Winning together for Cheltenham
We are stronger when we work together and I have a track record of working with local people to improve our town.
I work tirelessly for Cheltenham and I am a liberal by politics and personality. I enjoy working with others and that is a key theme running through my political identity.
Campaigning on the issues that matter
As a pro-European, I campaigned to remain in the referendum, but I accept that opinion is divided on the outcome. I’m keen that we retain a close relationship with the EU to ensure we benefit from the trade links that it brings our area. But I also know that people want politicians to focus on the day-to-day issues, so I’ll put those first when thinking about the impact of Brexit.
Max’s vision for Cheltenham
Cheltenham is at a crossroads in its history, just as is the UK. While the fallout from the Brexit vote poses great challenges for the country, the town must plan for a prosperous future which embraces a liberal approach and enables sustainable growth. Just as the country cannot stand still, nor can our town.
Our Liberal Democrat-led borough council is moving things in the right direction and I’m proud to be a part of the council team. The Lib Dem administration is getting a local plan in place to deliver the homes we need. It is making changes to transport in the town to get things moving and enable access to shops and businesses. Lib Dems are also continuing to make strides on recycling and town centre parking. This can-do approach contrasts with the uninspiring performance by local Tories, but there is much more to be done.
Cheltenham must become a place where everybody can live, work and prosper. It must be a place where businesses want to start up or relocate. It must be a place where younger people who grow up or study here want to remain, and one where others want to settle after finishing university or training. It must be a place where families know they can get a good education for their children, but also find a home that they can afford. It must be a place where older people know they can enjoy a secure and happy retirement.
Our town centre has bucked the national trend in getting investment in new shops, but we can make it more vibrant by employing innovative methods to encourage new start-ups. This could be using cost-effective modular buildings, perhaps creating a new cultural quarter for arts businesses and independents.
Our schools are a key attraction, but we must ensure they remain properly funded and find a new school site to accommodate the increased demand for places. Our local communities are strong, but access to housing remains a problem for many – including young people who cannot afford to buy and those requiring affordable housing to rent. Innovative rental and purchase models will help, as will more social housing. Our town provides an excellent place to retire, but do we do enough to integrate older people into our communities and ensure they are not lonely in retirement?
On transport, strides are being made towards better links along the M5 corridor and thanks to Lib Dem campaigns work is afoot to improve our station. But we need to also look towards better links to London. We must also seek better integration with the Oxford – Cambridge belt, which will soon benefit from new road and rail links linking east and west. Closer to home, we must embrace walking and cycling across the town to achieve more efficient ways of travelling at peak times and reduce the pressure on our health services.
On the economy, we must seek to attract large employers to set up in the town by providing the office space they need and the support they require. We also need to capitalise on the influence of GCHQ and the success of the Business Improvement District. But that won’t be enough in itself. We must provide excellent training opportunities for younger people growing up here, building stronger partnerships between colleges and businesses to ensure people are able to upskill in our high tech and creative industries. On a more fundamental level, our town will certainly grow in the next 20 years and when new homes are built here, I want to see local people getting the jobs on construction sites.