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  • Parking barriers
    Article: Jul 25, 2020
    By Cllr Vilnis Vesma

    Newent's bizarre experiment with reducing on-street parking as a way of boosting post-lockdown trade has come to an end, largely thanks to the efforts of our Independent fellow-councillor Julia Gooch. The idea had actually been to widen the footway to allow pedestrians space because some people think that even passing someone in the open air is risky. In fact footfall in the town is relatively light, and the shopkeepers were not consulted about what would help them: impeding short-term parking was not on their list.

  • Bank and post office
    Article: Jul 25, 2020
    By Cllr Vilnis Vesma

    Our campaigning against bank closures (top picture, Newent, 2018) was fruitless and I think we have to accept that closure of bank branches is an unstoppable trend; we cannot hope to campaign successfully ever on that issue. Like it or not, when market traders or your window cleaner accept cashless payments and you can spend a contactless 65p on a newspaper, when you can get cash from an ATM or with a transaction at the hardware shop, you realise that the age of the bank branch is past. Businesses like the cashless world too: less risk of theft, and no costs for depositing payments in their accounts.

  • Recording of SOSC meeting
    Article: Jul 24, 2020
    By Vilnis Vesma

    My first act on being elected chairman of the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee (SOSC) was to read up the relevant section of the Council's Constitution. Interestingly, it specifically encourages SOSC to involve the public in its deliberations, for example by inviting people to take part in its meetings and by using innovative methods of engaging with the public to canvass their views. So I'm calling on residents and businesses to let me know if they have any issues of general interest they think SOSC could address.

  • Portrait of Di Martin (Courtesy of Di Martin)
    Article: Jul 23, 2020
    By Cllr Vilnis Vesma

    I'd like to express my support for Labour councillor Di Martin who has resigned her Cabinet position at the Forest of Dean District Council in the wake of a disgraceful campaign against her for attending the Black Lives Matter event in Lydney on 20 June. People should be at liberty to express their support for causes they believe in but Di (pictured) came under attack not just on social media but from conservative councillors who shamelessly used the incident as an opportunity to try and destabilise the Cabinet. Our tory MP inflamed the situation by claiming (wrongly) that the event she attended was illegal.

  • Wendy Chamberlain MP (Wendy Chamberlain)
    Article: Jul 1, 2020
    By Andrew Cooley

    In June, the Liberal Democrat Constitutional Spokesperson, Wendy Chamberlain MP, called an adjournment debate on PR, where she demolished the arguments for First Past the Post.

    This was the first time since 2016 that the need for equal votes was debated in the House of Commons, and it was long overdue.