10 Jan 2012

Annual newsletter: January 2012

I had hoped to be out delivering this newsletter but I am delighted to have my newly born granddaughter staying with us and with that and a busier than usual work schedule plus helping to organise a care package for a family member I have been completely squeezed with time. However do please contact me if you have any queries - this is just a taster of some of the issues I'm involved with.

Annual newsletter: January 2012

Dear Resident,

Happy New Year. This report below is my annual update covering some of my recent actions and projects locally. Do please contact me if you have any queries or would like to know more about any of the items in this report. There are also many other projects and issues that I have not found room for in this news update including the developments at Stratford Park Leisure Centre, the redevelopment of the canal, the calls for better Broadband and a whole host of other issues - do use the search facility on this blog to find some of those items!

With best wishes for 2012, Cllr Philip Booth

Online films of local projects

Cuts March
I have uploaded over 30 YouTube films regarding local projects; highlights in the last year include the hugely successful Whiteshill and Ruscombe Royal Wedding Village Party, the opening of the new allotments in May, the anti-cuts marches, Randwick Apple Juicing, Glos Pride march, plus a number of Transition Stroud films including a series on the Open Edible Gardens, the Randwick Woodfuel project, Stroud Potato Day and the fourth Eco-Renovation Open Homes - these are all projects that I initiated, am still involved with and am delighted to say will continue and grow this year. You can see them at:

Stroud Community TV

Stroud Community TV is new project to record and celebrate what is going on in the Stroud Valleys. I am hoping to launch this in March of this year so more details then! Do get in touch if you are interested in learning more.

Some successes

I have:

- Chaired two Scrutiny inquiries in the last two years; one into the measures the Council can take to tackle climate change and the other looking at the standards of our Council housing. I am delighted that these were both very successful and have led to changes in policy and more money invested in energy efficiency measures and renewables. Indeed a new Energy Strategy for our housing stock has just been agreed as a result of those inquiries. I am hopeful it will lead to us reducing fuel poverty in the District. At present tenants are being consulted to help develop a Stroud Housing Standard which incorporates many measures to tackle fuel poverty.

- 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. This is now celebrating it's first year with over 175 members and a variety of achievements including setting up a Quality Checkers service whereby people with a learning disability check on the quality of services.

Allotment opening 2011

- Opened the Whiteshill and Ruscombe Allotments. This took our working party a number of years to develop but within months of getting access to the land it became a wonderfully productive site and a triumph of community working together.

Had my blog, 'Ruscombe Green', voted 10th in a national poll of councillor blogs and 7th in the Green blogs poll. Last year I made 575 posts during the year! 

Ruscombe Brook - free of sewage
- After years of campaigning seen Severn Trent start work on relining sewers in the valley and beyond. Initially in 2006 Severn Trent said there was no problem; it has taken over 4 years for them to acknowledge the problems and act. Since helping to establish both the Ruscombe Brook Action Group and the Stroud Valleys Water Forum (a forum of all water and flood action groups in the area), I have remained a key member of both groups, raising many local issues re sewage and flooding with various local authorities, MPs and others.

Some recent actions:

Ruscombe fields

I continue to oppose development on the Ruscombe Valley fields (pictured) and at other key local sites that are threatened by the recent changes in planning laws. The consultation starts early February and I hope all residents will take the opportunity to help ensure the fields here and at Callowell are protected. Decisions about where more housing will go in the District are hugely challenging and it is vital issues like the sustainability of communities and the quality and variety of housing are addressed.

• I have supported residents who have had problems with planning and other issues and continue to attend both Parish Council meetings (when I am not at other Council meetings at the same time).

• I have continued to seek more traffic calming measures (not humps and bumps) and 20mph speed limits in residential areas to reduce casualties and encourage more walking and cycling. The County have at last developed a more transparent and open way that we can work with them and I am hopeful we can bring about improvements that are needed.

Working on your behalf:

Greens protest at incinerator
• Continuing to oppose a large incinerator at Javelin Park near Stonehouse or elsewhere in the County. Conservative County Councillors voted for this incinerator. This was despite a motion at Stroud District Council put forward by Greens and Lib Dems and supported by both Labour and nearly all Conservatives calling for a pause to reconsider the incinerator.

• The council will be borrowing close to £100 million this year to take over control of it's Council housing from the government. It is vital that in that borrowing we also invest in improving the quality of our Council housing, cut fuel poverty and carbon emissions as well as build more social housing.

• Actively working to ensure our waste management is more sustainable and cost effective.

• Supported Gloucestershire Gay Pride to help promote acceptance and diversity.

Wessex Water meeting

• Raised key issues as Stroud’s representative on the Wessex Water Customer Liaison Panel including seeking more funds to Citizen Advice Bureau's to increase their excellent and innovative work with Wessex to help tackle debt problems.

• Supported the campaign to protect the more vulnerable members of our community when the County cut library services. The judge at the Judicial Review said of Gloucestershire County Council that "the decisions under challenge were not just unlawful but bad government" and ruled that there had been a breach of equality duties that was "substantive, not merely a technical or procedural defect". We now have an opportunity to ensure any cuts don't fall so unfairly.

Want to talk to Philip?

Green councillors weekend away to develop policies
I 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.

Some previous newsletters:
See February 2011 newsletter here and March 2010 newsletter here and see 2009 report here.

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