Gloucester Liberal Democrats win two city council by-elections

Joanne Brown, Sebastian Field, Ashley Bowkett, David Brown, Declan Wilson, Jeremy Hilton & Rebecca Trimnell celebrate a double by-election victory

Ashley Bowkett topped the poll in Barnwood while Sebastian Field won Podsmead by just three votes after a recount.

The by-elections were held on July 25 following the death of Conservative Councillor Lise Noakes in Barnwood and the resignation of Labour Councillor Deborah Smith in Podsmead.

The by-elections saw the Brexit Party, recently formed by Nigel Farage, field its first local election candidates and got comprehensively beaten.Sebastian returns to the city council having previously represented Kingsholm and Wotton for nine years until 2016.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said: “A Double Gloucester victory and congratulations to our two new city councillors.

“Not only did we see off the Brexit Party in their first council elections, but we gained a seat from the Conservatives and the other one from Labour.

“Ashley Bowkett’s win in Barnwood now secures the second seat in this ward for the Lib Dems.

“In Podsmead we took the seat by just three votes over the Tories in what was a Labour seat. Sebastian Field worked exceptionally hard to secure this win.

“The two wins now mean that the Conservatives have 21 seats and the Liberal Democrats and Labour both have nine councillors each.

The Podsmead result:

Sebastian Field (Lib Dem) 203

Conservatives 200

Labour 122

Brexit 111

Green 29

UKIP 11

Turnout 32%

The Barnwood result

Ashley Bowkett (Lib Dem) 676

Conservative 496

Brexit 152

Labour 64

Green 59

UKIP 6

Turnout 29%

Young people in Gloucester should vote Lib Dem on June 8, says Jeremy Hilton

A Liberal Democrat is urging young people in Gloucester to vote for the Liberal Democrats and to stop a hard Brexit from damaging their futures.

Jeremy Hilton, who has been a councillor in the city for 25 years, said the Liberal Democrats have a raft of policies to give children and young people a brighter future.

These include:

  • Helping people buy their first home for the same cost as renting, with a new model of ‘Rent to Own’ homes.
  • Restoring housing benefit for young people.
  • Creating a discounted bus pass for 16 to 21 year olds, giving a 66% discount.
  • Introducing votes at 16 for elections and referendums across the UK.

As well as:

  • Investing almost £7bn in our schools and colleges, including £39 million in Gloucestershire.
  • Doubling the number of businesses that take apprenticeships
  • Tripling the early years pupil premium
  • Extending free school meals to all primary school students

Jeremy Hilton, who is the challenger to the Conservatives in Gloucester, said: “These proposals forms part of a package to build a fairer Britain that is open, tolerant and united and it also ensures no child or young person in the city is left behind.

“Young people, just starting out in life, should be excited about the future ahead. But instead, many are worried about their prospects and struggling to get by.

“It isn’t fair that their futures are being disregarded in the EU negotiations and that they are paying the price for a decision they didn’t make.

“To all the young people in living in Gloucester I want to say – you don’t have to accept Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s hard Brexit coalition that will wreck the future for you, your family, your schools and hospitals.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party let you down by voting with the Tories on Brexit. He ordered his MPs to vote with the Tories and Ukip in favour of Article 50, despite the Government making no concessions to them whatsoever.

“Nothing is more important to the future of the young voters in this city than Brexit. A hard Brexit deal, with Britain outside the single market, will wreck the future for our children, our economy and our schools and hospitals.

“That’s why at the heart of the manifesto is a commitment to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal in a referendum. And if you don’t like the deal you should be able to reject it and choose to remain in Europe.”

Richard Graham challenged over axing of school lunches

GLOUCESTER Conservative candidate Richard Graham is being challenged to say whether he backs his leader Theresa May’s plans to scrap free school lunches.

Jeremy Hilton – his Liberal Democrat opponent in the General Election on June 8 – is challenging Mr Graham to say whether he will vote to take away lunches from hard-pressed families should he be re-elected to Parliament.

Mrs May’s plan to scrap free school lunches could hit children’s health by depriving hundreds of thousands of pupils of their five-a-day, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Unlike school lunches, there are no nutritional guidelines or minimum portions for breakfasts.

This means while pupils currently get at least two to three of their five a day with free lunches, with free breakfasts they could potentially get none.

Current standards would allow school breakfasts to consist mainly of processed breakfast cereals, toast with sweetened spreads, and there would be no limit on the total amount of sugar children can consume.

Mr Hilton, a well-known local councillor in Gloucester, is the main challenger to Mr Graham, who is seeking re-election as city MP.

In May’s county council elections, the Liberal Democrats came second in total number of votes cast in Gloucester. Labour finished third.

“Theresa May’s plans would hit children’s health by depriving them of a free nutritional meal at school,” Mr Hilton said.

“This is particularly short-sighted when we are struggling with soaring levels of childhood obesity.

“The Liberal Democrats will protect free school lunches for infants and ensure all primary school children can get a healthy, free lunch a day.

“The Liberal Democrat manifesto commits to extending free school meals to all children in primary education. We will also promote school breakfast clubs.

“Richard Graham must make it clear whether he will vote in the House of Commons to take away lunches from hard-pressed families or stand up to Theresa May for the sake of the education and good health of our children.

“Theresa May should take her inspiration from Jamie Oliver not Oliver Twist.”

NHS Digital figures from November 2016 show over a fifth of reception children were overweight or obese. In Year 6 over a third of children were overweight or obese.

Ends…

Lib Dems will invest £39m to protect school funding in Gloucestershire

The Liberal Democrats have announced they will invest £39m more in schools and colleges in Gloucestershire over the next parliament.

The funding for Gloucestershire would reverse cuts to frontline school and college budgets, protect per pupil funding in real terms and ensure no school loses out from changes to funding arrangements.

£3.4m of the funding would be spent on protecting the Pupil Premium, introduced by the Liberal Democrats to help the most disadvantaged children.

A Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Gloucester, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“Children in Gloucester and the rest of the county are being taught in overcrowded classes by overworked teachers – but Theresa May doesn’t care.

“Under the Conservatives, funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation, while billions of pounds are being spent on divisive plans to expand grammars and free schools.

“Gloucester already has four grammar schools and it doesn’t need any more. What we need is new comprehensive schools to accommodate increasing demand and a growing city. It is ridiculous that 2,000 children leave the city every day to go to a secondary school.

“This extra £39m of funding would ensure no school and no child loses out.

“We will reverse savage Tory cuts to school budgets and invest to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

“A landslide for the Conservatives would allow Theresa May to take parents across the country for granted and cut our schools to the bone.

“Only the Liberal Democrats can provide the strong opposition Britain needs to stand up for Gloucester.

“Vote for the Liberal Democrats and you can change Britain’s future.”

ENDS

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.

Jeremy Hilton announced as the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Gloucester

Jeremy Hilton voted yes in 1975 and remain in 2016

Gloucester Liberal Democrats have today announced that well-known councillor Jeremy Hilton will be the parliamentary candidate for June’s general election.

A local man born in Gloucester, Jeremy has 25 years of public service as a local councillor behind him.

With the recent county council results putting the Liberal Democrats into second place on the popular vote across Gloucester, Jeremy Hilton is confident that he can mount a serious challenge to the Conservatives in becoming Gloucester’s next MP.

Jeremy said “The Labour party are a lost cause with many previous supporters planning to vote Liberal Democrat this time.

“As a local resident, I know the city like the back of my hand. I am determined to become Gloucester’s representative at Westminster. The city needs someone who is not afraid to speak up and get things done.”

On the big issue of this election, membership of the European Union, Jeremy Hilton, is clear where he stands. He voted yes in 1975 and voted remain in 2016.

He supports remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union were Britain to leave the European Union.

Jeremy Hilton will vote in parliament to give the British people the final say on the Brexit deal.

He concluded: “The British people should decide if the Brexit deal is acceptable. If not, we should also have the choice to remain in the EU.”

“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…

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…

Lib Dems celebrate 200th edition of Kingsholm Spotlight newsletter

Cllrs Howard Hyman, Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil distributing the 200th edition of Spotlight.

Cllrs Howard Hyman, Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil distributing the 200th edition of Spotlight.

A community newsletter that has become an institution in Kingsholm and Wotton is celebrating its 200th edition. Spotlight was founded by Councillor Jeremy Hilton in 1980 when he first stood for council.

The newsletter is funded by the local Lib Dem councillors who represent the area and is distributed by a team of volunteers several times a year. There was a lapse in production in the late 1990s but the newsletter was relaunched in 2001 when Jeremy returned to active politics.

Councillor Hilton said: “We are very proud of our Spotlight newsletter. We use it to keep people informed about what’s going on in the area. It is very popular with local residents.

“We originally produced Spotlight using a typewriter and Letraset. Now we use a computer with digital photos.

“Spotlight could not be delivered without our volunteers who help distribute it throughout Kingsholm and Wotton. We thank them for their help.”

Councillor Isabel Brazil, Councillor Hilton’s colleague in Kingsholm and Wotton, added: “We are currently delivering our 200th edition, but we do have some gaps in the delivery network.

“We would welcome new deliverers to join our team of volunteers.”

Garden Waste Tax – Daylight Robbery say Gloucester Lib Dems

Jeremy Hilton with GCC garden waste bin subject to a 22% increase in collection charge

Jeremy Hilton with GCC garden waste bin subject to a 22% increase in collection charge

Gloucester Liberal Democrats have condemned the recent announcement by the Conservative controlled city council that charges for collecting garden waste are going up by 22%. Lib Dems have described the ‘garden waste tax’ as ‘daylight robbery’. They blame the Conservative council and government in equal proportion.
The current charge for garden waste collection is £36 per year. The charge was introduced in 2011 to cover the cost of collection on this non-statutory service. Lib Dems discovered in 2016 that the council was profiteering from the collection by around £6 per bin, making a profit of £110,000 a year. The Tories now propose to increase the charge to £44.
Lib Dem leader, Jeremy Hilton said: “Last year we tried to reduce the charge to £31 to just cover the cost of collection. Both Labour and Tory councillors rejected our proposal. Now the Conservatives plan to increase the charge to £44. This is a tax on responsible householders who recycle their garden waste. It’s daylight robbery.”
Lib Dem Deputy leader, Declan Wilson said: “The council’s finances are dire and the Tories are penalising responsible householders. We should be encouraging recycling not taxing it. The Tories will be making a profit of £13 on every green bin. This a profit margin of 30%. Local gardeners are going to have to empty their pockets to cover the financial mismanagement of the council by the Conservatives. It’s unfair.”