Lib Dems Back Hospitality Industry in North Somerset

North Somerset Liberal Democrats have pushed for additional funding to the district’s pubs, restaurants and cafes which have all been hit by curtailed trading opportunities due to the coronavirus restrictions in place. This funding boost will go beyond the government's hospitality funding to assist hospitality traders who may otherwise struggle to remain afloat.

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£473,750 Awarded to Improve Walking and Cycling in North Somerset

North Somerset towns have been awarded an additional £473,750 from Central Government to introduce a wave of permanent walking and cycling routes that give additional choice to local residents looking to use active travel in a socially distanced environment. 

The Councill's bid to the government follows a raft of cycling investment and improvement in cycling, long-term walking and cycling infrastructure plans, and free bike loans. 

Cycling rates skyrocketed this summer as people dusted off their old bikes and sales of cycles boomed during lockdown and beyond. Locally in North Somerset, there was a 29 per cent increase in people using local cycle paths compared to last summer.

North Somerset was among the only Local Authorities in the country to be given more money than they asked for as a result of proactive engagement with local communities and the strength of local policymakers' ambition to encourage the healthy, safe, and thriving future of walking and cycle travel in the district.

The funding is part of a national £175m grant from the Department for Transport (DfT), which will see new safe routes for people to walk and cycle safely built rapidly in 2021.

The new permanent schemes, which will be completed next year, will include:

  • Improvements to Hill Road and The Beach in Clevedon with a one-way system to allow better pedestrian access and cycling
  • Creating a cycling corridor on Baker Street and Milton Road in Weston-super-Mare, introducing a 20mph limit, preventing rat-running of cars and offering better links from residential areas to the town centre
  • Introducing a segregated cycling route over Hildesheim Bridge to the town centre in Weston-super-Mare
  • Several school schemes that offer safe cycling and walking routes to school for children and parents
  • Establishing a quiet lanes network of cycle and pedestrian routes between Yatton, Clevedon and Nailsea, while maintaining essential and farm accesses.
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North Somerset Lib Dems Slam Tory Planning Power Grab

The Liberal Democrats have condemned the Conservative Government’s plans to reform the planning system, arguing that proposed changes will do nothing to alleviate the housing crisis in North Somerset.

The Liberal Democrats believe the Conservatives’ proposals will not help those who are stuck on waiting lists and express concern that zoning plans risk “leaving whole areas behind”. Instead, the Party is calling for “an urgent house building programme”, with proposals to build 100,000 social homes for rent every year.

A motion accepted at the Party’s Autumn Conference, making it official party policy, lays bare the risks of the Government’s proposals, which the Party argue amount to a Government “power grab” that will reduce investment in affordable housing urgently needed in our towns and villages.

North Somerset Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson, Cllr Robert Payne said  “People living locally are the people best placed to make sure planning decisions shape our communities for the better. But this Conservative Government’s planning reforms will strip away local people’s ability to shape those decisions and is a developer’s charter.

"With nine out of ten planning proposals approved nationwide, it's certainly not the planning system that is causing problems.

"Liberal Democrats here wholeheartedly object to these proposals, which do nothing to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing, undermine our climate commitments and put our local heritage at risk.”

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North Somerset Council Executive Changes

Councillor Don Davies, Leader of the Council, announced changes to North Somerset Council's senior political leadership at the most recent meeting of the Executive (21 October 2020).

Cllr Mike Solomon, independent member for Hutton and Locking, has been appointed as executive member for communities, tourism and leisure and takes up his role immediately: "I am delighted to be joining the Executive and leading the council's work in this important area of responsibility. I have lived locally all my life and my family's background is in the local hotel and restaurant trade, so I'm well-placed to represent these responsibilities."

Cllr Solomon

Cllr Solomon replaces Cllr Caritas Charles who is standing down from his executive member role due to new work commitments, but will continue to serve his community as an active ward member for Portishead East.

Cllr Davies also announced the appointment of two new assistant executive members to support the work of the Executive. 

Cllr HollandCllr Richardson

Cllr Nicola Holland, independent member for Portishead West, is the assistant executive member for community engagement, supporting Mike Solomon in his role, while Cllr Geoff Richardson, Liberal Democrat member for Clevedon West, takes up the role of assistant executive member for highways and transport, supporting Cllr James Tonkin.  

Cllr Davies said: "Our efforts to respond to the pandemic this year have meant that resources have been diverted to focus on coronavirus while also trying to deliver our normal business. But we have an ambitious agenda for the area which we can deliver at a faster pace with more involvement from councillors to support key areas of work.   

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Caritas for all his work as an executive member since last May and wish him well with his new job. Mike, Nicola and Geoff have all contributed greatly to our administration since being elected last year and I am pleased that they will now have the opportunity to play key roles in helping us achieve our goals for the communities of North Somerset."

The annual allowance for an assistant executive member is £7,000 and this year's costs will be met through an underspend in members' allowances. Future costs will be budgeted for as part of the council's medium term financial planning process.  

WTO ditches Fox: North Somerset still has an MP

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has been unsuccessful in his bid to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.  The leadership election has today (Wednesday 7th October 2020) narrowed down to two candidates Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea. Dr Liam Fox, representing the United Kingdom, was ditched on the last hurdle and therefore eliminated from the race

Liam Fox, who as Secretary of State for International Trade said a trade deal with the EU after Brexit would be "the easiest trade deal in history", oversaw the four-year gridlock in implementing a UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and Trade Deal before being removed as a Cabinet Minister. 

On Friday 18th September 2020 WTO members indicated that the five candidates who should advance are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.

The leadership election, which has been going on since July, has caused some upset within the constituency that Dr Liam Fox has let his eyes off North Somerset whilst residents were dealing with the deadly Coronavirus pandemic. Staff at the North Somerset MPs Office were left unable to reply to constituent Sarah Kenhard’s emails, telling her "I am not sure when he will be back in the UK".

Hopes for Liam Fox’s director-general appointment quickly fizzled out after the Hungarian Government, with whom Liam Fox had extensive meetings behind closed doors, went back on their word offering their support for his candidacy. Financial Times Journalist, Alan Beattie commented “So have Hungary been trolling the EU or Fox? Hard to tell.”

It is unclear whether Dr Fox will continue to stay as a backbench MP serving his constituency or will leave for a job he finds more fulfilling, which would trigger a parliamentary by-election in the seat. 

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