Make Gloucester Cathedral a World Heritage site – say Lib Dems

 

Jerem Hilton outside Gloucester Cathedral

Jerem Hilton outside Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral should become a UNECO World Heritage site according to the Liberal Democrats. On the 23rd January, Gloucester City Council will debate whether the council along with the Dean and Chapter should make a bid for the cathedral to become a World Heritage Site (WHS). Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton, is proposing the idea.

There are 16 world Heritage sites in England, including Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for the nomination of UK sites.

Gloucester Cathedral was built between 1089 and 1499. It has stood in heart of the city for nearly a thousand years. It is a fine example of English Cathedral design. Visitors can enjoy art and architecture from across the ages. The cathedral is listed as a top five UK visitor attraction in Which Magazine readers’ survey.

Jeremy Hilton said: “We should seriously consider bidding for Gloucester Cathedral to become a World Heritage Site. This would be a prestigious designation. It would help create a sense of pride for everyone who lives in Gloucester. It would surely boost the numbers of visitors to Gloucester. We should be bold and make a bid to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.”

Cllr. Declan Wilson said: “Our proposal also mentions of “Project Pilgrim” that will see £5m invested in the cathedral building and grounds to improve visitor experience. When I first moved to Gloucester, I was impressed by the magnificence of the cathedral. It is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Europe and would make a great addition to the UK twenty five World Heritage Sites.”

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Wording of the motion

“This council notes that Gloucester Cathedral is listed as a top five UK visitor attraction in Which Magazine readers’ survey.

This council notes and welcomes plans under Project Pilgrim to invest £5m in the Cathedral and its grounds.

That this council agrees to approach the Dean & Chapter to consider whether to apply to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for Gloucester Cathedral to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton & Seconded by Declan Wilson

Labour plan to abolish Gloucester City Council killed off

The county council’s local government structure task and finish group met yesterday to review evidence it has received from the district councils. The group was set up following a Labour motion. Labour are obsessed with creating unitary councils. This could mean reducing both Gloucester and Cheltenham councils to town council status – a ridiculous idea. Anyway the evidence received by the task and finish group proved conclusively that there are loads of problems to be faced if unitary local government were to be imposed in Gloucestershire.

I am a member of this committee and I argued strongly yesterday to kill off Labour’s plans for unitary government in the county. I did the same when we debated the issue at full council. We don’t want to spend 5 years arguing about a new local government structure in Gloucestershire and where the new offices will be etc. We should just get on with the job of running council services under the system we currently have.

The good news is that all members of the task group, including Labour members, agreed to scrap any plans to consider creating monolithic unitary local government in Gloucestershire. This will now be reported to Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and then to full council.

Kwik Save – a ‘no go’ regeneration project!

Sebastian Field & Jeremy Hilton discuss the regeneration of the former Kwik Save site, which is in the background

Sebastian Field & Jeremy Hilton discuss the regeneration of the former Kwik Save site, which is in the background

Planning permission to build 119 flats with four ground floor retail units on the former Kwik Save site along Northgate Street and Black Dog Way was agreed three years ago. In the last three years no work has taken place to start construction of this regeneration project.

Leading Liberal Democrat city councillors Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton have written to the leader of Gloucester City Council seeking a meeting with the developers about why this crucial city centre new homes project has not started.

Deputy Leader Sebastian Field said: “We need new homes in Gloucester and this is a brown field site with permission for 119 residential apartments. I urge the developers to start construction work.”

Leader Jeremy Hilton agreed: “It is now three years since planning permission for 119 apartments was granted and eight years since a previous permission for 88 units was approved. This site is an eyesore in the centre of Gloucester. Construction must start soon before the planning permission expires.”

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Note

The planning committee approved planning permission (10/00769/FUL) on 7th September 2010. This is just over three years ago and construction work has not started. Permission runs out on the 15th October 2015. In 2005, permission was given for 88 apartments on this site. The site has remained an eyesore for eight years despite planning permission for being granted several times for apartments on the site.

 

Annual election of Gloucestershire Couty Council leader proposed by Liberal Democrats

A proposal being put forward by the County’s Liberal Democrats to the Council’s Constitution Committee on Monday could see changes to the length of the Council Leader’s tenure.

The Council’s Constitution currently stipulates that the term of office of the Leader starts on the day of his election and ends on the day of the next post election annual meeting.

To reduce the risk of leadership complacency and in order that the incumbent Leader remains effective and accountable to the Council the Liberal Democrats have recommended cutting the current four year term of office to yearly terms.

If approved the present Conservative Leader Cllr. Mark Hawthorne would need to be re-elected at next year’s annual Council meeting or see the election of a new Leader of Council.  

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD, Kingsholm & Wotton) said that:

“Electing the Leader of the Council annually at the council’s AGM is good for both democracy and the people of Gloucestershire.

“The Leader of the Council should be accountable to all fifty-three County Councillors who themselves represent the people that live in their own divisions.

“The introduction of annual election for Leader, which is an option introduced in the legislation, would strengthen accountability and reduce any complacency.

“Annual elections are held for the Chairperson and the same can be done for the Leader of the Council. This would give all members of the Council a chance to see what the Leader has done in the previous year and make their own judgments as to whether he or she has done a competent  job worthy of re-election.”  

The proposal that has been submitted will be debated at the Constitution Committee at Shire Hall for debate on Monday 7th October at 3pm.

ENDS

Lib Dems want the end of gagging of councillors on Gloucestershire County Council

Calls for the removal of the maximum 30 minute rule for each political group to consider motions at full council have been proposed by the County’s Liberal Democrats.

The recommendation being put forward to the Council’s Constitution Committee next week in removing the current 30 minute rule will give elected members the opportunity to fully discuss individual motions with no time limits. The time allowed to debate motions differs widely amongst local authorities across the country from a maximum of 30 minutes currently in Gloucestershire to no time limits in councils such as Cumbria. To reduce the risk of debates being too open ended the Liberal Democrats accepts there should be a total period of time spent on motions. It has been suggested that the maximum two hour limit be extended to three hours.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD, Kingsholm & Wotton) proposer of the motion said that: “For eight years the Tory stifled discussion on the big issues affecting Gloucestershire by using an oppressive guillotine on the length of debates. “Now the council has moved into no overall control we must relax the rules to allow all 53 councillors the opportunity to debate the major issues in the council chamber. “Our amendments to the constitution remove the guillotine on length of motions bringing democracy to Shire Hall.”

The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Constitution Committee member Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton-on-the-Water & Northleach) also said that: “The time has now come where there is a need for full and unrestricted debate on those issues that are important to both the elected member and the constituents that they represent in the interests of transparency and democracy. “As a member recently elected I’ve been saddened that open debate has been stamped upon and councillors with valid points to make have been effectively gagged under the Council’s current rules. The proposal that has been submitted will be debated at the Constitution Committee at Shire Hall for debate on Monday 7th October at 3pm.

ENDS

Liberal Democrats attempt to save protective covenants held by city council on Llanthony Secunda Priory

The Liberal Democrat councillors Jeremy Hilton, Declan Wilson, Phil McLellan, David Brown, Sebastian Field & Chris Witts have called in the cabinet decision to release protective covenants held by the council on Llanthony Secunda Priory.

Statement by Jeremy Hilton: “We have called in the decision of the Tory cabinet to release covenants that the city council holds on Llanthony Secunda Priory.

The covenants were put in place to protect the future of the historic priory, should the management trust fail. The council would buy back the ownership of Llanthony Secunda Priory for just one pound. This is a better solution than handing the priory over to the Official Receiver should the Llanthony Secunda Priory Trust become insolvent.”

A successful trust today is not necessarily a successful trust tomorrow. We must protect the future of one of Gloucester’s most historic assets. The cabinet decision must be reconsidered and that is why Liberal Democrat councillors have called-in the decision so that it can be reconsidered.”

 Call-in notice

“This is a request to call-in the cabinet decision made on the 11th of September, in relation to agenda item 12 – Llanthony Secunda Priory. The call-in is supported by members of the council who have acknowledged their support for this particular call-in via email.

The decision of cabinet was as follows:

  1. That the restrictive covenants be removed in accordance with the request from LSPT.
  2. That Planning Committee be requested to vary the S106 agreement relating to the property. 
  3. That the above are subject to agreeing a provision for continuing public access to the property and that the City Council shall have the continued right to nominate a Trustee.

Ahead of the cabinet decision Cllr. Jeremy Hilton did raise his concerns, at group leaders meeting (2nd September) about the proposal to remove covenants the council holds on Llanthony Secunda Priory and also to waive the original Section 106 Agreement.

On the 9th of September Cllr. Hilton wrote to the leader of the council asking him to withdraw the cabinet paper so that further discussion could take place. The leader responded negatively to Cllr. Hilton’s request and did not withdraw the cabinet paper. He suggested that if Cllr Hilton was not happy with his decision then Cllr Hilton should call-in the decision.

The original decision to sell Llanthony Secunda Priory to a management trust was made at full council on the 15th of February 2007.

In making the decision council agreed to the following clause:-

‘To covenant the site so that should the Management Trust fail, ownership of the monument and its grounds would revert to the Council.’

The matter of whether council should remove the covenants it holds on Llanthony Secunda Priory is therefore a matter for full council and not cabinet.

  • The covenants were put there for the benefit of the city
  • The possibility of the trust failing was in the original risk assessment. This was mitigated by the covenant relating to the transfer of the land back to the council should the management trust fail.
  • The decision to go ahead with the trust was done on the understanding that this safeguard would remain.
  • A successful trust today is not necessarily a successful trust tomorrow.
  • To remove the covenant now would not therefore be in the best interests of the city as it could potentially put the future of one of Gloucester’s most important historical assets at risk.

The signatories to the call-in request that the decision of cabinet is reviewed in particular the resolution to remove the covenants that this council holds on Llanthony Secunda Priory.”

Introduce a Local Levy on large superstores trading outside Gloucester’s city centre – say Lib Dems

Gloucester city councillors are due to debate a Liberal Democrat motion to give the council powers to introduce a local levy on large superstores outside the city centre.

The local levy would be rated at 8.5% on all large retail units trading outside Gloucester’s historic city centre, with rateable value of £500,000 or more.

The Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton who will propose the motion said: “Our aim is to help Gloucester city centre traders recover from damage done to it by large superstores trading outside the city centre. The large out of centre stores already benefit from free customer parking, whilst customers visiting city centre stores have to pay to park in city centre car parks. If approved we will use the extra £1.260 million income to improve the city centre, reduce vacant retail units and encouraging small independent traders.”

Cllr. Declan Wilson who will second the motion said: “The local levy would only be charged on superstores that are trading outside the city centre, so Debenhams would not be subject to this levy. A levy of 8.5% on all large out of city centre stores in Gloucester should raise an additional £1.260 million per annum for the council. We would want to invest this sum of money in the economic and environmental wellbeing of the city centre.”

The Liberal Democrat proposal to introduce this local levy will need to be approved by the Secretary of State under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007. The council would work closely with Local Works and other councils to get the Secretary of State’s approval.

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Motion – Gloucester City Council 12th September

This Council notes the request from ‘Local Works’ to consider submitting the following proposal to the government under the Sustainable Communities Act:

‘That the Secretary of State gives Local Authorities the power to introduce a local levy of 8.5% of the rate on large retail outlets in their area with a rateable annual value not less that £500,000 and requires that the revenue from this levy be retained by the Local Authority in order to be used to improve local communities in their areas by promoting local economic activity, local services and facilities, social and community wellbeing and environmental protection.’

This Council notes that if this power was acquired it would present the opportunity to raise further revenue for the benefit of local communities, should the Council wish to use it and that this Council would only levy an 8.5% charge on large retail units based outside the city centre

This Council resolves to prepare a proposal to submit to the government under the Sustainable Communities Act and to work together with Local Works to gain support for the proposal from other councils in the region and across the country.

Proposed Jeremy Hilton

Seconded Declan Wilson

Trading Standards Service – Vital say Lib Dems

County councillors will debate the future of Gloucestershire’s Trading Standards service when they meet on the 4th of September. Liberal Democrat councillors have lodged a motion calling for the services to be protected, if possible, from further cuts.

Trading Standards has seen its budget cut by 51%, down from £2m in 2010/11 to just £1m in 2013/14. Similarly, the number of staff employed has dropped from 46 to 24.

Liberal Democrat councillors believe the service cannot take any further cuts without damaging the protection to the public and businesses that Trading Standards currently provides.

The proposer of the motion, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said: “The number of scheduled inspections and enforcements visits has dropped dramatically since 2010. There were just 139 scheduled inspections in the last financial year compared to 366 in 2010/11. This is a worrying trend. Trading Standards provides an important service, protecting the consumer and legitimate businesses from rogue traders. We should remember the horsemeat in beef products scandal and the important role Trading Standards has in inspecting food products. The service, in my view, just cannot take any further cuts.”

Cllr. Iain Dobie (Leckhampton and Warden Hill) who will second the motion said: “Trading Standards has to enforce over 100 Acts of Parliament. It does a vital job in protecting the public – especially the most vulnerable. With the county council’s new responsibility for public health, the work the service does protecting the public from unsafe goods and policing age restricted protects (such as alcohol and tobacco) is more important than ever. ”

The Liberal Democrat motion recommends that the Trading Standards service is protected, if possible, from further cuts during the life of the council (4 years).

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Notes

Trading Standards Service undertakes a wide range of enforcement activities related to:

  • welfare of farm animals and the prevention of disease outbreaks
  • doorstep crime and rogue trader activity
  • the safety of goods
  • food composition and description
  • age restricted products
  • unfair trading practices
  • weights and measures
  • petroleum, poisons and explosives licensing.

 Motion

 “This council commends the public protection work carried out by the trading standards service in Gloucestershire.

 This council notes that trading standards is a statutory service that protects the most vulnerable consumers in dealing with ‘rogue traders’ and also helps legitimate traders to trade well.

This council recognises that over the last three financial years, the county’s trading standards service budget and total number of employees has been cut by 50%. 

This council is concerned that any further cuts to the current trading standards service may put individuals, communities and public health more generally at risk, and could damage local businesses and the economy.

This council therefore recommends that the trading standards service is protected if possible from further cuts during the life of this council.”

Proposed – Cllr. Jeremy Hilton

Seconded – Cllr. Iain Dobie

Jeremy Hilton elected National Spokesperson for the Fire Service

Former cabinet member for the fire service, County Councillor Jeremy Hilton has been re-elected as the party’s national local government spokesperson for the fire and rescue service. In a ballot of all Liberal Democrat councillors serving on councils in England & Wales, he was elected with 74.5% of the vote.

Cllr. Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) will serve as the lead member on the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Fire Services Management Committee (FSMC) for the next two years. The FSMC agrees new policy for the LGA on fire and rescue service matters.

As part of his remit, Jeremy is hoping to retain his place on the government’s Strategic Resilience Board, which oversees the fire service’s preparations for dealing with all types of major disasters if they were to occur in the future.

Jeremy Hilton said: “I am delighted to have been re-elected as the Liberal Democrats lead member at the LGA for the fire and rescue service. Very soon the LGA will have to respond to Sir Ken Knight’s report “Facing the Future”, which has looked at the operations and efficiencies of all 46 fire and rescues authorities in England. It will be my job to lead on the Liberal Democrat response to Sir Ken Knight’s suggestions.”

Cllr. Roger Price, from Hampshire will join Jeremy Hilton as his deputy on the LGA FSMC.

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Freeze parking charges say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrats have called for a freeze in the cost of on-street car parking charges across Gloucestershire for the next four years and also requested that the annual cost of residents’ parking permits be cut by £30.

 The move is made in a notice of motion being put to the full meeting of the county council on the 19th of June by Liberal Democrat councillors.

 The mover of the motion, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said:

 “Freezing car-parking charges was one of our top six manifesto pledges. The county council earns a profit of more than £1.5 million from on-street car parking charges. It can well afford to freeze charges for the next four years.

 “In Gloucestershire 3,400 residents’ parking permits are issued each year. The annual fee for a permit is £80. This has risen from £62 in 2010. Liberal Democrats believe the charge is too much and want to see the fee dropped to £50 per year. In a survey done in my own division of Kingsholm & Wotton in Gloucester 80% of residents said the cost of a permit should be £50 or less.”

 Klara Sudbury (Charlton Park & College) who will second the motion said:

 “The cost of parking on the streets in Cheltenham is far too high. It is time the county council stopped treating our streets like a cash cow. Reducing the fee for residents parking permits from £80 to £50 will help many hard pressed families who live in the centre of Cheltenham.”

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