Making Cheltenham the best place it can be, in the interests of all who live here, is my driving passion. That’s not just because this is my home town and I care deeply about it. It’s also because I believe Cheltenham is a very special place – both in terms of what our town has to offer, and also the community spirit of the people who live here.
Last Saturday was a case in point. I went out until 2am with the Cheltenham Guardians – a team of three women and one man – who look out for late-night revellers who find themselves alone or otherwise vulnerable. The team I joined included an off-duty probation officer and an administrator of a children’s charity. They had given their time for free, and I saw how they made an enormous difference – including supporting a worse for wear youngster in Montpellier who might otherwise have struggled to get home.
What’s so striking about Cheltenham is that the Guardians are not the only such group in our town. Cheltenham Street Pastors were out too, with their familiar horsebox support centre near the Prom. I challenge readers to find a town where the volunteering, philanthropic tradition is so strong. It makes me very proud.
Staying on the night-time economy, I also visited Home & Botanic nightclub this week to discuss possible Covid restrictions, and the potential impact of Covid passports. As you will have seen, those passports will not now be introduced at the end of September.
Instead, the principal defences include encouraging the unvaccinated to get the jab, vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds and beginning a booster programme for the over 50s and clinically extremely vulnerable. Those over 16 can get a first or second dose of Pfizer at Cheltenham East Fire Station between 5:30 and 8:30 pm on 21 September.
The better vaccinated we are, the better chance of avoiding having to squeeze the brake pedal and turn to "Plan B". I hope the 10% who remain unvaccinated will come forward, so that Cheltenham can continue to be the open, vibrant and compassionate town I saw on Saturday night.