Report on County Council Matters to North Nibley Parish Council

4th June 2018

County Council meeting, 16th May

This was the annual meeting where most committee chairs and membership were decided.

There were five motions on the agenda:

Gloucestershire roads (Lib Dem): Calling on the Government to increase the amount it spends on roads maintained by councils.

The Conservative administration took the most unusual step of putting forward an “amendment” that deleted and replaced all the words of the original motion! After a recess, it was determined by a senior officer that it was up to the chair whether he allowed it, which he did.

The amendment commenced by referring to the “huge challenge facing our authority in fixing the £120M highways backlog inherited by the Conservative administration in 2005” and that they had reduced it to an estimated £80M. It ended by supporting a call from the Local Government Association by investing 2% of existing fuel duty into road maintenance.

I pointed out that the £120M was a very approximate estimate and that in 2005 the Conservatives had it recalculated, with a resultant backlog figure of around £90M. This “improvement” was achieved without filling a single pothole. Nevertheless, the amendment was carried with the other parties voting against it. (In the substantive motion, the opposition abstained since they could have been accused of not supporting more Government investment in roads.)

Gambling-related harm (Labour/Lib Dem) For this to be considered a key issue when assessing risk to the well-being of communities, that staff are alert to gambling harm when delivering services and to ensure that tackling gambling addiction is added to the GCC Healthy Lifestyles web page alongside smoking and alcohol. This received unanimous support. The next day the Government made an announcement on fixed odds gambling machines, but this may not come in until 2020.

Broadband connectivity in new builds (Labour/Conservative) To work with (district) planning authorities to ensure that all new housing developments have full fibre broadband connectivity.

The proposers accepted Lib Dem amendments that referred to “black holes” across the county and that despite increased access to superfast broadband the take-up was under 47%. It was then carried unanimously.

Police funding (Lib Dem) Calling on the Home Secretary to properly fund Gloucestershire’s police force.

A Conservative amendment removed almost all the original wording, including the reference to the Home Secretary. Instead they made it into a tirade against the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner accusing him of failing to answer a series questions, which I understand he had already done. The amendment was inevitably carried.

Towards the end of this debate, the two-hour time limit for motions was running out. However, further speakers were permitted, thus overrunning the time limit and ensuring the final motion:

Celebrating the Windrush generation (Labour) to support an end to the injustice of immigration detention. To invite members of the Windrush generation and their families to Shire Hall to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their arrival in the UK.

was not debated. This has been resubmitted by the Labour group and will come back to the next meeting of the County Council on 27th June.

LED Street Lighting

Most of the county has now been converted to these energy-efficient lights. The ones remaining to be done include those on wall brackets and wooden poles as well as some heritage lanterns. Whilst the work is in progress footway widths may be restricted and on-street parking affected. In North Nibley the work is to take place between 1st and 30th November.

John Cordwell