‘Don’t cut the grant to the Citizens Advice Bureau’ say Lib Dems

dont-cut-cab-grant

Liberal Democrats on Gloucester City Council are to oppose plans by the Tory administration to cut the grant to the Gloucester & District Citizens Advice Bureau by half. The have demanded that the grant of £62,000 is retained.

The Lib Dems point out that the grant is already £48,000 smaller that it was in 2011 when the annual funding the CAB received was £110,000. If the grant reduction goes ahead the Gloucester CAB will only get £31,000 from the city council next year. This could mean the Bureau closing one to one and half days a week.

Lib Dem leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “The proposal to cut the CAB grant again is mean spirited. The CAB does a brilliant job. It helps people in need. Last year the Bureau dealt with 8,138 clients. That is incredibly good value at £7.62 per client. Reducing the grant to £31,000 will severely harm the effectiveness of the service the CAB provides in Gloucester. It could mean the Bureau closing for one day a week. I say enough is enough, don’t cut the grant to the CAB. It must be kept at £62,000.”

Lib Dem spokesperson for Communities & Neighbourhoods, Cllr. Howard Hyman said: “The proposed cuts to the funding of the CAB are a false economy. For every pound spent many more pounds are saved in the costs to the council, the NHS and other agencies in dealing with the effects of people having nowhere else to turn. The CAB is more than a place to seek comfort. It is a vital lifeline to many people in Gloucester. Every day desperate people walk through the doors of the CAB and are helped by highly trained and caring volunteers with many kinds of concerns such as effects of welfare reforms, rent arrears, debt advice, domestic violence and helping those who are now being denied justice because of the changes to legal aid.”

Lib Dems condemn the loss of sixty jobs at Gloucester City Council

Jeremy Hilton & Declan Wilson give thumbs down to 60 job losses at GCC

Jeremy Hilton & Declan Wilson give thumbs down to 60 job losses at GCC

Liberal Democrats have announced their opposition to the loss of 60 jobs at Gloucester City Council. They have condemned the move which sees the number of staff employed dropping by 24% from the current establishment. The proposal to axe 60 job comes from the Conservatives who control the council.

Gloucester City Council is to see its funding from the Conservative government cut by £1.755m. Already the council has failed to fill 30 vacancies and another 30 jobs will be lost next year. Liberal Democrat councillors have said the staff shortages have led to delays and non-delivery of vital improvement projects.

Lib Dem leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “The loss of so many jobs will have a major impact on council services. Sixty fulltime jobs going equates to 102,120 hours of support for key projects being lost forever. Already we are suffering from a diminished service from the council and it is going to get worse. Important improvement projects will not get done or will be delayed. It’s depressing. The Tories seem hooked on perpetual austerity.”

Lib Dem Deputy leader, Cllr. Declan Wilson said: “The blame for the loss of so many jobs must be shared between the Conservatives on the council and at Westminster. Budget cuts go on forever. This year the funding from Whitehall is being slashed by 18%. This is grossly unfair. On top of that we have had mismanagement of the council’s finances by the Tories leading to extra avoidable costs. The leader should apologise personally to the staff that will lose their jobs.”

Garden Waste Tax – Daylight Robbery say Gloucester Lib Dems

Jeremy Hilton with GCC garden waste bin subject to a 22% increase in collection charge

Jeremy Hilton with GCC garden waste bin subject to a 22% increase in collection charge

Gloucester Liberal Democrats have condemned the recent announcement by the Conservative controlled city council that charges for collecting garden waste are going up by 22%. Lib Dems have described the ‘garden waste tax’ as ‘daylight robbery’. They blame the Conservative council and government in equal proportion.
The current charge for garden waste collection is £36 per year. The charge was introduced in 2011 to cover the cost of collection on this non-statutory service. Lib Dems discovered in 2016 that the council was profiteering from the collection by around £6 per bin, making a profit of £110,000 a year. The Tories now propose to increase the charge to £44.
Lib Dem leader, Jeremy Hilton said: “Last year we tried to reduce the charge to £31 to just cover the cost of collection. Both Labour and Tory councillors rejected our proposal. Now the Conservatives plan to increase the charge to £44. This is a tax on responsible householders who recycle their garden waste. It’s daylight robbery.”
Lib Dem Deputy leader, Declan Wilson said: “The council’s finances are dire and the Tories are penalising responsible householders. We should be encouraging recycling not taxing it. The Tories will be making a profit of £13 on every green bin. This a profit margin of 30%. Local gardeners are going to have to empty their pockets to cover the financial mismanagement of the council by the Conservatives. It’s unfair.”

Liberal Democrats call for more investment in Gloucester’s footways

Jeremy Hilton points out the poor state of the footway along Priory Road

Jeremy Hilton points out the poor state of the footway along Priory Road

Gloucester City Council on the 1st of December will debate the state of the city’s footways and the amount of money the Conservative led county council spends annually on resurfacing. The motion proposed by the Liberal Democrat group will call on the county council (the highway authority) to increase its capital footway budget from the £83,000 being spent this year.

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“The state of many of the footways in Gloucester is shocking, in particular on our post-war housing estates and the older parts of the city. These footpaths are decades old and they need resurfacing rather than patching. The funds allocated by the Conservative run county council on resurfacing are inadequate. The county council must increase spending on footway repairs next year and beyond.”

Liberal Democrats have been critical about the Tories who have recently agreed to spend a £1m on new telephones for Shire Hall and have given contractors UBB £30m in a cash gift to build the waste incinerator at Javelin Park. Money the Lib Dems say could have been better spend on repairing our roads and footpaths.

Cllr. Emily Ryall who will second the motion said:

“It is unacceptable that the Conservative run county council do not see it as a priority to spend taxpayers’ money on ensuring that our pavements and footpaths are safe and fit for purpose. I have heard from residents in my ward of Elmbridge who struggle to manoeuvre wheelchairs, and have suffered twisted ankles and even head injuries from falling, due to uneven and broken surfaces. These residents deserve better.”

Ends….

Motion – poor maintenance of footways in Gloucester

“This council expresses its deep concern about the state of many of the footways in Gloucester, noting that the county council has only budgeted to spend £83,000 from its capital budget on footways repairs within the city council boundaries this financial year.

This council notes that there are many footpaths, particularly on post-war housing estates, that are in desperate need of resurfacing.

This council therefore calls on Gloucestershire County Council to increase its capital spending on footway repairs within Gloucester for the 2017/18 council year and beyond.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton
Seconded by Emily Ryall

Liberals choose Linda Castle for the Longlevens By-election

Jeremy Hilton & Linda Castle discuss future education needs at former Bishop's College site

Jeremy Hilton & Linda Castle discuss future education needs at former Bishop’s College site

Local resident Linda Castle has been selected by the Liberal Democrats to be its candidate in the Longlevens by-election.

Linda has lived in Longlevens almost her whole life.

The married mother of two, who works as an IT trainer for the NHS, grew up in Longlevens, went to Longlevens infant, junior and secondary schools and raised her family in Longlevens.

The Longlevens by-election will be held on Thursday November 3 following the death of Conservative city councillor Jim Porter in August.

Linda said: “I am so proud to be standing for election to represent Longlevens – the area where I grew up.

“I know the area well and I am determined to speak up for Longlevens residents at the city council.

“I am campaigning for improvements to our roads and pavements in Longlevens, which are in a mess due to inaction by the Conservatives at Shire Hall.

“I am determined to make sure the proposals by the Boundary Commission to put Longlevens back into Gloucester are adopted.

“I am also fighting to ensure that residents in Longlevens do not suffer from the effects of thousands of new homes being built on the outskirts of Gloucester, such as pressure on the local road network, doctors’ surgeries and schools.”

After leaving school Linda worked for the CEGB in finance before joining the NHS.

In recent years Linda has been involved in the community campaign over the expansion of the Oxstalls campus and also wants to see the former Bishop’s College site retained for educational use.

Linda was also treasurer of the Gloucester Dyslexia Association for four years. She is married to Ian, whose father was a Liberal councillor in Tewkesbury.

She was a member of a residents’ campaign group that opposed the expansion of the Oxstalls campus by the University of Gloucestershire. Linda also wants to see the Bishops’ College site retained for educational use.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said: “Linda will make an excellent councillor for Longlevens on the city council.

“She is a first class candidate and knows Longlevens very well having lived there for many years. She is full of enthusiasm and energy and is the breath of fresh air that Longlevens needs.

“We’ve been speaking to residents and they are pleased that Linda is interested in hearing what they have to say.

“Only Linda can beat the Conservatives in Longlevens and by supporting the Liberal Democrats on November 3, local residents can send a really strong message to the Conservatives in Gloucester that they have had enough of the way they run the city and county councils.

“The Conservatives have run out of steam in Longlevens and Gloucester. Regeneration has stalled and our city is stagnating.”

The Siege of Gloucester (1643) the city can do more commemorate

Gloucester City Council (29 Sept) will debate how the city could better celebrate and remember the events of 1643, when the citizens of Gloucester defended the parliamentary garrison against the royalist forces during the first English Civil War. The Liberal Democrat group will propose the motion.

From 10th August to 5th September 1643 the army of King Charles I besieged Gloucester. The city held out for just short of a month under the leadership of Colonel Massie until it was relieved by parliamentary troops under the command of the Earl of Essex. This was a pivotal turning point in the civil war.

Colonel Massie

Colonel Massie

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton who is to propose the motion said: “The revival of Gloucester Day and the parade is one way in which the city remembers the events of 1643 when our ancestors fought on the side of parliament. It was a crucial turning point in the English Civil War. We should be proud of this point in our history. Gloucester fought for parliament and democracy. That is why I am proposing that we set up a cross party working group to see how we can better remember and commemorate the Siege of Gloucester. We should consult the public as well.”

The seconder of the motion Cllr Joanne Brown said: “I well remember taking part in the first Gloucester Day parade of the modern era in 2009 and how it brought home to me the great spirit and strong will of the people of Gloucester who stood together during the siege of 1643. Today we can feel proud of the pivotal role our city played in changing the course of the Civil War and I believe that we can do even more to remember and commemorate the events of the siege.”

Ends….

Text of the notice of motion

“This council notes that Gloucester Day is a recently reinstated annual day of celebration of the city’s history and culture.

Gloucester Day was first held in the modern era on 5th September 2009, but originally dates from the lifting of the Siege of Gloucester in 1643, during which the city held out against royalist forces during the First English Civil War. The lifting of the siege was celebrated annually in the city for years afterwards but died out in the nineteenth century.

This council thanks the organisers of this year’s Gloucester Day celebrations and wishes them well in planning the 2017 celebrations.

This council also remembers the sacrifice and determination of the people of Gloucester as they defended the parliamentary garrison (10th August to 5th September 1643) against the besieging army of King Charles I. The siege ended with the arrival of a relieving parliamentary army under the Earl of Essex.

This council recognises that the Siege of Gloucester is one of the most important events in the history of this city of which we should all be proud and that we agree to set up a cross party working group to consider what else we can do to remember and commemorate the events of 1643.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton
Seconded by Joanne Brown

Longlevens set to return to Gloucester

Longlevens will be represented by Gloucester’s MP if proposals by the Boundary Commission are approved.

The Liberal Democrats launched a petition earlier this year to show the strength of feeling that Longlevens should be represented by Gloucester’s MP rather than Tewkesbury’s.

A couple of hundred local people signed the petition – both online and in the Lib Dem Spotlight newsletters – saying identified more with Gloucester than Tewkesbury.

Among the comments posted by people signing the petition on the change.org website, include: “This ludicrous situation has to change. Longlevens is part and parcel of GLOUCESTER, not Tewkesbury.”

Another said: “I live within the City of Gloucester and wish to be represented by the City MP. It makes no sense to be represented by a town MP 12 miles away.”

Today the Boundary Commission, the independent agency that reviews Parliamentary boundaries, published its draft proposals to cut the number of MPs in England by 32 to 501.

In Gloucester, the Boundary Commission has proposed putting Longlevens back into Gloucester and moving the Quedgeley Fieldcourt and Quedgeley Severn Vale wards into the Stroud constituency.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, the leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrat leader, said: “I am really pleased that the Boundary Commission is proposing to move Longlevens back into Gloucester.

“Residents in Longlevens identify with Gloucester, so it is only right that local people are represented by the city’s MP.

“I am also pleased the Boundary Commission has not resurrected previous plans to move the heart of Gloucester, including the cathedral and city centre, into the Forest of Dean.”

Mr Hilton said earlier this year the Conservatives had appeared lukewarm to his suggestion and comments about the Boundary Commission’s proposals supported that view.

“In the summer Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson was against moving Longlevens back to Gloucester and Richard Graham was not bothered about reclaiming Longlevens,” he said.

“The Liberal Democrats plan to make submissions to the Boundary Commission to ensure its initial proposals to include Longlevens are adopted. However, we will look closely at the south of the city and see if we can propose a solution that retains Quedgeley as well.”

Gloucester Lib Dems call for new ‘City Plan’ for Gloucester

Map of proposals from 1983 Gloucester local plan

Map of proposals from 1983 Gloucester local plan

Gloucester City Council is to debate a motion from the Liberal Democrat group, at council on Thursday. The Lib Dems are calling for a new City Plan for Gloucester, which will be an up to date set of polices that will become the development framework for Gloucester for the next few years.

Lib Dem leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said: “The last adopted development plan dates back to 1983. Its 33 years old and a lot has changed in Gloucester since then. Both Labour and Conservative administrations, in that time, have failed to get updates to the plan adopted as required by the government. We are asking the cabinet member for housing & planning to report back to council in September on how he intends to deliver a new City Plan. We want it adopted as a matter of urgency.”

The current timetable for approving the new City Plan was for it to be approved by council in time to go to the planning inspector in the winter of 2016 for adoption in 2017. Liberal Democrats are concerned that the delays in approving a new City Plan could allow a developers to override current polices arguing they are out of date, despite many being formally being ‘saved’ by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in 2007.
Cllr. David Brown (Hucclecote), Lib Dem spokesperson for housing & planning said: “The city council have a timetable to deliver the City Plan but due to the delay in adopting the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) it is now woefully outdated. We need the council to be able to work with developers from a position of strength, with a clear plan for the city, a plan that best benefits current and future residents. For that we need a City Plan that is fit for the future sooner rather than later.”

The new City Plan should be a development document that sits beneath the JCS. It must explain how the council will implement the spatial vision and strategic objectives in the JCS up to the year 2031 and provide criteria that it will apply when considering planning applications for different types of buildings or other development.

We should vote to remain- by Jeremy Hilton

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Forty-one years ago I voted yes to stay in the Common Market. I intend to vote yes again on Thursday with a positive vote to REMAIN in the European Union. A union of 28 countries working together peacefully to sort out issues of cross border importance, such as trade, the environment and security.

My primary reason in voting yes in 1975 was to make sure that European countries sorted out their differences around a table and not on a battlefield. I wanted to live my life in peace. I have never regretted my decision. I have seen the Common Market of nine countries grow into the European Union of twenty-eight.

In 1975 the continent was split between western democracies and socialist dictatorships. Spain, Greece & Portugal were becoming democracies and joined the EU in the early 1980s. Now the EU has a population of 508 million living in peace with each other and with governments co-operating over issues that affect us all. As Winston Churchill said “Jaw Jaw is better than War War”.

I have been concerned about the whole tone of the referendum campaign, particularly when I listen to those arguing to leave. I also think to myself; ‘I want my country back’. But, what I certainly don’t want is the UK run by a right wing clique of people who feed on people’s fears and concerns. Who stir up xenophobia and blame others for our problems.

I grew up in a country that was proud of itself and was an open and free society, working with other nations within international organisations such as the UN, NATO, the Commonwealth and the EU. I believe that if we leave the EU it will be a step backwards. We could see our country fall apart with Scotland leaving the UK and “Little England” left just floating in the mid-Atlantic with few friends.

As individuals we would lose our right to live and work anywhere in the EU. Our European Health Insurance Card will become invalid. Many of us will suffer from loss of work or earnings. Taxes may rise. We shall probably experience years of regret that we isolated ourselves from our friends on the continent.

I also want to address the nonsense espoused by leave campaigners that the EU is undemocratic, this is untrue. Every five years we elect MEP’s to represent us in the European Parliament, which amends and approves legalisation that the Council of Ministers’ support. The Council of Ministers includes an elected representative from every government. The European Commission acts in a similar way to our very own Civil Service.

I hope that everyone will think very carefully about the way they are going to vote on Thursday. This is not the time to bash the Tory government, we can do that at the ballot box at the next general election. This is a time to vote for our children’s future. In my view it will be much better for them if we remain in the EU.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE’ TUMBLE DRYERS NEED RECALLING, URGE FIRE AUTHORITIES

Dangerous tumble dryers prone to exploding into flames need recalling urgently to avoid people “playing Russian roulette” as new figures reveal firefighters are attending three fires a day caused by the appliances.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 48 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales, is calling on leading manufacturers to recall faulty tumble dryers which have been linked to thousands of fires caused by excess fluff contacting heating elements.

Government statistics show there were 2,190 tumble dryer fires between 2012 and 2014 – equating to three a day.

Homes have been ruined and in some cases, the machines have burst into flames as people loaded them with clothes. An inquest has opened into the deaths of two men who died after a tumble dryer caught fire.

The LGA is warning that companies who are running lengthy repair programmes for potentially dangerous machines, instead of recalling them, are risking the lives of millions of customers.

It is calling on manufacturers to recall affected tumble driers and for all white goods to have fire-proof markings on them, including the manufacturer, model and serial number, so they can be identified more easily if they are damaged after causing a fire.

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said:
“People using faulty tumble dryers are unwittingly playing Russian roulette and leading manufacturers need to recall affected models as soon as possible to protect their customers.

“Firefighters are attending tumble dryer fires three times a day, which is alarming. These defective products are endangering lives, causing thousands of pounds of damage to homes and making people homeless.

“People’s safety must be the priority. It’s been months since some manufacturers issued safety warnings over their tumble dryers but they need to be recalled as these appliances are still causing fires – until they do so, consumers continue to risk falling victim to a devastating and tragic house fire.

“Fire-proof markings on all white goods would also help improve manufacturing and safety standards by helping fire investigators identify the make and model of any appliance damaged after causing a fire.

“Users must take simple precautions using tumble dryers. The compartment where fibres from fabric build up should be cleaned out after every load of clothes is dried, to reduce the risk of it igniting, and the vent or any other opening should not be covered.

“People should never leave tumble driers on overnight or when they go out. Anyone buying an electrical item should complete the guarantee registration to ensure goods which do not meet safety specifications are repaired, replaced or refunded. This also enables manufacturers to contact owners in the event of a product recall.
“People also need to ensure they have a working smoke alarm – which can be a life-saver – in the event something does go wrong and test them regularly, ideally once a week.”

Anyone with concerns about the safety of electrical appliances can report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.