Gloucestershire’s Liberal Democrat group has responded to the Gloucestershire 2050 consultation. While, commending the Council for starting the conversation on the strategic vision for the county, the group are troubled by reports that the county’s young residents have had no say in the final proposals.
On the proposals, the county group welcomed aspects of the “Super City” project, however are concerned by the potential loss of investment in and identity of Gloucester and Cheltenham, should the “third heart” aspect go ahead. The group therefore pushed for a “City and Spa” approach, with increased connectivity, planned development, including significant levels of affordable housing, and the development of green networks.
The Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats’ preferred project, however, was for a rapid public transport system, giving people a true alternative to the over-reliance on cars. The group proposed a rapid rail system, running from Gloucester to Tewkesbury, which would connect five of the eight largest towns in the county, totalling more than 300,000 people.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson and group leader (Bourton-on-the-Water & Northleach) said:
“Gloucestershire is a wonderful county and a fantastic place to live. However, it also faces a significant challenge in the retention of our young people. This is already proving a significant challenge for our businesses and will eventually become a serious inhibiter to the county’s economic growth.
“For that reason, the fact that young people reportedly did not have a final say in the Gloucestershire 2050 “Vision” is incredibly concerning and a key opportunity missed. Gloucestershire County Council must learn from these mistakes and use this consultation as a springboard to further discussions with the county’s young residents rather than accepting it as a final result.”
Liberal Democrats Finance spokesperson, Cllr Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm and Wotton) also said:
"The Gloucestershire 2050 consultation has helped start a conversation about how the county might change over the next 32 years. A critical element will be how Gloucester and Cheltenham develop in the future. We do not need a Super City with a third centre. We just need to make sure the 'City and Spa' becomes an even better place to live, work and study than it is today.
“The group believes a rapid light rail system, connecting the northern half of the county and linking in to wider rail connections to Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford, would truly mark Gloucestershire as a place to live for young people. Coupled with the best aspect of the “City and Spa” proposal, this innovative and sustainable proposal could make Gloucestershire fit for the middle of this century.”