The decision of the Boundary Commission to ignore objections and plough on with its plan to transfer Springbank out of the Cheltenham parliamentary constituency is baffling.
If followed through, it means that a valued Cheltenham community will in future be represented in Parliament by the MP for Tewkesbury.
That is despite the fact that Springbank has been an integral part of Cheltenham from the moment the first brick was laid. Frank Brookes Road and Carter Road are named after Cheltenham mayors and councillors. Welch Road is named after the Welch family, who owned the Arle House mansion. Lipson Road commemorates a former Cheltenham MP. The list goes on.
Springbank also has far less in common with the villages and hamlets of rural Tewkesbury. It is as much a part of Cheltenham as Pittville or Leckhampton.
That’s why I wrote to the Boundary Commission and called on it to respect Cheltenham’s unique history and culture by agreeing to retain Springbank, even if it meant our constituency remaining just a few thousand voters over their proposed upper population limit. It’s plain as day that a modest surplus is the least worst option. I shall continue to make the case.
In happier news I am delighted that the Government through the Arts Council, has agreed to invest a further two million pounds into Cheltenham’s cultural sector. Cheltenham Festivals, the Everyman and Create Gloucestershire will all share in cash which is designed to target support to the regions of the UK, rather than the traditional destination of London.
The money comes on top of the £4 million-plus that we received from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund during and after lockdown, without which much of our best loved organisations would likely have collapsed.
The funding means greater opportunity for children from all across Cheltenham to benefit from the great gifts of art, theatre, music and literature. Long may that continue.