South Gloucestershire agreed an urgent motion at Council (Weds 29th June), condemning hate crimes in the wake of the vote to leave the UK.
Proposing the motion, Cllr Claire Young said: “Since the EU referendum result was announced on Friday, there has been a worrying rise in racially motivated offences across the country. In Cambridgeshire, police are investigating after hateful notes were pushed through the letter boxes of Polish people. A young Bristol mum has been spat on and abused. And I could quote many other examples of people who look or sound as if they may be from another country being told variations of ‘go home, we voted you out’.”
Cllr Young went on to highlight the concerns of a Hungarian man living in Yate, while other councillors spoke of incidents that had been raised with them.
Cllr Young added:
“We all need to make it clear that racism is not acceptable and that we welcome all.It is therefore disappointing that prominent Leave campaigner and local resident Arron Banks, when asked on twitter, "Do you deplore the attack on the Polish Social and Cultural Association earlier today. Or does it please you?"
"What's a psok cultural centre when it's at home. Pack in the guardian connected outrage.. Yawn .."
Let's make it clear we all, whether Leave or Remain campaigners, deplore racist abuse and attacks and keep South Gloucestershire a cohesive, safe community for all.”
The motion passed unanimously, and read:
South Gloucestershire agreed to a Liberal Democrat motion calling on developers to build the homes they have permission for, instead of constantly adding more and more permissions with no strategic plan.
Proposing, Cllr Maggie Tyrrell said: “It feels like we have no control over planning at the moment. I fear the new planning document we passed tonight will be as useless as the Core Strategy. Given all the work put in, it seems to be completely overridden by one sentence in the National Planning Policy Framework. The frustration is overwhelming. Thornbury has never said ‘no more’ to housing – we just want some control over the process.
“I hope this sends a message to our officers, and to Government. Please, let us build communities, not sprawling estates that take 20, 30 years to develop a community.
Cllr Clare Fardell added: “We have in fact got our 5 Year Land Supply – but the developers aren’t building it! Thornbury has accepted around a thousand new houses, and more has already been agreed, with more in the pipeline behind. It is absolutely absurd. We used to ask what kind of place South Gloucestershire was – and we realised we had many strong communities. They were all different, and all had pride in their communities. This is what we want to foster, which is so hard when we just get more and more piled in.”
The motion passed unanimously, and read:
South Glos has agreed a new devolution deal that will force a metro Mayor on the area, and could deliver the equivalent of less than three miles of motorway per year!
Tories pushed through the deal at full council, which will deliver the Bristol, BANES & South Glos just £30m a year, and will not increase over time.
Cllr Ruth Davis said: “This is a tiny amount of our budget, and an even smaller amount of our economic power. It’s enough to build about three miles of motoway, and that’s going to decrease over the next three decades. That is going to do absolutely nothing to solve our infrastructure crisis.
“In order to give us even this tiny amount, we’re being forced to accept a metro mayor that everyone agrees they don’t want, and a new, centralising combined authority. It’s crackers.”
Thornbury and Yate Liberal Democrats have this week announced that their Parliamentary Candidate will be selected on 15th July. Longstanding and popular MP Steve Webb, who was narrowly defeated at the 2015 General Election, has announced he will not be seeking re-selection, and will instead continue his local work as part of a new candidate’s team.
With speculation mounting about a possible ‘snap’ election, Mr. Webb announced his decision. He said : “It has been a huge privilege to serve the people of this area for eighteen years. In that time, I have met so many committed campaigners and selfless individuals who give so much to their local community. I also owe a huge debt to my team in the constituency office and to our active local campaigners who have taught me so much. Our strong team of local Councillors and campaigners and our new candidate for Parliament will continue to have my wholehearted support.”
In his letter to members, announcing his decision Steve Webb said:
“The country is going through massive trauma, which will have huge effects on our lives here in Thornbury and Yate. With talk of a ‘snap’ General Election in the air, I wanted to contact you personally to let you know that after much reflection, I have decided that we need a new candidate to lead our community through a long period of transition and play their role in helping our country rebuild. I will of course as a local resident continue to do all I can to support our candidate and to work to help our community.”
Council leader, Ruth Davis, said: "It is impossible to put into words our gratitude to Steve on behalf of our community and the countless people he and the team have helped. He has built a really strong team of people committed to the needs of our residents. That team is carrying on the work, with him as part of it. Since the Referendum we have been staggered by the large number of people coming forward to join the party locally. We had a massive growth in membership just after the general election and that has happened again this year. So we are in a stronger than ever position and ready for the challenges the country faces."
Steve Webb was MP for Northavon and then Thornbury & Yate from 1997 to 2015 and Minister for Pensions from 2010-2015. In addition to his highly-regarded work on pensions, Mr. Webb was a passionate local campaigner, working alongside local people to deliver a cinema for Yate, improved bus services to Southmead Hospital, fighting cuts to local services and raising local issues in the House of Commons. He still lives with his family in Olveston, near Thornbury.
At the last General Election the Lib Dems were defeated in this constituency by just 1495 votes, making this seat the closest fought between Lib Dems and Conservatives in the whole South West.
Liberal Democrats in the West of England support devolution, but are extremely worried about the Government deal on offer including a new “metro Mayor”.
North Somerset has already turned it down, but the three remaining councils – Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire – can still go forward.
Lib Dem leaders Ruth Davis (South Gloucestershire), Dine Romero (Bath & North East Somerset), and Gary Hopkins (Bristol) said:
“We are very sceptical about the deal in front of us. There are still too many unanswered questions about what we’re being asked to vote on, and what the long-term options are going to be. They haven’t even explained how the economic performance is going to be measured, now we’re being warned of a recession if we leave the EU.”
“This deal is being pushed through despite Lib Dem concerns, and we will need to find a way to make it work. The Mayor should not be imposed on the West against our will. We call on everyone to answer the consultation to make clear to the Secretary of State that we want devolved powers, we want more money, but we don’t want an unnecessary new layer of government.
“We have asked searching questions of officers, and people answering questions have been unable to answer them because Government hasn’t decided yet!”