Category Archives: Gloucester News

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP welcomes extra school funding for Gloucester

Gloucester MP Richard Graham has welcomed the Education Secretary Justine Greening’s announcement on a new fair funding formula that will increase funding for Gloucester schools by 3.6%.

The Education Secretary made a statement outlining her response to the consultation on the new fair funding formula for schools on Thursday, publishing illustrative figures for schools across the country up to 2019-20. She accepted recommendations made by MPs including Richard to introduce a minimum level of funding per pupil (£4,800 for secondary school pupils and £3,500 for primary school pupils).

Richard said, “I’m delighted that the Education Secretary has listened to the views of schools, parents, teachers and MPs and introduced a minimum per pupil funding level. I met with the Education Secretary to discuss the initial plans, and she took on board our recommendations which will see all schools in Gloucester benefit.

We’re spending more on schools than ever before, in particular on pupils from deprived backgrounds as we should. So I welcome this announcement and hope it reassures the many parents who wrote to me on this issue.”

NOTE TO EDITORS
The proposed National Funding Formula aims to address historic imbalances where a student with the same needs (e.g. free school meals or from a deprived background) can attract some £500 more depending where the student goes to school.

The government pledged to introduce the national formula, and while the initial plans offered extra support for pupils with additional needs or for deprived backgrounds, MPs raised concerns about basic funding levels. This week’s announcement confirms a basic level of funding that gives every school in Gloucester an increase, with some getting over 9% extra per pupil.

The proposals will come into full force in 2019-2020 after a transitional year in 2018-2019. Find out more: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fairer-funding-system-to-end-postcode-lottery-for-schools

PRESS RELEASE: ‘Fantastic opportunity’ to be the next apprentice for Gloucester’s MP

Richard Graham MP is currently looking to hire his next apprentice. His previous apprentice, Sophie Jones, has called it a ‘fantastic opportunity’.

Sophie said, “the apprenticeship was a great learning experience that has enabled me to go on and land a full time job with the Gloucestershire County Council.”

Richard’s first apprentice Laura Pearsall went on to work with Prospect Training, was elected as Gloucester’s youngest ever city councillor and is now the Conservative Agent for Gloucester. Laura said, “an apprenticeship is an excellent way to earn while you learn. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working as part of Richard’s team, gaining valuable work experience which provided me with the basis to develop my career, as well as learning a lot about the city, how an office works and what a difference you can make to peoples’ lives in politics.”

Richard’s second apprentice Holly Piper now works with the Pied Piper Appeal. Richard said, “I’m looking for someone who’s keen to help my office answer constituents’ calls and mail, help organise events and keep office admin and casework files up to date. It helps to be curious and want to know how things work in the city and to have a sense of humour!”

NOTE TO EDITORS

The apprenticeship is a Level 3 in Business Admin.

Applicants have until 21st September to apply to aishayakub.pandor@parliament.uk. Find out more about the role and how to apply here: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeship/-162645

 

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PRESS RELEASE: MP welcomes Glosterpreneur Raging Bull to Gloucester’s city centre

Gloucester MP Richard Graham said former Gloucester and England rugby star Phil Vickery has played a blinder by bringing his clothing brand Raging Bull to Gloucester’s city centre.

Richard said, “there are always plenty of people ready to knock our city centre, even though there’s been a 40% drop in the number of empty shops since 2010. But there are also those who back Gloucester, who see the changes of the last few years and know what is coming up. They can see the speed at which new homes going up on Brunswick Road, Blackfriars and Worcester Street, know the footfall in the city centre is already increasing sharply and have analysed the positive implications for retailers.”

The MP congratulated Phil Vickery, whose successful Raging Bull brand has now set up shop right outside the Cathedral, just as the HLF funded improvements of the Cathedral’s Project Pilgrim take real shape: “Phil said he’s ‘unbelievably proud at all the developments going on at the moment’ and this is another of them – a really positive investment in our city centre by a great sportsman and successful Glosterpreneur.”

Press Release: Gloucester MP and councils work together with GCH for Estate Regeneration in Matson and Podsmead

The attached photo shows Richard Graham (MP for Gloucester), Tim Dare (Chair of Gloucester City Homes), Cllr Paul James (Leader of Gloucester City Council) and Cllr Mark Hawthorne (Leader of Gloucestershire County Council) signing the Vision Statement alongside the City Council Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Colin Organ.

Gloucester’s MP Richard Graham has today signed with the leaders of both County and City Councils and the Chair of Gloucester City Homes the Matson and Podsmead Community Regeneration Vision Statement.

Richard said “The statement commits us all to work as partners and contribute in different ways to a major Estate Regeneration in both these important wards – creating a master plan with residents that will ultimately provide better homes, shops, employment opportunities and lives.”

The Vision Statement builds on a successful £1.25 million government bid, recognising that some of the housing in both wards is not as good as it could be, and that a better mix of social, affordable, shared equity and owner occupied housing is a future ambition.

Gloucester City Homes Chair Tim Dare said that “estate regeneration in Matson and Podsmead is a major task and we need the full support, funding and assets that each of our organisations can bring to the table: and then work closely with residents to develop a master plan. With building costs and values as they are we need to stretch every pound to succeed, and I’m delighted that Richard, Mark, Paul and Jennie share our belief about the importance of this huge project.”

Gloucester City Homes gained ownership of several sites in Matson and Podsmead after they became an independent housing association in 2015. The City Council transferred their housing stock to GCH when the government agreed to wipe out £50 million of historic housing debt.

“This is the next stage,” said Tim Dare “of our goal to work with our tenants and all stakeholders, to create modern, new homes which are more energy efficient and greener in communities where everyone can be proud. This has been a long running plan for GCH to be at the forefront of change, making homes and developments that really matter to residents. This collaboration is key to making the most of the land owned by different organisations, while accessing all funding available to maximise this opportunity in Matson and Podsmead.”

City Council leader Paul James added that “we’ve been working with GCH on this from the beginning, and as land owner, planning authority and as the only organisation focused entirely on the well-being of the city, I want to see us help respond to Podsmead and Matson’s needs and get this right. The impact should be considerable.”

Richard Graham stressed the backdrop was positive: “there are more investors than ever before in Gloucester, working on regeneration sites all across the city. In Podsmead we have the bid by the Crypt School for the first ever primary school in Podsmead, alongside the revived Athletics Track and an ambitious sports hub plan. In Matson there are already new homes being put up by GCH as part of the transfer of housing stock and debt write off agreement in 2015, and a (separate) big housing investment plan off Winnycroft Lane. If GCH can partner effectively with the right developer(s) I am convinced there will be a lot of positive change for the communities. Better shops, better health and skills access are all part of the mix. I’m delighted we all feel the same way.”

County Council leader Mark Hawthorne said, “it’s important that all organisations work together on this ambitious plan to support these communities. I’m glad we’ve published this strategy today that outlines what we plan to do and I look forward to seeing the results.”

NOTE TO EDITOR

The Statement aims to focus on stronger and safer communities, with a thriving local economy, a sustainable environment and better health and wellbeing all enabled around better homes.

What Richard has been up to so far this summer

NCS Team 29

This year I’ve seen even more young people than ever join the (free) National Citizen Service (NCS) scheme. It’s become a rite of passage for many 16 and 17 year olds in their summer hols. What’s it all about?

The scheme was set up by David Cameron 7 years ago to provide young people of all backgrounds the chance to spend a month together, doing a great range of activities. They have a week’s adventure training – kayacking, jumping from rocks, often getting over phobias and fears in countryside they never knew existed. They have a week of meeting different organisations – community and faith groups: organisations dealing with social problems, helping the elderly or disabled, charities and social enterprises – a week of preparing a social action project of their own; and a week of doing it. Some organise Fun Fairs, dances, drama, cleaning up public spaces: you name it – mostly raising funds for a good cause.

They learn a huge amount, they see life for what it is – often difficult and messy: and become more likely to care for their area and community. And when they ‘graduate’ many have made friendships that can last for years and experiences they never forget. One parent said to me ‘this is the best thing that xx has ever done: and she said that not me. She is like a new person.’

So if you have children coming up to 16 find out more on www.ncsyes.co.uk Meanwhile there are many outdoor activities at Robinswood Hill organised by the Glos Wildlife Trust, like the night time safari. Find out more on the Robinswood Hill Facebook page.

In Quedgeley many of you, especially if near Severnvale Drive, will know all about the proposed new Clearwater Academy. I’ve asked Councillors to look carefully at what was initially proposed and what’s now proposed. Are the interests of children’s education and green space for residents adequately balanced? We need more school places, and there aren’t many sites available, but hitting that balance is important and I know your Councillors are looking at this closely.

Nationally there’s a lot more good news than either the media or the weather would suggest. Unemployment is at the lowest level since 1975, retail sales up nearly 3% since last year and manufacturing orders are at their highest since 1988. That includes some booming Gloucester businesses.

Meanwhile locally I’ve never been more positive about the pace of regeneration – from Blackfriars to Black Dog Way, St Aldates to Paul St, the new surgery in Kingsway to the new Business School at Oxstalls, another new cyber centre in the Business Park and new nursing degrees starting at the Uni of Glos. The opportunities for our children are growing fast – including in culture which has been given awards by several bodies.

This parliamentary recess I’ve been around building sites, including our new bus station and the Elmbridge Court roundabout (both on time and within budget), given several young residents work experience, played walking rugby and planted wildflower seeds. Despite the rain there’s always much to enjoy in our city, and the free fireworks were the best yet. I’m only sorry our old dog Twiglet won’t be accompanying me to deliver newspapers to your homes any more. She was though well treated by a Gloucester vet at the end.

I hope you all have a good summer.

 

Press Release: Gloucester MP calls for better Broadband customer service

Over 10,000 broadband connections in Gloucester are not getting the proposed minimum broadband download speed, according to MP Richard Graham.

Richard has joined over 57 colleagues from across political parties to co-sign the British Infrastructure Group of MPs’ (BIG) latest report, ‘Broadbad 2.0’.

10,269 broadband connections in Gloucester without fast broadband make up at total of as many as 6.7 million broadband connections across the UK that do not receive speeds above the proposed minimum standard.

Richard said, “the problem is we don’t know whether poor broadband speeds are due to homeowners being unable to order a faster service or the nationally mandated faster Internet simply not being available to their property. It’s time we knew, and so this report recommends changes to improve the quality of broadband customer services.”

The recommendations are:

UK Government:

Progress secondary legislation setting out the terms of a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO): The Digital Economy Act 2017 sets out provisions for a USO that defines a minimum broadband download speed of 10 Mb/s. In order to set the terms and scope of this USO, secondary legislation to the Digital Economy Act must be progressed by the government.

Provide statutory footing to the Voluntary Codes of Practice for broadband speeds: Some of the largest UK broadband providers operate according to Voluntary Codes of Practice regulated by Ofcom. The codes of practice entail an agreement on the part of providers to share clear information about their broadband speeds, and provide redress for customers when speeds are poor. However, the voluntary nature of these codes is insufficient in a rapidly developing telecoms sector. BIG therefore calls on the government to provide Ofcom with the mandate to legalise these codes of practice, in order to make broadband providers accountable to the law.

Ofcom:

Lead on the improvement of data collection: Broadband download speed data recorded by Ofcom fails to differentiate between superfast connections that do not reach speeds above the proposed minimum standard of 10 Mb/s, and those connections where customers have actively chosen not to purchase superfast broadband. It is therefore almost impossible to determine the exact number of UK broadband customers that do not receive the speeds that they pay for. BIG calls on Ofcom to lead on the improvement of collecting broadband speed data that distinguishes between the take-up and availability of superfast broadband speeds.

Consider fixed broadband speeds in a new automatic compensation scheme: It is unacceptable that Ofcom has not considered whether broadband customers should be automatically compensated for consistently failing to receive the speeds that they pay for. Broadband speeds are a key indicator for whether customers are receiving a satisfactory service.

Broadband providers:

Take responsibility for making customers aware of their complaints and compensation procedures: BIG calls on broadband providers to take responsibility for communicating future changes to their customer services in a clear and concise manner, in order to improve accountability and transparency in the sector.

NOTE TO EDITORS

For further information about BIG, and to read the report in full, visit www.britishinfrastructuregroup.uk and follow BIG on Twitter at @BIG_MPs

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