Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for the public to be allowed to speak at virtual planning committee meetings.
With the first virtual meeting of South Gloucestershire’s Development Management Committee taking place tomorrow (Thursday 28 May), the council is only allowing written submissions from members of the public. Normally local people would be able to speak at the meeting and the councillors have raised serious concerns that there will not be sufficient public participation.
Cllr Jayne Stansfield, Liberal Democrat Lead Member on the Development Management Committee said:
“Development Management is the committee at which we most often have local residents speaking on issues which directly affect them. Being able to hear what local residents think of developments in their areas is an important part of the process – for opportunity to address the committee to be reduced to now just the opportunity to submit a prepared statement to be read out by a council officer is far from satisfactory.
Cllr Mike Drew, Liberal Democrat Lead Member on the Strategic Sites Delivery Committee added:
“The Council has rightly moved to holding meetings virtually, rather than in person, since March. But it is vital that, as part of the move to virtual meetings, members of the public are not denied their right to address meetings. Whilst some early challenges are to be expected, it is now time that proper public participation is brought back to South Gloucestershire Council.”
Press release (pdf)
The Liberal Democrats have written to Luke Hall MP urging him to "end the distractions" and support calls for scandal-hit Dominic Cummings to go, so the country can focus on the coronavirus emergency.
In the letter, Liberal Democrat spokesperson Claire Young for Thornbury & Yate urges the Conservative MP to “put the interests of your constituents first, end the distractions and join the growing number of Conservative MPs who are calling for Dominic Cummings to go.”
The call comes alongside Liberal Democrat demands for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, while several Conservative MPs have also broken cover to call for Dominic Cummings to quit, amid claims he broke coronavirus lockdown rules twice.
South Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to publish the scientific evidence on which they’ve based their decision to open up schools to more pupils and to give schools and the public more guidance.
The Government has told schools, which are currently open for at risk children and the children of key workers, to plan to start reopening to more children on 1st June. So far they have refused to publish the scientific evidence to show that increasing the number of children in schools so early would be safe. Both teachers and parents have raised serious concerns that reopening schools prematurely opens up unjustifiable risk.Read more
After the Government announced that councils must help more people to cycle and walk to work as the lockdown eases, Liberal Democrats have repeated their call for the Conservative-run South Gloucestershire Council to take action.
At last month’s virtual Cabinet meeting the Leader of South Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrats, Cllr Claire Young, urged the ruling Conservatives to follow the lead of other Councils across the country and help cyclists and pedestrians through measures like coning off road space to create new temporary cycle lanes or widen existing lanes. Both the Conservative Cabinet Member for Transport Steve Reade and the Conservative Leader of the Council Toby Savage refused to take any action.
Now the Department of Transport has issued new guidance requiring councils to put in place such measures so that people can get back to work without being forced on to crowded public transport. Methods suggested by the Department for Transport include: installing pop-up cycling facilities to aid social distancing, using cones and barriers to widen footways and introducing more pedestrian and cycle-only roads.Read more
South Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrat Opposition Group has offered a cautious welcome to the Cabinet’s decision to adopt a wide-ranging plan of action to respond to the Climate Emergency.
This report follows a motion passed by the Council last year, proposed by the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Claire Young, declaring a Climate Emergency and committing the Council to taking action.
Following this a cross party group was set up, co-chaired by Liberal Democrat Cllr Louise Harris, to set out the actions the Council needed to take.
Responding to South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet’s decision to adopt the majority of the group’s recommendations, Cllr Claire Young said,
“While the Conservative Leader of Council is saying all the right things, we hope the administration is wholeheartedly committed to this initiative.
“We welcome the recommendations that have been adopted today. It is disappointing that the Conservative Cabinet has not adopted all the recommendations of the cross-party task and finish group, which was set up to give the Council a clear plan for its immediate response to the Climate Emergency.
“Tackling the Climate Emergency must, along with responding to the current Covid-19 pandemic, be at the top of the Council’s list of priorities.
“We will continue to hold this Conservative administration to account and ensure that the Climate Emergency is met with more than just warm words.”Read more