Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful celebration, be it in Cheltenham or elsewhere.
As we head into 2018 I feel hugely optimistic about what together we can achieve for Cheltenham this year. We are fortunate to live in such a special town, but I am certain it can be better still, for all who live here. The foundations were laid for a stronger and fairer Cheltenham in 2017. 2018 must be the year of even greater progress.
On schools funding, 2018 will be the year when our secondary schools start to draw down the extra funding won during the marathon campaign in 2017 to fight back against historic postcode funding injustice.
On housing, Cheltenham’s growing attractiveness as a place to live was reflected in the largest house price increase anywhere in Britain. But a vibrant, decent society doesn’t pull the home-ownership ladder up. With the Joint Core Strategy for housing now settled, in 2018 we need to start building those homes for the next generation.
On infrastructure, 2018 will be the year when the Gloucestershire public get to have their say on two short-listed schemes to address the horrendous Air Balloon/A417 pinch-point. Cheltenham will start to benefit from the roll-out of new, IEP, trains with automatic doors, faster acceleration/deceleration, and a sub-2 hour service to London. I have also been promised extensive station improvements too, and (crucially!!) additional station parking.
There’s so much more – from my free post-6 pm parking campaign, the Boot’s Corner trial, to the need to preserve our A&E as an addition to, not substitute for, a new 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre.
And I’ll be publishing my report about the impact of social media bullying on adolescent mental health. 2018 must also be the year when we improve our understanding of what is behind the extraordinary surge in adolescent mental health problems affecting young people in Cheltenham and elsewhere. Prevention is always better than cure.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018.