1 Feb 2011

Ward newsletter February 2011

Annual newsletter: February 2011
Dear Resident,
I was delighted to be reelected last May with 68.5% (77.4% turnout). This is over half the residents of the ward voting for me. I am honoured to continue to represent this area. This report below is my annual update covering some of my recent actions and projects locally.

The biggest challenge now is unquestionably the Government cuts. I have very huge concerns about the more vulnerable members of our communities who look set to be hit hardest by the cuts. In the coming year I want to see if we can ensure the cuts do not impact so severely on the less able. I should also note that these cuts are not the way we should be tackling our deficit. I have presented a summary of the Green alternatives here: http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com/p/coalition-cuts.html

Locally we have very little room to move in terms of funds. The government's settlement for Stroud is, along with the Cotswolds, the worst in the country. It is therefore even more vital that we seriously develop renewables and energy efficiency measures. By borrowing, as some other councils have done, we could develop renewables on our Council housing stock and buildings that would in 8 or 9 years time have paid off the loans. They would then start to generate an income for the Council. In addition to the economic benefits we would also be tackling energy security, climate change and fuel poverty along with a boost in jobs to our local green renewable industries. It makes sense!

Do please contact me if you have any queries or would like to know more about any of the items in this report.
With best wishes, Cllr Philip Booth
Online films
Philip has made short films of the Eco-Renovation Open Homes weekend, the march against the cuts in Stroud and the opening of the Hamwell Leaze Board walk with Kevin McCloud - see here. More coming soon, initially regarding Tax Havens and Stroud Potato Day.
Some recent successes
Philip has:

- Chaired a new inquiry at the District Council into the standards of our Council housing stock with a view to raising the importance of energy efficiency
- Helped set up a social enterprise run by adults with a learning disability to give a voice to all people with a learning disability in Gloucestershire
- Initiated and organising Stroud's first Potato Day on Saturday 5th February to encourage more people to grow their own
- Helped ensure Councillor expenses are now published in full
- Helped establish a 20 mph inquiry at the County Council
- Initiated a pilot wood fuel project in local woods with the National Trust
- Worked to ensure old gas pipes, that have had several leaks in parts of Ruscombe, are replaced several years sooner than planned
- had my blog, 'Ruscombe Green', voted 11th in a national poll of councillor blogs and 10th in the Green blogs poll: http://ruscombegreen.blogspot.com

Some recent actions by your councillor:
Working for better planning:
• I continue to oppose development on the Ruscombe Valley fields and at other key local sites that are threatened by the recent changes in planning laws
• I was one of four councillors on an extensive inquiry into the planning process which has made key recommendations for improvements. Sadly while some of these were accepted, the administration went further and has removed the ability of Parish and District councillors to be able to automatically send a contested planning application to committee for decision.
• I have supported residents who have had problems with planning issues
Pressing for transport improvements. I am working with local councillors to:
• 20mph speed limits in residential areas to reduce casualties and encourage more walking and cycling
• gain more local traffic calming measures (not humps and bumps)
• a proper bus station in Stroud and improvements to cycle facilities
Protecting our wildlife and environment:
• Since helping establish both the Ruscombe Brook Action Group and the Stroud Valleys Water Forum I have remained a key member of both groups raising many local issues re sewage and flooding with various local authorities, MPs and others. We now have a commitment from Severn Trent to reline some further sewers.
• Helped get a new stile at the end of Wheelers Walk and had several grit bins replaced
Open Homes Success:
• I initiated and help organise the hugely popular Eco-renovation Open Homes weekend each September. This involves local homes with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures opening to the public and local renewable energy installers promoting their products.
Tackling fuel poverty, energy security and climate change:
• I chaired a scrutiny inquiry that has made recommendations for financing energy efficiency and renewable measures last year and many of these are being translated into Council policy like plans for two large renewable energy schemes at the Council's sheltered accommodation
• I am continuing to seek further opportunities for the Council to invest and make serious financial returns on investments in renewable energy
Seeking more accountability at the Council. Greens are working for:
• an end to the extra cash paid to councillors who use larger cars
• more openness around decisions such as appointment of consultants
Working on your behalf:
• Opposing a large incinerator at Javelin Park near Stonehouse or elsewhere in the County
• Actively working to ensure our waste management is more sustainable and cost effective
• Supported Gloucestershire Gay Pride to help promote acceptance and diversity
• Raised key issues as Stroud’s representative on the Wessex Water Customer Liaison Panel
• Given talks about local successes to groups as diverse as Transition Exmouth, UWE and the Parish Council
• Working with other councillors on a Scrutiny committee to gain improvements to services at Stratford Park Leisure Centre

Want to talk to Philip?

Philip would love to hear your views, answer your questions or try to help with local problems. Email Philip on philip.booth2(at)virgin.net or phone 755451.
Photos include in reverse order: me blogging, an organised apple picking day, brook clear-up, promoting bee houses, the Hamwell Leaze Boardwalk opening, launch of recipe book for Potato Day and the 20 campaign.
Some previous newsletters:
See February 2011 newsletter here, March 2010 newsletter here and see 2009 report here.

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