“Let’s get devolution right for Gloucestershire” say Lib Dems

On the day Gloucestershire submits a detailed bid for more devolved powers and responsibilities, which means greater local control and influence over resources and priorities. The Liberal Democrats issue their own ‘Statement of Principles’, on which support for a devolution package will only then be determined.

The Liberal Democrat agreed principles are as follows:

1) Liberal Democrats believe that devolution needs to be created by locally led processes and are mindful that devolution as it currently stands to a model set out by Government is not real devolution at all.

2) Liberal Democrats will only support devolution if Government is genuinely interested in giving power back to local communities, but not if the intention of Government is simply to pass cost-cutting measures onto local authorities under the façade of devolution.

3) The new responsibilities handed down from Government to Gloucestershire must come with full powers to decide, manage and innovate at a local level.

4) The Government must ensure that adequate funding is guaranteed now and in the future to support good quality services for residents of the county.

5) The government must ensure that the new arrangements allow for additional funds to be raised locally or through other legitimate means to support enhanced service provision if that is decided by locally elected members.

6) The governance arrangements must be cross-party and fully reflect the political proportionality that exists on the councils that make up the new governing board that will oversee the new devolved services.

7) We will not support the establishment of a metro mayor. Governance of the new additional arrangements must not be handed over to a single person as we believe collective responsibility across all political parties, provides for better services.

8) If we want democracy alongside devolution, then, we ultimately need a fairer voting system for local government in the form of STV.

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

“We are very much in favour of devolving more powers and responsibilities to local areas, but the deal must be right and it must be in the interests of Gloucestershire as a whole.

“Our ‘Statement of Principles’ are more than just a wish list they are key to us supporting the ‘We are Gloucestershire’ bid, which I believe is being signed and submitted today.

“There are a number of factors to be considered and the last thing we should be doing is to look at devolution through rose-tinted spectacles. While devolution presents a number of exciting opportunities, it will not be easy to commit to achieving better outcomes at further reduced costs and this ought to be fully realised.

“Gloucestershire County Council is in no overall control and it is therefore vital that not only public sector partners are consulted, but that all political parties who are a part of the public sector have a say in what is being proposed and what will eventually be agreed.

“In any deal, the question is: who holds the cards? It is important that through the negotiation process of devolution we don’t allow Government to hold all the cards.

“I believe our ‘Statement of Principles’ goes some way to making sure that when we are in a position to agree a deal it will ultimately be the right one for Gloucestershire.”

ENDS

Notes:
1. Ten of Gloucestershire’s public sector partners have already come together including Gloucestershire Councils, the Police & Crime Commissioner, GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership and Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group to have one conversation with Government about how, through devolution, one can achieve better outcomes and reduced costs.

Time to end stone crushing at Myers Road

Liberal Democrat county councillor for Kingsholm & Wotton, Jeremy Hilton has today called for the county council enforcement team to close down the stone crushing operation off Myers Road when the two-year temporary permission ends in September.
Temporary planning permission was granted to Allstone Sand & Gravel by the county council in September 2013 for a two-year period despite opposition from local Lib Dem councillors.
Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “At the time of the application I did object to the renewal of the stone crushing permission, because of the negative impact this would have on neighbouring residential properties. There are many residents living at The Crescent, Swallow Park and Armscroft Estate who would like this process to end. People are getting fed up of the heavy lorries travelling up and down Horton Road and Myers Road, and the hazard this creates, especially close to St Peter’s Primary School in Horton Road. The stone crushing is a noise and dust nuisance to residents living nearby. We have the hospital in the neighbourhood. There must be a more suitable location in Gloucestershire for Allstone to carry out their stone crushing operation. I encourage them to look for one.”
Cllr. Hilton has asked the county enforcement team to act on clause 1 of the decision statement.
Clause 1 reads: “The development hereby permitted shall cease and the site be restored to permeable hard standing to the levels indicated on the Site Survey Plan ASG/001/2013 (dated Feb 2013), with all plant and machinery removed, no later than the expiration of two years from the date of this permission.”
Cllr. Hilton continued: “The decision notice is dated the 27th of September 2013 therefore I assume that permission ends on 27th of September this year. It is now time for the county council to get tough and implement its decision and to end stone crushing off Myers Road by end of September.”
Ends…

Notes

Link to 13/0021/GLMAJW decision notice http://caps.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gcc_images/13_0021_GLMAJW_DEC_NOT.pdf

Tory & UKIP councillors vote to scrap Human Rights Act

At today’s full county council meeting the Liberal Democrats urged fellow councillors across political parties to continue supporting the very act that safeguards the civil liberties of everyone in the UK. However, Conservative Councillors used their majority with the support of UKIP to defend the scrapping of the Human Rights Act.

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm and Wotton) said:

“I was very disappointed and shocked by the titude of both the Conservative and UKIP Councillors who rubbished the Human Rights Act, based on total ignorance about what this piece of legislation does, to protect our civil liberties.

“I was amazed to hear so many Conservative Councillors arguing for us to also pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which was advocated and supported by Winston Churchill just after the war.

“This shows the true colours behind the Conservative Party – Purple!

“The Liberal Democrats blocked David Cameron from scrapping the Human Rights Act in Government and we must stop him again.”

ENDS
Notes:
1. The following motion that was debated on Wednesday 8th July 2015: –
Motion – Human Rights Act

This Council notes that the Human Rights Act protects basic human rights regardless of gender, religion and background and ensures that everyone is treated equally and fairly.

This Council is aware and disappointed that the new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove has been assigned the task of abolishing the Human Rights Act.

This Council recognises that many oppose such a move including Senior Conservatives such as former Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve who has described the proposals as a “recipe for chaos”.

This Council values the list of rights that the Act gives and opposes plans for this important piece of legislation to be repealed.

This Council requests that the Leader of this Council writes to the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon David Cameron MP, the Secretary of State for Justice, Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP and the six Gloucestershire MPs urging them not to repeal the Human Rights Act.

Proposed by – Cllr. Jeremy Hilton

Seconded by – Cllr. Simon Wheeler

2. The Human Rights Act gives us access to:

•the right to life;

•the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

•the prohibition of slavery and forced labour;

•the right to liberty and security of the person;

•the right to a fair trial;

•prohibition of punishment without law;

•the right to respect for private and family life;

•the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;

•the right to freedom of expression;

•the right to freedom of assembly and association;

•the right for men and women to marry and found a family;

•the right to peaceful enjoyment of personal property;

•the right to education;

•the right to free elections;

•and the prohibition of discrimination.

A Strong Liberal Democrat Group to Fight Back across Gloucestershire

A strong team of Liberal Democrat County Councillors who will work hard for the residents of the county and also keep a close eye on those decisions being made by a Conservative administration where there is no overall control has today been announced by re-elected Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm & Wotton).

Cllr. Hilton said: “Following the Liberal Democrat County Group’s Annual General Meeting held on Friday 15th May 2015, I’m pleased to announce that our strong team of Shadow Cabinet Members are as follows:

Finance & Change – Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson (LD: Bourton-on-the-Water)
Long-Term Care – Cllr. David Brown (LD: Barnwood & Hucclecote)
Older People – Cllr. Klara Sudbury (LD: Charlton Park & College)
Children & Young People and Strategic Commissioning – Cllr. Joe Harris (LD: Cirencester Park)
Highways and Flood – Cllr. Bill Whelan (LD: Churchdown)
Fire, Planning and Infrastructure – Cllr. John Cordwell (LD: Wotton-under-Edge)
Public Health and Communities – Cllr. Iain Dobie (LD: Leckhampton & Warden Hill)

“I look forward to working alongside them all with Cllr. Iain Dobie who I’m delighted will again be serving as Deputy Leader. Despite our recent knock-backs, I’m confident that with a strong team of local county councillors we will continue to work hard to strengthen the local economy, fix the roads and protect the most vulnerable across Gloucestershire all the way through to the county elections in 2017”.

The Deputy Leader, Cllr. Dobie also said: “The recent national and local election results make it more important than ever to field a well-led, challenging and effective opposition team. I am confident that the Liberal Democrats, who are the prime opposition party at the County Council, have such a team.”

Lib Dems succeed in amending county council budget

Yesterday saw a tremendous breakthrough for the Liberal Democrats in securing nearly a full slate of budget proposals amounting to nearly £0.5million for 2015/2016.

This year’s county council budget setting meeting commenced after the morning’s extraordinary meeting over the incinerator. The Liberal Democrats presented a comprehensive package of recommendations over a range of different service areas including cycling schemes, health, fire emergency support, Wi-fi, adoption and road safety.

The Liberal Democrat proposals agreed included:

1) A £100K investment to undertake the necessary feasibility and advance design work in preparation for delivering cycling schemes in future years.

2) A £10K investment funded from the Sexual Health part of the Public Health ring fenced Grant to carry-out a study into Chlamydia/STI screening and the role of GPs across the county in encouraging more opportunistic screening.

3) That approximately £100K be invested to provide free Wi-Fi in every county and community library.

4) That every elected county councillor in 2015/2016 receives an additional £2.5k (53 x £2.5K = £132.5K as part of a one-off increase to their ‘Highways Local’ money, which may be used for tree maintenance and/or tree planting in their division.

5) That a £10K one-off investment is given to the Red Cross Fire Emergency Support Service in order to double the number of volunteers from 12 to 24. The Red Cross Fire Emergency Support Service provides invaluable support to Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service.

6) A £10K pot of money to provide support in the form of courses for those approved adopters who adopt older children and teenagers where risk of disruption is recognised to be high. The aim is to further support these placements and reduce the chance of the placement breaking down.

7) £50K one-off investment package into a number of Road Safety Programmes including a repeat of all Year 5 pupils at Gloucestershire’s primary schools being given the opportunity to have a session at Gloucester’s SkillZone.

8) That a £20K one-off investment is given to the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team to work towards doubling the number of children who receive e-Safety in 2015/2016.

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

“We are delighted in securing these proposals, which are now a part of the 2015/2016 budget. We are hopeful that our recommendations will go some way to making a real difference to the lives of Gloucestershire resident’s in 2015/2016.

“I am especially pleased that support was given for repeating our proposal last year for all Year 5 primary school pupils to undertake a session at SkillZone. Teachers have overwhelmingly reported that their children will be safer after a session.

“I am also excited by the one-off investment that is to be given to the Red Cross Emergency Support Service. They play a pivotal role in providing the basic amenities and emotional support to those going through the horrific experience of an emergency situation such as a house fire, flood or even road traffic accident.

“Users of our public libraries will be delighted that free WiFi will be available in all libraries.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how small pots of money can make a big difference in Gloucestershire.”

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Iain Dobie (LD: Leckhampton and Warden Hill) also said: “We welcome the £100K investment to undertake the necessary feasibility and advance design work in preparation for delivering cycling schemes.

“Cycling should be for everyone, not just the speedsters in Lycra. We want to break down the barriers to cycling to school or the shops, to work or for leisure.

“The rewards could be massive: millions of pounds in savings for the NHS, less pollution and congestion, and greater safety and happiness.”
ENDS

Liberal Democrats Call for Incinerator Review

Anna Mozol and Jeremy Hilton at Javelin Park - The proposed site of the Tory  waste incinerator

Anna Mozol and Jeremy Hilton at Javelin Park – The proposed site of the Tory waste incinerator

The Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council will at Wednesday’s extraordinary council meeting call for the Cabinet to ask Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) to halt work on the incinerator at Javelin Park until a full and public independent review has been undertaken to scrutinise both the Council’s procurement process and the contract in detail.

On two separate occasions, the Liberal Democrats have challenged pivotal decisions made by the Conservative Cabinet regarding Gloucestershire County Council’s residual waste project. Firstly, in December 2011, the Liberal Democrats lodged what is known as a ‘call-in’ over the selection of a preferred bidder and again another ‘call-in’ was submitted in September 2012 over the Cabinet’s decision to award the contract to Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) before the Council’s planning committee had considered the incinerator application.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm and Wotton) who will be leading calls for the review said:

“From the beginning, we’ve always challenged the process. In making a decision to cancel the incinerator contract at this stage, one needs to be sure of the exact costs involved and whether or not the contract had the necessary break-clauses in place to minimise any potential financial risk to this council.

“I am not convinced that the £60m-£100m cost to cancel the UBB contract is accurate, but has been instead overly estimated as a scaremongering tactic to stop elected members from voting in favour of cancelling the contract for fear of reprisals to council services.

“It is only right and responsible for an independent auditor to examine the contract in detail and determine impartially the actual figures involved with cancelling a contract of this nature and at this particular stage.

“If the figures are proved to be accurate, then, the Tories should be ashamed of themselves in purposefully tying our hands to a stringent and highly inflexible contract that will cost many millions of taxpayers’ money to cancel and detrimentally affect many council services.

“Until we know fully the costs involved, then, I do not feel that any elected member on Wednesday can make an informed decision over whether or not to cancel the incinerator contract.

“Labour has been overzealous in calling for the cancellation of the incinerator without first looking at all the costs involved and are playing politics over an important issue, which is simply for the benefit of their parliamentary candidate standing in Stroud. If sensible they too would be asking for such a review.

“It is time that we stop playing politics with such an important issue and get to the bottom of the real costs involved and whether the process was done correctly from the beginning.”

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Iain Dobie (LD: Leckhampton and Warden Hill) also said:

“If Labour are serious about cancelling this contract then wouldn’t it be better for them to know all the facts and surely if the Tories have nothing to hide then delaying work until the contract has been independently scrutinised would give elected members and residents of Gloucestershire confidence in the current administration.

“A review of this kind would give elected members like myself who were only elected in 2013 all the facts to make a reasoned and informed decision on whether it really is in the best interests of Gloucestershire to cancel the incinerator contract or not. I believe in transparency and I come to this without any prejudice.

“Our request is basically that once this review has been completed and a full uncensored report be presented to full council on Wednesday 20th May, then, we shall be in a much better position to make such an important decision.”

All Gloucester libraries should have free WiFi

Jeremy Hilton ready to use his tablet computer at Gloucester Library

Jeremy Hilton ready to using his tablet computer at Gloucester Library

All libraries in Gloucester should have free public WiFi says Jeremy Hilton the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Gloucester. Cllr Hilton has already succeeded in his campaign to get free WiFi provided at Gloucester Central Library. He now wants it installed into the five other libraries within the city boundaries.

The free WiFi service started at the Brunswick Road library on the 2nd of February, but this is currently the only library in Gloucester with this service. Free WiFi is also operated in Cirencester & Cheltenham libraries.

Jeremy Hilton said: “Libraries must offer a 21st Century service. I am delighted that free WiFi is now available in Gloucester Central Library. The users of our main library will be delighted.

“If McDonalds can do it, so can our county libraries. The county council must now provide free public WiFi at Longlevens, Hucclecote, Quedgeley, Tuffley and Matson libraries.

“There is no excuse in not modernising Gloucester’s libraries. They are a great place to study or work. The public should be able to access free Wifi on their phones, laptops or tablets in any library in Gloucester.”

 

Astronomical costs to cancelling incinerator contract

In response to the costs associated with cancelling the UBB incinerator contract that have been shared with the Liberal Democrat Group.

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

“We have seen the figures for exiting the waste incinerator contract with UBB and it is astronomical. The figures quoted are between £60m and £100m, which is far greater than the £33 million quoted for cancelling a similar contract in Norfolk.

“Labour have acted irresponsibly in calling to cancel this contract before knowing these costs. The Conservatives were reckless in signing such a rigid contract before the planning committee had even considered the application.

“The Liberal Democrats have always been opposed to the building of an incinerator and have continually pushed for alternative technologies such as Mechanical Biological treatment (MBT).

“We will now be looking at these figures in detail and seeking legal advice.

“Both Labour and the Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves in allowing this diabolical situation to develop in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ position.”

ENDS….

Don’t leave us in limbo Mr Pickles

 

Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council have today requested an extraordinary council meeting to be arranged in January over the Secretary of State’s failure, for the third time, to announce a decision on the £500m Javelin Park incinerator.

Jeremy Hilton, Steve Webb & Kevin Daws - thumbs down to incinerator 2

A written request has been submitted by five Liberal Democrat County Councillors to the Chairperson, Cllr. Awford, voicing disappointment with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, in delaying to make a final decision.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said that:

“Once this meeting has been arranged, we’ll be insisting the Leader of this Council, Cllr. Mark Hawthorne writes to the Secretary of State immediately.

“Two years ago, the county council’s planning committee unanimously rejected permission to build a massive waste incinerator at Javelin Park. It is a disgrace that Eric Pickles, has for the third time, failed to make a decision on whether or not such a facility should be built.

“We demand that Mr. Pickles makes his decision no later than the start of the 2015 general election purdah period, i.e. Thursday 26th March 2015.

“The Conservative’s shambolic approach during the previous council meant the contract was signed before planning permission was considered. The consequences of has already cost this council millions of pounds. Any further delays will undoubtedly add to this cost and to the taxpayer.

“The Liberal Democrats have always been opposed to the building of this incinerator, but being ‘left in limbo’ like this is totally unacceptable.”

Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson, who has also put his name requesting for an additional meeting, also said that:

“The situation has gone beyond a joke. I cannot see any legitimate reason why the Secretary of State cannot make a decision one way or the other over the building of a mass burning incinerator at Javelin Park.

“The Conservatives are undoubtedly nervous about any decision made this side of May’s elections.

“Of course it may well hamper the Tories chances in holding seats, especially the parliamentary ones currently held by Richard Graham in the City and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown in the Cotswolds.

“It is time the Leader of the County Council stood up for residents and demand that this decision is made before the elections in May.”

ENDS

“Time for Free Wi-Fi at Gloucester Library” – Jeremy Hilton

Jeremy Hilton ready to use his tablet computer at Gloucester Library

Jeremy Hilton ready to use his tablet computer at Gloucester Library

  Follow Jeremy Hilton on Twitter @jeremy4glos

Gloucester’s main library in Brunswick Road is to get free public access Wi-Fi in the New Year, says Cllr. Jeremy Hilton the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Gloucester. It is anticipated that free Wi-Fi should be operational by the middle of January.

Jeremy Hilton said: “I have made enquiries at the county council about the lack of free Wi-Fi in Gloucester’s central library.

“It is unfair that this service is provided at Cheltenham central library, but not in Gloucester. The quality of service provision in both central libraries should be comparable.

“There are free internet access desk top computers in all libraries, which the Lib Dems introduced when I was the cabinet member. It is time that free Wi-Fi is also available.

“The good news is that the county council has recently gone out to tender to install public Wi-Fi provision in Gloucester Library. The county council tell me that it should be operational by the middle of January. I hope they meet this deadline.

“Many people now have a tablet computer. Being able to use such a device in Gloucester Library would be a welcomed additional service.”

Currently two other libraries in Gloucestershire have public Wi-Fi, they are Cheltenham and Cirencester libraries. Jeremy Hilton has requested that Hucclecote and Longlevens libraries should be next on the list for free public Wi-Fi, once it is operational in Gloucester Library.

Ends…