Cotswold Council Press Releases and Cotswold News

May
Official Referendum Notice
March
Open weekend approaching fast.
Council launches Self-build Register
Register to vote in two upcoming elections
Cotswold response to Gloucestershire County Council
No change to waste collections during Easter
Capture the Cotswolds – calling all photographers!
Exciting unitary proposal to be Explored
Cotswolds Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has added his support to the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.
February
Free dog micro-chipping events - Wednesday 9th March
New £1m funding boost will transform Broadband access in Cotswolds
Doubts have been cast over the start date for work improving the A417 Air Balloon roundabout at Birdlip
Cotswold Cabinet recommends freezing Council Tax
HRH The Princess Royal to Open Affordable Rural Homes
Clean for the Queen – and win £1,000 for your Community
New report highlights boom time for local tourism
Fire service warns tumble dryer owners after Frankley woman dies in house fire
Grants for central heating systems now available
North Cotswolds to welcome top women cyclists in June
Work progressing on final Local Plan document
MP berates BT's ‘monopoly on super-fast broadband’ which is holding the country back
   
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A road in Cirencester



Official Referendum Notice        Release date: 17th May 2016

Referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union

1. A referendum will be held on Thursday 23rd June 2016 to decide on the question below:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
2. Applications to register to vote must reach the Electoral Registration Officer below by 12 midnight on Tuesday 7th June 2016. Applications can be made online.
3. New applications for postal votes or written instructions to change or cancel an existing postal or proxy voting arrangement must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at the address below by 5pm on Wednesday 8 June 2016.
4. New applications to vote by proxy at this referendum must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at the address below by 5pm on Wednesday 15th June 2016.
5. Applications to vote by ‘emergency’ proxy at this referendum on the grounds of physical incapacity or for work/service reasons must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at the address below by 5pm on Thursday 23rd June 2016. The physical incapacity must have occurred after 5pm on Wednesday 15th June 2016. To apply on the grounds of work/service, the person must have become aware that they cannot go to the polling station in person after 5pm on Wednesday 15th June 2016.

Paul K Morris Dated: Tuesday 17th May 2016
Regional Counting Officer – South West & Gibraltar
Printed and published by the Regional Counting Officer for South West & Gibraltar, Civic Centre, Municipal Road, Poole, Dorset, BH15 2RU

Applications, cancellations or amendments to existing postal or proxy votes must be sent by the deadline to:
The Electoral Registration Officer
Cotswold District Council
Trinity Road
Cirencester
GL7 1PX
Tel: 01285 623002
Email: elections@cotswold.gov.uk

Here is the official pdf version of the notice.

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Open weekend approaching fast. Release date: 31st March 2016

The countdown has begun to a special event offering residents discounted entry to a host of visitor attractions across the Cotswolds and West Oxfordshire.

The Welcome Open Weekend (WOW) takes place from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th April and covers a total of 24 attractions in both districts.
They include:
- Bourton Model Village, Bourton-on-the-Water - Cotswold Falconry, Moreton-in-Marsh - Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power - Corinium Museum, Cirencester - Blenheim Palace, Woodstock - Cogges, Witney WOW offers residents a range of ‘two for one’ vouchers to visit local attractions. The event has already proven to be popular in West Oxfordshire and it promises to be even better this year as it has been extended to cover the Cotswold District. Cllr Chris Hancock, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Partnerships at CDC, said: “This is a great opportunity for residents to get out and about to sample some of the many attractions on their doorstep at knock-down prices. It promises to be a great family weekend with something for everyone.” To take advantage of the offers, residents just need to pick up a ‘2-for-1’ voucher sheet, available from any of the Visitor Information Centres or council reception points in either Cotswold or West Oxfordshire Districts from today onwards. For more details about WOW, including a full list of the offers available, see our Welcome Open Weekend webpage. A report recently compiled by the South West Research Company Ltd showed that tourism was responsible for 17% of employment in Cotswold District. This means that 7,500 people serviced the direct and indirect needs of almost 7 million day visitors and over 540,000 tourists staying one night or more. The total visitor-related business turnover during 2014 was almost £383 million. Tourists spent over £44million on accommodation within the District, another £44 million on local attractions and entertainments, and about £50m on travel. Other interesting facts included the impact of tourism on local shopping and the food and drink sector; visitors bought over £73 million worth of gifts, clothing and other goods, and spent over £117 million in restaurants, cafes, pubs and other catering establishments.

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Council launches Self-build Register        Release date: 29th March 2016

Building your own home can often provide a more affordable route to home ownership and create an opportunity to own a bespoke and sustainably designed, high quality property.

To assist in making this become a reality, Cotswold District Council has launched a self-build register on its website and is inviting everyone who has an interest in building their own home to sign up. Ensuring the anonymity of contributors, the Council will use information on the register to guide local planning policy on self-build homes and help potential self-builders find suitable plots.
Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing, Cllr Sue Jepson, explains:
“Property prices in the Cotswolds are very high on average and we know that young families in particular can struggle to get onto the housing ladder. Self-build is a means of bringing down construction costs, and the government has instructed local authorities to capture demand - for single plots or larger sites - with a view to encouraging more of this activity. Using the register, we will be able to assess the level and nature of requirements for self-build and custom house building in the District and then increase awareness among local landowners, builders and developers. Data from the register will also help us shape our policies to assist self-build projects.
“This is a very positive development on several fronts: the Council can glean better information about demand for self-build and help to facilitate activity; those signing up for the register will improve their chances of success; and the local economy should benefit by generating more job opportunities for smaller builders and contractors. Obviously, we cannot guarantee that people will find a suitable plot of land or, indeed, gain planning approval, but this is a significant step in the right direction.”
Anyone who wants to join the CDC self-build register should go here. If you want to find out more details about the register, please email: housing-strategy@cotswold.gov.uk or call 02285 623000.

The establishment of a self and custom build register is in accordance with the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015
To join a register you must meet the following criteria (this applies to individuals looking to take on a project or each individual in a group):
  • You must be aged 18 or over
  • You must be a British citizen, a national of a European Economic Area state other than the United Kingdom, or a national of Switzerland
  • You are looking to acquire a serviced plot of land in the Cotswold District to build a house to live in as your main residence.
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Register to vote in two upcoming elections        Release date: 21st March 2016

Register now to vote in the upcoming local Police and Crime Commissioner Election and European Union Referendum.

On Thursday 5th May voters in the Cotswold district will go to the polls to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gloucestershire. Registering now for the elections in May will also mean voters are registered in good time before the referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union on 23rd June.
A major national advertising campaign is underway across England to encourage voter registration ahead of the PCC elections. The campaign encourages people to visit this government site to register to vote. The Electoral Commission has also launched its national voter registration campaign, reminding people to register by the deadline of Monday 18th April. In England advertising will appear on TV and online on-demand video services. This is in addition to promotional work across England by the Commission and partner organisations, which started earlier this year.
Sarah Dalby, electoral services manager for Cotswold District Council, says: “Time is now running out to make sure you can take part in these elections, so I'd encourage everyone in Cotswold District to take action now if they're not already registered to vote. Our message is simple: you can't vote on 5th May if you aren’t registered by Monday 18th April. It's easy and only takes a few minutes online.”
Ben Brook, Head of the Electoral Commission, English Regions, adds: “Our public awareness campaign across England aims to encourage anyone not yet registered, to do so as soon as possible. Our research shows that young people, students and recent home movers are less likely to be registered to vote. If you're not registered you won't be able to have your say on issues that directly affect your day-to-day life in Cotswold District.”

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Cotswold response to Gloucestershire County Council        Release date: 14th March 2016

Cotswold District Council spokesman:
“We are disappointed that the County Council has felt the need to distribute a glossy brochure attacking our unitary council proposal.” Unfortunately, the County Council's brochure, in large part, is based upon wrong and wild assumptions about how the proposed new Council would operate. We did make the County Council aware of these significant errors and asked them to withdraw the document, which they wouldn't. We can only, therefore, suggest that Cotswold residents and stakeholders ignore the document. Importantly, we must reaffirm that the Cotswolds would not be part of any Oxfordshire Devolution Deal. As to a name for the proposed new Council, this has not even been subject to any discussion. It most definitely would not be ‘West Oxfordshire (Cotswolds)’.

However, we do not consider that it is helpful to continue with claims and counter claims at this moment in time, and suggest that we all wait for the detailed study to be completed by the summer. This will then give the public the opportunity to debate the matter based upon facts. During the study we shall be consulting with major stakeholders in Gloucestershire – including the NHS, Police, County Council and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Specifically, we will also seek expert advice on Adult & Children's care.”

“We're staying in Gloucestershire”

The Leader of Cotswold District Council, Cllr Lynden Stowe, has emphasised that a recent proposal to form a local unitary council with West Oxfordshire does not in any way suggest that the District will leave the county of Gloucestershire:
“Recent postings on social media and several items in the press have mistakenly said that we are planning to leave Gloucestershire. I must stress that the Cotswolds will always stay firmly rooted within the county – we're staying in Gloucestershire.
“We have no intention of changing either our historic county boundaries or the traditional civic functions of the county of Gloucestershire. We should not confuse the delivery of services with County identity.

“We do, however, think that there is considerable scope to look at better ways of delivering services to Cotswold council tax payers. In particular, we are looking to improve accountability by removing the two-tier district/county council ‘who does what’ problem which can lead to considerable frustration and delay for residents.
“We realise that a considerable amount of work is required to produce a more detailed unitary proposal which will be suitable for direct public consultation. However, even at this early stage, we can assure residents that the government would only give the go-ahead to a unitary council if we can demonstrate that the new council would be both viable and sustainable.”

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No change to waste collections during Easter        Release date: 10th March 2016

Cotswold District Council is reminding residents that refuse and recycling collections due on Good Friday (25th March) and Easter Monday (28th March) will be taking place as usual. Councillor Sue Coakley, Cabinet Member for the Health, Environment and Communities at CDC, said:
“Most residents are aware that we will only make changes to Christmas collection schedules this year, but it is always useful to remind the public that it is ‘business as usual’ on other public holidays. In other words, crews from our waste service provider Ubico Ltd will be working normal hours during the Easter break and will also make collections on the two Bank Holiday Mondays in May (2nd and 30th May) and on August Bank Holiday Monday (29th August).”
She added: “Easter celebrations always generate a lot of additional waste and we are encouraging everyone to recycle as much as possible, including Easter egg and other food and drink packaging. Ubico collect recycling at the kerbside every fortnight, and recycling ‘bring banks’ are also available across the District.”

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Capture the Cotswolds – calling all photographers!        Release date: 9th March 2016

With Spring almost upon us and the focus on tourism during English Tourism Week, the Cotswold and West Oxfordshire District Council tourism team are on the lookout for some iconic images of our glorious rural landscape, lively events and wonderful local towns.
A newly launched 2016 competition is offering keen amateur photographers of all ages the opportunity to capture stunning images of the local area. There are five different categories and competitors can enter up to ten images. The winning photos will be used to promote local tourism in the coming year and will also feature in 2017 publications that entice visitors to the area. One overall winner will receive a fantastic prize package which includes a luxurious spa treatment and refreshments voucher at The Cotswold House Hotel in Chipping Campden, and a family pass to Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park. Additionally, the owner of the winning image will receive a special canvas picture of the photograph, courtesy of Blue Print Imaging in Witney who have been a regular supporter of the competition over the years.
Chris Jackson, Shared Tourism Manager at Cotswold and West Oxfordshire District Councils, said:
“The idea behind the photo competition is to celebrate our local area which is enjoyed and appreciated so much by local residents and visitors. The competition allows the tourism service to feature more lovely iconic images of people, towns and events within The Cotswolds which help to attract visitors. Destinations have become more image-led through social media, websites and other publications so we always need new images. We hope everyone will want to get involved in this competition.”

Competition entries can focus on any of the following themes:
Cotswold village life – capturing rural life in our beautiful villages, local people and distinctive character.
Beautiful Cotswold towns - showcasing our market towns across the area.                  
Taste of the Cotswolds – featuring the best of local food and drink, local produce, farmer's markets, pubs and inns, restaurants, and tearooms.
Cotswold live events – encompassing village fetes, food, music, arts, literature festivals, sports, quirky events.
Stunning rural landscapes – our glorious countryside and outdoor pursuits, such as for walking, horse riding, and cycling.

Kelly Reynolds, Front Office Manager at Cotswold House Hotel, added:
“The Cotswolds is filled with natural beauty, and is such a magical place. For people who live here, and for those who visit, it always has a place in their hearts. A photography competition is a great way of promoting the area. We're thrilled to be involved with the competition, and we wish good luck to all those who take part.”
So, if you are an amateur photographer with some fabulous shots to share, or a beginner with a unique image you are proud of, then pick up an entry form from your local Visitor Information Centre or visit for details about how to enter.
The closing date for entry is Friday 10th June.

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Exciting unitary proposal to be Explored        Release date: 4th March 2016

An exciting proposal to simplify local government in Oxfordshire, which could bring benefits and opportunities for Cotswold District, has been announced.

The five Oxfordshire district council leaders are asking government to agree their plan for the creation of new Local Unitary Councils and to support an ambitious Devolution Deal. The Districts are evaluating the options for either three or four new Local Unitary Councils. In view of the successful partnerships and close working relationships that already exist in north and west Oxfordshire, the District Leaders have agreed to explore a Unitary Option that includes Cotswold District Council. Cllr Lynden Stowe, Leader of Cotswold District Council said:
“For several years Cotswold and West Oxfordshire councils have shared a Chief Executive and management team. We've joined up departments and saved millions of pounds.
“It seems logical to extend this by looking at the feasibility of creating one Local Unitary Council based on the current boundaries of our two councils.
“The two council areas have a lot in common - our Cotswold landscape and heritage and the important priorities of our market towns and rural settlements.
“With a Local Unitary Council, Cotswold residents would simply have one point of contact for all council services.”

The Councils will now be commissioning independent experts to work with them and other stakeholders to produce detailed, costed plans that will ensure the best and most cost-effective solutions are identified. Detailed proposals will be considered by each of the Councils prior to public consultation in the summer.
Preferred option - four local unitaries -
· A Cotswold-West Oxfordshire Unitary Authority, covering the area currently administered by Cotswold District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council
· A new Southern Oxfordshire Unitary Authority, covering the area currently administered by Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils
· An Oxford City Unitary Authority would be formed in the centre of the county, covering the area currently administered by Oxford City Council
· A Cherwell-South Northants Unitary Authority, covering the area currently administered by Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council.

What is the background and why has the suggestion of a new Unitary Council come up now?
The government is currently in the process of negotiating Devolution Deals as a means of providing greater powers and funding to stimulate economic growth locally. It is keen to use this opportunity to reform the way that public services are designed and delivered locally, insisting that new collaborative governance arrangements are put in place as part of any proposals. More recently the government has stipulated that if deals are to be done then they need to be accompanied by either a directly-elected mayor or, in the case of areas that have both a county council and district councils, a move to unitary councils. The Cities and Devolution Bill, which is entering into its final stages before becoming law, provides the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with new simplified powers to create unitary councils which have local support. This can be viewed in a slightly longer context which has seen a number of powers traditionally held by county councils moved to other bodies. For example, the role of county councils in terms of Education has changed dramatically with the introduction of Academies. Likewise the introduction of Local Enterprise Partnerships has resulted in some power relating to economic growth and strategic infrastructure delivery being passed to new bodies. It also seems that grant funding to county councils has been hit harder than for other types of authority.

What is being proposed?
The proposal is to consider creating a New Unitary Council based upon the existing boundaries of Cotswold and West Oxfordshire District Councils, serving a population of 192,795 and covering 726 square miles. This would mean that, if approved by government, all existing County functions currently delivered within the Cotswold District Council area would transfer to the new locallybased Unitary Council. Cotswold District Council already has extensive shared services with West Oxfordshire District Council and has collaborated on developing local authority-owned companies to facilitate shared commissioning and shared service delivery. It is, however, recognised that this proposal is more complicated, given that the new Council will straddle two county areas; and as part of our further work on testing the viability of the proposed Unitaries, we will engage with stakeholders in Gloucestershire to identify the optimum approach. The two areas have a lot in common - in terms of population demographics, environment, and geography; being largely rural-based interspersed with historic market towns. The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty spans both Districts and there is an internationally-significant tourism market shared by both. Many of the challenges we face are common, such as protecting our unique landscape and built environment; tackling flooding and drainage issues; ambulance response times; and improving mobile phone and broadband connectivity. Unitary councils with a geography that matches the challenges of their communities can have the insight and focus needed to tackle these structural barriers by giving a priority to what is really important to our residents. At the moment, residents are not clear as to who to contact to get an issue sorted. In a unitary council scenario we can be clear with residents. The council - your council - is responsible and will be able to resolve it. We will be more accountable to our residents.

Will the Cotswolds remain in Gloucestershire?
Yes. The historic county of Gloucestershire will not disappear. The Cotswolds will always stay firmly rooted within Gloucestershire. It is important to differentiate between historic borders and delivery of services. There are many examples where new unitary councils have been created within counties, and residents and organisations in those areas still refer to themselves as being part of that county. Examples include Swindon in Wiltshire; South Gloucestershire (which is part of a separate economic region); Poole and Bournemouth in Dorset; and Southampton & Portsmouth in Hampshire. In Berkshire and Bedfordshire, where the County Councils were abolished in favour of unitary councils, residents and communities still refer to themselves as being in Berkshire and Bedfordshire respectively. We do not believe that the proposals need to affect the traditional civic functions of the County of Gloucestershire.

Would the new Unitary Council be big enough to provide all the services required of it?
Yes. With a population of 192,795 a Unitary Council based upon Cotswold and West Oxfordshire would be the 26th biggest out of 56 non-metropolitan unitaries in England. However, population size is a relatively crude assessment tool, so any submission we make to government needs to demonstrate that our proposals are viable and sustainable, particularly in relation to areas such as Children and Adult Services. The intention of the Districts in making this proposal is to bring about a new operating model for local government. District councils locally have led the way on joint working and developing new business models. Cotswold is working with three other district councils on an extensive shared services programme. The savings for the public purse in these examples are in excess of 30% compared with traditional direct service delivery approaches. We are commissioning independent expert advice to test out our preferred option against other alternatives to ensure that it is viable, sustainable and in the best interests of residents, businesses and communities. It is important that any proposals do not in themselves make local government unviable in the rest of Gloucestershire.

Will there be any impact on other Public Bodies in Gloucestershire?
The proposals do not envisage any changes to existing public bodies operating in Gloucestershire, other than the County Council. So there will be no change to Gloucestershire Police or the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group. We would also not be promoting any change to the Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service. There will also be no impact upon “The Cotswolds” Parliamentary Constituency or on Parish Boundaries. It may make things simpler for town/parish councils/meetings insofar as they will have one contact for all local government services. The new Unitary Council will need to work across two adjoining public sector systems - in Gloucestershire and in Oxfordshire. The shared officers that work for both Cotswold and West Oxfordshire have successfully been doing this for the last seven years. Indeed, working in two systems has allowed us to pick out the best from both systems for the benefit of all of our residents. The new Unitary Council would continue playing a positive role supporting the Local Enterprise Partnership (GFirst LEP) through the Gloucestershire Joint Economic and Growth Committee.

Where will the new Council get expert advice and support to deliver the new services?
If the proposals get the go ahead from government, County Council staff currently working within the Cotswold District area, such as on roads maintenance and libraries, will transfer to the new Council. Agreement between the newly-proposed Council and the County Council as to the appropriate division of specialist strategic staff will also be required. The two District Councils already operate a system whereby they share specialist staff and services whilst retaining policy and decision-making roles. There may be many areas where such discussions with the County Council could benefit both organisations.

What will happen to Council Tax?
It is not possible to say what the impact on Council Tax will be until all assessments and funding streams are disaggregated and re-established for the new Council. This is a critical piece of work that the detailed study will need to establish.

Will the public get a say?
Yes. Before the government will consider any proposal to create new unitary councils, the Councils need to have undertaken public consultation on their proposals. It is envisaged that a detailed study will be undertaken and formally considered by each council before being published for consultation with the public. This we anticipate to be in the early part of the summer. We will then consider all of the feedback we receive before considering whether to pursue a formal proposal to government, which is not likely to be before October.

How long have negotiations being going on with West Oxfordshire?
Discussions amongst Oxfordshire Councils started informally between politicians in January 2016. As part of those early deliberations, West Oxfordshire was keen to explore the extension of their successful joint working relationship with the Cotswolds, so advice was sought from government officials on the process for creating unitaries and whether there were any barriers to creating councils which crossed different economic areas and county council boundaries. This advice was received on 16th February. Once confirmation had been received that there was no legal barrier to the proposal, Council Leaders met on 22nd February where a preferred approach was agreed. We also agreed to take informal political soundings both from local MPs and from our local political administrations before going public. This was completed by the last Council on the evening of Wednesday 24th February. Consequently, Thursday 25th February was the first opportunity to make an announcement that we were confident was both feasible and had local political support. Naturally we recognise the need to hear the views and concerns of our partners so that these can be incorporated into our detailed study.

How does this affect Gloucestershire's Devolution Bid agreed through Leadership Gloucestershire?
We do not think our plans affect the Gloucestershire Devolution Bid at all. The reality is that the Gloucestershire Bid appears to have stalled because the governance arrangements do not include a directly-elected mayor or unitary councils, which is a requirement for them to be pursued at this time. The County Council has however confirmed that the bid will continue to be considered by government in due course. ShapeIt is expected that the new Unitary Council would work with all the public bodies in its area in the best interests of residents. Gloucestershire's Devolution Bid is based upon the Local Enterprise Partnership’s definition of an economic area of Gloucestershire, which includes the Cotswold District. This does not change as a result of our proposals to look at creating a unitary council. The new Unitary Council could be party to both the Gloucestershire Combined Authority implementing joint plans for Gloucestershire and the Oxfordshire Combined Authority implementing a devolution deal for Oxfordshire. There are other examples of councils that are currently members of two economic areas, and we see this also being the case. What is important is that the local council works for all of its residents, whether they live in Andoversford and work in Cheltenham or Gloucester; in Lechlade and work in Swindon or Oxford; or Stow-on-the-Wold and work in Banbury or Stratford-upon-Avon.

How does it affect the 2020 Partnership with West Oxfordshire, Cheltenham and Forest of Dean, and Ubico?
The shared working arrangements between the four councils have always been predicated upon sharing officer resources to support the independent decision-making processes of democratically elected councillors. Indeed, it has long been stated that the arrangements we are putting in place are able to support any council - whether district, county or unitary. It is because of the new models of shared working that we have developed with our partners that we are confident that we can demonstrate that our proposals will be considered viable and sustainable. Nor do the proposals impact upon Ubico, which will continue to provide services for a number of councils. There may be opportunities to expand the role of Ubico to provide services currently delivered by the County Council, enabling further economies of scale to be achieved.

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Cotswolds Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has added his support to the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.        Release date: 2nd March 2016

Cotswolds Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has added his support to the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union. He has sited the EU's unwillingness to tackle major social and economic issues that still grip the continent as the reasons behind his decision.

“Although it's no longer headline news, the Eurozone debt crisis is still unresolved and there is now a serious crisis of uncontrolled migration threatening to destabilise the continent,” he said.
“The European Union has no long-term plan to tackle either the causes or the effects of these issues and so the time has come for the UK to take control of its own destiny by voting to leave.”

Mr Clifton-Brown added he feels that the Prime Minister has worked extraordinarily hard to extract concessions for the UK from the other European leaders. But he says these concessions have the potential to be overridden by EU institutions and they do not change the fact that the European project is essentially one of political integration and increased sovereignty over the UK. However, Mr Clifton-Brown remains optimistic about Britain's economic prospects outside the EU. He said: “Those who strongly advocate our continued membership often use the argument that about 50% of all our imports and exports are with EU member states, and that this would somehow be in jeopardy if we were to withdraw.
“I do not believe this would be the case. The Germans will still want to sell us their cars and manufactured goods; the French will still want to sell us their wine and food products and the Italians will still want to sell us their clothing and shoes. Britain has been a superbly successful international trading nation for centuries. Outside the EU, with less red tape and bureaucracy, we will become more competitive and will be an even greater trading nation because of it.”

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Free dog micro-chipping events - Wednesday 9th March        Release date: 26th February 2016

A month before it becomes a legal requirement for all dogs to be micro-chipped, councils across Gloucestershire are holding events on Wednesday 9th March which will provide this service for free.

Councillor Sue Coakley, Cabinet Member for Health, Environment and Communities at Cotswold District Council, explains:
“From 6 April all dogs over eight weeks old must be micro-chipped and it generally costs around £20 to have this work done. However, we're hoping that these free events on 9th March will encourage anyone concerned about the cost to turn up with their dogs so that they can ensure that they will comply with the new law and enable their dog to be returned to them swiftly if it strays.”
The Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Group, which comprises animal welfare officers from five of Gloucestershire's district councils, the Police, the animal welfare arm of Gloucestershire Trading Standards Service and the RSPCA, have organised the events. Times and locations are as follows (please note that dogs can only be chipped if they and their owners live in the catchment of the appropriate council):
Cotswold – Kingshill Sports Complex, Cirencester, 10 am – 6:30 pm
Stroud – Stratford Park Leisure Centre, Stroud, 12:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Cheltenham – Cheltenham Animal Shelter, 12 noon – 7 pm
Forest of Dean – Hawthorn Pet Supplies, Cinderford, 12 noon – 5 pm
Gloucester – Plock Court Tennis Centre, 12 noon – 7pm

Alex Myrie, chair of the Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Group, adds:
“We deal with hundreds of dog-related issues every year. Compulsory micro-chipping will make it easier for us to return strays, deter theft and ultimately encourage responsible dog ownership.”
Gloucestershire Police will be attending all of the venues to raise awareness about sheep worrying. At the Gloucester event, advice will also be available for anyone who is thinking of buying a puppy.

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New £1m funding boost will transform Broadband access in Cotswolds nbsp;      Release date: 23rd February 2016

Cotswold District Council has announced a new £1 million fund to boost faster broadband coverage across the whole District. The Council will be setting aside £500,000 to finance installation work and this will be match funded by Gloucestershire County Council, boosting the total to £1 million.
Cllr Lynden Stowe, the CDC Leader, revealed the new broadband funding at the Council meeting on 23rd February, and stressed the importance of this initiative:
“We live in an age where people need reliable faster broadband access. Residents want to enjoy the freedom of accessing a wide range of public and private sector online services at times to suit their needs and from the comfort of their homes; school children are being asked to use the internet for homework assignments and to broaden their knowledge and IT skills; businesses can compete more successfully and perhaps even expand when they are supported by cutting edge digital technology.
“Upgrading to faster broadband is not easy in rural areas like the Cotswolds – our District covers over 450 square miles and this means that, despite technological advances in some areas, we are still hampered by ‘dead zones’ and sluggish speeds in far too many locations. This new fund should remedy these problems and ensure that everyone in the Cotswolds can benefit from faster broadband.”
His views were endorsed by the leader of Gloucestershire County Council, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, who added:
“The County Council has given its full backing to extending faster broadband across the Cotswolds. The Fastershire Broadband project has already benefited the Cotswolds by making faster broadband available to over 16,000 homes and businesses under phase 1, and a further 6,500 are currently set to benefit under the phase 2 rollout which has already started in parts of the district.
“Our commitment to match fund CDC's £500,000 broadband contribution will push this coverage under phase 2 even further, and enable even those in the most remote locations to upgrade to faster and more reliable broadband speeds. This will also provide a significant stimulus for economic activity in the business sector and the county as a whole.
“It is our ultimate aim that by the end of 2018 everyone in the County will have access to the broadband speeds they need.”

Fastershire is a partnership between Gloucestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council to bring faster broadband to the two counties, with funding from central government's Broadband Delivery UK matched by the local authorities.
- Phase 1 of the project, in partnership with BT, will see around 90% of Gloucestershire having access to fibre broadband, with all premises in the project area being able to access a minimum of 2Mbps.
- Phase 2 of the project will extend fibre coverage further across the county. Parts of the Cotswolds are the first to move into phase 2, with a contract awarded to Gigaclear which will make ultrafast speeds available to over 6,500 of the most difficult to reach rural homes and businesses. Other parts of the County will move into phase 2 once phase 1 has completed at the end of March 2016.
The ultimate aim is that by the end of 2018 everyone will have access to the broadband speeds they need.
Further details on the strategy to achieve this aim is available.

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Doubts have been cast over the start date for work improving the A417 Air Balloon roundabout at Birdlip.        Release date: 24th February 2016

Last week Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that work would begin by the end of the decade. He said he saw improving the A417 Air Balloon roundabout at Birdlip, known locally as the ‘missing link’, as a priority.

The entire 50km A417 is dual carriageway except for a 5km stretch around Nettleton Bottom. The solution, after some 20 years of wrangling, is to create a £250million ‘loop’, bypassing Nettleton Bottom, widening Birdlip Bypass, replacing the Air Balloon roundabout and adding a two lane carriageway down Crickley Hill.
“The position remains that Highways England will start full-scale options work on the scheme in financial year 2016/17, with the intention that the scheme will be ready to start construction as early as possible in the next Road Investment Strategy Period which starts on April 1st, 2020,” Mr McLoughlin had said.
Last year it was announced that £250million was being ploughed into fixing the accident blackspot. However, a report from the Local Enterprise Partnership had said delivery of the scheme was not in the current funding programme to 2021. Gloucestershire county councillor Paul Hodgkinson, who has campaigned for a solution to the missing link said the announcement by Mr McLoughlin was not clear cut.
“The letter from the Transport Minister clearly states what the project manager in charge of the Missing Link at Highways England told me, that work will start ‘as early as possible’ in the period 2020-2025,” he said.
“This is different to definitely starting in 2020 and ‘completed by 2020’ which the Gloucester MP said.
“We all want it to start as quickly as possible but residents fed up of sitting in traffic jams must not be misled over the timings.”
However, Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said he remained hopeful for a 2020 start date.
“I have been campaigning for a solution to the missing link for almost twenty years.This letter finally confirms once-and-for-all that it is the Government 's intention to have ‘spades in the ground in 2020’.
“On behalf of the people of The Cotswolds, and wider traffic users, I will now work hard to hold the Government to this promise.”

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Cotswold Cabinet recommends freezing Council Tax        Release date: 18th February 2016

Members of Cotswold District Council's Cabinet have today recommended that the authority should freeze its share of local residents' Council Tax payments for 2016/17, following a 5% cut in 2015/16, a 3% cut in 2014/15 and a 5% reduction in 2013/14.

Last year's 5% cut was hailed as the biggest in the country and the previous 5% cut for 2013/14 also led the field. Should the full Council agree to the proposed freeze for 2016/17 when it meets next Tuesday, the actual amount being charged would be lower than the figure ten years ago. This means the typical payment for a resident in a Band D property would have seen a real terms cut of 25% over the last six years. The Cabinet have also confirmed that imposing a freeze would not affect any of the Council's frontline services and that there would be no increases in, car parking charges, and green waste collection charges for yet another year.

Commenting after the meeting, CDC Leader Cllr Lynden Stowe said:
“At a time when most local authorities are increasing their share of Council Tax, I am very pleased that we have been able to recommend a freeze. We are also recommending no increases in the price of our weekly green waste kerbside collection service and the charges in our car parks. This has all been achieved despite a reduction of over 50% in core government grants to the Council over the last four years.
“We are committed to providing services which provide excellent value for money, and I am very pleased that the Cabinet has been able to make a ‘no change’ recommendation that won't leave taxpayers out of pocket. We can do this because of the savings we have achieved over the last few years, mostly as a result of our joint working with other councils. We have developed a very close relationship with West Oxfordshire District Council, sharing a large number of posts ranging from senior management to officer level. Both councils are also building strong ties with Cheltenham and Forest of Dean Councils under the 2020 Partnership shared working programme.”

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HRH The Princess Royal to Open Affordable Rural Homes        Release date: 16th February 2016

HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence will be visiting Arlington Fields, Bibury on February 29th 2016 to open a new affordable housing development. Building work on the 11 affordable homes finished in March 2015 and was the result of a partnership between Cirencester Housing, Severn Vale Housing Society, Bibury Parish Council, Gloucestershire Rural Community Council and Cotswold District Council. The homes were partially funded through a grant made available by the Homes and Communities Agency, the majority of the cost being financed by Cirencester Housing. The homes will be owned and managed by Cirencester Housing.

The homes were developed using the rural exceptions planning policy, having secured planning in 2013; the policy enables small areas of land to be developed that would not otherwise be considered for planning, on the condition that homes are made available to local people and always remain affordable. Design and materials have been carefully considered to ensure that homes are sympathetic with the local styles; although in addition to the traditional appearance, homes benefit from high levels of performance, including air-source heat pumps, which utilises renewable technology to ensure residents running costs are kept to a minimum.
Like many rural areas, particularly in picturesque villages across the Cotswolds, Bibury has seen property values increase to levels where securing a home is beyond the reach of local households; many of whom are in low paid or seasonal employment in or around the village. Recognising the impact that this was having on the village Bibury Parish Council took the initiative back in 2006 to work with the Rural Housing Enabler, employed by Gloucestershire Rural Community Council to understand the housing challenges facing their local community.

Commenting on the visit, Sandy Price, Chairman of Cirencester Housing, said:- “We are thrilled to be able to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Arlington Fields and highlight what has been achieved through the commitment and hard work of all involved, most critically Bibury Parish Council who took the initial pro-active steps to secure affordable homes for their local community. Working with Gloucestershire Rural Community Council, and the Rural Housing Enabler, Cirencester Housing hopes to achieve many similar projects over the next few years. The lack of affordable rural housing is a national problembut acutely impacts the Cotswolds area.”
Before meeting invited guests who have been involved in the project, HRH The Princess Royal will have the opportunity to talk to local residents living in the affordable homes and will be escorted around the development by Lynne Barber, Chief Executive, Cirencester Housing.
Scilla Phillips, Chairman of Bibury Parish Council, said:- “The Parish Council is delighted that HRH The Princess Royal will have the opportunity to visit Arlington Fields and see what has been achieved by our the local community. Recognising the need for affordable homes the Parish Council has worked hard to support the project for over nine years and the 11 homes will go some way towards meeting the local demand. For many years house prices in the village have been increasing beyond the reach of local households, particularly younger ones, who have moved from the village in search of an affordable home elsewhere, leaving family and friend networks behind them. “The support of the local community has been important to the Parish Council as the project has progressed, the Rural Housing Enabler has worked with us to achieve this, ensuring the process has been transparent and consultative throughout.”
Cllr Sue Jephson, Cabinet Member for Housing at Cotswold District Council, said:- “Cotswold District Council recognises the housing challenges that rural villages like Bibury are facing. In this instance, our strategic housing team conducted a parish housing needs survey and worked closely with Cirencester Housing, responding to community needs in Bibury and maximising the allocation of new housing to local people. Additionally, our conservation and design officers ensured that the new dwellings were built in a traditional style that blends with the surrounding landscape. Affordable housing developments like Arlington Fields help to ensure that Cotswold communities retain a good mixture of residents from all age groups, including young families and income earners. This helps local villages to remain viable and sustainable places to live.”
Cirencester Housing were supported throughout the project by Seven Vale Housing, collaboratively they developed a professional team and together with the builder, Hills Homes Developments, worked to construct the 11 high-quality affordable homes.
Cirencester Housing is a not-for-profit provider of affordable homes registered with the Homes and Communities Agency. It currently owns and manages 157 homes in and around the Cirencester area and plans to increase this number by 20% over the next few years through developing in partnership with local communities.

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Clean for the Queen – and win £1,000 for your Community        Release date: 16th February 2016

In the run up to The Queen's 90th birthday on 21st April 2016, Keep Britain Tidy is urging millions of people to pick up litter and improve the appearance of the places where they live. Cotswold District Council wants to take this initiative one step further and - thanks to the generosity of its waste service provider Ubico Ltd - is offering a prize of £1,000 to the community that does the best job. From now until the end of March, communities across the District will be able to enter the Council's £1,000 prize competition. Applying to enter couldn't be simpler – just email cdc@cotswold.gov.uk or call 01285 623123 and provide the location scheduled for a litter pick, together with the name of a community representative who is willing to liaise with the Council. We will expect that person to take ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of the area being tidied. It would also be useful if we could have details about the size of the work party. When the competition concludes, the representative should be prepared to meet a panel of CDC judges at the clean-up location to assist them in assessing the improvements.

Cllr Sue Coakley, CDC Cabinet Member for Health, Environment and Communities, hopes that local groups across the District will take up this challenge: “We live in an extremely beautiful area and many residents take great pride in its appearance. This national campaign provides an excellent opportunity for them to get outdoors in the Spring weather and help rid the Cotswolds of unsightly litter. The award of the £1,000 prize is an added incentive, but I think every volunteer will be a winner if they can help tackle this blight on our environment.
“We can supply bags, pickers, gloves and high visibility jackets for clean-up work, but it would be of real benefit to our environmental team if we could stagger the take-up over the next few weeks, as we have limited resources. We can also arrange special collections of filled bags after litter picks. Please call 01285 623123 if you require this assistance.
“I should add that the winning group will be required to spend the prize money on improving or maintaining the appearance of their community.”

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New report highlights boom time for local tourism        Release date: 12th February 2016

Tourism is booming in the Cotswold District, according to a newly published report which shows that total visitor-related business turnover during 2014 was almost £383 million.
The report, compiled by the South West Research Company Ltd, also showed that tourism was responsible for 17% of employment in the District. This means that 7,500 people serviced the direct and indirect needs of almost 7 million day visitors and over 540,000 tourists staying one night or more. During 2014 tourists spent over £44million on accommodation within the District, another £44 million on local attractions and entertainments, and about £50m on travel. Other interesting facts included the impact of tourism on local shopping and the food and drink sector; visitors bought over £73 million worth of gifts, clothing and other goods, and spent over £117 million in restaurants, cafes, pubs and other catering establishments.

Reviewing the figures, Cllr Chris Hancock, the Cotswold District Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Partnerships, commented: “This is a valuable report which underlines the importance of tourism to the economic well-being of the District. The South West Research Company also looked at tourism patterns across Gloucestershire and it was interesting to note that Cotswold District alone accounted for some 40% of visitor spend in the entire county. Tourism is very much a growth sector for us, and the increasing number of visitor attractions available year-on-year should continue to stimulate the local economy in the future.
“I may be slightly biased but I think it takes a lot to beat the Cotswolds as a great value holiday destination – we've got magnificent countryside to explore, charming market towns to visit, a rich heritage and history to investigate, diverse cultural attractions and top quality sporting facilities.
“I am particularly encouraged by the heightened profile of the Cotswolds as a tourism destination in emerging markets such as the Far East, and I welcome the continuing efforts of the Council's tourism team, Cotswolds Tourism and VisitEngland to stimulate this additional interest while also maintaining healthy demand in more traditional markets. We recently announced that we will provide grants totalling £54,000 per year, over a three year period, to help fund Visitor Information Centres across the District - we believe that this is a sound investment to help enhance the tourist experience and encourage repeat visits to this beautiful area.”

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Fire service warns tumble dryer owners after Frankley woman dies in house fire        Release date: 10th February 2016

Tumble dryer users are advised to follow manufacturer instructions, clean filters regularly and not to use dryers at night or while unattended.
Tumble dryer owners are being urged to take precautions and organise repairs if necessary now that a number of tumble dryer brands are reviewing the safety of their dryers. The advice from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service follows the death of a woman in Frankley on Sunday, February 7th after a tumble dryer caught fire in her home. Alan Haley, station commander from the community risk department, said: “We would urge owners of Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 to check the website safety.hotpoint.eu to see if their appliance is affected and to allow for the manufacturers advice to organise repairs.”
West Midlands Fire investigators have established that the tumble dryer from the fire in Frankley was not a model on any current recall list but investigations into the precise cause of the fire are still underway.
Mr Haley continued: “People are using tumble dryers more frequently, especially now that the weather is cold, so we would like to issue some advice when using these appliances, in particular never leave a tumble dryer on when you are out of the house.”
The service advises residents to always follow manufacturer instructions and to clean the filters regularly to ensure they do not become blocked with fluff. Tumble dryer owners are also advised not to use tumble dryers at night or while unattended and to remove items from the dryer immediately after the cycle has finished. Finally, Hereford and Wocester Fire and Rescue Service ask residents not to overload plug sockets and to ensure that no more than 13 amps are in any one plug socket at a time. For more information about which appliances are affected by recent reviews.

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Grants for central heating systems now available       Release date: 10th February 2016

Hundreds of households in Cotswold District that do not currently have central heating may be eligible for a grant of up to £4,000 to have a new system installed. Cotswold District Council, along with the other six local authorities in the county and South Gloucestershire, has been awarded a share of £25 million government funding to help residents to keep their houses warm and lower their energy bills.

Cllr Sue Coakley, the Cabinet Member for Health, Environment and Communities at Cotswold District Council, said:
“Thanks to these grants, householders struggling to pay for expensive forms of heating could switch to new efficient gas central heating systems provided they meet the qualifying criteria. This funding should help lower bills and potentially lift people out of fuel poverty. I should stress that these are grants rather than loans so they do not have to be paid back – and that makes such a big difference.”
The scheme, run by Warm and Well, is predominantly aimed at properties that are currently heated by costly ‘on peak’ electric systems, although the replacement of other forms of heating systems will also be considered. The aim is to replace these with modern energy efficient condensing boilers, which could save a household on average £250 a year, based on a family in a three bed semi-detached house. It is estimated that new heating systems could be installed in up to 1,000 homes across Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire with the government funding.

There are qualifying criteria for the scheme and if households are either in receipt of certain benefits or have considerably high fuel bills in comparison to their household income then they may be eligible. Alex Baxter, manager of the Warm and Well scheme, said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity to get central heating systems installed in hundreds of homes in Cotswold District that are finding it difficult to afford to pay for more expensive forms of energy such as electricity and solid fuel. Households most at need will be targeted first with the funding so that their homes are warmer and cheaper to heat.”
Unfortunately, properties that have an existing central heating system, even if not working, are not eligible for funding through the scheme. If the property is using night storage heaters, it must be only heating a maximum of 50% of the home to qualify. Anyone considering installing a central heating system should also ensure that their home is insulated. Householders may be entitled to a grant for cavity wall and loft insulation through the Warm and Well scheme, which can save £160 per year on fuel bills. All grants are subject to a survey and availability.

Further information and energy efficiency advice is available by calling the Warm and Well advice line on 0800 500 3076, by emailing warm&well@severnwye.org.uk or by texting ‘WARM’ to 83010. Warm and Well is managed by Severn Wye Energy Agency on behalf of the six district councils in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire Council. Since 2001 it has made more than 60,000 energy efficiency improvements to more than 41,000 homes. Average savings on swapping from ‘on peak’ electricity to gas central heating: figure achieved by using Sutherland tables and NEED average consumption figures, a family living in a three bed semi-detached house using electric will spend £1,013 on heating and hot water. If they upgraded to a gas central heating system, that annual cost for heating and hot water would fall to £757 a year, saving £256 a year on energy bills. Savings can be much higher if the household is a high user or the household is larger.
Typical household bill savings from insulation are based on a three bed semi-detached home.

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North Cotswolds to welcome top women cyclists in June       Release date: 9th February 2016

The world's top women cyclists will pass through the North Cotswolds for the first time ever on Thursday 16th June 2016.

Just under 100 of the world's top racers, including Olympic gold medal winner Lizzie Armitstead, will compete in the second (Warwickshire) stage of the world leading Aviva Women's Tour. They will tackle a 140-kilometre route, mostly passing through the Warwickshire countryside and towns such as Atherstone, Kenilworth, Warwick, Shipston-on-Stour and Stratford-upon-Avon. However, the racers will also cross into North Gloucestershire and they will pass near Chipping Campden and Moreton-in-Marsh.
Cllr Chris Hancock, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Partnerships at Cotswold District Council, said:
“This is a real bonus for the North Cotswolds and we are very grateful to Warwickshire County Council who have made this all possible. The Aviva Women's Tour is a truly prestigious event and I am sure that many residents and visitors will be excited at the prospect of seeing the competitors up close. The race should also provide a boost for local traders, especially those involved in the tourism and hospitality sector.”

Commenting on the route announcement, reigning World Road Race Champion Lizzie Armitstead of the Boels Dolmans team said;
“It's fantastic news that the Aviva Women's Tour will continue in 2016. As a British rider it's a privilege to be able to compete on home roads; the British public have really taken to cycling and you can see that when the race goes through different towns the community really gets behind it. I'm excited to see the growth in women's cycling and I think the Women's Tour has had a really positive impact on that change.”

Taking place over five days, the 2016 edition of race will be a part of the new UCI Women's World Tour calendar, currently one of just four multi-day stage races on the season-long programme of races for the world's top riders and teams. Highlights of each stage will be shown on ITV4 every evening during the race. The Warwickshire stage comes on day two of the race, which will begin on Wednesday 15 June with competitors riding from Southwold on the Suffolk coast to Norwich. Subsequent stages after day two in Warwickshire/North Cotswolds will take the race to Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, before the final day of racing in Northamptonshire, between Northampton and Kettering, on Sunday 19th June.

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Work progressing on final Local Plan document        Release date: 4th February 2016

Planners at Cotswold District have reported that work is progressing well on the production of a full Local Plan, known as the Regulation 19 (Reg.19) or Submission Plan. This draws together all the elements of previous consultation documents to form a single comprehensive version, which is scheduled to be considered by Cabinet on 21th April and full Council on 19th May, prior to a statutory six week public consultation exercise.

Any public comments made during the next –and final – consultation will have to be focused on the following tests of soundness set out in the National Planning Policy Framework:
Positively prepared. Based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements;
Justified. The Plan should be the most appropriate strategy when considered against the reasonable alternatives;
Effective. The Plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities;
Consistent with national policy. The Plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the framework.

More details about the tests and the exact dates of the consultation period will follow in due course. The Council has already assured residents that all representations made regarding the emerging Local Plan will be taken into account when compiling the Reg. 19 document. In particular, officers will produce a summary of the main issues raised during two public consultations (known as Reg.18 consultations) which took place during January/February 2015 and November/December 2015. The former requested comments on the proposed development strategy and site allocations, and the latter requested comments on the proposed development management policies. This information will be made available to the Inspector as part of the Examination process, and will also be included in a special edition of the Council's Cotswold News magazine which will be sent to all residents to tie in with the Reg. 19 consultation.

Cllr Nick Parsons, the Deputy Leader at CDC and Cabinet Member for Forwarding Planning comments:
“When we begin the public consultation on the whole Reg. 19 Local Plan, residents will be able to view a summary of the main issues arising from the two 2015 consultations in our Cotswold News magazine. The magazine will also make it plain how public comments have, or have not, brought about changes to the whole Plan. I should add that the Reg.19 Plan has to be based on evidence and facts rather than anecdote and subjective opinions. The fact that a large number of people may object to a proposal is not, in itself, a valid reason to bring about change. The Council will be required to submit to the Planning Inspectorate all relevant paperwork, including summaries of the main issues raised under Regulation 18, and all representations made in response to the Regulation 19 consultation. This will help to inform the subsequent public examination of the Local Plan following its submission to the Secretary of State towards the end of 2016.”
Cllr Parsons adds:
“Some people have criticised the Council because the Local Plan has not been approved yet. However, it is worth pointing out that, when approved, we will have a whole Local Plan for Cotswold District which is fully compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework. In other words, it will include a development strategy, site allocations to deliver the strategy, and a full suite of policies to deliver the Plan's objectives. There are very few approved plans which fall into this category. The vast majority of so-called ‘approved’ Local Plans are merely Core Strategies which still require extensive work to develop site allocations and/or development management policies.”

All the representations from the two Reg. 18 public consultations during 2015 can be viewed now at the following two links on the CDC website:
January/February 2015:
November/December 2015:

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MP berates BT's ‘monopoly on super-fast broadband’ which is holding the country back        Release date: 3rd February 2016

The Cotswolds is still within the bottom 10% of parliamentary seats for availability of super-fast broadband despite £1.7 billion of taxpayers' money subsidising high-speed broadband, MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has said of his constituency.

He has joined a group of his peers who want action on BT's monopoly over the service which he says could 'leave Britain floundering as the rest of the world accelerates'. Last week politicians acknowledged a report by the British Infrastructure Group of MPs which revealed that despite the subsidies, 5.7 million people across Britain were unable to access the internet at the Ofcom required 10 megabits per second. The report, labelled “BroadBad’, calls on regulator Ofcom to take radical action over the “natural monopoly” enjoyed by BT Openreach and said the modern British economy, which was reliant on broadband, was being held back by the company's lack of ambition and underinvestment.

BT called the report “misleading and ill-judged’.
“I believe Britain should be leading the world in digital innovation. Yet instead Britain suffers from having a BT run monopoly clinging to outdated copper technology with no proper long-term plan for the future,’ said Mr Clifton-Brown.
“Britain needs to start converting to a fully fibre network so it is not left behind the other nations who are rushing to embrace digital advancement.
“However, Britain will only achieve this by taking action to open up the sector. Given all the delays and missed deadlines, I believe that only a formal separation of BT from Openreach (part of the group but run as a stand-alone company), combined with fresh competition and a concerted ambition to deliver, will now create the broadband service that our constituents and businesses so rightly demand.
“I am already seeing innovative new companies doing amazing things to provide tailored broadband solutions for rural communities and we need to open up the marketplace to allow these companies to flourish.’ But BT defended their hold saying they had invested £20 billion in their networks over the past decade, bringing broadband to 99% of the UK.
A spokesman said: “We are now taking next generation fibre broadband into rural areas with the help of the public sector whilst the likes of Sky and TalkTalk stand on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets. We would love to flick a switch to make fibre available but it involves complex and expensive engineering and that is why our engineers are working round-the-clock to make it available as quickly as possible.
“Ninety per cent of UK premises can already access a fibre optic broadband connection. That will soon climb to 95% and above,’ the spokesman said.
“The idea that there would be more broadband investment if BT's Openreach infrastructure division became independent is wrong-headed. As a smaller, weaker, standalone company, it would struggle to invest as much as it does currently.’

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Cotswold District residents magazine is issued when the council needs to consult on big issues or wishes to communicate important news.
Over the last few years, with more and more people using the council website, they have refrained from issuing a newsletter on a routine basis.
The Cotswold News is now produced about once per year at the most.

As well as the Council Website, the latest editions of the magazine are available to download on this page.
The Council values your views about Cotswold News - what you like and dislike and what you find useful and would welcome any feedback.
This can of course include any suggestions you may have for future articles.
The Newsletter is printed on environmentally sustainable or recycled paper and delivered to households by Royal Mail.
It is also available from the Council's offices at Trinity Road, Cirencester and at the Moreton Area Centre.
The total cost to the Council of publishing and delivering to each house in the district is under 20p per copy.

Cotswold News Winter 2015.
Local plan reaches next public consultation stage.

Cotswold News Winter 2014.
How to influence the Cotswold local district plan including housing allocations.

Cotswold News November 2013.
Waste collections and Local planning issues.

Cotswold News August 2012.
Kerbside collection of mixed rigid plastics.

Cotswold News Winter 2010.
Cotswold News Spring 2010.

Here are some other Cotswolds sites:-
The Cotswold Journal has recent Cotswold news stories.
Comprehensive Cotswold AONB background and information.
Useful information for Cotswold visitors.

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