The Green Party have launched their Mendip District campaign for the Somerset County Council Election, with more seats contested than ever before – and candidates personally endorsed by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP.
The Green Party’s leader said: “Voting Green gives you the chance to elect councillors who will fight your corner, and stand up for your interests. We know that Greens can win in Frome and in Glastonbury & Street – and that by doing so and working with other parties we can make a huge difference. So if you want councillors to work tirelessly for your community please vote Green on 4th May.”
Green Party spokesperson, Mendip District Councillor Shane Collins said “Our candidates provide an opportunity for voters to oppose the cuts, defend services, protect green spaces, and our environment. Through working with our three Mendip District Council Councillors and our many Parish and Town Councillors, the Green Party can ensure Mendip’s towns remain vibrant.”
On 20th April, there will be a free public meeting at the Cheese And Grain, Frome, where Independents for Frome Town Councillors Peter Macfadyen, Mel Usher, and Jean Boulton will join the Green Party’s District Councillors Shane Collins, Des Harris, and Stina Falle, and the Green’s County candidates to discuss ‘How Frome can thrive as a green town in Somerset’.
In Glastonbury & Street, the Greens have selected hard-working Town Councillor and Mayor of Glastonbury Jon Cousins as their candidate, who said he was honoured to have been chosen, adding: “For years the Tories have taken their hold of Somerset for granted. But with the County Council £22million in debt, and Children’s Services in ‘special measures’ following the 2013 and 2015 Ofsted inspections – judging the overall effectiveness of arrangements for the protection of children ‘inadequate’ – we need to send a message that their complacency is not good enough. The Greens can win in Glastonbury & Street. We are a voice for real change, and represent real opposition to the disastrous Tory cuts in Somerset.”
The Greens are standing nine candidates across the Mendip District, including: Jon Cousins in Glastonbury & Street, John Clarke, Martin Dimery, and Pepita Collins in Frome, Peter Harlow in Shepton Mallet, David Hine in Mendip Hills, Paul Crummay in Wells, Jono Ekin in Mendip Central & East, and Theo Simon in Mendip South.
The election takes place on Thursday 4th May, and polling stations will be open from 7 am to 10 pm.
The improvement of traffic conditions on the A361 has been a priority for the Greens in Glastonbury, including sending out a Speedwatch team to check traffic speeds and engaging the services of Campaign to Protect Rural England in an HGV survey, a process which is on-going.
Green Councillor Lindsay McDougall – who has been closely involved with the campaign which calls on Somerset County Council Highways Department to reclassify the A361 through Glastonbury, imposing a maximum weight limit of 7.5T, and removing its freight route designation – said recently, “We are campaigning for a zebra-crossing in Chilkwell Street and received a site visit from Somerset County Highways… without a positive result, therefore, Glastonbury Town Council attempted to go to the Ombudsman on this matter. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman have turned down the request, as they don’t deal with councils…”
Cllr. MacDougall confirmed that testing for NO2 (Nitrogen dioxide gas) is going ahead in Chilkwell Street: “The Town Council is now ordering five £10 NO2 kits from cleanairuk.org to test the air quality along the road.”
“Mendip have tested air quality at the Rural Life Museum roundabout at the top of Bere Lane, but the air quality is potentially worse where the buildings are close to the road on both sides and provide a ‘canyon-like’ effect – where the fumes cannot disperse so readily. This is a recognised environmental effect on roads, and that’s why we feel Glastonbury Town Council should conduct our own tests.”
“Mendip currently claim the air quality is within legal limits, which is questionable, particularly in these places – at the Rifleman’s pub and then around where the new houses were built right next to the road!”
In the meantime, Glastonbury’s Green Councillors have been informed that – in the search for long-term solution to the congestion on the A361 – the Department of Transport are currently in discussions about undertaking a feasibility study for an up-grade of the road system across mid-Somerset!
Watch this space!
When all the High Street Banks deserted Glastonbury, our amazing community got organised and campaigned against the closures; calling for one branch to remain – a ‘Last Bank Standing’.
That call, and all the hard work that went into the flash mobs, petitions, publicity, and protests has been answered.
The Nationwide Building Society moved one step closer to opening their branch this week when Phil Goodridge-Reynolds, the new Nationwide branch manager, helped Glastonbury Mayor Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor Emma George open the first current accounts in the run up to the branch opening.
Green Mayor, Jon Cousins said, “As Mayor of Glastonbury, I am absolutely delighted to join Deputy Mayor Emma George in opening the founding current accounts with Nationwide’s new Glastonbury branch.”
The Nationwide recently posted: “When the people of Glastonbury asked for a bank, it was a building society that answered and we’re looking forward to opening our new branch in the summer.”
“Our new Glastonbury Nationwide will be located at 3 High Street, and work has now begun on designing your branch, which is expected to open by this summer.”
Leading the new Grade II listed Glastonbury branch is Phil Goodridge-Reynolds, branch manager and his newly recruited Customer Representatives; Rachael Butt, Adam Leitch and Sonia Love, who are now ready to accept new customers.
If you’d like to open a current account, you can do so online HERE
You can also book an appointment in Glastonbury Town Hall.
Just call 0800 554 1590 (Monday – Friday 9.30 am – 5 pm, or Saturday 9 am – 3 pm).
Nationwide are also offering Glastonbury residents the chance to share £200 when they recommend one of Nationwide’s current accounts to a friend! For more information click HERE
Can there be any residents who were not shocked and dismayed when Somerset County Council’s £22m overspend was revealed in September 2016? This disgraceful situation is compounded by opposition County Councillors saying the County could even declare itself bankrupt by the end of the financial year in April 2017!
The state of the County Council’s (in)capacity to manage its affairs is surely reflected in the level of service and protection it provides to families and children – with Children’s Services in ‘special measures’ following the 2013 and 2015 Ofsted inspections judging the overall effectiveness of arrangements for the protection of children “inadequate”.
If this were not enough, for many of us, there are daily reminders of the cuts implemented by Somerset in their attempt to claw back on budgets; perhaps the most immediate being the impact of the recent cuts and changes to the County’s bus services… and, what a shambles that has been!
Shouldn’t we be embarrassed to watch the current administration – seemingly incapable of keeping to their decisions; with one eye on the County Council elections in May – scrabbling around to find emergency funding to help cover the costs of the 67 service following the outcry from residents of Wookey Hole, Wells, and Burnham-On-Sea when the service was initially cut?
The County Council says it spends around £1.6m subsidising bus services across the county, but the huge pressure on all its budgets means it cannot afford to continue to fully support the services we need. Here in Street and Glastonbury, with so many of us reliant on the bus service, we’ve witnessed upheaval and several changes over the past year to the 29, 54, (3)75 and the (3)77 – with the withdrawal of the 55, following the collapse of WebberBus.
Glastonbury’s Mayor, and frequent bus user, Cllr. Jon Cousins recently commented: “Due to recent cuts the bus service on Sundays and Bank Holidays is limited or non-existent on some routes. There’s no bus service to and from Taunton at any time on Sundays! Evening services have also been reduced. In addition, it seems as though Wells Bus Station has now become the default destination if travelling to Street or Glastonbury from Bristol, Bath, or Shepton Mallet.”
Adding: “It sometimes feels that I’m the only Councillor in Somerset who ever catches the bus. Indeed, I’ve never seen a fellow Councillor on any the services I’ve used in the last 15 years… The fact that Councillors don’t use public transport must certainly account for the reason why there’s no direct bus service from Glastonbury to our nearest train station at Castle Cary!”
“One thing is for sure, if those Councillors responsible for determining the bus subsidies actually had to rely on public transport to travel around, then we’d have a best bus service in the UK!”
The loss of bus services affects access to a whole range of other services. According to a recently published report*, 51% of households in smaller rural areas do not have access to a regular bus service – and Government cuts are forcing councils like Somerset to slash spending on services by more than £27m, which impacts hardest on the young, elderly, and disabled people.
Glastonbury and Street Green Party understand that the bus service is absolutely vital for many people, and we believe it is time for a change. Be it simple improvements, such as clear, easy to understand, up-to-date information on local services being available at all bus stops or common sense approaches, for example – more bus stops with seating and shelter, or making it policy that local transport users must be fully involved in decisions on service levels. And surely, it should be expected that there would be provision of regular bus service to most villages and towns from their nearest station…
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If you would like to see a real change on Somerset County Council, then vote for the Green Party candidate in the County Council elections on Thursday, 4th May 2017.
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* Rural England Report: ‘State Of Rural Services’ [17th January 2017].
Glastonbury’s Green Mayor, Jon Cousins, calls for support of the ‘Mayors for Peace’ petition to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020:
“As a member of the international movement Mayors for Peace, I invite you to join me in signing the online petition seeking the total abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020, with a nuclear weapons convention – requesting the leaders of all nations states, and urging the United Nations to exercise strong leadership in the following:
To ensure that no city will ever again be destroyed by a nuclear weapon,
● Start Negotiations Now! on a nuclear weapons convention!
● Do not allow …war and do not target any city or civilian!
Cities Are Not Targets!”
The petition can be found HERE.
Mayors for Peace is an international organization of cities dedicated to the promotion of peace that was established in 1982 at the initiative of then Mayor of Hiroshima Takeshi Araki, in response to the deaths of around 140,000 people due to the atomic bombing of the city on 6th August 1945.
Mayor of Glastonbury, Green Councillor Jon Cousins writes: On Wednesday 23rd November, I met with Chief Inspector Mark Edgington – Local Policing Commander for the Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s East Somerset Division – at Glastonbury Town Hall.
As with meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens in October, the background to meeting with the Chief Inspector has been my attempt to help address the increasing anti-social behaviour that Glastonbury’s community has been suffering – the intimidation, drunkenness, racial and verbal abuse, and open drug dealing that so many members of our community have raised with me – a situation which has escalated with an attempted murder on 14th September, followed by a second serious assault on 28th October – both incidents were stabbings; both occurred in broad daylight; both happening within yards of one of our schools…
IMPACT OF POLICE FUNDING CUTS:
The other background factor, which Sue Mountstevens had been very candid about, is the impact of the austerity funding cuts imposed by central government on the Police service as a whole, and the fact that Avon and Somerset has been intentionally ‘dampened’ – provided with less resources than other constabularies, resulting in £14 million ‘missing’ from the budget; which means 350 fewer officers, PCSOs and staff than the average!
Mark Edgington came to the Town Hall with Inspector Mark Nicholson of Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Police Team, and they met with me and the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Emma George to explore the proposed options to help the situation in Glastonbury – resulting from my meeting with the PCC.
1) The deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street.
The Chief Inspector reiterating the message of the PCC – the Force has undergone major efficiency savings as a result of ‘Austerity’, and – in addition – will need to make further savings of £5½million… all of which has had, and will have, an understandable impact on resources and operations.
I observed that the biggest response I’ve received from Glastonbury residents was their concern around the lack of a visible police presence – and the feeling that this lack has contributed directly to the rise in the incidents and problems we are facing as a community.
This was something highlighted during my consultation in September, and, as a result, Cllr George and I had previously discussed the deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street with Inspector Nicholson and our local Police Team’s Sargent Slade.
Mark Edgington confirmed that under the Force’s new ‘Police & Crime Plan’ (2016-2020), Neighbourhood Policing was a priority; “meaning visibility on the streets.”
2) The developing a Street Pastor team.
We discussed the potential of a Street Pastor team to work as part of a multi-agency approach to addressing the anti-social behaviour. Mark Edgington was fully behind this initiative, and we agreed that this would be a useful option for the newly convened Glastonbury Multi-Agency Meeting to develop.
Mark Edgington endorsed the PCC’s assertion that people who are worried about reporting crimes and incidents because they fear reprisals should use this anonymous, independent service – which is not part of the police.
Find out more about Crimestoppers HERE.
4) Volunteers for Special Constables.
Mark Edgington felt that there was merit in promoting the Special Constabulary in Glastonbury; enabling people who felt strongly about the situation to volunteer for the Force. I mentioned that Cllr George and I would be meeting with the Special Chief Inspector Roger Ball and Special Constabulary Co-ordinator Katie Hancock later that day.
Find out more about volunteering for the Special Constabulary HERE.
5) The ‘Precept’ funding a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).
The final option we discussed was the potential for Glastonbury to fund an additional Police Community Support Officer for the town through the Parish Precept (the amount of the Council Tax that goes to Town and Parish Councils).
This is something I’ve encouraged residents to comment on – through the Central Somerset Gazette and via social media. Feedback has been largely positive, but with the specific condition that a PCSO paid for by Glastonbury would be on duty only in Glastonbury; providing a visible presence in the town – not constantly being called away to other areas.
Mark Edgington and Mark Nicholson confirmed that the Town Council could fund a dedicated Glastonbury PCSO – recalled that PCSO Mel Rowlands was originally funded as a Glastonbury specific support officer.
They confirmed that:
“Although a PCSO does not have the power of arrest, they play a vital role, being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community – feeding intelligence to the Neighbourhood Team’s Police Officers.”
“PCSOs can deal with vulnerable people and – with regard to the new Public Space Protection Orders – they have the power to issue dispersal notices and warnings.”
“A key element of the PCSO role is to problem solve with partners as well as responding to calls for service. This is important as being a good problem solver means that our officers treat the cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. If a Glastonbury ‘One Team’ emerges from the current Multi-Agency Meetings, a new PCSO, paid for by Glastonbury, could undertake a co-ordinating role, helping to support the town’s areas of multiple deprivation.”
Several Town Councillors have wondered if a PCSO could assist with parking enforcement. Mark Nicholson confirmed that a PCSO can issue parking tickets to a car parked on a double yellow line if it is accompanied by an obstruction. The inspector went on to say, “PCSOs can issue tickets on behalf of other agencies (such as ‘NSL’) and I have an enquiry with them to see if that could be done for the Glastonbury PCSO.”
The Chief Inspector told us that “in terms of where a Glastonbury funded PCSO would start and finish their duty – what police station they book on and collect their equipment – I am unable to say with any certainty, but for the time being they would start at Street.” (N.B. Glastonbury Town Council may be able to provide an alternative ‘start and finish’ location for the new PCSO in Glastonbury).
Whilst Chief Inspector said that, in exceptional circumstances – “if there was a danger to life and limb and no other officer was available” – he would need to call away a PCSO to another area, he guaranteed that:
At the Town Council’s Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting on 29th November 2016, it was established that a Glastonbury funded Police Community Support Officer would add £11 to the Council Tax per band ‘D’ dwelling in Glastonbury – less than £1 per month.
Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury
Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
Following the successful housing of two Syrian families in Frome earlier this year as part of the ‘Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme’, Mendip District Council recently sought to establish the viability of housing a couple of families in Glastonbury or Street.
A Steering Group was formed some weeks ago comprising members of the community from Glastonbury and Street along with Councillors from both Councils. As co-ordinator of the Steering Group, Glastonbury’s Green Councillor and Deputy Mayor Emma George is in the process of organising a core group of volunteers from the community who’d be prepared to offer tangible support to the families once they are here.
The type of voluntary support needed could involve anything from help with getting to and from hospital and doctor’s appointments to English language coaching – and everything in between – which will help the refugees acclimatise to life in the UK.
The Steering Group is looking for privately rented accommodation suitable for housing a family; preferably not in too isolated a location. Full support will be given to potential landlords/ladies both in advance and during the process.
Speaking about the situation to the local press, Cllr. George reported, “I am happy to say that Glastonbury Town Council is also fully supportive of the initiative. As you’d expect, initially, there will be a lot of assistance from the relevant statutory agencies – but the overall aim is to encourage the refugee families towards and independent life. First, however, the search is on for suitable properties in which to house the families.”
“I am pleased to announce that we have located a potentially suitable property in Glastonbury and are keen to find another one, also in Glastonbury, so the two families are able to support each other closely from within the same community.”
Anyone who thinks they may know of such a property or landlord/lady, would like more information, or who is interested in volunteering as part of the re-housng group can contact Cllr. Emma George, on email@example.com or via Glastonbury Town Council Office on 01458 831769.
The Association of Green Councillors (AGC) has highlighted Glastonbury & Street Green Party’s members in their national review of ‘Green Councillor Achievements – Changing the way councils think 2014-2016’
Glastonbury’s Green Councillors feature at the top of the list of ‘Firsts’ – “celebrating Green solutions are cheaper and better for people”.
Featuring the Green led Town Council’s ban of chemical herbicides – proposed by Cllr Alyson Black in June 2015 – and the Council’s subsequent adoption of non-toxic weed control, the AGC website states: “Glastonbury Greens managed to implement what is thought to be the country’s first ban on chemical herbicides (for use on council owned areas). They introduced Foamstream, an eco-friendly herbicide as a replacement.”
To find out more please visit the AGC website HERE.
Glastonbury’s Green Mayor, Cllr. Jon Cousins announces: “The Nationwide Building Society is opening a new branch in Glastonbury!”
Following our community’s high profile Last Bank Standing Campaign earlier this year, the Nationwide Building Society has spent the last three months exploring the viability of opening a new branch in the town – consulting with various stakeholders, holding an on-line poll, and taking part in the Neighbourhood Plan consultation event on 14th and 15th October in the Town Hall.
On 18th November, the Nationwide issued the following statement:
“Thank you to the whole Glastonbury community and those who have joined in showing their support for us coming to the town. We’re delighted to announce that Nationwide Building Society will be opening a branch in the heart of Glastonbury next summer with the location to be agreed early next year.
“We’ll work closely with the local community to make sure your branch understands the services and facilities that you need. Above all, we want to provide a branch that works for the community and that will lead to local people actively using the service and opening accounts.
“There will be lots of opportunity for the town to influence and help shape the branch over the coming months and you’ll be instrumental in its future and success.”
To find out more – visit the Nationwide’s website HERE.