Missing Council plan leaves door open for developers

The lack of a development plan is being blamed by opposition councillors for a glut of new housing developments being imposed on the Cotswolds.

Council Leader is likened to a ‘Sheriff snoozing at high noon when the outlaws rode in to take over the town.’

Cotswold District Council has just lost its fight against plans to build around 300 homes on greenfield land in Tetbury. The appeal decisions by the Planning Inspectorate, endorsed by the Secretary of State for environment, food and rural affairs, will allow plans to go ahead for a 250 home estate at Highfield Farm and a 39 home estate near Berrells Road, both on greenfield land in Tetbury.

A similar Planning Inspectorate decision in January allowed a 50-house development on land at Kemble.

Now, Cllr Lynden Stowe, Leader of Cotswold District Council, has come under fire after he accused government planning inspectors of “behaving like . . . → Read More: Missing Council plan leaves door open for developers

End playground standoff

The Liberal Democrat opposition group on Cotswold District Council is calling for the immediate opening of a disputed playground at the new Corinium Via housing development in Cirencester pending the resolution of a dispute over whether the play equipment is too brightly coloured.

The move followed a visit to the site yesterday by opposition councillors who inspected the fenced-off play area and spoke to parents.

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley) said: “What immediately struck us is that this silly dispute is actually putting children at risk because, without the playground, they really have nowhere suitable to play.

“Some are now playing in the roadway where they are at risk. The entire estate is very crowded with parked cars on pavements because we feel there is inadequate parking provision for residents.

Cllr Hodgkinson has called for an immediate report on why . . . → Read More: End playground standoff

Council agrees to review decision to stop bin collections

A councillor has called for a review into why Cotswold District Council’s administration decided to cancel bin collections recently.

Bins have been uncollected for 4 weeks across many parts of the Cotswolds

The Council decided to cancel all waste collections for a week across the Cotswolds during the snowy weather in January citing health and safety concerns. This led to a public outcry with residents furious that they would wait 4 weeks for their bins to be emptied.

Yesterday, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley), Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the Council, proposed a review of why this happened.

At a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in Cirencester, Cllr Hodgkinson said he felt that the Council must take a lead and listen to residents, “Many people are rightly angry at having to wait a whole month for a bin collection. It’s down to us to . . . → Read More: Council agrees to review decision to stop bin collections

Call to stop 24/7 charges rejected

A call to stop the 24/7 parking charges in Cirencester has been rejected by Cotswold District Council’s Cabinet.

The proposal to stop the 24/7 charges at the Brewery Car Park was voted down by CDC Conservatiives

Last January, Cotswold District Council’s administration started a ‘trial’ parking charges scheme in Cirencester. The scheme has seen motorists charged for Sunday and evening parking in the town’s Brewery Car Park.

Yesterday, the Council’s Liberal Democrats called for the ‘trial scheme’ to be abandoned. In response the Conservative Cabinet Mamber for parking, David Fowles, described the scheme as ‘a success’.

Cllr Lee Searles (Park), asked the following question to Conservative Cabinet Member David Fowles:

“I am dismayed to hear that Cllr Fowles regards taking a further £36,600 plus VAT from users of Cirencester town centre during a time of extreme economic hardship, as a ‘success’. This from a council which we now find . . . → Read More: Call to stop 24/7 charges rejected

24/7 parking charges ‘anniversary of shame’

A controversial decision to introduce 24/7 parking charges in Cirencester this week celebrates its first anniversary.

Cllr Joe Harris (left) and Cirencester campaigner Nigel Robbins oppose the excessive car parking charges in the Cotswolds

Last January, Cotswold District Council’s administration started a ‘trial’ parking charges scheme in Cirencester. The scheme saw motorists charged for Sunday and evening parking in the town’s Brewery Car Park.

Liberal Democrat councillors and residents took to the streets to demonstrate against the change and to alert drivers to the new charges.

Now, a year later, councillors are demanding that the charges are dropped.

Group leader, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley), said: “There has been a spectacular lack of vision by the controlling Conservative group on the Council which has seen the motorist as an easy way of raising revenue without considering the drastic impact on local businesses that are already struggling because of the . . . → Read More: 24/7 parking charges ‘anniversary of shame’

A New Year Message from Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cotswold District Council

“As we come to the end of another year in the Cotswold District it has ended as it began – with controversy raging over the car parking charges that have crippled the efforts of local businesses to fight their way out of the recession.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on CDC

Our councillors took to the streets last January to join local businesses and residents in protest against the big hike in fees and the introduction of weekend and night-time parking charges at the Brewery car park, Cirencester.

In the next year I’d like to see the Council really listening to residents who want these charges reduced to encourage people into our towns and villages.

Another area of the district where we hope for closure is the Cotswold Water Park which has raged with controversy over recent years. To that end, those who have worked . . . → Read More: A New Year Message from Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cotswold District Council

Call for tougher planning enforcement in Cotswolds

Cotswold District Council is being urged to beef up its response to unauthorised development in the district by doubling the size of its planning enforcement team.

A Liberal Democrat motion to go before the Council’s Cabinet next week (December 6) calls on CDC to employ two additional officers to ensure speedier investigation of complaints from the public, many involving the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

CDC currently has two planning enforcement officers but the opposition group points to neighbouring Stroud which has 3.6 enforcement officers as well as a full time enforcement assistant despite the fact that the council is responsible for a smaller area of the AONB.

The Liberal Democrats argue that additional money can be found for the two extra posts from the government’s New Homes Bonus and an increase in planning application fees.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Lee Searles and seconded by Cllr Esmond . . . → Read More: Call for tougher planning enforcement in Cotswolds

Cotswolds ‘most expensive’ for housing in the South West

A new report from the National Housing Federation has shocked residents and councillors in the Cotswolds.

New houses like this in Cirencester are not meeting the demand according to the new report just released.

The report, called ‘Home Truths 2012′ reveals some startling facts about our area and says that the shortage of new homes keeps house prices high and pushes up mortgage deposit costs, even as the economy suffers.

The report shows that whilst the cost of an average home in rural parts of the South West is now nearly 13 times the average local income, in the Cotswolds it is a staggering 20 times the average district salary.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Cotswold District Council, is worried about those under 40 in particular who are increasingly unable to buy their own home, “These eye watering statistics show the depth of the . . . → Read More: Cotswolds ‘most expensive’ for housing in the South West

Call for action over second homes

Cotswolds Liberal Democrats have called for a radical review of housing policy in response to census statistics showing an alarming rise in second home ownership.

Cllr Joe Harris wants Cotswold District Council to be more proactive over the area’s housing crisis.

The district was named the “second home capital” of Gloucestershire after new figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed that 5,898 people admitted owning second homes there. Gloucestershire as a whole now has 22,696 second home owners who have forced up prices in the county’s most attractive towns and villages.

The crisis has left many young families with no hope of buying their own homes.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Spokesman, Cllr Joe Harris (Park), said: “The Conservatives at Cotswold District Council have failed young people and young families across the area. People my age won’t be able to afford a first home in the Cotswolds until . . . → Read More: Call for action over second homes

Lib Dems put forward five point plan for on-street parking proposals

Cotswold District Council Liberal Democrats are taking part in the Cirencester Parking Partnership with the aim of promoting a joined up approach to parking management in Cirencester, both on-street and off-street.

L to R: Cllr Joe Harris and Cllr Lee Searles at the Brewery Car Park, Cirencester.

Cllr Lee Searles (Park), Shadow Spokesman for Parking, feels that this means increasing incentives for visitors to use the town’s car parks by improving them and ensuring that prices are structured to encourage people to use them: “It also means managing parking spaces on the street in favour of residents who are frustrated by virtue of the fact there are insufficient spaces for the number of residents living in the town.”

“We’ve examined the proposals put forward by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), who are the highways authority, through the Cirencester Parking Partnership. We understand that GCC will continue to engage and consult . . . → Read More: Lib Dems put forward five point plan for on-street parking proposals