South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats were appalled at last week’s annual budget meeting after the ruling Conservative group voted down a Lib Dem amendment to invest £2million in fixing neglected local estate roads. The plan would have been paid for by making council land available for around 60 units of affordable housing spread over four locations.
Lib Dem group leader, Councillor Claire Young (Westerleigh), said: “There is money in the budget for highways maintenance, but this invariably goes towards A and B roads, leaving the estate roads where most people live to go from bad to worse. This investment wouldn’t just be good for motorists but for everyone who has to use residential roads, including children cycling to school. We are very disappointed that the Conservatives chose to vote down this constructive and costed plan. We had hoped for cross-party consensus but it appears the Conservatives would rather leave our roads in bad repair than risk another party getting credit for fixing them.”
Councillor Louise Harris (Dodington) said: “Providing more investment to repair our neglected estate roads was a key part of my campaign when I was elected to the Council in November. I wasted no time in helping to put together this £2million plan, which would have done exactly that. Sadly the Conservatives chose to play party politics and every single Conservative present voted against the extra money for residential roads. I hope that when local residents go to the polls on May 2nd and see the cracked and potholed state of their roads, they will remember that it was the Conservatives who voted to keep them that way. If the Lib Dems take control of the Council in May, we will bring back these proposals and seek to do more.”
Later this month, South Gloucestershire Council will become one of the first local authorities in the country to completely eliminate single-use cups at its offices. The move follows a successful Liberal Democrat motion to Council last May, which instructed the administration to take action.
Cllr Claire Young, who proposed the original motion, said: “Although it’s taken the administration longer to act than we had originally hoped, we are delighted to see our proposal finally put into action. This move will mean that locally 36,000 fewer unrecyclable cups will be thrown away each year. It may only be a small move in the big scheme of things, but if other local authorities and businesses follow South Gloucestershire’s lead, it could add up to a lot less needless waste.”
Local Lib Dem councillors have welcomed a U-turn on education funding by the Conservatives but warn that more support is needed for our most vulnerable children.
Lib Dem councillors campaigned alongside parents and teachers against Conservative plans to take £3million from mainstream school funding to plug a black hole in South Gloucestershire’s Special Educational Needs (SEND) High Needs Budget. The Conservatives previously said that if they did not do that, they would have to cut funding to support children with SEND in mainstream schools more quickly. They have now agreed that headteachers can work on alternatives.
Cllr Claire Young said: “I would like to congratulate all the parents, teachers and other campaigners who pushed back so strongly against these Conservative proposals, forcing the administration to back-track. While our local MP Luke Hall obediently wrote to welcome the Conservative administration’s proposal to syphon off £3million from mainstream education, Lib Dem councillors joined parents and teachers in rejecting all the options put forward and opposing cuts to both mainstream education and Special Educational Needs. Together we have proven that local campaigners can make a difference and force those in power to listen.”
“We are still concerned about the plans to reduce funding for children and young people with SEND in mainstream schools in the coming years. As parents have made clear, their children are already being let down, and reducing their funding can only make that worse. We will continue to demand better funding for our schools.”
Local Lib Dem education spokesperson Cllr Ian Blair said: “It was frankly outrageous for the Conservatives to suggest raiding the mainstream education budget at a time when South Gloucestershire’s schools are at breaking point. The Conservative consultation was a cynical attempt to pit parents of mainstream students against parents of students with special educational needs in deciding where the axe should fall. It backfired because parents and campaigners worked together to reject cuts to both to both the SEND High Needs Block and mainstream education. This is not the end of the matter however, as the administration have made clear that they intend to reduce spending on SEND High Needs once the local elections are out of the way.”
Lib Dem councillors have welcomed the news that Yate Minor Injuries Unit will have its opening hours extended to 8am-8pm, 7 days a week, from April this year.
Cllr Ruth Davis (Yate Central) said: “We are delighted that the local CCG have recognised the value of Yate Minor Injuries Unit to the local community and have agreed to extend its opening hours from April. Yate’s Lib Dem councillors have long campaigned alongside local residents to get greater services and opening hours at the MIU. We are grateful to the CCG and staff at the Unit for enabling this change to happen. We hope that these increased hours will help greatly reduce the number of people turned away from the MIU at busy times, a policy we have campaigned against since it was introduced.”
South Glos Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Claire Young, said: “I met with staff at the MIU last year and was impressed with the scale of the work they do for residents in Yate and the wider area. But they stressed to me that they do not always have the resources to treat everyone who comes to them on any given day. I’m pleased that the CCG has listened to everyone who told them how important it is that services at the MIU be extended.”
At a meeting held last weekend, Liberal Democrats in Thornbury and Yate have re-selected South Glos Council Group Leader Claire Young to contest the seat at the next General Election.
Claire, who lives with her family in Coalpit Heath in the constituency, previously contested the seat in 2017 and secured over 30% of the vote, cementing the Lib Dems as the main opposition to the Conservatives in the area.
Commenting on her selection, Claire said:
“It’s a great honour to be able to continue to speak up for local people in Thornbury, Yate, Chipping Sodbury and our villages.
“I look forward to speaking out louder than ever about Lib Dem priorities for the country and South Gloucestershire: improving the performance of the NHS both locally and across the country, demanding better funding in our schools, and of course giving you the final say on Brexit with an option to remain.”
Jayne Stansfield, Chair of South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats, adds:
“Under Lib Dem rules, candidates don’t keep their post automatically between elections and have to win a vote of local members to stay on. The fact that Claire was reselected by a huge margin is testament to the hard work and dedication she has shown locally over so many years. I look forward to helping get her elected as our next MP, whether the election comes in 2022, or next week!”