Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, visited Cheltenham today as part of his national listening tour.
The first stop on his whistle-stop tour of Cheltenham was a visit to Springbank community food bank, helping the incredible team of volunteers alongside Cllr Suzanne Williams distributing food parcels to those in need in the local area. Ed spoke to one of the local residents supported by the scheme about how she is handling life in our strange new COVID world, and how she is coping as a carer for her mother at a time where social care faces more challenges than ever before.
Next, a trip to local independent restaurant Bar and Wok with Max Wilkinson to meet representatives from TURF Cheltenham - a group set up by local hospitality business owners to promote independent businesses in Cheltenham and work together to tackle shared challenges.
Independent hospitality businesses have been hit hard by the new lockdown restrictions. We all need to do everything we can to keep people safe, and hospitality venues have gone the extra mile in making their venues COVID-secure. However, one issue facing these businesses sticks out like a sore thumb. the 10 pm curfew.
Scenes of pub-goers getting kicked out onto the streets and on to public transport in large groups at 10 pm have shown that the curfew is bad for public health and bad for business. With Ministers failing to publish any evidence that the 10 pm curfew works, people are right to raise questions when it appears to be undermining other public health measures and is putting their jobs on the line.
Our Lib Dem spokesperson for Cheltenham has written to Alex Chalk, calling for him to vote against the curfew and work with government ministers to find a better solution to reducing the risks of transmission in hospitality settings. The Government must provide tailored support for the industries impacted by the COVID restrictions to save jobs and businesses in Cheltenham.
It wouldn't be a Lib Dem visit without some door knocking - so local activist and council candidate Alisha Lewis took Ed to meet some residents in St Paul's ward. From health and social care to education and unemployment, Ed spoke with residents about the work Liberal Democrats in Parliament are doing to tackle the issues they're facing in their daily lives.
Alisha and Ed also discussed the work Lib Dem run Cheltenham Borough Council is doing to support residents, from COVID impact support to pavement politics like potholes and street cleaning. It is clear that the Conservative government is letting down so many residents in the area, with residents who have reached out to local MP Alex Chalk for support finding an unsympathetic ear.
Ed's listening tour is all about listening to you and understanding the different challenges communities across the country are facing as we lead the fight for a fairer country.
We want you to be part of that fight.
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