Archive for the ‘Local Government’ Category

Winterbourne’s Tim Bowles is new Metro Mayor

Posted on Tuesday 27th June 2017 at 12:01 am by SH (Editor)

Photo of Tim Bowles.

The new Mayor of the West of England, Winterbourne resident Tim Bowles (Conservative), was officially sworn into office at the Engine Shed, Bristol on Monday 8th May.

The event followed the mayoral election on Thursday 4th May in which Mr Bowles polled 27.3 percent of first preference votes, increasing to 35.7 percent after second preference choices were taken into consideration. Labour candidate Lesley Mansell finished second with 33.5 percent support after the second count. Turnout at the election was 29.7 percent.

Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Bowles said he was proud to be elected as the very first West of England Mayor:

“This is an exciting time for our region as the West of England Combined Authority takes on new powers, funding and responsibilities from central Government.”

“This means that as a region we can be much more ambitious – we can make decisions here in the West of England about things that affect our residents every day – decisions about homes, transport, skills for jobs and how we support business to ensure our economy continues to grow.”

He said he would work collaboratively and constructively with his colleagues in the Combined Authority: Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

More: New mayor wants to work closely with North Somerset Council »

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Anger at lack of consultation on West of England devolution deal

Posted on Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 1:27 pm by SH (Editor)

Logo of South Gloucestershire Council.

The ruling Conservative group on South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) has come under fire from opposition parties for planning to make a critical decision on whether or not to accept the Government’s proposed devolution deal for the West of England – which is conditional on the creation of a directly-elected Metro Mayor – without carrying out a formal public consultation.

The devolution deal has been proposed between the Government and the four local authorities in the West of England – Bristol City, North Somerset, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils – and promises investment of more than £1 billion over a 30 year period.

Now that a deal has been negotiated with Government, the four authorities must decide whether or not they wish to accept it. These decisions will be taken by councillors in each area at council meetings in June. In South Gloucestershire, this meeting will take place on Wednesday 29th June.

Before those meetings, SGC is providing an opportunity for the public to find out more about the deal and to have their say via a dedicated webpage at www.southglos.gov.uk/devolution

However, Liberal Democrats in South Gloucestershire are unhappy with the low profile, informal consultation that has been launched ahead of the decision. Their leader, Cllr Ruth Davis, said:

“This is an incredible offer coming our way, and we need the public to be engaged. We could have launched a proper consultation when this was announced in the budget. We don’t have time for that anymore, but at least we can publicise it better, and make sure it’s linked to from the consultation website where people are normally asked for their views.”

Similarly, the Labour group has criticised the Tories for making what they describe as a “U-turn” on cross-party calls for an indicative referendum on the devolution deal, speculating that they might have been “leant upon” not to cause waves. Their leader, Cllr Pat Rooney, said:

“Tory councillors and the Tory Government have joined forces to block local people from having a direct say on the devolution deal, and that is a huge disappointment.”

More: "The deal on offer is among the best negotiated across the country"

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South Glos council tax frozen for fourth year

Posted on Wednesday 19th February 2014 at 10:03 pm by SH (Editor)

Logo of South Gloucestershire Council.

Council tax in South Gloucestershire is to be frozen for a fourth consecutive year after three-party revenue budget proposals were agreed at a meeting of Full Council tonight (Wednesday 19th February).

A revenue budget of £190.7 million was set for 2014/15, with council tax for a Band D property remaining unchanged at £1,245.20.

A further freeze is also planned for 2015/16, followed by a two per cent increase in 2016/17.

The council says it has been able to freeze council tax for a fourth year due to positive progress with its current savings programme, which will have delivered savings of £43m by 2014/15, and higher than expected council tax receipts. The cost of the freeze will also be partially offset by a 1 per cent central government grant.

In addition to the council tax freeze, the budget also sets out a new Council Savings Programme (CSP), which will begin in 2014/15, with the aim of delivering an additional £36m of savings by 2019/20.

This level of savings will require significant changes to services in the coming years as the role of the council evolves to meet anticipated reductions in its resources.

The budget was finalised following extensive consultation with residents which included road show events at the district’s main shopping areas, together with paper and online surveys and Area Forum exercises. In total, more than 2,300 people responded to the consultation.

Respondents were asked to consider which services the council should prioritise in the coming years, with care for vulnerable older people identified as the highest-priority service (selected by 68 per cent of respondents).

The consultation findings were reflected in tonight’s budget, which includes plans for additional investment in community care and older peoples’ services over the next three years.

Consultation respondents were also invited to consider how the council should approach cost-saving measures, with the majority (87 per cent) saying that the council should make more use of its land and assets. Two-thirds (66 per cent) said that more services should be made available online, while 60 per cent said that the council should seek cost-savings by involving communities more closely in delivering services, such as through volunteering.

The agreed budget sets out a review of council land and assets, a new digital strategy and a renewed commitment to working with the third sector and volunteers, while also reviewing how more services can be passed on to localities.

Source: Press release from South Gloucestershire Council.

Further information:

More: Comment from the main political groups on the council »

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Council employees recognised for excellent service

Posted on Friday 21st June 2013 at 7:52 pm by SH (Editor)

South Gloucestershire Council's 'team of the year' award winners for 2013.

Staff who helped residents enjoy the Olympic Torch pass safely through the streets of South Gloucestershire have been named ‘team of the year’ at South Gloucestershire Council.

Their work was commended during the council’s annual Pride Awards on Monday (17th June), designed to acknowledge the hard work of council staff in providing excellent services to residents.

Chief Executive Amanda Deeks presented the team of the year award to a range of representatives* who all worked together to make the two-day Olympic Torch event last May so memorable. She said:

“This team demonstrated a truly one-council approach to delivering services.”

“On two days in May last year, the Olympic Flame shone a light on South Gloucestershire during its journey towards London 2012. Huge crowds lined the streets through Bitton, Longwell Green, Hanham and Filton to welcome the torchbearers at this fantastic community event which owed its success to the hard work and dedication of staff from across the whole council.”

“The team pulled out all the stops to make sure the event was safe and memorable for an estimated 20,000 residents and visitors that came out to celebrate. Their planning and management of the event, together with our partners, ensured that every single person could be proud of South Gloucestershire as the Olympic torch travelled along the streets.”

A video capturing their roles on the day has been posted on the council’s YouTube channel.

More: Individuals also honoured with awards »

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