Report on County Council Matters to North Nibley Parish Council
2nd December 2019
County Council Meeting 27th November
Being in the run-up to a General Election it was a bit more fractious than usual!
The following motions were considered:
Tree planting (Labour)
Proposed planting two trees for each Gloucestershire resident by 2030 (ca 1.2 million) and to work with GCC tenant farmers to encourage at least two trees per field for most pastureland. A Lib Dem amendment proposed one tree per resident per year every year to 2030 – around 6 million trees. The Labour group accepted this amendment. A Conservative amendment moved without notice succeeded in getting the motion referred to the 20th December meeting of Cabinet.
Responsible investment policy (Lib Dem and Green)
Proposed reviewing the council’s investment strategy and ruling out new investments in fossil fuel companies and calling on the Gloucestershire Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels and to focus future investments on areas that minimise climate change risk.
A Conservative amendment noted that Gloucestershire is part of the Brunel Pension Partnership which has already made a commitment to decarbonisation. It also suggested that disinvestment by responsible investors would lead to shares being owned by investors who don’t care about carbon emissions. This was carried.
Opposing a Cotswold National Park (Lib Dem and Conservative)
This followed a Government-commissioned review by Julian Glover which included a proposal to turn the Cotswolds AONB into a National Park. The motion proposed inter alia to write to Natural England and relevant ministers rejecting this designation. This issue had also been considered the previous day by the Environment Scrutiny Committee.
It was pointed out that the Cotswolds had a much higher population than other National Parks, that it would take away planning decisions from the County Council and District Councils and give it to a quango many of whose members did not live in the county, that it would increase house prices driving out some residents and lead to higher levels of housing growth being required in the rest of the county to meet targets. Large increases in tourism would be detrimental. The motion was agreed unanimously.
Private schools in Gloucestershire (Conservative)
Opposing the Labour Party proposal to abolish all private schools which would do massive and unjustified damage to Gloucestershire state schools and deny parental choice, for no reason other than the politics of envy and division. “This Council resolves to oppose the Labour Party’s proposals, and to write to all county MPs setting out our opposition.”
The Labour group objected to this being tabled in public – and webcast - during the purdah period of the General Election. The Monitoring Officer said it could go ahead as no press release would be issued afterwards. The motion was passed with Conservatives in favour, Labour against and Lib Dems and Green Party members abstaining in what was seen as a spat between Labour and Conservative members.
Environment Scrutiny Committee 26th November
As well as the Glover report referred to above this included items on:
The increase in costs of retendering public transport services. This was a serious concern earlier in the year and a Lib Dem amendment had put more money for this into the County budget. It was noted that far fewer contracts were coming up for renewal in the next year so the pressure will not be so great.
There was also a business case being developed for two pilot schemes to improve public transport in rural areas, one in the Cotswolds and one in the Forest of Dean. These would use a current demand-responsive transport model of serving geographical areas rather than fixed routes and only upon request, rather than timetabled, and enhance this to make it much more attractive to the passenger. A similar scheme took place years ago in the Stroud district using a grant obtained by the County Council.
Cabinet feedback on the report of a Biodiversity Task Group. This encouraging report was mostly concerned with verge management and the inclusion of a sufficient and appropriate budget within every major highways project to protect and enhance green infrastructure.
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