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Floral Display – Imperial Gardens

Floral Display – Imperial Gardens

The Imperial Gardens is one of many attractions that bring thousands of visitors to Cheltenham each year. The colourful floral displays are breathtaking each year.
Cheltenham is full of gardens and parks, which is why the town was once called “a town within a park”, and even “the garden town of England”.
It is sad to read in the local newspaper that these descriptions might no longer be applicable in future years; if new council plans to change the present growing and planting method get the go-ahead in the future.
To replace the present arrangement with perennial plants, will not be the same, no matter how many arguments are put forward in support of them.
Closing the Arle Nursery, as is reported, would be the death knell for the floral displays because Cheltenham is one of the few local authorities to have an in-house nursery, which not only grows the bedding plants for the Imperial Gardens and the like, but it also grows and supplies some 650,000 plants to several other local authorities including Stratford District Council and Chesterfield Borough Council.
If this is still the case, then surely Cheltenham should be looking to expand this side of their operations, not do away with it, as seems to be the case.
This bleak news will soon be debated by the councilors. It will be interesting to see whether common-sense will prevail, or whether the ruling group will put ‘party political’ interests before the needs and wishes of the ordinary people.
We shall see.

Les Godwin.
Sept 2017

Does Pittville Need a Parish Council?

Does Pittville Need a Parish Council?

VOTE ON PARISH COUNCIL

PAB do believe in parish councils where the benefits outweigh the cost. A good example of this is Prestbury where the High Street and many publicly owned assets, which are primarily used by the residents, give it geographic and community focus.

In Pittville there are few, if any, such assets to manage, particularly as campaigners could not get the allotments included in the ‘parish’ area. The majority of publicly owned assets are for the use of the whole town and not just the ward. Is it sensible for the ward to take on the responsibility and cost for the management of these?

 

Whilst a parish does not have to be rural, it should be based on an area which reflects community identity. Pittville has several diverse communities, would it be right to force these into a single identity? The most significant influence on Pittville is the town centre, on which the majority of our ward depends for shopping, recreation, entertainment and such. Pittville uses the town centre rather than any one particular community or neighbourhood hub. With many of the town’s sporting and cultural facilities in the ward there is a beneficial and symbiotic relationship which has evolved.

There are five existing parish councils in Cheltenham, none created by the Borough, but inherited from others such as Tewkesbury or in the case of Charlton Kings, it used to be a Rural District Council in its own right. It is difficult to understand the reason for requiring a new parish particularly at a time when there are many other additional forms of local governance available and probably more appropriate and certainly without cost.

 

PLANNING.   A parish council is no more than a statutory consultee with the same rights as members of the public. They can only object or make comments in writing exactly as members of the public can.

AN ADDITIONAL VOICE ?   Pittville already has two tiers of governance, two active Borough councillors and a newly elected County councillor. At any time they may be contacted to make representations at the appropriate level. As members of the public you may also make representations, at either level. Is another voice required which may well oppose yours depending on the view of the parish councillors?

 

WHO WOULD MAKE UP THE PARISH COUNCIL?

Would the campaigners necessarily represent your views?

An election would only be held if there are more nominees than the County Council specified number of councillors. A permanent financial reserve of £14,000 is required for such an election.

 

Much of the cost of the precept, to be paid by every household would be funding for this additional tier of governance. A parish clerk, parish buildings, the cost of ‘running the parish office’ at home, or in a separate office space, will need stationary, a telephone, printer and computer. It is almost certain that a new parish council would want to join the Association of Parish Councils – mainly for advice, but not a cheap option to become a member.

 

It has been suggested taking out a loan to acquire parish buildings. Whether this becomes a reality or not – is it necessary – and would all ‘parish’ members be happy taking such a loan to fulfil the ambitions of the parish council?

 

A new parish council will be formed if there is a demonstrable expression of interest. Given that there has been an active and publicly funded campaign group promoting a parish council it is important that should you NOT wish to be brought under a third layer of bureaucracy, that you vote accordingly and do not leave it to others. Ensure that your vote counts and please encourage your neighbours to understand and vote on this important matter.

The Chargrove ‘Triangle’

The Chargrove ‘Triangle’

The PAB Group response to the recent alarming report about a possible school being built on ‘The Chargrove Triangle’ is as follows.
Readers of a national or local newspaper should always be wary of any story that appears to be based on rumour or wishful thinking.
The developer, as in this case, appears to have started a rumour about the possible construction of a school, in the hope that it would create a response from the local residents, followed by the inevitable ‘take-up’ by the local press, which is exactly what seems to have happened here.

The usual political leaflet (by way of a letter), which was hastily delivered to local residents’ doors is misleading, and in our view, helped to fuel the rumour, which is exactly what the developer wanted them to do.
We would remind readers that the statement that “land on the south side of Up Hatherley Way had been removed from the Joint Core Strategy” is contained in the Executive Summary of the Pre-Submission Document (ref: page vii).
Furthermore, there is another reference on page 139 Plan A7 stating that “South Cheltenham – Up Hatherley Way has been removed from the Pre-Submission Document”.
The statements are clear and unambiguous.

The PAB Group is also fully aware of what development is allowed in the Green Belt: New buildings can only be constructed in the Green Belt if they are for the purpose of Agriculture; Forestry; Essential Sporting/Recreational Facilities and the replacement of a residential dwelling.

Additionally, there is the matter of compliance with other related policies that are contained in the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan, which must be adhered to.

PAB will always deal with the facts rather than rumours, which are usually baseless.

Les Godwin
PAB Group.​​​​​​​​ August 14th 2017

Never a Right Time to Build on Triangle

Never a Right Time to Build on Triangle

Dear Sir,

The area designated as Green Belt in England at 31st March 2010 was a meagre 13% of the total land area. This figure has probably been reduced in the past seven years, and Gloucestershire has the smallest amount of Green Belt in England.
This is not good news, so, the heading ‘Wrong place, wrong time’ (Echo July 15th) with reference to the proposal by Redcliffe Homes to build houses on the Chargrove triangle is misleading.
The land should, and hopefully never will be the right place, or the right time for development to take place on this important Green Belt land that separates Up Hatherley from Shurdington.
Whilst I congratulate Cllr Whyborn for his stout defence of the land on the south side of Up Hatherley Way, I am still painfully aware of the fact that his Lib/Dem colleagues in September 2013 voted against an opposition amendment in Council “… to remove the Up Hatherley land from the Joint Core Strategy”.
Similarly, when the opportunity to change the status of the ‘white land’ in Leckhampton to Green Belt in 1995, the Lib/Dems couldn’t bring themselves to support an amendment to the Local Plan which would have done exactly that.
How different things could have been if common sense had prevailed?
However, the good news is that the final discussions about ‘possible minor modifications’ to the Joint Core Strategy have taken place, and the site locations that were approved by all three councils in 2014, should now be accepted by the Inspector as being ‘sound’ up to the end of the period July 2031.

Yours sincerely,

Les Godwin.
Up Hatherley.

Well Done, “People Against Bureaucracy”

Well Done, “People Against Bureaucracy”

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines an independent person as,” a person who acts independently of any party.” This describes the members of “People Against Bureaucracy.” Your organisation is a local, non-political group, dedicated to helping local residents and, as such, always puts the needs of the individual first.
P.A.B councillors are free thinking individuals, who are independent in the true meaning of the word. They will support an initiative if they feel that it is going to benefit residents.
What a change from the partisan, confrontational attitude of the main political parties, who are loathe to support any initiative put forward by their opposition. It seems that, to them, the party comes before the people.
The recent election of John Payne as the PAB representative on Gloucestershire County Council has shown that the residents of Prestbury and Pittville value constructive, positive discussion, not political points scoring. Hopefully, other areas of Cheltenham will feel the same.
All the candidates from the main political parties state that they have the welfare of the electorate at heart. But do they really? Would they publicly disagree with their party hierarchy on any policy that they, personally, were not comfortable with? I doubt it.
Congratulations to “People Against Bureaucracy” for showing that reasoned argument is possible, and successful. I hope that many more free thinking people join your organisation and support your ideals. Good luck in the future.

Peter Jones.
Cheltenham.

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Gloucestershire Constabulary post Manchester advice – Update

Gloucestershire Constabulary post Manchester advice – Update

Councillor Malcolm Stennett is now able to give our readers the following update on actions being taken by the Police following the terror threat being raised from ‘Severe’ to ‘Critical’
25 May 2017

PRESS RELEASE

Issued

Update on policing presence following change in threat level

In response to the recent change in the threat level to critical, armed officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary will be seen out and about in our communities, primarily in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

This is not based on any change in intelligence or threat for the South West, but the decision has been taken instead to make firearms officers more deployable and visible to our communities. We think this is what the public would expect at this time.

Our priority is to provide as much reassurance to communities as possible but we do recognise that some may feel anxious. The firearms officers will be engaging and talking with people and we would actively encourage you to approach the officers and ask any questions they may have.
ENDS

Why support the People Against Bureaucracy Group (PAB)

Why support the People Against Bureaucracy Group (PAB)

Contrary to the views in political leaflets, I would say that Cheltenham residents who know anything about the People Against Bureaucracy Group (PAB), understands that it is a local non-political organisation, dedicated to helping local residents wherever they live.

They also know that its aims include keeping ‘party politics’ out of local government and for the past forty years PAB has always put ‘people before party politics’.

Local residents in Prestbury know that the PAB Group will always commit to defending the Green Belt on the north side of Cheltenham and do whatever they can to improve the local environment for their benefit.
They know that PAB councillors are independent and free-thinking individuals, and they say what they mean, and do what they say.
The PAB Group would rather spend their limited resources on publishing regular Newsletters giving factual local information rather than using significant sums bombarding residents with literature that is ‘politically motivated’.
Strange though it may seem, the latest issue of the Lib/Dem ‘Courier’ carries a headline that claims: “Martin Horwood is the independent voice we need”.
In that case, he had better tell his misguided Pittville councillor that ‘slagging-off’ independent opponents, is not the way to secure their ‘independent’ votes in the forthcoming General Election.

Les Godwin.
Hon Secretary.

John Payne wins Pittville and Prestbury County Council seat for PAB

John Payne wins Pittville and Prestbury County Council seat for PAB

Hard-working John Payne wins the county council seat for PAB after a hard-fought contest against a Liberal Democrat who stopped at nothing in order to gain a seat on the county council.
Many thanks to the 1525 residents who voted for John and were not swayed by the misleading and inaccurate statements in the Lib/Dem candidate’s leaflets.

Les Godwin.
Hon. Secretary.