Liberal Democrats label ‘Royal’ city plan as a ‘marketing gimmick’

Jeremy Hilton at the entrance to the City of Gloucester, next to a sign promoting the cathedral

Plans to rename Gloucester a royal city have been condemned as a “marketing gimmick” by Liberal Democrat councillors.

The city council is considering whether to petition the Government to become The Royal City of Gloucester.

Council leaders will not press ahead with the idea if local residents are against it.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, local Lib Dem leader, is against renaming Gloucester saying council bosses have not given any details about the costs of rebranding the city.

“It’s a marketing gimmick, pure and simple, and will make no difference to the people of Gloucester. It would be disrespectful to the Queen to seek royal status just as a marketing ploy,” said Councillor Hilton.

“Tourists flock to Gloucester for the cathedral, the docks and 2,000 years of history. Putting ‘royal’ in the title is not going to make a jot of difference to that.

“Instead of wasting his time renaming Gloucester Paul James should focus on regenerating the city centre.

“Kings Square is a mess, too many shops lay empty and the subway under the railway station is an absolute disgrace. The city is covered in litter and we have no decent public toilets.

“Sorting these problems out will bring more tourists to Gloucester and give local people a city to be proud of, not creating a cynical PR marketing campaign.”

Gloucester has a rich royal heritage – Edward II is entombed in the cathedral and Henry III was crowned King in 1216.

“But Gloucester’s most recent royal connection was in 1643 during the Siege of Gloucester when the forces of King Charles I lay siege to the city,” said Councillor Hilton.

“The Parliamentary forces successfully withheld the King’s onslaught to prevent Gloucester from falling. Fifty people lost their lives or were wounded defending the parliamentary cause from 10 August and 5 September 1643. This is now remembered each year with Gloucester Day, which takes place on the first Saturday in September. We should be proud of our history and our defence of parliament.

“Following the return of Charles II to the throne, the King took his revenge upon Gloucester by having its walls torn down and drastically reducing the size of the city’s administrative boundaries. Let’s not disrespect our history.”

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.”

The Siege of Gloucester (1643) the city can do more commemorate

Gloucester City Council (29 Sept) will debate how the city could better celebrate and remember the events of 1643, when the citizens of Gloucester defended the parliamentary garrison against the royalist forces during the first English Civil War. The Liberal Democrat group will propose the motion.

From 10th August to 5th September 1643 the army of King Charles I besieged Gloucester. The city held out for just short of a month under the leadership of Colonel Massie until it was relieved by parliamentary troops under the command of the Earl of Essex. This was a pivotal turning point in the civil war.

Colonel Massie

Colonel Massie

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton who is to propose the motion said: “The revival of Gloucester Day and the parade is one way in which the city remembers the events of 1643 when our ancestors fought on the side of parliament. It was a crucial turning point in the English Civil War. We should be proud of this point in our history. Gloucester fought for parliament and democracy. That is why I am proposing that we set up a cross party working group to see how we can better remember and commemorate the Siege of Gloucester. We should consult the public as well.”

The seconder of the motion Cllr Joanne Brown said: “I well remember taking part in the first Gloucester Day parade of the modern era in 2009 and how it brought home to me the great spirit and strong will of the people of Gloucester who stood together during the siege of 1643. Today we can feel proud of the pivotal role our city played in changing the course of the Civil War and I believe that we can do even more to remember and commemorate the events of the siege.”

Ends….

Text of the notice of motion

“This council notes that Gloucester Day is a recently reinstated annual day of celebration of the city’s history and culture.

Gloucester Day was first held in the modern era on 5th September 2009, but originally dates from the lifting of the Siege of Gloucester in 1643, during which the city held out against royalist forces during the First English Civil War. The lifting of the siege was celebrated annually in the city for years afterwards but died out in the nineteenth century.

This council thanks the organisers of this year’s Gloucester Day celebrations and wishes them well in planning the 2017 celebrations.

This council also remembers the sacrifice and determination of the people of Gloucester as they defended the parliamentary garrison (10th August to 5th September 1643) against the besieging army of King Charles I. The siege ended with the arrival of a relieving parliamentary army under the Earl of Essex.

This council recognises that the Siege of Gloucester is one of the most important events in the history of this city of which we should all be proud and that we agree to set up a cross party working group to consider what else we can do to remember and commemorate the events of 1643.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton
Seconded by Joanne Brown

Longlevens set to return to Gloucester

Longlevens will be represented by Gloucester’s MP if proposals by the Boundary Commission are approved.

The Liberal Democrats launched a petition earlier this year to show the strength of feeling that Longlevens should be represented by Gloucester’s MP rather than Tewkesbury’s.

A couple of hundred local people signed the petition – both online and in the Lib Dem Spotlight newsletters – saying identified more with Gloucester than Tewkesbury.

Among the comments posted by people signing the petition on the change.org website, include: “This ludicrous situation has to change. Longlevens is part and parcel of GLOUCESTER, not Tewkesbury.”

Another said: “I live within the City of Gloucester and wish to be represented by the City MP. It makes no sense to be represented by a town MP 12 miles away.”

Today the Boundary Commission, the independent agency that reviews Parliamentary boundaries, published its draft proposals to cut the number of MPs in England by 32 to 501.

In Gloucester, the Boundary Commission has proposed putting Longlevens back into Gloucester and moving the Quedgeley Fieldcourt and Quedgeley Severn Vale wards into the Stroud constituency.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, the leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrat leader, said: “I am really pleased that the Boundary Commission is proposing to move Longlevens back into Gloucester.

“Residents in Longlevens identify with Gloucester, so it is only right that local people are represented by the city’s MP.

“I am also pleased the Boundary Commission has not resurrected previous plans to move the heart of Gloucester, including the cathedral and city centre, into the Forest of Dean.”

Mr Hilton said earlier this year the Conservatives had appeared lukewarm to his suggestion and comments about the Boundary Commission’s proposals supported that view.

“In the summer Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson was against moving Longlevens back to Gloucester and Richard Graham was not bothered about reclaiming Longlevens,” he said.

“The Liberal Democrats plan to make submissions to the Boundary Commission to ensure its initial proposals to include Longlevens are adopted. However, we will look closely at the south of the city and see if we can propose a solution that retains Quedgeley as well.”

My statement of Fire & Rescue Service transfer to Home Office

Responding to the announcement that responsibility for the fire service will be transferred from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Home Office minister for Policing and for Justice, Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, which represents all 46 English fire authorities, said:

“The fire and rescue service is a high performing public service embedding within the local government family and run by local councillors who sit on English fire and rescue authorities.

The recent response to the flooding in Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire has demonstrated that firefighters do a brilliant job assisting those in need whilst working closely alongside the other emergency and public services.

The LGA’s view is that transferring government responsibility from DCLG to the Home Office must not undermine the superb job our fighters provide in times of emergency.

I look forward to working closely with the Mike Penning MP the new fire minister in supporting our firefighters and fire & rescue authorities in the excellent work they do.”

The Liberal Democrats six red lines

The Liberal Democrats outlined six ‘red lines’ during the election campaign covering: education, the economy, tax, health, public sector pay and the environment:

1) Invest an extra £2.5bn in education – benefitting 11.5 million pupils aged 2-19

2) Invest £8bn a year by 2020 in the NHS – benefitting 53.9 million people in England

3) £2.7bn of pay rises for public sector workers – benefitting 5.4 million workers

4) Cut taxes by £400 for working people – benefitting 30 million individuals

5) Introduce a ‘stability budget’ in the first 50 days – benefitting the entire UK population

6) Fight climate change and protect nature – benefitting the entire UK population

Vote Liberal Democrat in Gloucester and give Nick Clegg the power to deliver these top six priorities