Don't bury our beautiful parks in rubbish!

It’s easy to take Cheltenham’s parks and gardens for granted, but the last few months have shown again just how valuable they are.

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Covid-19 response - it’s time to seize the moment on walking and cycling

If you carry on doing things like you’ve always done them and expect a different outcome, then you’re fooling yourself.

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The High Street gradually coming back to life

Many more shops have now reopened and it is good to see that the High Street is gradually coming back to life.

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Update from the Cheltenham Liberal Democrats regarding the use of racist words by councillor Dennis Parsons

The Liberal Democrat Group on Cheltenham Borough Council have voted to suspend the group membership of Dennis Parsons, effective immediately.

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Statement by the Cheltenham Liberal Democrats regarding the use of racist words by councillor Dennis Parsons

During a debate on racial bias in an online Cheltenham Borough Council meeting on the 15th of June, Lib Dem councillor for Pittville - Dennis Parsons, repeatedly used a racist word when recalling an anecdote from his childhood.

The use of that word and related statements were completely unacceptable, and I immediately received a number of complaints from fellow Lib Dem councillors. I spoke to Dennis on Monday evening and discussed the incident in detail. Dennis has subsequently issued an apology.

While I accept that Dennis did not set out to cause offence, that in itself is not enough to excuse the use of such language, and as Liberal Democrats we expect our members and councillors to behave with the utmost sensitivity to racial and cultural issues.

When institutional and unconscious bias is a daily reality for the black community, along with the appalling incidents of overt racism and violence that continue to blight society on both sides of the Atlantic, we all have a duty to choose our words with care and sensitivity at all
times.

Senior figures within the local Party have requested that Dennis consider his position and resign. He has not chosen to follow that path, and as a result complaints procedures have been initiated locally within the Cheltenham Liberal Democrat party and council group, and in parallel, a separate complaint has also been lodged with the national party HQ.

I will be working closely with relevant bodies to ensure that these complaints are dealt with fairly and as a matter of urgency.

Nick Baird

Chair, Cheltenham Liberal Democrats


‘Black Lives Matter’ isn't a statement of the obvious

The death of George Floyd happened thousands of miles away in Minneapolis but has had a big impact here in and in many places round the world.

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Local Lib Dems win award for helping people amidst coronavirus crisis

The Liberal Democrats have announced that local councillors Peter Jeffries and Suzanne Williams have been added to the Liberal Democrat Community Champions Hall of Fame for their work to help some of the most vulnerable in Cheltenham during the coronavirus crisis

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We aren’t taking the government’s Covid grant…but are you eligible for help?

We have just made a big decision.  Cheltenham Liberal Democrats were eligible for a grant as part of the Conservative government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.  

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Dominic Cummings & The Coronavirus Lockdown - Max Wilkinson's letter to Alex Chalk MP

In response to the news that Dominic Cummings, advisor to the Prime Minister, took a series of journeys from London to the North of England while ill during the Coronavirus lockdown concerns have been raised by many in Cheltenham that he may have defied the Government guidance that keeps us all safe - damaging public trust in the scheme. As Conservative MPs responded to the news, Max Wilkinson, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Cheltenham and Oakley Ward borough councillor, reached out to our local Conservative MP Alex Chalk for a response. We will share it when it comes in.

 

Max's letter, in full, is reproduced below:

 

Dear Alex

I hope this email finds you well and that your family is doing OK during the lockdown.

It’s a few days since the news broke about Dominic Cummings and his trip to Durham, while he was suffering suspected Coronavirus.

Many opinions about this have been expressed and I cannot add much to what has already been said.

While some have said they are sympathetic, many more have expressed anger at what appears to be actions that risk the national effort against Coronavirus, without believable mitigating factors. I tend to take a generous view of the actions of those under stress and pressure. We all know that things can sometimes go awry – we are all human. Furthermore, many people may have moved around under lockdown with good reason, whether that may be a relationship breakdown, moving house or the need to get to a safe place. Nobody would seek to deny those people their rights to do those things, in line with the rules. However, it seems that Dominic Cummings made at least one unnecessary trip, despite his position as a senior advisor to the Prime Minister. People rightly expect that those in government who set the rules should also follow those rules.

I would be interested to know whether you support the actions of Dominic Cummings and whether you feel it is appropriate for him to remain in his role as advisor to the Prime Minister. In line with the views of many local people, I’m not interested in an apology from Mr Cummings, nor am I interested in further explanations of his actions.

His lack of apology and his explanations are all on the record for people to judge. I’m interested in whether you support the principle that those who set the rules, including Mr Cummings, should follow them. Do you support his continuing employment by the government of our country?

Many Conservative MPs have said they think Mr Cummings should resign and one Minister has already resigned in protest.

As well as being a member of the government, you are our local MP. Cheltenham people deserve to know what you think.

We await your response.

Yours sincerely

 

Cllr Max Wilkinson

Oakley ward
Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham


Mental Health Awareness Week in the Coronavirus era

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is kindness. One of the real positives among all the bad news has been that there have been so many acts of individual kindness and so many people trying to help. Can we capture that and keep it going for the future? I very much hope so.

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