Liberal Democrat councillors fight to preserve Elmscroft Community Centre


Jeremy Hilton & Emily Ryall outside Elmscroft Community Centre


Fears have been raised over the future of Elmbridge’s largest community centre after a county council structural report suggested that significant work was required to meet health and safety standards.

The current lease is due to expire in January 2019 and there were concerns that it would be too difficult to renew.

A meeting was arranged by Elmbridge Liberal Democrat councillors between current committee members, user groups and local residents, who have expressed a determination to renew the lease and ensure the building remains open. They have won full backing of local ward councillors.

Lib Dem county councillor, Jeremy Hilton, has agreed to support a grant of £20,000 to the centre, from the Growing Communities Fund, which is reserved to his county council division of Kingsholm & Wotton that includes three polling districts in Elmbridge ward.

This should cover emergency work and it is hoped that additional funds will be found from reserves, fundraising and work by volunteers.

Jeremy Hilton said: “This is an important community asset with real character and is well used by many clubs and societies. It is vital that we do whatever we can to ensure it remains open. I’m very confident that we can help the community save the centre and help them get funding to secure its long term future.”

Lib Dem city councillors Emily Ryall and Howard Hyman are committed to keeping the building open. They stated: “We have been working hard with residents to give them the support they need to renew the lease. There is real determination to save this valuable building and preserve its historic character.”

Air Pollution report published

Tackling air pollution in Gloucestershire from vehicle emissions is set to be an important priority for Gloucestershire County Council. Today the report of the air pollution task group, chaired by Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem Kingsholm & Wotton), is published.

According to Public Health England, poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, and the Royal College of Physicians has estimated that poor air quality is responsible for 40,000 premature deaths in the UK annually.

Exposure to air pollution can affect health by contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases, and can limit an individual’s quality of life.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “Public bodies in Gloucestershire need to do much more to reduce vehicle air pollution. We have a number of poor air quality hot spots in the county. Nitrogen Dioxides and particulate matter from vehicle emissions is a hazard to everyone’s health in the county. We have to take action to reduce these pollutants.

“I shall be taking the report of the air pollution task group to the Environment & Community Scrutiny Committee next week, where I hope it is approved, before it is sent on to the county cabinet on the 6th of June.”

The report has a dozen recommendations that include the establishment of a Gloucestershire Air Quality Partnership to oversee future work. This will be helped by better air quality monitoring with a focus on particulate matter. Changes to planning policies are suggested. Highway interventions are recommended to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

The task group wishes to encourage the greater use of electric vehicles and also to set stronger targets to increase journeys by bicycle, on foot and public transport. It wants to see the use low emissions buses etc.

Cllr Hilton concluded: “This report is just a start. I would like to that everyone who came along to the workshop we held in January and to the members of the air pollution task group that helped draft the report.”

Thousands of pounds of public money wasted on abortive fire takeover

The total cost to the public purse of the abortive attempt by Gloucestershire Police & Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl, to takeover the county’s fire and rescue service was £135,000. 

The fire and rescue service has been governed by Gloucestershire County Council since 1974. All members of the council are united in their support of the county council remaining the local fire authority.

After spending £100,000 of taxpayers money on employing his own consultants to mount a hostile bid to run the fire and rescue service, Mr Surl dropped his plan during the summer. The cost to the county council in defending its fire authority role was £35,000.

Jeremy Hilton speaking out against the waste of public money

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Fire Service, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm and Wotton) said:

“The county council is the fire authority and already does a brilliant job in managing Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service. We all need to remember the great job our firefighters did during the 2007 floods.

“I am very disappointed in the police and crime commissioner for wasting such a large sum of public money on empire building. In particular, I am concerned about the £10,000 cost of fire officer time spent on answering Mr Surl’s consultant’s questions. He needs to concentrate on delivering a better police service in Gloucestershire.

“I am, however, pleased that he dropped his takeover bid.

“The £135,000 of taxpayers money spent would have been better used on developing new collaborative projects between the blue light services. We should be looking at sharing our fire stations.

“Together we pioneered the TriService emergency centre and vehicle workshops. The fire service is now helping the ambulance service by co-responding to medical emergencies and also helping social services with the enhanced self and well checks at people’s homes.

“We can do more collaborative work something which I will be proposing at December’s Council meeting in Shire Hall.”

Martin Surl withdraws hostile bid to takeover Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service

Jeremy Hilton a strong advocate for the fire service remaining with Gloucestershire County Council

 

Martin Surl the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire has announced that he will not be persuing a hostile bid, allowed under the Police & Crime Act, to takeover the governance of Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service, which is currently governed by the county council.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the fire service, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) welcomed the news.

He said: “This is very good news. The fire and rescue service should stay under the governance of Gloucestershire County Council, as it has done since 1974. My motion to the county council in June opposing a transfer was backed unanimously by all councillors. Mr Surl was alone in wanting to transfer the service.

“The Police and Crime Commisioner has a massive job governing Gloucestershire Constabulary. He needs to concentrate on improving the police service in our county. I’m pleased he has recognised this and has withdrawn his bid to takeover Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service.

“The Fire and Rescue Service is already well run. It does a brilliant job in protecting the people of this county. We all remember the excellet job our firefighters did during the servere floods in 2007.”

Long running saga of unadopted roads at St Oswald’s Park – continues

Jeremy Hilton at Longhorn Avenue, St Oswald’s Park

The long running saga of the adoption of the roads and footpaths on the residential development at St Oswald’s Park continues.

At the county council meeting in June, local Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem – Kingsholm & Wotton) asked the cabinet member what was causing the delay in the adoptions.

The council said the failure of the developers to enter a section 38 highways adoption agreement when construction took place, was a cause.

The cabinet member Nigel Moor said there were several significant issues that would require resolution before the roads could be adopted.

He said: “Issues needing resolution are the adoption of the intervening private streets, submission of a vesting certificate for the sewers, submission of a stage 3 road safety audit and designers response report, submission of the health & safety file and resolution of on-street parking that is causing an obstruction.

“Until the developer decides to address these issues it would not be in the public interest for the council to adopt roads.”

Jeremy Hilton said: “The housing development is now complete and the roads and footpaths need to be formally adopted by the county council. There are issues with inappropriate parking in places that cannot properly be dealt with until to roads are adopted.

“I have written to Persimmon to seek their comments on the cabinet member’s response. They have asked that I call a meeting with key stakeholders. I have written to Persimmon, Hammerson and the county council to invite them to a meeting to get this process moving forward.”

 

Jeremy Hilton objects to hostile takeover of fire service

Jeremy Hilton and the Liberal Democrats are opposed to any plans for Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl taking over the running of the county’s fire service. It is understood that Mr Surl has employed consultants to mount a hostile bid to takeover Gloucestershire’s Fire & Rescue Service.

The Tory Government has passed legislation that would allow a hostile takeover by the local PCC, but Jeremy Hilton – who is running to be Gloucester’s next MP – is against the idea.

“Gloucestershire has one of the best run fire services in the country and should remain under the control of the county council,” he said.

“Moving the fire service would cost a lot of money and would not deliver any savings to tax payers in Gloucestershire. It would undermine the good collaboration that we have between the emergency services in Gloucestershire. Mr Surl should sort out the police service rather than empire building.”

Jeremy Hilton also confirmed that the Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to replacing police and crime commissioners, elected at great expense in elections with very low turnout, with accountable police boards made up of local councillors.

“Hands off our fire service” say Gloucestershire Lib Dems

Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have today voiced disappointment with the Police and Crime Commissioner in accepting £100K to mount a bid to takeover Gloucestershire’s Fire and Rescue Service.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm & Wotton) who is the Lib Dem national lead on the fire and rescue service at the Local Government Association is firmly opposed to plans of moving the county’s Fire Service under the control of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

In commenting, Cllr. Hilton said:

“Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service is one of the best if not the best in the country thanks to the good governance by the county council under all political administrations.

“Currently it costs £34 per person to operate the Fire Service in Gloucestershire, one of the best rates in the country. To change the governance arrangements of such a service would not only be unnecessary but simply reckless.

“It is not compulsory for our Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr. Surl to put in a bid and one that could severely damage the superb collaboration that already exists between the blue light services at the county’s Tri-Service Centre in Quedgeley.

“A recent inspection undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and published this month was extremely critical in that Gloucestershire’s Constabulary requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

“The report unfavourably went on to say that the county’s force ‘does not use intelligence well to identify threat or risk of harm within its communities, and its problem – solving activity lacks consistency.

“This was a damning inspection report of Mr. Surl’s own force, and it would be highly advisable that he gets his own house in order before unnecessary tampering with a fire & rescue service which is not broke and doesn’t require fixing.”

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Fire & Infrastructure, Cllr. Bernie Fisher (St Paul’s & Swindon) also said:

“There are fundamentally two questions here – one, will transition make it more efficient and less costly to run, and two, will it improve collaboration for better delivery of the service?

“I very much doubt that such a move will satisfy either of these two questions.

“Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service is part of the County Council and includes other services such as Emergency Management, Trading Standards, Registrars, Coroners and the Road Safety Partnership.

“The Service is the most cost effective in England and now provides co-responder services to support the ambulance service, targeted work (particularly around dementia), telecare responses (helping to keep people in their own homes) and has led on community resilience (Including Emergency Management and Trading Standards).

“Their biggest role is now around preventative services for adults. It is a service that now does so much more than putting out fires. To change such a valued and effective service would be foolish.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl, has used the £100K given to him from the Home Office to appoint PA Consultants of Buckingham Palace Road, London to prepare a business case.

ENDS…

Lib Dem success – Hyde Lane is made safe as road is resurfaced

Jeremy Hilton celebrates the resurfacing of Hyde Lane with Kingsholm resident Sue Tomlins

It has taken a long time, but at last Hyde Lane has been resurfaced, thanks to the single-minded determination of Lib Dem county councillor, Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton). His persistence has paid off.

The top end of Hyde Lane is currently a private road, but it is also a signposted pedestrian route to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Following the resurfacing, the road will be adopted by the county council.

Jeremy Hilton said: “I finally secured funding from the county council for the road to be repaired last year. The road was resurfaced the week of 6th March.

“Hyde Lane was full of potholes and unsafe for pedestrians to use. In particular, for elderly or disabled patents using this route to get to a hospital appointment.

“We must remember that besides residents of Kingsholm using this way to get to the hospital, people arriving on the No. 10 or No. 94 bus do so as well.

“I am pleased that after such a long time I finally got the lane resurfaced.”

Liberal Liberal Democrats will halt the sale of the Bishop’s College

Jeremy Hilton & Linda Castle discuss future education needs at former Bishop’s College site

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to halt the sale of the a former school in Gloucester should they take control of Gloucestershire County Council at the elections in May.

The Conservative-run county council want to build 90 houses on the former Bishop’s College off Estcourt Close in Longlevens.

But the Lib Dems say the sale should be halted until a full review has been carried out into secondary school provision in the north of Gloucester.

The Lib Dems, who are the second largest party on the county council, are bidding to take control and oust the Conservatives after 12 years of rule at Shire Hall.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, Lib Dem county councillor for Kingsholm & Wotton, said: “There is no comprehensive school in the north of the city.

“Every day 2,000 children leave Gloucester to attend comprehensive schools outside of the city boundary. This is a ridiculous situation.

“With more than 14,000 new homes planned in the Gloucester area and most of these in the north as suggested in the Joint Core Strategy, we must agree a site for a new comprehensive secondary school to serve all these extra families.

“The sale of the Bishops College site must be halted.”

In September last year Gloucester City Council’s planning committee granted outline planning permission for 90 houses on the land, subject to conditions.

The city council website suggests that a decision notice has yet to be issued.

Local resident Linda Castle, who is the Lib Dem county council candidate for Longlevens, said: “There is a dire need for a brand new comprehensive secondary school to serve Longlevens and the north of Gloucester.

“Children attending secondary school in the future should have the same opportunity as I had and be able to go to a local school that’s within walking distance.

“I was saddened when my former secondary school in Paygrove Lane was closed down. I’m angry with the Tories who now want to build on the Bishop College site.

“It would make an ideal location for a new comprehensive school. We must have proper review of secondary school provision.”

Ends…