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.’’
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 James’s Place 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.
Mobile phone operators in the Cotswolds are being urged to provide a better service.
Today it's been announced that £250 million funding has been given by the Coalition Government to solve the issues at the Air Balloon A417.
Schools in the Cotswolds have been praised for dishing up a new initiative to the area’s infants.
Momentum appears to be building behind a bid to solve the A417 ‘Missing Link’ near the Air Balloon roundabout.
A plea to solve the housing crisis in the Cotswolds is being made at national level.
We welcome the petition being presented to the Council and the opportunity it’s created to debate this very important issue.
Cotswold District Council is being urged to up its game on recycling.
On the same day as the Tour of Britain came through parts of Gloucestershire unanimous support was given to a Lib Dem proposal to promote cycling in the county by improving cycle routes and cycle parking.