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…

Jeremy Hilton backs plan to resolve the Gloucester SW Bypass – ‘Missing Link’

Liberal Democrats are backing the project to upgrade the Gloucester SW Bypass near Llanthony Priory. They have said that if they win the county council elections in May they will finish the job.

The county cabinet today approved the £5m project, which will see the short section by Llanthony Priory widened and have its junctions improved. It is expected, once land purchases have been completed that construction will start in 2020.

Lib Dem county councillor and leader of Gloucester City Lib Dems, Jeremy Hilton said: “We are 100% behind the project to resolve the bottleneck along this section of the bypass. This is the unfinished section of the bypass. It’s Gloucester’s missing link.

“I am very pleased that the cabinet gave approval for the project. Not only will the project improve traffic flow along the bypass, but it should reduce vehicle movements along The Quay and Southgate Street, which motorists are using as an alternative through route.

“The cabinet member also reassured me today in answer to my questions that the listed wall to Llanthony Priory will be protected during construction and that the new junction to Sudmeadow Road should improve access for residents, businesses and the new Gloucester City Football Club stadium.”

Liberal Democrats call for more investment in Gloucester’s footways

Jeremy Hilton points out the poor state of the footway along Priory Road

Jeremy Hilton points out the poor state of the footway along Priory Road

Gloucester City Council on the 1st of December will debate the state of the city’s footways and the amount of money the Conservative led county council spends annually on resurfacing. The motion proposed by the Liberal Democrat group will call on the county council (the highway authority) to increase its capital footway budget from the £83,000 being spent this year.

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“The state of many of the footways in Gloucester is shocking, in particular on our post-war housing estates and the older parts of the city. These footpaths are decades old and they need resurfacing rather than patching. The funds allocated by the Conservative run county council on resurfacing are inadequate. The county council must increase spending on footway repairs next year and beyond.”

Liberal Democrats have been critical about the Tories who have recently agreed to spend a £1m on new telephones for Shire Hall and have given contractors UBB £30m in a cash gift to build the waste incinerator at Javelin Park. Money the Lib Dems say could have been better spend on repairing our roads and footpaths.

Cllr. Emily Ryall who will second the motion said:

“It is unacceptable that the Conservative run county council do not see it as a priority to spend taxpayers’ money on ensuring that our pavements and footpaths are safe and fit for purpose. I have heard from residents in my ward of Elmbridge who struggle to manoeuvre wheelchairs, and have suffered twisted ankles and even head injuries from falling, due to uneven and broken surfaces. These residents deserve better.”

Ends….

Motion – poor maintenance of footways in Gloucester

“This council expresses its deep concern about the state of many of the footways in Gloucester, noting that the county council has only budgeted to spend £83,000 from its capital budget on footways repairs within the city council boundaries this financial year.

This council notes that there are many footpaths, particularly on post-war housing estates, that are in desperate need of resurfacing.

This council therefore calls on Gloucestershire County Council to increase its capital spending on footway repairs within Gloucester for the 2017/18 council year and beyond.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton
Seconded by Emily Ryall

Liberal Democrats condemn COXIT

The Liberal Democrat statement on what has been termed ‘Coxit’, the Cotswold District Council’s exit from Gloucestershire County Council reads as follows:

“Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council have condemned the actions of the Conservative Leader on Cotswold District Council for suggesting to create a unitary authority based on Cotswold District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.

“This proposal is one which no one has voted for and no one has asked for. It threatens the very make up of our county.

“We believe the proposals would adversely impact on the delivery of important public services currently administered by Gloucestershire County Council, the NHS, the Police and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

“These organisations have already voiced their serious concerns over the splitting up of our county’s services due to the issue of any new Cotswold authority not only crossing different counties bit different regions too.

“For us improving services is the most important thing and therefore this proposal which has not been consulted on must have overwhelming support from the people of the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire if it were to happen”.

The Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“The proposal for a unitary council made up from Cotswold District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council has come out of the blue. There has been no consultation with Gloucestershire County Council on this matter. It looks like it is being done as a method to abolish Oxfordshire County Council, with our own county receiving collateral damage.

“For 1,000 years the Cotswolds has been part of Gloucestershire and it should stay that way. Public services in our county could be severely damaged. One example would be Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, which could be carved up by this plan.”

Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson (LD: Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) said:

“I’ve been speaking to residents and parish councils in my area and I know many are already opposed to this mad idea. We should be spending all our time and money on improving services not on yet more consultants to try and justify an idea which no one has asked for”.

The lack of consultation on the unitary plan has also been criticised by Oxfordshire County Council’s Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green group leaders. A debate over the plans will take place at full council this Wednesday at Shire Hall.

Regeneration of Gloucester – Liberal Democrat Viewpoint

The regeneration of our city centre is a long-term project, which Liberal Democrat councillors’ support. It is vital that key projects have all party backing to encourage external investment.
The proposals announced in the Citizen on Monday have been developed over time with input and ideas from many people. They are certainly not, the sole ideas, of the Conservative administration. As a package, the proposals will have Liberal Democrat councillors support.
Liberal Democrats helped secure public funding for the new bus station, which we desperately need. I am pleased to see work has just begun.
The Tories have been unable to deliver the Kings Quarter Project, which is a major failure in policy terms. The administration has also been unable to find a development partner for the historic Fleece Hotel and grounds. There has been a number of planning approvals for the former Kwiksave site, but the site remains derelict.
Liberal Democrats believe that we can improve on the plans in the following way.
Breakup Kings Quarter into two separate, but linked projects
Market Parade or (White Friars) project
To include a new hotel, indoor market, city centre homes, car park and some retail. That is a true gateway into Gloucester, which is well linked to a refurbished railway station.
Kings Square
This should be our premier open space in city centre. It has been unloved by the council for 25 years. It must become a space for public events, dining and socialising, with new pavilion cafes, restaurants, and most of all, superb public art that pulls people to the square.
Cathedral Quarter
Project Pilgrim will help enhance the area around the cathedral, but we need to look at the whole of lower Westgate Street. How about refurbishing the small square outside Shire Hall or creating a visitors centre in Pitt Street where the stone masons work keeping the cathedral in good condition.
City Centre living
We must continue to support city centre living with new developments. The council must do more to encourage the conversion to housing of former office/commercial space within the city centre.
City Centre environment
There are too many pound shops, turf accountants and tattoo parlours. We do need to improve our retail offer. The provision of high quality public toilets is dire and must be addressed. The pavements are littered with chewing gum and Liberal Democrats will invest in improving street cleaning in our city centre. The provision of public art in city centre is underwhelming.
Regeneration Oversight
Regeneration oversight is done behind closed doors and I would propose that we create a new Regeneration Scrutiny Committee to meet in public that can properly scrutinise the council’s regeneration plans.
History
We live in a great historic city and we should promote this more effectively, with restoration of important building, festivals remembering our past & public art celebrating our 2,000 years of development.
University City
We must support the continued development of University Gloucestershire in the city and encourage purpose built student accommodation in Blackfriars area to persuade year two and three students to stay rather than move to Cheltenham.

Lib Dems secure funding for third year for visits to SkillZone

John Cordwell and Jeremy Hilton experience - the danger in the alley scenario at the SkillZone

John Cordwell and Jeremy Hilton experience – the danger in the alley scenario at the SkillZone

The Liberal Democrats have for the third financial year running secured safety sessions at Gloucester’s SkillZone for all Year 5 school pupils across the county.

Opened in September 2012, SkillZone is a state-of-the-art life size village. There are sixteen interactive zones, which cover a range of scenarios including road, rail, water, home and personal safety. Those pupils going up into Year 5 this September will be able to take advantage of the zones and all what the facility offers.

The Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure, Cllr. John Cordwell (LD: Wotton-under-Edge) who is also Chair of the Stroud Road Safety Liaison Group said:

“I’m pleased that for the third year running children from schools across Gloucestershire will have the opportunity to visit Gloucester’s SkillZone. It is a great fully interactive facility that is certainly worth a visit.

“The take up over the past couple of years have been good and now it is running into a third year where more Year 5 groups will be able to come and learn how to recognise dangerous situations and stay safe.

“I quote Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) who said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, I’m confident that investment in children’s safety now will help reduce safety incidences in the future”.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD:Kingsholm & Wotton) also said:

“For three years running, the Liberal Democrats have proposed for all Year 5 pupils to visit this facility and evaluations from the last two years have shown the programme to be a huge success.

“Since April 2014, a total of 13,844 children have visited SkillZone and of these 5,598 Year 5 pupils have attended as part of the Liberal Democrat scheme.

“The evaluations undertaken this year shows that 100% of teachers were satisfied (98% very satisfied) with the safety education, 100% of teachers state that they think their pupils’ safety has been increased after the visit (88.5% to a great extent) and 100% felt that the session had a good or very good impact on the children (92% very good).

“The Liberal Democrats have pushed for these visits to happen and I’m delighted that they will be continuing for another year. SkillZone is a fantastic and fun way of getting important safety messages across to our children.

“I’d encourage all schools to take up the opportunity of bringing their Year 5 groups to such a place.”

My statement on the unitary council bid from Cotswolds & West Oxon

“The proposal for a unitary council made up from Cotswold District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council has come out of the blue. There has been no consultation with Gloucestershire County Council on this matter. It looks like it is being done as a method to abolish Oxfordshire County Council, with our own county receiving collateral damage.

“For 1,000 years the Cotswolds has been part of Gloucestershire and it should stay that way. Public services in our county could be severely damaged. One example would be Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, which could be carved up by this plan.

“It is amazing to think that Lynden Stowe, the leader of Cotswold District, who is also a county councillor, could ambush his leader, Mark Hawthorne in such a way. Not only are the Tories fighting over Europe they now are arguing over the integrity of our wonderful county of Gloucestershire.”