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.

Regeneration of Gloucester – Liberal Democrat Viewpoint

The regeneration of our city centre is a long-term project, which Liberal Democrat councillors’ support. It is vital that key projects have all party backing to encourage external investment.
The proposals announced in the Citizen on Monday have been developed over time with input and ideas from many people. They are certainly not, the sole ideas, of the Conservative administration. As a package, the proposals will have Liberal Democrat councillors support.
Liberal Democrats helped secure public funding for the new bus station, which we desperately need. I am pleased to see work has just begun.
The Tories have been unable to deliver the Kings Quarter Project, which is a major failure in policy terms. The administration has also been unable to find a development partner for the historic Fleece Hotel and grounds. There has been a number of planning approvals for the former Kwiksave site, but the site remains derelict.
Liberal Democrats believe that we can improve on the plans in the following way.
Breakup Kings Quarter into two separate, but linked projects
Market Parade or (White Friars) project
To 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.
Kings Square
This should be our premier open space in city centre. It has been unloved by the council for 25 years. It must become a space for public events, dining and socialising, with new pavilion cafes, restaurants, and most of all, superb public art that pulls people to the square.
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.
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.
City Centre environment
There are too many pound shops, turf accountants and tattoo parlours. We do need to improve our retail offer. The provision of high quality public toilets is dire and 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.
Regeneration Oversight
Regeneration oversight is done behind closed doors and I would propose that we create a new Regeneration Scrutiny Committee to meet in public that can properly scrutinise the council’s regeneration plans.
We live in a great historic city and we should promote this more effectively, with restoration of important building, festivals remembering our past & public art celebrating our 2,000 years of development.
University City
We must support the continued development of University Gloucestershire in the city and encourage purpose built student accommodation in Blackfriars area to persuade year two and three students to stay rather than move to Cheltenham.

Lib Dems secure funding for third year for visits to SkillZone

John Cordwell and Jeremy Hilton experience - the danger in the alley scenario at the SkillZone

John Cordwell and Jeremy Hilton experience – the danger in the alley scenario at the SkillZone

The Liberal Democrats have for the third financial year running secured safety sessions at Gloucester’s SkillZone for all Year 5 school pupils across the county.

Opened in September 2012, SkillZone is a state-of-the-art life size village. There are sixteen interactive zones, which cover a range of scenarios including road, rail, water, home and personal safety. Those pupils going up into Year 5 this September will be able to take advantage of the zones and all what the facility offers.

The Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure, Cllr. John Cordwell (LD: Wotton-under-Edge) who is also Chair of the Stroud Road Safety Liaison Group said:

“I’m pleased that for the third year running children from schools across Gloucestershire will have the opportunity to visit Gloucester’s SkillZone. It is a great fully interactive facility that is certainly worth a visit.

“The take up over the past couple of years have been good and now it is running into a third year where more Year 5 groups will be able to come and learn how to recognise dangerous situations and stay safe.

“I quote Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) who said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, I’m confident that investment in children’s safety now will help reduce safety incidences in the future”.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD:Kingsholm & Wotton) also said:

“For three years running, the Liberal Democrats have proposed for all Year 5 pupils to visit this facility and evaluations from the last two years have shown the programme to be a huge success.

“Since April 2014, a total of 13,844 children have visited SkillZone and of these 5,598 Year 5 pupils have attended as part of the Liberal Democrat scheme.

“The evaluations undertaken this year shows that 100% of teachers were satisfied (98% very satisfied) with the safety education, 100% of teachers state that they think their pupils’ safety has been increased after the visit (88.5% to a great extent) and 100% felt that the session had a good or very good impact on the children (92% very good).

“The Liberal Democrats have pushed for these visits to happen and I’m delighted that they will be continuing for another year. SkillZone is a fantastic and fun way of getting important safety messages across to our children.

“I’d encourage all schools to take up the opportunity of bringing their Year 5 groups to such a place.”

My statement on the unitary council bid from Cotswolds & West Oxon

“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.

“It is amazing to think that Lynden Stowe, the leader of Cotswold District, who is also a county councillor, could ambush his leader, Mark Hawthorne in such a way. Not only are the Tories fighting over Europe they now are arguing over the integrity of our wonderful county of Gloucestershire.”

Why I am voting to remain in the EU


I shall be voting to remain in the European Union. I voted yes in 1975 and I have never regretted that decision. My primary reason at that time was that I wanted peace in Europe. My parents and grandparents generation had been involved in two world wars that had ruined the lives of millions of Europeans. I never wanted this to happen again. As Churchill said; “jaw jaw is better than war war”.

In the last forty years we have seen Spain, Portugal and Greece become democracies and also all the countries in Eastern Europe as well. The EU helped this happen, a country must be a democracy to be a member.

In a global world, European countries need to work together to protect our environment, security and economy. Britain’s place must be around the table making the rules that make this happen. Though Britain is a net contributor to the EU it more than makes this up, eight fold, in the extra revenues gained by British businesses trading within the single market. To leave could see our car industry, for example, losing its duty free status with the imposition of a 10% tariff on all cars sold on the continent.

I shall also be voting to remain for the benefit of future generations. The EU provides opportunities for our young people to work and study abroad. The benefits of the EU are multitude, but I end with one example, the European Health Insurance Card, issued free of charge, which provides us all with medical protection when we travel within the EU.

County Council Press Team issue misleading report on Budget

The county council press team have issued a misleading press release that gives the impression that Lib Dem amendments to the Tory budget, were UKIP or Tory ideas. This is untrue.

Lib Dem leader Jeremy Hilton said:

“The government cut the core funding to Gloucestershire by £18 million. Despite the 3.99% Council Tax rise there will be no additional spending for Gloucestershire County Council. The revenue budget will be £420m next year as it this year. Liberal Democrats are pleased that we pushed the Tory administration into reversing the £2m cut in highway spending and that we have prevented cuts to adult social care. We are also pleased that a number of Lib Dem amendments were accepted as these will improve the budget for 2016/17”

Lib Dem budget successes are as follows:-

1) Increasing Highways Local to £30k per member and £7,500 per member for additional road maintenance in their area, £400K taken from the £2.075million extra to be spent on roads.

2) £150k to invest in new cycling schemes from the Barriers to Cycling report

3) £100k investment to pay for a designated Traffic Regulation Order officer and resources to speed up the processes

4) £50k to be match-funded with the district councils to look into air quality and pollution

5) £50k to continue the free visits for all five year olds at SkillZone

6) £25k investment into mental health support for children and young people

7) £20k into support to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

8) 5k to provide free residents parking for all Band A electric vehicles for the first permit only

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton

Isabel Brazil & Jeremy Hilton to contest Kingsholm & Wotton for the Lib Dems

Isabel Brazil, Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton campaigning in Kingsholm & Wotton

Isabel Brazil, Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton campaigning in Kingsholm & Wotton

Isabel Brazil & Jeremy Hilton will contest the Kingsholm and Wotton ward for the Liberal Democrats at the city council elections on May 5th.

There will be all out elections for the city council on new ward boundaries with the number of councillors going up from 36 to 39. Kingsholm and Wotton ward, regarded as a Lib Dem stronghold, will elect two city councillors.

Isabel Brazil will join Jeremy Hilton in standing for the city council as Sebastian Field steps down to concentrate on his singing career.

Sebastian said: “I have loved my time on the city council and this was not a decision I took lightly. Kingsholm and Wotton is a great place to live and work and I will miss being one of the councillors for the area.

Isabel Brazil lives in Edwy Parade and knows the local area very well. Her late father Peter Brazil was a Lib Dem councillor on Tewksbury Borough Council.

She said: “I am delighted to have the chance to serve Kingsholm and Wotton. I will work hard for the area and I will always put Kingsholm and Wotton first.”

Jeremy Hilton said: “Isabel Brazil will make an excellent councillor. I am pleased to have her as my running mate. Kingsholm and Wotton is a wonderful place to represent on the city council. I hope the voters will elect the both of us on 5th May.

Objections pile in on Allstone’s planning application

The county council has received forty individual objections opposing the planning application by Allstone to carry on stone crushing for three more years at its Myers Road site.

Receiving petition from local residents

Receiving petition from local residents

Lib Dem county councillor, Jeremy Hilton has also received a petition with over 90 signatures from local residents opposing the plan. He handed the petition to the chair of the planning committee at the last county council meeting.

Jeremy Hilton said: “I have personally sent in my own objections to planning application and I have agreement that the planning committee will determine the application rather than being done under officer delegated powers.

“I have spoken to a number of local residents at Swallow Park who would like this application refused. They are concerned about the county council’s ability to enforce the planning permission if it were to be approved. They are fed up with the noise and dust that emanates from it.

“The people living nearby at Swallow Park and Armscroft Estate have already suffered from four years of noise and dust from the operation of the stone crushing. This application is the third to seek temporary permission. When does temporary use become semi permanent. Do residents deserve another three years of dust and noise? I believe it is now time to close down stone crushing so near to the homes of families in my division. This sort of business should not be operating in an urban environment. I urge the planning committee to refuse permission.”

The earliest the application could be heard is at the March committee. Officers have asked for additional information from Allstone in respect to noise, air quality and landscaping.”

The county council is still receiving written comments on the application. Go online to – Ref No: 15/0077/GLMAJW

Statement by Cllr. Jeremy Hilton on Gloucestershire County Council budget

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton ahead of Conservative cabinet decision to approve their budget has issued the following statement. Total revenue spending for the council will drop by £2m to £417.98m despite an increase of 3.99% in the council tax.

Jeremy Hilton said:

“The Tories plan to increase the council tax by 3.99%, the first rise in 5 years. Looking at the council’s finances it seems inevitable that the bill to local taxpayers will go up. It is clear the Conservatives are 100% culpable for the financial position the council is in. Despite this tax rise, spending will still drop by £2m next year.

“The government has slashed the council’s core funding by £18m (9.5%), leaving the council short of funds to maintain services, whilst the Coalition’s ‘council tax freeze grant’ has also been scrapped. In order to make up shortfall in funding for adult care the government has introduced a social care levy, the “Osborne Tax”, which encourages a 2% increase in the council tax to prop up these important services. The Tories are placing the burden on local council taxpayers rather providing central government funding.

“Locally, the council finances have been damaged by reckless management of council’s finances by Cllr. Hawthorne’s administration. They have squandered £17m in bailing out UBB on the incinerator contract. They have failed to balance the books with a whopping £8.9m overspend in one department, which soaks up 94% of the extra revenue from the 3.99% council tax increase. There will be bigger bills to local people, but cuts in actual funding for county services.

“Liberal Democrats will be proposing some amendments to the budget, concentrating on roads, health and the environment, which we shall announce next week”

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.”