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/

Pothole hell

As the winter drags on, there’s one thing you can’t avoid on Gloucestershire’s roads – potholes.

Now, with complaints from residents rising, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is challenging the County Council to sort out the roads properly.

He’s submitted a question which will be answered at the next County Council meeting on 14 February:

‘With the number of potholes at an alarming level on the back of a colder winter, residents are rightly angry at bills for shredded tyres and damaged suspension. We are all spending time swerving to avoid craters in the road, making driving dangerous and unpredictable. New ways of repairing roads are being launched including using plastic instead of tarmac – which not only lasts much longer but reuses plastics which have been much in the news recently as polluting the planet.

“I’m asking highways bosses whether they will be actively looking at using plastics, thereby promoting reuse and stopping this yearly cycle of unsafe road surfaces.

“In my view no amount of warm words from the County Council’s Conservative administration can cover up the dire state of our roads and pavements. Every year we face these unsafe roads at the end of winter yet nothing changes.”

Call for transparency over A417 consultation

Liberal Democrats in Gloucestershire are calling for clarity on how local communities will be involved in the development of vital plans to solve the A417 ‘Missing Link’.

The Air Balloon roundabout has huge amounts of traffic and is a notorious blackspot for accidents and pollution

A comprehensive consultation area, involvement of hard to reach groups and briefings for local councils are among the demands being made by councillors Paul Hodgkinson, Steve Jordan and Max Wilkinson.

Gloucestershire County Council has briefed that the consultation for Highways England’s project will take place in the first two months of this year.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for:

  • a consultation zone to reflect the national significance of the project – including all of Cheltenham and all nearby  villages in the Cotswolds and Tewkesbury districts
  • a comprehensive programme of consultation events so local people can have their say
  • a thorough strategy for ensuring hard to reach groups can take part, including marginalised communities and time-poor working people
  • briefings for all impacted local councils, including Cheltenham Borough Council and Cotswold District Council
  • involvement for parish councils, including offers of community benefits

So far, the county council has closely guarded the details of the A417 proposals and the accompanying consultation has been delayed.

It is thought people will find out more within the next two months, including potential routes.

However, aside from the county council cabinet members, local councils have so far been kept in the dark.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council Lib Democrats, represents part of the A417 and says there needs to be as wide a consultation as possible: “We’ve waited so long for this road to be built so it’s important that everyone knows what is going on and has a chance to comment on the proposals.”

Cllr Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, added: “As a Council we have supported plans to resolve the ‘Missing Link’ from the start. It is important that there is an open and comprehensive consultation to make sure the details are right.”

Max Wilkinson, Cheltenham Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate, said: “This is a vital project for the future of Cheltenham and the wider county, so we’re calling for Highways England and the county council to ensure local people are fully involved.”

“That means a proper schedule of events and publicity to inform everyone about the proposals – including the time-poor working people who use the road to commute to work.”

 

Why is new crossing already closed?

A new zebra crossing in Bourton on the Water has already been closed – and people are asking why.

The crossing, which was opened at the same time as the new Co-Op store in the village, helps residents get across Station Road safely from the shop to homes.

Now, just a month after it was opened, ‘crossing not in use’ signs have gone up and the belisha beacons have been shrouded in orange hoods.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton and Northleach) was surprised and dismayed when he heard the news:

“It is crazy to shut it after it has been open since the new Co-Op was opened weeks ago! I gather it is because the developer who built the new shop didn’t alert the County Council who in turn couldn’t get the proper legal process and consultation in place in order to install it.

“This really is bureaucracy gone mad and people aren’t happy. The crossing is on Station Road and is very well used by residents and students from the Cotswold School. In fact people are still using the crossing and cars are still stopping. Everyone is confused!

“I’ve now contacted highways bosses and have asked them to sort out the situation as quickly as possible.”

New facilities for Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy

There’s been a £0.754 million cash injection into improving a Cotswold school. 

Paul Hodgkinson with children at Bourton Primary School’s Trim Trail

Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy will use this much needed funding to expand its core facilities. The school will build a brand new purpose built professional kitchen and extend the existing school hall to provide for more children.

This work will allow the school to create space for a new classroom and create additional places for children in the area as new homes are being built.

John Jones, head teacher of Bourton-on-the-Water Primary Academy, said: “With the expansion of the village and the expectation for the school to increase its intake, it is vital that changes to facilities are made to make sure high quality educational provision.

“This funding has allowed us to develop areas that we could not have done without it.”

Gloucestershire County Council is managing the project alongside the school and developer Speller Metcalfe. The improvements are due to be completed by the summer of 2018.

The money comes from s106 funding from developers as part of planning permission. This can be used in the local area for things like school expansions, community facilities or road improvements.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, local member for Bourton-on-the-Water, said: “ There is a need for extra places at Bourton Primary Academy with the village expanding quickly, so this is excellent news for the local community.

“This section 106 funding will help them to get started on their expansion plans, which is something the school has been wanting to do for a while.”

It starts with me

Councillors in Gloucestershire are backing a campaign to promote healthy living which starts this week.

The campaign promotes the importance of regular HIV testing and is co-ordinated by HIV Prevention England (HPE) with support and participation from organisations in the public, statutory and private sectors.

Liberal Democrat County Council Leader, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, has today publicly spoken out on the importance of regular HIV testing as National HIV Testing Week starts on Saturday 18th November.

Cllr Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach) says that the campaign is all about being proactive with your own health:

“I fully support the ‘It starts with me’ campaign. Data shows that in 2016 there were 10,268 HIV tests carried out in sexual health clinics in Gloucestershire. The actual number of tests is likely to be higher as this figure does not include all HIV tests carried out in GP surgeries in the county, but it is still only 2% of the estimated 492,000 adult population aged 18 and over living in the county.

“I have personally been tested for HIV in the last couple of months and I would strongly encourage people to be tested too.

“I am pleased that my test results came back negative, but it cannot be underestimated that regular testing is key in diagnosing and treating Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) promptly.

“Poor sexual health has a direct impact on an individual’s wellbeing. Many STIs, if left undiagnosed, can lead to severe health complications.

“It is better to be safe than sorry and I would therefore encourage anyone who is sexually active to get tested today.”

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Public Health, Cllr Iain Dobie (Leckhampton & Warden Hill), also said:

“Gloucestershire County Council has responsibility for improving the health of the county’s local population and for providing public health services including sexual health services.

“This includes the testing and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the provision of contraception services.

“The ultimate goal of this campaign is to increase regular HIV testing, which has my full support.”