Lib Dems back teachers’ warning on local schools crisis

South Gloucestershire Lib Dems have expressed their support for the 58 local head teachers who have come forward to warn of a financial “cliff edge” that will leave most South Gloucestershire primary schools in the red and unable to cope within the next three years.

South Glos Lib Dem Council Group Leader, Claire Young, said:

“South Gloucestershire has become a national symbol of schools in financial crisis as a result of the BBC’s School documentary series. Now the whole country knows what opposition councillors in South Gloucestershire have been warning about for years: that our schools have been chronically underfunded and that this is affecting our children’s education and life chances.

“I welcome the 58 head teachers’ bravery in coming forward to make their concerns public. It is an unusual step for teachers to speak out so publically. The fact that they have felt forced to do so now just goes to show how desperate the crisis in local schools has become. The Conservatives need to heed these warnings before it is too late.”

South Glos Lib Dem Education spokesperson, Cllr Ian Blair, said:

“South Gloucestershire’s Conservative Leader Toby Savage painted a rosy picture of the Chancellor’s recent Budget, claiming it was “positive” for schools. But many local teachers will have been insulted by the Chancellor’s so-called “little extras” for schools, which will amount to just a few thousand pounds per school at a time when schools are being forced to cut teaching assistants and other basic essentials. 

“Cllr Savage pledged that improving local education was one of his highest priorities when he became Council Leader. If he really means that, he should back local head teachers and demand a better deal from Government, not just toe the Conservative party-line that there is no crisis.”


Liberal Democrats push for "three stop hop" ticket for Yate

Liberal Democrat Focus Team councillors are pushing First Bus for a "three stop hop" ticket for the Yate area. At a meeting with a First Bus representative earlier this week, they argued that more people would use the bus to get about in the town if they could buy a low cost ticket to travel up to 3 stops, as you can in Bristol or Bath.

Newly elected Dodington Councillor Louise Harris said:

"If we want to cut congestion in Yate, we need to give people a real alternative to using the car for local journeys. When the fares go up this month it will cost a fiver for someone living in the town to get to the shopping centre and back. In Bristol or Bath just £1.20 will get you a three stop hop ticket. At that price people don't think twice about jumping on a bus and saving themselves the hassle of finding a parking space at the other end." 

Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Thornbury & Yate, Claire Young, said:

"Anyone who has tried to park in Yate at busy times will know how important it is to get more people using the buses. We desperately need to cut congestion and air pollution but the latest fare rises risk putting people off using public transport. Local bus users are being hit particularly hard in the pocket when it comes to short journeys. A three stop hop ticket would help fix that.

"In the longer term, we would like to see Yate have its own travel zone, like Bristol, Bath and Weston-Super-Mare. We demand better services and fair fares for our area."


Lib Dem delight as Louise Harris wins big in Dodington by-election

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats were celebrating last night as Louise Harris became the newest member of South Gloucestershire Council after victory in the Dodington by-election, which was called after the sad death of Lib Dem councillor Gloria Stephen. The Lib Dems increased their share of the vote from 41% to 49% with the Conservatives trailing in second place on 39%.

Commenting after her win, Louise Harris, said:

“I am delighted to have been elected to serve the people of Dodington alongside my fellow Lib Dem councillor Tony Davis. I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor Gloria Stephen, who was a dedicated local councillor and community champion for Dodington. I hope to follow in her footsteps in standing up for local residents and the issues that really matter to them. I would also like to thank everyone in Dodington who came out to vote in this election. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my utmost to stand up for you and fight your corner on the Council.

“I will now be getting straight down to work, sorting out the various issues that residents have raised with me over the course of the election and keeping my election pledges to fight for more funding for Abbotswood, and get the Tory-run Council to sort out the terrible state of our roads.”

Lib Dem Group Leader, Claire Young, said:

“I’m very pleased to welcome Louise as the latest member of the Lib Dem Group on the Council. She has the energy and determination to make a real difference on the Council. Despite throwing the kitchen sink at this campaign, and using all sorts of desperate and underhand tactics, the Conservatives got nowhere. Clearly the people of Dodington have chosen to reward Louise’s positive campaign rather than the Tories dirty tricks. This victory clearly bodes well for the Lib Dems in May’s local elections, where we will be looking to take back control of South Gloucestershire Council after years of Conservative mismanagement.”      


Local Lib Dems oppose Conservative plan to give fracking companies “licence to drill” without a planning application

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats are joining thousands of people across the country in opposing the Conservative Government’s proposals to allow fracking companies “permitted development rights” to carry out “non-hydraulic fracturing shale gas exploration” – meaning that they could start drilling without so much as a planning application.

Local Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson, Cllr Pat Hockey, said:

“Permitted development rights were originally designed to allow minor developments such as fences and sheds to be put up without a planning application. It beggars belief that the Conservative Government would attempt to abuse this system to allow 100ft drilling equipment to be erected without any say from elected councillors and local people.

“This is yet another shabby attempt by the Conservatives to tear up local democracy and put big business before local people. We have written to the Government to express our strong opposition to these plans and over 300,000 people so far have signed the petition to say the same.”

Local Lib Dem campaigner for Dodington, Louise Harris, said:

“It’s obvious why the Conservatives want to give fracking companies this license to drill without a planning application. They know that people up and down the country oppose fracking and the environmental damage it brings with it, so they’re simply taking away the public’s right to have their say.

“These new rules may only be for “exploratory drilling” but there can be no doubt that this is with the aim of identifying new sites for full-scale commercial fracking down the road. As a country, we should be moving away from dirty fossil fuels, not drilling for new sources on our doorstep. If I am elected in Thursday’s by-election I will be introducing a motion to Council calling on South Gloucestershire Council to oppose the Government’s ludicrous plans.”    


Lib Dems – Thornbury & Yate residents being taken for a ride over bus fares

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have hit out at pending FirstBus fare changes, which will leave local residents short-changed compared to passengers in Bristol. Under new fares that will take effect on 11 November, Thornbury and Yate residents will have to pay £2.50 for journeys of under three miles, while Bristol residents will be able to travel much further for just £2.07.

Lib Dem campaigner for Dodington, Louise Harris, said: “If you live on the outskirts of Yate and want to nip into the town centre for your shopping by bus, it's going to set you back a fiver for the return journey. That's a 25% price hike. And Yate residents are still unable to buy mTickets on their phones for single journeys under 6 miles, unlike Bristol residents who get a discount for doing this."

Lib Dem Parlimentary Spokesperson for Thornbury & Yate, Claire Young, said: “This latest fare rise means that someone wanting to pop into Yate from Frampton Cotterell or from Alveston into Thornbury will have to pay £5 to get there and back. Meanwhile Bristol residents will now be able to get an adult single anywhere within Bristol for just £2.07. Once again this seems like an example of Thornbury & Yate residents being taken for a ride by First Bus.”

Louise Harris added: "The risk is that this second class service will put people off from using public transport at a time when we are being told we should leave our cars at home for the sake of the environment. I would like to see a dedicated travel zone for our area, as Bristol and Bath already have, with £1 single tickets within Yate and Thornbury and £2 singles into Yate or Thornbury from the villages. The only way to get more people out of their cars and onto public transport is to show that it represents genuine value for money.”


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