Lib Dem disappointment as South Gloucestershire Tories back Government badger cull
South Gloucestershire’s ruling Conservative Group have rejected a Lib Dem motion condemning the Government’s decision to extend their badger cull operation to our local area. Instead, the local Conservatives proposed an amendment calling for the culls to continue.
Proposer of the Lib Dem motion, Cllr Ruth Davis, said: “Our motion backed the campaign by Avon Wildlife Trust and the RSPCA to stop the extension of the Government’s failed cull policy across the West of England. After five years of badger culls, there is no scientific evidence that there has been a reduction in bovine TB in any of the initial pilot areas. Sadly the Conservatives voted down our call on the Government to rethink this cruel, costly, and ineffective policy.”
Seconder of the motion, Cllr Pat Hockey, said: “The Conservatives introduced an entirely rewritten motion calling on the badger culls to go ahead – completely ignoring the Avon Wildlife Trust and RSPCA’s concerns over animal welfare and the ineffectiveness of the culls in tackling TB. In the end a compromise motion was reached, calling for the Government to prioritize the development of effective TB vaccines and research for a cure, but falling short of our call to stop the cull. It’s extremely disappointing that South Gloucestershire Conservatives refused to consider the evidence presented by two of our leading animal welfare charities and, instead, doggedly insisted that the culls must continue.”
Liberal Democrat Councillors are celebrating victory after their proposal to ban disposable cups was passed by South Gloucestershire Council tonight, with minor Conservative amendments.
Proposer of the motion, Cllr Claire Young said: “I’m delighted that our idea has received support across the Council. South Gloucestershire is now among the first local authorities in the country to take the radical step of banning the use of disposable cups at its offices. This will save around 36,000 non-recyclable cups being thrown-away each year and I’m extremely pleased the Lib Dems have been able to provide leadership to the Council on this important environmental issue.”
Seconder of the motion, Cllr Mike Drew, said: “We were disappointed that the Conservatives decided to amend the motion to remove the commitment to implement this change by the end of the year. It should be possible for a well-run local authority to make this change in that timeframe. We will now hold the administration to account to ensure that they don’t drag their heels in carrying out this change.”
Councillor Claire Young presented a petition of 514 residents and commuters at last night’s South Gloucestershire Council meeting asking the Council to find a permanent solution to improve safety on the A46 at Tormarton.
The crossroads formed by the A46 Bath Rd, Acton Turville Rd and the B4465 are currently uncontrolled despite high traffic volumes. Residents had reported that temporary lights at the junction during the recent Bromley Heath Viaduct works had significantly reduced the risk of collisions.
Claire said: “Over 500 people put their name to our petition, which just goes to show the strength of feeling in the area about this problem.
“Residents have put up with the danger posed by crossing or joining the A46 for far too long. The improvement brought by the temporary lights really brought that to people’s attention.
“Similar junctions across South Gloucestershire are controlled by traffic lights and have been for a long time. My petition calls on the Council to work with Highways England to install a system that can give those residents back the safety they gained from the temporary lights, but phased properly to avoid causing delays on what is an important route.”
Leader of South Gloucestershire Lib Dems, Claire Young, has welcomed the decision by newly elected Conservative leader, Toby Savage, to pull controversial new changes to South Gloucestershire’s planning process from tomorrow’s meeting of Council.
Claire said: “I welcome this change of tack from the new Tory leader. Residents and opposition leaders were given no warning of these proposed sweeping changes before last week, and it looked as if the Conservatives were planning to push them through without cross-party consultation. I welcome Cllr Savage’s apology for the way this was mishandled and look forward to working with him in a constructive way to improve these proposals before they are brought back to Council in July.”
“In particular, I would call upon Councillor Savage to take this opportunity to rethink the way residents are being cut out of the planning process by these Conservative proposals. We feel the move to ban members of the public from site inspections and to scrap planning meetings at Thornbury are particularly anti-democratic. With thousands of new houses being proposed around Thornbury and Charfield under Conservative plans, to choose this moment to move all planning hearings to Kingswood is a double insult to residents in the affected locations.”
South Gloucestershire’s Conservative administration has announced a raft of new restrictions on the rights of residents and local councillors to question and challenge planning applications in their communities.
- The two area development control committees for the East and West of South Gloucestershire are to be replaced by a single committee for the whole authority;
- From now on all planning applications and appeals will be heard in Kingswood. Meetings at Thornbury will be scrapped;
- Local councillors will no longer be able to request a site inspection for planning applications in their ward;
- Local residents will no longer have the right to attend or ask questions at planning site inspections;
- Councillors will no longer have the right to “refer” contentious planning decisions to a meeting of the whole Council.
Commenting on the changes, incoming Leader of South Gloucestershire Lib Dems, Cllr Claire Young, said:
“This is a body blow to local residents’ rights to stand up to unsuitable planning applications in their communities. Planning rules mean the deck is already heavily stacked in favour of powerful developers and now the Conservatives are tying the hands of local councillors and residents even more.”
Lib Dem lead member of South Gloucestershire’s Development Control (West) Committee, Cllr Dave Hockey said:
“Our committee currently meets in Thornbury, which allows local residents in the West of South Gloucestershire to more easily attend when a planning application affecting their community is being considered. By scrapping area committees and insisting all meetings take place at Kingswood, the Conservatives are putting an extra barrier in the way of local residents who wish to speak on planning applications. The Conservatives claim to be in favour of localism, but these changes suggest otherwise.”