Lib Dems welcome rapid First Bus u-turn

Lib Dem Campaigners who have been fighting to keep buses running through North Yate are celebrating victory on some of the key roads.

Cllr Ian Blair (Lib Dem, Yate North) said:
"I was delighted to be told that First Bus had listened to the concerns Yate councillors raised when we met them on Tuesday and changed their plans. The new Y3 will now serve people living in the Cranleigh Court and North Road areas, who were left high and dry by the previous proposals.

He added, "The fight goes on to help those living in the Halifax Road and Wellington Road area."

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Thornbury and Yate Claire Young said:
"We've won round one because your councillors got in quickly, put the case with the evidence and made them recalculate.  Their previous proposals would have left bus users in many parts of North Yate without a bus service to Bristol. We'll keep talking to them to try to find a solution for the other roads affected."

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Lib Dem councillors raise concerns about those “left behind” in broadband rollout

While much of South Gloucestershire now has access to high speed broadband, Lib Dem councillors have been lobbying on behalf of rural residents left in the slow lane. Councillors John O’Neill and Claire Young recently met with residents of Bibstone who have been left out of all three stages of South Gloucestershire’s high speed broadband rollout.

Local Lib Dem councillor for Charfield ward John O’Neill said:

“Under the Conservative Council’s development plans, the number of houses in the Charfield area is due to increase dramatically in the coming years. With more people working from home it is important that there is good broadband connectivity, not just for the new communities, but also for the existing residents.

“Residents in Bibstone have been left out of all three phases of the South Gloucestershire’s superfast broadband programme. When they contacted BT OpenReach to find out how much it would cost for the community to pay for broadband connection themselves, they were quoted a staggering £98,000 for just 44 properties! 

"Meanwhile, it appears that neighbouring Leyhill Prison is getting a better broadband connection than local residents, due to an overhead fibre line running into the prison. Residents want to know why they cannot also connect from this line. It feels like there is a lack of joined-up thinking about how to get the best service for local people. I have raised these concerns with the South Glos Executive Member for Resources, Rob Creer, and I am pleased that he has agreed to come out to Bibstone to gain a better understanding of the problem.”   

“Lib Dem Council group leader Cllr Claire Young said:

“The superfast broadband rollout in South Gloucestershire has left pockets of poor service across our rural areas. Local people need the council to contribute to the solution. I’m pleased that Cllr Creer has now agreed to meet with us and local residents to hear what the council could be doing better.”

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Charfield SDL “must go back to the drawing board” following planning inspector decision, says local councillor

Lib Dem Councillor for Charfield John O’Neill is calling on South Gloucestershire Council to halt their plans for a 1,200 homes at Charfield, following a decision by the planning inspector to allow 121 homes and retail units on land north of Wotton Road at the heart of the village.  The proposed 1,200 home Strategic Development Location (SDL) was supported by South Gloucestershire’s ruling Conservative group earlier this year as part of its Joint Strategic Plan (JSP), and would more than double the size of the village if it goes ahead.

Cllr John O’Neill said: “We are very disappointed by the Planning Inspector’s decision to allow this speculative development of 121 and retail units in the heart of Charfield. This was the last central village site that could be preserved for community use and a possible site for a reopened station. Additionally, with Charfield Primary School already at capacity, this speculative development will just add to the pressure on local school places without helping to deliver the new school Charfield needs.

“What is clear is that this decision puts a coach and horses through the Conservatives’ plans for a 1,200 SDL at Charfield, and that those plans now need to be go back to the drawing board. The proposed SDL would more than double the size of Charfield, which the Conservatives say would help to pay for improved infrastructure for the village. We have always opposed the SDL, which we believe would destroy the identity of Charfield. But with the heart of the village now due to become housing it must be obvious, even to the administration, that the SDL cannot possibly be delivered in a sustainable way. The SDL must now be scrapped, or at the very least dramatically reduced in scale.”        

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Council backs Lib Dem call to bring management companies to heel

South Gloucestershire Council is calling upon the Government to bring in proper regulation of so-called management companies, following a motion by Lib Dem councillors Mike Drew and John Davis on Wednesday night.  

Cllr Mike Drew (Yate North) said: “Management companies are frequently set up by housing developers to maintain open spaces and play areas. Residents moving into new developments are then required to pay these companies indefinite management fees for their services. But here in Yate residents already pay a parish council precept to have green spaces maintained, meaning that some residents are effectively being doubled-charged.

“In some cases the management companies are not even performing the tasks they are charging for. Residents of Autumn Brooks in Yate are currently being forced to pay management fees for communal spaces that are fenced off and inaccessible. This is patiently unfair and Yate Town Council would like the power to take over the maintenance of green spaces from management companies, in order to save residents money and make sure maintenance work is up to standard. We’re calling upon the Government to make this possible for all new developments.”

Cllr John Davis (Yate North) said: “We’ve found that management companies frequently abuse their positon by treating residents as cash cows. They can charge residents as much as £50 a month in some cases. Residents have no choice but to pay up or move out. The situation could be improved by making sure that these companies are properly regulated, and that representatives of local residents are given places on the company boards to speak up for householders.”   

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Council backs Lib Dem call for urgent NHS funding to prevent a Winter Crisis

South Gloucestershire Council backed a motion from Lib Dem councillors Sue Hope and Claire Young on Wednesday night, calling on the government to provide urgent extra funding to avert another winter crisis in the NHS later this year.

Proposer of the motion, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Sue Hope said:

“The NHS is there for all of us when we need it, and we now need to return the favour. We are told by North Bristol NHS Trust that they expect extra winter pressures this year to cost them up to £6million, and yet, only £1.4million of extra funding has been made available by Government. NBT are doing their best to be prepared for the winter and are recruiting extra staff to cope, but they can only do so much with the money they have been given.

“If this funding black hole is not redressed, we will see a repeat of last year with cancelled operations and patients forced to wait in corridors. This would place terrible pressure on both staff and patients, and could lead to unnecessary deaths, as it did last year. The best 70th birthday present we could give to the NHS is to make sure that it is adequately funded this year, and every year.”

Seconder of the motion, Lib Dem Group Leader Claire Young said:

“We are pleased that our motion gained cross-party support and that the Council is now calling on the Government to urgently address the impending winter crisis in the NHS. However we were disappointed that the Conservatives felt the need to vote down our call to be honest with the British public that any increase in NHS funding will have to be met by tax increases.

“Leading health experts estimate that the NHS will need a bare minimum of an extra 4% in funding each year to cope with the growing needs of our aging population. Despite the illusorily promises of Boris Johnson during the Brexit campaign, the only way that the NHS will get the money it need is through an increase in taxation. It seems ludicrous that the Conservatives would not support being honest with the public about this.”

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