Trading Standards Service – Vital say Lib Dems

County councillors will debate the future of Gloucestershire’s Trading Standards service when they meet on the 4th of September. Liberal Democrat councillors have lodged a motion calling for the services to be protected, if possible, from further cuts.

Trading Standards has seen its budget cut by 51%, down from £2m in 2010/11 to just £1m in 2013/14. Similarly, the number of staff employed has dropped from 46 to 24.

Liberal Democrat councillors believe the service cannot take any further cuts without damaging the protection to the public and businesses that Trading Standards currently provides.

The proposer of the motion, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said: “The number of scheduled inspections and enforcements visits has dropped dramatically since 2010. There were just 139 scheduled inspections in the last financial year compared to 366 in 2010/11. This is a worrying trend. Trading Standards provides an important service, protecting the consumer and legitimate businesses from rogue traders. We should remember the horsemeat in beef products scandal and the important role Trading Standards has in inspecting food products. The service, in my view, just cannot take any further cuts.”

Cllr. Iain Dobie (Leckhampton and Warden Hill) who will second the motion said: “Trading Standards has to enforce over 100 Acts of Parliament. It does a vital job in protecting the public – especially the most vulnerable. With the county council’s new responsibility for public health, the work the service does protecting the public from unsafe goods and policing age restricted protects (such as alcohol and tobacco) is more important than ever. ”

The Liberal Democrat motion recommends that the Trading Standards service is protected, if possible, from further cuts during the life of the council (4 years).

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Notes

Trading Standards Service undertakes a wide range of enforcement activities related to:

  • welfare of farm animals and the prevention of disease outbreaks
  • doorstep crime and rogue trader activity
  • the safety of goods
  • food composition and description
  • age restricted products
  • unfair trading practices
  • weights and measures
  • petroleum, poisons and explosives licensing.

 Motion

 “This council commends the public protection work carried out by the trading standards service in Gloucestershire.

 This council notes that trading standards is a statutory service that protects the most vulnerable consumers in dealing with ‘rogue traders’ and also helps legitimate traders to trade well.

This council recognises that over the last three financial years, the county’s trading standards service budget and total number of employees has been cut by 50%. 

This council is concerned that any further cuts to the current trading standards service may put individuals, communities and public health more generally at risk, and could damage local businesses and the economy.

This council therefore recommends that the trading standards service is protected if possible from further cuts during the life of this council.”

Proposed – Cllr. Jeremy Hilton

Seconded – Cllr. Iain Dobie

Jeremy Hilton elected National Spokesperson for the Fire Service

Former cabinet member for the fire service, County Councillor Jeremy Hilton has been re-elected as the party’s national local government spokesperson for the fire and rescue service. In a ballot of all Liberal Democrat councillors serving on councils in England & Wales, he was elected with 74.5% of the vote.

Cllr. Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) will serve as the lead member on the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Fire Services Management Committee (FSMC) for the next two years. The FSMC agrees new policy for the LGA on fire and rescue service matters.

As part of his remit, Jeremy is hoping to retain his place on the government’s Strategic Resilience Board, which oversees the fire service’s preparations for dealing with all types of major disasters if they were to occur in the future.

Jeremy Hilton said: “I am delighted to have been re-elected as the Liberal Democrats lead member at the LGA for the fire and rescue service. Very soon the LGA will have to respond to Sir Ken Knight’s report “Facing the Future”, which has looked at the operations and efficiencies of all 46 fire and rescues authorities in England. It will be my job to lead on the Liberal Democrat response to Sir Ken Knight’s suggestions.”

Cllr. Roger Price, from Hampshire will join Jeremy Hilton as his deputy on the LGA FSMC.

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Freeze parking charges say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrats have called for a freeze in the cost of on-street car parking charges across Gloucestershire for the next four years and also requested that the annual cost of residents’ parking permits be cut by £30.

 The move is made in a notice of motion being put to the full meeting of the county council on the 19th of June by Liberal Democrat councillors.

 The mover of the motion, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said:

 “Freezing car-parking charges was one of our top six manifesto pledges. The county council earns a profit of more than £1.5 million from on-street car parking charges. It can well afford to freeze charges for the next four years.

 “In Gloucestershire 3,400 residents’ parking permits are issued each year. The annual fee for a permit is £80. This has risen from £62 in 2010. Liberal Democrats believe the charge is too much and want to see the fee dropped to £50 per year. In a survey done in my own division of Kingsholm & Wotton in Gloucester 80% of residents said the cost of a permit should be £50 or less.”

 Klara Sudbury (Charlton Park & College) who will second the motion said:

 “The cost of parking on the streets in Cheltenham is far too high. It is time the county council stopped treating our streets like a cash cow. Reducing the fee for residents parking permits from £80 to £50 will help many hard pressed families who live in the centre of Cheltenham.”

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Gloucestershire County Council will defend the decision to refuse planning permission for waste incinerator

Gloucestershire County Council will vigorously defend the decision to refuse planning permission for a massive waste incinerator at Javelin Park, Gloucester. This is the outcome of a debate led by Liberal Democrat Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) at the first meeting of the new county council earlier today.

On the 22nd February the Conservative administration signed a 25 year contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) to build a 190,000 tonnes per year waste incinerator at Javelin Park. One month later (21st March) the county council’s planning committee unanimously refused planning permission.

At today’s meeting, the county council supported an amended motion proposed by Cllr Hilton calling for the chief executive to seek robust support to defend the unanimous decision of the planning committee.

 Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “The planning committee refused permission to build this massive waste incinerator for sound planning reasons. They were unhappy about the size of the building, which is taller than Gloucester Cathedral and its harm to the local landscape. The overbearing impact the incinerator would have on nearby residential properties. The council must vigorously defend this decision in any appeal that UBB may take in the future.”

 The county council also agreed that a plan B needs to be prepared as an alternative to the waste incinerator to process the council’s household waste. A cross party working group will be immediately set up to consider alternatives to the waste incinerator.

Cllr Hilton concluded: “The council cannot stand idly by waiting for the appeal process to be concluded. We need to start working on plan B. My preferred solution would be Mechanical Biological Treatment as the cornerstone of a more environmentally and taxpayer friendly alternative. We must start working on this tomorrow.”

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 Motion approved

 This council notes the decision made by the recent Planning Committee to reject the planning application to build a waste incinerator at Javelin Park.

 This council therefore calls on the Chief Executive to seek robust support to defend the unanimous Planning Committee decision in any appeal process that may take place in the future.

 This Council should immediately establish a “Plan B” cross-party working group to consider alternatives to the current proposals for a waste incinerator at Javelin Park, to be available in the event that the council’s current contract proposal with UBB ultimately fails.

 

Stop work on the incinerator!

The county council must stop work on the waste incinerator project until after the elections, when a new administration can give fresh instructions to council officers. That is the view of the Liberal Democrat group.

 Following the decision of the planning committee to refuse planning permission for a £500m waste incinerator at Javelin Park, Liberal Democrat leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton has written to the chief executive of Gloucestershire County Council requesting work on the project to be halted.

 Jeremy Hilton has also asked for confirmation on whether or not the contract between the county council and Urbaser Balfour Beatty has been signed.

 Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “The planning committee has spoken; in my view the plan to build a mass burn incinerator at Javelin Park should be stopped until after the elections on May 2nd, when a new administration can give fresh instructions to council officers to progress alternative plans.

 “Mechanical Biological Treatment of our residual waste would be much cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative than burning our waste.”

 In a letter to the chief executive, Cllr. Hilton requested that no further work be done on the waste incinerator project until new administration was in place. He also asked the council to request UBB from not proceeding with a planning appeal.

Cllr. Simon Wheeler a member of the planning committee said: “The committee came to the only honest conclusion it could in the face of overwhelming argument by members of the public. As a councillor I represent first the wishes of the public.

 “The public have made it absolutely clear that they do not wish to have this monstrosity built at Javelin Park and as such, by the end of the debate, that was the only way I could vote. If only the cabinet of GCC could have taken that principle on board months ago we could have saved every one much pain anguish and tax payers money”

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 Javelin Park planning application – reasons for refusal

 The development conflicts with several  development plan policies and whilst  WCS14, Structure Plan Policy NHE1, and Stroud District Local Plan Policy NE10 recognise the potential for other public (including social, environmental, and economic) benefits to outweigh harm to the landscape, it is considered as a matter of planning judgement the identified harm is not outweighed by those considerations. 

The form of the development will introduce a prominent building causing significant loss of the open character and the natural rural appearance to this part of the Severn Vale contrary to WCS Policy 14, WLP Policy 37, Stroud District Local Plan Policy NE10 and paragraph 109 of the NPPF in term of the effect on the intrinsic character of the countryside and Structure Plan Policies NHE1 and S6 (a).

The development is outside the Cotswold AONB and views from it including from the Cotswold Way would be generally against the backdrop of the Severn Vale which includes other building development.  It is considered that there would be some visual impact which would affect the noted special qualities of the area. We agree with Natural England that significant adverse impacts of the proposal are not outweighed by other considerations.  Therefore, as a matter of judgment it is considered that there would be significant harm to the overall setting of the AONB and long distance views.  The proposed mitigation measures in the layout and design of the EfW do not overcome this harm contrary to Policy WCS14.

The development would lead to harm to the significance of designated heritage assets and that harm is not outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal contrary to Policy WCS16 and Paragraph 134 of the NPPF.  

 Notwithstanding the proposed mitigation, the proposed development would have an overbearing effect on nearby residential properties adversely affecting amenity contrary to WLP Policy 37 and Stroud District Local Plan Policy GE1.

Statement by Liberal Democrat leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton – Waste Incinerator Planning Refusal

 Yesterday, Gloucestershire County Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to refuse a planning application to build a £500m waste incinerator at Javelin Park, Gloucester.

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “I welcome the decision of the planning committee to unanimously refuse the planning application for a massive waste incinerator at Javelin Park. Liberal Democrats have opposed the project from the beginning.

“We have tried to stop this project a number of times in the last few years by proposing motions at council and formal challenges to cabinet decisions to end the project.

“On every occasion the Tories refused to listen to us. Under the reckless leadership of Mark Hawthorne the Tories just arrogantly pressed on with the waste incinerator project. They even agreed to sign a £500m contract with Urbaser Balfour Beatty ahead of the planning decision, leaving the council contractually committed to millions of pounds of costs in compensation if the project is cancelled.

“It is quite clear from the decision of the planning committee that the incinerator project should be dead. The Tories cannot be trusted to sort out alternative plans. Mark Hawthorne should apologise to the people of Gloucestershire. It is clear that we now need a new leader of the county council to take us forward into the future.”

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Liberal Democrats launch 2013 manifesto – Caring for Gloucestershire

 

Lib Dem Manifesto Launch 2 web

The Liberal Democrats have today officially launched their full Manifesto entitled ‘Caring for Gloucestershire’.

The manifesto, which is split into nine key areas include money, jobs, people, environment, transport, safety, communities and countryside. The launch took place on the steps of Shire Hall amidst a number of key Liberal Democrat activists.

In speaking about the manifesto, Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “Our manifesto shows that a Liberal Democrat run council would care about what is important to the people of this county. It is our plan to make Gloucestershire a better place to live.

“We believe that more can be done to improve the quality of services provided by Gloucestershire County Council. Ours 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. Our manifesto confirms 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.”

Link to manifesto: Manifesto 2013 Final

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.”

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