Liberal Democrats Conference report -day two

The major speech of the day came from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP. As our senior Scottish MP in the cabinet, Danny started his speech by thanking everyone who helped in the Scottish Referendum, in support of the No campaign. He also reaffirmed Liberal Democrat policy that we should have votes for 16 & 17 year olds in all elections as they did in the referendum.

Danny said Liberal Democrats should be proud that we gave the country strong government in 2010 at a time when we needed it most. He reminded delegates that Labour had bankrupted the country and that they should never be trusted to run the country by themselves again.

Since the Liberal Democrats had been in government, 27 million people had benefited from income tax cuts by the raising of the threshold to £10,500. This is something David Cameron said could not be done during the 2010 election campaign. Danny Alexander said we would raise the tax free threshold to £12,500 in the next parliament. This could only be guaranteed to be done fairly by Liberal Democrats being in government next time.

Danny Alexander said Liberal Democrats would borrow less than Labour and cut public spending less than the Tories. He said we would insist on a fairness rule on any changes to tax and benefits.

Liberal Democrat Conference Report – day one

Liberal Democrats are meeting in Glasgow for the annual conference. Saturday the conference started with hustings for the election of our new party President to take over from Tim Farron, who is stepping down. There are four candidates, former MEP Liz Lynne, Baroness Sal Brinton, Linda Jack and Daisy Cooper. The winning candidate will be chosen in a postal ballot of all party members.

During the day passionate speeches were given by two senior Lib Dem government ministers Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes both highlighting the many achievements that have been made that would not have happened if the Lib Dems had not been in government. For instance, £35 million has now been given to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), scrapping of ID cards and reduced detention without charge to 28 days.

The highlight of the first day was the Conference Rally, which Jo Swinson, Paddy Ashdown and Nick Clegg spoke to a packed house in the main auditorium.

Nick Clegg told conference delegates that only the Liberal Democrats could provide Britain with a strong economy and a fairer society. He asked people to imagine what life would be like with a Tory or Labour majority government. The Tories could not deliver a fair society and Labour cannot be trusted on the economy. Liberal Democrats will fight “tooth and nail” to prevent either of them forming a majority government.

Locally Liberal Democrats will be fighting hard to win so that we can deliver a stronger economy and fairer society here in Gloucester, as well.

Council approves bid by residents to list Civil Service Sports ground as a community asset

Jeremy Hilton & Sebastian Field with Civil Service Sport Club in nackground

Gloucester City Council has approved a second bid by local residents to make the former Civil Service Club in Kingsholm a community asset under the Community Right to Buy scheme. This would allow the community to buy the land if Redrow try to sell it. Redrow paid just £10,000 for the site in 2011.

The new bid provided comprehensive evidence that non-members as well as members regularly used the grounds and pavilion.

Both Liberal Democrat councillors, Jeremy Hilton and Sebastian Field provided written support for the bid and they are delighted that the city council has agreed to list the sports ground as a community asset.

Sebastian Field said: “There is a shortage of public open space in our ward as required by the city council’s open spaces strategy. The ownership of this land by the community would be a great benefit to our neighbourhood.”

Jeremy Hilton said: “The former Civil Service sports ground clearly is a community asset that we must save for sport and recreation. I am pleased that the land is now listed as a community asset giving residents of Kingsholm the first option to buy the land if Redrow try to sell it. The next step in our campaign is for the city council is to include the former civil service sports ground in its emerging open spaces strategy.”

Introduction of Free School Meals is Good News

Liberal Democrats at Shire Hall are delighted that the Deputy Prime Minister’s free school meals initiative had the support of the council and is on track to be delivered from this September.

The free school meals policy, announced by the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference last September will give all year 1 and 2 pupils free school meals.

The £450m funding in 2014/15 and £635m in 2015/2016 will be made available to the Department for Education to fund this commitment.

The equivalent of £2.30 for every meal served in Gloucestershire. A government grant of £1.2m is also being used to upgrade kitchen to deal with the 19,000 free school meals that will be served every day.

Commenting, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said that:

“The introduction of free school meals for every single infant school pupil is a positive step in the right direction.

“It is great initiative that will bring positive benefits encouraging positive eating habits and helping to improve concentration and performance in the classroom. It will also save families £420 per pupil per year.

“I am disappointed that the Tories abstained in welcoming the free school meals initiative especially considering that nationally cross-party support has now been given for this policy”.

ENDS

 

Liberal Democrats announce candidates for Gloucester City Council elections on May 22nd

Liberal Democrats have announced who their candidates will be for the city council elections to be held on the 22nd May. The party will be fielding candidates in all wards. The Liberal Democrats will be defending four seats. 

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton), Cllr. Phil McLellan (Barnwood), Cllr. Chris Witts (Elmbridge) and Cllr. Jim Beeley (Hucclecote) are all standing for re-election.

Lib Dem leader, Jeremy Hilton said: “The city council elections are very important for people of Gloucester. Liberal Democrats standing in all fifteen wards want to make Gloucester a better place to live and work. A strong representation of Liberal Democrats on the city council will be good for Gloucester and good for the continued regeneration of our historic city.”

Liberal Democrat candidates are:-

  1. Barnwood – Phil McLellan
  2. Kingsholm & Wotton – Jeremy Hilton
  3. Hucclecote – Jim Beeley
  4. Elmbridge – Chris Witts
  5. Longlevens – Jonathan Whittaker
  6. Quedgeley Severn Vale – Joanne Brown
  7. Westgate – Howard Hyman
  8. Barton & Tredworth – Paul Harries
  9. Abbey – Sarah Dobson
  10. Grange – Anthony Gowing
  11. Tuffley – Paul Harris
  12. Podsmead – Vicki Field
  13. Matson & Robinswood – John McFeely
  14. Quedgeley Fieldcourt – Kira Barnes-Moffatt
  15. Moreland – Mike Anderton

 

Ends….

Liberal Democrat success: from 1st May residents parking permits cut to £50 per year

The annual cost of residents’ parking permits is to go down to £50 from the 1st May. The current price is £80 per year.

The decision to cut the price of the permits by 37.5% is all down to the Liberal Democrats who successfully moved an amendment to the county council budget when it was set in February.

The two wards that will mostly benefit are Kingsholm & Wotton ward and Westgate ward.

Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said: “It has been a long hard battle to get the cost of the residents’ parking permits reduced. It was wrong for the county council to overcharge for the cost of a permit. They were making a profit of £30. Now the price of the permit is the same as the cost of administration and enforcement.”

Sebastian Field (Kingsholm & Wotton) said: “Hopefully people living in streets with a permit scheme will be delighted with this news. £50 per year is better value than £80.”

Howard Hyman the Liberal Democrat candidate for Westgate ward said: This great news for city centre residents. Having the cost of their parking permit slashed by 37.5% is a job well done by Liberal Democrat councillors serving on the county council.”

Fire and Rescue Service to remain with local government thanks to the Lib Dems

Commenting on the news that the government will not be transferring responsibility for fire and rescue services to Police and Crime Commissioners, Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Lib Dem Fire Spokesperson at the LGA said:

“The future of the Fire and Rescue Service is best served by it remaining under the governance of democratically elected councillors sitting on local Fire and Rescue Authorities.

The controversial proposal to transfer responsibility of the fire and rescue service to Police and Crime Commissioners was advocated by Conservative government ministers. They did not get their way.

I am pleased that Liberal Democrats in government thwarted this plan. It was outside the Coalition agreement.

The proposal would have placed an extra burden on the Police and Crime Commissioners and removed the excellent democratic contribution that councillors make in the running of the fire and rescue services throughout England.

“There is important work to be done in developing better collaboration between all blue light services. Changing the governance of the fire service at this time would just be an unnecessary distraction.”

ENDS

Make Gloucester Cathedral a World Heritage site – say Lib Dems

 

Jerem Hilton outside Gloucester Cathedral

Jerem Hilton outside Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral should become a UNECO World Heritage site according to the Liberal Democrats. On the 23rd January, Gloucester City Council will debate whether the council along with the Dean and Chapter should make a bid for the cathedral to become a World Heritage Site (WHS). Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton, is proposing the idea.

There are 16 world Heritage sites in England, including Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for the nomination of UK sites.

Gloucester Cathedral was built between 1089 and 1499. It has stood in heart of the city for nearly a thousand years. It is a fine example of English Cathedral design. Visitors can enjoy art and architecture from across the ages. The cathedral is listed as a top five UK visitor attraction in Which Magazine readers’ survey.

Jeremy Hilton said: “We should seriously consider bidding for Gloucester Cathedral to become a World Heritage Site. This would be a prestigious designation. It would help create a sense of pride for everyone who lives in Gloucester. It would surely boost the numbers of visitors to Gloucester. We should be bold and make a bid to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.”

Cllr. Declan Wilson said: “Our proposal also mentions of “Project Pilgrim” that will see £5m invested in the cathedral building and grounds to improve visitor experience. When I first moved to Gloucester, I was impressed by the magnificence of the cathedral. It is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Europe and would make a great addition to the UK twenty five World Heritage Sites.”

Ends…

Wording of the motion

“This council notes that Gloucester Cathedral is listed as a top five UK visitor attraction in Which Magazine readers’ survey.

This council notes and welcomes plans under Project Pilgrim to invest £5m in the Cathedral and its grounds.

That this council agrees to approach the Dean & Chapter to consider whether to apply to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for Gloucester Cathedral to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton & Seconded by Declan Wilson

Labour plan to abolish Gloucester City Council killed off

The county council’s local government structure task and finish group met yesterday to review evidence it has received from the district councils. The group was set up following a Labour motion. Labour are obsessed with creating unitary councils. This could mean reducing both Gloucester and Cheltenham councils to town council status – a ridiculous idea. Anyway the evidence received by the task and finish group proved conclusively that there are loads of problems to be faced if unitary local government were to be imposed in Gloucestershire.

I am a member of this committee and I argued strongly yesterday to kill off Labour’s plans for unitary government in the county. I did the same when we debated the issue at full council. We don’t want to spend 5 years arguing about a new local government structure in Gloucestershire and where the new offices will be etc. We should just get on with the job of running council services under the system we currently have.

The good news is that all members of the task group, including Labour members, agreed to scrap any plans to consider creating monolithic unitary local government in Gloucestershire. This will now be reported to Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and then to full council.

Kwik Save – a ‘no go’ regeneration project!

Sebastian Field & Jeremy Hilton discuss the regeneration of the former Kwik Save site, which is in the background

Sebastian Field & Jeremy Hilton discuss the regeneration of the former Kwik Save site, which is in the background

Planning permission to build 119 flats with four ground floor retail units on the former Kwik Save site along Northgate Street and Black Dog Way was agreed three years ago. In the last three years no work has taken place to start construction of this regeneration project.

Leading Liberal Democrat city councillors Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton have written to the leader of Gloucester City Council seeking a meeting with the developers about why this crucial city centre new homes project has not started.

Deputy Leader Sebastian Field said: “We need new homes in Gloucester and this is a brown field site with permission for 119 residential apartments. I urge the developers to start construction work.”

Leader Jeremy Hilton agreed: “It is now three years since planning permission for 119 apartments was granted and eight years since a previous permission for 88 units was approved. This site is an eyesore in the centre of Gloucester. Construction must start soon before the planning permission expires.”

Ends…

Note

The planning committee approved planning permission (10/00769/FUL) on 7th September 2010. This is just over three years ago and construction work has not started. Permission runs out on the 15th October 2015. In 2005, permission was given for 88 apartments on this site. The site has remained an eyesore for eight years despite planning permission for being granted several times for apartments on the site.