Local homelessness figures demand eviction ban extension

Rough Sleeping

The Liberal Democrats in South Gloucestershire have urged the Government to extend the eviction ban as official figures reveal that 55 South Gloucestershire families in private rented accommodation were deemed at risk of homelessness.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran and Chair of the All-Party Group on Coronavirus warned that Ministers must act now to “stop a devastating surge in homelessness sweeping across the country as we face a potential second wave.”

According to official statistics, 160 households in South Gloucestershire are assessed as being threatened with homelessness, with another 70 assessed as homeless from January to March 2020.

60 households who were homeless or threatened with homelessness cited the end of a private rented tenancy as the reason for losing their last settled home.

The figures also revealed that 6 households in South Gloucestershire were rough sleeping in January to March 2020.

Councillor Ben Nutland, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health on South Gloucestershire Council said:

“The current pandemic is causing many people to struggle or lose their jobs. Families in South Gloucestershire need protection from homelessness, but the Conservatives seem happy to leave people to fend for themselves.

“People deserve better. These figures are yet further proof the Government must urgently rethink its heartless decision to resume evictions from 23rd August.”

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

“Thousands of families in the private rented sector were already being threatened with homelessness earlier this year, now they face losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic.

“Ministers must act now to stop a devastating surge in homelessness sweeping across the country as we face a potential second wave.

“The sharp rise in rough sleeping also shows why criminalising rough sleeping through the Vagrancy Act must end. Instead, Ministers should protect emergency funding for local councils to permanently accommodate rough sleepers."

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Government’s A-levels failure has let down a generation of students – South Gloucestershire Council must act

Claire Young

Councillor Claire Young, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on South Gloucestershire Council has called on the Council to give support to care-leavers hit by the exam results crisis.

In mishandling the awarding of A-level results, the Government has let down a generation of students. Whilst yesterday’s decision that this year’s students will receive the grades their teachers predicted is the right decision, it remains yet another example of too little, too late from this Government.

The failure of the Government to put in place a fair system of awarding A-level grades before the results were announced has led to chaos as universities and colleges have been forced to decided which students to let in on one set of grades, only to find that the grades have now changed and some students who have been rejected have now been awarded the grades they needed.

Councillor Claire Young said:

“Students have been put through enormous amounts of stress and unnecessary upset, needlessly going through this uncertainty.

“Amidst all this, there is one group of students who are likely to be harder hit than any other – those leaving council care. These young adults, whether they are planning to go on to further or higher education, an apprenticeship, training or employment,  are likely to be without family support and without the means to simply take a year off from their plans and try again next year.

“South Gloucestershire Council has a legal, but more importantly a moral duty to these care-leavers to make sure it does everything it can to give these young people the support they need at this deeply uncertain time.

“That is why I have written to Council officers this week, highlighting this issue and asking what the Council is doing to support our care leavers.”

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Councillor Clare Fardell

Clare Fardell

We are very sad to have to announce the death of our dear friend and colleague Cllr Clare Fardell. Clare’s contribution to our lives, both personally and as a community was immense. Always mindful of the needs of the individual she was also instrumental in starting projects that now enrich Thornbury life, such as Thornbury in Bloom, the Volunteer Centre, the Over 60s Tea Room and much more. We will pay further tribute to her 40+ years of campaigning for Thornbury in the near future. We will all miss her so much. Our thoughts are with her husband Martin and her large & loving family.

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Yate Mayor secures promise to remove Eyesore Pylons

Yate Mayor, Cllr Karl Tomasin with a resident, taken in January 2020

Local residents in Brimsham Park, Yate, are delighted with the news that eyesore overhead pylons which dominate the area are set to be removed in 2022 - thanks to the perseverance of Mayor, Karl Tomasin and his colleagues.

Massive overhead pylons currently dominate the landscape in Brimsham Park. Residents expected them to be removed a year ago, but when it did not happen, South Gloucestershire Council said there was nothing they could do.

But Karl did not give up. He met up with Western Power and tracked down the officer responsible. Having gained the backing of the Town Council, his campaign has been in touch with Western Power regularly ever since, even during lockdown.

This week, Western Power came back with the following news:

“Just to confirm we are now looking to move forward with an underground solution from the [Barretts’ Ladden Gardens development] to [Brimsham] Substation. The works are not expected to be completed until sometime late 2022. I would expect there to be disruption to residents from early 2022 while the cable route is installed. Obviously these are only indicative timescales for now and the scheme is reliant on [Barretts] funding the scheme.”

Karl commented “Western Power have been working really hard to get a solution - even during lockdown they were on the case. I am relieved we now have a target date. Residents have put up with this for far too long. A big thank you to the Western Power officer, who has worked so hard with our councillors to get to this stage. A pity South Glos Council wasn't willing to add its weight to our local work.”

Residents have already said how delighted they are. Lots of fingers are now crossed. A resident added “For once we will be glad to have roadworks!”

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Tell us your Covid experiences and hopes

Cllr Mike Drew with Covid-19 Surveys

Local residents are being asked about their experiences during the Covid pandemic – and their hopes for the future. Liberal Democrat councillors have launched the survey, in print and online.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Claire Young, said:

“Everyone has experienced this pandemic in their own way. The experience of a key worker on the front line can be very different to that of someone shielding in isolation at home or parents juggling working from home with home schooling. We want to hear from as many people as possible, to learn what’s worked well and what people would like to do differently as we continue to grapple with the virus.

“We’re also keen to find out people’s hopes for the future. Many people are saying they don’t want everything to go back to how it used to be. This is a chance to rethink and do things better.

“We’re already delivering printed copies to 12,000 homes but even if you don’t get one you can join in online. For many it will be the first time they’ve been asked for their feedback on Covid and their post-Covid hopes. It’s really important that councils and the Government listen to and address everyone’s needs. Please share your experiences so we can make sure they do.”

You can complete the survey online at https://www.southgloslibdems.org.uk/cv19-survey

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