Sainsbury’s set to close

On behalf of Dr Rebecca Trimnell and myself as the lead petitioners opposing the closure of the Sainsbury’s Store on Northgate Street. We thank everyone who signed our petition there were just under 700 signatures showing the strength of opposition over the closure of the store.

Rebecca and I had a virtual meeting with a senior representative from Sainsbury’s and we also had a conversation with Mountcharm who are the owners of the building.

Unfortunately, we were unable to persuade Sainsbury’s to keep their store open, which they say will close in January 2021. A link to copy of their letter is below.

We understand that Mountcharm are preparing plans to restructure the ground floor retail space and convert the first floor into apartments.

Both Rebecca, Angela and I are committed to supporting a grocery store on the ground floor and we understand this is a strong possibility.

We are disappointed that we were unable to persuade Sainsbury’s to change their mind. It is sad to see this popular store closing after 50 years.

We hope we don’t see an empty shop for too long.

HAPPY NEW YEAR – HOPING IT’S BETTER THAN 2020

My best wishes to you all, take care and stay safe. I hope that now two vaccines have been approved life will return to normal this coming year.

People across Kingsholm & Wotton county division pulled together brilliantly to help each other get through 2020. From our fabulous NHS and key workers to individuals volunteering to help their neighbours.

2020 has been the busiest year ever for me as a local councillor.

I have dealt many issues ranging from the impact of the pandemic, the new cycle route on London Road, tackling anti-social behaviour, the effects of the flooding during August, repairing our roads and footways, to raising petitions to save Kingsholm’s family homes and lobbying Sainsbury’s to try and stop them closing their Northgate Street…and much more!

It’s a great please to serve you on the council, I expect 2021 to be just as busy, do contact me, I’m here to help.

Kingsholm Flooding Update

Flooding on Oxford Road – August 2020

In August parts of Kingsholm were hit by flash flooding. I followed up by asking the county council flood risk team to work with Severn Trent Water to investigate the state of drainage system.

I’m pleased to report progress.

A meeting took place on the 26th November between Severn Trent Water (STW), Gloucestershire County Council (Flood Risk Management team and Highways) and Gloucester City Council.

They agreed that initial investigation by STW of the drainage / sewerage network in the Kingsholm area would commence in early December and last around a fortnight.

It is expected further work will be planned to improve the capacity of the network in the area. The timescale for this work has not been set. It will depend on the extent of the work and the resources available.

In the meantime, property flood risk measures can be investigated for ‘at risk’ properties.

Petition to save family homes in Kingsholm handed in by Jeremy Hilton

Jeremy Hilton on Oxford Road one of the areas with large number of HMOs. The road is full of ‘to let’ signs right now.

Lib Dem councillor Jeremy Hilton has handed into the city cabinet, the petition he raised, calling for the protection of family homes in Kingsholm. There is much concern about the number of homes now being converted into Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Currently, family homes converted into HMOs for six persons or fewer do not require planning permission, as it is permitted development.

Family homes are being converted into properties suitable for renting and this 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.

Earlier this year Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil tried to amend the council’s work plan to start on the survey work, which is required as precursor to getting an Article 4 Direction. But the Tories voted it down.

An Article 4 Direction would require all conversions to HMO’s to have planning permission.

In addressing the cabinet, Jeremy Hilton urged that the cabinet start work now not later. He pointed out that once the council has got an Article 4 Direction, it will still be another 12 months before it would come into force.

Jeremy Hilton said: “There are too many modest family homes in Kingsholm being converted into HMO’s, by absentee landlords. They are just trying to maximise their income. They don’t care about a balanced community. Already, Oxford Road, St Mark Street and Henry Road for example are being overrun by HMO conversions. We need proper regulation. The cabinet must now act on my petition.”

The online petition raised 130 signatures mostly from Kingsholm residents. 

It has been backed by Lib Dem campaigner and resident Angela Conder, a signatory to the petition. She said: “I love living in Kingsholm, but I am worried that new HMOs are being established at far too fast a pace. Rightly, residents are worried about unregulated change that is taking place. We need an Article 4 Direction.”

The petition was received by the cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods. She promised to respond to its request.

Lib Dem councillor Isabel Brazil concluded: “If St Paul’s in Cheltenham can have an Article 4 Direction, requiring planning permission for all new HMOs, then so can Kingsholm. We must protect our community from unregulated change.”

Lib Dems call for early start to the upgrading of Gloucester Railway Station

Declan Wilson and Jeremy Hilton chat to Lib Dem national leader Ed Davey MP (centre) at Gloucester Railway Station (July 2019)

On Thursday (19th Nov 2010), the city council will debate a motion being proposed by Lib Dem councillors Jeremy Hilton and Sebastian Field calling for the upgrade of Gloucester Railway Station to start on-site in the first quarter of 2021.

Earlier this year it was reported that the £4.3 million upgrade had been topped up by a further £1.7 million. Taking the total allocated to this project to £6 million.

The project will involve a major upgrade of the underpass running from Bruton Way to Great Western Road. The Lib Dems want this to be the number one priority.

Lib Dem leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “We have been waiting ages for the railway station improvement project to start. Now it is fully funded and the partners have set up a project board, they must get on with it. We want to see construction workers on site in the first quarter of next year. The underpass upgrade must be the first priority. It’s a grotty underpass, with steep steps and feels unsafe to walk through. We have been waiting years for it to be upgraded. Let’s make 2021 the year the construction begins.”

The railway station project will also deliver a more attractive station facade, that will have its own bus stop and new exit onto Metz Way.

There will be 10 electrical vehicle charging spaces, more cycle racks, solar panels and a new canopy at the front of the station for travellers waiting to be picked up.

Cllr. Sebastian Field added: “Lib Dems want to encourage greater use of public transport. We have a new bus station and we need an upgraded railway station to complement it. We must make sure that our public transport facilities are fit for the 21st Century.”

Lib Dem deputy leader, Cllr. Declan Wilson concluded: “Travellers by train deserve better, this project should give Gloucester a railway station to be proud of.”

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.