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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Conservatives vote for South Glos Council to continue to pay poverty wages

Living Wage Foundation

On two occasions on Wednesday night South Gloucestershire’s Conservatives voted against paying key workers the Real Living Wage.

At a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council, the Liberal Democrats supported a Labour Group motion calling on South Gloucestershire Council to pay all its staff at least the Real Living Wage.

South Gloucestershire’s Conservatives unanimously voted to remove the proposal that the Council become a Living Wage foundation accredited Real Living Wage employer from the motion and replace it with waffle and platitudes.

Every single one of the Conservative councillors present at the meeting voted for a wrecking amendment which removed any substantive commitment from the motion.

Speaking in favour of South Gloucestershire Council paying at least the Real Living Wage, Liberal Democrat Councillor Louise Harris said,

“We are talking about people’s lives here, we are talking about what they earn, we are talking about basic decency, we are not talking about great philosophical things this is actually pretty basic stuff.

“I think it’s rank hypocrisy to be lectured by the Conservative Group on poverty and people’s wages.”

In a later debate on a Conservative motion on recognition for our local heroes, the Conservatives refused to accept a Liberal Democrat amendment proposing that the Council ask the Prime Minister to ensure all key workers were paid at least the Real Living Wage and to ensure that local authorities and the NHS were funded at a sufficient level to afford such a pay increase.

Proposing the Liberal Democrat amendment, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Maggie Tyrrell said,

“Hand clapping and fine words, or even medals may boost morale but they don’t put food on the table.”

Seconding the Liberal Democrat amendment, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Yate North, Ben Nutland said,

“What does it say about us if we write to the Prime Minister asking for him to give a medal to key workers, but refuse to ask that they all be paid a decent wage?”

Speaking afterwards, Councillor Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrats,

“Last night the Conservative Group was given two opportunities to support paying key workers a decent wage and they refused to do so on both occasions. For all their bluster and obfuscation, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that they just don’t see raising working people out of poverty as a priority.

“Some people come into politics to improve people’s lives and alleviate poverty – whatever the South Gloucestershire Conservatives are in politics to do, it clearly isn’t that.”

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South Glos Conservatives vote to silence the Public at planning visits

House building

At Wednesday's South Gloucestershire Council meeting, every Conservative Councillor present (with one abstention) voted not to allow members of the public to speak at planning site visits.

Planning site visits take place to allow members of planning committees to see the locations of planning applications in-person, with the support of council officers. Until 2018 members of the public were allowed to attend planning site visits and make their concerns known to the members of the committee – this was abolished by the Conservative administration.

An attempt, put forward by the Liberal Democrat Group, to restore the right of members of the public to speak at planning site visits was supported by the Labour Group but blocked by the ruling Conservatives.

Speaking during the debate, Councillor Adrian Rush, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Planning, Transport and Strategic Environment said,

“We serve the public and we should be giving local people the right to speak at these visits. Members of the public should have the opportunity to speak in their local areas, not having to travel all the way to Kingswood for a planning committee, which excludes a lot of people.”

Summing up, Councillor Jayne Stansfield, Liberal Democrat Lead Member for Development Management said,

“The planning process needs to be seen to be transparent and democratic. Site visits give the public an opportunity to raise issues on site, where members of the committee can see what the issues are. If we go back to allowing people to speak at site visits they will have a greater level of confidence in the system.”

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