Gloucester Lib Dems announce shadow cabinet

Sarah Sawyer, Anne Radley, Declan Wilson, Sebastian Field, Jeremy Hilton, Ashley Bowkett and Angela Conder

The Liberal Democrat group on Gloucester City Council form the opposition to the Conservative administration. Their leader is Cllr. Jeremy Hilton who has recently announced his shadow cabinet.

The seven member team will shadow the Conservative cabinet until the elections in May 2024 when they hope to take control of the city council. Until then they will provide constructive opposition.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: 

“We are currently stuck with a poorly performing Conservative administration that has already had three resignations from the cabinet in recent months. They are struggling to cope and it’s our job to provide constructive challenges to their policies or lack of them. We want the best for Gloucester. 

“There are seven of us in our shadow cabinet. I call them ‘The Magnificent Seven’. Besides challenging uninspiring plans being proposed by the cabinet we shall also be working up our policies to form our 2024 manifesto to rebuild council services on taking control.”

Deputy leader, Cllr,. Declan Wilson said:

“As the second largest group, with eleven members on the council, it is down to the Liberal Democrats to challenge bad decisions and provide realistic alternatives. That is what we have been doing since May 2021.

“Our shadow cabinet is brimming with good ideas. We will do our best to make sure that from now until May 2024, the ‘Vanishing Council’ doesn’t sink any further.”

The Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet:

Leader and Regeneration: Cllr. Jeremy Hilton

Deputy Leader and Performance & Resources: Cllr. Declan Wilson

Culture & Leisure: Cllr: Sebastian Field

Communities & Neighbourhoods Cllr: Anne Radley

Environment: Cllr. Ashley Bowkett

Planning: Cllr. Sarah Sawyer

Housing: Cllr. Angela Conder

The long-awaited Kingsholm parking review has been launched

The Parking Proposals Map

Residents in Kingsholm are being asked for their views on new proposals to free up parking spaces for households, with an informal consultation now open until 15th October for people to provide their feedback.

Residents have eight weeks to have their say on a potential new and improved permit scheme aiming to make it easier for them to park closer to home.

Over the years many parking issues have been raised by Kingsholm residents and the county council wants to make sure on-street parking provision in the area is still fit for purpose.

Potentially introducing a permit scheme is one way which could prioritise residents’ vehicles over other users. Already some roads in Kingsholm have a residents’ parking permit scheme.

The county council is also keen to find out what people think of on street electric vehicle charging points in the area. As part of the consultation, possible locations will be included for new on street EV charging points in these review zones for residents to consider. These charging points will be the first of 500 double charging points (1000 charging points in total) around the county, allowing those without a driveway to consider moving to an electric vehicle to reduce their carbon footprint.

Jeremy Hilton at Oxford Road – one of the roads that is at its capacity in Kingsholm

County Cllr Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem) for Kingsholm, said: “The parking survey carried out in 2020 showed that a number of streets in Kingsholm were severely congested with parked cars and some roads were near to their capacity. Many residents do not have off street parking and find it very difficult at times to park their cars near to their homes. I’m therefore pleased that the county council is now carrying out a public consultation on parking in my division. I encourage everyone to have their say.”

Kingsholm City Councillor Angela Conder (Lib Dem) said: “There is no easy solution to managing on-street parking in Kingsholm, but we believe that the county council can do better. We are also interested in what people think about the location of the proposed electric vehicle charging points. Are they in the right place?”

View the plans and give feedback online at  www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/parkingreviews

These are the options being proposed, it is colour coded. Use to cross reference with the map

Parking Review Process

Each parking review follows a similar process as outlined below:

  1. Scheme inception – initial data gathering and discussions with local stakeholders;
  2. Informal consultation – consultation with local residents and businesses to find out if local people find parking a problem, if they would like to see changes considered, and if so, what changes.
  3. Statutory consultation – a formal consultation process where we present a detailed proposed scheme. Feedback to this stage will be used to decide if any changes are made.
  4. Implementation (if appropriate) – launch of new scheme.

The consultation questionnaire will be open for comments until the 15th October 2021.

Debenhams building – future still uncertain

Debenhams set to close – building for sale

There has been speculation over the weekend (27 & 28 Feb) that the Debenhams building has been sold. This may or may not be the case. We know that Aviva has been talking to a number of buyers.

But a sale isn’t a sale until it’s been signed on the dotted line.

Secondly any purchaser, would want to talk to the city council ahead of the deal being completed. A sale therefore, may be subject to planning permission.

This morning, I have asked officers at the city council for an update. This is what I was told:

“We have not had any confirmation from the owners or any prospective purchasers that the building has been sold and therefore it would be wrong to speculate on what the terms of any hypothetical disposal may be.”

As I have said before, my preference is to see the building restored to its former glory and repurposed if necessary.

As a regular shopper at this store I am also disappointed to see Debenhams go into liquidation.

Debenhams building is not listed, though it sits in a conservation area so cannot be demolished without the council’s permission.

What I do not want to see is this landmark building demolished to make way for a new build.

The Lib Dem group are determined to work with the new owners to see this handsome building fully restored and fully occupied. It’s a focal point in our city centre. An important anchor for our new Kings Square.

GLEVUM GREEN (REDROW) – STREET CLEANING – LORRIES

I have been in contact with the site manager of Glevum Green housing development. In particular, I have expressed concern about the cleaning of neighbouring streets to clear the mud from the roads and the use of the Wotton Pitch route along Denmark by lorries visiting the construction site.

Redrow contractor cleaning Kingsholm Road

STREET CLEANING

Road sweeping Schedule has been increased due to the wet weather. The road sweeper is now in use during working hours every day Monday to Friday. Redrow tell me they have introduced extra measures to reduce mud reaching the road. A bowser has been introduced to wash the wheels of vehicles leaving the site.

Approved route for lorries visiting development site

TRANSPORT ROUTE

Lorries should NOT be travelling to and from the site via the London Road direction. All vehicles should arrive and leave by accessing Kingsholm Road. See the approved route map. Redrow have told me they have reminded their groundworks contractors of the approved route to the site and the banksman team at the dispatch end have been told to remind drivers of the approved exit route.

If you do see lorries travelling down Denmark Road from Wotton Pitch/London Road try and capture a photo or record their number plate and email me at Jeremy.hilton@gloucestershire.gov.uk with time and date and I will report the matter to the site manager for you.

Kingsholm Flooding Update

Flooding on Oxford Road – August 2020

In August parts of Kingsholm were hit by flash flooding. I followed up by asking the county council flood risk team to work with Severn Trent Water to investigate the state of drainage system.

I’m pleased to report progress.

A meeting took place on the 26th November between Severn Trent Water (STW), Gloucestershire County Council (Flood Risk Management team and Highways) and Gloucester City Council.

They agreed that initial investigation by STW of the drainage / sewerage network in the Kingsholm area would commence in early December and last around a fortnight.

It is expected further work will be planned to improve the capacity of the network in the area. The timescale for this work has not been set. It will depend on the extent of the work and the resources available.

In the meantime, property flood risk measures can be investigated for ‘at risk’ properties.

Liberal Democrats Condemn Boundary Review Plans

New boundary map showing the loss of Elmbridge to the Gloucester Parliamentary Constituency.

The Liberal Democrats have branded proposals to move Elmbridge out of Gloucester and into Tewkesbury as “daft”.

The Boundary Commission for England has suggested in its latest review of parliamentary boundaries that the Elmbridge area of Gloucester be represented by an MP from a town 12 miles away.

It would see Elmbridge joining the neighbouring Longlevens in Tewkesbury, so that Quedgeley can be retained in Gloucester, rather than moving to Stroud.

The Liberal Democrats have long argued for Longlevens to return to Gloucester and have criticised the Boundary Commission for England for ignoring community and identity and concentrating on the numbers.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said: “These new proposals are just daft – the heart is being ripped out of Gloucester. The proposal to move Elmbridge comes as a complete shock as the previous plan gave no indication to the loss of Elmbridge.

“I’m pleased Quedgeley has been retained within the Gloucester parliamentary constituency as residents identify far more with Gloucester than Stroud.

“The key to this review is identity and community and identity and community have been ignored.

“We campaigned for Longlevens to be moved into Gloucester from Tewkesbury because the people of Longlevens identify far more with Gloucester than Tewkesbury.

“We thought the Boundary Commission had agreed to returning Longlevens to Gloucester.

“The furthermost boundary of Longlevens is just a mile from the city centre. You can hear the roar from Kingsholm on match days – yet Longlevens is represented by an MP from a town 12 miles away.

“The same applies to Elmbridge, which under these proposals will be joining Longlevens in Tewkesbury.

“The Boundary Commission says the City of Gloucester is too large to be a single constituency. The reduction in the number of MPs and the 5% variation in constituency sizes is hurting Gloucester.”

Councillor Hilton added: “It is very unlikely these proposals will be implemented as the DUP and many Conservative backbenchers will not support them.

“I would urge Gloucester MP Richard Graham to vote against these proposals.

“The Government should stop wasting tax-payers’ money and pull the plug on this review. Legislation to review parliamentary boundaries also needs amending.”

Statement by Jeremy Hilton, Lib Dem Leader – King’s Quarter Business Plan

It has taken some time, but at last we have a plan for the King’s Quarter that replaces the defunct retail led scheme. Liberal Democrats had long called for a plan B, when it was obvious the original scheme was going nowhere. I welcome the new plan drawn up by the council’s consultants, which will be a genuine mixed use scheme.

I am pleased that we shall retain Kings Square as a public open space and that it will not be built on as was the case in the original retail led scheme. However, there is still a lot of design work to do in making sure that the refurbished square is something we can all be proud of and enjoy.

It is critical that we get the layout of the development and the quality of the architecture right so that the development becomes an impressive gateway into the city centre from both the railway station and bus station. There will also be a new car park with 428 spaces and I hope the designers ensure that it will be a safe and pleasant place to use. The proposed hotel should also be of the quality that will boost Gloucester’s offer and attract people back to the city.

Kings Quarter should also be the location of a modern and good quality indoor market to replace the tired market at the Eastgate Shopping Centre. Markets need a good footfall and the development at Kings Quarter should provide a location near to the transport hubs for specialist market traders to thrive.

It will be important that the development is a high quality build and of a design that wins architectural awards. I believe the consultants have got it right in proposing four phases of the development. The inclusion of residential units in the plans must also be welcomed.

Finally, I do think the city council cabinet has missed a golden opportunity to move its offices to the King’s Quarter. The cabinet is considering selling the offices at Herbert, Kimberly and Phillpotts warehouses and moving into Shire Hall. I think we should seriously consider building new council offices in the King’s Quarter, helping to kickstart the regeneration of this area just as we did in the 1980’s when we moved our offices to the Docks. The business plan does include up to 100,000 sq feet of office space.

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.

Gloucester Liberal Democrats – A dozen ideas for a better city

Gloucester Liberal Democrats have published their manifesto for the city council elections “A dozen ideas for a better city”. Currently the city council is controlled by the Conservatives, but the Liberal Democrats believe that the council could be run much better.

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: ”Services are not improving, budgets are being cut and we have had the first council tax rise in five years. The Tories are taxing responsible householders who recycle their garden waste by overcharging them for the garden waste collections. The Tory ‘Garden Tax’ adds £6 to the price of every green bin above what is needed to cover collection costs.

“Regeneration in the city centre has stalled with the Kings Quarter project going nowhere. Its a shambles. The council administration needs to work much harder. We need to kick-start regeneration within the city centre. Kings Square has been unloved by the Conservatives and Labour for 25 years. We need to make this a great public space. We also need a new indoor market in a new location.

The last approved city plan for Gloucester dates back to the 1980s. We shall deliver a new city plan with policies to protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance the historic fabric of the city. We will do our best to encourage the building of more affordable homes to rent particularly within the social housing sector. We will also increase resources to defend council planning policies and decisions.”

“There is so much to do and Liberal Democrats are up for the challenge.”

A dozen ideas for a better city

1. Market Parade or (White Friars) project

We will get this project started, which will 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.

2. Kings Square

This should be our premier open space in the city centre. It has been unloved by the council for 25 years. It must become a space for public events, dining and socialising, with (limited) new pavilion cafes, restaurants, and most of all, superb public art that pulls people to the square.

3. 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?

4. 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.

5. City Centre environment

There are too many pound shops, turf accountants and tattoo parlours. We do need to improve our retail offer. There is no provision of high quality public toilets and this 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.

6. Regeneration Oversight

Regeneration oversight is done behind closed doors and we propose to create a new Regeneration Scrutiny Committee to meet in public that can properly scrutinise the council’s regeneration plans. Lib Dems will bring Marketing Gloucester under tighter control by the city council.

7. History

We live in a great historic city and we should promote this more effectively, with restoration of important buildings, festivals remembering our past & public art celebrating our 2,000 years of development. We would bring the new Culture Board under greater democratic control.

8. University City

We must support the continued development of University of Gloucestershire in the city and encourage purpose built student accommodation in Blackfriars area to persuade year two and three students to stay in Gloucester rather than move to Cheltenham.

9. Waste Collection

Liberal Democrats will retain the current collection schedules and introduce recycling of cardboard and all plastics. We will scrap the Tories’ Garden Tax, placed on responsible householders who recycle their garden waste, by removing the surcharge for the collection of green wheelie bins.

10. City Planning

We shall deliver a new city plan with policies to protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance the historic fabric of the city. We will do our best to encourage the building of more affordable homes to rent particularly within the social housing sector, despite the Tory government plans to ditch building new homes for rent. Lib Dems will invest extra resources in defending council planning polices and we will take necessary enforcement action against those who flout planning conditions.

11. Homelessness

We shall focus on measures to reduce homelessness in the city. Working with partners, we will tackle drug and alcohol addiction, ensuring that homeless individuals with mental health issues get the support they deserve.

12. Environment

We will crack down on dog fouling in parks, open spaces and on our streets. We will enhance our public parks and improve children’s play facilities. Liberal Democrats will remove the tacky advertising boards that the Tories installed that are now blighting our roundabouts.

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.