Lib Dems warn “it is actions that count, not words” on rural broadband

Lib Dem councillors and local residents of Bibstone have met with South Gloucestershire Council’s Executive Member for Resources to demand that he do something about those left out of the Council’s superfast broadband roll-out. The Executive Member has now said that the Council will now look into options for broadband access at Bibstone, but has refused to make any firm promises.

Cllr John O’Neill, whose ward includes Bibstone, said: “I’m grateful that the Executive Member for Resources accepted my request to meet with residents and hear for himself what they have to put up with in terms of their slow internet speeds. Residents have previously been told that they will not be included in Phase 3 of the Council’s superfast broadband scheme and would have to pay BT Openreach an eye-watering £98,000 to be connected. I’m pleased that he has said he will now look into finding a solution for Bibstone residents. But ultimately it’s actions that count, not words. We will continue to lobby the Conservative administration on behalf of local residents to make sure they get the service they deserve.”

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Claire Young said: “It’s good news that the Conservative administration are now looking at finding a solution to Bibstone’s lack of broadband access after local residents and Lib Dem councillors put pressure on them to act. But Bibstone is not the only area affected by slow connection speeds and we need a solution for all parts of South Gloucestershire. Rural residents pay their council tax, the same as everyone else, and it is simply not acceptable that in 2018 they are still being forced to endure third-rate connection speeds. We will continue to hold the administration to account until they have a solution for all of South Gloucestershire’s communities.”

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Thornbury: Over 100 support us in bid to stop developer

Thornbury-based Liberal Democrat Councillors Maggie Tyrrell and Jayne Stansfield have been joined by over a hundred local people in sending a letter to the director of a development company requesting that plans to develop a housing site in a field surrounded by rural lanes be dropped, as Thornbury Town Council considered the formal planning application for the first time. 

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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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