Liberal Democrats issue ten point plan for Gloucester City Council

Jeremy Hilton with Lib Dem colleagues Isabel Brazil & Sebastian Field

Jeremy Hilton with Lib Dem colleagues Isabel Brazil & Sebastian Field

Gloucester City Council Liberal Democrat group have issued their ten-point plan to improve services in Gloucester.

The manifesto “Keeping Gloucester Moving Forward” focuses on how the Liberal Democrats will do better in regenerating Gloucester and improving council services in the future.

Group Leader Jeremy Hilton said: “Liberal Democrats have an imaginative ten point plan to improve services of the city council. We will progress the regeneration of our historic city, with more panache and urgency than the current Tory administration.

“Gloucester City Council needs a new administration that has the energy and ideas to take the city into the 21st Century.”

Deputy Leader Cllr. Sebastian Field said: “Gloucester as a city is on the up, with regeneration projects happening all across the city.  But in many areas of the city, the Conservative council has failed to live up to its promises.

“Recycling rates are low in this city, and these must improve to avoid fines for sending too much waste to landfill. The Kings Quarter redevelopment has been delayed over and over again, and residents are now tired of waiting.”

Gloucester City Council Liberal Democrat Group 2015 Manifesto

Keeping Gloucester Moving Forward

Our Ten Point plan for Gloucester:-

1) Regeneration of our city is a top priority. King’s Quarter has been delayed again and again. We will make sure that the city centre is not forgotten, and will press developers to deliver on time, with developments that local people actually want.

2) Our idea to provide free wifi in Gloucester city centre is being implemented. We will make sure it is delivered in time for the Rugby World Cup. We will create a modern welcome for visitors to our historic city.

3) Liberal Democrats in Gloucester are working to ensure there are clean, modern public conveniences in the city centre. The Tory administration’s Community Toilet scheme is a failure, and Gloucester deserves better.

4) Gloucestershire Airport Ltd (GAL) is owned by the city council, jointly with Cheltenham Borough Council. We shall continue to support GAL as a general aviation airport to provide jobs and air transport services. We shall also deliver our plans to enhance the railway station and the building of a new central bus station.

5) We will lobby the government to provide better infrastructure for Gloucester, from roads and public transport, to superfast broadband for all new developments.

6) We have consistently opposed the massive waste incinerator planned for Javelin Park, Quedgeley. Local Tories on the county council rammed this plan through with the help of UKIP councillors, despite it being unanimously rejected by the planning committee. We will ensure that household waste that is collected by the city council is not burnt in an incinerator when it can be recycled.

7) Gloucester Liberal Democrats will listen to the residents of Gloucester in making their budget decisions. In these challenging times, councils have to make tough choices and innovate to save money and create revenue. We will listen to all ideas for how best to do this.

8) Gloucester Cathedral is a magnificent building at the heart of our city. It could be a World Heritage Site, which would make it even more of a tourist attraction. Liberal Democrats chair a group trying to make this happen.

9) Gloucester has a rich heritage and cultural history. We currently do not have an Arts Council-supported venue in the city, and we would work to make that a reality. Gloucester should be a creative hub for artists, writers, musicians and performers. We will bring more Festivals and events to Gloucester, including a literary festival.

10) Gloucester Liberal Democrats will ensure that the Rugby World Cup is a fantastic celebration enjoyed by all. The city must be spotlessly clean and there must be adequate facilities to accommodate all the extra fans. The council must work with England Rugby to ensure a lasting legacy from the World Cup. We will assist Gloucester City Football Club to return home to Gloucester in their plans to build a new stadium at Meadow Park.

 

 

 

Lib Dems celebrate success – free public WiFi for city centre

Lib Dem councillors Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton celebrate free wifi for Gloucester City Centre

Lib Dem councillors Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton celebrate free wifi for Gloucester City Centre

Liberal Democrats are delighted that Gloucester City Council is to introduce free public WiFi within the city centre. The Lib Dem group first proposed the idea in March 2014.

The council last week agreed to award a contract to British Telecommunications to run an upgrade of the CCTV system, including free public WiFi and 4G coverage.

The contract with BT will be for five years and work will start in May on the upgrade.

It is planned that free public WiFi will be available ahead of the Rugby World Cup, which starts in September.

Lib Dem Leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “If we want to attract visitors to Gloucester and get them to return we must provide a 21st Century Service. Visitors will enjoy the latest information of what is going on in Gloucester on their tablets or phones. This will be good for local businesses, help boost our economy and protect jobs.”

Deputy Leader, Cllr Sebastian Field added: “It is vital that the system is operational by the time of the Rugby World Cup. Four big matches are to be held at Kingsholm. A modern welcome to Gloucester will hopefully encourage fans to tour the attractions of our historic city as well as enjoying some rugby.”

Ends…

Lib Dem motion approved by council March 2104

Moved by Councillor Wilson and seconded by Councillor Hilton:

“This Council agrees to investigate the current provision of WiFi access provided within the city centre, with the view to considering the provision of free public WiFi access across the city centre for all visitors to use, as is being provided in other cities across the UK.”

 

Changes made to Wellington Parade rose garden

Jremy Hilton at Rose Garden

The rose garden at the corner of London Road and Great Western Road has seen some changes, as the city council carried out improvements to discourage anti social behaviour at this public space.
The brick wall at the back of the garden and the planter have been removed to stop street drinkers from sitting there. The boundary wall has also had some work done to it.
The work has been partially funded from a devolved budget that requires the approval of ward councillors, before the money can be spent.
Jeremy Hilton said: “The removal of the brick wall takes away a place for street drinkers to sit.
“There is still work to do to improve the garden, but we have made a start. I was more than happy to approve the work.”
Sebastian Field said: “This is an important open space along London Road.
“The drinking of alcohol is not allowed. I hope the changes being made, will reduce incidents of anti social behaviour.”

Firefighters praised – Now it’s time to do something about Bakers Quay

Jeremy Hilton inspecting the fire damage to the former warehouse at Bakers Quay

Jeremy Hilton inspecting the fire damage to the former warehouse at Bakers Quay

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Gloucester, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton has praised the fire and rescue service for their quick action in saving one of the derelict warehouses at Bakers Quay on Monday 5th January. The site has a number of listed buildings on it and it is subject to a regeneration plan approved by the city council in 2006.

The fire service arrived before 5pm on Monday evening with six fire appliances to contain and put out the fire, with the last appliances leaving at 9pm.

The roof and first floor of the two-story warehouse next to Llanthony Provender Mill was badly damaged by fire.

Jeremy Hilton has called on the city council to consider using its compulsory purchase powers to acquire Bakers Quay to enable the regeneration of the site as has been achieved elsewhere in Gloucester Docks.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “The work restoring other warehouses in Gloucester Docks and the Quays shows what can be done to improve former listed industrial buildings. It is time action was taken to achieve the same at Bakers Quay. The council approved outline planning permission for this site in 2006. It will be renewing this permission in few days. This recent fire shows how these historic warehouses are at risk. Compulsory purchasing Bakers Quay and working with a reliable private investor to regenerate the site seems to be the best option.”

Cllr. Hilton’s proposal to ask the leader of the council to consider using compulsory purchase powers will be debated at the city council meeting on the 22nd of January.

Ends….

Council approves bid by residents to list Civil Service Sports ground as a community asset

Jeremy Hilton & Sebastian Field with Civil Service Sport Club in nackground

Gloucester City Council has approved a second bid by local residents to make the former Civil Service Club in Kingsholm a community asset under the Community Right to Buy scheme. This would allow the community to buy the land if Redrow try to sell it. Redrow paid just £10,000 for the site in 2011.

The new bid provided comprehensive evidence that non-members as well as members regularly used the grounds and pavilion.

Both Liberal Democrat councillors, Jeremy Hilton and Sebastian Field provided written support for the bid and they are delighted that the city council has agreed to list the sports ground as a community asset.

Sebastian Field said: “There is a shortage of public open space in our ward as required by the city council’s open spaces strategy. The ownership of this land by the community would be a great benefit to our neighbourhood.”

Jeremy Hilton said: “The former Civil Service sports ground clearly is a community asset that we must save for sport and recreation. I am pleased that the land is now listed as a community asset giving residents of Kingsholm the first option to buy the land if Redrow try to sell it. The next step in our campaign is for the city council is to include the former civil service sports ground in its emerging open spaces strategy.”

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.”

Ends…

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.”

Ends…

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.

 

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.

Ends…

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