Broken Promise, Broken Roads

Today, Gloucestershire County Council’s Conservative bosses voted to slash money for road repairs.

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The Council’s Cabinet has put forward a budget which cuts money going to highways by over £2 million in the coming year.

Challenging the decision, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach) said:

“In the last County Council elections in 2013 the Tories pledged to ‘invest more in our roads’. Sadly today they have broken that promise.

“We’re all painfully aware of how our roads are deteriorating at the end of a long, wet winter. Potholes are popping up all over the place.

“This is always the thing residents raise with me most. In fact, the Council’s own budget consultation shows that it’s one of the Top 5 things people want money spent on.

“Yet now we see a huge cut in the money going to fix our pavements and streets. It’s not rocket science to see that money could be found from other budgets to fix the potholes properly.

“I call now for an immediate U turn on this cut. Otherwise it is a case of ‘Broken promise, broken roads.’

 

Air Balloon solution stalling

Last year the Department of Transport approved funding to Highways England for fixing the A417 ‘Missing Link’, as part of a £15 billion countrywide road improvement scheme, but it has now been confirmed that a solution will not be delivered before 2021.

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Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bouton-On-the-Water and Northleach) raised the issue this week with a Senior County Council Officer and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in his capacity as Chairman of the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said: “Many of us have spent years lobbying for a solution to the triple problems at the A417 – air pollution, gridlock and accidents. The outgoing Coalition Government committed to a sum of £250 million to be allocated to solving the Missing Link last December.

“Now, the new Government appears to be moving the goalposts. Not only do we now have no absolute commitment to spending money on a solution but the date for actual works is moving back beyond 2021.

A report from the LEP presented to the county’s council leaders this week stated that ‘..Highways England say any delivery of A417 solution is not in current funding programme to 2021’.

Cllr Hodgkinson, who represents part of the area covered by the A417 added: “Fixing the A417 does not feature on Highways England’s current funding programme up to 2021 and I’ve also seen no guarantees that it’ll feature on any programme after 2021 either.

“This isn’t on. We want a clear and definite commitment and total clarity about when works will start.”

Cllr Nigel Robbins (LD: Cirencester Beeches) who represents another part of the A417 said: “How many more fatalities are going to happen on this stretch of road before something is finally delivered? Fixing the A417 is vital in cutting accidents and reducing congestion and pollution levels.

“More than 6,600 people pledged their support in January 2014 when it seemed we had finally turned a corner in delivering a solution.

 “Residents of Gloucestershire deserve certainty and the timetable for delivering a solution to fixing the A417 missing link is slipping. I’m calling for more to be done to get it back on track.”

“We’ll continue to campaign to get the missing link fixed.”

Call to speed up broadband roll out

Having problems downloading and buffering?

rural broadband

At the recent County Council Environment Scrutiny Committee Cllr Paul Hodgkinson raised the subject of faster broadband again.

This was on the back of an update at the meeting from Shire Hall bosses about the faster broadband roll out in the Cotswolds.

Paul said: “The situation is that there is a current roll out by Fastershire across Gloucestershire which will hook up 90% of properties to faster broadband by the end of the year.

“I asked what will happen to the remaining 10% of properties. The story here is that a new contract for the remaining 10% is being put out to tender and this will be awarded by GCC next month. Three companies have applied for this.

“Once the contract has been awarded the new provider will start hooking up as many of the remaining 10% of properties as possible.

“This is a really key issue for residents and businesses in the Cotswolds. My own internet speed is painfully slow – I work from home some of the time and its a real barrier to that. I am lucky to get 1.5 mbps at fastest!

This week I am meeting with residents in Colesbourne, Coberley and Elkstone to work out how we can push for a commitment to a better service.

Now Paul has asked County bosses for a detailed map of where the final 10% roll out will go and will be communicating that to residents.

Pull your socks up, roads contractor told

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson received cross-party support yesterday for a call to monitor more closely Gloucestershire’s highways contract with Amey. He also received backing to continue imposing financial penalties if performance targets are not consistently achieved in the upcoming 2015/2016 financial year.

The long awaited debate coinciding with World Pothole Day regarding the condition of Gloucestershire roads was finally discussed with contributions made from elected members across all political parties.

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Shadow Cabinet Member for Highways and Flood, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (LD: Bourton-on-the-water and Northleach) who led the call said that:

“This debate has been a long time coming, but I’m pleased that elected representatives have finally had a chance to voice in public their concerns and frustrations regarding the county’s highways contract with Amey.

“The very fact that my request for closer monitoring of the contract and for financial penalties to be imposed if they don’t keep up with high performance has received such support from all sides of the chamber tells me that there are still many problems that need addressing.

“I’m particularly pleased that the Cabinet Member for Highways has finally taken off his ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ to see that something needs to be done. It is time that Amey pulled up their socks and get on with the job that Gloucestershire’s residents, businesses and visitors all deserve.

 

Call for urgent action on notorious traffic blackspot

The saga of traffic gridlock at the notorious Air Balloon roundabout in the Cotswolds took another turn this week.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is calling for urgent action at the Air Balloon roundabout

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson says enough is enough at the Air Balloon roundabout (photo courtesy of Wilts & Glos Standard)

Gloucestershire County Council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee has written to the Highways Agency asking for progress to be made on the A417 ‘Missing Link’ and finding a solution to the traffic and pollution problems.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton & Northleach) is a member of that committee and helped to create the letter with other councillors on the committee.

He led the campaign earlier this year against a proposal to stop drivers turning right at the roundabout and now wants a long term solution:

“After the debacle of the ‘no right turn’ suggestion earlier this year, we are left with ever-increasing traffic jams at the Air Balloon, air pollution issues and a blot on the local economy.

“What this letter is doing is asking the Highways Agency to come up with a proper solution and to engage with councillors and residents. We have waited too long and patience has run out.

“One of the residents at the Air Balloon has moved out, having sold their property for a song. They had had enough of bad health caused by the pollution. The Highways Agency has a duty to act quickly for the sake of the other resident who is left there.”

The County’s Environment Committee is hoping for a positive response to the latest initiative.

County Council Elections – May 2nd

On Thursday May 2 I’m putting myself forward to be the next county councillor for our area.

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I’m already an experienced Cotswold District Councillor for the last 6 years and am standing for the Northleach & Bourton area. This also includes the Churn Valley, Chedworth and Withington, Andoversford and Shipton areas.

I have a record of action. I led the campaign to stop the crazy Air Balloon roundabout proposals,  fought to bring in kerbside plastics recycling and have campaigned to reduce speeds along the A435, A436 and through our villages.

My priorities are:

  • Mending our roads properly – the County Council has failed spectacularly to do this
  • Keeping our greenfields intact whilst bringing empty properties back into use for affordable housing
  • Lowering the car parking charges across the Cotswolds
  • Supporting our village schools
  • Connecting with residents to make sure their concerns are listened to rather than neglected by the Council.

I’ve lived in the Cotswolds for 25 years. Now, I would be honoured to have your support on May 2.

Take a look at my campaign video here: http://vimeo.com/62418274

Thank you,

Paul Hodgkinson

 

County Council does U Turn at Air Balloon Roundabout

News today that the Conservative administration at Gloucestershire County Council has been persuaded to abandon support for the controversial Highways Agency plans to stop vehicles turning right at the Air Balloon pub roundabout has been welcomed.

L to R: Nigel Robbins, Jane Edwards and Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at the Air Balloon junction.

L to R: Nigel Robbins, Jane Edwards and Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at the Air Balloon junction.

The plans drafted by the Highways Agency were – until now – supported by the County Council, following a meeting last Spring between County Council Leader Mark Hawthorne and Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Under the plans, vehicles travelling along the A417 from Cirencester would be forced to turn left down the hill towards the A46 Shurdington Road cutting off direct access to the A436 and Leckhampton Hill.

Cotswold District Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) has led the campaign against the proposals in the Cotswolds, “I’m glad the County Council has seen sense at last. Many Cotswolds residents will be relieved to hear that the campaign against the trial taking place has made a difference but what is so worrying is that those running the County Council had such little thought for our area when they agreed to back this silly idea.”

“Why did we need to go through all this trouble in the first place? The Council should never have agreed to the proposal nor should it ever have put money towards it.”A

“Now, the Highways Agency need to bite the bullet and drop the scheme. I’m meeting them on Friday February 22 in Bristol and will tell them this in no uncertain terms.”  

 

 

Pothole hell

After the frosts of the winter, very low temperatures in February dipping to minus -13c in the Cotswolds and recent rain the roads have taken a battering.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson at one of the offending potholes in the Churn Valley

Lots of residents are reporting damaging potholes on roads in the area.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is concerned about the way potholes are mended, “My observation is that – although Glos County Council Highways repair the damage when requested to – alot of repairs seem to quickly turn back into potholes again.”

Surely in the longer run it would be better value if the Highways crews patched the bigger area around the pothole to make sure it doesn’t crumble so quickly. The patching of areas seems to be much more effective than simply filling the pothole with tarmac.”

If you spot a bad piece of road you can contact Glos Highways direct via http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=8611 or ring 08000 514514.

Alternatively, if you don’t get the response you’re looking for, contact Paul direct and he’ll ask Highways to sort it.