.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson and Cllr Jenny Forde think reducing access to recycling facilities is wrong and will only serve to frustrate those trying to do the right thing by recycling their waste, who turn up to find their local centre closed.

WE WANT TO MAKE THE CONSERVATIVES REVERSE THESE RECYCLING CUTS! 

Sign our petition below to help us reverse this decision in next year’s budget:

https://www.gloslibdems.org.uk/recycling_petition

 

Old A40 set to re-open

After 4 years left closed due to a land slippage, a Cotswolds road has been given the chance for a brand new lease of life.

The Old A40 links villages including Compton Abdale and Hazleton to Northleach and has been the subject of a lively campaign to get it re-opened. 500 people signed a petition organised by Cllr Paul Hodgkinson to allow traffic onto the road again and he presented this to County Council bosses in 2016.

The road has become a target for joy riders and a travellers’ encampment recently which has prompted renewed calls to sort the situation out.

Now, a proposal put forward by Highways will see traffic being allowed through in one new lane near to the slippage area whilst the rest of the road will have two way traffic. The works will be carried out so that cars can start driving the road next Spring.

Originally it was suggested by the County Council that local parish and town councils should contribute to the scheme but the move proved controversial with residents pointing out that they already paid council tax for road repairs. But yesterday Highways stepped in to help fully fund the new project.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (GCC, Bourton and Northleach) says that re-opening the road is important to residents in the Cotswolds:

“After discussions with the County Council Leader, I have a commitment to get the road open again and it is really good news. This is a perfect example of cross-party working to get things done.

“We have now pieced together the money to get this fixed with the County Council paying the lion’s share. I’ve pledged £17,000 from the small Highways Local fund and the Community Grant Fund I get each year. And a generous local organisation has pledged another £5,000.

“A lot of people have already been in touch with me telling me how pleased they are that the road will be open again within six months. This is a good day for local people power and I’d like to thank all those who supported the campaign to get this re-opened.”

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.