Very Happy New Year. I hope you had a good celebration. Sarah and I were lucky enough to spend it at a wedding in Manor by the Lake in Cheltenham.
An enormous thank you to all those who couldn’t celebrate because they were on duty locally – be it in GCHQ, CGH, our emergency services or elsewhere.
This will be a tumultuous year in politics, but it is important that key local issues affecting Cheltenham don’t get overlooked. So here is a (non-exhaustive) list of ten local priorities which I will work to see achieved in 2019:
1. Cheltenham General: Block proposals to shift the ‘general surgery’ specialism to Gloucestershire Royal.
2. Air Balloon road improvement scheme: Ensure the ‘preferred route announcement’ is made this spring to trigger the start of the planning consent process for the £485m scheme.
3. Schools: Secure further support in the Spending Review. Over £1m a year more comes from Government to Cheltenham’s secondary schools compared to 2015, but there’s more to do to ease pressures.
4. Cheltenham Cyber Park: Start work on the £22m Government-funded road improvements in and around the Arle Court roundabout, to enable this game-changing opportunity for our town.
5. Rough sleeping: End it in Cheltenham in 2019. Rough sleeping is unacceptable in a decent society. With funding secured for Gloucestershire’s homelessness hubs, complete eradication locally should be our goal.
6. Cancer care: Secure a second life-saving LINAC (£2m linear accelerator radiotherapy machine) for CGH’s cancer department.
7. Trains: Deliver the sub-2 hour GWR service to London, and bring the new station car park into use.
8. Potholes: Resurface St James’ Square, near the old fire station. Important progress has been made (who can forget the shocking Tommy Taylor’s Lane, Vittoria Walk, Tewkesbury Road?) but problem areas remain.
9. Boot’s Corner: Scrap this scheme which is shunting pollution into residential areas and causing traffic mayhem.
10. Swindon Lane recycling centre: Don't let them shut it!
Best wishes for 2019.