Gloucester Scouts have a District Commissioner Vacancy

the closing date is 31st March

Have your say on the Gloucester City Plan

On January 16th 2017 Gloucester City Council is launching a public conversation on its ‘city plan’.

The city council is asking members of the public to have their say on what areas in the city have potential for development, what the developments should be for and what criteria they would need to meet.

The draft ‘Gloucester City Plan’ delivers the Joint Core Strategy at a local level and sets out draft policies that reflect local issues and opportunities in the city.

The plan looks at areas in the Gloucester that would be appropriate for development and growth to ensure that the council grows the city.  A possible 23 sites across Gloucester that would be suitable for development are outlined in the plan.

A further 70 policies that protect the environment and make sure that new developments help our communities and support what they want.

The council is asking its partners, businesses and local residents what they think of the possible sites and policies in the plan and if there are any others that could be considered.

The consultation is six weeks long, ending on 27th February 2017. An online version is available on the city council website www.gloucester.gov.uk/cityplan.

Hard copies can be collected from council buildings and local libraries and five public events are being held.

Cllr Colin Organ, cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “It’s really important that we hear from as many people as possible on this consultation. Council officers will also be travelling around the city asking local communities to talk to us.

“Development is essential to the growth of the city, but it should also serve the needs of the community.”

The Best Bar None awards are back

For the second year in a row, pubs, bars and clubs in Gloucester are competing to receive national recognition for their commitment to improving the city’s nightlife experience.

After winning the ‘National Best New Scheme’ award in 2016, Gloucester is hosting the Best Bar None awards for the second time.

On Tuesday 17th January Gloucester City Council, and its partners in Safer Gloucester, is hosting its nationally recognised awards ceremony at Kingsholm Stadium.

The black tie event is starting at 7pm and will see pubs, bars and clubs in Gloucester compete to receive recognition for their work to make the city a safer place at night.

Applications for the awards opened in July and more than 18 submission were made. Safer Gloucester officers assessed each application to see which ones reached the accredited standards set by the national best bar none association.

The categories within the awards include, best chain pub, best independent pub, and the best small local pub. A full list can be found here: www.safergloucester.co.uk

In order to win its category, each establishment must have demonstrated how it has gone above and beyond to comply with the licensing regulations, support public safety and prevent crime and disorder in Gloucester over the past year.

Best Bar None is a nationally recognised award scheme which aims to reduce alcohol related crime and disorder, help licensed traders to build relationships between themselves, the police and local authorities, and to recognise good practice.

Last year, Safer Gloucester initiated Best Bar None as part of the NightSafe commitment to improving nightlife in the city centre.

Cllr Jennie Watkins, deputy leader of Gloucester City Council and chairman of NightSafe Committee, said: “The Best Bar None awards were a great success last year and I was thrilled to see so much interest from local businesses again this year. It really does go to show we’re all pulling together to make the city an even safer place to be at night time.

“We are delighted that our licensed premises in the city have a responsible attitude to safe and sensible drinking. It’s fantastic that Best Bar None will reward them for their efforts.”

The Safer Gloucester Partnership formed the NightSafe in 2012 and includes representatives from Gloucester City Council’s community safety, licensing and city centre teams, Gloucestershire Constabulary; Gloucestershire County Council, councillors, local universities, Licensed Victuallers Association and taxi trade.

Gloucester’s got a brand new bag for New Year

Gloucester City Council wants to remind residents that from the middle of January people will be able to recycle corrugated cardboard, perfect for getting rid of present packaging.

Gloucester residents will be able to recycle corrugated cardboard at home for the first time from January 2017. New reusable blue recycling sacks are being delivered to homes during the first two weeks of January, on collection day and will be placed in green recycling boxes, so it is important boxes are put out during this time.

The new blue sacks can be used from 16th January. Collection day calendars were sent out in November advising residents that their collection day may have changed.

The new and improved recycling scheme means residents will now be able to recycle corrugated cardboard, mixed plastics, textiles and shoes, including pizza boxes, packing boxes, yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, plastic fruit and vegetable trays and old clothing which is not suitable for charity shops. This is in addition to the current collection of glass, cans, paper, batteries, cartons, aerosols, plastic bottles and food waste. The change is as a result of a public consultation with residents earlier this year when Gloucester City Council asked what people would like to change about waste and recycling in the city.

Recycling collections, including food waste, will continue to be collected weekly, but residents should double check their calendars as their collection day may have changed.

If residents live in a flat that has communal recycling bins, the way their recycling is collected won’t change at the moment, but the day their collection is done may have changed and they should check their collection calendar.

Households who feel that an additional recycling box is needed can order it online at https://forms.gloucester.gov.uk/recyclingbox/. For any other container orders or enquiries please e-mail heretohelp@gloucester.gov.uk.

Cllr Richard Cook, cabinet member for the environment at Gloucester City Council, said: “We are continually looking at ways to work more efficiently, look after the environment and reduce the amount of waste Gloucester sends to landfill.

“I am really pleased that soon homes will be able to recycle even more and I would urge everyone to get involved, especially those that may struggle with overflowing waste bins.”

Gloucester bus station hub – update

Gloucester’s new bus station hub is continuing to take shape this month as demolition of buildings has been completed and the archaeological dig begins.  

Gloucester City Council is currently on schedule for the build of its new bus station hub in the city centre. Since the necessary demolition has been completed, the resulting rubble has now almost been cleared.  

New scaffolding is being erected so that the exposed end wall of Grosvenor House can be weather proofed with new cladding. The remainder of Grosvenor House and Bentinck House are due to be demolished in a later phase of the Kings Quarter plans, on which public consultation will take place this summer.

The archaeological dig, which will be done by Cotswold Archaeology, will begin from 27th June. Cotswold Archaeology has a history of working with the City Council including at Blackfriars. Depending on the amount of rainfall, the dig should only take between two to three weeks.

Cllr Paul James, Leader of Gloucester City Council and cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Ahead of the archaeological dig beginning, I am really pleased to see how much progress has been made on site so far.

“The regeneration of our city centre is a key priority for the city council and something I feel passionately about. The bus station is a hugely important part of this, and I hope it will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the heart of our city.”

The City Council secured £6.4 million of grant funding from central government through GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership and Gloucestershire Local Transport Board towards the cost of building the new bus station. Plans for the new hub include a modern fully enclosed concourse, 12 bus bays, a manned ticket office, electronic timetable displays, a new cafe and CCTV.  

Whilst the construction work is being carried out, the existing bus station will remain fully functioning and existing bus routes and stops are not expected to change. 

Coach Trip to London and Houses of Parliament

Abbeydale Conservatives are running a Coach Trip to London and Tour of  Houses of Parliament on Monday July 11th

for more information see the events page

New Kings Walk owner to invest five million into Gloucester city centre

Today Gloucester City Council can announce that Kings Walk shopping centre has been purchased by Vixcroft, who plan to invest £5 million into improving the centre.

Plans to regenerate Gloucester’s city centre have been well underway this year with the new bus station on-site and plans unveiled for improvements to the railway station and the wider Kings Quarter area. Today the next step for regeneration of this area of the city centre can be announced which sees the ownership of Kings Walk shopping centre transfer to Vixcroft from Aviva.

The new owners have a successful track record when it comes to town centre regeneration and plan to invest significantly into improving the shopping centre to help create a brighter future for Gloucester city centre.

In addition to purchasing the shopping centre, Vixcroft have expressed a willingness to work with the city council, and to invest significantly, to deliver the revised Kings Quarter scheme.

The future of the Kings Walk shopping centre plays an integral part in the Kings Quarter regeneration. Plans for the scheme are still being developed, with public consultation due to take place this summer, but proposals include a new indoor market, a new multi-storey car park, a variety of restaurants and shops, some residential development and a hotel.

Local architects are currently working on the master planning for a revised Kings Quarter, which takes into account new plans emerging for the railway station, its car parking and pedestrian connections between the station and the city centre.

Leader of Gloucester City Council, Cllr Paul James, said: “We are grateful to Vixcroft for the confidence they have shown in the Gloucester and its future by making such a substantial investment. 

“Vixcroft’s interest in the wider area offers us a way of bringing forward the Kings Quarter scheme more quickly than we otherwise would have been able to.  With the bus station now on site and a new master plan guiding the way forward, we can really start to give this area of Gloucester the transformation it desperately needs.”

Daniel Carter, Chief Executive of Vixcroft, said: “We are making a significant investment in Gloucester because we have seen the progress that has been made in recent years and we recognise the great potential the city has. The council has strongly welcomed our interest in an integrated project, and we want to move on this project at pace. After some thorough public consultation we want to press ahead with making these improvements.

Our plans will enhance the attraction of the city centre to visitors, shoppers and residents.  I am grateful to the city council for their positive response and I look forward to working with them in the months ahead to deliver a transformation of this important area of the city.”

Martyn Chase, of Stanhope, added: “The climate for delivering retail-led schemes has been challenging in recent years and the emerging revised scheme reflects how the market has changed over that time. We welcome working with Vixcroft to achieve a joined up solution for Kings Walk shopping centre and Kings Quarter. The council’s new master plan has the potential to bring forward a scheme as an early stage. The parties will continue discussion to explore the way forward.” 

Thank you Abbeymead and Abbeydale

Thank you to everyone that came out and supported both Laura Pearsall and Gordon Taylor for Abbeymead and Andrew Gravells and Collette Finnegan for Abbeydale on Thursday… we  look forward to representing Abbeymead and Abbeydale on Gloucester City Council for the next four years with Paul James and the Gloucester Conservatives team. we will do our best to keep Gloucester on the up. 

Why does an MP get involved in the future of a pub that’s already closed?

ridgeThat’s the question I asked myself over two years ago, when I read about Morrisons supermarket’s announcement of their decision to apply for a petrol station on the site of the ex Ridge & Furrow pub.
 
The answer was that I didn’t believe a ‘study’ by their consultant claiming residents were resolutely behind this idea. It was partly that the site is not ideal for a petrol station – beside a popular GPs’ surgery and a stream, raising questions about run off and environmental pollution, and partly because this wasn’t what residents were telling me on the doorstep. 
 
So I did my own survey to thousands of residents, with a very high response rate, which confirmed my suspicions with almost 70% against. This destroyed the supermarket case that the petrol station was wanted.
 
So the scene was set for a planning battle – in fact several battles, including an appeal. All were lost by Morrisons, the last appeal only recently. We – principally a good combination of motivated residents, dedicated Councillors and a planning expert giving his time free of charge – got the pub listed as an asset of community value: the City Council did its objective job well and the right result was reached (even if I thought for the wrong reasons, but let’s not go there).
 
Victory? Only in a negative sense. Almost three years on the site is still boarded up, the car park blocked by rocks, the garden untended and no-one living in Abbey can be proud of that. Having got involved in the principle of local feeling, I didn’t, and don’t, think I can walk away at this stage from residents who feel ‘OK, what now?’
 
I feel an obligation to work with those opposed to a petrol station to find what would be good, and to get a solution. The starting point was Morrisons. So I’ve been in contact and am delighted that this week, after a few mails and a conversation, the supermarket has confirmed that they have no plan to try again with another planning application for a petrol station. That’s a welcome step forward and I’m grateful to the supermarket for confirming it.
 
The next point is then what the community think would be a popular solution. I have have had suggestions of a nursery from several operators, and the concept of a nursery as well as a pub or family restaurant from Charlie Perkins of the Secret Garden, a stunning Eastgate St. nursery. 
 
Morrisons is not selling the site, so there is no opportunity at the moment for a community buy-out. Trust Inns remains the lessee, which means dealing with them. And as my father (who has been in the pub business for a long time) said, there probably isn’t enough to feed three mouths – landlord, lessee and a tenant manager.
 
At this stage a sensible MP would probably be slipping away from the battlefield – announcing victory, and letting others try and untangle the future. But I don’t feel I can do that. Victory is when a viable business provides a useful new service to the local Abbeydale and Abbeymead community, pays a commercial rent to the landlord and earns a decent living at the old Ridge & Furrow. We’re still a long way from that.
 
So the next stage is:
 
1. Seeing who might be interested in establishing a business there (ideas please, even though no specification or rent details are available)
 
2. Hearing what residents would most value (ditto: ideas please)
 
3. Discussing with Trust Inns their plans and interest in the site
 
I will write to Trust Inns on that point, although they weren’t very forthcoming last time I contacted them, and something tells me this is going to need intervention high up. If that’s what it takes then so be it. This Jack Russell doesn’t give up easily.
 
Meanwhile, if you know of an interesting business looking for a new hub in a great location, then do let me know. I hope there will be enough interest for a community meeting before long.
 
This is all taking time: is it worthwhile? I think so, but I’m conscious that we are all impatient nowadays, and I share any frustration readers may have. The good news is that we are now over the petrol station phase of the site and can focus on a bold alternatives.
 
Let me know your thoughts on solutions on richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk.

Improved recycling service is coming to Abbeydale and Abbeymead

Conservative controlled Gloucester City Council has improved its recycling figures from 6% to over 40% since taking over control and they are keen to improve this even further.  To aid this they are working with their contractor, Amey, to introduce a new fleet of refuse collection vehicles from the start of 2017, which will include the facility to collect corrugated cardboard and textiles from the doorstep.  There will also be necessary further investment in the green bin collection vehicles, though this is funded from the charges made for those bins.   This will help improve overall recycling figures to move towards the target of 50% by 2020. Gordon was part of the task group that made this happen.

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