Browsed by
Category: Uncategorized

Flooding – It Is Still A Distant Memory

Flooding – It Is Still A Distant Memory

I have lived in Prestbury for the past 35 years, and like many of the older residents, I saw at first-hand how local residents living in the Noverton, the High Street and Deep Street areas had to deal with the dreadful flooding of their homes after the usual regular period of heavy rainfall.

The water would sweep down from the Noverton hill (the ditches and culverts being too narrow and too shallow to take the excessive water flow), flooding homes and garages in its wake and turning the High Street and Deep Street into flowing rivers.

Homes in the High Street and Deep Street were constantly flooded, wrecking the carpets and anything else that had not been taken upstairs for safety.

Sometimes the amount of water was so excessive it even flowed into Bouncers Lane and New Barn Lane.

With the recent daily news of widespread flooding in the Tewkesbury area, and even worse flooding in other parts of the country, sometimes too with the loss of life, it brought it home to me how fortunate we are in being able to walk around the village roads without having to wade through flood water.

I am also proud to be chairman of the People Against Bureaucracy Group (PAB), with such dedicated councillors who were so determined more than thirty years ago to find a solution to the age-old problem of flooding in the village.

It took a lot of hard work but the PAB Group achieved not one but five flood alleviation schemes in the village at a cost of more than £2 million – quite an achievement.

Our councillors will not relax. They know that the five schemes will only be a continuing success, if the culverts are constantly free from rubbish and the ditches kept wide and deep. I have every confidence in them.

And I know that the same dedication and determination that was shown in the late 1980’s and 1990’s is still there, which is whyPrestbury is such a grand place to live.

Patrick Durkan.

Chairman of the PAB Group.​​​​​​

November 2019

Read More Read More

Update on Cheltenham A&E

Update on Cheltenham A&E

Like everyone else in the Cheltenham area, we were delighted to read and see the video of the Health Secretary telling Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham in Parliament that the A&E would remain open.

However, many of us were confused listening to the conflicting views of two people on the BBC programme Points West the following day.

This prompted an urgent letter to Alex Chalk for clarification; copy of letter below:

Dear Alex,

Congratulations on a successful outcome regarding the A & E in Cheltenham.

You have fought hard to reverse the disastrous intention of the NHS Trust to close the A & E, so well done!

You achieved something that your predecessor failed to do, but that will not stop the Liberals from claiming that it was all down to them – watch out!

One last thing, does the decision mean that the A & E will remain open for 24 hours, or will the wretched and stupid closure between 8.00 p.m., and 8.00 a.m. will remain as before?

 

Thank you.

 

Hon. Alderman Les Godwin.

 

 

A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital

A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital

Councillor John Payne (PAB) accepts that changes to any services and particularly changes to public services are inevitable. But he also expects changes to any public service to be for the betterment of the service, not to downgrade it.

The recent ‘secret’ plans by the local NHS Hospital Trust managers to downgrade the A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital (CGH) smacks of the worst kind of bureaucracy.

The fact that the ultimate future of the CGH A&E Department has been the subject of

discussion for the past four years doesn’t make the general public feel any easier, and especially when the overnight service at the A&E was ended some time ago.

Furthermore, Cllr Payne understands that the suggestions being put forward could result in the A&E being replaced with an Urgent Care Centre, which allegedly, will be GP and Nurse Leadbut clearly will be a poor replacement for what was once an efficient 24 hour A&E service.

Currently, the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Emergency Department is not big enough, resulting in patients having to wait on trolleys and in corridors.

 John’s view is quite simple, restore the service – no ifs or buts; with the rising numbers in the populations of both Cheltenham and Gloucester it is obvious that the pressure on the staff of Gloucestershire Royal Hospital will be unacceptable.

The facts speak for themselves:

 The Cheltenham General Hospital was built in 1848/49; it served the population well in its early years and since it joined the NHS in 1948.

Throughout those years, the A&E department has played a vital role in providing a medical treatment facility for those who present themselves without prior appointment, either by their own means or by that of the ambulance service.

For Cheltenham’s current 118,000 residents, that has always been a comforting thought – the A&E has been and is always there whenever it is needed.

Gloucester City currently has a population of 130,000, so it is easy to see that combined with Cheltenham, plus the additional numbers of people from the numerous surrounding villages and hamlets, that we are expecting the Gloucestershire Royal Hospitalstaff to handle the emergency medical care of nearly a quarter of a million residents.

 The PAB Group welcomes the work and tireless efforts of Alex Chalk the Cheltenham MP who has (apparently) been excluded from previous discussions concerning the possible downgrading of the Cheltenham A&E service.

This is deplorable.

 Whatever ‘half-baked’ scheme the NHS Hospital Trust comes up with in the weeks ahead, it should be debated in a public forum, as well as with independent groups like PAB, who will always put the general public first, rather than a bureaucratic ‘trust’ who, so far, appears to ignore us.

Cllr John Payne.

Cheltenham Plan – Public Hearing

Cheltenham Plan – Public Hearing

The public hearing of the Cheltenham Plan took place between 13th and 28th February 2019 following the submission of the Plan and its supporting documents to the Secretary of State for independent inspection.
The Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) brought about changes to the planning system, including the requirement for local councils to produce a ‘Local Plan’ for its area.
The ‘Local Plan’ should not only show a presumption in favour of development, but clear policy guidance on how the presumption should be applied.
Currently, planning policies for Cheltenham are contained in the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) and the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan Second Review.

The PAB Group was particularly interested in Day 4 of the Hearing when Green Belt and green infrastructure was examined.
We have a long-lasting interest in the well-being and protection of the Green Belt in Prestbury, Up Hatherley and Leckhampton, as well as the Green Belt land that makes up the Gloucestershire Airport. (See other archives).
As readers may gather, the Hearing on Day 4 was swarming with developers and their associates, all trying to find ways and means of changing the main body of the JCS and particularly the Green Belt.
The fact that only 13% of the England land mass is Green Belt, and steadily diminishing, is of little consequence to developers and those who seem to have no interest in protecting our countryside.

The good news is that the Green Belt remains intact, and the policies that were included in the Joint Core Strategy and adopted by all three councils (Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester City) in December 2017 remain intact. And when the new Local Plan is approved, the council will be able to address new non-strategic policies concerning the local infrastructure and other policies that are relevant to Cheltenham.

06.03.19

Oakhurst Rise, Charlton Kings

Oakhurst Rise, Charlton Kings

Good news to hear that the planning application to erect 91 houses on the lovely historic meadow at Oakhurst Rise was rejected by the Cheltenham Borough Council planning committee at the planning meeting in July.
Saddened, but not surprised, that the planning officer recommended permission, even though there was almost unanimous rejection of the scheme by those who live locally.
The councillors who expressed their support for the scheme should remember that a local green space in a residential area has as much value to a community as any other green space, including those that are in a green belt.
A green space in any local community, especially those in daily use, must have been created for a reason. They should be the last pieces of land for residential development – once they are gone, they are gone forever.

Les Godwin.

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.