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…

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.