Category Archives: E-News

Britain’s chance to create energy from the world’s first Tidal Lagoon

It may not hit the headlines when the media are focused on whether the Kremlin has compromising material on the new US President, but yesterday was I think the moment Britain got serious about creating a new global industry.

We were early movers in offshore wind energy, and we have an opportunity now to be the first mover in generating energy from tidal lagoons. There are tidal barrages in eg France and Russia, but no tidal lagoon – where a large wall is built around a bay, and an under water turbine captures energy from the twice daily movements of the tide – anywhere in the world. Yet.

Some time ago I opened the Gloucester headquarters of Tidal Lagoon Power plc (TLP), which proposes a series of tidal lagoons to harness the strength of the Severn Estuary tides and generate up to 10% of Britain’s total electricity needs. The technology is not totally new, but has never been deployed in this way before: and the size of even the first and smallest lagoon in Swansea Bay involves over eleven miles of wall. And although TLP has funding for the c£1.3 billion project, ultimately the taxpayer would subsidise the cost through the price paid by the National Grid.

In the wake of controversy about the size of the subsidy to be paid for nuclear energy from the new Hinkley Point stations, the government was cautious about the cost and last year commissioned a Review of Tidal Energy. Those who thought the aim was delay, prevarication and kicking the issue into the long grass will have been disappointed by Charles Hendry’s report, whose launch I hosted (as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Marine Energy & Tidal Lagoons) in Parliament yesterday.

Charles is a former colleague and Energy Minister, and although he started a sceptic hisreport  is absolutely clear about the scale of the opportunity and its importance to the UK. He described our tides as the greatest untapped source of energy in the country, and highlighted the Severn Estuary and the Solway Firth in particular. He sees a golden opportunity for Britain to be bold and seize first mover advantage in a new global industry, and in his 40 recommendations urges the government to reach agreement on a pathfinder by TLP at Swansea Bay as soon as possible. Why did he reach that conclusion?

The Hendry Review looked at four key questions – the security of supply, decarbonisation, affordability and economic gain (jobs). On all four it found strongly in favour of tidal lagoons. Their energy is domestically sourced and predictable, very low carbon (and supported by Greenpeace). The estimated UK content is 65%, with 50% likely to be sourced from Wales – not least manufacturing (including steel) and construction, but with huge tourism potential which Charles Hendry thought had been much underestimated, and compared to the Eden Project in Cornwall. And then there is the cost.

The report estimates that the cost of the Swansea pathfinder would be cheaper (through the Contract for Difference or CfD structure) than the nuclear subsidy, and over the lifetime of a tidal lagoon considerably cheaper per megawatt hour than offshore wind: less than 50p per household per year over the the first 60 years (after which the subsidy would end).

The Hendry Report makes 40 recommendations, many to government: including the creation of a Tidal Power Authority and establishing competitive tenders for future lagoons. The government will now study these in detail. So what happens next?

Last autumn I wrote a letter to the Chancellor urging him to look seriously at the Review when it came out because the 111 MPs who signed my letter all believed there were significant opportunities for Britain. As the Hendry Review has confirmed our instincts I will now write again, urging a detailed and formal response before the Budget.

In my view it would simply not be credible for the government to ignore or reject the general thrust of the recommendations. The Review and its author are too authoritative. It will have to look closely particularly at the structure and pricing issues, but the risk of the pathfinder at Swansea is really with TLP plc – they won’t receive anything until the electricity is in the National Grid, probably in 2022. And the support they have in Swansea, Wales and much more widely for this project is almost unprecedented.

I am also sure that an opportunity to buy tidal bonds with an income stream as steady as the energy itself would be well subscribed by both pension funds and retail investors alike. I want to see Britain investing in and owning our own infrastructure and this is our chance to show that we can and will do so. So much of our infrastructure from Camelot to most of Heathrow Airport is not owned by us – but it doesn’t need to be that way.

Which brings us back to Gloucester. What could be more exciting than to have a business based in our city construct the first of what I hope will be many tidal lagoons, all over the world. Our city has thrived on manufacturing innovation – whether Booth’s first vacuum cleaner, to the first flight of Whittle’s jet engine, Dowty’s landing gear and aviation instruments and the nuclear industry whose operations are all still run from Barnwood. Creating the world’s first tidal lagoon is in a great tradition – and I will do all I can to keep encouraging this bold step forward for Britain.

Let me know your thoughts and reactions on

Best regards

Changing the law on stalking: a Gloucestershire and national success

You don’t get many chances to change the law of the land: many MPs never do so. I’ve been lucky – today’s Policing and Crime Bill, all being well, will be the second time that I’ve been able to play a part in doing so.

Both times I’ve been driven to action by something that happened in Gloucester, by trying to create something good out of something bad.

The first was a constituent whose death was caused by a very drunk, uninsured and disqualified driver, who received a risible sentence because the law didn’t allow for more. The government agreed to increase the maximum sentence in such cases. This time there’s a similar outcome but the journey has been more complex and much less predictable.

In May 2015 I read in The Citizen the comments of our Judge Jamie Tabor, who said in sentencing a stalker, Raymond Knight, that if he could have sentenced him for longer then he would. Judges don’t usually like increasing sentences, and Knight’s crime was only recently introduced – Theresa May as Home Secretary had rightly criminalised stalking in the last Parliament. So I decided to look closer. Little did I know what I was getting into.

Dr Eleanor Aston, a Gloucester GP who lived in Cheltenham had been stalked for 8 years. Raymond Knight had stalked her relentlessly at work, at home and at her daughter’s nursery group. He cut off the gas and slashed a water pipe at her home: he left messages on her telephone, car and in the surgery – and was suspected, but not proven, of burning down half of Dr Aston’s house.

Her life was cruelly damaged: she suffered from PTSD and had to give up being a GP. The whole family was in a nightmare that wouldn’t go away. No wonder Judge Tabor wished he could lock Raymond Knight up for longer.

So I decided to do something with my neighbour and her (Cheltenham) MP, Alex Chalk, a barrister. I suggested we aim to change the law and get more flexibility on sentencing. Judge and victim were supportive: and so we met Ministers in London.

Then Lord Chancellor/Justice Secretary Michael Gove encouraged us to do much more research into stalking: one case rarely made for good law. We went away and with the great help of our researchers talked to victims, research bodies, anti-stalking charities, and academic and police experts. Alex’s legal knowledge was crucial.

I was particularly moved by hearing the experience of Gloucester hairdresser Katie Price, who had also been badly stalked and later left our city to find peace elsewhere. Her daughter wrote a moving letter about the impact of stalking on the whole family.

Our report showed the size of the issue: one in five women are stalked in their lifetime, and one in ten men, and stalking often leads to violence.

So this wasn’t just about Dr Aston, but a much larger number of victims. In fact when we launched our report to the media, many journalists and MPs had experiences to share too. We recommended a doubling of the maximum prison sentence from five to ten years.

We discussed our report with then Sentencing Minister Dominic Raab and his officials and he joined us for its formal launch in London. There was talk of a Sentencing Bill in the Queen’s Speech.

I asked Prime Minister David Cameron for his support in PMQs. We had a Gloucestershire launch of the report, with the University of Glos and Nick Gazzard. And we created a petition, supported by nearly 30 MPs. Meanwhile Dr Eleanor Aston, supported by charities like Paladin, starred in a BBC documentary on the issue. Momentum was building.

Then the PM resigned after the Referendum and all the Justice Ministers were changed: back to square one.

Bismarck once said that the making of laws is like the making of sausages – you don’t want to know what goes into them. And so, after much discussion and many more meetings, Alex launched a 10 Minute Bill.

It was bound to fail unless supported by government, which was understandably cautious about increasing sentences and prisoners. But the Bill gave our cause more attention and so did the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders by Home Secretary Amber Rudd before Christmas. And immediately afterwards Gloucestershire based Baroness Jan Royall succeeded in an amendment in the Lords to the Policing and Crime Bill.

This helped focus the government’s mind on the case for an amendment. They have accepted our report’s recommendation and agreed to implement it – adding a doubling of religiously or racially aggravated harassment (from seven to fourteen years).

The new law will also pave the way for more remedial work as investment in specialist mental health training for prison officers increases to assess and treat these offenders.

The Minister will propose this amendment later today and I imagine it will sail through.

This is a wonderful New Year’s present for those who’ve been stalked, for campaigners, for women in general – and for Gloucestershire, which has led every step of the way.

It means that Judges will have the flexibility that Judge Tabor sought: that victims will, as Dr Aston has said, be able to sleep more easily when the worst stalkers are sentenced; and the stalkers themselves understand on the one hand the seriousness of the crime and on the other receive more help in resolving what is a severe obsession and mental health issue.

Of course this is not going to stop stalking. But it shows victims and Judges are heard, that MPs and ultimately the government listens and that laws can be changed – so that sentences better reflect the damage that a particular crime can inflict on innocent victims, most of whom (in this instance) are women. Ultimately, Justice is only as good as the laws we adapt, and how these are implemented.

It’s felt like a long and winding road, and I’m glad neither Alex nor I have kept time sheets, but changing the law within 18 months is in fact unusually fast.

Along the way I’ve learnt more about the value of legal research and much more about stalking: the known and unknown victims and the several charities; and the processes and bypaths of getting legislation changed.

There was one other unusual aspect of this campaign – Cheltenham and Gloucester working so well together. Neighbours and mostly friendly rivals, our City and Borough haven’t always had the same book open, let alone singing the same hymn. Well that’s changed. And although Alex and I won’t always agree about everything, Gloucestershire is the better for a much closer relationship between the Cheltenham and Gloucester MPs.

I want to finish this e-news about changing the law by coming back to where it started – the Judge and the victim in Gloucester Crown Court.

Thank you to Ellie Aston for inspiring us, being strong and having faith: to other victims for opening your hearts and sharing your stories: to the stalking charities like the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the Network for Surviving Stalking, Protection Against Stalking and Paladin, and to the Hollie Gazzard Trust, the Police and the University of Gloucestershire, which just happens to be a leader in research on stalking.

This part of a long journey for Justice is now close to over, but there’s always lots more to be done on this and other good causes.

Do let me know what you think about this at

Best regards

Winter – what do you see?


I’m looking out of the window in a pale winter light, brightening a few remaining leaves on trees outside, modest Christmas leftovers.

Beside me, on my iPhone, are dozens of angry, frightened or frustrated messages – terrorists, Aleppo, treatment of Christians in Pakistan, beggars in our city centre, queues at Junction 12 on the M5, lack of broadband at home, numbers of staff in our prisons, health benefits or transport issues. There’s rarely a shortage of things that need to be improved.

But there is another way of looking at life. I’ve just re-read a poem its author, Jenny Lakin, read beside me recently at a dementia poetry group in Quedgeley Library. The poem describes the thoughts of a young daughter and her mother (the author) as they walk home from school. Today is a good moment for this poem:

Winter – what do you see?

I see grey, heavy clouds in dark dismal skies
She sees dragons chasing giants with big goggly eyes;
I see wet, endless pavements all dull and the same
She sees puddles to splash in, play hopscotch and games;
I see traffic crawling slowly, noisy and fumy
She waves at buses and bin lorries and anything zoomy;
I see bare, dead trees just waiting for Spring
She sees funny, knobbly branches and piles of leaves to fling;
I see anonymous people, heads down, trudging, harassed
She sees a bright bobble hat, a yellow umbrella, smiles going past;
I just want to go home, I’m cold, tired and snappy
She’s on an adventure, she’s endlessly happy.

It is the most lovely poem, isn’t it? And it’s hard to finish without a smile and a feeling that perhaps the world isn’t all awful after all. Does life have to stop being an adventure?

I will remember Jenny’s poem this long, mild winter through. Despite everything, there is a beautiful world out there. It just depends on how you look at things.

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year.

Best regards


What’s on this Christmas 2016

The Winner of my Christmas Card competition was Kinga Chabowska (Year 6, Widden Primary School)

The Winner of my Christmas Card competition was Kinga Chabowska (Year 6, Widden Primary School)

Here’s a quick guide to some of the best things this Christmas in Gloucester, and information on rubbish collection and health services. I hope readers all get some time off to enjoy some of these events and activities!

Open Air Ice Rink and Christmas Market
until 2 Jan | Gloucester Quays 
The Market closes on Christmas Eve, but the ice rink remains until the 2nd of January. So take to the ice at Gloucester Quays this Christmas.

Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre
Opening hours and ticket prices vary | Robinswood Hill | 
Whether you’re learning to ski / snowboard or getting in a bit of practice before your trip away to the snow, head down to our local Ski Centre. For more information call 501438.

Treasure Seekers Gift Shop Christmas Event
until 22 Dec | Treasure Seekers Shop, Westgate Street | Free 
Enjoy a number of late night shopping events: (1st Dec) Art Exhibition, (8th Dec) Cavern taster night, and (15th and 22nd Dec) live Christmas music with free mince pies.

Christmas Classics Film: It’s a Wonderful Life (U)
16 Dec 7:00pm | 17 Dec 2:00pm | 19 Dec 2:00pm and 7:00pm | Gloucester Guildhall | 
This year marks the 70th anniversary of this defining Christmas classic!

Christmas Panto: Cinderella
17 Dec – 20 Dec | Gloucester Guildhall | £10, £8 concessions
7:00pm, with matinees at 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday
Gloucester’s most popular entertainment troupe return to put their spin on Cinderella.

Sail with Santa Cruises
17 Dec – 24 Dec | National Waterways Museum, Docks | £10
12:00pm, 1:30pm and 3:00pm each day
Step aboard the King Arthur to see Santa come down the chimney into his floating grotto and enjoy a 45-minute festive cruise along the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. Call 318200 to book.

Gloucester City AFC v AFC Fylde 
17 Dec | K.O. 3:00pm | Whaddon Road
The Tigers welcome AFC Fylde to Whaddon Road for their last game before Christmas.

Christmas Carols on the hour
17 Dec | Gloucester Cathedral | Free
11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm and 4:00pm
Come and enjoy Christmas Carols sung on the hour by Adult Choirs: each service lasts just 30 minutes

One Church Annual Carol Service
18 Dec | GL1 | Free tickets only
The fifth annual carol service is expected to sell out, doors open at 5:15pm for a 6:00pm start. Make sure to order your free ticket here.

Lift Up Your Voice: A Festive Recital
19 Dec 12:30pm | St Johns Church, Northgate Street | Free
Join Caroline Carragher (mezzo soprano) and Sue Honeywill (piano) for an evening of seasonal music.

Christmas Carol Service and Midnight Mass
23 Dec to 24 Dec | Gloucester Cathedral | Free 
A traditional service of readings and carols with the acclaimed Cathedral Choir with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Find more information on Cathedral Christmas services here.

Last Chance to Visit Father Christmas
24 Dec 10:00am – 4:00pm | King’s Walk Shopping Centre 
Father Christmas makes a quick stop at King’s Walk shopping Centre. Bring your children to visit.

Gloucester Rugby v Harlequins
27 Dec | K.O. 4:00pm | Twickenham Stadium | Live on BT Sport
Watch Glaws take on the Quins in the Aviva Premiership.

Christmas Day Church Services
For details of all services click here.

Help for minor injuries, pain and coughs at the Gloucester Health Access Centre, open every day 8:00am to 8:00pm, in the city centre on Eastgate St.

The NHS non-emergency 111 and the Gloucestershire Out of Hours service 0300 421 0220 if your GP surgery is closed.

Rubbish Collection
See the City Council website for information: Hempsted Recycling Centre is open every day, apart from Christmas and New Year’s Day, from 9:00am to 6:15pm.

Happy Christmas and New Year, and thank you for reading and answering my e-news during 2016. Let me know at if there are issues you think I should cover in 2017.

Best regards

Vote for a Park

barnwoodparkEveryone wants me to write about the latest twist in our Brexit saga, and I will – but first I want to ask you to do something even more unusual than voting for or against the EU: to vote for a Park.

One of the joys of Britain is that every town and city has a park: and some are very handsome. But we have one uniquely special. In fact it doesn’t really fit the urban model at all.

This Park has a gracious collection, especially of hardwood, trees beside a gentle duck filled brook and its own arboretum, where fabulous new and old trees are nurtured. There are wild spaces sometimes grazed by sheep: a miniature Gothic former chapel, now a temple to the body (or gym): a great water meadow stuffed with buttercups at the right time of year; and lovely views towards St Lawrence’s church that no-one could imagine are part of a cityscape.

‘In the Cotswolds’, pronounce friends confidently when I show them photographs from this haven and invite them to guess where they were taken.

But I am of course extolling Barnwood Park & Arboretum, Gloucester, in the last century once a private preserve, then part of a mental hospital (where poet Ivor Gurney amongst others was incarcerated), and for a generation now a people’s park.

Barnwood Park is yet another little known secret of our great city, close to Ermin Street (Hucclecote Road), the Roman road that still links Glevum (Gloucester) and Corinium (Cirencester) – and not really signposted at all. Park by St Lawrence’s, cross the road and walk 100 yards to your left and you’re there.

Today the park is tended by the council and a small army of dedicated and fiercely protective volunteers and we have the chance to give it (and them) deserved recognition. It’s been nominated for an award in the Best Park in the UK competition.

Normally when I get involved in awards it’s to support them for individuals, buildings or charities. And if I’m seeking a vote it’s in a General Election. This is the first time I’ve appealed to you to vote for a Park, which might result in an award.

Apart from this candidate’s great qualities, she won’t make any promises, won’t cause any scandals and will still be here in a hundred years, giving us all pleasure from her nature in a still troubled world. I rest my case.

So please join me and vote for Barnwood Park & Arboretum before Wednesday the 9th November here:

Best regards


The Boundary Review


Boundary Commission proposals for new Parliamentary constituencies will affect the way some of us vote in the 2020 general election.

They reduce the number of constituencies from 650 to 600 and alter the boundaries of almost all – including Gloucester.

For Gloucester the current proposal has three elements – no more mention of any Westgate residents voting in the Forest of Dean: the return of Longlevens residents to vote for a Gloucester MP and Quedgeley voters being asked to vote in the constituency of Stroud.

I’m so glad the Boundary Commission explicitly recognised Westgate Ward is in the heart of our city, not a fringe in the north as they originally assumed in 2011. I campaigned hard with some of you to put a stop to that and they have heard us loud and clear.

But because Gloucester has over 5% of the maximum number of voters allowed I knew something would have to give, especially if Longlevens residents vote in Gloucester. The proposal for Quedgeley voters to transfer to Stroud is, however sad, at least logical (in a way the Westgate idea never was).

Apart from personal regret, the issue is a disconnect between where voters vote in local and national elections – Quedgeley is still part of Gloucester City but not my constituency.

True Quedgeley has bounced to and fro between Stroud District Council and Gloucester City Council over the years, but as I understand it there is no plan proposing current council boundaries be changed at the moment.

On the other hand I suspect few people living in Longlevens would choose to vote in the constituency of Tewkesbury rather than Gloucester, where they vote in local elections. The more Longlevens residents that write to the Boundaries Commission to say so the better.

Which brings me to the next step. These are only initial proposals and the consultation runs until the 5th December. You can comment on the Commission’s consultation website here: www.bce2018.

Meanwhile it’s business as usual and I will continue to help ALL constituents in Quedgeley for at least the next four years.

Let me know what you think about this on

Best regards


Gloucester’s Exam Results and Jobs: More skills and more in work

Richard opening the Performing Arts building at the University of Gloucestershire with students

Richard opening the Performing Arts building at the University of Gloucestershire with students

We’ve now had A level and GCSE results, university applications – and all the usual photos of pupils jumping for joy. Were results up, down, or the same and how is that translating into jobs?

Nationally there was a real effort to avoid any grade inflation, but overall our local students have done very well and should be proud. There was good news at many schools – including record ever A level results for example at the Crypt.

With 424,000 students accepted into UK universities and colleges so far, there’s already been an increase of 3% in the numbers of undergraduates nationally, and an increase of 9% in applications to the University of Gloucestershire.

There were also more acceptances nationally for mature students and the gap between male and female undergraduates has reduced. Interestingly too – and contrary to what some claim – the proportion of English 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds applying has gone up 7% since 2009.

At the same time many more school leavers are taking up apprenticeships – both Ribston and St Peters specifically referred to this in their comments on results – and the combination of more students taking up both undergraduate and apprenticeship opportunities should mean better skills levels, and in time higher paid jobs. Average wage levels are up 2.3% nationally so far this year.

Better results in exams from pupils all over Gloucester and an increase in jobs available has resulted in steadily improving youth unemployment figures (now nearly a quarter of what it was in 2012 at just 2.6%, see graph below).

This is all encouraging. Remember meanwhile if you haven’t yet got the University offer you want then make sure to read the UCAS advice on Clearing open until 20 September.

Also good apprenticeships are sometimes only marketed on employers’ websites, especially public services like the NHS. Glos Care Services in particular are hiring more and our Hospitals Trust has a big programme. Do check out the NHS careers websiteGlos Jobs, and the Gov.UK apprenticeship search engine.

There’s always more to be done which is why the move of our University’s Business School from Cheltenham to Gloucester, our bid for a new Gloucestershire Health University Technical College and a pilot training Nursing Associates programme through higher apprenticeships is good news.

Then there is Glos Engineering Training’s bid for funds to train more engineers for the food and beverage sector. What else do you think we could do more of to increase our skills, and therefore chances to get good jobs? Do let me know what you think about this at

Best regards







Youth unemployment rate in Gloucester (%)

Youth unemployment rate in Gloucester (%)


Balancing Compassion and Regeneration

Richard with Sgt Matt Puttock and city centre based officers

Richard with Sgt Matt Puttock and city centre based officers

Some residents and retailers have written to me about an increase in beggars and apparently homeless people sleeping in the city centre.

They rightly point out that this puts off visitors, discourages investors and gives the wrong image of a city that should be known for its friendliness, heritage and good shopping. Of course this also doesn’t help the good work being done to regenerate our city centre, whether through Heritage Lottery Fund awards or government and City Council grants to improve streets like Southgate Street: or help to encourage over 5 million visitors a year to the successful Docks and Quays to walk up to the city centre as well. So what are we doing about this?

I’ve had meetings with the Police, the City Council and St Mungo’s. We all agree more needs to be done to make sure that rough sleepers are returned safely into the communities they come from (often not Gloucester), and that beggars are off the street so that no one is put off coming to the city centre. Part of this is about a more visible police presence in the city centre and I am pleased that Supt Richard Cooper has brought back a team of officers, based in Bearlands, to patrol the city centre more often.

Alongside this we have increased the breadth of compassionate help available for people in trouble. The appropriately named George Whitfield Centre (formerly the Railway Club) now houses a Glos Care Services unit for the Homeless, the Foodbank, the Gloucester City Mission and a Green Square debt advisor. To have these services all together under one roof, opposite the Hospital, is among the most joined up operations in the country.

I am determined that Gloucester be a city of compassion for those who need help: but that we do not become the destination of choice for rough sleepers and beggars in Gloucestershire, let alone further afield.

I believe that having the Police back in the city centre and patrolling more often, ready to use their enforcement powers if need be, alongside the services in the Whitfield Centre, is the right balance of tough love: and I hope you will continue to see the improvement that we all want in the centre of our city.

Have we got the balance right? Let me know how you feel about our approach to rough sleepers and beggars at

Best regards






Richard outside the George Whitfield Centre with the team

Richard outside the George Whitfield Centre with the team


What’s on this Summer in Gloucester?


enewspicI’m sorry this is a week late and so comes at the end of the world’s oldest festival with the best choral music in the world – the Three Choirs Festival – and after the fantastic Gloucester Carnival (see photos above).

But there is so much happening in our great city that it gives me space to mention some well-known, and not so well-known, activities.

What have I missed? Do let me know of any other great events in our city at

Best regards

Beatrix Potter Trail // The Cross
Free entry // until Thur 1 September
The great illustrator author Beatrix Potter was born 150 years ago. Collect the trail competition from the Tourist Information Centre (Southgate Street) and join the other parents and children, finding all the clues to get a treat from the House of the Tailor of Gloucester.

Gloucester Waterways Museum // The Docks
£5 adult, £3.60 under 15 // Open 10:00-17:00 all summer
The Museum was re-opened today and is a joy to go around, with films, oral history, interactive additions next week, and the story of our canal, docks and waterways.

Robot Exhibition // Gloucester City Museum
£5 adults, £3 concessions, £12 family // until Sat 27 August
Featuring robots, cyborgs and androids from TV and film productions, go and visit to see Iron Man and the Terminator.

Robinswood Hill
Free entry // Open dawn til dusk daily
The best and highest place for a picnic, walk, play (try the slides) and incredible views. Also the winner of a Green Flag Award last week.

Live Music with Jessica Rhodes // Café René
Free entry // Wed 3 August
Jessica Rhodes is a powerful Soul band with funk-based rhythms making for a great live gig in Gloucester.

Chantel McGregor Live // Gloucester Guildhall
£16 on the door // Thurs 4 August
In 2014, Chantel was voted by the British Blues Awards as Guitarist of the Year for the second consecutive year. She has also won five other awards in the last three years, including Young Artist of the Year.

Junior Gloucester Rugby Camp // Chosen Hill RFC
£60 for 2 days // Thurs 4 – Fri 5 August
Led by Terry Fanolua, Gloucester and Samoan International, and experienced Community Coaches, the camp will offer players of all abilities the opportunity to get the latest rugby tips straight from the top.

Summer Fireworks // Gloucester Park
Free entry // Sat 6 August
Watch this fabulous display with music and food available from 7pm.

Wilson’s Fun Fair // Gloucester Park
Free entry // until Sun 7 August
All the fun of the fair with all rides £1 on super saver Tuesdays.

Jamaican Independence Day Celebrations // Gloucester Park
Free entry // Sun 7 August
Arts and crafts, school games, tug of war and a football tournament. Come and see the local performers and make your own kite while eating Caribbean food.

Cathedral Library Tours // Gloucester Cathedral
£7 for over 16s // Sat 13 August
A rare chance to visit the beautiful 15th century monastic library, located high above the main body of the cathedral.

The Walk of Life // Gloucester Cathedral
Mon 15 – Tues 30 August
Visitors are invited to remove their shoes and walk the Cathedral Labyrinth, a copy of the one in the Chartres Cathedral in France.

Murder Mystery // Hallmark Hotel
£29.95 per person // Fri 19 August
A game of murder mystery where party-goers are secretly, and unknowingly, playing a murderer, and other attendees must determine who is the criminal. Includes a three course meal and disco.

Sportbeat Music Festival // Oxstalls Sports Park
Prices vary on website // Sat 20 – Sun 21 August
Family friendly music festival with sports and attractions for all age groups.

Tea and Tales // St Mary de Crypt
Free entry // Tuesdays weekly until Tues 23 August
Enjoy the magic, mystery and fun of reading with Chloe of the Midnight Storytellers. Tea, squash and cakes available.

Today is the day..when we decide our relations with our neighbours

with the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Neil Carmichael MP and Alex Chalk MP

with the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Neil Carmichael MP and Alex Chalk MP

It’s gone on a long time: important, frustrating, emotional; and a source of endless argument. It is the Referendum – and many of my constituents are still unsure which way to vote. I break the issues into five: the Big Picture, Money, Security, Sovereignty and Immigration.

The Big Picture. I believe we need as many friends and allies as possible: in the UN Security Council, at the heart of the Commonwealth, the G7 & NATO, in a special relationship with the US, a strategic partnership with China, very close to Ireland – and a member of the EU. We are smaller by losing any of these.

And our history is one of tremors from quakes on the continent. We’ve often had to intervene and make war to keep the peace, and above all keep the balance of power – preventing dominance by any one country, which is always bad for us. Whether against Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler or Russian communism, we’ve teamed up with a coalition of the willing to stop them – like the Welsh archers, Eugene of Savoy, Blucher and the Polish and Commonwealth airmen. England has never fought alone in Europe.

Money. Almost everyone, including the leading Brexiters, recognise there’ll be a hit if we leave, as sterling drops, inflation rises and interest rates and mortgages go up. The markets have already shown what they can do. I worry about how quickly things would recover, how long it would take to replace the 53 Free Trade Agreements the EU already has, and the long term impact of trade duties on e.g. our aerospace exports to Airbus in Toulouse. Short term this would inevitably lead to less tax revenue for the NHS and other public services – and for how long we just don’t know.

Security. There is no single global policeman today. We need maximum co-operation against e.g. terrorists, especially with our nearest neighbours. Our security could not be increased by acting more alone, without the European Arrest Warrant, or by having the refugee camps at Calais moved to Dover. Home to GCHQ and the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), in Gloucestershire we know the value of partnerships and sharing information carefully.

Of course immigration and sovereignty are also argued over. I hear comments like ‘I want my country back’, ‘our infrastructure can’t cope’ and ‘so many of our jobs are taken by foreigners’.  Nor can these just be dismissed. We must make our own decisions in our own Parliament: but we can also accept legislation e.g. to protect workers’ rights, improve our beaches and water that came from the EU: 14% of our total laws. And when it comes to sovereignty I see no advantage to business in not having a voice at the table on decisions that affect almost half of our exports.

Ultimately, I don’t see leaving the EU will solve immigration – are we going to ask weekending French to apply for a visa, or a German engineer visiting his business here to apply for a work permit? No. Or if yes, then increase the cost of leaving as we axe cheap flights to Europe, many jobs at airports and across the travel industry.

In a nutshell if we want free trade then we pay the club sub and accept free movement to work – we just lose any role in decisions. If we don’t want free trade then watch out for the hit to jobs and the 75% of tax from business.

If we want the surest prospects of future jobs for our children then let’s make the European partnership work, recognising some compromise in all partnerships. And if we’re concerned about immigration and pressures on schools etc then yes, push at us MPs to do more – taking out from the stats students who pay for our universities would make sense – but leaving the EU is not a solution to that. Ultimately the complete lack of detail about what the Leave campaign would do is a huge risk, and although safety is not as sexy as risk, this is a risk I wouldn’t recommend at all.

Best regards


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