Call for Integrated Multi-Agency Approach toTackling Mental Health

A profile giving a picture of people’s health in Gloucestershire produced by Public Health England at the beginning of this month (June 2015) shows a county that is healthier than the England average, with life expectancy for both men and women higher than the national average.However figures in the report also show concerns over the county’s suicide rate and high levels of hospital stays for self-harm.

The newly appointed Liberal Democrat Chair for the County Council’s Health & Care Scrutiny Committee and county party Spokesperson for Public Health, Cllr. Iain Dobie (Leckhampton and Warden Hill) commented:

“We may well be healthier as a county, but it is deeply concerning that the figures in terms of the suicide rate and hospital stays for self-harm are rated 'significantly worse' than the national average.

“A high suicide rate and high levels of hospital stays for self-harm is indicative of a much greater need for our health agencies to work together in improving mental health across the county not just for adults, but children and young people too.

“I was delighted that an additional £450K was subsequently secured by the Liberal Democrats in the budget settlement for use over 2014-16 to help develop ways to tackle the issue of deliberate self-harm in young people through promoting emotional resilience. A multi-agency approach has been adopted to improve outcomes for young people. I am keen to see what other measures of effectiveness will be put in place this year and for us to start seeing a reduction in the number of young people who self-harm. Early intervention is the key to heading off longer term problems."

In February 2014, the Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council called for an additional investment from the Public Health Budget to reduce the rising numbers of Gloucestershire children and young people who deliberately hurt themselves.

Faster broadband for the Cotswolds

Following on from the first rollout of faster broadband to some Cotswold towns and villages, the County Council has now announced a second phase.

Speaking to journalists following the announcement of new faster internet provision for some 6000 houses in the district, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson welcomed the news but criticised the plans for not going far enough:

“...It means that quite a lot of people will still miss out on what is now an essential service in the 21st century. I was in Greece recently where even in the remotest areas there was  a 4G phone signal and fast broadband – if they can do it so can we! 

"I will continue to fight for every house to get access to a better service.”

Thank you for voting for the Liberal Democrats

Thank you to the 10,568 people who voted for Paul Hodgkinson at the general election. Although this wasn't the result we'd hoped for, the Cotswolds had the 59th best result of any Liberal Democrat candidate nationally and the constituency will remain a competitive seat between the Conservatives and ourselves in the future.

In the local elections held on the same day as the general election the Lib Dems won 11 seats including Wotton-under-Edge and all eight Cirencester wards. We also secured 13 of the 15 seats on Cirencester Town Council. In several other Cotswold wards we finished a close second, giving us a great opportunity to make gains at future elections.

The local party is now looking forward to holding the new Conservative government to account and optimistic of a strong performance at the district and county council elections in 2016 and 2017.

It's really encouraging to see that since the polls closed, more than 15,000 new members have joined the Liberal Democrats. The surge continues as Liberal Democrats across the country have been fighting back and making the case for liberal values of freedom, liberty and change.

To become a member of the local Liberal Democrats please go to

'Getting things done' election campaign launched

The Liberal Democrats have launched their Cotswolds election campaign with a message of ‘getting things done’ for the local community.


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Lib Dem move to freeze Cotswold Council Tax rejected by Conservatives

tax.jpgLib Dem Councillors proposed a Council Tax freeze at Cotswold District Council today which was rejected by the Conservatives.

The move would have continued the coalition government’s efforts to freeze Council tax to help hardworking families across the Cotswolds without affecting frontline services at the Council.

Cllr Joe Harris (Lib Dem, Park Ward) Leader of the Lib Dem group said: “We are living in uncertain financial times, the money local Councils receive from Government is reducing and we have to make the money we have stretch further.”

He added: “Our proposal to freeze Council tax would have meant that Council services are protected without hitting local residents in the pocket. Conservative plans to cut the budget will mean we go into an uncertain future with less cash at our disposal to protect from financial risk.”

The Lib Dem group also proposed to remove Sunday car parking charges in Cirencester’s Brewery Car Park, invest £40,000 on tackling litter along the Cotswolds main roads and invest £40,000 to support initiatives to tackle isolation and hardship amongst younger and older people.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem, Churn Valley), who is standing as the MP for the Cotswolds on May 7th, proposed the amendment to invest £40,000 on tackling litter along Cotswold roads and said: “The Council’s litter collections are so infrequent many people are taking the matter into their own hands and doing litter picks themselves. This cash would have supported local resident’s efforts by providing the Council with more resource to undertake more frequent litter picks.”

He added:” “I know many people take huge pride in the Cotswolds and want to see it kept clean and tidy. I’m annoyed the Conservatives won’t take litter seriously and ultimately it’s our beautiful area that loses out.”

Bin the litter!

A call is being made to keep the Cotswolds cleaner.


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Calling for your views on plans for a new village at Kemble Airfield

Joe Harris and Paul Hodgkinson

A plan for a new village at Kemble Airfield (Cotswold Airport) has been revealed.

The Commercial Estates Group (CEG) have put forward a proposal that could see up to 2000 homes built at the former RAF base. 

Responding to Cotswold District Council’s draft local plan consultation the group have put forward the site as an alternative to the 2350 homes suggested on the edge of Cirencester. 

In their submission CEG state: “The Kemble Airfield (Cotswold Airport) site is a wholly sustainable, suitable and deliverable alternative to the south of Chesterton site.”

The group suggested three options that could be pursued:

Option 1: Allocate the Kemble Airport site as a direct replacement to the strategic allocation south of Chesterton;

Option 2: Reduce the level of housing proposed on the land south of Chesterton and allocate the residual to the Kemble Airport site e.g. approximately 1,000 new homes on each site; 

Option 3: Same as Option 2, but with the level of greenfield development that is currently proposed around settlements within the Cotswold AONB reduced and reallocated to the Kemble Airport site.

Cllr Joe Harris, Leader of the Lib Dem group at Cotswold District Council and the Mayor of Cirencester has called the plans “an opportunity for the Council's Conservatives to look again at their plans for a massive housing estate in Cirencester.”

He commented saying “Obviously it is still very early days and we’ve don’t have much detail. On the face of it these plans could provide an intriguing alternative to the huge proposed development of 2350 homes on the South West edge of Cirencester.”

He added: “If Cotswold District Council decide to include the site in the Local Plan it is really important that the developers work with local people to try and get the best deal for Kemble and the neighbouring community." 

Paul Hodgkinson, prospective Lib Dem MP for the Cotswolds also commented: “Plans for 2350 houses on the edge of Cirencester are completely unsuitable and the truth is it is easier for the Conservatives to dump them on Cirencester rather than look at all the options.”

“Every option needs to be explored and the developers must work closely with the nearby community to get the best solution. I want to hear people's views.” 

To view CEG submissions please follow this link:

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Paul Hodgkinson challenges Cotswold MP to go full time

6950480-large.jpgThe Conservative MP for the Cotswolds today faced a call to give up his second job outside Parliament.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, has challenged Geoffrey Clifton-Brown to put an end to his substantial second income after new figures show that the MP has earned an average of over £4,000 per day from his second job.

Cllr Hodgkinson throws down the gauntlet by committing to have no earnings outside Parliament if elected this May:

“Serving constituents full time is in my opinion a basic requirement of being an MP. I don’t see how anyone can do the job properly if they are spending time earning substantial amounts elsewhere.”

According to the Parliamentary register of the MP’s declared earnings and interests he has received a total of £164,000 from August 2011 until July 2014 from earnings outside Westminster. This was for a total of 105 days work, or 626 hours. Mr Clifton-Brown’s average rate over this period was £4,450 per day or £742 per hour.

The register states that the MP is a partner in East Peckham partnership, which is engaged in arable farming in Norfolk.

Cllr Hodgkinson commented:

“There are so many things which need addressing locally – protecting our unique countryside, getting decent roads and services like phone coverage and fast broadband to name but some. To stand up for the Cotswolds on these issues demands total focus and if I am elected as MP in May I will be full time. I will close down my business and will take no other income from work outside Parliament. As a matter of principle I will be a full time MP concentrating only on that role and nothing else.

“I have challenged Mr Clifton-Brown to commit to taking no further earnings from outside Parliament but he declined. Now that these latest figures have been published I ask him again - will he follow my lead in agreeing to being a full time MP?”

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has been the MP for the Cotswolds since 1992 and featured prominently in the expenses scandal in 2009 when he ‘flipped’ his £3 million home in Daglingworth. 

Key Conservative switches to Cotswold Lib Dems

A prominent local Conservative has announced he is backing the area’s Liberal Democrats.

Oliver Cooper, 24, from Sapperton, attended the Royal Agricultural University and has held key positions in the Cotswold Conservative Party including Deputy Chair and was a candidate for the upcoming district council elections in May.

Now, he has issued a compelling and hard-hitting statement in which he formally resigns from the Party he supported and backs the area’s Liberal Democrats:

“When I joined the Conservative Party at the age of 16, there was an appeal to David Cameron’s detoxified party who stuck a quirky oak tree on its letter head, and it was one that I was able to connect with. When I eventually scratched away the paintwork, particularly in the Cotswolds, the establishment of the Party didn’t share any of these values and they weren’t open to any form of progression.

“It didn’t take long after the 2010 election for the intellectuals of the centre right such as Steve Hilton, Philip Blonde and Jesse Norman to be dropped from the centre stage and be replaced by the ruthless Lyndon Crosby. Since then the Tories have ditched any attempt to live up to the tag lines of the Big Society, ‘Vote Blue, Go Green’ and Compassionate Conservatism; they have replaced them with a suite of policies that pits the ‘shirker’ against the ‘striver’, proposes to isolate Britain from our closest neighbours and pursues economic growth without any regard for ballooning disparity between the wealth of the richest and the poorest in our country.

Now that Mr Cooper has turned his back on his former party he has decided to join the Cotswolds’ main opposition team: “Undoubtedly the Conservatives have abandoned the centre ground. By contrast, at their core the Lib Dems are made up of progressive and compassionate campaigners whose breadth of views anchors them to the centre ground. Where there was previously a contest for the centre ground, there is now only one choice for those who truly believe in liberty, equality and community and that is the Liberal Democrats. I am backing Paul Hodgkinson to be the next Cotswold MP.

“The local campaigns, activities and personalities of the Cotswold Liberal Democrats have been the catalyst for my move. Their campaigns on car parking charges have highlighted the narrow vision of the Cotswold Conservatives; their actions to promote Cirencester's green fields and to make green spaces into community assets are bold and hopeful; and the energy of Paul Hodgkinson, Joe Harris and all their colleagues is magnetic.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (GCC, Bourton & Northleach), Prospective MP for the Cotswolds, is enthused at the move: “Oli has made a thoughtful decision – he is like a breath of fresh air. He has seen what we’re doing locally and like many others is backing us and wants to see change. He is an incredible asset to the team and I hope his move will enable others who feel the same way to come and join us as we seek to make history in May.’’

2,200 young people in the Cotswolds help hit 2m apprenticeship goal

Two million apprenticeships have been created in the UK since 2010 with 2,200 people in the Cotswolds getting a vital start in life.
Prospective MP Paul Hodgkinson said apprenticeships offered by companies such as Renishaw in Wotton under Edge and St JamesPlace in Cirencester have performed a crucial role in the local economy.
Cllr Hodgkinson is heading up a task group at the County Council aimed at bossting the number of apprentices across Gloucestershire:
“Apprenticeships are a vital part of building a stronger economy and a fairer society. By ensuring young people are able to earn and learn, we give them the opportunity to get on it life.
“That is why I’m delighted young people in the Cotswolds have benefitted from fantastic training and employment opportunities that apprenticeships offer.
“I’ve seen for myself, by speaking to Jordan McKenna who was an apprentice at Cirencester Housing, the benefit apprenticeships can give to young people and I’m delighted that over a thousand people from our area have been able to take advantage.”
Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills Vince Cable MP said:
“Reaching the two millionth apprenticeship in the UK is testament to our commitment to apprenticeships. Apprenticeships give young people the chance to start a career and give businesses the talent to grow.
“This isn’t just about numbers. From space engineering, to TV production, to legal services, apprenticeships are the ticket to a great job and a route employers trust to access the skills they need.

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