Wanted: Local Plan

Fields across the Cotswolds are at risk from unplanned development thanks to the Cotswolds Tories.

That’s the latest news, as the Conservative-run Cotswold District Council (CDC) falls behind around 70% of districts which have a draft ‘Local Plan’ in place – the blueprint which dictates where development should go.

Now, in breaking news, the Council has also been criticised by planning inspectors for failing to have enough housing in the pipeline to satisfy demand (called a ‘5 year housing supply’).

Planning bosses in Bristol overturned a decision not to allow new housing in Fairford by waving through another large development there despite opposition locally. Their main reason was CDC’s lack of a proper housing supply.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Prospective MP for the Cotswolds, is leading the fight to protect our countryside:

“When you consider that our area is unique and special, it beggars belief that the current MP and those who run our local Council have allowed this situation to happen.

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

Paul Hodgkinson (right) is fighting to protect our countryside

“They knew years ago that a new Local Plan was needed but have put developers in the driving seat by leaving the Cotswolds exposed.

“Instead of allowing – where practical – small-scale developments to be built in villages across the district which have asked for them, the Tories have left the gate wide open.

“Now, our unique communities like Bourton, Stow, Tetbury and Moreton, as well as Cirencester, are faced with lots of extra houses but with no real improvement in services.”

“Whilst thousands of holiday homes have been built in our area by CDC, the housing crisis gets worse. The Cotswolds has the biggest gap between wages and house prices outside London, so something has to change.

“The emphasis now should be on affordable homes in the right places and where they are needed.

“That will help people live near to their families and friends instead of being forced to move away.”

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’.

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.”