South Gloucestershire Conservatives last night voted down a Lib Dem amendment calling upon the Government to end the ongoing programme of austerity cuts to our local NHS and to allocate extra funding to help our Health Service cope with winter pressures. Instead the Conservatives voted through a self-congratulatory motion, misleadingly claiming that the NHS is receiving record funding from the Conservative Government.
Lib Dem Health spokesperson, Cllr Sue Hope said: “It’s bitterly disappointing to see the Conservatives rejecting our calls to end the harsh austerity cuts to our local NHS. It’s clear that Theresa May’s promise to end austerity at the recent Conservative Party Conference was nothing more than empty words – at least when it comes to our local NHS. The Tories also refused to support our repeated calls for urgent additional funding for the NHS to cope with extra pressures this winter. Without such extra funding we fear we will see a repeat of the thousands of preventable deaths we saw across the country last winter.”
In place of the Lib Dem amendment, the Conservatives voted through a motion congratulating themselves, stating: “The Conservative-led government is investing record levels of funding into the NHS.” Leader of the South Gloucestershire Lib Dem Group, Cllr Claire Young, said: “This is clearly misleading. NHS budgets nationally are increasing far slower than historical averages, and locally we are seeing spending cuts of £37million to our NHS CCG this year alone. The Conservatives are giving to our NHS with one hand but taking away far more with the other.”
Both Lib Dem and Conservative versions of the health motion called for additional and expanded services to be provided out of Yate MIU. Lib Dem councillor for Yate Central Sue Walker said: “the local Lib Dems have been pushing for improved and expanded service at the Yate MIU for many years. The Conservatives refused to support a very similar resolution from us last year, but we welcome their change of heart. Their support for our campaign on Yate MIU is better late than never.”
This evening South Gloucestershire Lib Dem campaigners will take their campaign for free cashpoints to South Gloucestershire Council. Cllr Tony Davis (Dodington) will be calling on the whole Council to back his motion – calling on the Government and the banked-owned ATM operator LINK to take action to save our cashpoints.Read more
Conservative-run South Gloucestershire Council has announced proposals to cut £3 million from the budget for mainstream local schools to plug a black hole in the budget for special schools and children with high levels of special educational needs (SEND).
South Gloucestershire Lib Dem Schools spokesperson Cllr Ian Blair said:
“It’s absolutely correct that provision for children with Special Educational Needs must be prioritized. It’s troubling that the only way that the Conservatives can see to do this is to take £3 million from general funding for South Gloucestershire’s already chronically underfunded mainstream schools. Rather than simply robbing Peter to pay Paul I would hope that the Conservative administration seriously press Government to make sure that all of South Gloucestershire’s educational needs are adequately funded in future years.”
Leader of the opposition Lib Dems, Claire Young, said:
“As a local parent I am deeply concerned about the state of South Gloucestershire’s schools. When Toby Savage became leader of the Council earlier this year he announced that improving school standards was among his highest proprieties. Cutting £3 million from South Gloucestershire’s mainstream schools budget is hardly likely to help achieve that.
“Local Conservative councillors and MPs love to claim that they have the ear of their Government and can get things done because they belong to the same party. Now is their chance to prove it. South Gloucestershire is currently near the very bottom of the league table for education funding. I am calling on Cllr Savage to lobby his Tory colleagues in Westminster to ensure that this is put right, so that both mainstream education and SEND in South Gloucestershire are properly funded.
“If the Conservatives can afford to splash £120 million of public money on a ‘Festival of Post Brexit Britain’ they can certainly afford £3 million to improve local education.”
Local Lib Dems secure commitment from health bosses that local residents will have their voices heard over new Thornbury & Frenchay health and care facilities
Local Lib Dem councillors used this morning’s meeting of South Gloucestershire’s Health Scrutiny Committee to quiz health managers about their plans for Thornbury and Frenchay health and care facilities, and to ask for guarantees that the local residents are not cut out of the process.
Thornbury Lib Dem Councillor, Maggie Tyrrell, said:
“We’re determined that local voices are heard and people from the community are involved in the planning of any new health and care facilities in Thornbury. Back in December the Council agreed to support my request that the Health Authorities create stakeholder groups for their Thornbury and Frenchay projects, so that local representatives could help shape the plans. So far this hasn’t happened, despite health managers agreeing to the idea, so today I reminded the CCG’s Area Director David Jarret of this commitment, and stressed how important it is for people to have their say on these plans before they are set in stone. I’m pleased that Mr Jarret has now agreed to meet with me and my fellow councillors, Sue Hope and Shirley Holloway, to get the ball rolling on setting up these stakeholder groups.”
Fellow Thornbury Lib Dem Councillor, Shirley Holloway said:
“Having truly local health facilities means a lot to everyone in Thornbury and it’s important that local people are listened to about what they need from new facilities as they replace old ones. It was a great shock when we were told earlier this year that Thornbury Hospital would have to close because it was no longer fit for purpose but we have to accept the building wasn’t adequate. The temporary replacement inpatient facilities offered at the new Grace Care Centre, to be known as the Henderson Rehabilitation Unit, are of a very high standard and it’s reassuring that the hospital staff will transfer there and continue to provide high quality care.
We are still concerned that we may lose some outpatient services that are currently provided at the hospital. Moving the physiotherapy service to the Leisure Centre is a good option but there are still no plans for all the other clinics and services currently provided at the hospital. North Bristol Trust can’t tell us where they will go and won’t even guarantee that they will stay in Thornbury. With more families moving into the town we need more local services, not less and we’ll continue to press NBT to provide them.”
Barratt Homes have won their appeal against South Gloucestershire Council’s refusal of planning permission for up to 215 homes to be built on land at Woodlands Farm, Coalpit Heath. The development, called Blackberry Park by the developers, was their latest attempt to get planning permission on the site, after a previous application for up to 380 homes was refused in 2013.
Councillor Claire Young (Lib Dem, Westerleigh ward) said:
“This is very sad news for everyone who has been battling to protect this much-loved piece of countryside from development. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard campaigning on this over the years, who I know are feeling very disappointed.
“This was only an outline planning application, more details will come in another application. We must now make sure that Barratt Homes keep their promises to leave large areas of public open space and, most importantly, provide the agreed number of affordable homes.”
Councillor Pat Hockey said, “I came into local politics many years ago to protect our village communities, so obviously I’m very unhappy about this decision to swallow up more of our local countryside with urban development. There’s not going to be much of it left if the proposals for thousands of new homes at Coalpit Heath and Iron Acton also go ahead.”