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.

Liberal Democrats on city council announce spokespersons

Back Row - Howard Hyman, Emily Ryall, Joanne Brown & David Brown Front Row - Declan Wilson, Jeremy Hilton & Isabel Brazil

Back Row – Howard Hyman, Emily Ryall, Joanne Brown & David Brown
Front Row – Declan Wilson, Jeremy Hilton & Isabel Brazil

The seven Liberal Democrats councillors on Gloucester City Council met at the weekend to elect their leader and deputy leader, plus other group positions.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) will remain the group leader and his deputy will be Cllr. Declan Wilson (Hucclecote).

Jeremy Hilton: “We have a magnificent group of seven councillors and it will be our job to provide constructive opposition to the Conservative administration. We have a group with four new members and we have lots of fresh ideas on how we can make Gloucester a better place. Regeneration, housing and the environment will be our priorities.”

Declan Wilson said: “Before the election we drew up an action plan for Gloucester with a dozen ideas to make Gloucester a better city. We intend to promote this agenda on the council. We shall oppose the Tories when it sensible to do so and work with the other groups when it is in the best interest of Gloucester.”

Ends…

Group shadow spokespersons

  • Leader and Regeneration & Economy – Jeremy Hilton
  • Deputy Leader and Performance & Resources – Declan Wilson
  • Communities & Neighbourhoods – Howard Hyman
  • Environment – Isabel Brazil
  • Housing & Planning – David Brown
  • Culture & Leisure – Joanne Brown
  • Scrutiny – Emily Ryall

Gloucester Liberal Democrats – A dozen ideas for a better city

Gloucester Liberal Democrats have published their manifesto for the city council elections “A dozen ideas for a better city”. Currently the city council is controlled by the Conservatives, but the Liberal Democrats believe that the council could be run much better.

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: ”Services are not improving, budgets are being cut and we have had the first council tax rise in five years. The Tories are taxing responsible householders who recycle their garden waste by overcharging them for the garden waste collections. The Tory ‘Garden Tax’ adds £6 to the price of every green bin above what is needed to cover collection costs.

“Regeneration in the city centre has stalled with the Kings Quarter project going nowhere. Its a shambles. The council administration needs to work much harder. We need to kick-start regeneration within the city centre. Kings Square has been unloved by the Conservatives and Labour for 25 years. We need to make this a great public space. We also need a new indoor market in a new location.

The last approved city plan for Gloucester dates back to the 1980s. We shall deliver a new city plan with policies to protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance the historic fabric of the city. We will do our best to encourage the building of more affordable homes to rent particularly within the social housing sector. We will also increase resources to defend council planning policies and decisions.”

“There is so much to do and Liberal Democrats are up for the challenge.”

A dozen ideas for a better city

1. Market Parade or (White Friars) project

We will get this project started, which will include a new hotel, indoor market, city centre homes, car park and some retail. That is a true gateway into Gloucester, which is well linked to a refurbished railway station.

2. Kings Square

This should be our premier open space in the city centre. It has been unloved by the council for 25 years. It must become a space for public events, dining and socialising, with (limited) new pavilion cafes, restaurants, and most of all, superb public art that pulls people to the square.

3. Cathedral Quarter

Project Pilgrim will help enhance the area around the cathedral, but we need to look at the whole of lower Westgate Street. How about refurbishing the small square outside Shire Hall or creating a visitors centre in Pitt Street, where the stone masons work keeping the cathedral in good condition?

4. City Centre living

We must continue to support city centre living with new developments. The council must do more to encourage the conversion to housing of former office/commercial space within the city centre.

5. City Centre environment

There are too many pound shops, turf accountants and tattoo parlours. We do need to improve our retail offer. There is no provision of high quality public toilets and this must be addressed. The pavements are littered with chewing gum and Liberal Democrats will invest in improving street cleaning in our city centre. The provision of public art in city centre is underwhelming.

6. Regeneration Oversight

Regeneration oversight is done behind closed doors and we propose to create a new Regeneration Scrutiny Committee to meet in public that can properly scrutinise the council’s regeneration plans. Lib Dems will bring Marketing Gloucester under tighter control by the city council.

7. History

We live in a great historic city and we should promote this more effectively, with restoration of important buildings, festivals remembering our past & public art celebrating our 2,000 years of development. We would bring the new Culture Board under greater democratic control.

8. University City

We must support the continued development of University of Gloucestershire in the city and encourage purpose built student accommodation in Blackfriars area to persuade year two and three students to stay in Gloucester rather than move to Cheltenham.

9. Waste Collection

Liberal Democrats will retain the current collection schedules and introduce recycling of cardboard and all plastics. We will scrap the Tories’ Garden Tax, placed on responsible householders who recycle their garden waste, by removing the surcharge for the collection of green wheelie bins.

10. City Planning

We shall deliver a new city plan with policies to protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance the historic fabric of the city. We will do our best to encourage the building of more affordable homes to rent particularly within the social housing sector, despite the Tory government plans to ditch building new homes for rent. Lib Dems will invest extra resources in defending council planning polices and we will take necessary enforcement action against those who flout planning conditions.

11. Homelessness

We shall focus on measures to reduce homelessness in the city. Working with partners, we will tackle drug and alcohol addiction, ensuring that homeless individuals with mental health issues get the support they deserve.

12. Environment

We will crack down on dog fouling in parks, open spaces and on our streets. We will enhance our public parks and improve children’s play facilities. Liberal Democrats will remove the tacky advertising boards that the Tories installed that are now blighting our roundabouts.

Liberal Democrats condemn COXIT

The Liberal Democrat statement on what has been termed ‘Coxit’, the Cotswold District Council’s exit from Gloucestershire County Council reads as follows:

“Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council have condemned the actions of the Conservative Leader on Cotswold District Council for suggesting to create a unitary authority based on Cotswold District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.

“This proposal is one which no one has voted for and no one has asked for. It threatens the very make up of our county.

“We believe the proposals would adversely impact on the delivery of important public services currently administered by Gloucestershire County Council, the NHS, the Police and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

“These organisations have already voiced their serious concerns over the splitting up of our county’s services due to the issue of any new Cotswold authority not only crossing different counties bit different regions too.

“For us improving services is the most important thing and therefore this proposal which has not been consulted on must have overwhelming support from the people of the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire if it were to happen”.

The Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“The proposal for a unitary council made up from Cotswold District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council has come out of the blue. There has been no consultation with Gloucestershire County Council on this matter. It looks like it is being done as a method to abolish Oxfordshire County Council, with our own county receiving collateral damage.

“For 1,000 years the Cotswolds has been part of Gloucestershire and it should stay that way. Public services in our county could be severely damaged. One example would be Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, which could be carved up by this plan.”

Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson (LD: Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) said:

“I’ve been speaking to residents and parish councils in my area and I know many are already opposed to this mad idea. We should be spending all our time and money on improving services not on yet more consultants to try and justify an idea which no one has asked for”.

The lack of consultation on the unitary plan has also been criticised by Oxfordshire County Council’s Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green group leaders. A debate over the plans will take place at full council this Wednesday at Shire Hall.

Regeneration of Gloucester – Liberal Democrat Viewpoint

The regeneration of our city centre is a long-term project, which Liberal Democrat councillors’ support. It is vital that key projects have all party backing to encourage external investment.
The proposals announced in the Citizen on Monday have been developed over time with input and ideas from many people. They are certainly not, the sole ideas, of the Conservative administration. As a package, the proposals will have Liberal Democrat councillors support.
Liberal Democrats helped secure public funding for the new bus station, which we desperately need. I am pleased to see work has just begun.
The Tories have been unable to deliver the Kings Quarter Project, which is a major failure in policy terms. The administration has also been unable to find a development partner for the historic Fleece Hotel and grounds. There has been a number of planning approvals for the former Kwiksave site, but the site remains derelict.
Liberal Democrats believe that we can improve on the plans in the following way.
Breakup Kings Quarter into two separate, but linked projects
Market Parade or (White Friars) project
To include a new hotel, indoor market, city centre homes, car park and some retail. That is a true gateway into Gloucester, which is well linked to a refurbished railway station.
Kings Square
This should be our premier open space in city centre. It has been unloved by the council for 25 years. It must become a space for public events, dining and socialising, with new pavilion cafes, restaurants, and most of all, superb public art that pulls people to the square.
Cathedral Quarter
Project Pilgrim will help enhance the area around the cathedral, but we need to look at the whole of lower Westgate Street. How about refurbishing the small square outside Shire Hall or creating a visitors centre in Pitt Street where the stone masons work keeping the cathedral in good condition.
City Centre living
We must continue to support city centre living with new developments. The council must do more to encourage the conversion to housing of former office/commercial space within the city centre.
City Centre environment
There are too many pound shops, turf accountants and tattoo parlours. We do need to improve our retail offer. The provision of high quality public toilets is dire and must be addressed. The pavements are littered with chewing gum and Liberal Democrats will invest in improving street cleaning in our city centre. The provision of public art in city centre is underwhelming.
Regeneration Oversight
Regeneration oversight is done behind closed doors and I would propose that we create a new Regeneration Scrutiny Committee to meet in public that can properly scrutinise the council’s regeneration plans.
History
We live in a great historic city and we should promote this more effectively, with restoration of important building, festivals remembering our past & public art celebrating our 2,000 years of development.
University City
We must support the continued development of University Gloucestershire in the city and encourage purpose built student accommodation in Blackfriars area to persuade year two and three students to stay rather than move to Cheltenham.

Lib Dems secure funding for third year for visits to SkillZone

John Cordwell and Jeremy Hilton experience - the danger in the alley scenario at the SkillZone

John Cordwell and Jeremy Hilton experience – the danger in the alley scenario at the SkillZone

The Liberal Democrats have for the third financial year running secured safety sessions at Gloucester’s SkillZone for all Year 5 school pupils across the county.

Opened in September 2012, SkillZone is a state-of-the-art life size village. There are sixteen interactive zones, which cover a range of scenarios including road, rail, water, home and personal safety. Those pupils going up into Year 5 this September will be able to take advantage of the zones and all what the facility offers.

The Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure, Cllr. John Cordwell (LD: Wotton-under-Edge) who is also Chair of the Stroud Road Safety Liaison Group said:

“I’m pleased that for the third year running children from schools across Gloucestershire will have the opportunity to visit Gloucester’s SkillZone. It is a great fully interactive facility that is certainly worth a visit.

“The take up over the past couple of years have been good and now it is running into a third year where more Year 5 groups will be able to come and learn how to recognise dangerous situations and stay safe.

“I quote Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) who said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, I’m confident that investment in children’s safety now will help reduce safety incidences in the future”.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD:Kingsholm & Wotton) also said:

“For three years running, the Liberal Democrats have proposed for all Year 5 pupils to visit this facility and evaluations from the last two years have shown the programme to be a huge success.

“Since April 2014, a total of 13,844 children have visited SkillZone and of these 5,598 Year 5 pupils have attended as part of the Liberal Democrat scheme.

“The evaluations undertaken this year shows that 100% of teachers were satisfied (98% very satisfied) with the safety education, 100% of teachers state that they think their pupils’ safety has been increased after the visit (88.5% to a great extent) and 100% felt that the session had a good or very good impact on the children (92% very good).

“The Liberal Democrats have pushed for these visits to happen and I’m delighted that they will be continuing for another year. SkillZone is a fantastic and fun way of getting important safety messages across to our children.

“I’d encourage all schools to take up the opportunity of bringing their Year 5 groups to such a place.”

My statement on the unitary council bid from Cotswolds & West Oxon

“The proposal for a unitary council made up from Cotswold District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council has come out of the blue. There has been no consultation with Gloucestershire County Council on this matter. It looks like it is being done as a method to abolish Oxfordshire County Council, with our own county receiving collateral damage.

“For 1,000 years the Cotswolds has been part of Gloucestershire and it should stay that way. Public services in our county could be severely damaged. One example would be Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, which could be carved up by this plan.

“It is amazing to think that Lynden Stowe, the leader of Cotswold District, who is also a county councillor, could ambush his leader, Mark Hawthorne in such a way. Not only are the Tories fighting over Europe they now are arguing over the integrity of our wonderful county of Gloucestershire.”

Why I am voting to remain in the EU

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I shall be voting to remain in the European Union. I voted yes in 1975 and I have never regretted that decision. My primary reason at that time was that I wanted peace in Europe. My parents and grandparents generation had been involved in two world wars that had ruined the lives of millions of Europeans. I never wanted this to happen again. As Churchill said; “jaw jaw is better than war war”.

In the last forty years we have seen Spain, Portugal and Greece become democracies and also all the countries in Eastern Europe as well. The EU helped this happen, a country must be a democracy to be a member.

In a global world, European countries need to work together to protect our environment, security and economy. Britain’s place must be around the table making the rules that make this happen. Though Britain is a net contributor to the EU it more than makes this up, eight fold, in the extra revenues gained by British businesses trading within the single market. To leave could see our car industry, for example, losing its duty free status with the imposition of a 10% tariff on all cars sold on the continent.

I shall also be voting to remain for the benefit of future generations. The EU provides opportunities for our young people to work and study abroad. The benefits of the EU are multitude, but I end with one example, the European Health Insurance Card, issued free of charge, which provides us all with medical protection when we travel within the EU.

County Council Press Team issue misleading report on Budget

The county council press team have issued a misleading press release that gives the impression that Lib Dem amendments to the Tory budget, were UKIP or Tory ideas. This is untrue.

Lib Dem leader Jeremy Hilton said:

“The government cut the core funding to Gloucestershire by £18 million. Despite the 3.99% Council Tax rise there will be no additional spending for Gloucestershire County Council. The revenue budget will be £420m next year as it this year. Liberal Democrats are pleased that we pushed the Tory administration into reversing the £2m cut in highway spending and that we have prevented cuts to adult social care. We are also pleased that a number of Lib Dem amendments were accepted as these will improve the budget for 2016/17”

Lib Dem budget successes are as follows:-

1) Increasing Highways Local to £30k per member and £7,500 per member for additional road maintenance in their area, £400K taken from the £2.075million extra to be spent on roads.

2) £150k to invest in new cycling schemes from the Barriers to Cycling report

3) £100k investment to pay for a designated Traffic Regulation Order officer and resources to speed up the processes

4) £50k to be match-funded with the district councils to look into air quality and pollution

5) £50k to continue the free visits for all five year olds at SkillZone

6) £25k investment into mental health support for children and young people

7) £20k into support to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

8) 5k to provide free residents parking for all Band A electric vehicles for the first permit only

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton