Elections represent a snapshot of public opinion. Last week, the people of Cheltenham had their say at the Borough Council elections. Cheltenham Liberal Democrats received an emphatic endorsement.
The Liberal Democrat group now has a majority on the council as big as we did before the election. Across the borough we received 55 per cent of the vote. In Cheltenham parliamentary constituency wards we received 57 per cent, compared to 28 per cent for the Conservatives. Park, Lansdown and Pittville all returned Lib Dems just 12 months after electing Conservatives.
I do not write this in a triumphalist tone, but as a statement of the fact that voters here feel they are being taken for granted by Boris Johnson’s government.
For Chris Mason, the hardworking Lansdown councillor and a decent person who brought much to the council, that meant defeat last week. We wish him well for the future.
Cheltenham has endorsed the Liberal Democrats. Now we will get on with delivering our manifesto.
- This means we’ll continue to drive forward the Golden Valley development, helping our cyber security sector thrive.
- It means we will continue our £180million investment in new affordable homes, including more eco-friendly carbon neutral council houses.
- We’ll strive to put into practice our Climate Emergency Action Plan, featuring new planning rules, the £10million Cheltenham Green Deal and so much more besides.
- As the cost-of-living crisis hits home, the No Child Left Behind scheme will continue to help young people in need.
- And the town’s economic recovery from the pandemic will be at the forefront of what we do.
This work will not come without significant challenges.
- The future of the High Street is one of them, including working with the County Council and property owners to solve issues with maintenance and long-term empty buildings.
- Another challenge is how local areas like ours are supported by the government. Levelling-up deals handed down in piecemeal fashion can help specific projects, but long-term financial security with secure flows of income would help so much more.
Whatever the scale of these challenges, local people can rest assured we are determined to deliver.
- Councillor Rowena Hay, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council