New petition calls for change to planning rules for Houses in Multiple Occupation

Kingsholm Liberal Democrats have launched a new petition to stop the area being overwhelmed by Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Family homes are being converted into properties suitable for renting and can lead to issues with noise, rubbish and parking.

There can also be problems with getting landlords to deal with incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Current planning rules do not require permission for new HMOs of less than six people.

Areas such as St Paul’s in Cheltenham have an Article 4 Direction, which requires planning permission for all new HMOs.

Liberal Democrat councillors Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil recently tried in vain to persuade the Tory administration on the city council to do a housing stock survey immediately, which would be a precursor to an Article 4 designation for Kingsholm.

Councillor Isabel Brazil said: “It has been noticeable that in recent times more and more family homes in Kingsholm are being converted into Houses in Multiple Occupation.

“This is changing the nature of the community as absentee landlords buy up homes and let rooms to individuals to maximise their income.”

Councillor Jeremy Hilton added: “We are raising a petition to demand that the city council starts work right now on preparing the evidence to apply for Article 4 Direction to the Secretary of State.

“We cannot have Kingsholm overrun by HMOs, we need a fair balance.”

The petition can be signed here

Sherborne Cinema awarded Government grant

Cllrs Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil outside one of Gloucester’s hidden gems the Sherborne Cinema

An independent cinema in Gloucester has been awarded a Government grant to help it weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sherborne Cinema in Kingsholm will get £8,940 from the Culture Recovery Fund.

A total of 42 cinemas will share more than £650,000 of funding allocated by the British Film Institute on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, who represents Kingsholm & Wotton, said: “The Sherborne Cinema is in the heart of Kingsholm.

“It’s a lovely place to watch a film on the big screen. Many Kingsholm residents are regular customers.

“I am delighted that the Sherborne Cinema has received a grant from the Government.

“It has been a hard time for small independent cinemas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The £8,940 grant will help this wonderful cinema financially and allow it to continue to show the latest films.”

Part of Horton Road to be resurfaced at last

Map of Horton Road to be closed for resurfacing

Part of Horton Road in Gloucester is shortly to be resurfaced. This is after a concerted campaign by the local county councillor, Jeremy Hilton.

The planned work is to be carried out at night between the 2nd and the 12th of October. The road will be closed between 7pm to 7am during the weekdays. It will not be closed on weekends.

This photo a few years ago, but it shows the persistent problem of the surface breaking up on Horton Road.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said:

“I have been pressing the county council to resurface Horton Road for a long time. I am disappointed that only the stretch from London Road to the exit of the Aspen Medical Centre is to be resurfaced. The stretch from here to Great Western Road also needs doing. 

“There has been patching work, but Horton Road has needed a complete resurface.

“This road is used by a lot of traffic and it’s breaking up in many places. The previous resurfacing wasn’t good enough. I am hoping this time the work will include strengthening the foundations.”

Kingsholm Primary School safer streets project.

The draft map of the school streets proposal

The county council is proposing to introduce an experimental traffic order from 2nd of November, which will close of Sweetbriar Street, Guinea Street and Union Street at school drop off and pick up times. Residents will always be able to get access as permits will be provided.

The ‘school streets’ project at Kingsholm Primary School is will operate for 18 months on a trial basis.

In principle, I support school streets as it will remove the hazard of cars parking around the school at these times and reduce the air pollution.

For many Kingsholm parents who walk their children to school it way may be beneficial, be safer and healthier for their children.

Parents from other parts of the city who drive their children to school will now have to park further away and walk their children to school.

The total budget for the school streets project that also incudes schools in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury is £100,000.

The county council is finalising documentation and it will be issuing advice about this project shortly.

If you have any concerns write to me jeremy.hilton@gloucestershire.gov.uk or thinktravel@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

Jeremy Hilton writes to chief executive of J Sainsbury PLC

Jeremy Hilton at his computer having written his email to CEO of Sainsbury’s.

At the weekend, Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton wrote to Simon Roberts, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s about the proposed closure of their Northgate Street supermarket, which has been trading successfully for nearly 50 years.

Along with Lib Dem colleague Dr Rebecca Trimnell, Jeremy Hilton is raising an online petition, Save Our Sainsbury’s, which is doing well. Please sign it at:-

https://gloucester-libdems.org.uk/en/petition/save-our-sainsbury-s

Jeremy’s letter to Simon Roberts

­­­Dear Mr Roberts

I was shocked to learn this week that your company is to close its supermarket at Northgate Street, Gloucester after nearly 50 years of successful trading. Many people that I represent, who live in Kingsholm are very unhappy about the store’s closure as they use it regularly.

My Lib Dem colleague, Dr Rebecca Trimnell, who is campaigning for the residents of the city centre has raised an online petition to save the supermarket. The returns are good.

I remember the store when it first opened as I had a Saturday job there as a teenager. I still shop in the store more than three times a week. Not only do residents of Kingsholm and city centre use it, but those working in the centre or other residents in Gloucester who are shopping in the city centre also pickup provisions before they go home.

I imagine the store isn’t the strongest trading store, but it must still be profitable as the investment in the building will have been paid off long ago. I have noticed you have been running down the variety of stock, which may have hit trade a bit, but it’s Covid-19 pandemic that has had a major impact.

However, trade is recoverable as we get through this pandemic. The city council is just about to invest in the refurbishment of Kings Square, which along with the regeneration around the bus and railway stations will bring in more people to the city centre. This will lead to an increase in footfall.

It would be so sad not to have a Sainsbury’s in the city centre while Tesco, Iceland and M&S will have a presence, but none of them can offer the same service and stock range that you can continue to do from Northgate Street.

Both Dr Rebecca Trimnell and I would appreciate meeting a senior representative of your company to discuss how we could keep the store open to mutual benefit.

Finally, the city council will discuss a motion in my name about saving the store on the 24th of September.

Yours sincerely,

City Cllr. Jeremy Hilton

Liberal Democrat Group Leader – Kingsholm & Wotton

Chaos at the roundabout

The original drawing of the Estcourt Road/Cheltenham Road roundabout.
The scheme is being revised.

Loads of people are complaining about the changes to the Cheltenham Road and Estcourt Road roundabout. And rightly so. It is part of the new London Road cycle route, which in principle I support. I did walk the route with the cabinet member and engineers ahead of design work. However, we started from Denmark Road and walked towards the city centre. We didn’t visit the roundabout, which is a pity. As I would NOT have recommended it laid out as they suggested.

I only got the published plans 40 minutes after a press release was issued. Despite my request 8 days before asking for the final plans. I was not happy. It’s when I got these plans that it became obvious the roundabout had been added to the scheme.

This project has been rushed through by the county council cabinet. The leader of the county council lives on Estcourt Road. Neighbouring Longlevens councillor Kathy Williams also serves in the cabinet.

I am also currently backing residents on London Road who have lost their on-street parking spaces outside their homes with very short notice. I’m also unhappy with the removal of the pedestrian refuge outside Tesco. I’m OK with two new pedestrian crossings and the reworking of the England’s Glory crossing. The reworking of the buildout outside Healey Mews looks OK, but I await feedback from the residents who live there. I’m hoping the removal of the speed camera doesn’t see an increase in traffic speeds.

Projects like this one need to be carefully considered, fully consulted on and professionally implemented. This hasn’t been done. I am told the roundabout scheme, which has only partly been implemented is under review and being revised. When I get the drawings I will post them on this website.

Jeremy Hilton to quiz Tory cabinet members on poor performance

Jeremy Hilton challenging the Tories over poor performance

Tory leaders at Shire Hall are being quizzed on their performance by a senior Liberal Democrat councillor.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, who represents Kingsholm and Wotton, has tabled a dozen challenging questions to Conservative cabinet members for its full council meeting on September 9.

He has asked questions about care home admissions, the performance of children’s services, gulley cleaning, new cycling projects, the future of local government in Gloucestershire and the financial health of the county council.

Councillor Hilton, who is also leader of the Lib Dem group on Gloucester City Council, said: 

“I am concerned about the poor performance of the Tory administration who control the county council and the impact this is having on services in Gloucester.

“After 15 years in charge, they are struggling to deliver decent services.

“They failed miserably to handle the Covid-19 crisis in our care homes, children’s services is still poorly performing and there are big holes in the council’s finances. 

“Frankly, the Tories are exhausted and complacent. They have run out of good ideas. They are clueless. They are unable to keep budgets under control and vulnerable people are getting a raw deal.

“With all this going on the Tories are now planning to spend valuable time on local government reorganisation leaving Gloucester without its own dedicated council for the first time in over 500 years.” 

Councillor Hilton said he will be very interested to see the answers from the cabinet when they are published. He can ask supplementary questions.

Written Questions put by Cllr. Jeremy Hilton 

1. To Tim Harman

Staff in elderly persons care homes are now being tested for COVID-19 anti-bodies. Can you please provide data to include how many tests have been done so far and how many tests proved positive or negative?

2. To Kathy Williams 

On the 7th of April a press release was issued by the county council in which you were quoted. The press release reported that the county council was helping the NHS Hospital Trust transfer patients from hospital into elderly persons care homes within three hours.

Considering that it was known at the time that some elderly people were not being tested for Covid-19 infection and that some subsequently died, why didn’t you say no to such untested transfers?

3. Kathy Williams

How many residents in the county elderly persons care homes have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic? 

4. Richard Boyles

Can you please state what the agreed budget for services vulnerable children was for the following years and what the financial outcome (final spend) was when the accounts were closed?

2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20

5. Richard Boyles

How many young people are in the council’s care?

6. Richard Boyles

How many of those young people in your answer to the previous question are placed out of county and what is the cost to this council?

7. Richard Boyles

Under your leadership will you ever turn around the failing children’s services? You only have until May 2021 to do so.

8. Vernon Smith

How many gullies in the city of Gloucester were cleaned during the Covid-19 lockdown period? 

9. Nigel Moor

What plans other than on London Road, do you have to improve the cycling infrastructure in the city of Gloucester

10. Mark Hawthorne

As a city resident, would you support the abolition of Gloucester City Council in favour of a single unitary council serving the whole of Gloucestershire, ending the current two-tier system?

11. Lynden Stowe

What is the expected additional cost, in this financial year, to this council for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic?

12. Lynden Stowe

Could you please list all additional Covid-19 grant funding this council has received from the government or has been promised?

August storms and flooding – Jeremy Hilton asks residents to send him their photos etc

Flooding in Oxford Road

On the 12th and 16th of August some streets in Kingsholm suffered from flash flooding due to heavy rain.

It is clearly a problem with the drainage system not being able to cope and that might be because:-

  1. The drains were blocked
  2. There is an underground blockage in the system
  3. The drainage system, because if its age doesn’t have the capacity
Oxford Road flooded

Jeremy Hilton has already asked the county council to clean out the drains in Kingsholm with special attention to these roads, which now have a works number.

  • Alexandra Road – GCC Ref 11281370
  • Estcourt Road – GCC Ref 11281372
  • Oxford Road – GCC Ref 11281374
  • Honyatt Road – GCC Ref 11281375
  • Henry Road – GCC Ref 11281376

Jeremy said: “I now need your help? I have requested a full investigation into the cause of the flooding. I need evidence from local residents.

“Have I missed any areas that had flooding? Please let me know.

“If you have photographic evidence can you email me digital photos that I can pass onto officers.

“My email address is: Jeremy.hilton@gloucestershire.gov.uk

Kingsholm parking review about to start

Jeremy Hilton: congested Oxford Road will be surveyed

The county council’s long-awaited review of on-street parking in Kingsholm is just about to start and should be completed by November this year.

The first stage of the project will be a camera car survey this month to carried by contractors Atkins. This will take vehicle data to establish the occupancy, parking stress and demand on an area as well as duration of stay and generally how far people have travelled to park, i.e. are they local to area, the street, city or come further away.

The survey will take place over a week, picking two or three days that week and carrying out the surveys three times a day.  The results of the traffic survey will take a month to come back. Afterwards, an informal consultation will be done from March to May with residents and businesses.

Survey area highlighted

 Local Lib Dem councillors Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil are pleased that work on the review is starting. They have received loads of complaints from residents about parking congestion in Kingsholm. They have passed on several emails to the traffic manager about parking problems.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“The streets in Kingsholm are overloaded with commuters parking in residential streets leaving little space during the daytime for residents to park up near to their home.  There many properties in the ward which do not have off street parking. 

“The survey area will consider most streets in Kingsholm. Hopefully, at the end of the project we will have parking regulations that are fit for purpose.”

Cllr. Isabel Brazil said:

“Parking congestion in Kingsholm is a problem. We do encourage residents to write to us and we shall pass all comments onto the parking manager to form part of the evidence.”

Timetable

  • Informal consultation with residents – March to May
  • Statutory consultation – June to July
  • Formal Advertising preparation – June to July
  • Formal advertising responses – July to August
  • Traffic order amendments – Sept
  • Traffic Regulation Order sign off – Oct
  • Making Traffic Regulation Order –  Nov
  • Implementation work – Nov

£35,000 grant application made to improve Wellington Parade Garden

Jeremy Hilton at the garden before it was closed to the public

Gloucester City Council has made an application to the Great Western Railway Customer and Communities Improvement Fund, for £35,000 to assist in the project to renew and upgrade the Wellington Parade Garden.

The total estimated cost is £49,000 with the city council contributing £14,000. The project would also include some public art. The garden was originally owned by British Railways Board before it was passed onto the city council via a private purchaser.

The grant application has been supported by Liberal Democrat ward councillors Isabel Brazil and Jeremy Hilton who have been working with officers to get the garden upgraded and reopened.

Jeremy Hilton said: “The garden was closed at the request of local residents who were fed up of anti social behaviour taking place. The project to get garden upgraded is taking longer than expected. Shortage of council funding to implement the agreed plan, hasn’t helped, but we must get it right. The new design is laid out to discourage street drinking and bad behaviour. 

“We are waiting for a decision on the GWR grant. On my suggestion, once the garden has been set out, we shall look to install some railway heritage public art to be the garden’s centre piece.” 

Isabel Brazil said: “The grant application must be agreed by the Department of Transport. I hope they can make a quick decision as we are keen to start the ground works. The council wants to start onsite in April. The work would take three months.”