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  • Ed Davey
    Article: Oct 21, 2020
    By Andrew Cooley

    People across the country have endured terrible hardships over the past six months. They've lost loved ones, lost livelihoods and been cut off from friends and family.

    We have made huge sacrifices and played by the Government's rules - we deserve to have confidence that these rules will work.

    Instead, our efforts are being squandered by the incompetence of Boris Johnson. His Test and Trace system is not fit for purpose, and scientific advice is being ignored.

    It is now clear the Government ignored calls from experts for a 'circuit break' short national lockdown. We urge them to reconsider. No one wants to see businesses close again but if this gives time to fix the Test, Trace and Isolate system, it could be a vital step to getting the virus back under control and keeping it under control.

    Alongside a circuit break, the Liberal Democrats demand Government take the following steps in order to get a grip on this crisis:

  • A map search for planning
    Article: Oct 19, 2020
    By Vilnis Vesma

    A resident of Clifford's Mesne raised an interesting question with her town councillor. She pointed out that when the District Council issues information about planning applications, the accompanying maps don't show neighbouring properties where consent has been granted but the development has not yet started. This is a good question because an application needs to be considered in the light of what else is going to happen nearby, not just what's there at the moment.

  • Recording of SOSC meeting on Five Acres
    Article: Oct 8, 2020
    By Vilnis Vesma

    On 24 September the District Council's Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which I chair, met to discuss the redevelopment of the former college site at Five Acres in Coleford. This has stood empty for many years. An ambitious scheme to develop a leisure and cultural 'destination' facility was proposed by the relevant parish council. Originally conceived to cost in the region of £23 million, the project has since passed to the District Council where it has been pursued by successive administrations. The story has an extra twist: the built-up part of the site has been offered to the District Council for £1, although there are conditions attached and owning it would entail holding costs of over £170,000 a year in business rates and site security.

  • Food
    Article: Sep 11, 2020
    By Cllr Vilnis Vesma

    Contact numbers for food banks around the Forest of Dean are as follows by postcode. Please remember these numbers belong to volunteers, who ask that you only call during times shown:

    • GL14: 07553 611294 (9:30-11:30 Fri)
    • GL15: 07391 001217 (2-4 Weds)
    • GL16: 07387 502240 (2-4 Mon)
    • GL17: 07553 611294 (9:30-11:30 Fri)
    • GL18: 01531 821641
  • Portrait of Vilnis Vesma against brick wall
    Page: Aug 26, 2020

    Vilnis is a councillor on the Forest of Dean District Council, one of three representing the Newent and Taynton ward. He was elected chair of the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee in 2020.

    He is a graduate chartered engineer who originally worked in the electricity supply industry but having later retrained in energy-saving techniques he has specialised for most of his career in helping large energy users cut their consumption. This includes two years on the staff of Gloucestershire County Council's Property Services Department where he led the energy management team, the job which brought him to Newent in 1985. Newent Library was built with low-energy design features thanks to his collaboration with the architect. He has settled here, married his wife Kate, helped raise two now-grown-up daughters and renovated two homes: one in Culver Street, and his present home in Market Square (both of which included energy-saving features).