At last night's South Gloucestershire Council meeting, the Liberal Democrat Group proposed giving the Climate Emergency a greater priority as South Gloucestershire recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Liberal Democrat group proposed using the £120k allocated to support Downend, Chipping Sodbury and Filton High Streets to help those areas “build back greener” following the pandemic and asked that such investment should prioritise supporting initiatives that will reduce businesses’ energy costs and carbon emissions, and the provision of Electric Vehicle charging points.
Proposing the amendment, Councillor Claire Young, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on South Gloucestershire Council said:
“We fully support long-overdue investment in Chipping Sodbury, Downend and Filton High Streets. We know how hard they have been hit by the pandemic.
“We believe this funding should be used to build back greener in our High Streets. As we support the recovery of our local communities, we want to give the people and businesses of South Gloucestershire a clear route map to zero carbon, setting out house by house and business by business how they can contribute to and benefit from this, and providing electric vehicle charging points.
“We think that our vision of building back greener will make our high streets more attractive and show that tackling the climate emergency really does underly everything this council does.”
Councillor Louise Harris, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, said:
“The administration talks a good talk on the Climate Emergency, and we welcome some of the work they have done, but time and again we hear that projects have been unavoidably delayed.
“The point of the Climate Emergency is that it is an emergency and that requires action now, we can’t afford to wait a year or two.
“We believe the Council needs to do more to stop its Climate Emergency work being a desk-based exercise and start to see significant action on the ground.”
Speaking after the debate, Councillor Young said:
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the administration once again dismissed out of hand any proposals that weren’t their own. We need to see a significant change in the Council’s attitude to combating the Climate Emergency if we are to make good on our commitment to see South Gloucestershire achieve net-zero by 2030."
The Liberal Democrat amendments also supported the authority working towards becoming a Real Living Wage employer and ensuring future long-term investments take into account their environmental impact.Read more
Long time campaigners for improved cycling routes have welcomed funding for outline business cases for a cycle path on Alveston Hill and completing the Yate spur.
Cllr Claire Young, Leader of the Lib Dems on South Glos Council, said:
“After we submitted a petition to council in 2014 calling for the completion of the Yate spur, the next stage was funded, but since then progress has stalled. The missing link may be just a small part of the route, but fixing it brings huge benefits. By connecting the growing town of Yate to the Bristol Bath railway path, the Yate spur makes it safer for people to cycle to work and for leisure. It also helps people from Westerleigh to walk and cycle to Yate. I hope this funding will make that possible.”
“I’m calling for the business case to look at other potential links into the Yate spur, to make cycling an option for many more people.”
Cllr Maggie Tyrrell, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems on South Glos Council, said:
“A safe cycle route from the Alveston to Thornbury has always been a priority of ours. Alveston Hill is a problem because it’s not wide enough to separate cars, bikes and pedestrians and the cost of extra land has held up progress. We hope enough money can now be found to buy the necessary land, on top of the cost of building a dedicated cycleway, to make this a reality. We look forward to seeing more information and getting this scheme underway as fast as possible.”
Stephen Williams, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the West of England Mayor, said:
“Everyone should be given the confidence to ride a bike for leisure or travel along a safe route. Safe cycle routes would be a top priority for me as West of England Mayor.”
Local Liberal Democrat Councillors in Yate have expressed their disappointment at plans to close the HSBC Bank in Yate Shopping Centre.
It was announced earlier this week that, as part of a nationwide re-structure, HSBC would be closing a number of branches in the UK, including the local branch in Yate.
Cllr Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on South Gloucestershire Council, commented:
“The news of the planned closure to the HSBC bank in Yate is of great concern to the community, particularly with the potential loss of jobs in the local area and the loss of a locally accessible banking service”
Cllr Ben Nutland, Councillor for Yate North on South Gloucestershire Council, added:
“This bank is a vital life line for many of our local businesses and elderly residents, some of whom aren’t able to do online banking and would struggle to get to either Thornbury or Bristol if the one in Yate is closed.
“We will be pushing for a rethink and working to make sure those who can't use alternatives are supported.”
Which? research has found that more than a third of bank and building society branches have closed in less than five years and customers are increasingly being encouraged to bank online. But when questioned many adults said they would struggle with basic banking tasks if they could only use websites or apps to manage their bank accounts.
Claire, Ben and the local Liberal Democrat team are launching a petition and writing a letter to the CEO of HSBC asking for the decision to be reconsidered.
As things stand, HSBC intend to close the branch in June 2021. You can sign the petition here:Read more
South Gloucestershire Council is lagging behind its neighbours on delivery of electric vehicle charging points. That’s the message from South Gloucestershire Council’s Liberal Democrat Opposition Transport Spokesperson Councillor Adrian Rush.
Commenting, Councillor Adrian Rush said:
“Today we’ve seen South Gloucestershire’s Tories shouting about the fact that there’s a new EV charging hub at the science park. That is welcome, but one EV charging hub doesn’t make up for the fact that EV charging provision across South Gloucestershire is woefully inadequate.
“According to the Department for Transport’s statistics, South Gloucestershire has just 64 publicly available electric vehicle charging points – a lower number per capita than any of our neighbouring councils.
“Further afield, Cornwall has 219 EV charging points - three and a half times as many as South Gloucestershire, but only twice the population.
“The Liberal Democrats have been pressing the administration on this issue and so far we’re not impressed by their response. As is so often the case, South Gloucestershire Council appears to be playing catch up.”
Local campaigner Raj Sood has been chosen to fight the Frenchay and Downend by-election for the Liberal Democrats.
Raj is a well known local activist, having moved to Downend in 2005 and served as a Parish Councillor since 2015. The convenience store on Quaker's Road, which Raj owns and runs, is an important community hub for Bromley Heath, Downend and Frenchay.
Having originally trained as a Civil Engineer, Raj has found his knowledge especially useful in contributing to planning and financial issues considered by Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council. Now that his children – who attended local schools – are older, Raj wants to use his experience to serve the wider community on South Gloucestershire Council.
Raj Sood said:
“Serving my community, as a retailer, parish councillor or simply as a neighbour and volunteer, is a big part of my life. I would be honoured to have the opportunity to expand that contribution as a South Gloucestershire Councillor.”
Claire Young, leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on South Gloucestershire Council, said:
“Raj is a part of the heart of the community in Frenchay and Downend. There can be few residents locally who don’t know him and his understanding of local issues is second to none.
“Raj would make a first-rate councillor for Frenchay and Downend. Up until recently he has worked outside party politics, we are therefore delighted that he has chosen to join the local Liberal Democrat team.”