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.”
We pay tribute to Dodington ward Councillor Gloria Stephen, who died on Saturday after a long illness.Read more
Lib Dem councillors and local residents of Bibstone have met with South Gloucestershire Council’s Executive Member for Resources to demand that he do something about those left out of the Council’s superfast broadband roll-out. The Executive Member has now said that the Council will now look into options for broadband access at Bibstone, but has refused to make any firm promises.
Cllr John O’Neill, whose ward includes Bibstone, said: “I’m grateful that the Executive Member for Resources accepted my request to meet with residents and hear for himself what they have to put up with in terms of their slow internet speeds. Residents have previously been told that they will not be included in Phase 3 of the Council’s superfast broadband scheme and would have to pay BT Openreach an eye-watering £98,000 to be connected. I’m pleased that he has said he will now look into finding a solution for Bibstone residents. But ultimately it’s actions that count, not words. We will continue to lobby the Conservative administration on behalf of local residents to make sure they get the service they deserve.”
Lib Dem group leader Cllr Claire Young said: “It’s good news that the Conservative administration are now looking at finding a solution to Bibstone’s lack of broadband access after local residents and Lib Dem councillors put pressure on them to act. But Bibstone is not the only area affected by slow connection speeds and we need a solution for all parts of South Gloucestershire. Rural residents pay their council tax, the same as everyone else, and it is simply not acceptable that in 2018 they are still being forced to endure third-rate connection speeds. We will continue to hold the administration to account until they have a solution for all of South Gloucestershire’s communities.”