South Gloucestershire election preview for Yate and Sodbury
RESIDENTS across the Yate and Sodbury area go to the polls this week to elect their South Gloucestershire councillors for the next four years.
The elections on Thursday, May 2, are the first to be held since a change in ward boundaries, which has seen the total number of councillors cut from 70 to 61, with 17 wards abolished and nine new ones created.
The Chipping Sodbury and Cotswold Edge seats have merged, losing one councillor in the process, while the Ladden Brook ward has disappeared, swallowed up by the expanded Frampton Cotterell and Chipping Sodbury & Cotswold Edge wards. Dodington ward has expanded, while Westerleigh ward has disappeared.
Overall, South Gloucestershire is now split into nine three-councillor wards, 15 two-councillor wards and four one-councillor wards.
South Gloucestershire’s ruling Conservatives had a majority of 10 on the old council but the new ward boundaries and cut in overall councillor numbers, added to political upheavals since 2015, make the result of this year’s poll more difficult than usual to predict.
Residents on the electoral register should by now have received polling cards with the name of the ward which now covers their address.
If you haven’t had one yet, you can still vote, provided you are on the electoral register: call the council on 01454 863030 or email email@example.com to check.
There will also be town and parish council elections across the area.
The Voice has asked all the parties contesting the election to tell readers about their candidates. We are including all the responses we have received over the coming pages in our ward election profiles, which can be found on these links:
Some people living to the North West of Yate have now been moved into the Frampton Cotterell ward. You can find out about the candidates for this ward here.
Here are the election pledges of the three parties standing for seats in the Yate and Sodbury area:
The Conservatives, who have held the majority of seats and led the local authority for the past four years, say their local manifesto is represented by the priorities in their latest budget.
That budget, approved in February, promises more than £100 million for school buildings and roads over the next four years as well as “extra support for our local economy, our high streets, our most vulnerable residents and our lowest paid workers”.
Based on the budget, the party has made three key election pledges in South Gloucestershire:
- To deliver £78million budgeted to support local schools and raise standards. The Conservatives promise to ensure schools have the financial support they need to maintain and improve their facilities, and to keep lobbying the Government for fairer funding.
- To ensure South Gloucestershire’s streets are clean, green and safe, backed by £35million in road resurfacing funding. The party promises to build on what it says is its “enviable” record maintaining highways and local roads and promoting recycling and tackling fly-tipping.
- To back the district’s high streets and local economy and keep car parking free in council-owned car parks. The Conservatives are promising to support local traders and social hubs. Work is already progressing to rejuvenate Kingswood and Yate.
A spokesman for the South Gloucestershire Conservatives said they are committed to offering “value for money”.
The Liberal Democrats, who comprise the second biggest group on the council and head the opposition, are promising to put South Gloucestershire “back on track”.
The group has announced its six top priorities in South Gloucestershire. These tackle housing, roads, young people, public transport, health and climate change.
The Lib Dems are promising to:
- Scrap plans for five “mega-developments” at Coalpit Heath, Charfield, Iron Acton, Buckover and Thornbury and “send them back to the drawing board”.
- Use council-owned land to build more “truly affordable” homes and use the proceeds for the repairing residential roads.
- Make young people a top priority, lobbying for extra school funding and putting more resources into counselling and resilience courses in schools.
- Investigate bus franchising to improve bus services, build more park & ride and park & share sites, and lobby for more frequent trains with more carriages.
- Deliver the Thornbury Health Centre, a full walk-in service at Yate and a wider range of services at Cossham Hospital.
- Increase South Gloucestershire’s renewable energy target in line with the international standard of 32 per cent by 2030 and take action to combat air pollution.
The Lib Dems would also abolish the “anti-democratic” leader and cabinet system on South Gloucestershire Council and replace it with a committee system of elected councillors.
Labour, which holds almost as many seats as the Lib Dems on the council, has made election promises in six key areas.
Some of the key pledges are below.
- Housing: Support initiatives to build affordable and social housing, promote working with tenant support groups, investigate a housing scheme for key workers such as teachers, social workers and NHS workers.
- Transport and traffic: Franchise bus and train services “where appropriate”, continue to fight for a Henbury loop train, pursue park and ride development.
- Neighbourhoods and communities: hold regular ward councillor surgeries, support business groups, and tackle isolation, antisocial behaviour, poor parking and indicators of deprivation such as health inequalities.
- Local environment: tackle poor air quality in hotspots such as Kingswood and Cribbs Causeway, prioritise street cleaning, enforce penalties for actions that harm the environment, and pursue super fast broadband.
- Children and young people: pursue fairer funding for schools, promote speedier assessment of special needs, educate more SEND children locally, support children’s centres wherever possible.
- Health and social care: continue to campaign for a minor injuries unit at Cossham and minor injuries services at all GP surgeries, work to extend GP opening hours and improve access to health services, investigate the creation of a council-owned company to provide local social care, invest in facilities to support carers.