At last Tuesday’s Cheltenham Borough Council meeting, Conservative councillors proposed to abolish the Cabinet Position responsible for tackling the Climate Emergency.
At a troubling time for us all, one positive note seems to have been the increased importance people are placing on caring for our environment.
The Liberal Democrats have condemned the Chancellor for failing to introduce a comprehensive plan to save jobs after it was revealed that 3450 people in Cheltenham are currently on Universal Credit.
Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine criticised Rishi Sunak's "constant chop-and-change approach", urging him to put in place a proper plan to protect jobs as the Government still struggles to get a grip over rising cases of coronavirus.
The figures revealed that 5.2% of people of working age in Cheltenham are on Universal Credit.
Following this, Liberal Democrats urged local Conservative MP Alex Chalk to join their calls for the Chancellor to ensure the furlough scheme remains in place until at least June 2021, as well as overturning their decision to ignore the 3 million individuals still locked out of any Government coronavirus support schemes.
This follows the Liberal Democrats' call for the Prime Minister to negotiate a 6 month Adjustment Period for businesses, giving them crucial breathing space once the UK leaves the transition period.
The Cheltenham Liberal Democrat-run Borough council is working with local schools to involve young people in the town in taking positive climate action by planting trees on school land.
The borough council declared a climate emergency earlier this year and has an ambitious target of becoming a carbon-neutral town by 2030.
As part of this, a huge effort is underway to plant more trees, and the council is urging schools to gain support from The Woodland Trust’s Trees for Schools scheme and help children to get involved.
Max Wilkinson has called on local Conservative MP Alex Chalk to this week vote in favour of safe and legal routes to sanctuary for vulnerable refugees.
In a letter to Alex Chalk, Cheltenham Liberal Democrat spokesperson Max Wilkinson argued that safe and legal routes are the best way to “combat people smuggling and human trafficking” and to prevent “dangerous attempts to cross the Channel.”
This Wednesday [04/11/2020] Alex Chalk will have the power to protect vulnerable refugees by backing an amendment to the Immigration Bill, just days after four people, including children, tragically lost their lives trying to cross the Channel.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:
"Within just the last few days, yet more people have tragically lost their lives trying to cross the Channel. It is utterly heartbreaking, especially for the friends and families left behind.
"It’s hard to imagine how desperate people must be to climb into these boats in search of a better life. It just isn't right that vulnerable people are left no choice but to make these perilous attempts.”
Max Wilkinson added:
"Our priority must be to save lives, and that means providing safe and legal routes to sanctuary in the UK for refugees.
"For Alex Chalk, that means doing the only decent thing and voting to maintain the rights for refugees in Europe to be reunited with their families and ensure that unaccompanied child refugees can be resettled in the UK.“Our MP is a patron of GARAS but his voting record hasn’t been in support of helping refugees. It’s about time he did the right thing.“I’m proud that Cheltenham has such a strong record of supporting refugees and I hope our MP will match the town’s commitment.”
Support our call to protect vulnerable refugees? Sign the petition
Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham Max Wilkinson has criticised the town’s Conservative MP for a ‘heartless’ vote on child hunger.
Max reacted angrily after Alex Chalk voted on Wednesday night against extending the free school meals scheme. The Lib Dems have joined Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford in calling for more help to end child hunger.
“People across Cheltenham will be staggered by their MP’s heartless actions in parliament,” said Max.
“Chalk has visited our town’s food banks and told the press that he knew life was a struggle, but yet he still can’t bring himself to vote to lessen the pain felt by hard-pressed families – even in a national emergency.
“I’ve visited local foodbanks and spoken to struggling local families, so I know how hard they have it.
“Our MP has shown a complete lack of sympathy for the most vulnerable people in our town and it’s a total disgrace.”
The opposition amendment was voted down by Conservative MPs. If successful, the scheme would have seen 1.4million disadvantaged children in England given £15-a-week food vouchers during school holidays until Easter 2021.
In the South West of England, 13.3% of children in nursery and primary school settings rely on free school meals - along with 11.4% of young people in secondary schools.
Click here to sign the Liberal Democrat campaign to end child hunger
Thank you to everyone who has signed my petition in support of building the new school in Leckhampton, providing vital school places for young people across the south of Cheltenham and beyond. If you haven't signed the petition yet, you can find it here.
I was disturbed to learn that there are moves to call for a judicial review that could delay a much-needed new school in Leckhampton.
Thousands of families across the south of Cheltenham are desperate for local school places for their children. After years of back and forth, we finally have the opportunity with this new development in Leckhampton to provide those places and secure the educational future of young people across Cheltenham for years to come.
A new development in the south of Cheltenham can help cut the number of unnecessary car journeys across town, giving young people the chance to safely walk and cycle to school. We’ll keep fighting for sustainable transport solutions across town, including around schools.
My colleague Cllr Iain Dobie and I have written to Baroness Berridge, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System, asking her to do all she can to bring about a swift resolution to this issue.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
Plans to tackle the climate emergency and Covid-19 recovery have been strengthened today, Tuesday 1 September with two new roles announced in the borough council’s cabinet.
Council leader Steve Jordan has assigned two new posts, economy and development, and, climate and communities to two new cabinet members: Cllr Victoria Atherstone and Cllr Max Wilkinson.