Liberal Democrats Announce Top Six County Priorities

The Liberal Democrats have today announced their top six priorities that will take them through to this year’s County Council Elections in May. The official launch of their full Manifesto will take place early next week.

The top six priorities that the Liberal Democrats have coined ‘six-to-fix’ are listed as follows:

1.    Repairing our roads, filling in potholes

2.    Growing our economy, investing in jobs

3.    Opposing a waste incinerator, protecting the environment

4.    Freezing on-street parking charges, cutting the price of residents’ parking permits

5.    Making sure we can trust what we eat, protecting trading standards

6.    Creating a new joint fire and ambulance service, for a safer county

 Further details of these and other policy areas will be published in the Gloucestershire Liberal Democrat 2013 Manifesto entitled ‘Caring for Gloucestershire’. The launch of this manifesto will take place on the steps of Shire Hall at 10am on Monday 11 March.

 Speaking in advance of the full manifesto publication, Leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“Our ‘six-to-fix’ priorities will benefit all those who live and work in Gloucestershire not just a select few. These top priorities along with our other plans included in the manifesto have been brought together by listening to the people of this county.

“We believe that more can be done to improve the quality of services provided by Gloucestershire County Council.  Our manifesto to be launched on Monday is a plan that will help people across the county understand who we are, what we represent and what is important.

“This manifesto spells out our county policies taking us up to the County Elections and beyond. We believe our manifesto highlights that a Liberal Democrat run-council will not cut corners. A Liberal Democrat run-council will commit to delivering a better future for everyone in Gloucestershire.”

ENDS…

Notes:

The Liberal Democrat top six priorities with commentary as follows:

1. Repairing our roads, filling in potholes

Liberal Democrats will invest in additional repairs to our roads and footways to repair the damage left after eight years of Tory neglect. We will release £5 million worth of surplus funds in the council’s reserves to help fix the enormous number of potholes on the county’s roads.

2. Growing our economy, investing in jobs

 The county council will work with the Local Enterprise Partnership to create more private sector jobs and apprenticeships. Liberal Democrats will support growing businesses to achieve their goals and will also work to establish new businesses in manufacturing, advanced technologies and the green economy.

 3. Opposing a waste incinerator, protecting the environment

 We have strongly opposed the building of a £500m waste incinerator at Javelin Park on environmental and economic grounds.  We will seek to use more environmentally friendly technology to dispose of the residual household waste.

 4. Freezing on-street parking charges, cutting the price of residents’ parking permits

 A Liberal Democrat council will freeze on-street car parking charges across Gloucestershire. In residents’ parking permit zones Liberal Democrats will reduce the annual fee from £80 to £50.

 5. Making sure we can trust what we eat, protecting trading standards

 The Tories have slashed spending on Trading Standards by 50% at a time when the service is under greatly increased pressure with the controversy over horse meat in beef products. It needs to be in the forefront of testing food products on sale locally. There will be no further cuts in Trading Standards under the Liberal Democrats.

 6. Creating a new joint fire and ambulance service, for a safer county

 We will lobby the government to establish a pathfinder project for a joint Gloucestershire fire and ambulance service under the control of the county council.

It is a 30 mph limit – Tewkesbury Road

 

Jeremy Hilton & Mike Whyham with new 30 mph speed check signs

Jeremy Hilton & Mike Whyham with new 30 mph speed check signs

Advisory 30 mph speed check signs have been erected along Tewkesbury Road in Gloucester to encourage motorists to obey the speed limit. They have been installed at the request of Kingsholm & Wotton County Councillor Jeremy Hilton following complaints about motorists speeding along the road.

 Jeremy Hilton said: “Tewkesbury Road is a wide road and motorists do tend to speed along it, thinking it is a 40 MPH zone, especially if they have just come off the Northern By-pass. The speed limit here is 30 MPH. The signs will remind motorists to slow down.”

 Mike Whyham, who will be the candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Longlevens said: “Local residents have been worried about traffic speed along Tewkesbury Road for some time and the difficultly this places on pedestrians trying to cross the road. I am very pleased that Gloucestershire Highways listened to our request and put up the speed check signs.”

Missing Bollards – Sebert Street

Jeremy Hilton holding one of the rotten bollards

Jeremy Hilton holding one of the rotten bollards

A large number of wooden bollards along the perimeter of Sebert St Rec’ are missing or rotten. They were put in to stop cars being parked on the Rec’ a problem that was evident on match days.

On making a request for new bollards, Liberal Democrat Cllr. Jeremy Hilton was told that the city council policy had changed and that the bollards would not be replaced.

Jeremy Hilton said: “I have written back to the council and demanded that the bollards are replaced to ensure the safety of children playing on the Rec’ and to make sure rugby fans don’t use the area as a car park.

I understand that the council is costing the replacement of the bollards. I am now waiting for a reply. I shall not be content until the bollards are replaced.”

Ends…

‘Mass Burning Incinerator Not Needed’ says Lib Dems

 Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council will at February’s full council meeting call on the Tory cabinet to cancel the massive incinerator project due to evidence of over-capacity.

A report published in November last year by Eunomia Research shows that many regions of the UK may reach over-capacity of residual waste treatment by 2018.

The proposer of the motion, Liberal Democrat leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “Eunomia’s research is alarming in that since the last report undertaken six months ago there has been a significant rise in applications for additional tonnage of waste treatment capacity.

“Such a position means that the UK now has 7 million tonnes more consented residual waste treatment capacity than is requiring treatment.  

“By steadfastly pursuing this project the Tory-controlled council is not only going against public opinion, but is also contributing to an over-capacity crisis. This is madness.

Cllr. Hilton continued by saying that: “We will continue to insist that there is an alternative to the building of a ‘mass burning’ incinerator at Javelin Park such as Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT).   

“The evidence is clear an incinerator is not needed, not now and not in the future.”

Also commenting, Cllr. Mike Collins (LD, Brockworth) said: “I will be seconding this motion next month in order to stop the futility of such a project going ahead.

“When will the Tories on this council start listening to the people that they represent and those several hundreds who have already signed the online Government petition asking national politicians to challenge the incinerator’s planning application.

“I simply don’t understand why the Tories are ploughing ahead with their crackpot idea to build such a facility.”

The motion will be debated and voted upon at the next full council meeting in Shire Hall on Wednesday 20th February 2013 at 10am.  

ENDS

 

Notes:

1.       Eunomia Research and Consulting Ltd – This company has experience of assessing the need for new infrastructure development in the energy and waste sectors. For further information see –

http://www.eunomia.co.uk/product.php/165/0/29_11_12_eunomia_

publishes_update_to_residual_waste_infrastructure_review

2.       The motion submitted to council on Wednesday 20th February reads: –

“This council notes the report on residual waste capacity published by Eunomia on the 30th November 2012.

The report indicates that the UK now has 7 million tonnes more consented residual waste treatment capacity than there is residual waste requiring treatment.

This council, therefore calls on the cabinet to cancel the project to build a massive waste incinerator in Gloucestershire. Noting that the proposed incinerator has surplus capacity for the county’s own residual household waste treatment requirement.”

Proposed: Cllr. Jeremy Hilton

Seconded: Cllr. Mike Collins

‘Quarter of a Million Pounds Library Shambles’ says Lib Dems

Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council have come out condemning the Tory administration after it has been revealed that the total costs of the Judicial Review held in September 2011 was not far short of a quarter of a million pounds.   

A High Court Judge back in November 2011 halted Gloucestershire County Council’s proposals for failure to undertake a proper Equalities Impact Assessment. The Tory-controlled council went back to the drawing-board in January 2012 with new proposals to cut funding to seven Gloucestershire libraries.

The total cost of the legal challenge amounted to £238, 317.61, which included both in house and external legal costs for the council.

 Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “During a time of great austerity, the costs that have been incurred through this legal challenge was needless, wasteful and nothing short of reckless.

 “If the job of reviewing the county’s libraries had been done properly from the start and not on the back-of-a-fag-packet then this money could have been better spent on new books for our existing libraries.”

 ENDS

 Notes:

  •  The breakdown of costs are as follows: –
  •  Costs for Judicial Review, Library Proposals (Legal ref 47504) in House Legal Costs £36,947.07
  •  External Legal costs (for GCC) £59,233.83
  •  External Legal Costs (PIL) £141,234.42
  •  Other Expenses (Couriers, transcriptions, court fees) £902.29

 TOTAL: £  238,317.61

Labour keep Tories in Office

Jeremy Hilton repports

“Last night’s meeting at Gloucester City Council was interesting. Our no confidence motion in the Tory administration was defeated by a combined vote of Tory and Labour councillors.

Gloucester is one of two councils that haven’t filed audited accounts for 2011/12. The detail presented in the Tory draft budget for next year is also palpable. The council is facing a financial tsunami.

When it came to it, Labour bottled it, and saved the Tory leader’s neck.

Later the Tories voted against a Lib Dem amendment praising the coalition government for raising the income tax threshold to £9,440 from April this year, saving the average earner £600 per year, compared to income tax bills under Labour.

Looks like Labour and the Tories have a grubby deal on the city council to keep the Tory leader in office and principles can go out of the window.”

Halting the financial tsunami – Liberal Democrats demand answers!

A high level meeting has been held between the leadership of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives on Gloucester City Council, to try and resolve the financial crisis engulfing the council.

 Currently, the Tories are in charge of the council, but are facing a vote of no confidence on the 24th January because of the council’s failure to complete audited accounts for 2011/12. The no confidence voted is being proposed by the Liberal Democrats.

 Liberal Democrat group leader, Jeremy Hilton has described the council as facing a financial tsunami because of its failure to complete audited accounts for 2011/12.  The accounts should be used as a base to predict income and spending for the forthcoming financial year and in helping to set the council tax.

 The Liberal Democrats have issued the leader of the council Paul James with a ten-point demand (see below) for information covering every aspect of the council’s finances in order that a sound budget can be set for 2013/14.

 Jeremy Hilton said: “I am demanding that Tories complete the accounts for 2011/12, provide full disclosure of the additional auditor’s costs, provide an estimated outturn for this year and supply a detailed explanation on how they plan to make £2.4m cuts. Financial control under the Tories is a disaster; we must sort out the finances of the city council for the sake of the council’s reputation.”

 “The Tories are proposing £2.4 million worth of cuts with just 75 words of explanation across sixteen budget headings. Information on the proposed budget is palpable. The announcement of the capital programme for next year is delayed and money in reserves is not being made public.”

 Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Sebastian Field confirmed that his party would work with other councillors to sort out the council’s financial affairs, he said: “The financial situation on Gloucester City Council is dire. We must do what is best for Gloucester, we must stabilise the council’s finances.”

 Ends…

 Notes

 Liberal Democrat information requirements – City Council budget 2013/14 – handed to Paul James 17/01/2013

 1.    The projected outturn against the 2012/13 budget against all budget headings

2.    Full details of the reserves as they stood at 31st March 2012 and the projected reserves at 31st March 2013, including full explanation of each reserve

3.    Completed audited accounts for the 2011/12 financial year

4.    The extra cost of the late completion of the audited accounts for 2011/12 in both staff time and fees to be paid to external auditors

5.    Full list of virements between budget heads made in the current financial year over £5,000.

6.    Full list of each council direct services charge (inc fee value) and the income per charge in financial years 2011/12 and 201213 (estimate)

7.    The capital programme for 2013/14

8.    Full analysis of the £2.435 million worth of savings proposed, giving clear details of how the savings are going to be achieved and how the service spending compares to the financial years 2011/12 and 2012/13

9.    High Level report into the current contract with Enterprise including the expected outcomes for each service within the contract; include staff profile

10.  Copy of all documentation presented to the cabinet briefing held on the 16th January related to the 2013/14 budget proposals

Financial Tsunami at Gloucester City Council The Tories should go!

The Conservatives who run a minority administration on Gloucester City Council face a vote of no confidence on the 24th January, which if passed, would see the sacking of Paul James as leader of the council and his cabinet.

The no confidence motion will be moved by the Liberal Democrat group. Gloucester City Council is only one of two councils in the country that has failed to sign off its 2011/12 accounts, the other is Birmingham. Both councils have been named and shamed by the Audit Commission. Audited accounts should have been completed by the 30th September 2012. They are used as a base to predict income and spending for 2013/14.

Liberal Democrat leader, Jeremy Hilton who will propose the vote of no-confidence said: “The city council is facing a financial tsunami that is all of the making of Paul James and his Tory cabinet. Last year’s accounts haven’t been completed and now the council has to set the council tax for the coming year. We cannot rely on the accuracy of the council’s financial accounts. The complacency of the Tory administration is unbelievable.”

Deputy Leader Sebastian Field said: “The financial situation on Gloucester City Council is dire. The Tories are proposing £2.4 million worth of cuts and we still don’t have an accurate base to predict spending in the future. The Tories cannot cope and they should go. We can win the vote of no confidence if Labour councillors vote with us.”

It is understood that independent auditors KPMG are investigating the council’s books but still cannot get the figures to add up.

Liberal Democrat leader, Jeremy Hilton confirmed that his party would work with other councillors in a new administration to sort out the council’s financial affairs, he said: “We must do what is best for Gloucester and working with councillors from other parties to stabilise the council’s finances is on our agenda.”

Ends… Notes

1. No Confidence Motion

“That this council notes that the Conservative administration has failed to present, on time, audited accounts for the financial year 2011/12. This should have been done by the 30th September 2012 deadline.

This council notes it has been named and shamed by the Audit Commission (15th Dec 2012) as only one of two councils in the entire country to fail to complete its 2011/12 accounts.

This council agrees that it has no confidence in the leader of the council and his cabinet, and requests that they resign immediately, so that a new administration can be formed to sort out the financial mess that the council is now in.”

Proposed: Jeremy Hilton

Seconded: Sebastian Field

2. Audit Commission Report http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/Downloads/ata1112.pdf