Give us back our car parks and tell us where you’re spending the money!

Give us back our car parks and tell us where you’re spending the money.

It’s Our County’s efforts to return Herefordshire Council-owned car parks in the city & market towns to their parish councils and local communities faced strong opposition at the Full Council budget meeting on Friday.

Last minute changes, forced on the local opposition group’s budget amendment, downgraded the original proposal to transfer ownership of the car parks and the £4.5m income they generate each year to their respective parish councils.

The group was left to argue for a funded feasibility study on the principle of such an asset transfer. This gave Conservative and Independent councillors the opportunity to counter that no money was needed to investigate the idea of asset transfers, while at the same time they also refused to support the plans.

The £4.5m of car parks revenue taken annually from the local economies of the city and the market towns disappears into county council coffers and is untraceable. Government rules and the county’s own policies are each clear that car parking revenue must be spent on transport-related services or projects. But repeated questioning from It’s Our County councillors and from members of the public has failed to identify what services are supported by this money, or that these services satisfy the transport-related legal requirements.

“The council’s position on this is surely untenable” said Cllr Liz Harvey, who had proposed the amendment. What is this money being spent on, and how does it benefit the communities delivering it? Large parish councils are under pressure to take on county services; or worse, to watch services being cut by the county without even the option to deliver them locally. It’s outrageous that the county can’t be clear on how the car park income is spent.”

Cllr Marcelle Lloyd-Hayes commented: “Since residents don’t know where this money is spent, let’s give the car parks to the parishes instead: and let the county say how it proposes to spend the money each year. It’s a simple matter of accountability.”

Cllr Alan Seldon stated: “We’ve already done this in Bromyard. Last year Bromyard Town Council took over a charging car park from Herefordshire Council alongside the cost of running Bromyard’s public toilets: so the principle works. Let’s get on with it in the other market towns and the city. It would be unfair not to offer similar arrangements to everyone.”

Group leader Cllr Anthony Powers said: “When the larger parishes have to take on services without an income-generating asset to contribute towards their delivery costs – especially when residents from outside the parish use and enjoy those services too – it’s wrong to expect city and market towns residents to pay the whole cost through their parish precept. We will press to get these car parks back into local ownership, and to have a business-like conversation with Herefordshire Council about where the parking income gets spent.”

ENDS

Contacts: Cllr Liz Harvey – 07909 753259   Cllr Anthony Powers – 07710 943313

Cllr Alan Seldon – 07766 662272

Notes for Editors: Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (as amended by the Traffic Management Act 2004) requires local authorities to “keep an account of their income and expenditure in respect of designated parking places” and that any surplus income ,where there is no need to provide further off-street parking, be spent on (or carried forward to be spent on):

  1. “meeting costs incurred in the provision or operation of public passenger transport services”
  2. “the purposes of a highway or road improvement project in the local authority’s area”
  3. “the purposes of environmental improvement”. [Includes “the reduction of environmental pollution in the local authority’s area, improving or maintaining the appearance or amenity of a road, land in the vicinity of a road, or open land or water to which the general public has access.”

Muddled and murky: when is a repayment not a repayment? Herefordshire Council doesn’t seem too sure.

Muddled and murky: when is a repayment not a repayment? Herefordshire Council doesn’t seem too sure.

In August 2017 the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership asked Herefordshire Council to pay the LEP back almost £1.7 million from funding allocated to the council’s South Wye Transport Package for work on the business case for the Hereford Southern Link Road. This now appears in the latest financial report on the council’s Corporate Performance to Cabinet this week as a ‘”re-profiling”: corrected, during the meeting, from a “repayment” as it was worded in the agenda papers.

Government rules require that unspent monies from grants to LEPs are returned centrally at the end of the financial year or the grant fund period. The request from the Marches LEP for their partners – in this case Herefordshire – to submit advance invoices for work not done, and the subsequent request for repayment, show that the LEP has tried to hide from government the actual rate of spend or progress on Growth Deal funding programmes.

“Herefordshire Council leader Tony Johnson’s play with words in the Cabinet meeting yesterday – was this £1.7m a loan, a re-profiled payment, or perhaps a premature invoice for work not yet done? – goes to show the muddled and murky manner in which the Council’s capital programmes are presented. Let’s not dignify that with the term ‘managed’”, said Cllr Liz Harvey.

“We had been led to understand that this £1.7m was a loan to the council. But officers stated there was no loan, so there was no repayment due. It looks like yet another matter for the council’s auditors to investigate”, added Cllr Anthony Powers who raised the issue at Cabinet.

ENDS

Contacts: Cllr Liz Harvey 07909 753259   Cllr Anthony Powers 07710 943313

It’s Our County supports Ellie Chowns in council by-election

It’s Our County supports Ellie Chowns in council by-election.

It’s Our County supports Ellie Chowns in council by-election

It’s Our County, Herefordshire’s own independent party, is not standing a candidate in the Bishops Frome and Cradley by-election.

“IOC believes that Ellie Chowns is an impressive and very capable candidate, and we do not want to risk splitting the vote for Ellie by standing one of our own prospective candidates in the ward. For the same reason, IOC also didn’t stand a candidate against Peter Jinman in the recent by-election in Golden Valley South, which Peter won with a large majority,” said group leader Cllr Anthony Powers.

“It makes sense for the opposition parties on Herefordshire Council to work together in this way and we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to consensus politics to deliver the best outcomes for Herefordshire”, he added.

Cllr Felicity Norman, chairwoman of North Herefordshire Green party, said: “We warmly welcome IOC support for Ellie Chowns. This is in line with our view that like-minded campaigners need to work together whenever possible.”

ENDS

Contacts:        Anthony Powers (It’s Our County) 07710 943313

Felicity Norman (Green Party) 01568 780886

 

Note for Editors

Polling day for the Bishops Frome and Cradley election – called following the resignation of Conservative cabinet member and deputy council leader Cllr Patricia Morgan – is Thursday 23 November.

VOTE Matthew Bushkes for Kings Acre Ward

VOTE Matthew Bushkes for Kings Acre Ward

VOTE

Matthew Bushkes for Kings Acre Ward.

Matthew Bushkes

Its Our County Councillor Matthew Bushkes after a successful couple of years as City Councillor is  also standing for County Council in the Kings Acre Ward.

Matt has a proven track record in his ward and community helping the constituents that he represents and getting the job done.

Matt looks forward to your support on the 26th October 2017.

Download Matt’s Campaign Leaflet Here

Donate to Challenge the sale of the Council Smallholdings.

Judicial Review of Smallholding Sale – We have just 10 days to raise the £40,000 we need to challenge Herefordshire Council in the High Court and save our council owned farms. Click on the link below to pledge your support.

www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-herefordshire-council-farms/

Herefordshire Council has buried its own consultants’ advice to keep the council farms in public ownership and it’s taken an appeal to the Information Commissioner to uncover the truth.

These farms belong to us all and we should have greater access to them. We also believe they should remain as assets we can use in the future to support borrowing and investment.

We think farming should be open to everyone – not just the lucky landed few. These farms help ordinary local people to enter farming. If they are sold off we’ll never see them again!

Please help us to fund this challenge and ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ this post with your friends. Every penny counts and we’re very grateful anything you can give.

Liz Harvey Ledbury

2018 Boundary Review proposed constituency changes.

I write this comment on behalf of the It’s Our County political Party in Herefordshire – the main opposition councillor group on the unitary authority. I am the deputy leader of the party.

The proposals for the three constituencies including Herefordshire wards (Ludlow & Leominster, Malvern & Ledbury, Hereford& South Herefordshire) are unsatisfactory and are not robust.

Each constituency as proposed is close to the upper limit of electors to which the Commission has been working in this review. Planning permissions already granted and coming forward in the urban centres of each of the three constituencies (in Leominster, Hereford and Ledbury) take all three constituencies over the elector limit.

The total number of electors in Herefordshire wards is presently 133,036. By retaining two constituencies with boundaries remaining contiguous with the boundary of the county constituencies electoral numbers today would be ~66,520 which is 94.98% of the lower limit to which the Commission is working. By the time of the next planned general election in 2020 the elector numbers in these two constituencies will be comfortably within the Commission’s acceptable target range.

Geographically, Herefordshire is bordered to the south by the M50, to the west by Wales and to the east by the substantial physical feature of the Malvern Hills. The county has a strong local identity and this very much includes the coincident parliamentary constituencies.

The constituencies proposed in this review make no sense to our community culturally or historically. The county’s location on the border of Wales makes adjustments to the west problematic. Residents do not identify with the cross border areas proposed for Leominster & Ludlow and Ledbury & Malvern. The Leominster area is unfeasibly large – ranging from the outskirts of Hereford in the south to beyond the Long Mynd in the north. The Ledbury constituency is similarly etiolated running from Ross-on-Wye in the south to Stourport-on-Severn in the north, bifurcated for much of its length by the ridge of the Malvern Hills physically and psychologically separating the two county halves of the constituency and providing exactly the clear boundary delineation to which the Commission should be adhering.

The boundary Commission should think again about this constituency grouping and make what adjustments seem appropriate between the two existing constituencies in order to recognise the growth in residents which is already in train through the planning and development process. This will ensure that the constituencies have the ability to grow in elector numbers for some years to come while remaining within the target range set for this review.

Liz Harvey, Deputy IOC Leader. March 2017

Its Our County

IT’S OUR COUNTY PUTS DOWN ROOTS IN LEOMINSTER AND ROSS

IT’S OUR COUNTY PUTS DOWN ROOTS IN LEOMINSTER AND ROSS

It’s Our County candidate Jon Stannard pushed Conservatives and Independents into third and fourth place in yesterday’s Leominster South by-election. While in Ross West It’s Our County’s young campaigner, Jordan Creed, missed taking the seat by only 60 votes.
Having never before stood candidates in either town, from that zero base and from a standing start, Herefordshire’s local party showed that there’s county-wide support for our brand of Independent, Organised and Capable local politics.
The election for a county councillor in Leominster South, caused by the death before Christmas of long-standing and well-regarded independent Cllr Peter McCaull, should either have been an easy win for the Independents or an open goal for the Green Party for their existing town councillor, Trish Marsh.

“I’m proud of our achievement and am hugely grateful for the support and encouragement we received on the doorstep from residents in Leominster, Monkland and Ivington”, said candidate Jon Stannard. “Leominster has welcomed It’s Our County. People understand our message and share our vision for Herefordshire”, he added.

In Ross 24-year old politics graduate Jordan Creed also performed strongly in his first ever campaign. “It was disappointing not to win”, he said “but to get so close was very encouraging. The town council has been a Tory-LibDem battleground for too long and is very much a Conservative fiefdom at the county council level. Ross deserves better and I’m already looking forward to the next by-election campaign.

Its Our County

Leominster South and Ross-On-Wye Bi-Elections

Leominster South and Ross-On-Wye Bi-Elections

Disappointed but chuffed at the same time; two good results for IOC last night in a County Council ward (Leominster South) we have never stood in and a Town Council we have never put any candidate up for (Ross on Wye West).

Jon Stannard came second to the Greens in Leominster South, beating the Conservatives into 3rd and the Independents (who held the ward for years) into 4th. Lib Dems last.

Jordan Creed came third in Ross on Wye West but in a close result took just under a third of the vote (28.86%).

Exceptionally proud of our candidates and extremely grateful to those of you who decided it was time for local elections to be fought by a local party. We cannot thank you enough for your faith. We hope we can continue to count on your support on the way to full County Council elections in 2019.

Well done Julian Utting of the Lib Dems in Ross and Trish Marsh in Leominster South. Looking forward to working with Trish and her two colleagues on the opposition benches to continue to fight to keep the Conservatives in check until we get adminstration change. 11 It’s Our County (IOC) Cllrs, 3 Greens and some sensible Independents all considered; time is running out for the Tories.

Ross-on-Wye West Election 23rd March

 

IOC Flyer Jordan Creed (Draft)

24 year old Jordan Creed, a bus campaigner from Ross-on-Wye, is our candidate for the Ross West Town Council by election. Ross is a town everyone assumes is Conservative, hence Jesse Norman MP will turn up for the opening of a packet of crisps here (quicker than a seagull) but Jordan is hopefully going to prove there is more to the town than meets the eye and it’s not all painted blue and faded yellow; and we are proud to try our best to represent those crying out for choice and change in this great little town on the hill. Ross is notable for a few things and the most notable of those (apart from Jacqueline’s Nite Spot, now sadly closed) is John Kyrle, the famous philanthropist who did so much for the town and townspeople. “He was generous to the poor and spent all he had in good works”. Not unlike our Conservative Cllrs then…urmm, mnnnn.

Jordan is keen to listen and to learn, please give him  chance to prove he can a difference.

Leominster South Election 23rd March

IOC Flyer Jon Stannard (draft 1)

IOC Flyer Jon Stannard (draft 1)

Our superb candidate for the vacant ward of Leominster South, following the sad death of Cllr Peter McCaull, is Jon Stannard, a self employed heating engineer and former IOC Executive member. It’s new ground for IOC, we have never stood in Leominster but it’s time to spread our wings and give the people of our largest town more choice. Interesting times ahead, help us to make the changes our county so desperately needs.